Seasonal Cooking with Milk & Eggs: Wintery Kale Beet Salad and Green Toddler Muffins!

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In this installment of our collaboration seasonal cooking with Milk & Eggs farm direct grocery delivery, I am really excited to talk about more wintery seasonal eating, particularly of greens.  Dark leafy greens are one of the most nutrient-rich and delicious foods that come out of winter, and this is the perfect time of year to increase our intake of these blood-purifying, immunity-boosting foods.

To get the most out of the season’s local produce, specifically greens, nothing beats the Milk & Eggs Organic Farm Sampler Bag (pictured below), which is the most budget friendly way I’ve found to get a load of delicious, local, seasonal cooking going on in my kitchen and onto my family’s plates.  At the insanely reasonable price of $29.99, you get SO MUCH ORGANIC PRODUCE, it’s kind of crazy.  This week, I received a big bunch of kale, a bag of spinach, two heads of green leaf lettuce, celery, beets, a bell pepper, 3 heads of broccoli, a few bananas, an assortment of citrus fruits and a carton of strawberries.  WHAT?!  This usually costs me $50 or more at Whole Foods or my neighborhood natural foods store.

Seasonal Cooking with Milk & Eggs | The Organic Beauty Blog

In addition to being super budget friendly, the organic farm sampler is a great way to get all the fruits and veggies you need for the week!  This one bag has yielded countless salads, smoothies, soups, and toddler meals this week, and with the addition with a few other items in our standing order (organic greek yogurt, sprouted whole grain bread, wild-caught salmon), I’m able to feed our family of three delicious, healthy meals that come straight from our local California farms.  Boom!

My two favorite seasonal cooking recipes this week are lovely little showcases of winter’s bounty that made perfect use of my Organic Farm Sampler Bag!

Dinner Tonight: Hearty Vegetarian 3 Bean Chili

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It’s a whopping 50 degrees in LA today, which is a perfect excuse to whip up a batch of delicious, hearty, and warming chili. I think this may be as close as we get to winter in these parts (but who’s complaining?), so I’ll take what I can get.  

This chili is super fast and easy to make, so it’s a perfect weeknight meal.

You can make it with or without a fake meat — I usually go without, but was feeling extra punchy today, so I added some yummy veggie chorizo.

*Note: Since this recipe relies heavily on canned goods, make sure to look for organic, low-sodium, and BPA-free!! 

Vegan Three Bean Chili

Serves 4

GF, V

3 tbsp olive oil
1 white onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 jalapeno, minced
1 package vegan chorizo (optional)
2 tbsp chili powder
1 tbsp ground cumin
1 tsp cayenne pepper
3 14 oz. cans organic beans (I used one can each cannelini, kidney, and pinto beans, but you can use whatever beans you have around!), rinsed and drained
1 24 oz. can crushed organic tomatoes
1 cup vegetable broth (add a little more if you want your chili on the soupier side)
Sea salt to taste

Heat olive oil in a large pot, add onions, garlic, and jalapeño. Sauté over medium heat until onions are soft. Add spices and stir. Add beans, tomatoes, and broth. Bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer until flavor are combined. Top with chopped parley or cilantro.  Enjoy!

Dinner Tonight: Vegan Potato Leek Soup

Vegan Potato Leek Soup | The Organic Beauty Blog

Even though winter in Santa Monica comes in a very mild 50-60 degree variety, the evenings do get chilly enough to light the fireplace and incite a desire for soup.  Delicious warming soups are literally the only thing that used to get me through the gross New York winters I was subjected to for years, so I’m happy that the tradition can continue here on the West Coast, if under slightly (ok majorly) less depressing circumstances.

I’ve been posting some of our soup creations on my Instagram and received a request for recipes, so I’ll do my best to post our favorites here throughout the season, to inspire you all (especially those of you who are freezing your little butts off in the rest of the country ; )

Our weekly soup is influenced in no small part by what that week’s CSA bounty was, which keeps us on our toes and keeps things interesting.

This week, we got a ton of leeks, potatoes and herbs, so this soup was pretty much a no-brainer.  I added a can of organic coconut milk at the end to make it creamier, healthy-fattier, and a touch more decadent — and I highly recommend you do the same!  Almond milk will do in a pinch, but I really like the particular flavor that the coconut milk lends.  Enjoy!

Vegan Potato Leep Soup

Serves 4

V / GF

2 tbsp olive oil
6-8 medium potatoes, cubed (any kind will do, I used a mix)
2 leeks, halved and sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp fresh thyme
2 bay leaves
6 cups vegetable broth (I use water and Seitenbacher Vegetable Broth Powder)
1 can organic coconut milk
1 green onion, chopped (for garnish)
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat olive oil in a soup pot over medium heat. Add the potatoes, garlic and leeks and sauté for 5-7 minutes, or until leeks begin to soften.  Add the pepper, thyme and bay leaves and give it a stir.  Add the broth, and bring to a boil.  Cover, lower heat, and simmer until potatoes are soft, about 15 minutes.  Remove from heat, and remove bay leaves.  Puree with an immersion blender.  Add coconut milk and salt to taste. Puree until creamy.  Garnish with chopped green onion.

Gluten-free Cranberry Oat Protein Cookies

By: Natasha Uspensky, CHHC

Cranberry Oat Protein Cookies

Since little Margaux came into the world two weeks ago, I’ve definitely been on hiatus from all things cooking. But the perfect combination of my mom napping with the little babe and a sudden burst of energy on my part (probably due to my placenta pills… But more on that later!) led to my first venture back into the kitchen to make a super yummy adaptation of a recipe I saw on Greatist.

Dinner tonight: Fresh Pea Soup with Mint

 

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This delicious pea soup is light, vibrant and bursting with green goodness. Plus, it’s a snap to whip up in no time at all, making it a perfect weeknight dinner.

Fresh Pea Soup with Mint

Any Root Winter Vegetable Soup

By: Natasha Uspensky, CHHC

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There’s nothing like a warm, comforting bowl of soup on a chilly early winter evening, and throwing together an amazingsoup from what you have on hand is so much easier than you think!  Not only is this any-root vegetable soup deceptively simple, you can make it with literally whatever seasonal veggies you have on hand. Potatoes, sweet potatoes, parsnips, rutabaga, celeriac, carrots, turnips… anything!  Perfect for those winter CSA deliveries you don’t know what to do with ; ) Make a big pot to last you all week long for a perfect, healthy dinner that will keep you slim, warm, and healthy all winter long.

Any Root Vegetable Winter Soup

Serves 6-8

Ingredients:

3 tbsp olive oil, plus more for serving

1 large onion or 2 leeks (white and light green part only), diced

2 to 3 celery stalks, diced

3 garlic cloves, finely chopped

3 rosemary or thyme branches

2 bay leaves

3 1/2 pounds mixed root vegetables (whatever you have on hand–carrot, parsnip, celery root, turnip, rutabaga, sweet or regular potato), peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks

2 teaspoons sea salt, or more as needed

1/2 teaspoon black pepper, or more as needed

Juice of 1/2 organic lemon, plus more for serving

Red pepper flakes, optional

 

Directions

  1. Heat olive oil in a large, heavy-bottomed soup pot.
  2. Add onions and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes.
  3. Add celery and cook for an additional 5 minutes.
  4. Add garlic, rosemary or thyme, and bay leaves, and cook for another 2 minutes.
  5. Add root vegetables, 8 cups water, salt and pepper, and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer, covered, until vegetables are tender, about 30-40 minutes.
  6. Remove rosemary branches and bay leaves.
  7. Puree the soup in batches in your blender, or use an immersion blender.  Puree until smooth.
  8. Season with lemon juice, and add a little extra salt, if needed.
  9. Serve with a drizzle of olive oil, a few extra drops of lemon juice, a sprinkle of crushed red pepper (optional), and a sprig of thyme or rosemary.

Dinner Tonight: Acorn Squash & Apple Soup

By: Natasha Uspensky, CHHC

Squash Apple Soup on The Organic Beauty

This soup is delicious for a cool fall evening, and is amazing for beating nighttime sugar cravings.  It tastes like apple pie in a bowl!

Five Unconventional Beauty Products To Try

By Callie McBride

A woman’s beauty routine is often cherished, closely detailed, and dates back to the time that she first dipped her toes into makeup in the 7th grade. Once we find our holy grail products, we stick to them and seldom steer from the norm, because we think we have found what works for us. That may not be the case, though, especially with organic beauty products on the rise. Your drug-store or high-end makeup collection may completely satisfy you, but similar to food products with long and hard-to-pronounce ingredients, makeup can contain toxic chemicals that we would never want to apply to our face if we knew what they were. Just as your body doesn’t react well to a Twinkie, you may be completely unaware that your current beauty bag is causing beauty blusters such as breakouts or dry skin.

Organic beauty products offer a solution to the mysteries of makeup contents, as most brands offer products with only four or five common household ingredients (think coconut butter, shea butter, oatmeal extract, olive oil, beeswax).

Whether you’re a veteran natural beauty guru or just dabbling into the healthier makeup world, here are five products worthy of picking up for their all-natural ingredient labels and healthy benefits.

1. RMS Beauty Uncover-Up 11

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Celebrity makeup artist Rose-Marie Swift is behind this organic beauty line, which illuminates the skin instead of cakes it like many harsh and heavy foundations. Swift promises that her ingredients do not only create a beautiful effect on the skin, but even work to nourish and heal. This cover-up is packed with minerals, coconut oil, cocoa and shea butter, sunflower oil, and rosemary extract and is ideal for light and glowing coverage.

2. Soapwalla Deodorant Cream

soapwalla-deodorant-cream-v2A close friend of mine just introduced me to this interesting, slightly intimidating product-deodorant in cream form!? It sounds a bit off-putting to rub under your arms, but Soapwalla’s version currently has a wait list, giving some slight indication that women are satisfied. No questionable ingredients are on the label; what this cream does contain is vegetable powders and lavender and tea tree extract, so you can trust that it works throughout the day and leaves you smelling lovely.

3. Suntegrity Face Moisture

S_1313634_geThis chemical-free SPF-30 sunscreen is actually infused with youth-promoting antioxidants and acts as a 3 in 1: moisturizer, sunscreen, and face primer. Anti-inflammatory, cruelty-free, non-toxic; yes, yes, yes!

4. Sally B’s Skin Yummies B Green Mud Mask

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With a blend of French Green Clay and blended herbs that absorb excess oil and toxins from the skin, this certified organic and vegan mud mask brightens skin tone and improves the overall look of your skin. It’s also filled lavender extract and green tea to give your look a boost of healthy glow. Sally B’s entire line is worth checking out, with all-natural and organic products for both the face and body.

5. Egyptian Magic All-Purpose Cream

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This ultra-simple and straight-forward product has only five ingredients: olive oil, beeswax, honey, pollen, and royal jelly, and has been hailed as a true skin changer. Without any toxins or synthetic ingredients, it is Egypt’s worst-kept secret and favorite among beauty guru celebs such as Kate Bosworth.

With all your might, steer away from your beloved beauty routine to test out these products and see whether you reap the same amazing benefits that these product-hoarders do!

 

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How To NOT Lose Friends Over Your Lifestyle Choices

By Callie McBride

“Look who’s off to the gym again.”

“I’d eat as many greens as you, too, if I were a giraffe…”

“At the end of the day, I’d much rather have the cupcake than not.”

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These and plenty of other comments can be routinely heard from family, friends, co-workers, and people who lead a different lifestyle than you do, and seem eager to judge. In the nearly 3 years that I have been vegan, and in the 5+ years that I have expressed my passion for health and fitness, I have laughed off ‘vegan’ jokes, stomached outwardly opinionated friends, and even held my tongue around certain people who are quite vocal about their disapproval or disinterest in a holistic way of living. Certainly not everyone is as gung-ho about hot yoga and green smoothies as you are, but it can become frustrating when your life choices become criticized on a regular basis and you feel the need to refrain from practicing those choices in order to fit in. Just last week I spent a number of days with a loud, fun-loving family whose only agenda was to lounge, eat, and drink. (I know, I know, where can you sign up!?) Like many families, this one especially loves to come together over a meal, so inviting a girl with a plant-based diet into the home was a challenge for them. Each time they had questions or comments about my lifestyle, I graciously answered and listened to what they had to say. After a while, though, the vegan jokes were popping up 4 or 5 times in an afternoon. “The ribs are on the grill, we know you can’t wait!” “We made this cheesecake special for you-oh waaaaait.” My personal favorite: “So, you’re vegan…like, where do you find joy in life?”

If you’ve ever done grade school theatre or participated in a kindergarten beauty pageant, you know how exhausting it is to hold a fake smile. Unfortunately, that’s what I felt like I was doing. While I recognize that the digs and comments are all in good fun, I quickly felt that I stood out like a sore thumb every time the dinner bell rang. It got me thinking that no matter what life choices a person makes, if they stand out from what’s considered the ‘norm’, it can be tough to live out those choices in a social setting.

If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.

In an effort to remedy my feelings of frustration and inconvenience toward people who don’t understand why I eat the way that I do, I have compiled a list of ways to inform without lecturing, extend invitations without pressuring, and constructing rebuttals without starting World War III.

1. Share your snacks. A fool-proof way of convincing people that vegans (or simply healthy eaters) aren’t aliens and that healthy eating can be delicious, is to show them with food! Choose your favorite healthy treat or green appetizer to make and bring to a summer barbecue or birthday party so that you can eat your cake and have it, too. All those jokes will disappear once vegan chocolatey goodness is in the picture.

2. Keep it short and sweet. People who are unfamiliar with the plant-based diet and holistic lifestyle will ask questions. Be sure not to transform into your old high school biology teacher and go into a 30 minute spiel about the benefits of kale and the history of coconut oil. Instead, stick with a brief answer to the ever-popular question of why you live the way you do. I usually say with a smile, “It makes me feel great and brings me happiness. I just like to feel my best!”

3. Have a few tricks up your sleeve. If the joking continues, pull out some of your own. Making sure not to judge or offend, think of cheeky ways to throw a question back onto someone who may be grilling you about your particularly green dinner plate. “I’m actually trying to see if my body starts sprouting leaves, thanks for noticing!” “I’m in a competition with my pet rabbit to see who can consume more raw carrots within a day. I’ll keep you posted on my progress.” “When the rest of the world zigs, I zag. You should really try it.”

4. Extend open invitations. Especially when vacationing with friends or living with roommates, sneaking away to the gym can frustrate people who either aren’t on top of their fitness game or who want to spend time as a group. Instead of waking up at the crack of dawn to fit in your workout before everyone else’s day starts, make a suggestion for the group to rent bikes or play beach volleyball. Your dedication to fitness shouldn’t be overruled by your peers, but asking them to join in is a win-win situation. A dance party is a wonderful disguise for a cardio without…

5. Go all out with a plant-based feast. If your siblings, boyfriend, or business partner are still on the fence about your obsession with raw veggie collard wraps, pull the final trigger an invite them over for 3-course vegan or plant-based meal to wow them. For brothers or boyfriends who frequent Buffalo Wild Wings and Taco Bell on a weekly basis, try Alicia Silverstone’s 7-layer dip; they won’t know what hit them. For your mother or sister and their sweet teeth, try any of Chocolate Covered Katie‘s cookie, cake, or pie recipes-most are sugar and fat free. For the culinary connoisseur, prove just how dimensional veganism can be by slaving over any of these gourmet raw recipes, and be sure to kill the presentation.

These tricks won’t have anyone running away from you, and may even open some doors to more willing eaters.

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Quick Raw Summer Gazpacho

By: Natasha Uspensky, CHHC

This delicious raw gazpacho is an amazingly detoxifying dinner for a hot summer night.  The garlic, onion, and jalapeño add some bite, while the fennel and bell peppers bring out even more sweetness from the fresh tomatoes.

Quick Raw Gazpacho

Serves 4

Cooking time: 10 minutes

Ingredients:

4 large tomatoes, cut into chunks

2 yellow bell peppers, cut into chunks

1 red onion, chopped

2 stalks of fennel (not the bulb), with leaves, chopped

2 stalks celery, chopped

1/2 jalapeno pepper (optional)

3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped

1/4 cup raw apple cider vinegar

2 tbsp olive oil

1 cup water, low-sodium vegetable stock, or water with 1-2 tbsp of Seitenbacher vegetable broth powder

Sea salt to taste

Directions:

Blend or food process all the ingredients, add a little water if you need it for consistency.  Garnish with basil or cilantro.  Serve chilled.