Waste Not, Want Not – A modern Guide to Reducing Your Waste

I was scrolling through Instagram the other day. I scrolled over a former college classmate’s picture, where she had recently been in Italy, and she snapped a photo with those strange, Velcro-hooved-ballerina-goats climbing up a near vertical wall. She talked about how fulfilling it was to travel so light, as she was actually *knitting* her clothes for the subsequent week’s travel. If memory serves me correctly, she was recently in Thailand and wrapped her snacks up in some sort of edible leaf as a baggie as she hiked.

Ok. Let’s unpack this for a minute.

My lovely friend has a motivation that I… don’t know that I’ll ever have, ripping leaves off trees to hold my cashews. Also, I don’t know that I’ll ever be in a situation where I need to knit my clothes as I go. Did they teach knitting at PSU?  I know they taught beerbrewing and tennis as extras. Not sure about knitting. Having said that, now more than ever, I think people are starting to ask themselves what we can do to reduce the waste we produce and how we can take small steps to cumulatively make a difference. If you’re out there thinking that you alone can’t impact a major reduction in producing waste, consider these facts (found at EPA.gov):

  • The US generated 262.4MM tons of municipal solid waste in 2015, which averaged nearly 4.5lbs of waste, per person, per day.
  • Paper and paperboard products are the largest % of things discarded, totaling about 25.9% of that
  • 137.7MM tons of waste were landfilled, with food making up  about 22% of that
  • In 2015, 34.5MM tons of plastic products were generated, coming from packaging and other containers

What can we do about this? To start, there’s a few substitutions you can make around your home that, over time, can greatly reduce these numbers.

 

Reusable straws

If you haven’t seen the video of that person pulling a green Starbucks straw out of a sea turtle’s nose, you’re likely not as bothered by the rest of the world. I don’t particularly care about needing to use straws, but I do love the metal straw I bought from a local natural foods grocer a few years ago. For those that think that sipping coffee through a straw helps prevent your teeth from yellowing…. This is also a myth. If you’re not looking to haul around a pointy metal straw, Amazon also sells collapsible straws that fit just about anywhere. Happy sipping!

 

VEHHE Stainless Steel Straws, 4 Pack – Brush and Storage Bag – $3.99 Amazon

Collapsible BPA-Free Silicone Folding Straws with Case – 2 pack – $4.99 Amazon

 

Reusable Shopping Bags

This is one of the seemingly easy but also difficult things to stick with. Over the years, I’ve accumulated likely two dozen of those reusable bags from Whole Foods that I shove in my pantry, my car trunk, my coat closet. I have fold-up bags I make sure I keep in every purse. This is a habit that’s hard to break, but if you put into perspective how many plastic bags you use when you shop, it really adds up. Here are some of my favorites.

 

Foldable Reusable Shopping Tote Bags – 10 pack – $14.99 Amazon

 

Baggu Reusable Bags – 3 pack set, $36 – Baggu.com

 

Replacement bags for Ziplocs 

I used to use Ziploc bags for marinating, storing food to go, or bringing snacks to work. I would try to save them and reuse them every few days, but then I couldn’t remember what was in which bag, and it started to get kind of gross. Cue these bags…. They’re BPA free, wash and dry easily, and they don’t take up much space. I love them.

 

Scouts Silicone Reusable Storage Bags – BPA Free $20.95, set of 4 Amazon

 

Beeswax Kitchen Wraps 

I’m in the kitchen a LOT. I often make larger quantities of food than I can eat in a day, so I’m loading up bowls or baking dishes and putting them in the freezer. A few months ago, I started using beeswax wraps for my cold storage. Beeswax is antimicrobial, can be washed with cool water and an eco-friendly dish soap, and can be reused for up to 2 years if cared for properly. I bought my wraps locally from the farmers market, but she has an online store. Other vendors I’ve found are women-owned or Fair Trade certified or tied to another NGO/non profit in support of environmental or humanitarian initiatives.

 

Bee Our Guest beeswax food wraps – multi-size 3 pack, $20 Etsy

 

SuperBee Food Wraps – $14.99 and up Amazon

 

Reusable Keurig Filter

OK… I boycotted getting a Keurig for a long time – it was easy to blame my non-coffee-drinking ways before, but I was met with an eye roll each time I’d mention that it was insult to injury that something so expensive also produce so much waste. Also, I’m not entirely sure what goes into manufacturing each plastic cup, but I knew I’d be drinking it. Cue this glorious little filter! It’s a BPA-free plastic and is made by Keurig, so you won’t run into any “this is not a real K-Cup so it doesn’t work, sucks to be you” message on your coffee maker. It’s foolproof for people like me who can’t make coffee properly – all you do is scoop roughly 2 tbsp into the pod, plop and brew as normal.

 

My K-Cup Universal Reusable Pod Coffee Filter – $8.79 – Amazon

 

There you have it! This is a great start to reducing your waste from your kitchen and every day life. Taking extra steps to reduce, reuse and recycle is a great way to help keep your environment clean, use less resources and reduce your carbon footprint. Cheers!

-S

My Top 5 Favorite Superfoods (and where to find them!)

Happy Friday!

Today starts another fabulous long holiday weekend… complete with rain, rain and more rain. I’m home working for the day, so hopefully I can squeeze in some cooking to get you guys some delicious recipes.

One thing I wanted to share, though. I love healthy food, but I didn’t always love it. Growing up, my mom was an excellent cook, but I still hated vegetables. My parents ate them so I don’t know if I was just being stubborn. I didn’t like to eat steamed vegetables and I certainly didn’t know how to cook for myself until the last few years so I was sadly deprived of a lot of delicious ways to eat and cook vegetables. Then Amazon came to the rescue and now I feel like I need to share all the fun things I found recently to you and your loved ones/picky eaters if they aren’t into trying new things (though I think my recipes are delicious…).

8Greens Effervescent Super Greens Dietary Supplement – $14

Link: https://smile.amazon.com/dp/B0792HYX21/ref=twister_B07DPWSPSF?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1

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This stuff is liquid gold. My favorite local cosmetics store, Houpette, started carrying this when they moved to their new location, and I am DELIGHTED. It has a nice citrus-y taste, isn’t sludgy, and gets you the Vitamin B, Vitamin C, Zinc and other minerals you need if you don’t plan on eating your broccoli. It’s vegan, gluten free, sugar free, salt free and preservative free.

TerraSoul SuperFoods Gelatinized Maca Powder – $13

Link: https://smile.amazon.com/Terrasoul-Superfoods-Organic-Gelatinized-Powder/dp/B00EHQQ1A6/ref=lp_6944339011_1_11_s_it?s=hpc&ie=UTF8&qid=1535718486&sr=1-11&th=1

maca

Don’t let this one’s name fool you – it’s vegan, certified, organic, non-GMO and also gluten free. Maca is a root native to Peru – it’s balanced in carbs and protein, and also contains vitamin C, copper, iron, potassium, fiber, manganese, along with others. Studies have suggested it increases libido and fertility in men, and it has been suggested that maca root also alleviates unfavorable symptoms of menopause. As with everything – always pay attention to your body, as anything that influences your hormones can impact things such as your thyroid, or general hormonal wellness… however, the state that you will likely buy your maca root powder carries little adverse side effects compared to its natural state (raw, uncooked). When taken properly, this can do wonders, but always consult your doctor if you have concerns!

Greenbow Organic Bee Pollen – $11.99

Link: https://smile.amazon.com/GREENBOW-Organic-Bee-Pollen-Certified/dp/B019HI4CRC/ref=lp_6944339011_1_1_sspa?s=hpc&ie=UTF8&qid=1535718486&sr=1-1-spons&psc=1

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Though I’m a firm believer in buying this particular one locally (the bees are pollinating your local flowers – it couldn’t hurt to ingest local pollen for allergy reasons!), if that isn’t available to you, this is a great choice. Bee pollen contains amino acids, Vitamin B and other minerals to support a healthy immune system. I am particularly fond of this brand because they donate 1% of their proceeds to the Planet Bee Foundation, which helps to repopulate the bees and promote awareness of dangers to the bee ecosystem. Word to the wise – without bees, we all die…. If we’re being transparent, here. **side note: if you are allergic to bee venom, or anything bee related, it is recommended that you consult your doctor prior to any consumption of a bee byproduct.

Navitas Organics Goji Berries – $15

Link: https://smile.amazon.com/Navitas-Organics-Goji-Berries-oz/dp/B000FFLHSY/ref=sr_1_21_s_it?s=hpc&ie=UTF8&qid=1535719220&sr=1-21&refinements=p_n_feature_nine_browse-bin%3A6997074011%7C6997076011&th=1

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This one is fun in that… it’s kind of fun to say. They’re like a dried cherry cranberry raisin type thing, and I add them to my smoothies or overnight oatmeal. Chinese folklore says these are nicknamed “Happy Berries” – as the monks were jolly, happy and cheerful, and attributed this to their consumption of goji berries. They are high in antioxidants and vitamin A, and they taste pretty darned good, too. If chewing on these things freaks you out, Navitas also sells, powder form, available here.

Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides – $25 (30 servings)

Link: https://smile.amazon.com/Vital-Proteins-Pasture-Raised-Grass-Fed-Collagen/dp/B00NLR1PX0/ref=sr_1_4_s_it?s=hpc&ie=UTF8&qid=1535719464&sr=1-4&keywords=vital+proteins+collagen+peptides

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I love this stuff. While I am fortunate enough to have what some would consider “good skin”, there’s no sense in letting it go to waste! I add this to my coffee every morning… it’s taste-free, smell-free, and doesn’t change my coffee at all. Collagen is the most abundant protein in the body and makes up a good part of all the connective tissues in our body. It maintains skin’s elasticity and regeneration of cells, your hair, tendon, cartilage, bones and joints. Collagen is a protein made up of amino-acids: glycine, proline, hydroxyproline, and arginine. In laymen’s terms… if you’d like to help slow the process of saggy boom-booms or crepe-y skin, this is a great product to give you a head-start.

—–

These are just a few of my favorites that I’ve found over the years. If you aren’t interested in buying at Amazon, most local health food stores, as well as Whole Foods and Wegmans, carry these products. Much of the evidence provided around these products is from my own research, so always be sure to educate yourself on what the best superfood regimen may be for you. I’m always here for questions too!

What’s your favorite superfood or healthy product you’ve found? Share yours!

-S

Health Food Haul – Ideas for Healthy Groceries

So you’ve made the effort to eat more healthy foods, and you’re ready to shop. Where do you shop, and where do you start? What’s worth splurging on, and what’s worth buying the regular or generic brand? I’ve picked my favorite products and brands at my favorite stores.

Whole Foods

After Amazon acquired Whole Foods in 2017, there was a noticeable decrease in a lot of their produce and meat prices. I like to make special trips to Whole Foods a few times a month (since it’s sort of out of the way), and these are a few of my favorites.

Miso

miso.jpg

Miso is fermented soy-bean paste – derived from a legume, it’s not for the strict paleo dieters, but it’s gluten-free and loaded with flavor. Any time I’m making an Asian-style marinade, this is a definite staple because it’s a huge punch of flavor. You can find it in red or yellow “flavor”, depending on your preference, and I particularly love the brand Westbrae Natural.

Plant-Based Protein Powder

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Calling all Vegans! For the naysayers that lament you’ll never get enough protein, here’s your rebuttal. I love this brand of protein – PlantFusion Vanilla Bean Flavored Nature’s Most Complete Plant Protein. It has a really light flavor, so you can really add it into anything, such as smoothies, desserts, etc. It’s considered a “complete” protein, so you get everything you need.

Olive Oils, Vinegars and Sauces

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This one is more of an adventure than it is a requirement… I love sauces. Truly, I will put sauce on anything. I love aioli, I love gravy, I love dipping sauce. Whole Foods stocks a few of my personal staples, which I love… California Ranch Olive Oil (buy domestic!) has this flowery peppery taste that I have to have when using EVOO. Balsamic is another staple, and I often pick up a bottle of Napa Valley Naturals Organic Balsamic Vinegar, for salads and reductions. In a pinch, of I don’t have the time to make my own salad dressing, Primal Kitchen Green Goddess Dressing and Marinade is another favorite I like to keep on hand.

Ground Buffalo and Bison

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In my home town, we had a restaurant that actually made it to the Travel Channel, called Half Moon. It was known for sourcing “unusual game” on it’s menu, such as kangaroo, buffalo, alligator or other food not commonly found within the US. Nature’s Rancher Ground Bison is great to pick up when I’m trying to recreate Half Moon’s “buffa-loaf” – a tasty meatloaf made with buffalo/bison, rather than ground beef. Nature’s Rancher is one of the “Animal Welfare Approved” farms in the US, where further info can be found at https://animalwelfareapproved.us.

Wegmans

Wegman’s is my grocery store superhero. I get so excited when I’m able to stroll around and get my groceries, bulk nuts/candies, AND BOOZE! Plus, if I’m absolutely famished, I can get things at the food bar, or restaurant. It’s the mecca, the toy store, the everything for foodies.

Shredded Brussels Sprouts

brussels

These have to be the best thing ever. I have a food processor that I love using, but for whatever reason, I can’t stand using it for brussels sprouts. I don’t want them paper thin, but rather a little chunky… and Wegmans sells these glorious bags of pre-shredded brussies. You can find Wegmans Cleaned and Cut Shaved Brussels in the produce section. LOVE IT.

Almond Milk

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I can’t take credit for this one. My friend started getting this brand after Wegmans discontinued their generic store brand (we called just to be sure… it really was tragic….), and not only is the bottle cute, but it really is the tastiest. Califia Farms Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Milk is carrageenan free, and is so far the simplest almond milk I can find without making my own. For the record – carrageenan is derived from red seaweed and is commonly used as a binding agent or additive in foods, or a thickening agent. Carrageenan is not FDA regulated, though side effects with the digestive system have been documented.

Organic Produce Selection

This isn’t any one particular product, but I find the organic selection at Wegmans to be a lot wider than Whole Foods. I’m not sure if it’s product placement or marketing, but I also feel like there are cheaper options for little things that add up, such as organic herbs, or veggies I don’t normally buy a lot of. Highly recommend.

Giant (Martin’s)

Giant is my usual go-to, out of convenience. I will say that I think they do an exceptionally good job at stocking a lot of organic items I prefer, and if they don’t stock it, management actually takes requests to start stocking certain items… which has worked out in my favor a few times. If you look enough, you can find pantry staples I use in my ingredients right around your local grocery store if these other big-chain retailers aren’t feasible! Giant even has their own natural/organic brand, called Nature’s Promise. I love the selection it offers.

Tahini

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Other stores have good brands I’m sure, but I am a big fan of this brand because it’s unsalted. A quick stop to Giant and I can stock up on enough Woodstock tahini to make whatever my heart desires…. like this Garlic Tahini Kale Salad…. 🙂

Low Sodium Chicken Broth

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This speaks for itself. Beef and vegetable broth not pictured, but I can pay a fraction of what some of the other brands at Whole Foods and Wegmans charge for organic and anti-biotic free chicken broth. I typically start with low-sodium options to limit my salt, that way I can add to the dish later if necessary.

Maple Syrup

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This stuff can really cost a fortune. I really only use maple syrup as a sweetener in recipes to get that nutty flavor, as I think it’s too sweet to eat on waffles and pancakes. This is just enough to last me a few months, as I use it sparingly.

Diced Tomatoes

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I have about 4 of these cans on hand at any given point. I use them for Caprese Chicken, Curried Chicken Meatballs, and even my fresh salsa! I’ve spent hours chopping tomatoes into little pieces, and I have to say this tastes just as fresh as if I cut the tomato myself. It just saves a LOT more time!

Local Markets

Some things are just better left to the local markets, made one at a time, and with love. A few favorites sourced locally near me, below!

Eggs

it’s a life dream of mine to have chickens on my would-be horse farm… but I’ll settle for local eggs in the meantime. Harvest Market, one of my favorite places, is my go-to for local goodies. I learned (a lot later in life than I probably should have) that brown eggs come from brown chickens, so for no other reasons than purely aesthetics, I love to get brown eggs from my beloved brown chickies. The local farms that Harvest Market sources their eggs from let their chickens roam and live their best lives.

Honey

honey

I like eating local honey for a number of reasons. One brand near me, Walt’s Swarmbustin’ Honey, is made right down the street by local bees. Local bees means local pollen, and local pollen means local allergies… which means if I’m eating local pollen, I’m building immunity to it. In my smoothies, I’ll also by the pollen kernels from Walt’s, for an extra kick. So far, so good! ATTNit should be noted that if you have any life-threatening allergies to bees, bee stings or anything bee-related, you should consult your doctor before starting this. It’s an unusual link, but not worth the risk!

Kombucha

Babas-kombuchas

I’m finicky about this. I really think there’s a difference in taste/quality of small-batch kombucha that makes it special. A few local brands that I get at Harvest Market (or my local farmer’s market in KSQ) are Baba’s Bucha, and Inspired Brews. Both have Unique flavors, and who doesn’t love a good dose of probiotics?

Not sure where to start in your area? Visit www.localharvest.org to check out local and seasonal markets that source your next favorite produce, goodies or grocery staples. You can search based on zip code, or for what you’re specifically looking for, such as co-ops, CSA’s, markets.

Enjoy!

-S

Sea-Salted Caramel Cheesecake Bites (Paleo, Vegan)

Totally unrelated to food…. I have discovered the online store 6pm.com. It’s like the TJ Maxx of Zappos, can you just picture this, please? Amazing. Uggs for half price, cute booties, stuff you didn’t know you needed until you found it.

Who’s ready for spring? Let’s skip straight to the good stuff. This recipe for Sea-salted Caramel Cheesecake bites is a little bit of summer, but since it’s best served frozen…. We can say it’s Spring, instead. These babies are vegan, gluten free, paleo, the whole 9 yards. Have at ‘em.

Sea-Salted Caramel Cheesecake Bites (Paleo, Vegan)

Prep time: 3 hours

Cook time: 40 min (active)

Serves 12 (large cups), or (24 small cups)

Ingredients

For the crust

  • ~2 very full cups of pecans, raw
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil, melted
  • 1/4 cup coconut flour
  • pinch of sea salt
  • ¼ cup maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp almond butter

For the cheesecake

  • 1 cup raw cashews, soaked overnight or in boiling water for 2-3 hours
  • ¼ cup melted coconut oil
  • 2 tbsp coconut sugar 1/3 cup of coconut cream (from a can), plus 1-2 tbsp of coconut milk if needed
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • pinch of sea salt, plus more for garnish
  • 1 tsp fresh lemon juice
  • sea salt for garnish

For the caramel

  • 1/3 cup maple sugar
  • 2 heaping tbsp coconut sugar
  • 1 can of coconut milk
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • pinch of sea salt

Directions

  1. Line a cupcake tin with paper liners and set aside.
  2. Start the caramel sauce, as it takes the longest. In a medium-sized saucepan, combine the sugars and coconut milk. Bring to a low boil, and then add the vanilla extract and salt and mix until combined. Allow to continue to boil for about 2-3 minutes, stirring to prevent burning. Turn to very low heat, and simmer slowly for about 35-40 minutes, until reduced to a thick syrup. Remove from heat to allow to further cool, or place in the refrigerator.
  3. Meanwhile, as the caramel sauce is cooking down, place the ingredients for the crust into a food processor and pulse until crumbly and mixed thoroughly.Press about a tbsp of the crust mixture into the bottom of each cupcake liner. Freeze while preparing the remaining layers.
  4. Now for your filling! Drain your cashews and put them into a blender; mix until you have a crumbly wet pile (appetizing, I know). Now add your coconut oil, coconut milk, maple syrup, and vanilla. Blend until smooth… this may take a bit, as your cashew chunks may still be visible. Feel free to add water, 1 tsp at a time, if needed. Once smooth, add your lemon juice and continue to puree until frothy. Add more lemon juice, if desired.
  5. Remove the crusts from the freezer and pour the cheesecake filling evenly into each cup, leaving room for the caramel sauce. Place back into the freezer for about 25-30 minutes.
  6. About 20 minutes before serving, you can remove your cheesecakes to allow them to thaw. Spoon a dollop of caramel sauce atop each cup, and sprinkle with a pinch of sea salt. Serve, and enjoy!

🙂

-S

Best 2017 Holiday Gifts for the Healthy-Food, Natural-Beauty and Causeworthy-Clothing Junkies

Some might say I get a little excited when it comes to gift giving. When I was younger, I used to buy birthday and Christmas presents for people, and in typical Sarah fashion, I would do it months ahead of time. The problem with this was that I couldn’t wait to give them their gifts and demanded they open it immediately.

Not a whole lot has changed about that, so I really have to fight the urge to hold onto presents when I have them for people. It’s hard. Life is hard.

The drawback with gift-buying these days is that the preference is digital, and since everyone’s super busy, it can be hard to really know your audience when gift shopping. When in doubt, I always aim for something healthy or sustainable

So – if I’m not thinking about food? I’m probably thinking about shopping. There’s definitely a LOT going on this season in terms of fun stuff at every price-point! See below for my favorite picks for this year.

$25 and under

Pacha Whipped Soap + Scrub – $12

Pacha

www.pachasoap.com

I absolutely love this stuff. The fact that it smells amazing is, oddly enough, the least cool thing about it (but a major selling point!). The owners of this company have embarked on a mission to provide underserved communities around the world with clean water and soap, and means to help them improve their situation. You can find this at Whole Foods.

Black & Decker CitrusMate Plus Juicer – $17.99

Black-And-Decker-CitrusMate-Plus-Juicer

www.vitacost.com

This is one of those things you didn’t know you needed until you have it. For those of us that hate pulp, you can even filter that out. This is perfect for recipes, measuring your juice, and just makes an all-around great little addition for someone you know that loves to do stuff in the kitchen. This makes it super easy and quick to make some delicious Lavender Lemonade…

HUM Nutrition Daily Cleanse Skin Supplement – $25

hum1

www.sephora.com

I really like this vitamin. It’s vegan, sustainably sourced, and is free of most major allergens. It has green tea extract, chlorella, MSM, and other beneficial plant nutrients. Sephora stocks a few different types to suit different skin needs, long with some other products in this line. Definitely worth a look.

Chef’n Kale & Greens Stripper – $7.95

www.chefn.com

I use this thing all the time… and quite frankly, what was life without it? For the amount of Garlic Tahini Kale Salad that we make, this is a huge time saver. It’s even great for tedious little herbs like Thyme and Rosemary. It’s easy to wash, compact to store, and it makes a great stocking stuffer.

Youth to the People Cleanser and Cream Mini Duo – $20

kale spinach face

www.sephora.com

This little set is great for people who have allergies to a lot of other major skincare lines. While I’m a Clinique/Origins girl myself, I’ve tried this and really liked how smooth it left my dry skin. It is made with actual spinach and kale – like a salad for your face!


$50 and under

Cuisipro Fat Separator – $34.95

cuisipro

www.surlatable.com

If you’ve ever made a gravy, confit anything where you need to separate a liquid, this is a great tool to have. The little filter separates the pan drippings and solids, it cleans easily, and its BPA-free, which I feel is really important if you’re using plastic.

OXO V-Blade Mandoline – $39.95

mandoline

www.oxo.com

I have a mandoline very similar to this, and it has greatly reduced the time spent slicing potatoes, cucumbers, apples, onions, etc… as well as greatly reduced my fear of cutting my finger off (came very close, one time….) The great thing about this is that it folds up nice and flat, comes apart to clean well, and is adjustable using a little nozzle.

Gandy’s Flip Flops – $33

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www.gandysflipflops.com

This company was started after two brothers from the UK were traveling in Sri Lanka when the 2004 tsunami  hit – unfortunately both of their parents were killed. This was their motivation to create something that would help other orphans, specifically those impacted by the tsunami, by helping build orphanages in India and Sri Lanka. Your feet feel good, you feel good!

Kopari Coconut Multitasking Kit -$40

Kopari

www.everythingbutwater.com

This little set includes Coconut Melt, a nice blend of Kopari’s 100% organic coconut oil, as well as aloe vera, cocoa seed butter and beeswax. The Body Glow has to be the best part of this – well worth trying!

WHBM Living Beyond Breast Cancer Butterfly Print Scarf – $48

whbm scarf

www.whbm.com

I may be a bit partial to White House Black Market (I’ve worked there part time for almost 7 years), but I’ve been really touched by the company’s involvement with and contribution to Living Beyond Breast Cancer – an organization that helps women assimilate back into normal life once in remission from Breast Cancer. I’ve had a few family members and close friends that have experienced this, and it really touches me to know that there’s an organization out there that serves this purpose.

Antonym Certified Organic Baked Blush – $36

Antonym blush

www.antonymcosmetics.com

This blush has a great shimmer to it, is cruelty free and Ecocert certified. The naturally-derived mica flecks give a nice shimmer without nasty aluminum, or other harsh chemicals. I prefer the Peach color for lighter skin tones, but according to reviews, the copper tone is a really nice tone on darker skin. It comes in a fun wooden container, so makes a great gift.


$100 and under

Taaluma Totes – $60-100

taluuma

www.carryacountry.com

The concept of these tote bags is pretty  cool. Wool and cotton from all around the world is brought back to the US, where disabled adults are employed to construct each bag. As if that didn’t make you smile, proceeds from the sale go back to the fabric’s country of origin in the form of a micro-loan to farmers and small business owners. YET – there’s more – the repayment funds go towards purchasing even more fabric, so as to promote sustainable economic growth. Carry your bag, carry the world.

Gloss Moderne Clean Luxury Masque – $65

gloss moderne

www.glossmoderne.com

This super conditioning mask is great for curly hair – it doesn’t weigh your hair down and keeps everything super sleek with zero frizz. The smell is to die for – the company’s signature scent was created by a popular perfumery. The best ingredient? Cocoa Butter 🙂

Le Creuset Heritage Stoneware Oval Covered Casserole – $100

le creuset casserole

www.lecreuset.com

This is another one of those things where, when you have it, you use it all the time and you can’t remember what life was like before you had it. A covered casserole dish is a great alternative to cooking things in a traditional dish with foil – the best part is, there’s no waste to remove and throw away. This one is big enough to fit all of your holiday side dishes, your fall mac and cheese dishes, your picnic salads… the whole nine yards.

Cuisinart Wine Opener – $99.95 – currently on sale for $79.96

cuisinart wine opener

www.williamssonoma.com

Remember those days in college when you would only buy screw-top wine bottles because you didn’t have a wine opener? Remember those days when… I still do that… because I’m lazy, shred a cork every now and again, and this screw-top Malbec was on sale? For days where I like to be a bit fancier, I really enjoy using a good ol’ shortcut… and this puppy can open up to 120 wine bottles on a single charge. It’s like a power tool! But, it’s safe! And for the kitchen!

 

Lilah B Perfection Eye Quad – $58

lilah b

www.lilahbeauty.com

This eye palette comes in 4 different combinations to cater to warm and cool skin tones. The best part? It contains aloe, marigold extract and coconut oil to give a creamy color that keeps your eyelids hydrated.

 

Trudeau Graviti Electric Salt and Pepper Mill Set in Copper – $79

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www.williamssonoma.com

These are absolutely beautiful, and are super simple to fill. All you do is flip them over, no work required! It grinds on its own. They stop as soon as you flip them back upright. They’re so pretty, you won’t want to hide them away in your cabinet.

Here you have it — my favorite picks so far for gift buying this year. Keep an eye out for more updates — definitely more to come! Be sure to share with your friends and follow on instagram @ thedivinekitchen for more fun!

Enjoy 🙂

-S

Sarah’s Picks – Best Thanksgiving 2017 Deals For Your Kitchen

The time is upon us where we indulge in food, shopping and all things consumer!

I’m not in the camp that shames America for being such a consumer-driven country. Do we have too much? Yes. Too much stuff, too much food, too much choice, too much free will, just a bunch of too-much. However – that doesn’t need you need to have “too much” of everything yourself. If anything, you could take the fact that there’s “too much”, and share it with those who don’t have enough.

I’ve been stalking all the Amazon Prime deals, the Macy’s deals, and I’m DROOLING at all the goodies!!! A few things, I actually bought to give as gifts… some other things, I bought because they are on sale and if I’m going to get it, now is the time to have it.

I’ve picked through some goodies to show you all the deals i think are worth indulging… take a look!

 

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This little gadget is the best. At only $14.99 (less, if you’re a Prime member!), it’s definitely something to put in your grab-bag. A sharp knife is a safe knife! Make sure you’re prepared to chop, mince and cube this season.

 

Instant-Pot Duo Mini 3 Qt 7-in-1 Multi- Use Programmable Pressure Cooker

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This might be perhaps the best little gadget you’ll ever have. A smaller, less expensive version (only $59.99!) of the full size one, it’s perfect for people who don’t have a huge crowd to cook for.

 

Imarku 10 Inch Pro Chef’s Knife 

knives

Did I mention I like sharp knives? This is quite a deal – Imarku is a great brand, and this blade definitely stands up to those who are a little harder on their knives. For only $19.99, go grab them before they’re all gone!

 

Tools of the Trade 13-pc Stainless Steel Cookware Set

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This is a crazy deal! All of these pots for under $30. This makes a great gift for a college student, new home buyer, or someone who needs to upgrade some of their pots and pans but doesn’t want to spend an arm and a leg.

 

LoveU. Silicone Oven Mitts

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For anyone that wants something a bit more capable than your typical oven mitt, look no further, especially since they’re less than $13. These little oven gloves are a great gift for any baker or chef.

 

Royal Electric Fast Boiling Glass Tea Kettle 

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This is such a great thing to have for entertaining — no need to sit around and watch a tea kettle boil. It’s sleek, and can boil right on your countertop. A great thing so that you can enjoy time with guests as you heat up your tea!

 

Oster 2-Pound Expressbake Bread Machine

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If you have never had a great breadmaker to whip up some homemade bread, you’re missing out. This little one is on sale for $59.99, and even includes a timer so you can set it before work, and have fresh-baked bread right in time for dinner!

 

As much as I love a good deal, though… make sure you make an effort to first spend time with your loved ones, and THEN get to shopping. Enjoy – and Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

-S

These are a few of my favorite things….

Every time I say that, I think about the Sound of Music…. and cringe a little. I was never a fan of musicals, but I love to sing. I have mixed reviews of my singing abilities…. so I’m going to go with the notion of WHATEVER! I’ll sing WHENEVER! WHEREVER! As I sit here waiting for my brown sugar BBQ chicken to cook, and my sundried tomato orzo to absorb, I was thinking of a few of my favorite kitchen staples. Food, utensils, gotta have the goods. I may or may not have opened a bottle of wine my co-worker “sent me home with”, and I may be drinking it because I love a good Pinot Noir. Didn’t have to twist my arm on that one.

fullsizeoutput_26fGarlic Press – I love this thing. I have a hangup where I don’t like touching garlic, so I avoid mincing it whenever I can. This Little puppy, by OXO, is a godsend. I don’t even really have to get my hands smelly when I wash it, because you can press a lever and the thing comes apart! Wildly in love with it, highly recommend. You can find it here at Williams-Sonoma for about $20.

 

fullsizeoutput_288     Garlic Peeler – Did I mention I love garlic? This thing takes the agony out of getting the peels off of garlic. Just throw a clove inside, roll, and you’ve got all bare little clove of garlic. It’s a timesaver….and a lifesaver. Find one here on Amazon.

 

fullsizeoutput_273   A good silicone baking spatula – I found this in a bucket at Williams-Sonoma on Black Friday weekend last year, and I think it was mis-marked. I paid about $5 for it and I’ve been using it obsessively ever since. Le Creuset is a favorite of mine; their products really do stand up to the test of time. Mama 2 has a Le Creuset baking dish from when she got married…. I made some roasted veggies in it a few months ago when I was at their house. You do the math. Find it here for about $14.

 

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A (really, really, REALLY) sharp knife – Down the street at my actual house growing up, Mama 1 had some weird fear of sharp knives, so I never really grew up appreciating how convenient a super sharp knife is. This knife, by Shun, was a Christmas gift one year — runs you about $182. Trust me when I say you notice a difference — WELL worth the money. It’s my baby, and it slices a ripe tomato like a bodybuilder tearing a piece of tissue paper. That was terrible, please forget I said that. But i’m keeping it because I feel like you got the point.

 

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A good tea kettle – In my life, we don’t believe in microwaves. Anything that can voodoo-zap the moisture out of something until it heats up is freaking weird — don’t be jaded. This tea kettle (obviously very well loved, until I tried to get the tarnish off of it….) is by Il Mulino, which I found on sale and unfortunately haven’t seen once since. It’s used for everything — tea, tea, more tea, hot water for anything. I love it. A copper tea kettle is such a cool addition to your kitchen, we never put it away. It looks like it’s on it’s last leg, but it’s still kickin’.

 

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Sundried tomatoes – I get these from a local natural foods store called Harvest Market, and they are so delicious. They’re organic, and not super crispy — I like to put them in boiling water to soak, but then i’ll mix them with some olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper to liven them up a bit before I add them to things. Delicious addition to anything starchy, or chicken.

 

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Arrowroot powder – this is a paleo staple. Since regular wheat flour can’t be used as a thickener, this is a lifesaver. It’s 1:1 to cornstarch, but you use them for different things.  Arrowroot is used for sauces with acid like fruits, vinegar, etc, slow cooking over low heat, and things you want to freeze. Cornstarch is best for recipes with dairy, or things cooked in the oven, like pies. I use Bob’s Redmill Arrowroot powder, which is available on Amazon for about $8. A little goes a loooong way.

 

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a good “normal” starchy side – I love couscous… there’s so much you can do with it. I realize that not everyone who comes over eats like a vegan, paleo or gluten-free person, so this is a great staple that i love to have on hand. It cooks quickly, can take on any flavor, and makes a ton once cooked. Pick yours up at Acme, or you can pick up at Amazon.

 

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Good cutting/serving boards – I use these for everything. They’re sturdy enough for normal use as a cutting board but pretty enough to display on (you may see some of them make a cameo in my photos…). Always a go-to for entertaining. Pictured – top is by Anthropologie circa 2010; the skinny one is by Cynthia Rowley.

 

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Good cooking fats – I use olive oil on a lot of things, but I do love my grapeseed oil. Grapeseed and olive oil are the same in unsaturated fats and calories, but grapeseed oil has 2x as much Vitamin E… plus it’s a bit milder in taste. Available at Wegman’s, and Whole Foods!

 

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Quality vinegar(s) – I love making dressings for salads, and some just need a bit of something different. Apple cider vinegar is my staple, but I love balsamic for something different. The other one, Aronia Berry vinegar, by KeepWell, was picked up at a local farmers market.

 

Leave some comments on your favorite kitchen essentials — tools, ingredients, you name it!

Enjoy 🙂

-S