Friday, September 30, 2011

Apple Carving & Vegan (Un)Baking Day!

Happy Vegan Baking Day everyone! What's everybody baking & unbaking today?

Although I do sometimes still bake in my oven, I usually prefer to "unbake" in my dehydrator or just "rawify" a traditional baked good. Hayden, Jacob (yes, he's off from school; it's our county fair day) and I put together this fun video (if you watch it, you get to see more of Hayden in this brightly colored wig), showing how to make a quick and easy muffin with some more Fresh Apple-Fig Butter, as you may remember from our post the other day.

The Fresh Apple-Fig Butter acts as the binder/sweetener, much like the usual date paste in my raw cupcakes. Since it's already spiced with cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and cardamom, there's no need to add any more to the nut "flour" base (unless you want a little more). Now that really simplifies the process.

The raw muffins don't need to be baked, although you can warm them in your dehydrator to really get in on the Vegan Baking Day celebration. You can even "unbake" the Apple Cups sans Cake (but don't do this to the a la mode, as it will surely melt too soon; you can still add it after the "unbaking" process) from our last post to make them more like the baked apples my mom used to make.

Speaking of those apples, I explained a little more in the video, as to how to easily cut them to perfectly fit your reusable silicone cupcake liner. I would have actually cut the apple step-by-step, but we are on an apple carving kick at the moment.

Tomorrow marks the first day of October and the countdown to Halloween. Since we don't have pumpkins in the house yet, it's fun to practice on apples for a spooky treat. You can fill them with nut butter and decorate with dried fruit and nuts. Delish!

With the fair day on our minds, I'm also thinking about raw caramel and nut butter-covered apples on a stick. I've made some in the past like this, but I found this cute idea for cutting apples into mini versions for the kiddos (and kids at heart).

Anyway, I've gotta get back to my kiddos. Have a great day ... and weekend, too :-)


Before I go, here are some fun unbaking ideas for those of you with Halloween on the brain:

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Apple pie in the sky goes awry

As you know, most of my posts and videos are spontaneous, but none is more obvious than today's (note the melted n'ice cream to the right).

It all started when I met Caitlin (who blogs for OpenSky; I'll explain more in a minute) on Twitter. She kindly complimented Hayden and I on the fresh concord grape jelly we used in Hayden's NB&J salad recipe, and even suggested we use apples in the future (concord grapes aren't always in season, so sometimes you have to mix it up a bit).

I had already been thinking about using figs, but since we were out of fresh ones (also a fruit that can be hard to come by, as it's not available year-round), I decided to combine Caitlin's suggestion (apples) with my craving (figs; at least I had some dry ones on hand).

Never one to turn down a good NB&J Salad, Hayden was well ready to have the new apple/fig version for lunch. But, since the jelly/jam/apple-fig butter (whichever one you want to call it) turned out so delicious, we also decided to make a yummy treat with it, too, in honor of Ms. Caitlin.

In our house, raw cupcakes are always the first thing to come to mind, especially since raw jams and jellies work so nicely as fillings and toppings. To change things up a bit, keeping it fresh and simple, we ended up turning another apple into a cup (sans the cake). We filled it with the apple-fig concoction and iced it with some piped spiced banana n'ice cream (there's your a la mode, meaning "in the fashion," much like the deals on OpenSky).

In the process of filming this yummy treat, my camera got tired of my "cashew cheesiness" (seriously; I said "cashew cheesy" right before it cut off) and abruptly stopped recording only a minute and a half into the video. Hayden and I kept on going to the end, making the cutest little Apple Cup sans Cake a la Mode ... and a very big mess.

When I went to upload the video (after I took some pics of the final product, thank goodness; you'll see what I mean soon), I realized what had happened and that we were missing most of our footage. Not knowing why this occurred, I quickly cleaned up some of our spills, cleared off the topping from the finished apple treat, etc., turned on the camera and did my best to summarize the process ... very quickly in case it happened again.

Unfortunately, this means you missed my tutorial on how to get your apple to perfectly fit in a reusable silicone liner to resemble a cute little cupcake, along with the hallowing it out process, filling it with Hayden's help and a much prettier n'ice cream swirl demonstration. Oh well, you can just imagine as you read the instructions below:

Apple Cup sans
the Cake a la Mode

  • Apples for each cupcake liner
  • Fresh Apple-Fig Butter (see below)
  • Spiced Banana N'ice Cream (also see below)
Fit the apples to their reusable silicone cupcake liners by first slicing a small section off the bottom to provide a stable base. Then, mark the size of the bottom of the liner on the now flat base of the apple (I use a round cookie/biscuit cutter, in the appropriate size, to gently mark the base of the apple).

Next, set the apple beside the liner. With a knife, lightly cut a subtle guideline around the apple, where it will peak out over the top. Then, cut around the apple in an angle, matching up the circle on the base with the guideline around the top. Now, it should fit perfectly in the liner (sorry that you missed my first attempt at taping this demo. I'll try again in the future. Until then, you can always just leave the outside of the apple as is).

Hallow out the middle of the apple with a melon baller, making room for the filling. Make sure to remove the part with the seeds, but be careful not to puncture all the way through the apple.

Fill the apple with the Fresh Apple-Fig Butter or chopped apple/figs mixed with the butter (still talking about the apple-fig filling, as there is no dairy on this site), similar to pie filling.

Top the whole thing off with a swirl of Spiced Banana N'ice Cream. Using a piping tool, like you would for icing, you can replicate that pretty soft serve look. Then, garnish with an apple slice or apple flower (something else I demonstrated on the original video attempt).

Fresh Apple-Fig Butter
In a high-speed blender, puree an average-size chopped gala apple (is about 1 generous cup when chopped; I leave the skins on for added nutrition and pretty red specks on color), along with some briefly soaked organic dried Turkish figs (about 1/3 cup when chopped), a squeeze of fresh lemon, and some cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and cardamom to taste. Feel free to add a little of the fig soaking water to help blend the mixture to your desired consistency.

Spiced Banana N'ice Cream
In a mini food processor, process two frozen chopped bananas and the same spices as in the Fresh Apple-fig Butter to reach a soft serve ice cream consistency. To really jazz up this frozen treat, add a swirl of Fresh Apple-Fig Butter.


Hope you were able to follow all the directions and were at least entertained by the videos. Today was just one of those days. In the end, I probably should of just gone online shopping on OpenSky :-)

Oh, and what is OpenSky?

For those of you not already following some of the site's influential curators, like Alicia Silverstone, Brendan Brazier (this pic was snagged from Caitlin's blog; let me know if you want me to remove it), Kathy Freston, Alissa Cohen, Carol Alt and more, I'll fill you in; OpenSky is a shopping site/community where you can sign up to get access to great deals on products recommended by celebrities, experts, pros and fellow bloggers (it's a really elite group of bloggers that I, for one, would love to be a part of; I already know what types of products I'd love to feature on my page. Did somebody say cupcakes ... or at least products related to the tiny treat?). It's like they've handpicked them just for their followers; you've got to sign up to get in on the deals.

Some of the items are a bit extravagant and make you feel like a celebrity yourself (or for someone special, as the holidays are coming up), while others are just good prices on the products you buy anyway (for example, I got an excellent deal one time on some protein powder; I purchased the standard size and received a smaller one along with it for free). I've even seen Lori and Michelle of Pure2Raw have their products featured on the site in exclusive bundles (this pic is also from the OpenSky site on Gina a.k.a. the Fitnessista's page; again, Caitlin, let me know if I should remove it).

So, have you checked out OpenSky yet? What are your thoughts?


On another note, I'm excited to say that Whitney a.k.a. Eco Vegan Gal just gave me a shout out in her video yesterday. Thanks and right back at you girl. I really recommend checking her out :-)

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Design a World of Good

Paint a vibrant World of Good

Okay, so I've been slacking off a bit lately with my new obsession. It's called Polyvore (I can't believe I'm so late getting into this; you can tell I'm a newbie), a site where you can layout your own sets like a fashion editor. Hayden and I have been playing with it, as if it's the modern version of those fashion plates I had as a child.

The best part is how I was introduced to the site. World of Good (
"A global marketplace, where every purchase makes a positive impact.") is having a contest, encouraging its customers to lay out their own style sets, using a mini version of Polyvore with specific items available for sale on their site. The winner gets the items in their set (up to $400 worth of merchandise). How's that for an incentive?

I love how this contest shows that being green can be fashionable. Just check out some of the designs Hayden and I came up with together (Hayden was definitely the influence for the pink dress in the Eco-Princess layout). Fingers crossed that we win, although we already feel like winners. The process of entering this contest has been a lot of fun.

Pretty as an eco-princess
All you need is a world of love

Dreaming of an early spring ...

The (Vegan) Bees Knees


I'm a genie in a bottle

If you want to "like" our sets, please do so. We'd really appreciate it (although we've probably broken all of the rules). And, if you want to submit your own, good luck to you, too :-)

BTW, World of Good did not ask me to promote its contest; I just felt like sharing it. Thanks to World of Good for coming up with such a fun way to spend the day.

Also, all of the photos are from World of Good's website. I did not take any of the pics, so I think it is important to give its site credit.

Monday, September 19, 2011

100% Pure for your skin

The wait is over; I'm finally revealing my full review of the 100% Pure skincare products I mentioned in my last couple blog posts.

In case you missed it the first time, here's my initial reaction to the products. This was so spontaneous that I let Jacob film Hayden and I in the bathroom (talk about terrible lighting in there; no natural light) with my freshly washed face (not a trace of makeup and yikes! I'm in my pjs). The best part is when Hayden hits the camera with her bag full of samples. Too funny :-)

I had written to 100% Pure about their extensive line of products after discovering their website, (the home page usually has some kind of weekly special deal, which is definitely worth checking out). In the past, I had purchased some 100% Pure makeup from, but was blown away by all the other products sold on their actual site. From bath to body, head to toe, 100% Pure makes a product to suit your needs.

But, back to contacting the company. I just asked if they had any samples available of their other products to try. They responded rather quickly/kindly (gotta love good customer service), asking me specifically which products peaked my interest.

Now that was a dangerous question. Of course, I wanted to try it all. In the end, I narrowed it down to some things in the skincare line, as I've been wanting to experiment with a new facial regime.

When the box of samples arrived at my house (with a cute handwritten note; love it when real people take the time to do that), you can imagine my surprise (you can see it in my video reaction). It contained full-size products for me to try, including their Cucumber Juice Facial Cleansing Foam (for sensitive skin, like mine), Organic Acai Berry Antioxidant Facial Cream, Organic Coffee Bean Caffeine Eye Cream and Organic Argan Oil. There were even a few sample packets of body lotion (you know; the sample size I was expecting).

I couldn't wait to try everything out. I almost immediately washed my face with the cleansing foam, and followed it up with the moisturizer and eye cream.

The Cucumber Juice Facial Cleansing Foam dispensed a light airy foam the feels like "nothing." Yes, I could tell it washed away dirt and makeup from my skin, but it didn't strip any of my essential oils. It also didn't leave a residue or tight feeling. My skin felt just as it should.

Usually, my sensitive skin gets a bit red and irritated by cleansers and other skincare products, and sometimes breaks out from sensitivity to the ingredients. I was pleasantly surprised by the calm, even skin tone left behind right after cleansing with this product, and the fact that my skin remained clear after more than a week (a week is my usual trial period when testing a skincare product) of use. I only experienced a slight bit of tightness over the past couple days, which is normal with the change of seasons (it's suddenly cooler and dryer around here).

As for the Organic Acai Berry Antioxidant Facial Cream, it hasn't irritated my skin a bit, nor has it clogged my pores (one of the reasons I haven't always been good about using a moisturizer regularly; I'm so glad I found this product when I needed it most). It's rich enough that I can tell it's doing its job, without feeling too heavy. It must mean it's penetrating my skin, just as it should.

This moisturizer is loaded with antioxidants, which I hope will help with anti-aging and perhaps even turn back the clock. But, as we all know, there's no magic potion for that. My fine lines are still slightly visible when close up. We'll see if they improve over time.

The Organic Coffee Bean Caffeine Eye Cream hasn't gotten rid of my pesky crow's feet (you can tell that I smile a lot), but it is amazing for dark circles and just making this tired mommy look more awake. I don't drink coffee anymore, but I kind of like wearing it this way :-)

The texture of this eye cream is similar to the moisturizer. Although thicker than a lotion or gel, it doesn't feel heavy, as it absorbs easily into my skin (a good reason to use 100% pure ingredients, which of course the company does, hence the name).

Lastly, I used a little of the
Organic Argan Oil on my cheeks, where I have some sun damage. I haven't noticed a difference in the discoloration, but at least it didn't make my skin breakout.

I did find that the argan oil is great for my hair. I'm in desperate need of a haircut. When I apply the oil to my ends, they look fresh again. It also helps combat frizz. I even used it on Hayden, who sometimes gets a case of "cotton candy hair" (seriously, it resembles that stuff when her curls get out of control).

Another place I applied argan oil was to my cuticles and nails. It's so nourishing to my nails that need it more than ever, as I've been painting them recently (I love Priti polishes).

As a whole, I'm definitely a fan of 100% Pure. The products are all-natural and vegetarian (most are vegan), and some are specifically marked gluten-free. Even the fragrances used are real.

For example, my cleanser had a slight hint of cucumber, only because it really contains cucumber juice (which is the first ingredient on its list, too). The same was true for the eye cream; it had a light coffee scent due to the coffee extract in it, that was a key ingredient in the effectiveness of the product. Don't worry; the coffee smell is not overpowering. I just have a good sniffer :-)

I have yet to use the body cream packets, but I really want to save them for something special. I might even put them on Hayden, who wants the "girlie girl" bath products on the site (they smell like ice cream. Yum! I hope they don't mine that I snagged this pic of one of the kid-friendly gift sets from their site).

Anyway, if you're considering trying 100% Pure, I do recommend it. Let me know what you think, too.

On another note, I was excited to get my new fashionable "mommy bag" in the mail. Thanks to Girlie Girl Army (love that site!) and Kaight (this NY-based shop has some really cute fashions), I won this amazing vegan Collina Strada purse. I got to pick which one from the line I wanted. Thank you! (btw, Kaight shipped it to me in a protective reusable fabric bag with a handwritten note, as well; you know how much I like those).

I selected this one for its interesting shape, pattern (the material has a visually stimulating, multi-dimensional print) and design (I like how the soft vegan faux leather is layered horizontally over the diagonal print).

First, I tried taking my own photo in the mirror, while sporting this fun design. But, in the end, I recruited my son Jacob to take a pic of me with the bag and little Hayden, much like this photo of Chloe Jo with her little one (she looks incredible, right?). My attempt shows off the bag more, but the latter highlights my other fashionable accessory (my little lady, as well as my 100% Pure skin).

Tucked in my bag is a book I received in the mail to review. Here's a quick look at the cover. I'll be toting it around to read when I get the chance. I'll post my thoughts about it in the future.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

I like lettuce :-)

Did you hear what I said in our latest video? (This is Hayden, btw; mommy let me do today's post in my own words).

I said, "I like lettuce," and I sure do. Mommy tells me that not all kids like it as much as I do, so I made up a recipe to change that. It's my NB&J Salad, as in my nut butter and jelly salad (I know it sounds weird, but think of it as a kid-friendly sandwich without the bread ... and then there's the lettuce!).

Mommy and I videotaped my lunch being made today. You guessed it; I had my NB&J Salad. This time, I didn't get as involved in the food prep, so I wouldn't get my pretty dress all messed up (mommy removed it after getting some shots of me eating it; she doesn't allow me to be naked on this site). Please watch me look cute anyway :-)

If you still want to see this recipe in print, here it is:

Hayden's NB&J Salad
  • Salad greens of your choice
  • Nut butter of your choice
  • Fresh Concord Grape Chia Jelly (see below)
  • Chopped nuts for garnish (whatever that means; I just sprinkle them on top)
Clean your greens (I used romaine today, but I also love a good spring mix, spinach or kale; sometimes mommy puts some purple leaves in to match the jelly) and tear them into bite-sized pieces. Try hard not to eat them all as you go. Instead, place them in a bowl.

Add a big scoop or two of nut butter (I put almond/cashew butter in mine) and some jelly, too. Don't be afraid to get your hands dirty. Just reach in (with clean hands to start) and scrunch it up.

Top with chopped nuts to make it pretty. Then for the best part: eat it!

Concord Grape Chia Jelly
In a personal-size blender, puree a small bunch of fresh concord grapes (mommy says it is special now that they are in season; I like it when she makes this dessert).

Strain the puree into a small bowl to remove any pieces and seeds. Mix in some finely ground chia seeds (mommy said something about 1 Tbsp. per 1/4 cup of juice, or something like that) and allow to set in the fridge until it gels (about an hour or so).

You may want to add a tiny squeeze of lemon juice (I love lemon) to preserve its freshness.

*Note from mommy: Make this jelly in small batches as it is made with fresh raw juice. I don't advise keeping it for long; it gets eaten up fast around here anyway.

Stay tuned for mommy's next post (probably early next week) when she gives her full review of the 100% Pure skincare products she received. Psst ... I think she likes them :-)

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

It's the "grape" watermelon marble tower

Summer is nearly over (fall actually hasn't begun yet; I believe the autumnal equinox is Sept. 23), along with the end of the watermelon season. What better way to say goodbye to this yummy summer treat than with our own personal farewell to summer/watermelon party.

We (my daughter Hayden and I) were inspired by Amber Shea of Almost Vegan, who blogged about her love letter to watermelon and participation in a watermelon eating contest. She just had to get her fill of it before it's gone (she got second place in that contest; not too shabby).

Personally, I prefer to take my time and make my watermelon last. Therefore, we picked up a huge one to share, which I really took my time to slice into a ton of rectangular building blocks.

What did we do with those blocks? Build, of course.

This wouldn't be the first time we've built something out of our food. For example, you may recall the raw gingerbread house I posted a few years ago. I wish I had planned it out better, but I still had fun making it.

The same is true for today's marble tower, based on the ones I used to make with my mom. She had a box of little red bricks and wedges that, when arranged correctly, created a tower with a spiral chute down the center for rolling marbles down.

The watermelon blocks brought back memories of those marble towers, so we made one today. Here are some photos of the work in progress:

First, you've got to build a foundation.

Then, build it up, adding wedge pieces along the way to create the slide inside. Don't forget to stack the walls around it (and rotate the corner wedges in the slide to create the spiral).

Keep on building ...

... until you reach your desired height.

And, here's our video to show you how it works with grape "marbles." If you make one, let us know.

We had so many bricks leftover, that we thought about playing Jenga with them. The best part is eating the watermelon blocks when you've successfully removed them.

Jacob also made this cute little watermelon man, and some more of the melon bricks ended up in smoothies, like the one on Kimberly Snyder's blog. Just watermelon and almond milk. Pinkalicious!

Hope you are enjoying the last watermelons of the season, too :-)