Tuesday 28 June 2011

Raw Gaia Winner

The winner of the Raw Gaia Green Clay Face Mask is:

Congratulations Kristin!  Look for an email shortly, and enjoy!

Thursday 23 June 2011

Sprouting: Let Them Eat Sprouts!

Think of how many nutrients an expectant mother needs to be growing that little bundle inside of her.  Plant seeds are similar in that when they germinate, they have a different nutritional makeup compared to when they are an inert seed, and also different from when they are a full fledged plant.  It is for this nutrition that people have embraced sprouting.  Eating sprouted seeds has a LIST of great health benefits varying from having increased antioxidants (which help bind up free radicals in your body), increased vitamin content (the amount can increase up to 20 times the amount before being sprouted), all in a format that is easier for the body to utilize because it is in a living format.  This site is such an AMAZING source of information about sprouts, I was fascinated!

What is sprouting?  It's taking seeds and causing them to germinate.  This can take anywhere from 3-6 days depending on the type of seed, and you would be AMAZED to see how many different types of seeds can be sprouted and enjoyed.  Sprouting is GREAT for anyone who is vegan, vegetarian, raw, or just anyone who wants to include more nutrient packed greens into their diet.  Did I mention you can do it at home for pennies a "crop"?  Read on!

I was wandering up and down the aisles of my local eco-focused store (Earth's General Store, for all those in the Edmonton Area) when I came upon a section devoted to sprouting.  I passed by it quickly and moved on, but the seed of interest had been planted.  As I continued around the store I found myself being more and more intrigued about sprouting, and what it was all about, so I ventured back to the sprouting section.  Here,  my new experiment was born.

The bag of sprout seeds I purchased (Spicy Lentil Crunch) contained seeds of: lentils, red clover, alfalfa, radish, non-GMO canola, and mustard.  Quite a tasty sounding mix!  I also purchased the green sieve lid to help with the rinsing.  The jar, you can see, is an old pickle jar I rinsed out.  Total cost?  Around $8 for all the goods.

The process of sprouting is quite simple:

1.  Take 2 tbsp of seeds (this amount varies depending on the type of seed you are using) and soak in   about 1 cup of water for 2-6 hours, and then drain.

2.  Leave the jar in a bowl at a 45 degree angle with the lid facing down to continue to drain the seeds.

3.  Every day, fill the jar (about halfway) with water, swirl, and then drain.  Do this 2-3 times, always inverting the jar at 45 degrees afterwards.

4.  Watch your seeds germinate and sprout!  Depending on the seed, you may or may not need to subject them to sun.  Personally I just left the jar on my kitchen counter, and 4 days later, I had myself a jar full of sprouts!

5.  Once your sprouts are a good size, remove them from the jar and give them a good pat down with a cloth or paper towel to remove and residual moisture.  You can then use them immediately, or store them in the fridge!  Just keep your eyes peeled for any sliminess or rot, because then it's time to toss them in your compost and start again!

So far in 1 week I've had 2 "crops" of sprouts which have made their way into salad, sandwiches, and once I just took a bag on a walk with me to munch on.  I am in LOVE!  I hope this opens your eyes to the world of sprouting, and I REALLY hope you give it a try, I would LOVE to hear from you below!

Thursday 16 June 2011

Compost Standstill: What to do?

I am a student of compost.  A student who last week was failing the class.  It didn't matter that I LOVED this class, I was just missing something.

As I previously wrote about here, I love to compost.  However, last week my compost was at a standstill.  From the information I have read, and class I attended, compost should be a nice, moist, warm pile of action.  When I opened my composter, however, all that greeted me was a dried up pile...picture, if you will, a mouth full of soda crackers.  THAT dry.  If you are having a similar problem with your compost, let's break down what the issues could be:

1) Your compost is too dry causing microorganism activity to halt.
-Add water to your compost (without soaking) and mix your pile to help the water permeate the layers.
- Your compost may be in too much sunlight, causing it to dry out too quickly.  Move it into the a slightly more shady area 
-Soak your browns (carbons) before adding them to your pile to increase the moisture content
-Cover ventilation holes to decrease excessive airflow

2) You are adding to many browns (carbons)
-it's easy to add to many browns because at certain times of the year (Autumn) they are most readily available.  Just remember that when you add browns, you need to be adding approximately the same amount of greens.  So to counteract too many browns...add more greens!  Grab some grass clippings, apple peels, or past due veggies, and toss 'em on in!

These are just a couple of ideas on changes to try to get your compost moving again.  Since I started writing this post last week and trying some of these options, my compost has made quite a recovery!  If you have any questions on trouble with your compost, post 'em below and we'll try brainstorm some ideas for you! 

Thursday 9 June 2011

Raw Gaia Skin Care Giveaway **CLOSED**

Raw Gaia is an exciting, inspiring company.  Hailing from the UK, Raw Gaia is the world’s  first  line of cold-pressed, living, 100% organic, vegan, cruelty and chemical-free skin care products.   This sounds like a mouthful, and really, breaks down into Raw Gaia being a company you need to look into.  Let’s break down what they’re all about.

Raw Gaia uses cold-pressed, raw, living ingredients.  What this means is that their products are created using a process that avoids surpassing temperatures of 40⁰C; antioxidants, proteins, vitamins, minerals etc. are influenced at high temperatures and lose many of the benefits that they provide, which is why Raw Gaia’s production is key to the benefits of their products.   

Raw Gaia’s products do not include any petrochemicals, artificial fragrances, colours, glycols, laurel sulphates, parabens, preservatives, bulking agents, or synthetic additives.  Essentially, what you read on the ingredients is what you get in the product.  And because the products are made fresh without preservatives, everything is marked with a unique expiry date for that product.  

Raw Gaia’s products are certified by the Vegan Society and the British Union Against Vivisection (BUAV).  The company prides itself on using “organic and/or wildcrafted ingredients” and attempts as often as possible to utilize fairtrade to accrue their raw materials.  

Something I really love about Raw Gaia is their new policy on “ethical marketing”.  This is their attempt to make a stand against the “false standards of beauty that make women feel inadequate and unsure of their bodies, and in particular, about ageing skin”.  With this new policy, Raw Gaia refuses to mention features like de-aging, wrinkle reducing, rejuvenating, etc. on their product descriptions, and instead have a section on their website dedicated to achieving healthy skin through proper diet, positive mental attitude, and natural skin care.  It is this positive, healthy, respectable way that Raw Gaia creates, sells, and markets their products that makes them such a desirable company to work with, purchase from, and use products from.

Raw Gaia generously sent me their "Acne Combination" skin care pack consisting of cold pressed Borage oil, Tea Tree Floral Water and Green Clay Facepack.

At first, I was confused why they would recommend borage oil to put on already oily, problem skin, until I read a little more about borage oil.  It turns out that borage oil is rich in GLA (gamma-linolenic acid) which helps to regenerate and stimulate cell activity while being absorbed deeply into the skin.  Borage oil is also known to help sunburn and eczema.

When I first used the borage oil on my skin, it felt quite oily, but started to soak in quickly, leaving my skin feeling hydrated without the normal "slick" feeling I get from my usual face cream.  I also noticed that throughout the day my face seemed more balanced.  Usually in the afternoon I find my skin to be excessively oily, but when I used the borage oil it helped keep a balanced hydration all day, which was LOVELY!  Raw Gaia also supplied me with the Tea tree Floral Water, which is a fragrant water that, when used over top of the borage oil, helps the oil to soak in faster, as well as providing all the benefits of tea tree oil without drying out the skin.  The Tea tree Floral Water has the antiseptic, antifungal, antiviral, and antibacterial benefits of Tea tree oil, which help to clean and purify the skin, targeting acne to help clear the skin.  In the mornings I would use the borage oil after showering, top with a spritz of tea trea floral water, and then continue with putting on makeup etc.  I found that this combination made my skin moist (without being oily), and also helped decrease the amount of acne on my face.  I also found that on warm days, spritzing with the floral water helped to refresh my face and make it feel less oily without having to wash my face and reapply my makeup!

Raw Gaia also sent me the Sun-dried Green Clay face pack which is a detoxifying face mask.  It is said to be able to "gently draw out toxins and environmental pollutants that may be lying under the skin, in order to heal and clean while giving your face a nice lift and glow" and is said to be especially helpful in "relieving skin congestion, spots, inflammation, fatty deposits and dry skin".  This sounds like a miracle worker!  I was very excited to try the mask, and enjoyed the results every time I used it!  By mixing a little of the clay with water or floral water, you are able to create a thick paste that you apply to the face for 5-10 min.

After this, you rinse and then enjoy the feeling of radiant skin.  Literally, every time I used this mask I felt like my skin was rejuvenated.  It didn't exfoliate like other masks I had tried, yet truly left my face feeling refreshed with an even tone and glowing, healthy radiance.  I love this mask.

Raw Gaia has been kind enough to offer one lucky reader the Sun-dried Green Clay Face Pack!

Please read the rules and regulations of this site’s giveaway policies here and then start entering!
This giveaway is open from June 9, 2011 to June 23, 2011.
This giveaway is open to residents WORLDWIDE


To enter:
MANDATORY ENTRY: -Visit http://www.rawgaia.com/ and mention one product you are interested in

Extra entries
-Follow @rawgaia on Twitter
-“Like Raw Gaia on Facebook
-Follow @wholesomeabode on Twitter
-“Like” Wholesome Abode on Facebook

-Become a Google Friend Connect follower of this blog 

-Tweet this contest and tag @wholesomeabode (max. 1 tweet per day). Leave the permalink in the comments section. (1 entry each tweet) You can use the following tweet:

Win a raw, organic, vegan Green Clay Face Mask @WholesomeAbode 

http://bit.ly/m6rYkX (ends 6/23) #raw #eco #green #giveaway

Tuesday 7 June 2011

The Compost Junkie

I'm addicted. I'm addicted to composting.

I read about it, I go to classes about it, I talk about it with friends. I sit around the lunch table at work cringing as people throw away their cores, peels, crusts and think... "Maybe I could take those home to my bin?". Once I even asked, and then passed it off as a joke as my coworkers stared at me like I was insane. The fact of the matter is, I LOVE the idea of taking something that is garbage, and turning it into something useful,and full of potential--that earthy smelling black gold.

For beginners, compost waste is classified as two main groups "browns" (carbons: shredded paper, dead plants, brown leaves/grass, wood chips etc.) and "greens" (nitrogens: fruit peels/cores, veggie scraps, plants, tea leaves, coffee grounds etc.). Of course there are many more nutrients and elements making up your compostables, but this is the main way that these wastes (let's call them "building blocks") are separated into groups. The key to a good, healthy compost is to have the correct balance of browns, greens, moisture and air, otherwise your compost heap can turn into a stinky, slimy mess.

Microorganisms are the most important ingredient to the compost pile and are the starting force of decomposition.  Actinomycetes, fungi, and eventually worms and more complex organisms move in later and help to keep the decomposition rolling.  Where do all these organisms come from you ask?  Well, you are creating a lovely home for them full of food, heat, and moisture, so they will start to move in in a hurry if you provide this type of atmosphere.  Sometimes when starting a BRAND new compost, you need to an an "activator" to introduce some of these organisms, and to provide a rich nitrogen based environment for them to live in.  Chicken manure is said to be an EXCELLENT activator (unfortunately, I don't know anyone with chickens, so this option was out).  I did have the next best thing though...a husband willing to pee on my pile.  That's right!  It took a little bribing, and perhaps a bit of begging, but eventually he succumbed to my pleas.  Urine is an excellent compost activator because it is full of a variety of nutrients within its' yellow streams, and generally carries some bacteria as well.   All in all, a perfect activator for my backyard compost pile.

At the risk of blathering on, I will end this post here, but this is only scratching the surface of composting. I would LOVE to talk about it some more with you, so if you have any questions or comments, let's chat below!

Thursday 2 June 2011

Perfect Baked Jerk Chicken

Sorry I've been on hiatus lately!  Summer is a BUSY time full of long nights of friends, gardening, family, and little time for the computer.  Hopefully I can find some time to write when the sun goes down!  Unfortunately for me, that's usually after 1030 pm in these parts--I can't complain though, I love these long summer nights.

I just wanted to share with you one our household's current favourite recipes!  It was given to me by my sister for a Christmas present in a recipe box full of wholesome, delicious recipes!  I hope you enjoy!

Perfect Baked Jerk Chicken
serves 3-4
1 tsp allspice powder
1 tsp packed brown sugar
1 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp cayenne  (if you like kick, you can up this to 1/2 or even 1 tsp)
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp dried thyme
1/4 cup vegetable oil
4-6 pieces of chicken (bone in, I usually use thighs) with skin on

As an aside:
This may seem like a daunting list of ingredients, and believe me, I spent about $30 to accumulate all the spices, but you will put them to GOOD use because you will LOVE this recipe.

The good thing about this recipe is that you can also customize it to your liking depending on your taste.  I usually up the amounts of pepper, cayenne, and garlic.

Back to the recipe:
1. Combine ALL ingredients in a Ziploc bag.  Squash is, shake it, smear it all around until the chicken is coated evenly.  Marinate the chicken in the fridge for 2-4 hours.  (I actually usually leave it for about 20 min....who has 2-4 hours to marinate meat with???)

2. Preheat over to 350°F.  Put the chicken on a broiler pan skin side up.

3. Bake until the chicken is cooked to 170-180°F near the bone (or about 1 hour-1 hour 20 min)

4. Broil the chicken for ~5 minutes at the end to crisp up the skin

5. Serve with something delicious and nutritious like salad and Mexican Quinoa Bean Medley

I urge you to try this recipe...you will not be disappointed!  Comment below if you try it, have any changes to propose, or if you just want to chat!