Matcha Green Tea Powder (and antioxidant rambling)

Prevention is pretty much my motivation for staying healthy.  Ever since the health problems I was having last year started going away, shortly after I began eating a high-raw diet, I'm now convinced that nutrients and antioxidants are responsible. Now that my health is a greater concern for me than ever before (I do NOT want that pain to come back), I'm trying earnestly to incorporate as many nutrient dense foods as possible. In my quest for healthy drinks, I came across matcha.  


Matcha is said to rate at 1300 units per gram by the ORAC rating, where other "superfoods" like blueberries only score 91 units, and pomegranates 105!  Not to discount the health properties of blueberries or pomegranates, but matcha is serious business when it comes to free radical ass-kicking!  

Matcha is so cool, I just can't get enough of it. I've been trying to drink at least one cup of matcha each day, sometimes more!  I mix it with ginger crystals and coconut butter.  I mix 1 full packet of ginger crystals with 1 tbsp. coconut butter and 1 tsp. matcha powder.  It's delicious. In case you're wondering about the coconut butter in a drink, I'm trying to include coconut-something in every "meal." Usually I use coconut oil, but I wasn't fond of sipping on an oil slick...

If you don't know about matcha, it's basically powdered green tea.  It's bright green in color, and creates a true "green" tea!  It's super healthy for all the same reasons as traditional green tea, but it's super potent because it's powdered.  So instead of just steeping the green tea leaves in water for a few minutes and removing them from the drink, you mix the powder with the water so you are actually consuming the entire leaf.  One glass of matcha is supposedly equivalent to 10 glasses of green tea, as far as nutrition and antioxidants are concerned.  

Antioxidant content is measured by ORAC (oxygen radical absorbance capacity) units. An ORAC unit is essentially the antioxidant ability to absorb and neutralize free-radicals. Free radicals are what we get when we introduce pollution into our bodies (via environmental pollution, chemically laden foods, pesticides, etc.). When pollution is introduced, harmful free radical molecules are released into our system. These free radicals are unstable molecules lacking one or more electrons. With an unpaired electron, the molecule starts bouncing around our system to seek out a new electron or another molecule to bond with in order to create balance. We call them "free" because they travel around, freely, until they bond and become stable. Only, we don't have extra electrons just floating around, so it has to steal an electron from a healthy molecule.  That ends up creating a chain reaction, because the next molecule in line is now a free radical, and so on. If this chain reaction is left unchecked, the free radicals can begin to harm healthy cells.  

That's where antioxidants, and things like matcha, come into play.  Antioxidants are what keep the free radicals in check.  They do this by either providing the lacking electron, thereby stabilizing the radical, or by breaking it down entirely and rendering it harmless.  

According to this article,

"Research has shown that antioxidants can have an important impact on serious diseases. In one recent study, the addition of a polyphenol-rich blueberry gel to the diet of oral cancer patients prevented recurrence of the cancer. Another experiment demonstrated that increased levels of selenium in the diets of a group of HIV-positive patients significantly delayed progression of the disease."

If that's to be believed, then it's possible that with an antioxidant rich diet, we may be able to stave off illness and disease! That's pretty incredible. I realize every body is different, but free radicals are free radicals, and antioxidants are antioxidants...no matter who you are. I'm in no way trying to insinuate that antioxidants will cure cancer or anything, but it seems science is showing that they can, at least, aid in prevention.   

Do you have any fun ways to prevent illness, a favorite antioxidant powerhouse, or a new way for me to enjoy matcha? Please share!    

Oil Cleansing Progress - with Coconut Oil

Remember the other day when I talked about oil cleansing? Well, I took the plunge and tried it using pure coconut oil. I've been doing it for about 3 days now, and (gasp) I think I actually like it!

My greatest fear with trying the oil cleansing method was that my cystic acne would come back.  I've been acne-free for years now (since using coconut oil based soap and mineral makeup), but I still have extremely sensitive facial skin. I think the only thing that motivated me beyond my fear is the fact that I know my skin likes coconut oil in soap.

I have not yet noticed any breakouts that I feel are related to the coconut oil. What I mean by this is, I wake up with the occasional white head, and that happened yesterday morning, but, since this is "normal" for me, I don't feel it's a result of the coconut oil cleansing.    

I've had some blemishes that I've had trouble clearing for a while, and, since oil cleansing, one of them has miraculously gone away already!  The perpetual microscopic blackheads on my nose and chin are diminishing in appearance, and my pores seem to be shrinking.  I can't say for sure if these results will be lasting, as I've only been doing it for a very short time, but so far, my face is less oily to the touch than it has ever been in my adult life. My face is also softer than I ever remember it being without a moisturizer, and I don't have any flaky, dry skin anymore!

This is really amazing stuff.  Time will tell if this will be successful long term, but judging by the results lately, I have really high hopes!

Here's what I did:

I scooped some coconut oil into a small storage container to take up to the bathroom. While in the shower, I scooped out about 1/2 tsp with my finger and rubbed it all over my face, neck, and ears. I rubbed it in for a while, until I felt nice and smooth.

After that, I stood with my face in the hot water stream for a few seconds (to steam my pores open). Then I massaged my face and rinsed again. Then I stuck my head out of the shower and patted the excess oil off with my towel. Then I finished the rest of my shower routine, massaged and rinsed my face once more, then turned off the shower and dried off. 

Just a note...my shower floor was not slick AT ALL doing this in the shower using coconut oil. 

My face is not the least bit oily when I'm finished. I simply cannot believe the results.

If you are interested in trying this at the sink (instead of in the shower), there's a really great tutorial on that over at mommypotamus, which is where I originally stumbled upon this idea.  She includes a list of various oils, and their benefits, and also some oil "recipes."

There's also a really great article about oil cleansing at Wellness Mama.  I absolutely love her site, by the way.  There is a ton of great alternative health info over there!


Green (and Blue) Smoothies

I've been wanting to try parsley in a green drink for a while now, but haven't been brave enough to try it yet. Until today. I don't usually care much for parsley as a culinary herb, but I know it's super healthy and detoxifying, which is why it's so alluring as a green drink ingredient for me. I'm not alone here. Lots of people juice and make smoothies with it.

I wanted to go light on the parsley, just to test the waters. Here's roughly what I used today.

Parsley Cucumber Smoothie

1 kale leaf
2 sprigs of parsley
1/2 lemon, juiced
1 apple
1/2 cucumber, peeled
1" pc of ginger
2-4 tbsp flax seeds
Water to taste

Blend until smooth.  Serve over ice.

Although this is going to take some tweaking, I do think this combination has potential. It's a very bright, refreshing flavor. I definitely see this growing on me as a morning pick-me-up. The parsley, ginger, and lemon compliment one another really well. I might, however, add some mint and banana next time, and maybe use less lemon.

Overall, definitely not the worst thing I've created in my blender so far!

This delight pictured below does NOT contain parsley (or any green, for that matter).  But I made it today, too, and thought I'd share!

Blueberry Banana Smoothie

1 c. blueberries
1 banana
1 container vanilla yogurt
coconut milk to desired consistency
cinnamon to taste

Blend until smooth.  Serve over ice.

Yes, if you're wondering, I do practically live on smoothies! :D


Coconut oil. Best thing ever? (and the oil cleansing method)

There's a lot of controversy surrounding coconut oil, and I'm not going to get into any of that.  I'm not a scientist or a doctor, but I am a person who consumes and uses coconut oil on a regular basis. What I can tell you from experience is that my body LOVES coconut oil. I've also read "The Coconut Oil Miracle," if you'd like to do some reading on the subject.

Coconut oil is also extremely versatile. Personally, I use it to lubricate pans while cooking, thicken smoothies, and it has a ton of raw applications. I moisturize my skin with it, and it's an ingredient in my favorite face soap! (Auromere Sandalwood Turmeric, for anyone interested.)

Recently, I came across The Oil Cleaning Method (OCM) while perusing a new blog. If you, too, are new to this, let me explain. It's the concept of cleansing your face with nothing but pure oil. Sounds repulsive, right? I mean, we're taught that oil is bad for our skin, and to avoid it in facial products at all costs (especially if your acne prone!). So what the hell?

Being acne prone myself, I know from personal experience that oil is not the bad guy it's cracked up to be. As I've mentioned, I use soap on my face which includes coconut oil as a main ingredient. I discovered coconut oil for the face by happy accident years ago and haven't turned back (to oil free) since. If your still on the anti-oil-on-the-face side of the fence, I urge you to at least try a new soap with coconut oil!

Or watch this video and look at this person's amazing skin!  Coconut oil FTW!

Using coconut oil as a lip balm!  Genius!  (And for oil pulling, too!)  I usually use Dr. Bronner's or Burt's Bees, but I'm sold on coconut oil already!  And for oil pulling, it must be delicious!

Although I'm no stranger to oil as an ingredient in my facial care products, the thought of putting pure oil on my face is just disgusting! But there's science behind it. And who am I to argue with science? The idea is that oil breaks down oil. So slathering oil on your face is actually dissolving the grime on your face, instead of adding more. Then, because there's (clean) oil on your face maintaining a moisture balance, your body doesn't create more...so no clogged pores!

I'm a little nervous, bit I'm going to give it a try soon. Maybe tomorrow...

Anyone already doing the oil cleansing method?  Have you tried coconut oil?  Prefer another oil?  Do share!



If you're anything like me, you may be a little daunted by the idea of gardening.  Sprouting is in the gardening category, and I have little experience with gardening.  Try as I might, I kill most plant life.

I've recently started looking into sprouting and it doesn't look all that difficult.  I found this video of a man growing sprouts and wheatgrass in his truck!  Very inspiring stuff.  If he can manage on the road, there is no excuse for me to not try sprouting in my kitchen! Check it out.

Sprouting doesn't take many supplies at all. In fact, seeds and a sprouting device are all you'll need.  You may already have what you need waiting for you in your kitchen!

To begin sprouting, all you need are:

  • Seeds
  • Mason jars
  • Lid rings for the jars
  • Screen, cheesecloth, or flour sack towels

What I'm using:
  • 2 pint mason jars with metal rings
  • flour sack towels
  • 1/2 c. adzuki beans (1/4 c. per jar)

If you have organic quinoa, beans, or lentils, they'll probably sprout. I happen to have some adzuki beans  in the pantry at the moment, so that's what I'm experimenting with.  I don't have any of the larger mason jars like in the video, so I'll be using two pint jars.

As far as soaking, I've read mixed information about preferred water/bean ratios.  Some say double the water for how many beans/seeds you have; some say use as much as four times the water as beans/seeds. Some people put very little seeds/beans in their jars; some people seem to fill it almost halfway with seeds/beans!


Since I'm not really sure what to expect here, and I'm going to finish sprouting in the jar (instead of soaking in the jar, then dumping in a dedicated sprouting device), I'm going to go light on the beans and heavy on the water.  I think I'm just going to fill the jar with water.

Put your towel or screen on the jar, and screw the ring on.  Sit the jar (now full of 1/4 c. beans and water) on the counter and allow to soak for 8-12 hours.

If you're trying something other than beans or lentils, I recommend doing a little research to figure out your soak time and optimal seed/water ratios.  Not everything sprouts in the same amount of time.  Some things, like grains, apparently, only take about 20 minutes to soak, and 3 days to sprout.

After the soak, dump the water out (just turn the jar upside down over your sink).  Fill back up, rinse and agitate the beans a little by swirling the jar.  Drain well.  Repeat this a few times until the seeds/beans are rinsed well (until the water isn't foggy?).  Sit the jar on the counter again for another 8-12 hours.

Repeat the rinsing and waiting process a few more times, and you should have sprouts!

Here's another video I found demonstrating the soaking and rinsing process, including a time-lapse of the soak!

If you have a favorite thing to sprout, or method of sprouting, I'd love to hear about it!


Corn & Black Bean Salsa (and a raw update)

I'm not sure if I've discussed this previously, but a secondary reason for me to try a raw diet was indigestion. Before I tried going raw, I was experiencing terrible indigestion in the morning. I was throwing up clear puddles of acidic liquid each morning. It got so bad that I thought i was pregnant (morning sickness), and eventually I had blood work done. It turned out I was not pregnant, so the doctor recommended I take an antacid. Long story short, the antacids didn't work, but the raw diet did.

I tell you this because today, approximately 1.5 months back on a non-raw diet (I've been eating non-raw since about thanksgiving), and its happening again. Granted, I did have spaghetti for dinner last night, which isn't helping.  I usually try to avoid tomato based sauces.  Either way, this is motivation for me to get back on track. My finances are pretty much back to normal, so I thought there is no better time than the present to bring raw back into my life.

Last time I started sliding into a raw diet, I started off by drinking green smoothies. But last time, I quickly got overwhelmed by all the fun gadgets and recipes, and started trying to make tons of "gourmet" dishes. This is where I went wrong financially. For me, it was just too expensive and too time consuming to buy so many different fruits and vegetables and prep them for the recipes I had planned for the week. For one, fruits and vegetables are more expensive than other groceries; second, I found I was wasting a lot of produce at the end of the week. This was either because I had more on hand than I needed for my recipe, or simply because I ended up not using it.  Plain and simple, it was poor menu planning on my part.

This time around, I'm taking a more laid back approach. I'm still doing a green smoothie each day, but I'm not going to obsess over making a ton of recipes. I also realized that I like to have a salsa available which includes avocado. If nothing else, I will be sure to make a salsa each week.  I made this really tasty corn & black bean salsa recipe this week.  I was inspired by a picture I saw somewhere.  Probably on Pinterest...  The picture was a huge bowl of corn, tomato, and red peppers with cilantro.  I took that a step farther and added avocado, onion, and beans.  It's heartier and far more satisfying this way.  

Corn & Black Bean Salsa

2 tomatoes, dices
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
1/2 cucumber, diced
3 thick slices of red onion, diced
1 avocado, diced
cilantro to taste
couple splashes of vinegar
1 can of corn (use fresh if in season!)
1 can of black beans

  1. Toss together all of the diced veggies.
  2. Rinse canned ingredients well, and add to veggies. 
  3. Add cilantro and a couple splashes of vinegar.  (The recipe I found called for lime juice, but I didn't have lime juice, so I used vinegar.  Feel free to use lime juice if you have it.  It would probably be better.)  I used garlic flavored rice wine vinegar.  It's just what I had on hand. I'm sure any mild vinegar would be fine.  
  4. Scoop into bibb lettuce for veggie tacos (pictured above), or eat it with tortilla chips.  
I'm sure this would be really great with garlic and jalapeno, if you care for a more intense flavor.  If this is a little bland for you, you could easily dress it up with a little bit of greek dressing, or even your favorite homemade dressing!    

Other than eating salsa and green smoothies, I'm going to try to include more whole foods in general into my diet. Easy on-the-go stuff like apples, bananas, grapes, and cherries.  At least at first.  

And speaking of smoothies, I just made an awesome smoothie this morning.  Kale, strawberries, bananas, coconut oil, and hemp seeds.  The coconut oil and hemp seeds really leveled it out and kept me full all morning!  If your smoothies haven't been keeping you full, try adding some seeds and/or oil! 

Oh, and I also think I'm going to start juicing. I've been doing a lot of research on the topic lately, and I'm starting to think it may be the only way to be really successful long term with a raw diet. See, I've also realized that there are a lot of vegetables that I don't care for in their raw form. Sure, I could cook them instead, but wheres the fun in that? I'm a  little off put by the potential strong flavor, but many people claim fresh veg juice doesn't taste at all like what you expect it to. I know that's vague, but I kinda see what they probably mean. So I plan to save up for a juicer over the near future. I'm leaning toward a masticating juicer, but well talk more about that another day! 


DIY All Purpose Cleaner Recipe

I bought a book full of eco-friendly recipes a while ago called Clean House, Clean Planet, by Karen Logan.  My main reason for doing so is, obviously, to make more eco-friendly products.  I recently watched a documentary on Netflix (Chemercial: Redifining clean for a new generation) about a family who gave up all chemicals.  They had the air quality within their home tested before they changed products, and had alarmingly high rates of VOC's in the air. After they had converted to homemade eco-products for some time, they had their air quality tested again, and the VOC rate was next to nothing. Watching this documentary got me thinking about all the pollution that I probably have within my own home.  

My second motivation for making my own products is to save money.  Who doesn't want to save money?  Seriously?  For the most part, most of these ecofriendly products can be made with a combination of vinegar, baking soda, borax, and castile soap. My preferred castile soap is Dr. Bronner's.  These are all inexpensive and easily attainable products. I happen to already have all of these things on hand, but I'm pretty sure you can pick them all up for less than $25. If you are willing to spend more initially, you can buy larger quantities and save money in the long run. But, if you just want to dip your toe into making your own products, you can get small quantities of all these products for an affordable price. 

Now, dont get me wrong, it's not like I hadnt thought about going green before seeing this documentary. Of course I have already thought about it, and I even tried replacing my usual cleaning products with their eco-friendly counterparts years ago, but I found them to not be nearly as effective. Also, I found it to be MORE wastefule to use the eco products since I had to use more to get the same results, which then caused more plastic waste and more spending. 

Since I've resolved to make 2013 a healthier year, I figured there is no better time than now to whip out this book and make something!  The first thing I made was all purpose cleaner.  It only took the 3 simple ingredients, plus some hot water!  Quick and easy!  Check it out...

Oh, and don't mind the bowl of baking soda in the picture. I put that in the line-up by accident, and didn't feel like taking a new picture once I realized!  Yes, I can count, and no the recipe below is NOT lacking a measurement for baking soda :)

All Purpose Cleaner

24 oz. spray bottle
1/2 tsp. borax
2 tbsp. white vinegar
Hot water up to ~20 oz. fill line
1/2 c. castile soap (I used Dr. B's peppermint)
10 drops essential oil (optional for fragrance)
  1. Combine borax and vinegar in the spray bottle, then fill bottle up to the 20 oz fill line. Shake until borax is dissolved.  Then pour in the castile soap and essential oil and shake gently to combine.  
  2. Clean some shit!  Enjoy knowing that your skin won't melt off!

It's really that easy to have a homemade, eco-friendly all purpose cleaner!  It literally took me less than 5 minutes to make this.  The best part is that it actually works!  And I don't have to worry about getting bleach on my clothes if I bump against the counter while I'm cleaning.  Maybe it's just me, but I used to ruin a lot of shirts that way.  Yea, probably just me...


Berries and Kale Smoothie, and a healthy new year

I've been lethargic and foggy-headed lately.  I can only blame the food I've been eating lately.  My body is sad and it misses fruits and veggies.  I haven’t really been sticking to a raw diet lately, and my body is rebelling.  A bunch of things sort of came to a head over the holidays which prevented me from sticking to the raw food, but now that the holidays are over and my finances are getting back on track, I’m looking forward to a getting back to a healthy lifestyle.  The two main things that prevented me from maintaining a raw lifestyle are finances and time.  

Let’s face it, raw food is expensive and it can be time consuming to prepare.  Between everything that life throws our way, it can be really easy to let our health take a back-burner to some of the seemingly more pressing issues we face daily.  Life is full of enough stresses as it is; food shouldn't be one of them.  

I’m not a person who makes resolutions when the new year rolls around, but this year I am determined to find a way to make healthier decisions without breaking the bank or dedicating all of my spare time to cutting fruit.  I am determined to find an affordable way to maintain a whole-foods, plant-based diet.  I plan to explore juicing, among other things.  But for now, I may just have to stick to daily green smoothies.  

Speaking of green smoothies, here’s one that I really like.  

Berries and Kale Smoothie

1/2 c. grapes
6 strawberries
3/4 c. pineapple
1/4 c. citrus
1/4 c. blueberries
2 large kale leaves
Water to desired consistency

Combine in the blender and blend until smooth.  Enjoy!