Healthy Chocolate smoothie

At work we make a chunky monkey smoothie that tastes so good you won’t even be able to tell it’s good for you! I also love chocolate in smoothies because it completely covers up the taste of spirulina. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve grown fond of that swampy/fishy taste and all the health benefits that come with it, but sometimes I don’t want to cater my smoothie to that. I was tempted to add in Kraft peanut butter, but I knew that would probably taint my whole smoothie. So here is a version for what I had on hand!

1 banana
1/4 cup blueberries
1 tbsp natural cacao powder
1/4 cup vanilla greek yogurt
Preferred amount of fibre (I used probably 1/2 tbsp or less this time combined chia and flax)
Chocolate almond milk (if you have good stuff this might be all you need for chocolate, but real cacao is good for you anyways!)
1/4 tsp spirulina
1 tbsp sunflower seeds

I did this in a mini blender so I added most of the powders and seeds in at the bottom with some milk and pulsed it first. Seemed to work okay. I like to mix in my powders first on slow to make sure they don’t end up on the sides. It’s a little chunky but I don’t mind it!

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Gluten free and healthier baking

I am still in the learning process with all of this stuff. I have been looking it all up again because when you want to buy in bulk, bake a moderate amount and make your own flour blends it can be tricky. I often see a lot of conflicting information and I am having a bit of a hard time deciding what works best. While I’m thinking about it, I thought I’d do a post about what I’ve learned and experienced so far.

Things to consider:

Price: I am willing to spend more on gluten free and healthy baking because white flour has very little nutrition. However, I don’t want to pick the most expensive flours either. I haven’t had many problems with any of the flours I’ve tried, I love the rich, nutty-tasting flours such as sorghum and brown rice. I’d love to make a multiple flour blend, but I can’t afford to invest in ten different flours plus the storage for them.

Taste: When I make my own all purpose flour I find it tastes a lot better than Bob’s Red Mill which has a sour taste probably from one of the flours and the gum. I’m not fond of this but I don’t think my boyfriend even noticed. If you don’t tell people it’s gluten free, they probably won’t notice just pro tips!

Density: Grain flours will be heavier than lighter flours, but I honestly haven’t noticed a problem yet. I have stuck with brown rice, sorghum, millet and whole wheat and haven’t had a problem. For now, I will probably mix in white flour for treats so that will help. Usually people recommend a starch to help with this.

Gums: A lot of people agree you must have a gum for gluten free baking and I personally don’t really understand this. I have used Bob’s Red Mill all-p and a mixture of flours such as sorghum, teff and other grains without a problem. I often use flax eggs, so this could be what’s helping with that. Many people say that alternatively you can use flax or chia.

Convenience: Again, for me it doesn’t seem feasible to mix a multitude of flours together, even though that would undoubtedly work the best. I prefer simple blends of anything I make because the more complicated something is, the less likely I will be to stick with it. I have a hard time staying driven when things are grating on my patience. This link is a good guide to ratios. I am going to get potato starch, but so far mixing together even a couple of types of flour has worked out fine for me, and again the boyfriend test approved. For example, the first time I tried it I believe I used Bob’s All-p mixed with millet or sorghum flour and I had no trouble whatsoever. Another point is buying from bulk stores. For me, this would be the best option because I can buy small amounts whenever I need to ensuring the flour won’t go bad and that I can easily try different variations.

Your level of sensitivity: I believe I am sensitive to gluten, but I don’t think I need to avoid it altogether. I choose mostly gluten-free also for the health aspect. Because I don’t need to avoid it, mixing in a small amount of refined flour or whole wheat often seems to work well.

Who will be eating your baking: If it was for me, I am usually not too picky (though I still can’t get used to Bob’s Red Mill all-purpose on it’s own). For my tastes, the richer protein flours taste awesome and hearty. I don’t just tolerate these tastes, I really enjoy them. I thought blended up quinoa in my muffins tasted amazing because to me that’s a healthy hearty taste, white flour is not a taste I even like in muffins. Some people are picky and closed-minded. With these people, just let them discover the glory on their own instead of ruining their taste buds by telling them it’s vegan or gluten-free. I can’t understand why people think this means devil-spawn food. I guess food companies have done a good job making health look like a silly, tasteless trend. Healthy food tastes good and feels good!

I digress. If you are baking for a picky eater, you have to be careful what you blend together as something too far off from normal baking can be off-putting for them. For example, brown rice on its own would probably be too sticky and some flours have a weird sour taste on their own. I don’t think I’ve ever baked with just one. My boyfriend it kind of in-between the two extremes. He has always been open-minded about alternative diets and understands why I think it’s important. As long as it tastes good, he doesn’t mind that it’s healthy. He will notice if something is very different, but even then he considers it before he writes it off. That being said, he is someone who doesn’t quite fathom completely changing up diet and doesn’t seem to fully buy into the health risks of our society’s preferred types of diet. So I think that if he generally likes the things I make, there is hope.

Tips: Start off slow, do your research. Gluten free baking is a bit more difficult, but if you already know your way around a kitchen it is not that hard to adapt. I am still learning what works best for me. but so far I have only had maybe one flop when I tried something new. Make sure you know what it is that you are working with so you can think about how that would turn out.

Things I am still unsure of: (I’d love to hear feedback!)

-How long flours can really last (I have read anywhere from a month to a year. In my experience, I’d say they can last a long time, but I am not really sure)

-Whether or not the bulk barn is worth it and how to store flours: I know many should be stored in the fridge which makes me wonder if buying from the Bulk Barn is worth it at all. I have no idea how long things stay out and how well different flours can fare with this. I’d like to be able to buy from them, because it would be easier and sometimes flours that are expensive are less costly at a bulk store.

-Why some people think you always need certain ingredients. I have had success with just a couple flours with nothing else added. Maybe I am just lucky?

Easy all-purpose blend: Four ingredient blend

Alternatives to gums: http://gluten-free-bread.org/5-alternatives-to-xanthan-gum-and-guar-gum-in-gluten-free-baking

Snack attack: Peanut Butter smoothie and healthy thoughts

Hello friendly followers!

I have recently scored a gig at a local health food restaurant and I couldn’t be happier. This is the push I need to encourage me to start trying harder to be healthy again. So, for anyone who it doesn’t come easily to, I know the struggle. I have a hard time resisting the quick and easy lifestyle presented before us. I am notorious for waiting too long to eat and putting myself in a situation where I need food in my maw RIGHT MEOW. It’s harder still with my sensitive little tum: mornings can be hard. If I don’t get something in my belly my system doesn’t really wake up, but I usually feel too nauseous to eat more than half a banana. This is why I love smoothies and I like to make extra to make sure I get nutrients in the next day as well. I hope to get a new blender soon so I have a backup to ensure I have no excuses. I have a real reason to be a role model to society now! So, without further ado, here is the recipe I just cooked up: when I want a smoothie I usually start with what taste I am craving.

Rich peanut butter smoothiesmoothie pb

1-2 bananas (I used 1 and my half from this morning, heh.)
App. 6 frozen strawberries (or just ice if you prefer)
1/2 tsp spirulina (or just eyeball an amount that you don’t think will be too grody, like me)
2 tsp whole flax (or ground)
1 tsp hemp hearts (optional)
2 tbsp peanut butter (all I have is Kraft honey peanut butter but natural would actually be healthy when I get some)
1/4 cup-1/2 cup vanilla greek yogurt (if you use plain, I’d add some more honey or perhaps vanilla extract)
2 tsp honey (I forgot this but if you have natural honey it adds sweetness and I am a big bee booster nowadays because it’s so good for you)
Tiny little ploop of banana extract (I find normal bananas don’t have that POP of flavour you want. There is a myth that it’s based off an extinct variety of banana and while this is not proven, I’d imagine it is at least based off of fresh from the forest bananas which is not the same as our regular Cavendish bananas)
Chosen liquid (I used prune juice but it probably interfered with the flavour a bit however I didn’t mind it. Coconut milk was what I was originally going to use but remember you will taste that as well.)

Variations: As with any recipe I like to remind yall that this isn’t the ONLY way to prepare the smoothie. This is just a guide and what worked for me. I always add some kind of fibre/omega. I don’t find that part makes a huge difference besides that you can see chia seeds a little. If there is a fruit that suits your tastes, or you’d rather use spinach, giver!

To me, the spirualina didn’t stand out too much. It had some weird taste but it actually could have been the prune juice. I also found that like a fine wine, it tasted better after exposed to the air for a couple minutes.

Have a happy nom!

Quinoa banana muffins

There aren’t many quinoa muffin recipes that I could find and the ones I found didn’t have the ingredients I wanted them to have. I decided to make my own. For recipes a basic formula is a good way to contruct the bones. For muffins app. 2 parts flour, 2 pts liquid, 1 part egg, 1 part fat. For cupcakes it would be 1 part of each butter, sugar, egg, and flour.

Bake at 375 degrees for 15-25 minutes. I believe for my oven it was about 20.

  • Mash together 3 bananas and 1/4 cup of brown sugar
  • Add 2tbsp honey and 1/4 cup of coconut oil and mash in as well
  • Add in 3/4 cup to 1 cup cooked quinoa (I grinded it up a little so it would mix in better)
  • Last for wet is 1/2 cup of desired milk with 1/2 tsp ACV. Add in 1 tsp vanilla.
  • Dry ingredients: 1 cup oats, 3/4 cup flour, 1 tsp baking soda and powder, dash salt, 1 tsp cinnamon, 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup add ins: I used chocolate chips, carob chips, dried cranberry and sunflower seeds
  • For extra sweetness I topped with a sugar crumble which I just eyeballed: cinnamon, brown sugar, flour and oil or butter

These are slighty sweet with a great nutty flavour with the combination of sunflower seeds and quinoa.

Mario Badescu Review

In my search for acne products I have come across this company based in America. The sampling program they have is wonderful, but awful for us Canadians once we realize how expensive it is here. I was able to get samples of lotions, masks and scrubs which were honestly all amazing. I am not a fan of products like this usually but this company does know what they are doing. The ingredients aren’t perfect, but they also aren’t many which is a score to me. Most products have 20 or more ingredients while this company seems to stick with what they believe they need. They use a lot of natural oils and stuff too.mario

I decided this brand was worth mentioning because I have really been loving my samples. Not only that, I found a place that shis Mario Badescu products for free to us Canadians! I was really stoked on that because you don’t see that too often. You can also get some of them on Amazon. This makes buying these products a little more feasible because they are already quite expensive. There are other sites I found from Amazon with free shipping, but the prices are more so you are basically still paying for the shipping. (www.fragrancesandcosmeticsco.com and http://www.amazon.ca/s?me=A3BGW6URLT92CN [couldn’t find a site for that one] )

What I received and how I feel about it:

Collagen moisturizer: This stuff is pretty nice but I personally wouldn’t buy it. It seems to tighten the skin a little but I find it too greasy despite it being a thin cream. I have tried the aloe moisturizer and I like it a lot more.

Hyauluric eye cream: I am not big on eye creams and I don’t really understand them but I like this one better than the chamomile because it seems to help when my eyes feel heavy and tired from pressure. The chamomile is nice because it is soothing and a thicker cream.

Drying Cream: I am still not sure how I feel about this stuff. It does seem to help with pressure again, but I am not able to compare it to the drying lotion. It seems silly to have all these drying products as they have very slight differences in ingredients. I am going to be buying calamine lotion and mixing up my own drying something or other and see if that seems to help. That is one if the main ingredients in these drying things so I believe that’s a better option.

Drying mask: I liked it, but again probably wouldn’t actually purchase. It does seem to tighten my pores more than my Derma E mask, but the smell of the sulfur is HORRIBLE in this one, it smelled like my face was burning gasoline and I can still smell it. It also seems to leave a residue. If anything, this would be a product I would use one a week or less.

Azulene calming mask: I really liked this, I believe it is because of the balsam of Peru. Now, i have read that calamine is similar or contains Balsam of Peru, but I can’t really confirm that. It’s something I’d like to try because it is much cheaper than buying the essential oil. One day I am going to splurge on this but the main reasons it is nice is due to the balsam of Peru and azulene, which is a chamomile extract. These are both more expensive products but buying a thing of clay, and two extracts would probably be akin to the 25-30 or more you would spend on this product and you could make at least double or triple the amount.

Enzyme cleansing gel: This is another product I really like and will buy in the future. It reminds me of oil cleansing but it sorta perks your face up. I like it for a quick clean when my face feels tired or before exfoliating.

Strawberry face scrub: I expected to love this, but I was a little disappointed. It was okay, but I wouldn’t pay their price for it. I liked that it soothes and moisturizes making it less harsh than some exfoliants, but it wasn’t really for me. It left my face feeling…greasy is the best word but that wasn’t even it. Either way, I wasn’t keen on the feeling.

Botanical Exfoliating scrub: I liked this one better. It was more a gel type cleanser with micro-beads. It isn’t the best one I’ve ever tried though. Still, it is the best one I have come across for feel and ingredients combined.

Brown Rice Flour

Recently when I was at the bulk barn I noticed that brown rice flour was actually the same price as white flour, but exponentially better for you. It can be used in place of whole wheat flour. I  have used it in muffins and it turned out great. I did 75% rice 25% whole wheat.

Benefits to brown rice flour:

  • Cheap
  • High in fibre
  • Rich in magnesium which helps develop bones and cartilage properly and in turn helps the body absorb calcium
  • Also contains iron, vitamin B, phosphorus, copper
  • Can be used as a thickener in sauces and the like
  • Imparts a rich, nutty flavour which I personally love
  • The hull and bran in the mixture help digestion of the flour
  • Nearly gluten free (which also makes it easier to digest than white)
  • The slow-release of sugar causes it to also help with blood sugar levels making it great for people suffering from diabetes
  • Rich in anti-oxidants !

Sources:

bobsredmill.com

Bulk Barn Label

http://www.vegkitchen.com/tips/10-reasons-why-brown-rice-is-the-healthy-choice/

Make Your Own Lotion: Preservatives

hippie brown girl

I’m back with another informative lotion making post!  But first, let me answer some questions from my email (so excited that people, however few, are emailing me with questions!)

What do you know about soap making?

A lot actually! I probably won’t do any posts about it in the near future because I think it’s more intimidating and complex than making lotion. But if you’re interested, I can post my favorite original soap recipe.  I’ll get on it!

Do you have a recipe that works well for eczema?

Yup.  My eldest daughter has mild eczema (used to be moderate but has gotten better) and we use a great beeswax based cream.  I will post in my next lotion post.

Why do you use Optiphen as preservative over other options?

I will discuss that in this post!

I am SO happy that these posts about lotion making are helpful.  Please…

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30 Behavioral Interview Questions You Should Be Ready to Answer

TIME

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Interview prep 101 dictates that you should have your elevator pitch ready, a few stories polished, and a good sense of what you have to offer. So, how do you get there? Lots of practice, ideally aloud.

To help you better prepare for your next interview, here are 30 behavioral interview questions sorted by topic (in addition to 31 common interview questions here) that you can practice.

Not sure how to answer these questions? Here’s a quick guide on how to craft job-landing responses.

Teamwork

For questions like these, you want a story that illustrates your ability to work with others under challenging circumstances. Think team conflict, difficult project constraints, or clashing personalities.

  1. Talk about a time when you had to work closely with someone whose personality was very different from yours.
  2. Give me an example of a time you faced a conflict while working on a team…

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