Rooibos Concentrate + Rooibos & Rose Latte

      I used to be a coffee addict, guys. I probably drank a pot a day by myself, and it wasn't even the good stuff. Naturally, I developed a sensitivity to not only caffeine, but coffee itself. So, I gave it up for a long time. It was the hardest thing I have had to give up, food wise. Coffee had always just been part of my routine, a way that I could comfort myself if I was in a bad mood, or a way to treat myself. Recently, I re-introduced coffee into my diet. Unfortunately, it makes me feel incredibly tired, so my body is clearly not ready to handle much of it yet. I hope to one day be able to have a cup or two a week, as coffee with nut milk is one of my favourite flavours ever. For now, I will stick with alternatives. I love tea and drink it all day (mostly herbal, but some green or oolong, too), but sometimes, I want something more satisfying. I recently tried a rooibos cappuccino at Nelson's local natural foods co-op, and I loved it. The rooibos is naturally sweet, and the latte rich and complex like coffee. I quickly learned how to make a concentrate that I can keep in the fridge. When I want to enjoy a rooibos tea latte, I just take the concentrate out of the fridge, heat some up on the stove, and then heat some nut milk up and add the two together. I often drink it just like that, but sometimes I add something extra, such as a few drops of my homemade vanilla extract, or a drop of rosewater. I make a chai version as well, and I will share that recipe at a later date. 

I hope you enjoy the antioxidant benefits of this rooibos latte! 

To continued good health in the new year,


Rooibos Concentrate

1 cup of loose rooibos tea

10 cups of filtered water

To make:

Add the rooibos and the water to a stock pot and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and let sit for 20-30 minutes. Pour through a fine mesh strainer into two 1 quart mason jars. It will keep in the fridge for a long time.

To make lattes:

1/4 to 1/2 cup of rooibos concentrate

1 cup of nut milk

1 drop of rosewater extract (optional)

Add 1/4 to 1/2 (1/2 a cup might be too strong for some people-it's like "espresso" rooibos!) of concentrate to a small pot and bring to a boil. Change heat to low and add 1 cup of nut milk of your choice (or cow's milk, if you are into it), and 1 drop of rose water (be careful not to add more, or you will be drinking potpourri). Continue cooking for a moment, being careful not to let the milk curdle. Froth up the milk with a whisk while it is hot, and then pour into a mug and enjoy! 

If you have a milk frother, use that! 

My Favourite Natural Face Care Products for Winter

Someone told me that I have a nice complexion the other day, and instead of brushing the compliment off like dirt off my shoulder, I said "thank you" and smiled. The truth is, although compliments usually make me feel uncomfortable, this one made me feel really happy, because a person with a good complexion is a person who is healthy. I eat right, I excercise, I drink a lot of tea and water all day, and I avoid prolonged sun exposure. If anyone was to ask me the secret to good skin, I would say it is a combination of what I just mentioned previously, as balanced health leads to good skin, but I would also recommend not using any chemicals in the daily routine. I use a hundred percent natural products, and totally avoid chemicals, as they are abrasive and are absorbed into the body where they can wreak havoc on the hormones (and hormone imbalances lead to acne, and other issues). When it comes to skin care products, I do my research, try to support local or smaller companies, and I sometimes make my own products if I can't find what I need. I don't worry too much about wrinkles, as I feel every line on my face is a memory, either from laughter, or from spending time outdoors. I don't believe in spending excessive amounts of money on cosmetics, and although most of the products I buy are more expensive than conventional drugstore brands, they last a long time and I use just a little bit at a time. I am going to include a list of my favourite natural skin care products, and include a recipe for an easy natural facial scrub that makes my skin feel super clean and smooth. 

I should note that there are various definitions of 'natural,' and unfortunately, a lot of the products that contain the word in their descriptions are in fact not naturally derived. The truth is, there really are few regulations for this in North America at present, as companies can pretty much put whatever they want on labels for products that are considered cosmetics. My definition of natural would be products that are plant or mineral based. Many of the products I love contain only a few ingredients, and my general rule when buying products is that if it has ingredients I can't pronounce, I don't buy it. I also avoid products that contain non-sustainable palm oil, because palm oil plantations are incredibly destructive.

My typical routine in the morning is to wash my face and tone it. On top of this, In the winter, I use an aloe based gel, a cream and a facial oil to combat super dry skin (in the summer I have a totally different routine). It seems like a lot, but I actually use so little of it all, and it only takes two minutes. My makeup routine is simple most days. If I am going out, I put on a mineral powder, blush and a natural mascara, and I fill in my eyebrows. That's it. It takes me five minutes or less, and I use absolutely no chemicals. If I am going to a party or to some event, I use eye shadow and eye liner. I never use foundation because I like my freckles and I don't like the layer it adds on, and good natural foundation is hard to find. This is the routine that works for me. If people enjoy this post, I will do another for my favourite summer face care products, and maybe even my favourite natural makeup brands. 

I don't use all of these products in one day, as I just use whatever I feel I need. I would love to know what products you guys are using, so please leave a comment if you have any recommendations! 

All of the following products are 100% natural and cruelty free

1) Nature's Aid Skin Gel: This is my favourite skin care product, ever. Not only is it incredibly healing for cuts, scars, burns and bug bites, but after using it for over a year on my face, I can truly say that it has anti-aging benefits. It treats acne, moisturizes and cleanses, and you don't even need to wash it off! I can't rave enough about this product. Try it, you'll see. 


2) Nutiva Extra Virgin Coconut Oil: In the winter, my skin can get very dry, so after getting out of the shower, I lather coconut oil all over my face and body and let is soak in. I have tried many other natural products, and nothing protects my face from the elements in the winter like coconut oil. This is my favourite brand. I like the company manifesto, and the quality is excellent. It may seem expensive, but a little goes a long way. 


3) Aroma Borealis facial oil: Kev and I went to the yukon to visit some friends this past August, and while in Whitehorse, we went to Aroma Borealis herb shop. I love this place! Everything is a 100% natural, and they make fantastic products. I bought this face oil and absolutely love how moisturizing it is. After I put my makeup on, I put a few drops on my fingers and pat it on my face anywhere you would use a highlighter (cheeks, bridge of nose, etc.). It gives that dewy look that I love. 


4) Rocky Mountain Soap Company Facial Polish: I use this scrub twice a week to scrub off dead skin cells and revitalize. It smells great and leaves my skin feeling super clean. I love all of this companies products. I also make my own scrub sometimes, and I include a recipe for this below. The secret to a really good facial scrub is the clay. 


5) SaltSpring Soapworks Lavender Fennel Facial Mist: I use this product daily for a mid afternoon tone and refresher. Just lightly spray it on (even on makeup). The lavender makes me feel relaxed, and my skin feels fresher and clean after using it.


6) Sukin Night Cream (which I use day/night): After washing my face in the evening, I use this product to moisturize while I sleep. It smells great, and isn't too heavy. I also use it as a moisturizer during the day sometimes. 


7) Green Beaver Sunscreen: On Winter days when I will be spending a lot of time outside, I use this sunscreen. It blends well and is not too greasy. I know minerals are controversial, but it is the petroleum based ones you should worry about. Naturally derived mineral themselves, such as those found in french clay, are not inherently bad, nor will any of the mineral bases found in Green Beaver's products be, as they use zinc oxide, which doesn't enter the bloodstream. I would avoid mineral oils in conventional, drugstore brands.


8) Thayer's Alcohol Free Rose Petal Toner: If you want clean skin without stripping it down with harsh chemicals, use this product. One of my favourite products ever. It cleans, brightens and closes pores. 


9) Maiga Facial Cleanser (an excellent makeup remover): This is my daily face wash. It strips dirt and makeup. but doesn't leave your skin dry. I have also seen a reduction in the appearance of a scar I have on my face, and I truly believe this product is responsible for this, along with Nature's Aid skin gel. I don't recommend getting this product in your eyes though, as it does burn (I think it is the neem oil that burns. But don't worry, it is all natural). 


10) My 100% Natural Face Scrub (recipe to follow):

4 tablespoons of bentonite clay (this can be purchased online, or at most health food stores). 

1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil, extra virgin coconut oil (melted) or rose hip oil. 

5-10 drops of essential oil (I like Lavender, Pine, Rosemary or Sandalwood for my sensitive, dry skin). Place the ingredients is a jar and mix well. They will keep for a long time, so no need to use this all at once. You want the texture to be pasty, but adjust to your preferences. 

To use: rinse your face with water. place a tablespoon or so of the mixture o your fingers and rub all over your face (except for the tender area under your eyes) and gently work it in using circular motions. Use a hot, wet facecloth to wipe it off and rinse. Tone and moisturize as you normally would. Do this once or twice a week, if needed. 

I hope you are all enjoying your New Year so far. If you enjoyed this post, please leave me a comment below! 






Easy Zucchini Fritters w/ Indian Spices and Dairy Free Raita (gf )

Guys, I love Indian spices. They will seriously always have my heart. I fell in love with them early on, and I have never looked back. Going to India a few years back was an eye opening culinary experience for me. The Indian food I was eating back home did not compare to the Indian food you get in India. Not even close. In India, it doesn't matter if you buy the food at a hole in the wall shack, on the street from a vendor or in a nice restaurant. The food is always excellent and so, so flavorful. I have tried to recreate many of the favorite dishes I had there, but I have found it nearly impossible, even with the help of one of my favorite cookbooks, "Everyday Indian" by Bal Arneson

So I have decided that although I will never make traditional Indian food, my light riffs on it will do just fine. These fritters taste exactly like pakoras, but they are much lighter, as they aren't deep fried. You could try baking them, but there is something about the crispiness of pakoras that have been fried that make them so much nicer, so I recommend lightly frying these in just a couple tablespoons of coconut oil. I served them with a few slices of lemon, a sprinkle of chopped cilantro and with a peach chutney that I canned this past summer. I don't have a recipe for that, but I imagine these fritters would be lovely with any chutney you use.

Next post is going to be majorly chocolate based, and I will be writing a bit about using stevia to sweeten desserts.



Easy Zucchini Fritters w/ Dairy Free Raita

Note: this makes about 8-10 fritters, depending on the size you make your patties.

4 cups of grated zucchini

1 small onion, peeled, diced and sauteed lightly in olive oil.

2 teaspoons of cumin seeds

1 teaspoon of garam masala

1/2 teaspoon of curry powder

pinch of black pepper

a few pinches of salt

1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons of chickpea flour

2 large eggs (you could try flax seed eggs, but I haven't tried this yet), lightly beaten

1/4 teaspoon of chili flakes

Dairy free Raita:

Note: Use regular yogurt if you are not intolerant to dairy.

1 cup of unsweetened coconut yogurt

2 tablespoons of chopped cilantro and/or fresh mint

1 tablespoon of cumin seeds

1 clove of garlic, grated

juice of half a lemon

pinch of paprika

pinch of sea salt

pinch of black pepper

To Make:

Add all ingredients to a bowl and mix well. Keep chilled until you are going to serve the fritters. The longer the raita sits, the longer the flavor has to develop (I like to leave it to sit for a couple of hours, but it is fine served 15 minutes after it was made too).

To Make:

Place a strainer or some heavy paper towel over a medium sized bowl. Place zucchini on top and sprinkle some salt on it. Let it sit for about ten minutes or so, until a lot of the water has drained out. Squeeze handfuls of the zucchini and place it in another bowl. Once you have squeezed most of the moisture out and have added all the zucchini to a bowl, add all of the other ingredients, minus the eggs.

Add the eggs to the bowl and mix well so that all of the ingredients are incorporated. Let sit for ten minutes.

While the zucchini mixture is settling, place two tablespoons of a neutral oil in a frying pan (I used a stainless steel pan, but non-stick would work). Start heat on medium and then crank it up a notch when you are ready to put the fritters in.

Make a patty the size of a golf ball (or slightly larger) with your hand (it might be a bit sticky, but it should hold together) and place in the hot oil. Fry for a couple of minutes on each side. You should have a golden, crispy edge on each side. I usually cook two at a time.

Place on a paper towel to wipe off any excess oil. Try not to eat them right away (harder than it sounds), although, they are better when they are still fairly warm.

Place two fritters per plate and place a dollop of the dairy free raita on them. Sprinkle with cilantro, and serve with some chutney and a couple of slices of lemon (I love a squeeze of lemon on them). Enjoy!