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Archive for the ‘Recently Reviewed’ Category

A Day For Celebration!

In Book Reviews, Food For Thought, Recently Reviewed on August 3, 2016 at 1:18 pm

I’m very excited and pleased to announce the launch of my first children’s ebook, My Father’s Nose. Now available though Amazon’s Kindle Store. I hope to have other formats available soon and will let you know when that happens.

51OosWASH+LWhen I was doing the upload the other day, it occurred to me that my ebook would probably go live on Aug. 3, which was my father’s birthday. I thought that was an interesting coincidence. It’s hard to believe it’s been seven years since my father passed away. When I did the math, I figured if he was still alive he would have turned 77 today. Funny how we get caught up in our lives and then all of a sudden some realization like this comes to you and gives you pause for reflection.

While it was certainly not planned or part of my intention, somehow through some serendipitous coincidence the date and lucky numbers lined up. For many people, the number seven is considered auspicious – let’s hope it’s an omen of good things to come!


Disclosure Notice: We participate in the Amazon Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program, which earns fees by linking to Amazon and affiliated sites. Our participation does not influence our content decisions but helps to offset the costs involved in maintaining this website.

The Herbal Goddess Within

In Book Reviews, In the Garden, Recently Reviewed on June 5, 2016 at 9:57 pm

UnknownNow that the warmer weather is upon us and our gardens are beginning to awaken and explode with life Herbal Goddess, by master herbalist and yoga instructor Amy Jirsa, reminds readers how the earth provides us with everything we need. While many of us have forgotten the once common wisdom that knew which plants were used for specific medicines, according to Jirsa, “herbalism is our cultural heritage.” And she believes we all still carry this instinctual insight on how to heal our selves – we only need to find the path back to that knowledge.

Jirsa makes it easy – she’s plowed through the plant world’s overwhelming amount of information and culled the vast array down to 12 of her favourite healing herbs. No home apothecary should be without these select go-to herbs for day-to-day living. No doubt, most of us will recognize popular herbs such as chamomile, rose and lavender, which made the list for their well-known calming properties. And stay the spade: those dandelions and nettles you thought were weeds are also included! You might be surprised to learn that both plants provide valuable nutrients, and can serve as amazing detoxifiers.

While the book can be read in any order, it’s divided into individual sections. Each short chapter focuses on one of the 12 herbs, and includes beautiful photographs so you’ll be able to identify the herb when you come across it. Also provided is basic herb terminology, details on what part of the herb is used, how to harvest it, and preparations such as drying blossoms. There are featured recipes in every section for making teas, body care products, and special dishes plus themed yoga poses.

Whether you’re a total novice or an experienced herbalist, Herbal Goddess inspires you to dig deeper into the world of herbs. Jirsa suggests starting slowly and simply. Her advice is to take about a month’s time, and get to know each plant, one by one. With this type of close examination, you’ll really begin to understand the natural properties and effects of each herb. With these valuable tools firmly rooted, we may once again be able to take charge of our mental, physical, and spiritual health. Unleash the herbal goddess within yourself!


Disclosure Notice: We participate in the Amazon Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program, which earns fees by linking to Amazon and affiliated sites. Our participation does not influence our content decisions but helps to offset the costs involved in maintaining this website.

Time to Try Tempeh

In Good Eats, Recently Reviewed on April 29, 2016 at 10:31 am

tempeh

Recently while I was in Owen Sound, I visited one of my favourite cafes – The Bleeding Carrot. If you’re in the area, I highly recommend dropping by. Everything I’ve tried on their menu has been amazing. So when I asked the owner what was one of the most popular sandwiches he said, the Maple Tempeh Sandwich — it’s like a BLT but uses tempeh instead of bacon. He was quite convincing because for one, I’ve never really liked bacon so have never ordered a BLT, and secondly hadn’t tried tempeh, so I wasn’t sure if I would like it. Glad he urged me to do so. It was so good, I asked him what he used and he was kind enough to show me the package.

Marinated Tempeh by Turtle Island Foods. The people who brought you Tofurky, have also created an entire line of tempeh products. The Smoky Maple Bacon is the one I enjoyed in the sandwich so when I was in the store and saw the Sesame Garlic, I grabbed that one and the Coconut Curry, too.  PRODUCT NOTES Just like bacon, the tempeh comes in strips that need to be fried up. Some, like the Coconut Curry, are heavily coated in marinate, which makes them a bit sticky when you’re peeling them apart. While we’re big fans of curries – the seasoning in this one wasn’t up to par, so much so we were afraid to try the others. Thankfully we took the plunge. BOTTOM LINE As for the flavours – Smoky Maple Bacon and Sesame Garlic – they were winners all around. Great in sandwiches, stir-fries and just as a side dish as part of a big breakfast.


Disclosure Notice: We participate in the Amazon Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program, which earns fees by linking to Amazon and affiliated sites. Our participation does not influence our content decisions but helps to offset the costs involved in maintaining this website.

Tour Top-Rated Vegan Restaurants

In Book Reviews, Recently Reviewed on May 19, 2015 at 9:58 am

TheHappyCow_webThink you’re a picky eater? Try being a vegetarian or vegan, if just for a meal or two, and you’ll discover a host of difficulties served with a side of limited options when eating out. Add travel to the mix, where you’re not familiar navigating the local customs, language or terrain, and you might as well prepare for a culinary crisis. But wait – vegans everywhere can now rejoice! Let The HappyCow Cookbook, by Eric Brent and Glen Merzer, take you on a guided tour of top-rated vegan restaurants around the world. As the title suggests, even if you’re not leaving the comforts of home to jaunt off somewhere in the near future and are only venturing as far as your kitchen, this fabulous resource contains recipes from far and wide that will have you going back for seconds.

In the foreword, actress and fellow vegan Emily Deschanel cites many different reasons why people choose to become vegan, and stresses the need for like-minded individuals to reach out to one another in their common purpose. She credits the HappyCow website for helping to establish an international veg community to which she is happy to be part of. If you’re not familiar with HappyCow, it’s an online resource started in 1999 by founder and director Eric Brent, who is also co-editor and author of the book. Back in the 80s Brent, then a vegetarian, discovered first-hand how hard it was to find places to eat as he backpacked throughout Europe. By 1999 the avid traveller had become vegan, and had grown so frustrated, and practically starved in his search while abroad that he was inspired if not compelled to start HappyCow.com as a handy site to help other travellers find “safe food.” Today it is fueled by user-generated content, whereby once you’ve signed on to become part of their community you can post reviews and recommendations, however sweet or sour, of the places you’ve eaten and shopped. It’s refreshing to see so many successful vegan venues taking root among the vast plains of mainstream restaurants, diners, eateries and markets.

If you’re one of those people who avoid animal products, it no longer matters where you plant yourself. With just a few clicks of a mouse, you can easily find a variety of places that will not only welcome you but also share in your views. Unlike standard restaurateurs, these are people are enlightened to the cost and cruelty involved in consuming livestock, and are committed to making changes into what we enjoy when we sit down at the table – one meal at a time. As Dave Loan, owner of ZenKitchen, points out: “Diners are becoming more health-conscious and aware of factory farming and other cruelty issues while demanding more flavorful food. It’s up to us to step up to the plate –- the dinner plate — and offer our supporters the full dining experience while still respecting our values.”

Thanks to the book’s selection of go-to places you can now travel the world and dine on international cuisine from haute cuisine to fast food simply by flipping through a few pages. Each listing features photographs of the establishment, so you’ll know what to look out for if you’re visiting, plus a brief interview with the proprietor and one or more of their popular recipes.

Heading down south? Plan to make a pit stop at Cornbread Café in Eugene, Oregon and enjoy some southern-style hospitality. What started out in a parked food trailer has since grown into the present day diner thanks to their ever-popular Chicken Fried Tempeh topped with cashew gravy, Skillet Cornbread and Frozen Peanut Butter Pie. Not only does a local gardener pick up their food scraps, driven in a car fueled by their used cooking oil, but the café also offers discounts to patrons who walk or ride the bus when they drop in for a bite.

Should you find yourself across the pond in York, England or Malaga, Spain and are craving a bit of Spanish flair, head over to one of El Piano’s locations and tuck into some Peruvian Leftovers Pie and Granada Chai. Taking a trip to our own Canadian capital? Raise the flag for Ottawa’s ZenKitchen, an upscale and award-winning gourmet vegan restaurant known for its Polenta Fries and Eggplant Parmesan. Fancy salad? Prepare for a salad showcase as their Tasting of Beets celebrates the root vegetable with its selection of boiled, roasted and pickled beets.

If you’re up for something more substantial, Coox and Candy in Stuttgart, Germany should hit the spot. Owner and chef, Kathrin Friedrich, shares one of the lessons she’s learned: “It’s so much easier to explain the vegan lifestyle if you offer somebody a delicious meal, a sweet dessert, and good coffee, instead of talking to a person in the street showing him bloody pictures of dead animals.” Well said, indeed, as the latter certainly doesn’t do much to whet the appetite. For goodness sake, give them the dinner, the coffee and cake. As a popular chef who keeps customers coming back for more, Friedrich knows a thing or two about good food. Fans of hearty German fare will find themselves right at home enjoying her creative reinterpretations of time-honoured classics like schnitzel with dishes such as Celery-Breaded Cutlet With Wild Rice and Mixed Vegetables. It’s also one of the few places where you can find a traditional homemade vegan Schwarzwälder-Kirschtorte (Black Forest Cake) to satisfy your sweet tooth. Sounds like a wonderful meal that you can really sink your teeth into. Bon appétit!


Disclosure Notice: We participate in the Amazon Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program, which earns fees by linking to Amazon and affiliated sites. Our participation does not influence our content decisions but helps to offset the costs involved in maintaining this website.

Fight Signs of Aging

In Natural Beauty, Recently Reviewed on November 13, 2014 at 10:07 am

Looking for a natural, non-invasive way to look younger? Phytogenics has introduced a new anti-aging cream aptly named Phyt-Age, and claims it works as well as Botox but without the toxic injections. While there’s no shortage of anti-aging creams on the market promising to turn back the hands of time, few of them offer a money-back guarantee if you don’t see results in 30 days. In fact, Phytogenics is so confident you’ll love their Phyt-Age cream, they even challenge you to take a simple 15-minute test to see the difference. Then, if you’re impressed with what it can do in that short time, imagine the results with ongoing use. (I certainly won’t be returning my sample!)

According to Phytogenics, the reality is our skin shows signs of aging and becomes susceptible to sagging, wrinkles and injury due to various factors such as decreased skin thickness and dehydration. But Phyt-Age cream has been specifically formulated, with a combination of seven naturally occurring ingredients such as argan oil, topical vitamin C (magnesium ascorbyl phosphate) and hyaluronic acid (sodium hyaluronate), to target these causes and restore skin to a healthier and younger-looking state. These ingredients contain bio-molecules designed to give you optimal anti-aging results by stimulating collagen production and brightening skin tone. For those individuals who wish to avoid certain preservatives and are highly sensitive or allergic to fragrance and perfumes, take note – this rich cream has no fragrance, and is paraben-free.

Known for its secrecy, the beauty industry has a history of closely guarding product formulations and limits many ingredient lists in the fine print – if you can find them at all without a special request. So it’s refreshing to see Phyt-Age is clearly labeled, and even details information and research about the efficacy of the active ingredients it contains on the Phytogenics website. They even welcome customer feedback and have posted numerous testimonials. For more information on Phyt-Age visit http://phytogenicinc.com/

Lovely Lavender Cleansing Milk

In Natural Beauty, Recently Reviewed on August 15, 2014 at 9:05 am

cleanser

As you navigate the sea of mainstream cosmetics out there, with so many chemical-based products vying for your attention and dollars, it’s nice to land upon a product that not only lives up to its claims but also surpasses your expectations. Fresh out of facial cleanser, I waded through the aisles of my local health food store and struck gold with this cleansing milk.

Avalon Organics CoQ10 Repair Facial Cleansing Milk. Lured by the promises of wrinkle smoothing hydration and cell renewal, I was pleasantly pleased to find a quality, performance product that is certified organic, paraben and sulfate free. PRODUCT NOTES Attracted by the handy pump dispenser, which I think is a great feature, I thought it would be similar to the many watered-down, liquidy cleansing milks I’ve used before. Surprisingly, a little goes a long way. So go easy with the pump as it dispenses more of a thick cream — almost like a cold cream in terms of texture and consistency. And while it says it “contains White Tea and Sunflower,” it’s hard to miss the punch of pure lavender it exudes. BOTTOM LINE. It’s hard not to love this rich cleanser. My skin really does feel smoother and look firmer after using, so I’m excited to explore other offerings in this new-found product line. Well done Avalon.


Disclosure Notice: We participate in the Amazon Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program, which earns fees by linking to Amazon and affiliated sites. Our participation does not influence our content decisions but helps to offset the costs involved in maintaining this website.

An Excellent Indulgence

In Good Eats, Recently Reviewed on July 25, 2014 at 1:07 pm

During the hot summer, there’s nothing our family enjoys more than retiring to the garden after dinner for a frozen dessert. Well, if we’re talking about these frozen dessert bars it’s easy to make any excuse to take a cool break. And since they’re dairy-free, we can all indulge in this treat every now and again.

So Delicious Mini Coconut Almond Bars  As soon as we spotted these dairy-free beauties in the freezer section, we grabbed them. On closer examination my daughter noticed the NON GMO and Certified Vegan product labels, and into our cart they went.SoDelicious
PRODUCT NOTES From the first bite, the taste and smell of coconut was unmistakable. No watered-down flavouring here. Simply top-quality frozen coconut milk generously dipped in a crunchy and delicious chocolate-almond coating. They reminded me of my earlier dairy-filled days in terms of flavour but easily top their fat-filled competitors and pack a mere 180 calories per bar. BOTTOM LINE These bars are keepers. An amazing organic, non-dairy treat like this really has no comparison. To be honest, we weren’t really sure we’d like frozen coconut milk but now that we know how good they really are we can’t wait to try other offerings by So Delicious.

Here’s a Real Eye Opener

In Natural Beauty, Recently Reviewed on June 11, 2014 at 2:50 pm

eyelinerThere’s eyeliner and then there’s liquid eyeliner. Yes, this old standard certainly has staying power – real staying power – that’s the one of the reasons for its enduring popularity: It stays on! After all, who wants their eyeliner to melt away before the day is over?           

Zuzu Luxe Liquid Eyeliner If you’ve never used liquid before, you need a steady hand to master the technique, which can vary from the thinnest of fine lines to the most dramatic cat’s eye look. Raven is Zuzu’s blackest of blacks, which is what I’m looking for when I buy black eyeliner. PRODUCT NOTES This eyeliner is mineral based, vegan, paraben and gluten-free – although who would have thought eyeliner would contain gluten? The brush can be a bit globby despite a fine tip that allows for both minimalist and maximum impact styles. Give it a shake and wipe down the tip quite a bit before applying or you may get more liner than you bargained for. Also, it’s not the fastest drying so if you’re rushing you might get a few unexpected smudges. BOTTOM LINE It’s not cheap, at about $18, but well within the price of similar products. Compared to other liquid eyeliners, it’s easy to remove with water-based makeup removers and it doesn’t leave those black under-eye circles – certainly a bonus. You could use oil-based makeup removers, as they are more efficient in dissolving makeup, but I tend to avoid them as they irritate my eyes.


Disclosure Notice: We participate in the Amazon Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program, which earns fees by linking to Amazon and affiliated sites. Our participation does not influence our content decisions but helps to offset the costs involved in maintaining this website.

Hooray for Hemp!

In Good Eats, Recently Reviewed on May 28, 2014 at 10:01 am

In case you’ve missed the news on the super foods front, hemp has long been touted for its amazing nutritive value and countless benefits. There are so many products available now — from the original hemp hearts, hemp cereals, hemp milks and many things more. If you’ve been reluctant to try hemp, here’s an easy entry into healthy eating.

hempbars
True to Nature bars made by Shandiz Natural Foods.
My daughter was the first to spot these bars in the snack aisles at Costco. Since we love anything hemp in our household and we’re big eaters of organic granola bars — we snapped them up to try right away. PRODUCT NOTES It’s hard to believe that something that tastes this good can also be good for you and so rich in protein! With yummy flavours like Peanut & Peanut Butter; Mango Coconut; and Chocolate Banana – who can resist such decadence? BOTTOM LINE Words of warning: can’t stop eating these. Once you try them, you’ll be hooked, too.

An Apple a Day

In Book Reviews, Recently Reviewed on January 24, 2014 at 5:16 pm

We love apples. I prefer them to be firm with lots of crunch. So if they’re a bit mushy, I’m likely to leave them for baking. Perhaps I’m biased, but Ontario grows some of the best apples I’ve ever eaten and although nothing beats fresh I think I’ve found a great off-season alternative in these apple chips.

applechips

Martin’s Crispy Apple Chips It’s been a while since I’ve bought apple chips. We discovered these ones over the holidays thanks to an extended family member.

PRODUCT NOTES Fantastically crisp and delicious. I love that they’re grown locally in Ontario with no sugar or preservatives added. Maybe that’s why they taste so good. They’ve even got some great recipe suggestions online if you find you have any left once the bag has been opened. BOTTOM LINE Even if you’ve never had apple chips before I’m pretty certain you’ll love these. Our bunnies really like them, too!


Disclosure Notice: We participate in the Amazon Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program, which earns fees by linking to Amazon and affiliated sites. Our participation does not influence our content decisions but helps to offset the costs involved in maintaining this website.