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April 20th, 2012

Favourite Friday: Silk Road Tea

I have an almond milk latte every morning. Okay, I admit it, sometimes two. But after that, it’s all tea, from green in the afternoon through to herbal in the evening.

And though I’ve lived in Toronto for over a decade now, and sampled teas from all over the place, my love keeps returning to Silk Road in Victoria.

The beauty of Silk Road’s teas is that they’re for tea lovers – no fancy faux flavours to mask the real taste of the tea. Any flavourings are designed to work with the variety of tea, such as my longtime favourite, Japanese Sour Cherry, with its light cherry flavour and bright, subtle green tea. Other top picks include Golden Phoenix, a semi-green with citrus, cinnamon and calendula, and relative newcomer Ruby Pagoda (the others I’ve been drinking since before I moved out east), a caffeine-free blend of rooibos, rosehip, hibiscus, rose petals, citrus peel and pink peppercorns.

Luckily for me – it’s been a while since I’ve made it to the Island – Silk Road ships, and a new order made it here just the other day. I’m looking forward to sampling my old favourites and new picks.

Image by pwnra on Flickr

December 9th, 2011

Favourite Friday: Weleda Sea Buckthorn Hand Cream

I’ve spent the past year trying to phase out nasty ingredients in beauty products, to a large extent thanks to Gillian Deacon's excellent book There’s Lead in Your Lipstick (you should read it). And while Deacon wisely recommends learning to read labels rather than just blindly trusting brands and marketing, that can be a lot of work, so I’ve been relying a lot on two of her recommended brands, German companies Weleda and Dr. Hauschka.

Better-for-you beauty products are generally not cheaper (though the exception would be moisturizing your body with sweet almond oil from the health food store – it lasts forever – and some kitchen ingredients like using brown sugar as a scrub), so my feeling is that it’s most important to switch the products that you come in contact with most. So body moisturizer, for instance, gets rubbed all over your skin and absorbs and stays there. Hand lotion? Well, let’s be honest – beyond frequency of use and absorption, if you lick your fingers after eating something, you’re ingesting it.

I’ve been trying a lot of lotions, and the one I keep coming back to is Weleda’s Sea Buckthorn Hand Cream. For one thing, I love the smell – it’s bright and almost citrusy and not too strong. For another, it feels good going on and actually works. And as a bonus, it comes in a pretty orange metal tube that looks good when you pull it out of your purse. On the eco scale, metal probably scores lower than plastic, but at least the lotion isn’t absorbing any chemicals from a plastic tube.

At an MSRP of $16, this one ain’t cheap, but it’s worth it for your health, right? It’s also a great gift idea, and for the holidays it and its sister lotions Pomegranate Regenerating (a very Christmasy scent, though a bit strong for me for everyday use) and Skin Food (intensive moisture for those with very dry skin) come packaged with cotton gloves to wear over the lotion overnight and really moisturize.

December 2nd, 2011

Favourite Friday: BlendTec blenders

I round out a lot of meals with a smoothie. Grilled cheese and smoothie. Big salad and smoothie. Bowl of cereal and smoothie. Popcorn and smoothie. Smoothie and smoothie.

You see, popcorn and cereal, as much as we want them to, don’t make a healthy meal. But throw in a smoothie and suddenly it’s well-rounded – at least, that’s what I like to think. But especially if it’s a green smoothie – a blend of fruits with leafy green vegetables, such as kale.

And the thing about blending kale is you really need a good blender. I mean, a hardcore blender. I used to have a Braun blender that was very good for its price range, but couldn’t handle most greens – it blended baby spinach fine, but anything more than that ended up in little pieces rather than completely ground down. So I was super excited to upgrade to a BlendTec, one of two “high-speed” blender brands (the other is Vitamix) that dominate the market. (Some people have opinions on BlendTec vs. Vitamix, but all I know is the BlendTec, so I can’t comment on which may be better.) Now, I don’t know how I ever lived without it – I use it almost every day.

This is a serious blender. It sounds like it, too – you can’t exactly have a conversation while it’s running. But it’s amazing what it will blend. For one thing, you need a lot less liquid to keep a mixture moving, meaning it’s fantastic for puddings, dips and faux creams (like blending up almonds or cashews to make a whipped cream alternative). For another, it makes the best green smoothies ever.

My go-to recipe is half a pineapple, a cup or so of frozen mango, one or two bananas, a couple of cups of kale, stems removed, 1/4 cup of hemp seeds and a scoop of protein powder, with enough water to blend and make the right consistency. (It’s based on the tropical green at Rawlicious.) It comes out a vivid green due to the yellow fruit (green smoothies with darker/red fruit aren’t very pretty) and is a tasty way to get your greens.

I have a few more smoothie recipes on my food blog:

Creamy vegan orange-mango smoothie
Acorn squash smoothie
Roasted peach and matcha smoothie

Smoothie photo by madlyinlovewithlife on Flickr

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Travelling the world (and especially Toronto) with writer and editor Kat Tancock. Also drop by my silly cat Tumblr, Cats I have met while travelling.

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