Friday, July 30, 2010

'the soap that grows on trees'

soap nuts review/giveaway

look to the pre-industry days and you will find safe, gentle, and highly-effective cleansers for your home, body, and laundry, like lovely raw soap nuts.

soap nuts are the fruit of chinese soapberry trees; relatives of lychee and rambutan. they have been used in china for generations and in europe for decades. in ancient india soap nuts, known in hindi as reetha, were used for body and hair washing, as well as laundering fine fabrics and cleansing precious metals.

the hypo-allergenic soap nuts are 100% natural, making them safe for babies and those with sensitive skin.

to cleanse, soap nuts contain the all-natural surfactant, saponin (conventional detergents use manufactured chemical surfactants). surfactants work by breaking the surface tension of water, allowing it to more easily penetrate fabrics, effectively making water "wetter". agitation shakes dirt loose and the saponin holds the dirt in suspension until rinsing.

 other uses for soap nuts include:
  • toothpaste
  • fruit and vegetable wash (a ten minute soak in a solution of soap nuts removes 95% of surface pesticides and chemical residues)
  • hair and body wash
  • food-safe cleaner in the kitchen
  • in the garden as an insect-repellent

harvesting soap nuts is an environmentally-sustainable practice. as maggie's pure land points out, their factory is a tree! there's no waste, no waste water, and no toxic byproducts. maggie's pure land even uses the nuts and black seeds to make jewelry!

the kind people at maggie's pure land responded promply to my request for a sample to review, and to my delight sent me a box of soap nuts and 32 ounces of liquid soap! i've been using both for a few weeks now and am officially a soap nut!=)

when doing laundry, i just place 5 nuts in the small cotton sack and toss in at the beginning of the cycle. the soap nuts can be reused up to 5 times and composted when spent. for the liquid, i use 2 tablespoons as i would normally. no fabric softener needed! i find both nuts and liquid do an equally amazing job, but the soap nuts are more fun to use.=)

my laundry comes out so nice and clean, just as though i used conventional laundry soap. especially pleasing is how effortlessly the soap nuts removed a watermelon stain from my white cotton skirt and stains from john's white linen pants! my clothes feel so soft, and i love how they smell fresh and odorless - the way clean is supposed to smell!

note: maggie's pure land soap nuts do not produce suds. the bubbles created with conventional soups are not an indicator of cleansing ability. most labaratory cleaners contain foaming agents to "trick" consumers that the product is working. don't be fooled!

in a time of globalization, i feel it's so important to support small businesses and our neighbors. especially when big corporations harm the planet and our health, for profit. (look at me on my soap box, talking about soap nuts!=)

so why not enlighten your load with the soap that grows on trees?=)


maggie's pure land has extended the sampling to you!

'the soap that grows on trees'

TWO lucky readers
will choose an
8 load liquid sample 
or a
 5 load raw soap nut sample!

to enter:

visit maggie's pure land and comment below with one thing you learned from the site.

extra entries:
(leave a new comment for each entry.)

  • tweet about the giveaway (1 entry for each tweet, 1 per day. please leave a link in the comment.)
  • blog about the giveaway (5 entries. please leave a link to the post.)
  • maggie's pure land  is a proponent of breastfeeding. leave a comment telling me a benefit of breastfeeding. (you may enter up to 5 benefits.)
  • follow animal-friendly eating. (1 entry)

the contest will close wednesday, august 11th at 11pm est. the winners will be chosen by a random number generator and announced shortly after. this contest is open to u.s. and canadian residents only.

(maggie's pure land kindly asks the beneficiaries of the samples to post of their soap nut experience to help spread awareness of truly eco-friendly soap!)
happy entering!

if you're not into giveaways, you can purchase yourself a sample here.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

csa goodies

week six of muth family farm organic csa: canary melon, cantaloupe, celery, corn, collard, basil, dill, purslane, kale, blackberries, cucumber, heirloom tomatoes, and golden squash. (blueberries $3/pint from another local organic farm).

i looove tomatoes! they remind me of my aunt ellen. my dad tells me she would eat them like apples=)!

this pretty pink tomato made a really yummy raw pizza topping with basil, olive oil, a splash of nama shoyu and a drizzle of agave. sooo delicious!


stay tuned for a garden update and a maggie's pure land soap nuts review/giveaway!=)

Sunday, July 25, 2010

what's cookin'?

south jersey was baking this weekend with temps reaching triple digits! john and i escaped the heat on saturday by traveling northwest to my uncle tommy's 50th birthday party in richboro, pa.

it was a lovely day of swimming, bullseye, volleyball, and polly pockets.=)

 alaina, my niece alaina, and cailyn

even mr. bear showed up! the little ones were excited, though alaina preferred playing with my camera (clearly a photographer in the making ;)

  gimme, aunt kelli!

singing happy birthday to the old fart=)

(foodie note: there was yummy yellow watermelon on that fruit tray! i'd never heard of one!)

there's a strong memory that comes to mind each time i think of age: i ask my uncle tommy how old he is (i must be six or seven) and he tells me 27. i am totally blown away, like holy s***, uncle tommy is HOW MANY???

(i get the same reaction from the kids that i tutor when i tell them my age - 29 is a big number to little ones!)

when i turned 25, i began getting anxiety over aging. you know what calmed my mind? - thinking back to my uncle tommy at 27. he seemed SO YOUNG, so energetic and so much younger than my idea of the age 27. it was then i realized i'm as young as i choose to be - age really is just a number!

you wear 50 well, uncle tommy! here's to many more years of happiness!=)

(uncle tommy is a blog reader of mine... how cool is that?!)


in the kitchen, i've been doing my best keeping up with our produce from the muth family farm organic csa. (no photo this week - johnny boy made the pick-up). i made a rather poor decision to turn edgar into baked vegan eggplant parmesan.

sorry, edgar!

bad choice, as it tasted awful, and i burnt my hand getting it out of the oven! (a small burn - just enough to remind me to eat more raw foods!)

remember the pad thai i shared with marlie at rawlicious in toronto? i made a deliciously close version using kelp noodles and shredded veggies. kelp noodles require no heat in preparing - just soaking for 30 minutes!

for those unfamiliar, kelp noodles are a wonderful wheat pasta alternative made from the sea vegetable, kelp. they're full of nutrients and void of allergens like wheat and gluten. they make a nice weight release food, at only 6 calories per ounce! ani phyo mentions in an article, "[kelp is] full of iodine to work with our thyroid to help regulate our metabolism... helping us lose weight, if needed."

i love kelp noodles for the texture - it's like an al dente sea spaghetti! bellissimo!=)

in toronto, i know you can purchase a package of kelp noodles at rawlicious, but i don't know where to get some in my area. if anyone can recommend a good online source for ordering kelp noodles, please do so in the comments... i'll love you forever!=)

my always generous mother gave me some gorgeous garden beans. i sauteed them with artichokes, chick peas and smoked paprika.

... served with massaged kale salad (a little like lauren's), a side of garden tomato bruschetta (with rice cakes), and sliced squash with leftover pad thai dipping sauce.

the electricity bill may be scary this month since the ac's been working overtime and the dehydrator has been on frequently. (would love a solar food dryer!). i dehydrated nelly's cheezy kale chips, herb pizza crusts, my new olive and thyme pizza crust, strawberry vanilla granola, buckwheat crunchies, and noritos!

strawberry buckwheat granola
photo courtesy of john

see the garden in the background? it's been growing like crazy! we went through a rough period where i thought i was going to lose a lot of plants, but now they're flourishing! i leave you with a photo of our chamomile and a promise to post a garden update soon!


Thursday, July 22, 2010

coconut bliss giveaway winner

the lovely recipient of a free pint of luna and larry's coconut bliss is...

congrats, elizabeth, and thanks to all who participated in the giveaway!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

coconut bliss review and a free pint giveaway

the lovely beings at luna and larry's organic coconut bliss sent me three coupons for free pints of their organic coconut-based, animal-friendly ice cream! woohoo!

perfect timing, as ice cream and other cold treats are in order this time of year. it's so uncomfortably hot and humid around my way that even edgar prefers hanging out in the fridge!

edgar says, 'it's gross out!'

so john and i picked up a pint of vanilla island (my choice) and chocolate hazelnut fudge (his choice) which was available at our local whole foods. (chocolate peanut butter and cherry amaretto sounded very tempting, as well. next time!=)

creamy coconutty heaven

it is agreed that both flavors are fantastic! i like the chocolate hazelnut fudge better, which is funny because i don't usually care for chocolate ice cream! it's just so perfectly sweet and chocolatey, with a welcoming hint of creamy coconut... and the pools of fudge - divine!

john was a big fan of both, especially the vanilla. he loved the way the coconut complimented the vanilla bean. the coconut flavor for me was nice and creamy, but it took away from the classic vanilla bean taste. being the vanilla aficionado that i am, the search remains for the perfect dairy-free vanilla bean ice cream.=)

what i love about luna and larry's is that their coconut milk comes from an organic family-owned farm in thailand. i also love the story of the company's inception, which you can read here.

since we love you and wish for you to experience coconut bliss, we've decided to give away one of our coupons for a free pint of luna and larry's organic bliss. the winner will also recieve the adorable bliss storybook and a sticker (not pictured).

want to enter?

simply leave one comment below telling me which flavor of luna and larry's organic coconut bliss you would choose with the coupon.

(click here for a list of flavors and check here to be sure it is carried in your area.)

the winner will be picked tomorrow night at midnight (wednesday, july 21st at 12pm est) by mr. random number generator.

happy entering!


Monday, July 19, 2010

garden visitor and csa goodies

a stunning butterfly stopped by this weekend to dine on our heirloom arikara sunflowers. a handful of flowers bloomed the first full day i was home from toronto. wasn't it sweet of them to wait for me?=)

i'm interested to see what else these beauties will attract! hummingbirds, perhaps?

despite the heatwaves and humidity, summer is my season. there are aspects of each season that i love (the coziness of winter, the crispness of fall, the smell of spring) but the abundance of summer wins my heart. this season feeds my belly and nourishes my soul like no other.=)

behold the bounty i brought home week four of muth family farm's organic csa:

blueberries from another local organic farm, parsley, red onions, basil, kale, collard, red chard, carrots, 12 ears of corn, cherry tomatoes, kohlrabi, purslane, zucchini, heirloom tomato, green tomatoes, cucumbers, and 2 types of eggplant

raw eggplant bacon was created with the smaller round one...

and edgar the eggplant with the knobby one.


i couldn't resist... summer unleashes my inner child!=)

what is your favorite season? (catch me outside on a really hot day and i may say spring!=)

Thursday, July 15, 2010

my trip to toronto

last thursday i packed my bags and headed north for a ten hour road trip alone to meet my blogging buddies, nelly and heathy. nelly invited me to stay at her place with heathy in toronto, which turns out to be the raw food capital of the northeast! many said i was crazy (even i had second thoughts) - but i did it and had a blast!

me, heathy, nelly

here we are at raw aura. i was in heaven, eating raw nachos and sipping fresh pear cocktails with these beautiful ladies, outside on a perfect summer evening. life is delicious!=)

there's heathy getting a shot of the nachos. we all agreed these were fantastic!

another day we ate an even tastier raw nacho platter with some other beautiful bloggers at rawlicious - the sweetest, coziest restaurant i have ever set foot in. (it reminded me of when i tripped to amsterdam). just look at this place - i could live here!

photo courtesy of our lovely server and camille's camera

you can see recaps of our delicious time together at from nelly...with love...raw candy, barefoot and frolicking, balance is beauty, and vegan cookbook critic. it was such a pleasure to spend time with and learn more about these girls - i wish we lived closer!

it was also such a treat to have someone else preparing me fresh raw food. these meals were not only gorgeous, but also super tasty. i brought some kelp noodles home to recreate this pad thai that i shared with marlie from barefoot and frolicking.

marlie and i also split a delightful olive salad with currants and pine nuts.

for appetizers, we all shared two orders each of spring rolls and nachos - both were excellent!

and for dessert, a magnificent macaroon, as per nelly's recommendation. i absolutely loved it!

during a day of shopping, nelly, heathy, and i enjoyed a tasty lunch at cruda cafe. the flavors in this gnocchi dish and wild mushroom nut burger were so fresh and vibrant. i'm in love with live foods!!!

here's heathy's salad with fresh figs, and nelly carrying our coconut drinks.

i'd consider moving to toronto for rawlicious and cruda cafe alone!=)

this mural was fittingly right next to us while we were enjoying cruda - i do!

one day after a yoga session led by heathy, i took a little walk to a park on the coast of lake ontario, not even five minutes from nelly's house. it was a cloudy day, but i still got to view the cityline of toronto.

ontario is really beautiful - look at how pretty the flowers are in nelly's backyard!

her garden is so gorgeous and lush...

and we used some greens for a delicious homemade meal of nelly's quinoa curry and some yummy sides, like nelly's shaved salad, kraut, and pesto. mmm!

heathy preparing a salad

nelly truly was a great host and fed us lots of goodies, like cheezy kale and zucchini chips

sweet gratitude's tiramasu she and the lovely camille had made...

her famous moonie pies - undipped with blue mountain vanilla ice cream

and dipped - bliss! you haven't lived until you've tried a raw moonie pie!=)

the girls introduced me to some exotic tropical fruits they picked up in chinatown, while heathy made a recording of our taste-testing to post on her blog. i'm happy to have finally faced my fear of being videotaped - i would have have missed out on a really fun time had i opted out of the recording!

i am so grateful for the wonderful experiences i had on this trip. it felt surreal to be hanging out with nelly and heathy in-person, eating amazing raw food. it was such a joy to meet nelly's friendly family as well, especially these two cutie pies!

hummer and jackson

anyone who knows me can attest to my poor directional skills, so i am also grateful for the navigator that john's father had bought him, and the angels that guided me safely along the way=).

there was no way i was passing niagara without stopping to see the falls, so i made a quick visit on my way home.

the falls are so beautiful and peaceful, yet a little scary and anxiety-inducing at the same time. (kind of like life, eh?=)

this trip was such a growthful experience in so many ways... and to think some silly little fears almost stopped me from going - now that would have been crazy!=)

i leave you with a video of a song that kept playing in my head while i was driving and encourage you to step outside your comfort zone every once in a while. never let fear stand in your way of bliss!=) 

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