2017 $25 and Under Holiday Gift Guide

Yay!! The holiday season is in full swing! December 1st starts the gift giving count down for Hanukkah & Christmas. This time of year can be extremely exciting for some and stressful for others. My hopes for this guide is to bring awareness to some eco-friendly and/or ethical brands and to lift some weight off of the shoulders for those that need some gift giving ideas. Whether its for your sister, co worker or a white elephant, this guide has something for everyone. Have fun with your gift giving this year and give a gift that supports your local small shops, artists, and has a purpose or that gives back. Happy Holidays!

Krochet Kids beanie surprise pack – $20.00 –

Krochet Kids provides jobs and fair wages to women in poverty stricken areas of the world. The beanie surprise packs are available while supplies last in men’s and women’s. This is such a fun idea! There are two handmade and hand signed beanies in every mystery pack. 

 

Cocokind rose water facial toner – $16.99 –

I am currently obsessing over Cocokind at the moment. Their mission is to produce pure, quality skincare products with superfoods. Everything on their website seems amazing, but the rose water facial toner is my favorite. It’s organic, vegan and part of their cycle back program. This program allows the person to send back the empty glass bottle once finished in exchange for a 50% coupon to rebuy the product. Eco friendly and a sweet deal!

Tcho Chocolate – $5.99 – $14.99 –

Because who does not love chocolate? Tcho has Christmas and Hanukkah gift collections that range in price. I was recently able to take a tour of their factory and learned so much about Tcho’s connection with the cocoa farmers they work with, and how they source organic and fair trade certified ingredients. I was also lucky enough to taste a good amount of their chocolates and they were all so smooth and flavorful. So good, I ended up leaving the factory with 7  bars of chocolate. This gift will be a guarantee hit!

Healthy Human – Tumbler $22.99 –

Do you know a coffee lover that can use a reusable cup to bring to their favorite coffee shop? Or a busy co worker that drinks their smoothies on the way to work? This Tumbler can hold it all! The 20 oz. Healthy Human cruiser tumbler can keep beverages hot for up to 12 hours or cold for hours 24 hours. It’s also sweat free and lightweight, plus it comes with a reusable stainless steel straw.  This is an eco friendly gift every busy bee will fall in love with.

Pact organic socks gift box – $25.00 –

Socks, the timeless classic. Socks might sounds a tad lame but lets be real, we all need socks. These gift boxes come with 3 pairs of organic cotton socks and are available in mens and women’s. The original price of the gift box is $25 but keep your eyes peeled, there is usually a sale which can lower the price all the way down to $10. I also have a 20% off code I will post below. Pact products are extremely comfortable, I own multiple pairs of  leggings, dresses, shirts and socks and I always feel good about purchasing their goods knowing they are fair trade certified and made with sustainable and organic ingredients.
%20 off code: http://fbuy.me/g-da2

3 pc air plant set – $9.95 + $2.77 shipping to the U.S. –

This is a set of 3 air plants that come in pink sea urchins and are already packed in a gift box for your convenience, so no need to stress about wrapping paper this year! Air plants are a great gift for plant lovers and they are extremely easy to keep alive even if the person you are gifting this to doesn’t have a green thumb (I would know). There is no soil required, they just need to be soaked once a week in water for about 20 minutes.  These will help brighten up any space from an apartment to an office.

Lump O’ Coal holiday bag – $9.99 –

Know someone on the naughty list? This Lump of coal holiday bag comes with 3 hand crafted bars of detox charcoal soap. Pacha soaps are made with environmentally sustainable, real ingredients. Each Pacha purchase helps fuel clean water initiatives and small-scale soap shops, this helps provide much-needed water and sanitation resources in developing countries.

Franklin & Whitman giftcard – $25.00 –

I know what you’re thinking, a gift card? but yes!! Frank & Whit have so much to offer on their website it is too hard choose just one thing, so leave that up to the person you are gifting this to! They have everything from facial masks, dry shampoo, body scrubs to mens beard and grooming supplies, dog balms, and shirts! Everything is plant based and cruelty free. This is a gift that all your dog loving friends and family will appreciate because 5% of their sales are donated to dog rescue organizations.

Eco-friendly planner – $13.76 –

It’s that time of year to start stocking up on new 2018 calendars and planners! This is a great gift for your super organized friend or family member. This planner is made with 100% post consumer recycled paper, it’s printed with vegetable based ink and 50% of the proceeds are donated to the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust. www.sheldrickwildlifetrust.org

Some other fun ideas for gift giving under $25 are:

  • A bottle of organic wine.
  • Locally produced honey or olive oil.
  • Cookbooks.
  • Beeswax candles.
  • Handmade ceramic mugs.
  • A bag of locally roasted coffee or espresso.
  • Essential oils.
  • Crystals or a salt lamp.
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Multi-Use Matcha Balm

This week when I did my weekly Whole Foods trip I found myself perusing through the whole body section, which is rare, but I have had my eye on a couple products from Cocokind. Cocokind is a skincare line out of San Francisco that is certified organic, vegan and is based around superfoods. This year their brand has also launched a cycle back program. If you purchase any Cocokind product in a glass container you can send it back in exchange for a 50% off coupon to. I love brands that encourage reuse and eco-friendly habits.

I did not end up purchasing any of the Cocokind products from Whole Foods that day because I wanted to come home and check out their website a little more. Some of the products I was looking into are the MYMATCHA moisture stick and the rosewater facial toner. I have never been one to have a soft, smooth complexion so I would love to see if the rosewater can give me the balanced looking skin I so long for. After reading about the cycle back program, I decided to give this product a go and I cannot wait to try it. As far as the matcha stick, I need a little dark circle correction in my life, like now! Matcha has many benefits for skin, some being that it is anti aging and anti inflammatory. But fter looking at the matcha stick ingredients, I knew I had all had all 3 in my pantry so I decided to make my own rather that make the purchase. Especially because the matcha stick is in a plastic tube that is not apart of the cycle back program. The 3 ingredients used are organic extra virgin coconut oil, beeswax and matcha tea powder plus a reusable 2 oz glass container and here are the measurements I used.

Ingredients

  • 7 teaspoons of finely grated beeswax
  • 4 teaspoons of coconut oil
  • 1 teaspoon of matcha

Instructions

  1. In a double boiler OR if you’re like me, boil water in a small sauce pan and place a small glass pyrex bowl over the top, put coconut oil into your bowl and wait until the coconut oil melts
  2. Add the finely grated beeswax to the bowl of melted coconut oil and stir well until the beeswax is melted
  3. Now, while stirring, sift the matcha into the bowl. You do not want to skip this step! If you just pour the matcha in it all in at once, it can clump up. I added the teaspoon of matcha into a chinois and tapped the side of the chinois until most of the the matcha was sifted through into the bowl, after most of the matcha sifted through you may be left with a couple of clumps of matcha in your chinois, discard those.
  4. When all your ingredients melted and mixed well together, carefully pour into your container.
  5. Let cool in your refrigerator for 30 minutes and it will be ready for use as a moisturizer, lip or dark circle balm

Kale and Mushroom Stir Fry with Soba Noodles

The weather is getting cooler and cooler by the day here in Northern California and I absolutely love it! Cool weather calls for warm hearty dishes like soups, stews, casseroles and noodles. I am such a huge fan of soba noodles. Well, any type of noodles really, but who isn’t? The Soba noodles have such unique flavor compared to others noodles. Their distinct nutty flavor makes a great pairing with earthy flavored vegetables like mushrooms and kale, so that is exactly what I will be using in this recipe. Even though I will be enjoying this recipe warm as a stir fry, this dish can also be served as a cold salad the next day. Soba noodles are so versatile, which makes packing lunch easy for the next day if you double the recipe.

Soba Noodles are a great gluten free noodle alternative if you can get your hands on pure 100% buckwheat flour noodles. Although the name suggests otherwise, buckwheat flour is actually a gluten free ancient grain and surprisingly not even related to wheat at all. So what gives with the confusing name? If you have a gluten allergy or sensitivity I always suggest checking the ingredients on the label to make sure your noodles are made with 100% buckwheat flour. I have found that some soba noodles can be made with a blend of flours which would no longer make them gluten free.

This recipe serves 2-3 people:

Ingredients

  • 8 oz of soba noodles
  • 2 teaspoon of avocado or coconut oil
  • 1/2 red onion sliced
  • 1 bunch of tuscan kale cleaned, destemmed and chopped
  • 2 cups of sliced mushrooms

Sauce

  • 1 tablespoon of toasted sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon of avocado or olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon of rice vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons of aminos or soy sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon of minced garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon of sriracha (1 teaspoon if you like a little kick)
  • 1/2 teaspoon of maple syrup
  • Juice for 1/4 of a lime
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Add water to a saucepan to prepare the soba noodles per instructions on package.
  2. In a separate sauté pan add 2 teaspoons of avocado or coconut oil on medium heat.
  3. Once the avocado oil heats up add sliced onions, stir around for about 2 minutes, next add the sliced mushrooms and continue to stir for another 2 minutes followed by the kale. Once kale is almost cooked thoroughly, turn burner to low heat to keep warm.
  4. While soba noodles are cooking, whip the sauce ingredients together in a bowl.
  5. Add cooked and strained soba noodles to the sauté pan with your vegetables but turn the heat off completely so the noodles do not continue to cook
  6. Lastly, add sesame soy sauce to the noodles, toss well and serve.

Creamy Butternut Squash Pasta

Sundays are for pasta! If it were up to my boyfriend we would eat penne and marinara every single Sunday. Pasta is his all time favorite comfort food, as it is for many Italian’s. Kyle loves to tell me stories about when he was a child. He and his entire family would go to his grandmothers house every single Sunday and eat dinner together, which always consisted of meatballs, sausage, pasta and bread… the bread for dipping in the sauce, followed by pastries. I agree with him, penne and marinara is so comforting and delicious. I love all variations of pasta! In my opinion, pasta is just too versatile to only limit yourself to penne and its red sauce comfort blanket. So every once in a while I like to throw a curve ball on pasta night. This time making a creamy vegan butternut squash sauce tossed with peas and spirals. This recipe can be gluten free or not, I like to use Trader Joe’s organic brown rice and quinoa blend pasta. This butternut squash sauce recipe makes just a little over 2 cups of sauce and is enough for one pound of pasta.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound of pasta of your choice
  • 2 teaspoon of avocado oil
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 full medium yellow onion or 1/2 a large onion, diced
  • 1/2 a medium sized butternut squash, skinned and cubed. Roughly 2 cups
  • 1 cup of vegetable broth
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1/8 cup of nutritional yeast
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon of pepper
  • 1 cup of peas

Instructions

  1. Heat the avocado oil in a medium sized sauce pan with the yellow onion and garlic while stirring around for about 3 minutes or until the onions are translucent.
  2. Toss in the butternut squash, vegetable broth, lemon juice, salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Lower heat to medium and cover your saucepan with a lid. Let cook for about ten minutes.
  3. Once the butternut squash is cooked through, start to boil your water for your pasta in another saucepan and add the butternut squash mixture to a blender and puree for about 45 second.
  4. Add Nutritional yeast to the blender and maybe a some more salt and pepper to taste. Here you may need to blend for another 15-20 seconds
  5. Sauté the cup of peas in the same sauce pan you cooked the butternut squash. By the time you are done with the peas your sauce for the pasta should be cooked.
  6. Combine the pasta, sauce and peas. serve

Thai Green Curry Fried Rice

I accidentally skipped dinner the night of Halloween due to the excitement and festivities, I hope everyone else had a blast too!  I really made up for it though the night after when I had TWO bowls of this Thai green curry fried rice. It was so comforting and delicious. I love making different variations of things like fried rice (and frittatas for my boys) when I have a good amount of vegetables in the fridge that need to be used. It is such tasty and Hardy way to clean out the fridge. So here are some of the different veggies I had in my fridge that I needed to use and thank god because this dish turned out so flavorful.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups of rice of your choice, I used brown
  • 2 carrots chopped
  • 2 cups of broccoli florets
  • 1 zucchini chopped
  • 1/2 yellow onion diced
  • 1 bell pepper, color of your choice, I used half green and half red because that is what I had
  • 1 cup of peas
  • 1/4 inch knob of ginger, grated
  • 1 clove of garlic, grated
  • 2 teaspoons of coconut oil
  • 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon of green curry paste
  • 1 tablespoon of coconut aminos
  • 1 tablespoon of rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon of water
  • 1 wedge of lime
  • Cilantro, green onions and bean sprouts for topping (optional)

Instructions

  1. While the brown rice is cooking, sauté your veggies until cooked through, set the vegetables aside in a separate bowl.
  2. In the same pan you cooked the vegetables in add 2 teaspoons of coconut oil on low-med heat, followed by the green curry paste, coconut amigos, rice vinegar, water and lime. Stir well then grate the garlic clove and ginger and continue to stir for another minute.
  3. Once rice is finished cooking fold into the green curry mixture and stir until rice is coated
  4. Toss in your veggies and mix well while adding salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Top with cilantro, green onions and sprouts and serve.

Gluten Free, Vegan Twix Bars

I think we can all agree Halloween is the most fun holiday. Everyone gets to dress up, carve pumpkins and eat candy. It does not get better than that. Not to mention we are all still stoked on the seasons changing and all things Fall and pumpkin spice. Hands down the best time of year. For Halloween I usually let my son pick a couple of the items out of his candy bucket to enjoy so he does not feel completely left out, but the truth is he is not allowed to eat junk foods and candy often at all. So, I trade him for organic, healthier treats. This year I made something he would not want to pass up for a trade in, homemade Twix bars! It was really a toss up between Twix and almond butter cups but I wanted to try something new. I am so glad I did, each layer of this faux Twix is flavorful and guilt free if you ask me. These delicious Twix bars are vegan & gluten free and you would never even know it.

Ingredients

Shortbread

  • 2 cups almond meal
  • 2 tablespoons coconut flour
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/3 cup of melted coconut oil
  • 1/3 cup of maple syrup

Caramel

  • 2 cups of pitted dates
  • 5 tablespoons of non dairy milk ( I used almond)
  • Teaspoon vanilla
  • Pinch of salt

Chocolate

  • 1 teaspoon coconut oil
  • 1 cup of chocolate chips (I used Enjoy Life because they are Non- Gmo, nut free, dairy free, soy free)

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 and line a 8×8 square pan with parchment paper.
  2. Mix all your shortbread ingredients well, add mixture to your pan while pressing firmly and evenly to form to the bottom of your pan.
  3. Pop the shortbread into the oven and let bake for 10-12 minutes, until it is golden in color, then let cool.
  4. While the shortbread is cooling down make the date caramel by tossing all ingredients into your blender or food processor blend until it forms a creamy consistency. If you wish for your caramel to be creamier slowly add a little more non dairy milk or water.
  5. Once the caramel is finished, spread a thick, even layer onto your shortbread, then refrigerate for about an hour or until caramel has firmed.
  6. Now time for the best part, the chocolate. Add coconut oil and chocolate chips to a double boiler and melt down the chocolate chips, poor melted chocolate onto into the middle of your square pan onto the shortbread and caramel, smooth and even out. Let cool in the refrigerator for another hour
  7. Once you are ready slice and portion out into individual bars, make sure your knife is nice and warm to help cut through the hardened chocolate. You can do this by running your knife under hot water or warming by holding it over a warm oven burner. Cut down the middle first then cut 6 pieces on each side to make 12 twix bars. Store in refrigerator.

Fall Brussels Sprout and Kale Salad

It is October 25th and the high today in the Bay Area is 85 degrees, I think mother nature has her seasons a little confused. Where is that Fall weather I was enjoying last week? This heat wave is no joke, it looks like it will be hot all week. With that being said I needed to add some cold items to my weekly meal plan to avoid heating up the entire house (even more) with my oven. But I still wanted something Fall-esque, this salad was the perfect solution. As a matter of fact if the heat continues I will probably be having salads all week, and maybe an ice pop or two.

Shaved brussels sprouts, kale, red onion, pumpkin seeds and pomegranate tossed in honey mustard dressing, I am loving these flavors together. This can be served as a great main dish, starter or side for those warm fall days when mother nature does not want to let go of Summer. This recipe can be friendly most diets, if you are vegan just substitute the honey in the dressing with agave or maple syrup. If you are paleo and want some protein add egg, salmon or chicken. It’s that easy!

Ingredients

  • 1 bunch of kale, destemmed, chopped & massaged
  • 5 cups (about a pound) of shaved brussels sprouts
  • 1/4 of red onion, sliced
  • 1/3 cup pomegranate seeds
  • 1/4 cup pepitas

Dressing:

  • 2 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoons of yellow mustard
  • 1 heaping teaspoon of honey, agave or maple syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon diced shallots or minced garlic
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Wash, destem, chop and massage your kale for 3-5 minutes, I know it sounds silly but you don’t want to skip this step. If you don’t massage the kale it will be very rough.
  2. Shred the brussels sprouts, I used the slicing attachment to my food processor which made this step quick and easy.
  3. Whip up the honey mustard dressing, and toss your kale and brussel sprouts in it.
  4. Slice and top your salad with red onion along with the pepitas and pomegranate seeds.

Coconut Curry Red Lentil Soup

I am part of a soup loving family. We will eat anything soupy or stew-like anywhere, anytime! This recipe in particular is one of my son’s favorites and I can’t say I blame him. Nor do I mind cooking it for him since it is so good and so nutritionally balanced. Providing everything from nutrients, vitamins, and fiber from the vegetables to healthy saturated fats from the coconut milk, and a great source of plant based protein from the lentils. Coconut curry is creamy, flavorful and comforting. Especially this time of year when the weather is starting to cool down.

Ingredients

  • 2 teaspoons of coconut oil
  • 2-3 garlic cloves chopped
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 2 celery stocks, chopped
  • 2 carrots sliced
  • 1/2 a bell pepper, color of your choice, chopped
  • 2 cups of leafy greens of your choice, destemmed & chopped  (kale, swiss chard, or spinach)
  • 1 can of diced tomatoes (BPA free) or 1 3/4 cup of fresh diced tomatoes
  • 1 canned full fat coconut milk (BPA free)
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon of ground ginger or 1/2 an inch knob of fresh ginger, grated
  • 2 heaping teaspoons of red curry paste
  • 1 wedge of lime
  • 5 cups of vegetable broth
  • 2 cups of red split lentils
  • Cilantro (optional for topping)
  • Green onions (optional for topping)

Instructions

  1. Place coconut oil to your pot over medium heat. When melted, add chopped onion, sauté and stir around until translucent, about 3 minutes. Add garlic, and continue to stir and sauté for another minute.
  2. Now place all of your vegetables except your greens to the pot. Stir around to coat with oil then add your ginger, salt, red curry paste and squeeze in that wedge of lime. Mix around until  all vegetables are coated with seasonings.
  3. Toss in tomatoes, coconut milk and five cups of vegetable broth. Bring to a boil
  4. Reduce heat and add lentils, simmer for 25 minutes
  5. Remove from heat, add greens and stir.
  6. Optional: Top with more lime, cilantro and/or green onions and enjoy

Fennel Fronds Pesto

I received my Imperfect Produce delivery over the weekend, which is always like Christmas for me. Among other great fruits and vegetables in my delivery box it had fennel. Two of them! I personally love fennel. It can be enjoyed raw, sliced thin and tossed in salads or quartered and oven roasted. I usually only eat the bulb of the fennel and toss the stalks and fronds in my vegetable broth for extra flavor. This week I was feeling the need to try something new. So I added the stalks to my vegetable broth bag like usual, only this time tearing off and setting aside the fronds as I went. I am thinking If I can make a pesto out of carrot tops I can certainly make a pesto out of my fennel fronds, right? So that is what I did! The fennel pesto was so vibrant and flavorful. This was my first time making it and certainly will not be my last. I prepared roasted potatoes for dinner and served them with the pesto right over the top. This recipe will also be awesome used as a spread for wraps and sandwiches or as a marinade for wild salmon.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups of fennel fronds
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 a lemon, juiced
  • 1/4 cup of walnuts
  • 1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon of water
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Instructions

  1. Add all ingredients to your food processor or blender (I used a food processor) blend until your desired consistency.

Roasted Delicata Squash With Maple Tahini Sauce

This dish is just screaming FALL! And who doesn’t love Fall? Boots, scarfs, leaves and squash. Out of all the squash in season at the moment Delicata is one of my favorites (along side spaghetti squash) due to it’s amazing flavor and easy preparation. The skin on this squash is edible so no need for peeling or scraping.  Just rinse, roast and enjoy. This recipe makes the perfect side dish or can be served over quinoa or raw spinach to make a bowl or salad.

Roasted Delicata Squash With Maple Tahini Sauce

Ingredients

  • 3 delicata squash (I cook for 3 people so I prepared 1 per person)
  • 3 tablespoons of coconut or avocado oil
  • 1/8 teaspoon of garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon of cumin
  • Pinch of pink salt

Maple tahini sauce

  • 1/4 cup of tahini
  • 1 fresh garlic clove diced or 1/4 teaspoon of minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon of rice vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons of aminos or soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon of pure maple syrup
  • 3 table spoons of warm water
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375
  2. Rinse squash, cut lengthwise, remove seeds cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  3. Toss with oil and spices and lay out on parchment lined baking sheet
  4. Roast in your oven for 30-35 minutes (until fork tender)
  5. While your squash is roasting, combine all ingredients together for your sauce and whisk until pourable
  6. Remove squash and drizzle with tahini sauc