Blog

7 Ways to Uplevel Your Smoothies (and Reduce the Sugar!)

 

7 Ways to Uplevel Your Smoothies (and Reduce the Sugar!)

Smoothies can be an easy and delicious way to pack in a serious amount of nutrition without having to give it too much thought. Not only that, but they're portable and easy to drink on the move, and also make nutritious meal replacements for days you may be particularly short on time. That being said, there is an art to making smoothies that are both pleasing to the taste buds and also have a balanced nutrition profile. For instance, a smoothie that contains just frozen fruit, bananas, and milk might have some vitamins, but it is high in sugar and low in healthy fats, protein, and trace minerals - it isn't very nourishing and may leave you hungry shortly afterward. On the other hand, a smoothie packed full of green superfoods, nut butter, and nutrient-rich, lower sugar alternatives will have a completely different effect on your overall energy levels and daily nutrient intake. 

Here are some top ways you can seriously level-up your smoothies!

Swap out the 'nanas

Bananas may be a smoothie shop staple, lending both creaminess and sweetness, but it turns out they're not required to make a smoothie thick and delicious. Both steamed sweet potato and avocado can be used as lower sugar alternatives - they'll thicken up the texture just like bananas and their relatively neutral flavor profile means they can be used in many different recipes. Try freezing them first, especially if your other smoothie ingredients are fresh (not frozen). Just make sure the sweet potato is steamed (or baked) and peeled first before freezing for the best and creamiest results.

Go nuts!

Nut butter shouldn't be confined to just sandwiches and toast - they're absolutely amazing in smoothies too. Not only do they make the texture and flavor more creamy and rich, but they're also chock full of healthy fats and protein, which means your blood sugar will be more stable after drinking your smoothie, even if you add higher sugar fruits like banana. Almond butter and coconut butter are always classic, fool-proof picks, or try pistachio butter or hemp seed butter for a more exotic pick. 

Check out all 17 Dastony stone-ground nut and seeds butters HERE

Superfood power

One of the easiest ways to amp up the nutritional value of your smoothies is to toss in some superfood powders. Try a high-quality green powder like Vitamineral Green or Pure Synergy - these options give you a huge bang for your buck because they contain many different superfoods in 1 product. They're also highly concentrated, so just a few tsp is enough to give you a serious nutritional boost. You could also blend in medicinal mushrooms, adaptogens, matcha powder, maca root, a superfood berry blend, or anything else of your choosing. The goal is to sneak in even more trace nutrients and antioxidants without having to fuss too much over it. 

Sneak in the greens 

While it may be challenging to sit down and get through a huge bowl of dark leafy greens, that same quantity of greens can be blended right into a smoothie and drank with ease. If you find yourself slacking in the greens department, this is one of the easiest ways to ensure you're getting plenty of green leafy goodness. The result is a flood of vitamins and trace minerals, extra fiber, and tons of antioxidants to fuel your day. Baby spinach is a great, mild-tasting green to start with, or try raw kale - just be sure it's de-stemmed first as the stems are very fibrous and will result in a funky texture.

Pump up the protein 

Long gone are the days when adding a vegan protein powder to your smoothie meant sacrificing both taste and texture (we're talking to you chalky-tasting and indigestible soy protein ...). Now there are plenty of amazing plant-based options that are organic, additive-free, easy to digest, and are also soy-free, and allergen friendly. If you're searching for a new protein option, Sprout Living makes a variety of plant proteins enhanced with functional superfoods - and they taste like real food, don't contain any added sugars, and the texture is silky-smooth. 

Just a pinch of salt 

Quite possibly the number one tip for making flavors pop - adding a pinch of salt. This step might not come intuitively if you're blending something sweet, but adding just a pinch of high-quality Himalayan salt will bring forward the flavors of your smoothie, as well as infuse your recipe with valuable trace minerals. Just don't go overboard - a small pinch will do. 

A touch of vanilla

Another flavor-enhancing tip, especially for those looking to cut down on sugar, is to use just a touch of vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste. This is a great hack to trick your taste buds into thinking they're getting something sweet and dessert-like even if the overall sugar content in your smoothie is quite low. For instance, if you're using frozen berries, some sugar-free almond milk, and sweet potato or frozen avocado instead of banana - adding a little vanilla will go a long way to make it more taste-bud-friendly!

Reusable Water Filters: 5 Reasons Why They Are Essential

Reusable Water Filters: 5 Reasons Why They Are Essentials

Photo by Julia Zolotova from Pexels

We all know this to be true: drinking plenty of water is great for your health. While having an at-home water filter is definitely recommended, having one that can travel with you wherever life takes you is also incredibly handy, especially if you're looking to cut down on single-use plastic. This portable vessel will help keep you hydrated wherever you go. All you need to do is refill the bottle with fresh water whenever you get to a potable water source.

Reusable water filters, such as those from Big Berkey Water Filters, are quickly gaining popularity. They're not only economical but also incredibly convenient. Also, they reduce the environmental pollution caused by plastic bottles, a major environmental concern. 

Here are five essential benefits of reusable water filters:

Removes Contaminants

Water carries many harmful substances, and drinking contaminated water dilutes (pun intended) the health benefits that we can gain from drinking more water. Reusable water filters remove contaminants dissolved in water. These toxic substances may leak into water pipes during flooding seasons or when pipes experience mechanical damages.

Harmful contaminants found in water include heavy metals, such as lead, gold, and silver. Other chemicals include chlorine, organic compounds, pesticides, and inorganic fertilizers. Besides that, tap water might contain microbial organisms like viruses, fungi, and bacteria. You can filter out these substances with your portable water filters. The vessels are fitted with water purification systems, such as activated carbon filters, to remove unwanted and harmful substances. By drinking clean, purified water you help set a foundation for good health. 

Protects the Environment 

Reusable water filters have great environmental benefits. Single-use plastic bottles are wreaking havoc on the environment. They are among the biggest global pollutants, which are quickly filling up landfills. Regrettably, many disposable plastics make their way into bodies of water which harms the ecosystem and aquatic life.

Using a reusable water filter shows your concern for the environment. Having a refillable vessel eliminates the need for purchasing bottled water altogether. Think about the number of bottled waters you drink every day during summer. The figure can be astonishing. By using a reusable bottle, you reduce the number of plastic bottles going into landfills and the oceans. The positive change starts with each one of us. 

Cost Saving

The bottled water industry has been growing strong over the past few decades. Projections indicate that the industry could get to US$334 billion in net worth by 2023. Bottled water is the world's largest packed beverage. Beyond the environmental impact, this is a clear indication that people spend a lot of money on bottled water.

Paying a few dollars on water may not look like a big deal. But, it is very costly because these small bucks can amount to huge sums over time. With a reusable bottle, you spend money once – only when purchasing it. Although the initial purchasing costs can be high, they will be recovered in no time since you will have eliminated your need to buy bottled water from the store.

Improves Taste and Smell

Unfiltered water often has unpleasant smells and tastes. This is due to impurities and chemicals contained in the water. Using a reusable filter is an easy remedy to the problem.

A reusable bottle contains a filtration system that removes unwanted substances. The substances notorious for causing bad aftertaste and smell in water are heavy metals, microorganisms, and pesticides. Chlorine is used as a water purification compound, but it also has a strong chemical smell reminiscent of a swimming pool. You can resolve this problem with your reusable water filter. It will make your water sweet and enjoyable to drink.

Convenience and Keeps your Drinking Habits in Check

Another important benefit of reusable filters is that they offer you incredible convenience. The vessel contains a complete water purification system. And, you'll be carrying this essential system with you wherever you go. The portable filter gives you control over what you are drinking. Even when you refill the bottle from a tap at the gym or work, you are confident that the water you are drinking is clean and safe.

If you want to attain optimal physical health and fitness at home, a reusable water filter can help you achieve it. Drinking the recommended amount of water in a day is essential to your overall health and wellness. Experts agree that we should be drinking at least 3 liters of water every day. Most reusable bottles are calibrated to help you determine the amount of fluids you are consuming.

Drinking water from a reusable filter ensures that you are taking safe water at all times and in the right amounts. The vessel is convenient because it improves the taste and smell of water while preserving the environment. If you are not using a reusable water filter yet, order one or two today and enjoy clean water every day.

Love Your Body with this Lemony Roasted Beet Tahini Dressing

Lemony Roasted Beet Tahini Dressing

While Valentine's Day may look like snuggling up with your sweetie and some chocolate-covered strawberries, it might also look like carving out a little extra time for some intentional self-care - like cooking a nourishing meal for yourself made with love. Eating well is one of the most loving things we can do for ourselves - by giving our body the proper nutrition we are able to have the energy and health it requires to live our best life and keep working towards our dreams. We're all worthy of that!

This vibrant dressing will definitely make eating your greens a joy - it's creamy and lemony with a pop of garlic and cumin. The sweetness from the roasted beet helps balance out the slight bitterness of the sesame tahini, and it also gives the dressing a vibrant pink color which will really help dress up your salads and bowls, or your Instagram feed if you decide to take a pic. It's full of healthy fats and calcium from sesame seeds, and the beets add additional fiber and folate (vitamin B9), manganese, potassium, iron, and vitamin C. It's a fun and colorful variation of your classic tahini dressing we hope you love!

Lemony Roasted Beet Tahini Dressing

The Recipe

Lemony Roasted Beet Tahini Dressing

Ingredients

1 cup Dastony raw sesame tahini

1/2 cup chopped beet, roasted (about 2 small beets

1/2 cup + 1 tbs lemon juice

1 cup filtered water

2 tsp toasted sesame oil

2 cloves fresh garlic

1 tsp Himalayan pink salt

3/4 tsp cumin

Instructions

1. Preheat your oven to 425F. Prep your beets by scrubbing and peeling, then chop in wedges and roast with avocado oil for 30-40 minutes until tender when poked with a fork. 


2. Blend the roasted beet and all remaining ingredients in a blender or a food processor until smooth and creamy. If you prefer a thinner dressing add a few spoonfuls of water until the desired consistency is reached. 

Serve the dressing over mixed greens, with roasted veggies, or as a sauce over a hearty rice or quinoa bowl. You can also use it as a sandwich spread - just add less water for a thicker consistency. This dressing will keep up to a week in an airtight glass container in the fridge.

The Perfect Treat for Valentine's Day: Raw Chocolate Avocado Mousse

Valentine's Day Raw Chocolate Avocado Mousse

This Raw Chocolate Avocado Mousse is not only a great option for a special V-Day treat, but it's also one of the easiest and tastiest dessert recipes imaginable perfect for just about any time - especially if you're a lover of all things dark chocolate. This creamy and rich chocolate mousse leaves nothing for want. Yes, it's made with superfood-status ingredients like fresh avocado and our 70% dark raw chocolate bars, but it still manages to excel in the decadence department with its creamy, rich texture and impressive flavor that truly is like a traditional chocolate mousse - only without the refined sugar, whipping cream and eggs.

We know what you're probably saying - "Stop right there. You said avocado?" Yep, you heard right!

Before you start visualizing a bowl of chocolate-flavored guacamole, hear us out.

Avocados may be delicious in savory recipes - but their richness, creaminess, and naturally buttery texture are all qualities that are completely dessert friendly-too. Avocados are what make this chocolate mousse smooth, thick, pudding-y, and completely decadent. And thanks to this versatile green fruit (yep, avos are a fruit!) this recipe is also loaded with healthy fats, fiber, and plenty of vitamins as well.

And the health benefits don't end there. Since this mousse is made with raw cacao and raw chocolate, it's also packed full of antioxidant flavonols and magnesium as well, two nutrients that support a healthy cardiovascular system, so you can nourish your physical heart while you express your love.

Valentine's Day Raw Chocolate Avocado Mousse

The Recipe

Raw Chocolate Avocado Mousse

Serves 4

3 medium avocados - make sure they’re soft but not overripe
2/3 cup raw cacao powder
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup coconut cream
3 70% dark raw chocolate Essentials bars, melted *Leave a few sections out to chop and sprinkle on top
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 large pinches Himalayan salt

Instructions 


1. Using a double boiler method, gently melt the 70% raw chocolate by breaking apart the bars and placing it in a heat-safe bowl over hot water. Be sure to leave out a few sections to chop and sprinkle on top for garnish.

2. Place all ingredients in a food processor or blender, and blend until smooth and mousse-like. If using a blender place your liquid ingredients in the blender first to help the blades catch. Add a splash more coconut cream if needed. 

Easy Stovetop Vegan Coconut Rice Pudding

Vegan Coconut Rice Pudding

Not sure what to do with all that leftover rice from last night's stirfry? We've got the perfect solution: make a delicious vegan coconut rice pudding! It's soft, creamy, and custardlike - without using dairy or eggs. And the best part ... it can be eaten for dessert or breakfast. In fact, it's a great sub for oatmeal if you find yourself bored with your usual hot cereal recipe. It's loaded with the flavors of coconut, cinnamon, and vanilla and is such a cozy, comforting-yet-healthy treat for chilly winter days.

You can also easily customize this recipe - use your favorite spices and plant milk of choice. The stone-ground coconut butter melts into the rice and almond milk while it's cooking, giving it that ultra-creamy texture and deliciously sweet coconut flavor - no coconut milk needed. Top with your choice of fruits or drizzle with nut butter or chocolate sauce (if desired). Don't be afraid to put your own spin on it!

Vegan Coconut Rice Pudding

The Recipe

Stovetop Vegan Coconut Rice Pudding

Serves 3

Ingredients

12 oz unsweetened almond milk
1.5 cups cooked white jasmine rice*
2 heaped Tbs Dastony stone ground coconut butter
2.5 Tbs maple syrup
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Dash or two of cinnamon

Optional: Dash of cardamom and/or nutmeg

*We recommend white jasmine rice over other types of white rice because it has a very delicate, floral taste which lends well to sweet recipes like this one.

Instructions

1. Place almond milk, cooked rice, cinnamon, vanilla extract, and maple syrup in a small pot and bring to a low boil. 

2. Reduce heat and let simmer on medium-low heat for about 7 minutes, stirring continuously so the rice doesn't stick to the bottom and burn.

3. Add coconut butter, stir well, and continue to cook for 3 more minutes while stirring. 

Top with fresh fruit, shredded coconut, nuts and seeds, or anything your heart desires! Can be kept in the fridge and re-heated with a little splash of nut milk to make it creamy again. 

The Ultimate Keto Hot Chocolate Recipe (Less Than 1 Gram Sugar per Serving!)

The Ultimate Keto Hot Chocolate

One thing is for certain, you don't have to be following a strict keto diet to enjoy this delicious, antioxidant-packed hot chocolate recipe. Yes, it may contain less than 1 gram of sugar per serving (say what?!) all the while not compromising on sweetness, creaminess, and sheer decadence - but anyone can enjoy this recipe, including those who simply want to find creative ways to cut down on sugar without giving up their favorite treats.

This hot chocolate recipe is made with a combo of unsweetened almond milk and coconut cream to give it that perfect creamy texture without the use of dairy, raw cacao powder instead of processed cocoa powder for a more nutrient-rich option, monk fruit sugar to sweeten (a zero sugar, plant-based sugar alternative), and Rawmio's new keto-friendly raw chocolate hearts to give it even more dark chocolate flavor and added richness. You will not regret curling up next to the fire with a mug (or two!) of this yummy hot chocolate on a chilly winter's day. 

The Ultimate Keto Hot Chocolate Recipe

The Recipe

The Ultimate Keto Hot Chocolate

Serves 1

Ingredients

12 oz unsweetened almond milk

1/4 full-fat coconut milk (coconut cream)

6 Rawmio Keto Raw Chocolate Hearts

2 Tbs raw cacao powder

4 tsp monk fruit sugar (or erythritol or both)

1/4 tsp vanilla extract

Dash Himalayan salt

Optional: a dash of cinnamon, cayenne or extra cacao powder (or all three) over the top before serving. 

Steps

1. Blend all ingredients except raw chocolate hearts until well-mixed. 
 
2. Pour mixture into a saucepan over medium heat. 
 
3. Add keto raw chocolate hearts to your pan and let them melt while stirring continuously. Heat to the desired temp and enjoy! 

These Savory Tahini Mashed Sweet Potatoes are the Perfect Simple Side Dish

Savory Tahini Mashed Sweet Potatoes

Looking for a healthy and simple side dish to add a little extra nutrition and pizazz to your Thanksgiving menu? These Savory Tahini Mashed Sweet Potatoes are a perfect option.

While it's certainly common to see sweet potatoes on the Thanksgiving table, they're most often served in sweet recipes like casseroles with caramelized marshmallows on top. This recipe taps into a more savory side of sweet potatoes, balancing out their inherent sweetness with creamy raw sesame tahini, coconut oil, Himalayan salt, and a touch of garlic and fresh parsley. It's a very simple recipe with only 6 main ingredients (+ salt and pepper) and it's also vegan and paleo-friendly! Sweet potatoes are naturally packed full of valuable nutrition - they're one of the best sources of beta carotene and potassium in the plant kingdom, not to mention they're loaded with gut-healthy fiber and slow-burning carbs. We think it's safe to say we could all benefit from a few more healthy dishes this time of year. Plus, if your taste buds are not yet familiar with the divine combination that is sweet potatoes + tahini you're in for a real treat. 

Savory Tahini Mashed Sweet Potatoes

The Recipe 

Savory Tahini Mashed Sweet Potatoes
 
Serves 4-5
 
Ingredients

4 small-medium or 3 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed 
2 Tbs coconut oil (or vegan butter)
2 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
4 Tbs Dastony raw sesame tahini
1/3 cup chopped parsley
1 Tbs fresh lemon juice
1/2 tsp fine Himalayan salt - or more to taste
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
 
Optional for serving: chopped green onion, more parsley, and a drizzle of tahini

Steps

1. Place the peeled, cubed sweet potatoes in a large pot with enough water to cover by about 1″. Add a few dashes of Himalayan salt and bring the mixture to a simmer over medium-high heat. 
 
2. Reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, for about 9-12 minutes, until done. You should be able to slide a fork into the potato easily.

3. Drain well, then place your cooked potatoes in a large mixing bowl with coconut oil (or vegan butter) and raw sesame tahini. Mash with a fork or electric mixer until you reach your desired consistency. Add lemon juice, garlic, salt, and pepper - mix again. Then add chopped parsley last and stir by hand. Reserve some parsley for a garnish.  

4. Transfer the mashed sweet potatoes to a serving bowl and serve with a sprinkle of extra parsley and/or chopped green onion. Optional: drizzle the top with a little extra tahini. 

Serve promptly. Leftovers can be kept in an airtight container in the fridge for 3 to 4 days, and reheated before serving. 

How to Be More Sustainable at Home this Holiday Season

How to Be More Sustainable at Home this Holiday Season

The days are getting shorter, the weather is cooling down here in Chicago, and the holiday season is officially right around the corner. 

While this may be the most wonderful time of the year, you’ve probably noticed that the environment tends to take a hit during the holiday season. In fact, between Thanksgiving and New Year’s, Americans throw away 25% more trash—1 million extra tons of garbage per week—than any other time of year.

Does that mean you should be less celebratory? Of course not. There are ways you can celebrate while still cutting down on waste. To help you get started we asked some of the top sustainability experts for their best advice and they delivered. Here’s how to be more sustainable at home and reduce your environmental footprint this holiday season. 

Deck the halls sustainably 

Forgo buying any new decorations and trimmings that are non-biodegradable. These can include items such as synthetic ribbons, tinsel and foil wrappings, plastic ornaments, and artificial greenery. Use what you already have, and begin using more things that can go to the compost bin instead of the landfill. For example, use craft paper, cotton ribbon or hemp twine, burlap, and fresh foraged greens and berries (we love juniper, holly, or magnolia branches) to decorate your table, tree, and gifts. – Lady Farmer

Making use of what you have. If you need decorations, choose second-hand at your local thrift shops, online, or ask family and friends for any items they don’t use. Decorate the home with foraged plants from the garden or a forest walk, and compost them at home or through a local compost center. – Erin Rhoads, author of Waste Not: Make a big difference by throwing away less.

Fill your home with rosemary plants. They offer a seasonal scent while being “air purifiers” by taking in carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen. And, of course, use the herbs in plant-based, environmentally-friendly holiday cooking and beyond – think garlicky rosemary white bean soup, rosemary roasted root veggies, and cranberry-rosemary punch. – Jackie Newgent, RDN, culinary nutritionist and author of The Clean & Simple Diabetes Cookbook

How to be More Sustainable at Home this Holiday Season

Go green with gifting

Purchase house plants or potted succulents for friends and family. These plant friends do double duty not only by bringing some of the natural world inside but they also remove pollutants from indoor air. My personal favorites are Boston Fern, Spider Plant, and Bamboo Palm. Remember, not all houseplants are pet-safe so be sure to double-check before you buy. – Green Willow Homestead

Give experiences instead of things. Unwanted gifts, plastic packaging, wrapping paper, and ribbons contribute an additional million tons of waste to our landfills each week during the holiday season. Most things eventually become trash, but memories last a lifetime. – Protea Zero Waste

Make your experience gift COVID-19 friendly. Since folks may have to spend the holidays away from their friends and family this year for health and safety purposes, we recommend they think outside the (gift) box by finding new ways to show their love. Experience gifts are a popular option for reducing your environmental footprint (because you’re buying less stuff) and can often be done within the safety of one’s own home (COVID-19-friendly). For example, send a hot-sauce making kit to your spice-loving sister, gift your mother a virtual bread-making class or sign your uncle up for a few months of a coffee of the month club. – Kale & Compass

Give a present that truly has meaning and will last. For example, something you made yourself or something that was made by a local artisan. Wrap your gift in reusable cloth, a tradition known in Japan as Furoshiki. The receiver can then use the gift wrapping again next time he or she gives a present to someone else. The circular economy at its best. – My Green Goodiebag

Do not buy useless stuff. Around the Holiday season, people tend to spend so much money on gifts and clothing. Overconsumption is horrible for our environment, as a lot of the items are made from plastic-derived materials and are used as single-use items. Do not buy a gift just for the sake of buying; if you aren’t sure what to get for someone, you can simply ask what they genuinely need or give them an experience gift (you can’t go wrong with those). – Almost Zero Waste

Give gifts from local community makers. Head to a craft fair, handmade market, vintage market, or any small shop and look for treasures as gifts. Try to find gifts that have minimal packaging, are sustainably made, eco-friendly, and/or practical for everyday use. Encourage sustainable living through gifting items that encourage low waste living. Handmade gifts are always special and you can package them very uniquely. – The Cool Hip Mom

Rethink holiday cards. One of my favorite simple ways to be more eco-friendly this holiday season is to send e-cards instead of mailing paper cards. Can you believe the USPS will plan to deliver over 15 billion pieces of mail this Holiday season? Almost 3 billion of those are holiday cards, which wastes enough paper to fill a 10-story tall football field. That is not only a lot of paper, it’s a lot of emissions added to our atmosphere. Rethink the way you send holiday cards by checking out some fun holiday e-cards here. – Kim Lewand Martin

Exchange local or homemade consumables. Create a new tradition by exchanging joy-inducing consumables such as local or homemade goods, beer, wine, etc., rather than gifts or gift cards. This not only supports local businesses and reduces environmental impacts, especially if you do not wrap these items and/or make them yourself, it also boosts holiday cheer while moving the focus away from material possessions. – Unconventional Sustainability

Re-gifting is not just for the white elephant holiday gift game. All of us own items that just no longer work in our home or our lifestyle. Instead of just donating it (which is the important step to take – don’t just toss it in the landfill), perhaps it would make a lovely holiday gift for someone you love. Bonus to include a story with it (how did you receive it and why) – sharing with the recipient why you thought of them and why you are passing it along to them. – Mrs. Green’s World

Be intentional with your holiday gifting. Skip expedited shipping, avoid Amazon, and instead give local consumables like wine, chocolate, or honey made in your community to your loved ones. Similarly, provide your family with a detailed list so you receive what you actually need or, if you don’t need anything, ask loved ones to make a donation to a charity of your choice in your name. – Mama Minimalist

Challenge yourself and give a homemade gift. Depending on the skills and time you have, you can knit cozy socks, bake delicious holiday treats, craft bouquets out of construction paper or old books, or make sweet hand-painted signs from recycled wood. Next, skip the wrapping paper and gift bag purchase and use stuff you already have at home: old newspapers, magazines, get creative, get your family and friends in on the fun, and remind them to recycle it all when you’re done. – Eco Roots

Use household items as gift wrapping this holiday season

Get creative with gift wrap alternatives. Magazines, newspapers, book pages, and tissue paper are great for small items. Use decorative boxes instead of gift bags or just use simple ribbon to tie items together. – Wonderfully Messy Mom

Embrace the Japanese art of Furoshiki, wrapping gifts in cloth instead of paper. Keep it simple with pillowcases, handkerchiefs, reusable bags, baby blankets, cut up old bedsheets, or T-shirts and for an added “wow” factor tie small pine boughs, pine cones, or holly to the gift with twine or ribbon. – Starting Sustainability

Use your yearly calendar as wrapping paper. My favorite way to be more eco-friendly during the holiday season is to re-use my monochrome Stendig Wall Art calendar as wrapping paper. 2020 will be the 4th year of this tradition, gifts are gorgeous and I get to re-use their beautiful paper one last time. I also love wrapping empty boxes in their calendar pages too, it really elevates my decor and is kid-friendly. – The Real Rebekah

How to Be More Sustainable at Home this Holiday Season

Utilize your kitchen to reduce your environmental footprint 

Make one more meal per week plant-based. Embrace root vegetables and beans & lentils to make at least one more meal per week plant-based. Because root vegetables keep well and have often been grown locally, they don’t have the impact of transport nor being greenhouse-grown. Beans and lentils are a great alternative to animal proteins — and replacing even one meat-based meal a week with a plant-based one has been shown to be one of the best ways to reduce your carbon footprint. – The Apothecary

Opt for organic and sustainably sourced ingredients and foods. The holidays wouldn’t be the same without plenty of tasty comfort food shared with friends and loved ones. Have a healthy, delicious, and eco holiday season this year by loading up your shopping basket with organic and sustainably sourced ingredients and foods. It’s one of the best gifts you can give both your body and the Earth. – Windy City OrganicsRawGuru

Focus on a waste-free kitchen this holiday season. Use natural elements like fruit, pinecones, and greenery for table décor, and bring out the reusable plates, silverware, and napkins. Cook simple and delicious whole foods, have a plan for leftovers and scraps, then compost what’s left. Bonus points if you incorporate plant-based sides and entrees for an even more eco-friendly holiday feast. – No Waste Nutrition

Save your vegetable scraps. You can use them to make a savory, homemade broth for soups, sauces, and stuffing. Bits of onion, carrot, celery, leek, and garlic all work well, but also try mushrooms, tomatoes, and corn cobs. It's a great way to repurpose vegetable trimmings and reduce food waste, and you get a different (and delicious) flavor each time. - Wild Minimalist

Save leftovers. Let your imagination turn them into new fun dishes (or search on Pinterest). Give guests the leftovers in mason jars. If you’re serving a turkey, save the carcass of the turkey breast and use it as a base for making broth the next day, either on the stove or by using a slow cooker. – The Zero Waste Family

Reduce food waste. Every year, 40% of food in the US ends up in landfills. Reducing food waste is a great way to lower your environmental footprint, especially during the cooking-heavy holiday season. From making stock out of veggie scraps to turning fading fruit into jam and baked goods (gift idea, anyone?), small changes in the kitchen can make a big difference in keeping perfectly good fruits and veggies from getting tossed. – Hungry Harvest

Use pasta water to water your plants. You may be cooking up some pasta this holiday season. If so, the water you use to cook your pasta can be used to water your plants and flowers and will help you save water. After cooking the pasta, the water is full of starch which is rich in minerals and vitamins. Your plants will love it. Just make sure that the water is not salted, and has cooled down before. – Easy Eco Tips

Make simple eco-friendly changes around your home

Lower your thermostat and cozy up with a Christmas sweater. Lowering your thermostat by one degree is said to save about 3% on your energy bill (and carbon emissions). Pull out some cozy blankets to layer on the couch the next time you watch TV. – The Sustainable Stylist

Replace common household items with reusable alternatives. We love investing in refillable fountain pens, water bottles with personality, reusable coffee filters, cloth produce bags, glass straws, and elegant storage containers. These easy, sustainable changes are an opportunity to invest in items that last a lifetime, and they make great gifts too. – Prep To Your Door

Create a zero-waste laundry routine. The holidays bring more gatherings and hosting which in turn means more laundry. An easy eco-friendly switch we recommend to your home is creating a zero waste laundry routine by using our eco dryer balls and zero waste laundry strips. Our eco dryer balls reduce drying time and eliminate the need for clothing softener while our zero waste laundry strips replace plastic detergent jugs and clean wonderfully. – Hands Producing Hope

Say goodbye to single-use plastic saran wrap. This beeswax wrap is one of the three easiest swaps to make and it is so versatile. This beeswax-coated canvas forms, molds, and covers just about anything. We use it to cover bowls of leftovers, to wrap around awkwardly-shaped chunks of cheese, to carry around snacks-to-go…it’s limitless! I had this item in my cart for so long before I finally bought it. My only regret—I wish I was using this sooner. Sustainable, so easy, and so versatile – The Foundation Blog

Use eco-conscious foodware. During the holiday season, there is a lot of single-use foodware that piles up. We recommend using as many reusable tableware items but if that isn’t possible, Karmic Seed’s fallen palm leaf plates and bowls are one of the best and most eco-conscious options available. They are made from fallen leaves so no trees are harmed, and once you are done using them they can be tossed into your compost. They are great for our soil, unlike plastic and Styrofoam. The best part is they look very eco-chic for all gatherings. – Karmic Seed

Invest in more sustainable and long-lasting products. While these often carry a higher price tag, their multifunctionality and renewability will actually save you money over time. For example, at holiday gatherings you can swap plastic utensils for your own Bambu reusables, wrap your gifts in a tea cloth or scarf from Tilonia, and when you’re apple-picking for that delicious pie – bring a Frusack compostable produce bag instead of opting for plastic. – Toasting Good

Make your own shampoo and conditioner. Instead of buying bottle after bottle of shampoo and conditioner for your home, start making your own. It’s as easy as baking a cake and reduces the amount of plastic you’ll use throughout the year. Shampoo bars make great gifts as well. – Simple Life Mom

Originally published by Redfin

Satisfy Your Candy Craving with These Salted Raw Keto Chocolate Covered Stuffed Dates

Raw Chocolate Covered Stuffed Dates

We've all been there, those days when that sweet tooth just won't let up. Instead of fighting the cravings with all the will power one can possibly muster, why not replace the not-so-ideal stuff with nutrient-rich, whole food alternatives? 

Such as this recipe right here:

Gooey Medjool dates stuffed with creamy raw cashew butter and crunchy brazil nuts wrapped in a low-sugar, keto-friendly dark chocolate shell. These seriously taste like a candy bar, but they're secretly plant-based and healthy. Use whatever nut butter tickles your fancy. If you're not opposed to peanuts, peanut butter would also be great combined with the cashew butter for an even more Snickers-like effect. Or sub in chopped peanuts for the brazil nuts. It's completely customizable. We used our new Keto raw chocolate Essentials bars to cut down on the overall sugar of this recipe, and because they taste amazing. Instead of actual sugar or stevia which can leave a strange artificial aftertaste, these bars get their natural sweetness from clean, plant-based sugar alternatives: organic yacon root and monk fruit-infused erythritol. You'd never believe they're sugar-free!

This recipe is the perfect example of an easy treat you'll be grateful to have stashed in the fridge during your next sweet-tooth emergency.
 
Raw Chocolate Covered Stuffed Dates  

All you need is:

12 Medjool dates - the larger and gooier the better
2 handfuls of chopped raw brazil nuts (or peanuts!)
1 tsp raw coconut oil
Coarse Himalayan salt or flaked sea salt for sprinkling
 
Instructions
 
1) De-pit your dates and place aside. 
 
2) Take 2 Keto Essentials bars, break them into pieces, and add to a heat-safe bowl with 1 tsp coconut oil. Melt using a double broiler method (a small metal bowl partially submerged in hot water works great)
 
3) Take your pitted dates and stuff them with raw cashew butter and chopped brazil nuts.
 
4) Stick a toothpick through the stuffed date, and roll it around in your melted chocolate until evenly coated, then set aside on a small parchment paper-lined baking sheet, or plate. Sprinkle with flaked salt. 
 
5) Repeat steps until all dates are done, then place in the fridge or freezer until chocolate hardens. Store in the fridge for up to 2 weeks, or freezer for a number of months. Enjoy! 
 

Best Houseplants To De-Stress Your Home And Purify The Air

Best Houseplants To De-Stress Your Home And Purify The Air

House plants create a wonderful atmosphere in any room. Not only do indoor plants create a connection with nature that adds to any decor scheme, but certain plants can also purify the air.

With relaxing aromatic scents and scientifically-proven air purification capabilities, these are the best houseplants to de-stress and purify your home.

Pothos

When it comes to choosing an indoor plant, the pothos checks all the boxes. This vining plant is often called Devil's Ivy because of its tenacity and ability to grow without sunlight. This low-maintenance plant thrives on neglect and practically grows itself.

The pothos is also one of the top contenders of NASA's Clean Air Study, proven to remove toxins such as benzene, formaldehyde, xylene, toluene, and trichloroethylene from any room. 

Use the pothos for humidity control, air purification, and to create a calming atmosphere in any room of the house.

Lavender

Lavender has long been used in aromatherapy for its positive effects on stress and anxiety. This perennial plant loves the sun, making it perfect for a sunny window. When the blooming period reaches its end, trim back the plant and dry the petals for dried arrangements, potpourri, and DIY projects.

There are various types of lavender, so what grow lavender do you use for indoor pots? Lavandula latifolia, also known as English lavender, is one of the most aromatic breeds. To grow this type of lavender indoors, you'll need a spacious pot that allows for ample root growth.

Chrysanthemums

Chrysanthemums are one of the few flowers that proved to be successful in NASA's Clean Air Study, proving to remove benzene, formaldehyde, xylene, toluene, and trichloroethylene from the air.

These low maintenance plants have beautiful blooms that fade away into stunning foliage. Harvest the seeds at the end of the growing season to plant and experience the loveliness all over again. Storing chrysanthemums and getting them to bloom again is challenging for even the most skilled gardeners.

Snake Plant

Snake plants— colloquially known as Mother-in-Law's Tongue— are another top contender of the NASA Clean Air Study. This plant's unique vertical foliage adds texture to any room, creating an eye-catching design piece that invokes a sense of calm.

While this low-maintenance plant looks like a common house plant, it's lady’sa rare type of succulent. As such, it requires minimal watering and care to thrive. The snake plant is a highly-recommended addition to the household in ancient feng shui practices, as it's said to invoke contentment and prosperity.

Lemon Mint

Lemon mint combines two of the most refreshing scents found in nature: citrus and mint. This versatile herb makes a great addition to the kitchen or bedroom, adding a fresh, calming aroma. Lemon mint is hardy and grows well without proper care and maintenance; place it in indirect sunlight and water once per week.

You can also use lemon mint in cooking and cocktails and deter pests that may find their way into your home.

Peace Lily

The peace lily is another floral winner in NASA's Clean Air Study, purifying all of the same toxins as the pothos, chrysanthemums, and snake plant. Unlike many indoor flowers, the peace lily is a low-maintenance plant and drought tolerant. These plants tend to die from overwatering rather than neglect. To avoid this error, wait until the soil is dry before watering or watch for the telltale sign of drooping leaves.

Keep your peace lily looking fresh by wiping down the leaves with a damp cloth to remove dust. When your plant starts to get crowded, transition it to a larger planter. 

Lady Palm

Many palm plants do well indoors, making them a popular choice for home decor. The lady palm has narrow fronds and a visually appealing fan shape that looks great in a floor planter. Like many palms, the lady palm also purifies the air and adds a sense of cleanliness and calm.

This house plant enjoys bright, indirect sunlight and requires a little TLC to thrive. Plant fertilizer pellets once per year and place in an area with a consistent temperature, avoiding drafts and vents.

These fantastic plants create a calm, natural element in any room and often have both aromatherapeutic or purification benefits. Best of all, these low-maintenance options are accessible to everyone.

Guest author bio

Wendy Dessler

Outreach manager

Wendy Dessler is a super-connector who helps businesses find their audience online through outreach, partnerships, and networking. She frequently writes about the latest advancements in digital marketing and focuses her efforts on developing customized blogger outreach plans depending on the industry and competition.