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Forks Over Knives

“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food”
- Hippocrates

Forks Over Knives is set to be released March 11, 2011. Click here to see the trailer.

Suspend judgment until you see it.

It’s not about guilt. It’s about hope. And I’m all for that!

Whether you agree or disagree, it’s a conversation worth engaging in.

From the Forks Over Knives website:

What has happened to us? Despite the most advanced medical technology in the world, we are sicker than ever by nearly every measure.

Two out of every three of us are overweight. Cases of diabetes are exploding, especially amongst our younger population. About half of us are taking at least one prescription drug. Major medical operations have become routine, helping to drive health care costs to astronomical levels. Heart disease, cancer and stroke are the country’s three leading causes of death, even though billions are spent each year to “battle” these very conditions. Millions suffer from a host of other degenerative diseases.

Could it be there’s a single solution to all of these problems? A solution so comprehensive but so utterly straightforward, that it’s mind-boggling that more of us haven’t taken it seriously?

FORKS OVER KNIVES examines the profound claim that most, if not all, of the so-called “diseases of affluence” that afflict us can be controlled, or even reversed, by rejecting our present menu of animal-based and processed foods. The major storyline in the film traces the personal journeys of a pair of pioneering yet under-appreciated researchers, Dr. T. Colin Campbell and Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn.


Something Exceptional

I’m in love with Etsy.

It’s a virtual marketplace for handmade stuff from all over the world with a simple motto: Buy, Sell and Live Handmade.

This emerald locket from Something Exceptional is one of my faves.

Why did we ever stop wearing lockets?

Anyway, if you like craft fairs, scrapbooking, or vintage shopping, beware: it can definitely turn into a rabbit hole…

Props to Jennifer from Sweet on Veg for turning me on to this fun site!


Compassionately Cool

I randomly came across Alicia Silverstone’s website, The Kind Life today and got totally sucked in for nearly 2 hours. It’s really amazing how much stuff is out there: yummy food, healthy home stuff, fun and funky fashion.

It’s been my long-standing belief that guilt-free decadence shouldn’t be an oxymoron and it’s awesome to see so many sites proving it up by offering practical resources for compassionate coolness. Veganism has given itself a stunning makeover in the last few years: from bearded hippie agitators to beautiful hip athletes and A-listers.

Lately people from all walks of life seem to be “outing” themselves as vegans, transcending former stereotypes to create their own elite (but achievable) form of aspirational living that is more about gratification than deprivation.

Amen to that.

Fortunately you don’t have to be a vegan to benefit from the great information on this site and the huge community forum is super-supportive of anyone who is just getting started and those of us who may just be “flirting” with the idea.

Hey, every little bit helps, right? Baby steps.

So if you’re interested in living more consciously – or even just curious about why anyone cares about this stuff – take a few minutes to poke around a bit. You’ll probably find at least a few cool things you’re dying to try and it will definitely give you something to think about.

“In the end, only kindness matters…”

- Jewel, “Hands”


Dancing in the rain

photo courtesy of artbytrudy

Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass.
It’s learning to dance in the rain.

Dance on, my friends. Dance on…


My 7-Day Fasting Program

green tea

This is the program outlined by the We Care Spa, my fave fasting retreat in Palm Springs, CA. Check it out sometime if you have a chance. They also sell their products online for all you DIY-ers.

Please check in with your doctor if you do it at home.

After all, the whole point is to be healthier!

Have one of the following 12 drinks every 60-90 minutes. Use only distilled or purified water:

  1. 2 capsules of enzymes and a glass of water
  2. 1 Tbsp chlorophyll and a glass of water
  3. 1 cup of vegetable broth (might as well make it organic since you’re going through the trouble to detox)
  4. 1st Detox Drink: water, organic apple juice and intestinal fiber cleanser (you can get this at any health food store or Whole Foods)
  5. 1 pint vegetable juice (freshly made or at least 100% juice): carrot, celery, beet, cabbage
  6. 2nd Detox Drink: water, organic apple juice and intestinal fiber cleanser
  7. 1 cup lemon water (1 fresh-squeezed lemon) and 1 capsule each of garlic, parsley and capsicum (if you can’t find this, substitute with a couple dashes of cayenne pepper in your lemon water)
  8. 1 cup energizing tea (yerba mate or green tea)
  9. 1 cup blood-purifying tea (lapacho or Pau d’Arco)
  10. 1 cup of tea for liver and kidneys (parsley and dandelion)
  11. 3rd Detox Drink: water, organic apple juice and intestinal fiber cleanser + 20 drops of colloidal minerals followed by 3 capsules of acidophilus
  12. 1 cup herbal laxative

For Best Results:

  • 1 Tsbp. castor oil treatment the first day (mied with 4 oz. organic prune or apple juice)
  • Sign up for a week’s worth of daily colonics (if you live in Chicago, Healing Quest Center is the bomb)
  • Do some kind of “impact cardio” for 10 minutes 3 times a day (jumping jacks, skip rope, run, whatev – just bounce!)
  • Take a sauna or steam bath daily
  • Do skin brushing twice a day
  • Walk 20 minutes and do a detox bath daily
  • 45-minutes of yoga stretches, breathing and relaxation daily will help the detox process
  • Repeat this program 4 times a year
  • Check out my post on Fasting Survival Tips


The way you break the fast is REALLY important. Seriously, people have died breaking a fast the wrong way so don’t go nuts mowing down fried food at your celebration party just yet.

For at least 3 days, eat very small meals of fruit and fresh vegetables. Yes, I know you’ve been starving but you’ve gone through all this trouble already and if you stick to the program, trust me, you won’t even be hungry anyway.

It’s amazing what your body is ready to give up when you finally start taking care of it!


Closet Clear-Out for a Cause

If you’re anything like me, you have a closet full of PLENTY to wear and not nearly enough opportunities to show off all that fabulousness.

This is a great season to start clearing out all those “half-outfits” – you know, those wonderful pieces you’ve been holding onto just waiting for the right skirt, top, belt, scarf, or other thing that you don’t yet own to complete the perfect outfit!

Winter is coming (sad, but true) so why not make some space for some new coats and sweaters?

And while you’re at it, help a sister out. Literally! You’ll feel much better about letting all your perfectly wearable stuff go to a local charity that supports women in need:

Sarah’s Circle is a non-profit agency with a mission of serving women who are homeless or in need of a safe space. Located in Chicago’s Uptown community, Sarah’s Circle has provided support for thousands of women over the course of its 30 year history. You can donate not only clothes, but all kinds of other things to their Full Circle Resale Boutique where 100% of the proceeds support their good work.

Dress for Success is an international organization promotes the economic independence of disadvantaged women by providing professional attire, a network of support and the career development tools to help women thrive in work and in life. Check out their website for an affiliate near you.


Glamorous Green

organic green eco-friendly clothing

Green clothing gets such a bad rap at this time of year – fashionably speaking, that is.

If you absolutely MUST don green frocks for a St. Patty’s celebration, don’t cop out with a cheesy green t-shirt featuring a clover or a leprechaun – get creative and find something green and gorgeous! Better yet, show off your sustainable style and wear something eco-friendly and fabulous.

Gone are the days of trading eco-friendly frump for clean couture karma. Designers at every level are greening up to offer some amazingly chic alternatives. You may literally be wearing a paper bag, but that doesn’t mean it has to fit like one!

Look at designers like Stella McCartney and John Patrick for high-end inspiration. Check out Jonano’s ecoKashmere collection – abfab and afforable! Shop at American Apparel for basics to save some of of your own green. Stock up on Levi’s for jeans that are eco-chic and cheap. Scout out unique vintage pieces for the ultimate recycling experience. Or try out some some vampy vegan shoes.

Keep an eye out all year for great green pieces or accessories like scarves, hats, handbags and jewelry that you can pull out at a moment’s notice for a quick touch of green.

Most importantly, let your style reflect who you are – inside and out.

“I have so much more serenity now, knowing I am trying to make a difference.”
- Linda Loudermilk, speaking on her move to sustainable and eco-friendly fashions


Decadent Desserts 101

organic dessert,organic chocolate,vegan chocolate,organic cooking,organic baking,vegan cooking,vegan baking

As much as I love to cook, lately I just haven’t had time.

BUT with a few tips from Culinary Curator extraordinaire, Catherine DeOrio, I’ll be whipping up some deliciously decadent desserts for my next swanky soiree.

All you need in your kitchen for elegant desserts-on-demand are 5 simple ingredients:

  • Nuts – salted cashews, toasted almonds, pecans, walnuts, whatever you want
  • Raw Sugar – way better than the over-processed white stuff with a nice little crunch
  • Chocolate – choose your favorite. you can easily find fair-trade, organic, and even vegan options
  • Heavy Cream – don’t bother looking for low-fat versions. you don’t need to use that much
  • Puff Pastry - I’m happy to let Sara Lee do the heavy lifting with the frozen puff pastry dough.
  • Although I’m not a fan of any food-in-a-box, it’s a great cheat and totally acceptable when the finished product comes out looking as fabulous – and tasting as DELISH – as these yummy little suckers.

    Sweet breadsticks
    12 breadsticks


    • 1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed
    • 1/2 cup salted cashews, toasted and finely chopped
    • 1/3 cup raw sugar
    • 4 ounces milk or dark chocolate, melted
    • Butter, melted


    1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a small bowl mix the sugar and nuts together.
    2. Unfold pastry puff dough on a lightly floured surface. Using a rolling pin, thin dough to ¼-inch thick. Cut in half. Lightly brush one side with melted butter.
    3. Sprinkle entire surface with sugar-nut mixture, pressing it into dough.
    4. Lightly brush other half of dough with melted butter and place over other side, butter side down. Using rolling pin, seal pieces together.
    5. Brush the top of pastry with melted butter and lightly sprinkle with sugar if desired. Cut into 12 strips
    6. Take a strip and twist. Transfer to a silpat mat or parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Press ends into baking sheet to prevent breadsticks from untwisting during baking. Chill for 15 minutes before baking.
    7. Bake for 15-20 minutes until puffed and golden brown. Let cool.
    8. Drizzle melted chocolate across breadsticks.

    Flaky chocolate nut turnovers
    12-14 mini turnovers


    • 1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed
    • 1/2 cup almonds, toasted, and a little extra for garnish
    • 1/2 (2 ounces) cup dark chocolate, finely chopped


    1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
    2. Place almonds in food processor and run until it turns into a smooth paste, approximately 3-5 minutes.
    3. Transfer almond paste to a small bowl. Add chocolate and work ingredients together with your fingers until well combined.
    4. On a lightly floured surface, unfold puff pastry dough.
    5. Using biscuit cutter, cut out 12-14 circles. Using a rolling pin, roll into an oval shape.
    6. Place 1 teaspoon of mixture on one side of each dough oval. Fold the dough over it and seal the edges using the tines of a fork. An egg wash can be used here to seal if desired.
    7. Pierce top with fork. Brush with egg wash if a glossy finish is desired.
    8. Bake for 12-15 minutes until golden brown, transfer to wire rack to cool.
    9. Melt chocolate and drizzle over top of each turnover. Sprinkle with chopped, toasted almonds.

    Creamy chocolate-praline filled vol-au-vents
    2 dozen


    • 1 sheet frozen puff pastry dough, thawed
    • 6 ounces dark chocolate (53-65% cacao), finely chopped
    • 2 cups whipped cream

    Hazelnut praline

    • 1/2 cup hazelnuts, skinned and toasted
    • 1/2 cup sugar
    • 2 tablespoons water

    For hazelnut praline:

    1. Place all ingredients in a heavy-bottomed saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally.
    2. Boil until amber in color. Do not stir once it comes to a boil.
    3. Pour out onto a silpat mat-lined baking sheet.
    4. Let cool completely before handling.

    To assemble:

    1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
    2. Unfold puff pastry onto a lightly floured surface and lightly smooth puff pastry dough with a rolling pin.
    3. Cut out 24 circles with biscuit cutter and place on a baking sheet lined with a silpat baking mat or parchment paper.
    4. Using a paring knife, score a smaller circle within it to create a border (be careful not to cut through the dough). Prick center of circle with fork.
    5. Refrigerate for 20 minutes.
    6. Make praline. While the praline cools, bake shells until golden brown, approximately 12-15 minutes. Let cool.
    7. Press down centers if they puffed during baking.
    8. Melt chocolate, reserve 2 tablespoons for drizzling.
    9. Add chopped praline to melted chocolate and stir to combine.
    10. Spoon a small amount of chocolate praline in pastry shell, top with whipped cream, drizzle with chocolate and sprinkle with crushed praline.

    Chocolate almond bark
    3/4 pounds


    • 8 ounces milk chocolate, finely chopped
    • 1 cup slivered almonds, toasted


    1. In a double boiler set-up, melt one-third of the chocolate. Add in 1/3 increments until chocolate is smooth and evenly melted.
    2. Stir in almonds, being sure that all are thoroughly covered in chocolate.
    3. Pour onto a silpat mat or wax paper-lined baking sheet.
    4. Spread and smooth until about ¼-inch thick.
    5. Chill until set, approximately 20-30 minutes.
    6. Break into pieces.

    Nutty napoleons
    12 servings

    Nutty napoleons

    • 1 package frozen puff pastry, thawed
    • 1/4 cup hazelnuts, skinned, toasted and chopped
    • 2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
    • 2 ounces milk chocolate, finely chopped

    Sweetened cream filling

    • 2 cups heavy whipping cream
    • 4 Tablespoons sugar

    Hazelnut chocolate spread

    • 3/4 cup hazelnuts, toasted and skinned
    • 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped.
    • 2 ounces milk chocolate, finely chopped


    For sweetened cream filling:

    1. Chill metal bowl, whisk attachment in freezer.
    2. Mix sugar into cream and let sit in refrigerator to allow it to dissolve. Stir again before transferring to mixing bowl.
    3. Whisk cream until soft peaks form. Transfer to pastry bag.

    For hazelnut chocolate spread:

    1. Place hazelnuts in the bowl of food processor and run until a creamy paste forms.
    2. In a double boiler, melt the chocolates and mix until smooth.
    3. Remove from heat and stir in hazelnut paste until combined.
    4. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and place in refrigerator until thickened but spreadable, approximately 25 minutes.

    To assemble pastry:

    1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
    2. Make chocolate hazelnut spread.
    3. While chocolate hazelnut spread cools, unfold puff pastry on a lightly floured surface. Cut into 12 equal rectangles and transfer to a parchment paper or silpat-lined baking sheet. Bake for 12-15 minutes until puffed and golden brown. Let cool. Cut each in half crosswise, creating a top and bottom.
    4. Take bottom of pastry and spread with chocolate hazelnut mixture.
    5. Create the next layer by piping on a generous amount of cream filling.
    6. Top with pastry. Melt chocolate and drizzle both milk and dark chocolate over the top.
    7. Sprinkle chopped hazelnuts over top.

    Wear Sunscreen

    wear organic sunscreen, based on the "wear sunscreen speech" in Mary Schmich's essay and Baz Luhrmann's song  Wear Sunscreen.

    If I could offer you only one tip for the future, sunscreen would be it. The long-term benefits of sunscreen have been proved by scientists, whereas the rest of my advice has no basis more reliable than my own meandering experience. I will dispense this advice now.

    Enjoy the power and beauty of your youth. Oh, never mind. You will not understand the power and beauty of your youth until they’ve faded. But trust me, in 20 years, you’ll look back at photos of yourself and recall in a way you can’t grasp now how much possibility lay before you and how fabulous you really looked. You are not as fat as you imagine.

    Don’t worry about the future. Or worry, but know that worrying is as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing bubble gum. The real troubles in your life are apt to be things that never crossed your worried mind, the kind that blindside you at 4 pm on some idle Tuesday.

    Do one thing every day that scares you.


    Don’t be reckless with other people’s hearts. Don’t put up with people who are reckless with yours.


    Don’t waste your time on jealousy. Sometimes you’re ahead, sometimes you’re behind. The race is long and, in the end, it’s only with yourself. Remember compliments you receive. Forget the insults. If you succeed in doing this, tell me how.

    Keep your old love letters. Throw away your old bank statements.


    Don’t feel guilty if you don’t know what you want to do with your life. The most interesting people I know didn’t know at 22 what they wanted to do with their lives. Some of the most interesting 40-year- olds I know still don’t.

    Get plenty of calcium. Be kind to your knees. You’ll miss them when they’re gone.

    Mayber you’ll marry, maybe you won’t. Maybe you’ll have children, maybe you won’t. Maybe you’ll divorce at 40, maybe you’ll dance the funky chicken on your 75th wedding anniversary. Whatever you do, don’t congratulate yourself too much, or berate yourself either. Your choices are half chance. So are everybody’s else’s.

    Enjoy your body. Use it every way you can. Dont’ be afraid of it or of what other people think of it. It’s the greatest instrument you’ll ever own.

    Dance, even if you have nowhere to do it but your living room.

    Read the directions, even if you don’t follow them.

    Do not read beauty magazines. They will only make you feel ugly.

    Get to know your parents. You never know when they’ll be gone for good. Be nice to your siblings. They’re your best link to your past and the people most likely to stick with you in the future.

    Understand that friends come and go, but with a precious few you should hold on. Work hard to bridge the gaps in geography and lifestyle, because the older you get, the more you need the people who knew you when you were young.

    Live in New York City once, but leave before it makes you hard. Live in Northern California once, but leave before it makes you soft. Travel.

    Accept certain inalienable truths. Prices will rise. Politicians will philander. You, too will get old. And when you do, you’ll fantasize that when you were young, prices were reasonable, politicians were noble, and children respected their elders.

    Respect your elders.

    Don’t expect anyone else to support you. Maybe you have a trust fund. Maybe you’ll have a wealthy spouse. But you never know when either one might run out.

    Don’t mess too much with your hair or by the time you’re 40 it will look 85.

    Be careful whose advice you buy, but be patient with those who supply it. Advice is a form of nostalgia. Dispensing it is a way of fishing the past from the disposal, wiping it off, painting over the ugly parts and recycling it for more than it’s worth.

    But trust me on the sunscreen.

    - Reprinted from Mary Schmich’s essay, “Advice, like youth, probably just wasted on the young.” Published in the Chicago Tribune, 1997.


    Eco-Friendly Laundry

    FINALLY!!!! I’ve been looking everywhere for non-toxic, eco-friendly laundry products that actually work – believe me, there’s NOTHING sexy about wearing stinky, unclean clothes.

    Had to go all the way to Italy to find people who actually USE these crazy thingies, but they are true believers. And with a 2-year old toddler, they are a great test case.

    The terrible name notwithstanding (I mean really, Eco-Balls??? sheesh), these little guys will save you money, save water, save your clothes (and your skin) from harsh chemicals, and of course, won’t pollute the environment. Oh, and if you walk to the store, don’t have a houseboy to help unload your groceries, and/or don’t have cavernous storage space for those monster detergent bottles from Costco, these are far more user-friendly. Win-win-win-win-win.

    According to my perfect-parent friends, they are reuseable for about 150 washes – although apparently you can get the super-size kit for up to 1000. In addition to the obvious (no harsh chemicals = less pollution), they also shorten your rinse cycle, thus saving water and electricity. And these days, who doesn’t need to save anywhere we can?? The Eco-Balls also soften clothes in hard water so you can ditch the cost, chemicals and unnecessary plastic of fabric softener too. And fashionistas take note: it’s those nasty chemicals that fade bright colours, damage clothing fibres and turn your wicked black to a lame shade of gray. They are also hypoallergenic and anti-bacterial so they are suitable for sensitive skins so all our expensive skin treatments are not for naught.

    The eco dryer balls are also pretty cool. Basically they’re done when the little nubby things wear off, and most are guaranteed for 2 years (though allegedly some last up to 5). Like their eco laundry companions, they have no chemicals – which is obviously good – but they also hold heat so they cut drying time by 25%, which of course saves electricity and, more importantly, time. The only thing that’s a little annoying is that they do bounce around and make some noise but whatever – turn the radio up, dance around in your undies and have your own little laundry party!