Monday, December 30, 2013

Sweet Potato & Black Bean Mexican Casserole

In my household, my husband is currently steering clear of meat and dairy products for health reasons so I have been making more meatless dishes that we can both enjoy.  Over the holidays, I had to bring a dish to both of our families Christmas parties.  I wanted something hearty and filling and most importantly full of flavor.  This dish I came up with, which is inspired by a dish I saw on Homegrown & Healthy, satisfied all three of these things!

 Sweet Potato & Black Bean Mexican Casserole
by Herban Adventures
1 cup -  Red Quinoa
2 cups -  Broth (vegetable or chicken, depending on dietary preference) or Water
4 cups - peeled, diced Sweet Potatoes (about 2 medium sized sweet potatoes)
1 (8oz) can - Strained Tomatoes or Tomato Sauce
1 1/2 cup - Water
4 Tbsp - Taco Seasoning (I used one packet of Simply Organic Southwest Taco Seasoning
2 (15oz) - Black Beans (drained & rinsed)
1 - small Onion (diced)
1 - Red Bell Pepper (diced)
1 container - Grape Tomatoes, halved
1/4 cup - Nutritional Yeast
Salt & Pepper
Cornstarch or Arrowroot powder (optional)
Garnish:  Sliced Avocado (optional)
1.  Allow red quinoa and broth to come to a boil in a small sauce pan.  Reduce heat, cover and allow to simmer for 20 minutes.  Take off heat, stir and cover, allowing the quinoa to absorb all the broth. Add salt and pepper, to taste.
2.  In a small sauce pan, add strained tomatoes, water and taco seasoning.  Stir and let come to boil over high heat, then reduce heat and simmer on low for 10 minutes to allow it to thicken a bit. (If you want your sauce thicker, add a little bit of cornstarch or arrowroot powder until reach desired consistency. I made it with both a thick sauce and a thinner sauce and they were equally delicious!) Take off heat and allow to cool a little.  Add the nutritional yeast and stir.
3. Fill a large pan with water, let come to boil and add sweet potato.  Cook until the sweet potato is tender.  Drain.
4.  In large bowl, combine the sweet potatoes, black beans, onions, bell pepper, tomatoes, sauce and quinoa. 
5.  Pour into a 9 x 13 baking dish.  Bake at 350F for 30 minutes.
6.  Cool and serve.  Top with avocado slices as a garnish, if desired.


Saturday, December 21, 2013

A Homemade Elixir for Cold & Flu Season

Today was one of those days where I could not seem to shake off a general feeling of yuckiness.  This yuckiness has been slowly getting more and more hard to ignore over the course of my Saturday morning, which is not good at all.  There is just no way I can let myself get sick, not that I ever want to let myself get sick, but this is by no means a good time for this to happen.  First, Christmas is only a few days away and I have parties to go to and food to prepare.  Secondly, a co-worker retired on Friday, leaving us a bit short-handed at my place of work and I really can't afford to have to take a sick day right now.  Nope, this girl just ain't getting sick!!!!

There was no choice but to call in for reinforcements.  My husband, Andy, has a tried and true homemade remedy for just these kinds of moments.  Any time we feel like a cold or the flu is imminent, we start drinking Andy's "Icky Hot Elixir" to knock it out of the park, so to speak. It doesn't sound pleasant because it really isn't.  I'm not going to lie to you here. It tastes kind of nasty and the drink is a hot one.  Knock it down quickly and just remember the fact that your throat will be burning after downing this drink can only mean it is killing all those nasty bugs and viruses!

Andy's "Icky Hot Elixir":
1 tsp Cayenne Pepper
1 tsp Ground Ginger
1 tsp Tumeric
1 tbsp. Raw Honey
juice of 1 Lemon
12 oz water
--Mix all ingredients together and drink twice a day until you feel better.

What cold and flu home remedies are your tried and true favorites?

Medical Disclaimer: All information about home remedies in my post is intended for your general knowledge only and is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment for specific medical conditions.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Homegrown Collective November 2013 Subscription Box Review

Without a doubt Homegrown Collective is the most perfect subscription box for those of us who are on this amazing journey to living a natural and eco-friendly lifestyle.  In fact, they even state on their website that you will, "Receive seasonally appropriate, professionally curated  products that deliver the satisfaction of living a more self-sufficient & sustainable lifestyle to your doorstep each month."  Well, I can tell you they definitely deliver on a month to month basis. 

Since this is a subscription service you will sign up to have a new box delivered to your door every month, and you can cancel at any time.  The cost is $39/month + $9.00 shipping.  It is a bit pricey, I'll admit, but I have found it to be well worth the cost. I've learned some really invaluable techniques which I probably would have never learned if I hadn't received a kit with all the tools & instructions in which to complete it all spelled out for me.  If you can't tell, I am really excited about this company and their boxes!!!

Every month they have a different theme, with a couple of projects centered around this theme. This month's theme was "Almond De"Light".  The projects in this box were making your own Chocolate Almond Milk and a DIY Evergreen Oil Lamp.

Project #1: Chocolate Almond Milk

I already make my own Almond milk, but I have haven't made a Chocolate version as of yet, so I am excited to try this.  You can read about why I stopped buying commercially made Almond Milk, along with the recipe I've been using, here.  For this project, Homegrown Collective supplied the Almonds, Cacao Powder and Shredded Coconut.  They also supplied a cheesecloth for separating the ground almonds from the milk.  I would highly recommend using a mesh milk nut bag to do this instead of a flimsy cheesecloth.  It will save your life from a whole lot of messy cleanup, trust me!!!! 

Project #2:  DIY Evergreen Oil Lamp

I was really excited about this project, although a tad bit worried when I actually lit the wick that the flame would rush down the wick into my jar of paraffin oil and catch on fire.  I was prepared to chuck the lamp outside into the snow if need be. :)  Thankfully, my worries were completely unfounded, as they often are.  My imagination is somewhat overactive!  The completed project is rather beautiful (but please do not leave the lamp unattended). 

The box included all the supplies needed to make this lamp:  one mason jar with a hole already punched in the lid, indoor paraffin lamp oil, a fiberglass wick along with a latex glove to handle it, and an assortment of "filler" items (evergreen cuttings, holly and pine cones).  The instructions were easy to follow and quick to complete.  Essentially you just toss all the filler into your jar, fill it with the oil, add the wick and your ready to light it!  

I have one tiny suggestion for the Homegrown Collective company. Can you please provide new members with a binder so we can keep all your projects organized and in a central location for future reference?  What do you think of the November Homegrown Collective Subscription Box?


Sunday, December 8, 2013

Green Beauty Characters Tag

I was super excited when I was tagged by Sarita Coren at Edible Facial the other day.  It was my very first Tag here at Herban Adventures, so I was beyond flattered.  If you don't follow Sarita on Twitter, do it now!!!! I really think she deserves a special award for being the Sweetest Person on Twitter.  She is absolutely fantastic.  Thanks again, Sarita!

This Tag all began from the mind of Sonja at Life In Blush, another fantastic green beauty blogger I am learning a lot from. 

Ok, here goes nothing.....

1. On my nightstand you'll find: 

A photo of my husband with our dogs (The photo is an old one.  One of our dogs in it has passed on and we have since then added on to our furry family).  I am an avid reader so I am never far from my Kindle Fire, but I still like to read an actual book with real pages from time to time.  The book I have waiting in the wings is " Revenge Wears Prada: The Devil Returns" by Lauren Weisberger.  I've got a sunflower coaster (my favorite flower), a sweet little Fairy girl nick-nack who is yawning big, ready to hit the sack.  I've got a couple hair barrettes, my alarm clock and lamp.  I am also constantly trying to hydrate my poor dry, cracked hands, so I've got a couple of hand creams/lotions that I am trying out:  Aubrey Organics - Replenishing Moisturizing Lotion in Honeysuckle (CoQ10) and Inesscents Aromatic Botanicals - Creamy Organic Cocoa Butter.  Fingers are crossed they'll help do the trick!

2. The Literary Character I am most like (via quiz found here):
I am Hermione from the Harry Potter series. "You are smart, witty, and love a challenge. You use rationality and reason in all things. You are measured and stable and you don't let people push you around." - I love Hermoine, so I am good with these results! :)

3.  I am Currently Obsessed With:
Subscription Boxes.  I can't get enough of them, which is not great on the pocket book, so I have to check myself from going overboard.  I really like that you can find some really great eco-friendly subscription boxes, with more popping up every day.  These have been a perfect way for me to test out and discover new green beauty/food/cleaning products.  You can read my October 2013 HomeGrown Collective Box Review, here, and my Season's Box (August 2013) Review, here.  I am also a huge fan of the PopSugar MustHave Box, as well as, Stitch Fix.  Oh, and I've asked my husband for a subscription to the Yuzen Box for Christmas this year, too! Yikes.....I really am obsessed, aren't I?

4. My Favorite Super Hero is: 
Like Sonja from Life in Blush, I, too, really love She-Ra, Princess of Power.  I really love childhood nostalgia, so when I found this adorable She-Ra vinyl "Action Figure" that I just had to have it! 

5. Favorite Beauty Product of 2013:
Without a doubt it has to my Schmidt's Natural Deodorant. Ok, so it is actually a personal care product but whatever.... You can read my review here.  I know some people have a lot of trouble with the baking soda found in many natural deodorant's but this one works great for me.  I love it! 

6. If I could have Dinner with anyone Dead or Alive it would be:
Jane Austen.  I would also have to invite my Mom to this dinner date as she would never forgive me if I didn't.  We both share an insane love of all things Jane.  I will admit that my Mom is arguably the super fan between the two of us though!  My BFF and I have a joint blog, Once Upon A Friendship, where I wrote about my love of Jane.  We've since then taken a bit of a hiatus with this blog but hopefully we will get back in gear sometime in the future. You can read my post, here

7.  Winter is Coming - How do you Prep your Skin for Battle?: 
So first of all, after reading this question the theme song from Game of Thrones started playing in my head. "Winter is Coming" happens to be a key quote from the book/tv series? Is anyone else a fan?  I can't wait for Season 4 to start again!!! 

But seriously, to answer the question, I moisturize, moisturize, moisturize.  I've been using coconut oil on my face and neck (which oddly enough seems to be helping with my acne. Has anyone else seen this result with coconut oil?)  and "Alba Botanica" - Very Emollient Body Lotion on the rest of my body. For what I've been using on my hands, refer to question #1. 

8.  My Perfect Date Night Make-up Consists of:
Honestly I am still working on finding the perfect green everything for my make-up routine.  Right now I am using Juice Beauty tinted mineral moisturizer for my foundation (I really want to try W3ll People's foundation next though) and "Mineral Fusion'- Loose Powder Foundation.  My mascara is Nvey Eco, which is nice but seems to run off my lashes fairly easily which is frustrating.  I am still using "Bare Minerals" in Golden Gate for my blush.  For my lips, I've been using "Pacifica"- Color Quench Lip Tint in Sugared Fig and I absolutely adore this lip tint!  It looks great on and smells fantastic.

9.  My Go-To Skin-Beautifying Snack/Drink is:
Green smoothies.  I add fresh/frozen fruit, spinach, or other greens, and water to a blender and, viola, a cold refreshing drink is born!  I drink at least one green smoothie a day.

10.  My TV Boyfriend is:
I am going to have to go with Jim from The Office.  I know it isn't on anymore but I just love his character.  I've always thought he would be the most perfect husband (other then my very own, real life, perfect husband that is!)  John Krazinski is absolutely adorable and the whole Jim and Pam love story still warms my heart in it's pure loveliness.  This YouTube video does a really fantastic job of summing it up.  Oh dear, I may have to sit and watch the first few Seasons of the Office now to get my Jim fix!!! :)

11.  If my Evening Clutch could only hold one Beauty item it would be:
The "Pacifica"- Color Quench Lip Tint in Sugared Fig.

12.  One Beauty Tip I would pass on to my Niece (since I do not have a daughter) is:
Go easy with the make-up. It's not a tool to hide behind, but a tool to enhance your natural beauty.  Keep it simple!

13.  The Most Nostalgic Item from my Childhood is:
Strawberry Shortcake.  I had all the dolls and my bedroom was all decked out in Strawberry Shortcake, from bedding to my curtains and even my trashcan!

14. My Favorite TV show of the Moment is:
It is way to hard for me to choose just one.  My must watch shows right now are: The Big Bang Theory, New Girl, Once Upon A Time, House Hunters and The Walking Dead.  Oh, and Game of Thrones when it comes back on in the Spring! 

15. My Favorite Quote is:
"Sometimes you will never know the true value of a moment until it becomes a memory" -Dr. Seuss
I am a very nostalgic person.  So this quote has always resonated with me. Think back on the people of your life and it is truly amazing what memories will pop up.  From the mundane to really big moments, it is really interesting which ones really stick with you for the rest of your life. It shows how precious every moment in life really is!

*House Rules:

Thursday, December 5, 2013

No more bedhead, curl your hair while getting some Zzzzz's

I love how my hair looks when it's all curled up but I've always hated the whole process of curling my hair.  If I don't have at least an hour to devote solely to twisting my hair around a curling iron, it just isn't going to happen.  Needless to say, my hair is normally worn straight.  At least that was my norm up until a month ago.  You might be wondering, did I somehow find an extra hour in my morning to devote to styling my hair?  Not a chance!  I like sleeping way too much, my friends, to start dragging my butt out of bed any sooner then I have to.  No, I stumbled upon a marvelous discovery which will change my life forever and I'm not being dramatic here.  It really is a beauty life changer.  All it took was a click on a YouTube video tutorial and voila, I am now a member of the group of women who will curl their hair on days when its not just a special occasion!
All you need for this super easy technique is a stretchy headband, a bobby pin or two, and slightly damp hair.  Place the headband around the crown of your head, on top of your hair.  Start by taking a small section of hair (1 inch or so) from the front side of your head and loop it over and around the headband.  Keep looping this section of hair around the headband, adding a little more hair with each loop.  Once you get to the back of your head, stop and begin on the other side.   You will likely end up with a section of hair in the very back that you won't be able to wrap around the headband anymore.   Twist this section tightly and pin curl it to the back of your head right above where the headband lays on your head, securing it with the bobby pins.  You can jump down to the end of this post to check out a YouTube tutorial which was done by The Paper Mama. 

This technique will work differently for different hair types and lengths.  If you want tight curls use small sections of hair, and for larger curls use larger sections of hair when wrapping it around the headband.  I also recommend using slightly damp hair.  It'll hold much longer.  Mine actually looked fantastic on day 2, even after sleeping all night on the curls.  The only problem I seem to have with this technique is the curls around my face turn out super Shirley Temple-esque, so I just pull some of the front sections back in clip or hairband and problem solved!  I am also really excited about using this technique to get some great texture and fullness to my hair to help create some fun up-do's in the future.
Have you tried this particular technique before?  How did it turn out for you?