5 steps to make curry your culinary soulmate

1 Mar
coconut chicken curry

Slow Cooker Coconut Chicken Curry (click image for recipe).

By Tom Havran

When I fix a great curry, I feel like I’m snuggling up to something warm, comforting and wholesomely good. The experience of fragrant spices, aromatic heat, and silky texture all combine to do more than simply satisfy my appetite; the effects of curry build to engulf all of my senses and nourish my whole being. If I’m feeling down, I turn to curry because it will give me an emotional lift. Curry is medicine that I love to take, a sort of gastro-therapy for my body, mind and spirit.

You can’t hurry love, nor can you hurry curry. It takes time to light this fire, and attention to detail before the dish can weave its complex culinary spell. Curry is a multilayered fusion of exotic spices, fresh aromatics and involved cooking techniques. Curry is born of a hands-on conjuring process that ultimately brings about a climax of sublime expression, proffered on a warm bed of pristine basmati or jasmine rice, with a side of pillowed flatbread.

Tofu-Curry-Noodles-with-Vegetables-8

Tofu Curry Noodles with Vegetables (click image for recipe).

If I wrote a book on this topic, I’d call it the Curry Sutra, and it would contain five steamy chapters. Here’s the brief for each:

1. Spices. SPICE is the spice of life! The seasoning line-ups, recipes and names for curries are as disparate as the preferences of the people that love them, resulting in an impossible-to-crack formula of match-making. There is no standard for a properly spiced curry, but most curries do share some fundamental DNA, having a core group of spices that includes earthy turmeric, smoky cumin, smoldering chili, lemony ginger and perhaps some nutty-floral coriander. After these, any combination from a long list of supporting spices gets involved in the affair: mustard, fenugreek, cardamom, cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, mace, black pepper, celery seed, caraway and fennel. The common denominator is a complex diversity of aroma, flavor and heat, blended into a coherent and dazzling expression — similar to the way a fine wine, symphony or perfume would be realized. Continue reading

3 herbs to try this winter

19 Feb

winter herbs

By Kathy Larson

I was recently asked what my favorite winter herbs are. The first ones to pop to mind were echinacea, horehound, eucalyptus and other cold weather “remedies.” But even though these are wonderful herbs that I turn to from time to time, they really aren’t my everyday winter favorites. The three herbs that I rely on almost daily during the short, cold days of winter are ginger, peppermint and calendula flowers.

Ginger: I feel warm and energized just thinking about a hot cup of ginger tea, and a strong ginger tea soak is also a treat for my feet when I work outside in the winter. On a blustery winter day, there is nothing I like better to warm up with than a hot, brothy miso soup with lots of ginger, hot chilies, shitakes and Chinese veggies. Continue reading

5 Homemade Chocolate Valentine’s Day Treats

7 Feb

by Alan Miles

Whether you’re looking for a Valentine’s treat for that special someone, something tasty for a Valentine’s Day party, or just want to celebrate the holiday by doing something nice for yourself — you can’t go wrong with chocolate. Here are five ideas for Valentine’s Day treats that bring the delight of chocolate to your holiday.

brownie1. Bake a chocolate treat.
Homemade chocolate cakes and brownies are a perfect fit with a romantic holiday. There are plenty of options for all levels of cooking skill on the Frontier and Simply Organic web pages. Even if your Valentine isn’t gluten sensitive, you can’t go wrong with Simply Organic’s Gluten-free Chocolate Brownies recipe. And this Mexican Chocolate-Almond Cake recipe offers a delicious vegan option.

2. Make chocolate ice cream.
Ice cream has a long tradition of bonding relationships — whether you’re making it together or just sharing a bowl (both is best). Add rich, full-flavored cocoa powder and make an unforgettable chocolate batch. Try this enticing Cocoa Ice Dream (rum optional) or this yummy Vegan Chocolate Chai Ice Cream that sets itself apart with the spicy touch of cinnamon, cloves and cardamom.

chocolove3. Bring chocolate into the bedroom.
The smooth glide and delightful scent of cocoa butter make it ideal for massage. And you can bump it up a couple of notches on the sensuality scale by adding natural essential oils. Try a hands-on way to engage your Valentine with the homemade Chocolove recipe on Aura Cacia’s Valentine’s Day DIY page.

divinity_drink4. Enjoy some hot chocolate.
Hot chocolate is easier to make than baked goods or ice cream, but is part of the same chocolate-fun tradition. If you want a very special treat for a special day, make a batch of Divinity Drink — you’ll think you’ve died and gone to heaven.

5. Craft a chocolate gift.
If you want to give a homemade Valentine’s gift, here’s one that’s fun for everyone — and a dream come true for chocoholics! Our Chocolate Shaving Cream enhances a body care ritual with the irresistible scent of chocolate — and it’s great for your skin, too!

All of these ideas are even better if you’re using our organic Fair Trade Certified cocoa powder and cocoa butter, which provide top quality, organic wholesomeness and ethical sourcing.

So go ahead and make this Valentine’s Day all about chocolate — just think outside that heart-shaped box.

Do you have some favorite chocolate treats of your own? Share them in the comments below.

Alan MilesAbout the Author: Alan explores ideas and issues related to a sustainable lifestyle — from cooking and culture to social and environmental responsibility. He enjoys Shakespeare, but not as much as college basketball (Go Hawks!). Alan is a family man, liking nothing better than spending time with his wife of 34 years, his four kids and four grandkids.

Rejuvenate your energy: 4 ways to feel bright and lively all day long

31 Jan

revujenate energy

by Kristen Hedges

Too many folks travel through life with eyes half closed. We’re all too busy, too stressed, too distracted and disconnected from what truly matters. Luckily, reconnecting and rejuvenating your mind, body, and spirit is remarkably easy. All it takes is a bit of awareness, and a few simple daily practices to rub the fog from your eyes and brighten up your day.

1. Practice morning mindfulness.

That quiet space between sunrise and the start of the work day can be used to cultivate a feeling of newness and joy. Instead of rushing around and disconnecting as soon as your head leaves the pillow, try beginning your day slowly. Make coffee or steep tea, and sip with absolute mindfulness, as if the entire universe rests within that mug. Smile, set an intention, and begin your day.

2. Energize your afternoon.

When the sun climbs high in the sky and the day seems to sag a bit in the middle, we often have a hard time staying awake and mindful. Around three o’clock, I like to diffuse a bit of sweet orange and peppermint essential oils to liven up the room and keep me energized.

I’ll also spend a few moments checking in with my breath – I make sure it’s slow, steady, filling to the very bottom of my lungs. If I’m feeling a bit anxious (as I tend to do when the work day is coming to a close), I’ll practice a 4, 7, 8 count breath. Inhale for 4 counts, hold that breath for 7, and exhale for 8. This practice will help to rejuvenate your mind and body, all at once! Then pause, maybe renew an intention from the morning, and reboot.

3. Ease into your evening.

The evening is a time for reflection and gratitude. A time to spend with loved ones, to cozy up and wind down. We often rush from day into night, pressing our head down to the pillow before we’ve given ourselves a chance to unravel. I like to spend the last hour or so before bed cultivating a bit of inner stillness. I use warm jojoba oil to smooth the worry lines from my forehead and to wash the day away from my cheeks. I light a candle, turn on some soft music and cook nourishing food.

4. Journal in your jammies.

As the sun hides behind the hills and the stars begin to wink and flicker, I pull out a journal and write: notes of gratitude, reflection, stories about the day, dreams for tomorrow. Cultivating an evening practice – whatever it may be – will help to ensure that you’re sleeping soundly, resting fully and healing – both inside and out.

So, how do you brighten your day? What quick, simple practices can you incorporate more of to make yourself feel alive?

kristen_hedgesKristen Hedges became a Certified Holistic Health Coach, a Yoga and Meditation teacher, a homeowner and a wife, all before the age of 22. Her writing, coaching programs and classes help stressed-out spiritual seekers find their ideal lifestyle through dietary shifts, daily mindfulness, and a lot of wild soul searching. You can find Kristen contributing weekly stories to the Free People BLDG 25 Blog, and at her personal blog, kristenhedges.com.

Spicy popcorn recipes + 11 more gameday food essentials

29 Jan

By Katie Staab

Sunday is the gameday to top all gamedays — it’s so culturally pervasive that I can’t even mention it’s trademarked name in this post without the National Football League’s permission. This event transcends the sports world to draw in people who haven’t watched a first down all season. Those of us on Team Don’t Even Know Who’s Playing might not care about football, but we do care about three things: inventive commercials, a halftime show featuring the Red Hot Chili Peppers and game day food.

Yes, the food. That’s what we’re all truly excited for, right? An evening-long munch-fest requires its own game plan, so I’ve broken it down, play by play, with some favorite recipes and serious attempts at the obligatory sports metaphors.

Guacamole DipDip line-up: Consider your party disqualified if you don’t have a strong starting line-up of dips that feature a solid vegetable tray and a cheer squad of something cheesy to liven it up.

Guacamole, French onion and creamy dill dips paired with winter vegetables

Spicy Vegan Nacho Cheese Sauce

Snow Day PopcornDevoted fan finger foods: These are the snacks to keep in the game-watching room withing easy reach for the rapturous football fans who want to watch every last (eternal) second of the game. Be sure to refresh often.

Six Gameday Popcorn Recipes

Spicy Snack Mix

Sweet and Spicy Nut Mix

Mini Gyro Meatballs

Bite-sized blitz: For us non-football fans, the “blitz” is the time in between commercials when you rush to the side lines to fill up your plate with bite-sized comfort food.

Mini Gyro Meatballs

White Cheddar Quinoa Cups

Baked Sweet Potato Fries

Crab Stuffed Mushrooms

Chocolate, Beer and Bacon CupcakesTouchdown dance treats: Nothing says “celebrate” like some sweet desert treats, especially these recipes which couldn’t accommodate one single additional dance-inducing ingredient.

Chocolate, Beer and Bacon Cupcakes

Gluten-free Cocoa Brownies

Katie-StaabAbout the author: Katie coordinates social media for Frontier, Simply Organic and Aura Cacia — which means her head is usually spinning with Web content ideas and her iPhone rarely leaves her sight. When she’s not giggling at the latest memes or researching social media trends, Katie loves to run, read multiple books at once, and experiment in the kitchen.

Rejuvenate your outlook: 3 ways to find everyday bliss

24 Jan

AC WEB Revujenate - Lula Brown Article

Guest Post By Lula Brown

Rejuvenation is about stepping outside your daily routine to renew your mind and body.

If you wake up every morning, drink hot water with lemon, meditate and eat leafy green vegetables all day, you might need some truffle fries and a glass of champagne to feel rejuvenated.

Huh?

To me, rejuvenated means invigorated, refueled and calm. We all think we need to revamp our eating and exercise approaches to reach bliss. But those two components are not the universal answer.

So what is?

Tuning in.

When you tune in to yourself, you’ll be able to find what’s missing to help bring balance back into your life — alone time, social interaction, thrills, pleasures, peace — and channel those everyday moments of bliss. Here’s how:

1. Notice your reactions to simple daily interactions.
Are you snapping at the barista when she mixes up your order? Always feeling frustrated with a coworker? This probably means your adrenals are drained and you need some time to reboot. Try daily relaxation exercises, or plan a weekend retreat. Whether on location or at home, think soothing long baths, dry body scrubbing and deep, restful sleeps.

2. Meditate.
Engaging in this practice for even 10 minutes daily will unveil your needs. It will also tame irritability, allowing you to move through your days with more ease and presence.

3. Talk to someone.
If you feel like you’re lacking something in your life but unsure where to search for it, hash it out with a confidante. The simple act of talking it through will help you to realize what you truly need.

These simple steps will provide mental clarity for a rejuvenation process that is both energizing and soothing — the perfect one-two punch to find bliss in everyday activities.

What helps you rejuvenate and rebalance your outlook?

lula headshotAbout the Author: Lula Brown is a Certified Health Coach and nutritional chef based in New York City. She works with women and men who seek a holistic, proactive approach to health and wellness, tailoring programs to fit individual needs and goals. Lula frequently contributes to Mind Body Green, and has written for the online and print editions of Time Out New YorkTeen Vogue and CREEM Magazine. Get in touch with Lula at lulabrownholistics@gmail.com.

Start fresh for healthy meals: Cauliflower pizza crust recipe

17 Jan

By Sara Mallicoat

January is a time for setting new goals, but mine isn’t new. One of my missions as a mother and wife is to feed my family a wholesome, vegetarian, grain-free meal at least one night a week.

Considering my husband is not a vegetable fan (bless him for tolerating my experiments) and my 2½-year-old is very picky about the vehicle in which his food is served, this is next to impossible if I don’t want to be a short order cook for the night! This mission is even more critical after the holidays for two reasons: 1. We overindulged and need to get back on track; 2. My family thought we were feeding an army and sent me home with a ton of leftovers after each holiday gathering. My mother always sends home leftover vegetables, and I never really know what to do with them.

I tried a vegetable stir-fry, but that didn’t really float by husband’s boat, so I decided to come up with something that would work for both of us (and the 2½-year-old, too) — pizza!

cauliflower pizza crust recipe

This pizza starts with a grain-free cauliflower crust and is topped with anything your heart desires. My favorite is topped with a tomato broccoli sauce, sautéed mushrooms, onions, garlic, peppers, a little arugula or spinach, and a sparse dusting of Gouda and mozzarella cheese. Even the toddler ate it because to him it was pizza — and who can resist pizza? It left this momma overjoyed that I got my son and husband to eat vegetables! Of course, my husband’s concern was that I would quit making my flour pizza crust, but once I said that I would still on occasion give him that indulgence, he agreed to make this a permanent recipe in our house. Continue reading

Rejuvenate your home: How to create an in-home retreat

14 Jan

AC Home Retreat(1)

Guest Post by Katie Hill

It’s a brutally cold winter. The holidays are over and the new year shines with possibilities. After the hoopla of the holidays wear out, I tend to feel a little stuck and stagnant. I plaster pictures of remote tropical islands and listen to world music while I type away at my job, space heater at my feet. Everyone wants a getaway this time of year, but not all of us are able to leave everything behind and escape to Bali.

What if we could create the same restful, rejuvenating and amazing spa experience right in our own homes? I, for one, am going to commit to a once a month in-home retreat to get me through the dry, sparse, cold winter.

Here are 7 tips for creating a rejuvenation retreat at home:

1.  Carve out a three-hour block of time on your calendar. It can be smack in the middle of a Saturday or smack in the middle of a weekday. I love taking three hours of personal time from work to escape when there is no one in my house but me. Make it a priority. Ask your family for support. This is time for you! Continue reading

Eating in season with winter salads

9 Jan

By Alan Miles

I’m always impressed with the great selection of salads at our in-house Organic Café, even in the dead of winter. The Café purchases some grocery items that aren’t in season here in Iowa during the winter months, but the salad selections definitely shift to winter fare.

Jami Kimm

Jami Kimm prepares the salad bar for the lunch rush.

I asked Jami Kimm — aka “CEO of the Salad Bar” — her secrets for making and stocking dozens of delicious salads when the local vegetable patches are all under six inches of snow.

Keep it simple
Jami’s first rule for winter salads: Keep it simple, especially compared to summer salads. Continue reading

14 ways to nourish your consciousness in 2014

1 Jan

By Tom Havran

Since, according to our mission statement at Frontier, we are in the business of nourishing people and planet, we thought it would be good to brainstorm a list of nourishing suggestions for you to try in the new year. We started with the word “consciousness” and thought about two themes: culinary consciousness and positive self-consciousness. Since most new year’s resolutions seem to focus on beating one’s self up with new diet restrictions and self-improvement of the boot camp to vainglorious body-consciousness kind, we tried to build a more holistic list of 14 ways to live more consciously this year.

Culinary consciousness
Everybody wants to eat better, but there’s no harm in treating yourself to something decadent once in a while if you consume the treat mindfully and choose not to beat yourself up over it. Also, expand your mind and your experience by resolving to try new foods and learn some simple cooking techniques this year.

homemade almond milk

Making a nut or seed milk from scratch is easier than you might think. Image courtesy of Ashley McLaughlin of Edible Perspective.

9 ways to explore your culinary consciousness in 2014:

  1. Make a nut or seed milk from scratch, such as homemade almond milk.
  2. Make a homemade soup stock.
  3. Make your own curry blend.
  4. Heard of Meatless Mondays? Start your own weekly food tradition, like Vegan Tuesdays, All-Organic Thursdays or New Recipe Fridays.
  5. Try a new spice.
  6. Try a new cuisine.
  7. Document a treasured family recipe.
  8. Have a cup of tea instead of coffee, or have a cup of coffee instead of tea.
  9. Eat something decadent — and enjoy it! Continue reading
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