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Black Bean Hummus Dip

By Chloe Mulliner, Guest Blogger

I don’t eat a lot of beans, but for whatever reason it seems like I always have a stock of cans lingering in my cupboard. Recently when my pantry seemed especially bare, and I was pressed to whip up something quick for dinner, I turned to my trusty beans for a tasty new recipe. All it took was a can of black beans, garbanzo beans, a few standard ingredients, and viola! I had some homemade blackbean hummus in minutes.

If you’re looking for a hassle-free way to use up some of your own bean stash, try out this vegan and vegetarian blackbean hummus recipe.

– 1 can (15oz) organic garbanzo beans
– 1 can (15oz) organic black beans
– 1 TBS organic olive oil
– 2 TBS fresh organic lemon juice
– 1-2 cloves of garlic
– Salt, pepper, and cumin to taste
– Optional: Greek olives

Rinse and drain both cans of beans and place them in the blender or food processor. Add in the other ingredients and blend until the hummus is as smooth or chunky as you want. For a thinner consistency, you may want to use additional olive oil at your discretion. Top it off with some Greek olives, and spread some on a sandwich or pair it with your favorite raw veggies for a simple snack. The possibilities are endless!

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Zesty Vegan Pesto

After a long day at work, I’m always looking for quick, healthy recipes. This homemade pesto is a great way to spice up the most simple meals. My sister likes to whip up a batch and layer it on polenta. We then place the polenta on a bed of sautéed spinach, and top it off with fresh tomatoes. For a non-vegan option, sprinkle with goat cheese. If polenta isn’t your thing, layer it on baked eggplant, mix with wheat pasta, or spread it on sandwiches as a zesty alternative to mayo.

-2 cups of fresh basil
-1/3 cup of pine nuts
-1/2 cup olive oil
-1-2 garlic cloves
-salt and pepper to taste
-Optional: pitted olives or sun-dried tomatoes

Add basil, pine nuts, garlic, and optional ingredients into the food processor. Pulse until ingredients are chopped, and then add the olive oil. Blend until it meets your desired consistency.

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Q&A with the Owners of Lavish

I’ve been on a quest to phase out my chemical-laden beauty products, and replace them with natural, cruelty-free brands. Recently I visited a shop, called Lavish, located in Mission Hills, San Diego. Lavish is an aromatherapy health and body care company, which specializes in natural plant-based products. One of the owners, Carly, was nice enough to answer some of my burning questions about her products, their ingredients, and a great cause they donate to!

-I understand you created a brand that donates 10% of profits to help fight against malaria. What inspired you to get involved in this cause? How do the proceeds actually help fight malaria? 
Last year we launched a new brand called Botanical Me. It’s a collection of vibrant aromatherapy products made with exotic and healing plants from Africa. We source amazing ingredients like shea butter from Ghana, frankincense from Ethiopia, and lavender from South Africa to make the most effective, beautiful and healthy skincare products you’ll ever use.  

These products are very close to our hearts because we donate back 10% to our partner charity, Malaria No More. Sadly, one child in Africa dies every minute from malaria. But, it doesn’t have to be this way. Our mission with the Botanical Me products is to give back to Africa in the form of life-saving medical treatments, mosquito nets, and malaria prevention programs. 

The idea came from a touching conversation between Jill (co-owner) and her husband, a Nigeria native and malaria survivor himself. During this conversation she realized that we could do something to help this very serious problem and save lives.

-Why is it important to switch to nontoxic, more natural products? In your opinion, what chemicals are the most important to avoid?
Jill and I both feel very strongly that what you put on your skin, and the products you use in your home greatly impact your health and well-being. Look, everybody uses products. Some people use A LOT of products, some use just a few. Regardless of the quantity, using clean, natural and healthy products is one of the simplest ways to reduce the amount of toxins that your body is exposed to on a daily basis. Give yourself a break! Don’t make your organs work harder or put more stress on your system by smothering, breathing, bathing, and “beautifying” yourself in chemicals!

We think it’s VERY important to avoid synthetic fragrances (perfumes) in products. We are aromatherapists and the foundation of our companies (Lavish and Botanical Me) is essential oil fragrances. Essential oils have health-giving properties; perfumes do not. Not only do synthetic fragrances lend absolutely no beneficial purpose to products, they are bad for your lungs, skin, and immune system. Save yourself a headache and use products that are scented with 100% essential oils. Also, ditch products that are full of dyes, multiple chemical preservatives, and petroleum. These synthetic “plastic” like ingredients won’t do your body any good.

-Do you think it’s important to use organic ingredients? If so, why?
Yes! Using organic is important and we do use organic and wild crafted ingredients as much as we can. If a plant was grown organically then it didn’t encounter any pesticides along the way, and this will make for a cleaner, more pure final product.

-Are your products animal cruelty free?
Yes! Our products are never tested on animals. We are definitely the human testers. Nothing goes onto the shelf until it is Jill and Carly approved!

-What are your favorite natural ingredients and their benefits?
We love using rich, creamy and exotic butters. Our lip balm for example (Madagascar Mint) is packed with organic shea butter. It is so moisturizing and so divine for your lips and skin. We also pack our creams with mango butter and organic virgin coconut. Amazing!

-Are natural products as effective as commercial products containing more chemicals?
Natural IS better. No ifs, ands, or butts about it. That’s sort of like asking… Are Cheetos better for you than organic, farm fresh asparagus? People aren’t made out of chemicals. I think our skin and our bodies respond to plant-based and earth ingredients. Even though chemical products might make your skin look good (key word, might) what are they doing to your cells and your organs that have to filter them out? We’ve had thousands of customers over the ten years we’ve been open tell us that our products are the best they’ve ever used. And that their skin has never looked so healthy.

-What product is your beauty routine staple?
Lip balm, lip balm, lip balm. We make the best on earth and I gotta have it. Also, good face creme. Our Vital Moisture from our Lavish line is one top notch creme. It’s full of pumpkin seed oil, honey, cocoa butter, rose oil, and collagen.

-What is Lavish’s best selling item?
We’ve sold a pillow and linen spray called Nighty Night for years now. People absolutely adore it and it literally flies off our shelf. Its a blend of 20 pure essential oils that are naturally relaxing, anti-depressant, and have a sedative effect on your system. It smells beautiful… like lavender, flowers, and herbs. Also, our Namaste Yoga Mat Spray in the Botanical Me line. It cleans your yoga mat and provides a relaxing aromatherapy experience. It sells like crazy at our store!

-What advice would you give to someone interested in switching to more natural products?
We love teaching people how to be healthier, because to us being healthier means being happier. When was the last time you were in an awesome mood because you were sick? We also think that today, people are craving a more natural lifestyle. What was once more uncommon is becoming more trendy and normal– but in a great way. We think people are finally starting to understand the value and importance of a healthy lifestyle, and we’re super happy to be a part of that. It’s a trend that NEEDS to stay!

Check out Lavish to learn more about natural beauty products, and to browse their lovely collections.

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REVAMP YOUR WORKOUT OUTLOOK

By Chloe Mulliner, Guest Blogger

Sometimes I wince at the very thought of working out. I dread the huffing and puffing, sweating, and the cramping in my muscles. There’s a whimper as I lace up my running shoes and a last-minute attempt to bail on yoga class. If it were up to me and my lack of drive, I’d count my laps around the mall as a workout and call it a day.

Fortunately, my exercise routine isn’t completely up to me. My sister and I have agreed to remain workout partners till sixpacks do us part. We attend hot yoga sessions, go on 5am runs, and take evening walks between blending up green juices.

When I’m twisting myself upside down in an awkward yoga position, I look over at my sister, silently giggle, and suddenly I don’t feel so silly and self conscious. And there’s something so refreshing about sharing the serenity of a morning run on the beach with the first morning ocean breeze and colorful horizon. With a workout partner, I’m not alone on the journey to wellness. It holds me accountable. If I backout on a workout, I’m not only letting myself down, but I’m letting down her and our agreement too.

Instead of taking the easy way out and squeezing in a couple more zzz’s, we encourage each other through that first stretch. I push her to run an extra leg and she gives me the thumbs up when I master a new yoga pose. We high five each other at the end of our exercise sessions with our endorphins releasing and our muscles aching with gratitude.

Its the way we feel after our workouts, flushed faced and determined, that reminds us why we’ve made our pact in the first place. When my skin radiates with that post-workout glow and my jeans fit a little looser, I’m so appreciative for that support. Thanks to my workout buddy, I realize my potential. I may huff, puff, and sweat, but I know I’m capable and stronger because of it.

When you’re in a exercise rut or lack the motivation to take your wellness up a notch, consider finding a buddy to bring some accountability to your workout regiment.
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EASY COCONUT BROWN JASMINE RICE RECIPE

Looking for a quick, exotic, healthy meal?  Try this filling vegan recipe packed with iron and vitamin B.

-2 1/2 cups unsweetened coconut milk
-1 cup brown jasmine rice
-1 TSP coconut oil
-1 pinch sea salt
-1/2 lime
-Optional: beans, peas, and cilantro garnish

Boil coconut milk in a large pot.  Add one cup of brown jasmine rice. Mix in one teaspoon of coconut oil and a pinch of sea salt. Simmer for 35-40 minutes.  If the liquid seems to be drying too quickly, add extra coconut milk- you don’t want the rice to burn! Remove the pot from the heat and let it stand for five minutes. Add fresh squeezed lime juice, fluff the rice, and garnish with cilantro. If you would like a more colorful version, top it off with cooked red kidney beans and peas.