Hemp Heart Gomasio

Years and years ago as a teenager I did a stint of eating macrobiotic and back then we made a LOT of gomasio and put it on everything! I can just taste it now. So good! We made it with sesame seeds and sea salt…simple enough. I decided to give it a go with hemp hearts, which are my current favorite and a recent successful food reintroduction.

Here is what I did. I can’t even call this a recipe…it’s a “barely recipe”.

I toasted Manitoba Harvest shelled hemp hearts on medium high heat in a stainless skillet, stirring with a wooden spoon, until they started to brown a little bit. It took a few minutes for them to turn color. I was tinkering so I just put in a few tablespoons, but you can make a bigger batch.

Then I transferred them to my suribachi, a Japanese grooved mortar bowl and sprinkled in some Redmond Real Salt. I used kosher as I love the crunchy just right salt grain size. How much salt is a matter of preference. Start small. I used a few sprinkles. Yep, that is how I cook. If you are making a few tablespoons of seeds then try a 1/2 tsp to start, and add to taste. Remember this is a garnish so it can be a little saltier than if you were just eating it solo.

Grind it up using a Japanese wooden pestle called a surikogi. I bet you could do this in a food processor with just a few pulses, but I have the suribachi so it is fun to get to use it. Grind until there is a mixture of crushed and whole seeds.

That is pretty much it. Prepared gomasio sometimes has seaweed in it, so that is an optional add in. I like mine with just the seeds and salt.

I bet a smoked sea salt like Alaska Pure Alder Smoked Flake Salt would be amazing too, for a deeper umami flavor. It is my favorite smoked salt brand! My son brought it back as a gift from his first trip to Alaska so it holds a special place in my heart.

Gomasio is delicious sprinkled on top of dishes. I used to eat it on top of rice and will be having on my cauli rice for sure! Also great on top of chicken or fish or sprinkled on roasted veggies. So many possibilities. I served some to my mom and she was heading home to make some. It’s that good!

SanRe Organic Sunscreen and Skincare

I was on the hunt for a super clean facial sunscreen and had tried quite a few that just did not cut it. Turned my face white, went on chalky or sticky, too oily…you know what I am talking about. Undeterred I went searching for more options on one of my favorite websites, the EWG’s Skin Deep database. It is an amazing resource that rates products on a 10 point scale for things like overall hazard, cancer causing ingredients, allergies and immunotoxicity. You want to choose products with the lowest number possible, meaning they contain the safest ingredients. Well low and behold I found SanRe Organic products right at the top of the list with a score of 1. Boom! They even call their products organic skin food, since they nourish your skin, our largest organ. Just sayin! Does your current skin care nourish your face? I have since tried several of their products, some of which they sent to me as samples, and others of which I purchased on my own. Here are my personal favorites:

  • C-Love: I love, Love, LOVE C-Love. First of all you open the container and it smells bright, fresh and citrus-y. A little bonus aromatherapy before you even apply. Then it goes on silky smooth with such an amazing texture. I was using if for about a month and I noticed most of my sun spots were fading or gone. I live in Miami so sunspots are a hazard of our year round sunshine. I was trying to figure out what was fading them until I saw one of SanRe’s instagram posts mentioning that C-Love fades sunspots! I am telling you, give this one a try! I like to layer it with their night cream before bed and with their sunscreen in the morning for even smoother application of those products with the added bonus of the nourishing vitamin C. I actually place a smear on my palm and mix the creams together before applying, which works really well.

  • Supple Sunshine Solar Rosemary Lavender Day Cream: This is now my go to daily facial sunscreen. SPF 30 with a nice light scent of lavender and rosemary. I am SUPER sensitive to smells due to my Mast Cell Activation Syndrome, but this one is nice and subtle, not at all overpowering. It has an EWG rating of 1 for low hazard ingredients like aloe, thyme, coconut oil, hyssop oil to name a few, not to mention zinc and titanium oxide for the SPF 30. I mix it with a little C-Love and facial oil to make it go on even smoother as I have pretty dry skin, so they help it glide on. Sparkling aloe is also nice SPF 30 option with a light citrus scent for normal to oily skin. They also make a rose scent as well, again lightly scented and especially for sensitive skin.

  • Lavender Dream Night Cream: After trying and loving the day creams I bought and now love their night cream too. No SPF here, just a nice rich night cream that really quenches and rehydrates my dry skin. It contains calendula and chamomile and several nice essential oils and is for normal to dry skin.
  • Eye Candy: Finally an eye cream that does not irritate the SUPER sensitive skin around my eyes. One of my main Mast Cell Activation Syndrome symptoms is eye redness so I have to be extra careful about any ingredients I apply around my eyes, but this one is a winner. Super gentle ingredients like chamomile and aloe vera, to name a few soothers and antioxidants like CoQ10 and rosehip seed oil. SanRe also makes an eye serum I am super eager to try as well!

Affiliate links:

I appreciate when you use affiliate links, which help support this blog. Most things I share about here I purchase myself, but I do occasionally receive sample items from vendors to be able to test out new things. However I never share about anything I don’t use myself and totally love!

Oiling Your Cutting Boards

Sad to admit, but it has only been in recent years that I discovered that you need to oil cutting boards. Regular oiling will certainly extend the life of your wooden boards. I try to remember to oil mine once a month, or sooner if they look particularly thirsty! We have several Epicurean cutting boards which are awesome dishwasher safe boards constructed of a durable wood fiber composite material. We donated all of our plastic boards years ago when we discovered these! Since they occasionally go through the dishwasher after being used for cutting meats, those particular boards require slightly more frequent care to look their best.
I love finding extra uses for items we already have around the house, so I use my husband’s BBQ rib rack to hold all of my boards during the oiling process. I keep an oiling rag in a ziplock under the sink so I don’t have to get new rags messy every time. I will replace it after a several uses, but it does reduce the amount of oil needed, since it is already saturated.
I have used several products with clean ingredients. Most seem to contain food grade mineral oil and or beeswax.

  • Start with a clean dry board.
  • First I apply Block Bros. Block Oil (Rice Bran Oil and Lemon Oil). It smells really nice which is a bonus.
  • I let the boards dry for several hours and then wipe off the excess oil.
  • If I have time and energy I will layer on some Boos Block Board Cream (unbleached beeswax and food grade mineral oil).
  • Again I let them sit for several hours and wipe off the excess before storing. This extra steps helps to seal in the oil, but I don’t do it every time.

One of you suggested trying olive oil and since I tolerate it so well in food, I gave it a try. It does work nicely, but just doesn’t last as long. Give it a go and see what you think.

Trash Can Composting

We used to donate our kitchen scraps to a local farm, then later to a botanical garden. At some point I decided I wanted to use them to make my OWN compost, but I wasn’t eager to invest in a pricey 2 bin system. Somewhere way back, I read that you could compost in a trash can. That intrigued me, so I improvised this system and did some additional tweaking along the way to make it even better.

My husband and I opted for an in-ground system since pests were a concern for us. In ground has worked well for us here in Miami, but there are some climates where this may not be as viable year round. We started with just one in-ground bin, but quickly discovered that an ideal system has at least 2 bins, one that is curing and one to which you’re actively adding material. That said, I will show you a tweak I added later that could work for those of you with space for only one.

Supplies for each bin:

Behrens 31 gal Galvanized Steel Round Trash Can with Lid from Home Depot (or similar can from elsewhere)
Optional Tiered system using Behrens Steel Bushel Basket
Optional organic Coconut Coir as easy carbon rich BROWN material
Power drill or even an awl

Original system:
I had my husband drill holes in the bottom and about 1/2 of the way up the sides of the trash can for drainage. We did not place holes in the part of the can that would be above ground to avoid flies and other airborne pests from entering. I wish I could recall exactly what the spacing was…about every 6 to 8 inches and was NOT precise. My husband thinks he used a 3/8 drill bit but the holes just need to be large enough to allow drainage. Next he dug a hole deep enough so the bin was buried 3/4 of the way below the surface. |

This was our initial system and it worked well. We added our kitchen scraps and used leaves gathered from the neighborhood as our browns, along with some shredded paper. At some point my husband pointed out that I had NO IDEA what the neighbors might be spraying on their lawns! Ack! That is when I switched to organic coconut coir as our brown carbon rich material. I keep a bushel bin of it next to the compost bins so it is easy to cover food scraps every time we empty our kitchen collection bin. We are restaurant supply crazy over here, so we use this 4 quart graduated food container and it’s matching lid for collecting our food scraps. We used to keep this in the sink, but ants were a problem so now we keep it in the fridge. It is big enough to let us go a few days before emptying it.

Tweak 1:
The next tweak was adding worms to the bin. They are not necessary, but they really speed up the composting process and with worms you need less additional brown material. The worms were thriving and reproducing until they hit the sweltering Miami summer heat. I put shade cloth over my bins, but it was still too hot for them and my population dwindled over the summer months. They seem to be rebounding now in cooler fall weather. When you have worms, harvesting compost is trickier since you have to pick out or sift out the worms…not much fun. So, the NEXT tweak was engineered.

Tweak 2:

Some commercial worm bin systems have a multi-tiered structure. You fill a bottom tier completely, then start feeding on a higher tier so the worms migrate up to where food is being added. To create that additional layer, I bought a stainless bushel basket from Amazon and we drilled holes in the bottom and sides. Once the trash can was half full of composting material I put the bushel basket on top. Then I added a layer of the compost or coconut coir in the bottom of the bushel bin and started adding my food scraps in the bushel basket. Voila. The worms migrated up into the bushel basket. This allowed the lower layer to cure a bit and reduced the number of worms I needed to traumatize and relocate while harvesting. That was a WIN for me and the worms! This tweak could work with or without worms for those of you that have room for only one bin. Another note about the worms. I was hugely ghouled out about worms to begin with, but they are not nearly as icky as you may be imaging, and in fact you start to think of them fondly as your little workers who are turning trash into compost. Really!


Once the bottom layer is done curing it is easy to lift out the bushel basket to harvest the finished compost from underneath. To harvest the compost I use this 1/4 inch sifting pan which fits right on top of a food grade bucket, available for about $4 at Home Depot. I dump a shovel full of compost at a time into the sifter and rock and shake the bucket until all that remains are the larger clumps. Those larger bits of remaining organic matter and any straggler worms get dumped back into the main bin and become the “new” bottom tier for some additional curing. Once I have emptied the bin, I leave the bushel basket out until the bin is half full again. I can use the food grade bucket to carry my harvested compost right to the garden for spreading. I also like this lid seat so I can use my bucket as seating while I’m lanting or pulling weeds…bonus!

Tweak 3:
My very latest (today) tweak is adding some rope to the handles of the bushel basket to make it easier to hoist out of the can since the fit is fairly snug. Will see how that works.

I have played around with several compost amendments.

1. If you have worms they need grit added periodically. I use oyster shell powder by Down to Earth.

2. Coffee Grounds are a great source of nitrogen. You can ask your local coffee shop to save them for you. (Green)

3. Alfalfa meal is a great activator of compost due to it’s beneficial nitrogen to carbon ratio. (Green)

4. Seaweed is another nice nitrogen source if you have access to it. (Green)

5. I had been told that horse bedding was a great addition to compost so I found a farm and carted some home. But I just listened to an excellent composting podcast by Joe the Gardener that warned that horse manure can be a source of persistent herbicides that can damage the garden, so take caution there. I did inquire about whether the horses received antibiotics, which they did not, but that is another question worth asking.

There are lots of great lists out there for what to compost. The above linked podcast has a nice one. Here is another I received from my local farmer as part of a soil and composting workshop.

Watercress Soup

Lately I have been making a new version of soup based on my Creamy Cauliflower Leek Soup base. It is delicious and I love the addition of watercress, which is a nutrient powerhouse, and is naturally anti-histamine. This version is made in my Instant Pot, but can also be done stovetop if you don’t have one. I use water as the liquid, but you can certainly opt for broth. Meat broth or juices are often problematic for me due to their high histamine content, but they do make an even tastier soup, so if you tolerate them, GO for it!

2 1 lb bags of frozen cauliflower, I use the organic 365 brand from Whole Foods
2 large leeks, white part only, trimmed and washed thoroughly. Slice them in half lengthwise so you can really rinse out the dirt between the layers
2 or 3 big handfuls of watercress
2 shallots, peeled
2 celery stalks
2 1/2 cups of water or chicken broth

Add the ingredients to your Instant Pot and hit the SOUP function.
When the cooking is complete you can either use quick release, or let the pressure release naturally.

If you are blending in a plastic blender jar, let the soup cool. I use my beloved Blendtec blender and ingredients need to be 115 or less for blending, so I cover the soup with this silicone lid and refrigerate for a few hours.
If you are using an immersion blender or glass jar blender, you can let it cool slightly for safety and then blend. You may need to blend in batches depending on the capacity of your jar.
If you are using water as the liquid, then drizzle in about 2 T of olive oil as you blend to aid in emulsification of the soup. This creates a creamier soup texture. The soup should be really creamy and fairly thick.
Season to taste. I like smoked sea salt.

Like my other soups I jar these up in 10 oz servings using pint size wide mouth mason jars for my #freezerstash. Due to my Mast Cell Activation Syndrome and its associate histamine issues I freeze all of my batch prepped foods right away to reduce the opportunity for histamine build up which occurs in leftover foods.

FYI this soup is even better the next day, once the flavors have had a chance to blend.

Pictured with the soup are my yummy home grown micros. You can grow them too. Read all about them in my prior post here.

Affiliate links:
I appreciate when you use affiliate links, which help support this blog. Most things I share about here I purchase myself, but I do occasionally receive sample items from vendors to be able to test out new things. However I never share about anything I don’t use myself and totally love!

Fall 2018 South Florida Garden Update…Year 4 of My Raised Bed Garden

It’s the start of our Florida garden season and I am so excited to be out in the garden again!
This is the start of year 4 of my gardening journey and I am trying a few new things that may or may not work, but the beauty of gardening is that some things fail and that is ok! If some of the crops that are new to me don’t work out, I will just pull them and put something else in their place. No biggie. I am known to some on instagram as the radish lady, because there are radishes on so many of my plates! I just LOVE them, but have had little success growing them in the past. They grew nice greens, which I ate all last season, but they would just not bulb! This year I am trying them again with fingers crossed and at a minimum I will enjoy their greens. I am also trying carrots, but I added some sand and coconut coir to the soil in their squares to loosen it up a bit…another experiment. We shall see about that!
Of course the BULK of my beds will be my beloved greens. I love kale and bok choy so they are taking up a big chunk of my garden plan. I also adore ball turnips since they are a 2 for 1 crop…you get the turnip and its greens…winning! I love using the seed tape by Park Seed Company as it makes planting so easy! Unroll and cover with dirt…done. I know that Territorial Seed also sells seed tapes and I want to try them next, after I use up what I already own. I think they have a slightly larger variety of seed tapes, and also offer seed mats and disks designed for containers. Cool!
I love the square foot garden planner on the Gardeners.com website as you can map out a garden plan. In prior years I would just head to the plant sale without a plan and end up with too much of some things and too little of others. The planner will even tell you how many plants per square with planting tips which are handy. Once I have my plan all mapped out and I head out to the raised beds, I like using the Seeding Square to make planting from seed easy. You can use a tape measure, but I just find the Seeding Square really helps make planting quicker and neater, and I do love a good organization hack.
This year I am leaving space in my plan for some succession planting a few weeks in to the season, so that I can stagger some of my harvesting. I do a lot of “cut and come again” with my greens, but may pull and replace plants sooner this year if they show any hints of struggle. I am also doing a combo of planting “starts” I purchase from an upcoming plant sale at my awesome local farm, Little River Cooperative, as well as planting some seeds which will take longer to mature. That will serve as another form of succession planting, giving me plants of different ages. I have learned a ton from my friendly local farmers Tiffany Noe and Chris French through workshops and consults and chatting at their amazing sales. Just love learning from and supporting young energetic and inspiring local farmers! If you are in South Florida be sure to catch their upcoming plant sale on Oct 20 and 21 from 10 am to 2 pm at 771 NW 24th Street, Miami FL 33137. Their plant sales are EPIC! They do them RIGHT!

You can look back at my older posts from 2016 here and here which document the start of my garden journey after my husband built me my first bed as a birthday gift in the fall of 2015. The gift that keeps on giving! If you are contemplating starting a garden, JUST DO IT! It has changed my life!

Pyrex Glass and Silicone Lids

I like storing leftovers in glass or stainless steel to avoid plastic chemical nasties. I have a large collection of Pyrex storage containers and they honestly get used every day! I prep my workday salads in the 6 cup and my on the go hot meals in the 3 cup rectangular storage dishes. I had a combination of their basic blue simply store lids and the solid grey or clear and red plastic “no leak” lids from purchases over the years. The plastic lids degrade over time, cracking and peeling at the edges and sometimes warping making them ill fitting, but the bases…well I may be handing those down to my future grandchildren some day, since pyrex glass lasts for YEARS! So when I discovered that their new Ultimate lid system made of glass and silicone is now sold separately as a replacement lid, well I counted up every one of my bases and ordered new lids for them all. And let me tell you, these new lids deliver.
There is much to love about these lids. First of all, lids made of only Pyrex glass and silicone…..YES please! I really try to reduce my plastic usage for health reasons, not to mention environmental stewardship. Goodbye warping chipping plastic lids!

Furthermore since they are Pyrex glass on top you can see what’s in them, bonus. Hoping that will reduce the number of lid lifting nightmares at the fridge door discovering forgotten leftovers left to rot. I also like that the silicone frame of the lid is easy to lift open, and yet has been staying closed nicely in transit to and from work. There is a triangle of just silicone at the edge. After initially seating the lid into the container, you lift that corner to allow air out and then press that down to complete the seal. Have not yet attempted to transport anything really soupy or liquid in them, so cannot speak to a perfect on the go leakproof seal, but we did run this highly scientific test for you….

I bought the white lids, as I have an all white kitchen and I love the clean simple look of white. Crossing my fingers that they will stay nice and white over time. So far they have come out of the dishwasher (top rack safe) sparkling clean. It’s good to keep in mind that silicone is a porous material which can take on the color or odor of foods it comes in contact with.

Of course they sell the base and lid combo as well, so you can always choose that option if you don’t own already own the bases or you just need a few more. These are a workhorse in our kitchen!

So start counting up your lids and place that order! Here is a link right to the page.

Affiliate links:
I appreciate when you use affiliate links, which help support this blog. Most things I share about here I purchase myself, but I do occasionally receive sample items from vendors to be able to test out new things. However I never share about anything I don’t use myself and totally love!

I bought these lids on my own.