Herban Lifestyle Store Grand Opening, Feb 8th!

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At the end of November, we moved into a large studio space in the Merrifield neighborhood of Fairfax. The space has a showroom in the front, which we have turned into the Herban Lifestyle Store! To celebrate our new space, we are hosting a Grand Opening on February 8, 2014 from 3:00pm to 6:00pm. We will have food & beverages (including delicious treats from Thunder Pig Confectionary and Momme Meals), samples, product-making demo, discounts and a drawing to win a free DIY kit! For more information, check out our Eventbrite invitation or Facebook Event Page.

At the store, customers can see and sniff our entire line and learn about the various organic and Fair Trade ingredients that go into them. The store also serves as a gathering spot for people to share practical ideas about sustainability, self-sufficiency, creative reuse, and safer products. You are welcome to join events or use hands-on resources at the store, including:

• Workshops where you can learn how to make your own truly natural personal care and household products, as well as other green crafting techniques, including a Couple’s Valentine Craft Night on February 12 and Make Your Own Organic Spa Products on February 19.

• A learning library for those of you who want to make your own bath and body products, plus a variety of USDA Certified Organic and Fair Trade Certified ingredients and sustainable packaging.

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logoWe hope you can join us!

Artist of the Month: Anne Ferrari of Vita Pulita

055_0The following post was written by Anne Ferrari, Owner and Founder of Vita Pulita, the first Herban Lifestyle Store Artist of the Month. During the month of December, Anne’s soaps will be featured at our new brick and mortar store in Fairfax, VA.

I was always fascinated by soap. As a child growing up in the Bronx, NY, I didn’t have many soap options, but I was still fascinated with making soap pretty. My holiday gift to my first grade teacher was an ordinary bar of soap on which I pinned a homemade pompom. The obsession with soap remains. It wasn’t until my good friend Mary Kearns shared with me that she had started making soap herself that I was finally inspired to give it a try. And once I did, there was no turning back.

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As a professor with a PhD in psychology, I am accustomed to using research in my work experience. This serves me well as soap ingredients need a great deal of research too. One customer of mine confessed that she didn’t worry too much about what she put on her skin as she believed that it was not absorbed by her body. Unfortunately, research on breast cancer and the use of parabens in beauty products shows us otherwise. Vita Pulita products never contain parabens, as they never contain artificial fragrances or colors. They are products that I feel confident using and sharing with my family. In fact, Vita Pulita was born of necessity, when my pregnant daughter could not find a safe yet still luxurious body butter. I whipped up a combination of unrefined shea butter, unrefined cocoa butter, rice bran oil, and essential oil. I still sell that body butter, and it is a customer favorite.

Although I am not an artist, one of my favorite things about making soap is making it beautiful. Many of us assume that” beauty” and “natural” do not go together and quite frankly, there are some colors that simply cannot be made naturally in soap, such as a vibrant blue. However, natural soap can be just as lovely, especially when one dives into her creative side. Check out my White Wedding Soap, Carrot Orange Soap with Cocoa, Black Charcoal Facial Detox Soap, Cupcake Soap or Pink Sea Salt Bar and see what you think. All of the colors and scents in Vita Pulita Soaps are from natural and healthy sources, such as plant essential oils and ground up spices. If a color or scent cannot be made using this method, then it will not be made.

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It wasn’t until recently that my father shared with me that his mother made soap in Italy from olive pomace left over from the farm. I was shocked, but not surprised. I was named for her after all (over the protests of my mother who did not care for the sound of “Anna Maria”), as I was born on the anniversary of her death. And I chose to name my company Vita Pulita, which means “clean life” in Italian, although I don’t speak Italian myself. Perhaps the founder of analytical psychology, Carl Jung, would say that my need to “soap” is part of my family collective unconscious, inherent in me. It certainly feels that way at times.

You can find Anne’s products online at the Vita Pulita website, on Etsy and seasonally at markets in Westchester County.

Minted Lemonade: Recipe for a Perfect Summer Drink

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In my opinion, two of the quintessential flavors of summer are lemon and mint. And when combined, they create a harmonious flavor combination that is bright and sunny. One of my favorite summer recipes is homemade lemonade, a tasty tonic. Lemons provide us with healthful amounts of Vitamin C and potassium. And mint is, among many other things, uplifting, breath-freshening and soothing for the digestive system.

Homemade minted lemonade is simple to make, requiring just 4 ingredients! Here’s my recipe:

Ingredients

  • 1 cup filtered water
  • 1 cup organic evaporated cane sugar
  • 2 cups freshly squeezed, strained lemon juice
  • 1 cup fresh mint leaves
  • 4 cups of filtered water

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Combine the sugar and 1 cup of water in a heavy-bottomed sauce pan and bring to a boil, stirring until the sugar is dissolved and the liquid is clear. Set aside to cool.

Peppermint (Mentha piperita)

Place the lemon juice in a large pitcher with the mint leaves (you can crush some of the leaves to release a bit more mint flavor).

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Add the remaining water to the lemon and mint, then sweeten to taste with the simple syrup. Refrigerate for at least one hour to allow the flavors to blend.

Enjoy!

How to Make Violet Cordial

It’s that wonderful time of the year when violets make their brief appearance, and my yard is filled with the beautiful little deep-purple flowers. A few years ago, I posted a tutorial on how to make violet syrup, and I thought it would be fun to revive that recipe with a twist. I made the same basic syrup, but added some vodka to the mixture to make a lovely violet cordial that can be sipped by itself or added to other beverages to make a light floral cocktail. The variety of violets I have in my yard are only slightly fragrant, so the cordial has a mild floral flavor. Different varieties will yield different tastes.

violetsyrup02I began by gathering 2 cups of violets, making sure to choose only those blooms that were open and free of bites and blemishes. When you are harvesting edible wild flowers, make sure that you are picking them from locations that are free from pesticide or other chemical applications.

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I placed the violets into a colander and rinsed them thoroughly.

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Then placed them in a Mason jar and covered them with 2 cups of boiling water. The water almost immediately began to turn a gorgeous sapphire blue! I let the violet infusion cool, then placed it in the refrigerator and let it steep for 24 hours.

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After 24 hours, I strained out the violet blossoms, squeezing them to get out all the gorgeous purple hue. I placed some in a bowl so that I could show you what a brilliant color it made.violetsyrup07

I placed the strained liquid into a heavy-bottomed saucepan.

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Then added 2 cups of organic cane sugar and let this mixture come to a boil.

violetsyrup11I then turned down the heat to medium and let it cook at a low boil for about 10 minutes, stirring often.

violetsyrup10I removed the syrup from the heat, then added the strained juice of half a lemon. The acid from the lemon made the syrup go from deep violet to a beautiful magenta color.violetsyrup09

I then mixed the syrup, 50/50, with organic vodka and bottled it in sterilized capped glass jars, which I bought at the Container Store.

violetsyrup12After letting it sit for 2 weeks, it was ready to decant. It is very sweet by itself, but makes a lovely addition to champagne or sparkling water. Enjoy!

Cool Glass Straws and Hot Simple Syrup!

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A couple of weeks ago, I struck up an Instagram friendship with the good folks over at fellow Green America certified sustainable business Glass Dharma, makers of the original glass straw. In talking to them, I mentioned that I would love a straw, so they sent me one!

It was beautiful and sturdy, and when I tested it out, I was struck by the fact that it doesn’t affect the taste of beverages the way plastic and paper straws do. It was also just fun to use! So the beautiful glass straw inspired me to try some new drink recipes.

I had recently bought a bottle of habanero lime syrup, and thought it would make an excellent sipping beverage. However, the habanero flavor was muted and tasted more like black pepper. So, I decided to try making my own.

In researching habanero simple syrup recipes, I came across Tipple Sheet’s habanero syrup recipe, which I adapted to make my own habanero lime drink.

Simple syrup ingredients:

  • 2 habanero peppers
  • 1 cup organic cane sugar
  • 1 cup water

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I found these gorgeous habanero peppers at my local hispanic market.

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Trim off the stem , and slice the peppers in half. I wanted to have the flavor and some of the heat, but not have it overwhelmingly hot, so I removed the seeds and the white membrane. If you want maximum heat, leave the seeds and membrane intact!

Many instructions I read recommended the use of rubber gloves in handling habaneros. I chose instead to just be careful not to touch the cut edges of the peppers. If you do this, please be careful. And don’t touch your eyes or your family members until you have thoroughly washed your hands after handling these hot peppers!

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In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine 1 cup of water and 1 cup of organic cane sugar. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. When the mixture turns clear, add the habanero peppers.

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Allow the mixture to come to full boil, then turn the heat down and allow it to simmer for 10 minutes

Remove from heat and allow the syrup to cool. Strain into a clean glass jar. The syrup will keep for about 2 weeks if kept refrigerated.

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To make the Habanero Lime Drink, add 1 teaspoon of the habanero simple syrup to 8oz of still water or sparkling water. Add the juice of one half lime and some sugar to taste. This makes a refreshing, yet spicy, drink. Enjoy!

Meatless Monday: Southwestern-Style Quinoa

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I have to confess that I have never been much of a quinoa fan, even though I know it is a superfood high in fiber, iron and protein. Unadorned quinoa tastes too earthy to me, but, out of necessity, I’ve finally created a quinoa dish that I not only tolerate, but love!

Home after traveling for several days, we were longing for a health home-cooked meal. In advance of our travels, we hadn’t done any grocery shopping and were completely out of all of our usual staple grains. The one thing in my cabinet, which had been there a while being ignored, was a bag of Alter Eco Organic Royal Rainbow Quinoa, which my husband had purchased because it looked interesting. I also had a bag of organic corn in the freezer, which inspired me to try making a southwestern-style dish. The end-result was so good that I wanted to share it with you!

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 2 cups filtered water (plus water to soak the quinoa before cooking)
  • 1 vegetable bouillion cube
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon chipotle powder
  • 1/2 cup slivered almonds
  • 1 bag of frozen organic corn

Soak the quinoa in water for ten minutes, then drain thoroughly. Place in a saucepan with 2 cups of filtered water and the bouillion cube. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes.

While the quinoa is cooking, saute the onion in the olive oil until translucent, then add the spices and cook for another 2 minutes. Add the corn and cook for another 5 minutes and remove from heat.

When the quinoa is finished cooking, remove from heat, add the corn mixture and almonds and stir until well-blended.

Serve with a salad, for a simple well-balanced meal! This dish can be enjoyed hot or cold.

How to Make Vegan Welsh Rarebit (aka Rabbit)

rarebitA while back I posted a recipe for vegan mac and cheese. And although it was the best recipe I had produced at the time, I have to admit that I haven’t been quite satisfied with it.

Recently, I had a craving for vegan nachos with cheese sauce, so I did some searching on and found this excellent recipe on Food.com. This one has a higher proportion of cashews, which results is a rich, creamy texture.

Ingredients*

  • 4 cups of filtered water
  • 2 cups raw cashews (roasted won’t give you the nice creamy texture)
  • Another 2 ½ cups of filtered water
  • Strained juice of 1 lemons
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika (regular works, too, but smoked provides a deeper flavor)
  • 1 teaspoon mustard powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup nutritional yeast
  • ½ cup of beer (a dark beer, like porter, is preferred)
  • 4 slices of whole grain bread, toasted

Directions

1. Soak the cashews in filtered water overnight.

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2. Drain the water from the cashews and place them in a blender with all of the ingredients, except for the beer and bread, and blend until smooth.

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3. Pour the blended mixture into a saucepan, add the beer and heat for about 20 minutes, stirring frequently

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4. Spread over the toasted bread and serve with a salad for a simple, delicious meal!

To make nacho cheese sauce, eliminate the beer, replace the mustard powder with garlic powder and add 1 tablespoon of chili powder.

*Most Welsh Rarebit recipes call for Worcestershire Sauce, but this contains anchovies. If you are not a strict vegan, this adds a nice depth to the flavor.

Meet Us at The Mother Earth News Fair this Weekend!

The following post is by Katie Peige, Herban Lifestyle’s Sustainability Associate.

This weekend, Herban Lifestyle will be exhibiting at the Mother Earth News Fair in Seven Springs, Pennsylvania.

This fun-filled family festival is a three-day event held at the Seven Springs Mountain Resort starting at 12:00 pm on Friday and going until 6:00 pm on Sunday. The event is like a state fair, but better, because it’s all about rocking the sustainable lifestyle. So it’s like a Sustainability State Fair (as this Rogers and Hammerstein geek starts to sing, “Our State Fair, is a great State fair, don’t miss it don’t even be late!”)

Back to the fair… When you go, you’ll find a slew of activities to partake in to boost your sustainable expertise. First off, there are the workshops (with very entertaining titles), featuring hands-on experiences on topics ranging from modern homesteading to composting to DIY solar panels. Then there are the animal husbandry workshops with a variety of animal workshops on chicks, and ducks and sheep (oh wait, that’s another R&H musical) and llamas, alpacas, horses, and so on. I am torn between whether I would get a bigger kick out of “Hare-Raising Possibilities with Heritage Rabbits” or “Everybody Duck! The basics of raising ducks.” For those who are not as amused with word play as I am, there are also classes like “Pastured Pork Basics” and “Incubation 101.”

So where does Herban Lifestyle come into this mix? Well, we will be exhibiting in good company with an array of vendors including Affordable Barn Co., The Apothecary’s Daughter, Featherman Equipment, Flying Fibers, Gita Naguri Yoga Farm and Grandma Whimsy’s Cupboard. And I really like the name, Love at First Sit, which happens to be “portable, fair trade, ergonomic back support systems made of organic cotton and hemp.”

Tickets are $35 at the gate for a three-day pass or $20 for one day. By using this coupon, you can get $10 off those prices. Sounds like we are going to have a blast. I hope you can join us this weekend to get your State-Fair-Fix-with-a-twist. Mmmm pass the raw cultured veggies and vegan goodies this way!

Join Us at the Farm-to-Street Party on July 21st!

FARM-TO-STREET PARTY!

Saturday, July 21
1-7 p.m.
$15 (includes four $2.50 tickets for food/drink and beer garden)
1300-1400 V Street NW, Washington, DC 20009

Please join us at the second annual Farm-to-Street Party being held in the awesome U Street neighborhood! Enjoy scrumptious dishes made with fresh ingredients from local farms, drink local craft beer and wine, shop local retailers and take craft food classes in the pop-up park. Entertainment will by provided by musicians via Listen Local First!

Here’s a taste of the great businesses that will be there:

13th Street Meats featuring Ben’s Chilibowl    |   Busboys and Poets  |   Clean Currents   |   The Diner  |   Eagle Bank  |   Eatonville  |   Flavor Magazine   |   Goldilocks Goodies
Herban Lifestyle   |   Local 16  |   operation:eatery |  Ripple  |   Sonoma Wine Bar  |   Sweetgreen  |   Tevolution  |   United Tables   |   Whisked!  |   Zipcar DC  |   Arden Jewelry Design  | Coastal Nut Company   |   Dreaming Out Loud, Inc.  |   Gouter   |  Just Peachy Organics  |  Kew Park Farm  | Langdon Wood   |  Live Green  |   Logan Hardware  | Loulies |  Mid City Businesses  | MTO Kombucha, LLC  |  My Great Garden|  Neighborhood Farm Initiative|   Pawgevity  |   Penn Quarter Bodega  | Pleasant Pops  | Prospect Solar, LLC  | Route 11 |  Rutabaga Sweets  |  Scout Mob DC  |  Seasonal Pantry  |   Slow Food DC  |  Tuscarora Organic Growers Cooperative  |  Waldo, Sluggo & Me  |  YB Green

Beer garden:
The Pug featuring DC BrauChocolate City and 3 Stars Brewery.

Music by:
Flo Anito   |   Justin Trawick with Drummer Duo  | Bumper Jackson  | Lucky Dub Trio 

How to Make Almond Milk

My daughter has been a vegetarian since age 5. More recently, she has become a vegan. Luckily, she is a wonderful cook, so never lacks for delicious, healthy, balanced meals. And almonds are one of her main sources of protein and omega-3, and she has found almond milk to be her preferred dairy substitute. Finding that she wasn’t satisfied with store-bought almond milk, she learned how to make her own, then passed that knowledge on to me. It is surprisingly easy to make, and far more delicious than any pre-made almond milk you can buy. The following recipe makes about 1 quart of almond milk.

You start by soaking 1 cup of raw organic almonds in filtered water for at least 4 hours (I soak them overnight) to soften them. I buy them in bulk from Whole Foods or other natural foods stores.

You then drain the almonds and place them in a blender with 4 cups of water (you can adjust the water to make a thicker or thinner milk).

Blend the almonds and water on high speed for until very well blend. I used the Liquefy setting.

Pour the blended almond milk mixture through a very fine mesh strainer lined with cheesecloth and allow to drain. You can press on the mixture with a spoon to help the liquid come through the strainer. You may need to do several batches depending on the size of your strainer. You can either compost the pulp or save it for use in a recipe (see below).

Ta dah!

Your almond milk needs to be stored in the refrigerator, and should stay fresh for about 4-7 day (although I have found that it doesn’t usually last that long in my house!)

I was wondering what to do with the leftover almond pulp, so I did a Google search. And thanks to the wonders of the Interwebs, I found filled with great almond pulp recipes a site devoted solely to almond pulp recipes! I plan to make yummy-sounding savory almond pulp crackers using fresh herbs from my garden.