Category Archives: veggies

DIY pumpkin spice sugar scrub + detoxing from seasonal “pumpkin spice fatigue”

… with a homemade pumpkin spice latte sugar scrub, of course!

It is officially time for a pumpkin spice intervention.  Don’t get me wrong – I love pumpkin and all things spice.  I even love the occasional latte {two pumps with soy milk, in case you’d ever like to send one my way}.  But the pumpkin spice empire has spiraled out of control.  Starbucks set the tone ten years ago, when they introduced their cult classic, the pumpkin spice latte, now conveniently abbreviated this year to simply “PSL”.  Now one can visit the local grocer and find products like candy, air fresheners, pasta sauce, potato chips, and perhaps even this unmentionable {ell-oh-ell!}, all proudly dressed in shades of orange, advertising the comforting aromas and flavors of fall, and prompting a satisfying, cozy sigh.  But where is the actual pumpkin?

While driving to work the other day, I was listening to NPR’s “Here and Now” segment, where Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson hosted food scientist, Kantha Shelke, on the program.  According to Shelke, most of the popular pumpkin spice-laden products, unsurprisingly, contain little or no trace of the autumnal squash.  In fact, they most likely contain artificial colors, manufactured flavors and aromas, and don’t really taste like the vegetable itself.  I am partial to all things natural, but like a lot of individuals, I do love that pumpkin-y, spicy aroma that surfaces this time of year.  So, I have decided to both have my pie and eat it, too, by using real pumpkin purée to create a deliciously aromatic and exfoliating coffee and sugar scrub.  I have made a similar scrub before, but this upgraded edition really makes me crave the aforementioned hot beverage, except the price tag on the scrub is lower, the ingredients are completely natural, and the benefits are longer lasting!

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don’t fear the pink

Pink…

What words come to mind, when you see this color or hear its name?  What associations, emotions, pictures, people?  I see beautiful sunsets, gorgeous azalea blooms from my home state of Florida, Sunday dresses, spring ties, sprinkled cupcakes, seersucker suits, brightly colored parrots, a singer by this name, ripe strawberries, and, of course, flamingos.  Not to mention delicious rosé wine, my subject of choice today.

After having coffee this morning, with a wonderful friend and colleague within the wine industry, I felt compelled to mention a few things on “pink wine.”  We shared stories of how “pink” wines are perceived within the wine-consuming crowd.  As kismet would have it, I had a half-finished bottle of rosé in my fridge, an evening off, and another new book to begin reading.  At 11:00 this morning, I was already imagining a summery beet salad and some goat cheese to pair with my chilled wine.  I constantly question why anyone would limit their enjoyment or palate because of preconceived notions of what a color means to them.

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frozen kale power cubes

Why do I procrastinate, when I know that if I just applied a little elbow grease right now and set aside a little time at the present, I would be rewarded in the future? Rewarded with peace, bounty, satisfaction, and even extra time. Discussing the whys and hows of the roots of procrastination in my personal life is a completely different and challenging topic. I will save (er…postpone!) that conversation for another post. Plus, this is more exciting! One thing that I do have a handle on is purchasing and harvesting fruits and vegetables, when they are in season or on sale. This way, I can preserve the produce at its prime and use it later on, when it is unavailable, more expensive, or sourced from another country.

Almost a month ago, I spotted bundles of organic kale for just under two dollars. That’s a great price for organic kale, here in Colorado, in the middle of early spring. I immediately stock-piled about six bundles and set out to preserve them. I love using kale in green smoothies, and freezing pureed kale in ice cube trays couldn’t be easier or more efficient.

kale cube trays

You could make kale cubes simply by pureeing kale and water together. Kale, alone, is too fibrous for a blender to process, so adding a liquid component is a necessity. Instead of adding only water, I like to toss in several other components to “amp up” the nutritional factor; thus, the “kale power cube” is born:


frozen kale power cubes


  • 2-3 bundles of fresh, organic kale
  • 4 tablespoons tart cherry concentrate
  • fresh fruit or a bag of frozen fruit {mango, peach, and pineapple are favorites}
  • 1/2 cup ground flax seed
  • a liquid of your choice: filtered water, coconut water, or a juice
  1. Wash the kale. I use the entire plant (both stems and leaves).
  2. Tear into smaller pieces and place in the blender. I absolutely love my Vitamix because it blends so thoroughly; it leaves no particulates or fibrous pieces behind.
  3. Add the cherry concentrate, frozen fruit, and flax seed.
  4. Add your liquid component. I used coconut water (high in electrolytes) and 100% cranberry juice.
  5. Blend away! Add more liquid, as needed.
  6. Pour liquid into ice cube trays and freeze.
  7. Once frozen, label and seal in freezer bags.

Use this recipe as a guide and experiment with combinations of different vegetables and fruits. What are some other players that I frequently use? Blueberries, acai berries, spinach, pomegranate juice, protein powder, chia seeds, or spirulina. I try to use the most highly concentrated ingredients in the cubes, in combination with whatever fresh fruits and vegetables that I have on hand: carrots, bananas, apples, peaches, etc. I toss one or two of these kale power cubes into my daily smoothie. I get a boost of fiber from the organic greens, omega-3 fatty acids from the flax seeds, and anti-inflammatory properties from the tart cherry concentrate and fruit. All of this in a conveniently sized, little cube!

Some advice that I had to learn the hard way? Remember to empty the ice cube trays, once the kale has frozen! If you don’t have an automatic ice cube maker, like me, you will be sorely disappointed when you decide to make an iced tea or a refreshing cocktail, and you have no ice on hand, because all of your trays are filled with green matter!

kale cubes awaiting their destiny...

Signing off with some photos of recent happenings around the house and garden…cheers!

The flip-side of procrastination: don’t procrastinate or postpone the pleasures right in front of us, this very moment. This tattered fortune cookie slip has a permanent home at eye-level, on our refrigerator.

The first flower, a purple crocus, spotted this past March, in our front yard.

Dragon’s Blood waking up from its winter sleep.

The view from our back porch last week. What a mood-swinging spring! One day, we would be enjoying sunny, 50 degree afternoons, and the next day, we would be dealing with five inches of snow. So ready for the warm season…

perennial thyme emerging between the flagstones.

Perennial thyme, emerging through the flagstones on the garden path.

green resolutions | kale smoothies

Fresh off the plane from a trip back home to Florida, I am ready to start my version of a New Year’s celebration!  Since I work in the hospitality industry, the months of November and December are the busiest of the year.  My colleagues and I creatively and fastidiously facilitate a wondrous, festive respite, so that everyone’s family and friends can relax and enjoy the holiday season.  For a wedding planner, it’s June and July.  For tax professionals, it’s the months leading up to April 15th.  During those two winter months, I can barely see straight, let alone plan out resolutions!

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spinach + mushroom quiche | vegetable reincarnation

We made quiche for the first time this Christmas Day.  Surprisingly easy to make and quite versatile, quiches can be made with whatever you currently have in your kitchen or reflect what is seasonally available.

What a busy month December has been!  I think that a lot of us can say those exact words, accompanied by a deep sigh of relief, now that the month is closing to an end.  I have let the busyness of the season allow for excuses to not write or exercise or take care of myself, as well as I know I should.  A couple of nights ago, over a glass of wine, my boyfriend and I were discussing how we would celebrate Christmas this year.  Both of us had recently assumed new roles within our profession, and with the promotions, came more responsibility and demands upon our time.  The common thread within our conversation was the quest for peace, avoiding stress, and following our own timing for imposed holiday deadlines.

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