Treading Lightly
Treading Lightly

My Favorite Fair Trade, Organic Teas

I love tea. I drink it year round with at least a cup in the morning as I settle into my workday. Some days, especially in the winter, I have another cup after lunch.

But tea has a big impact.

Tea is a mono-crop, and it comes with the heavy pesticide and herbicide use that mono-cropping is known for. The industry has a long history of worker exploitation, poor working conditions, and unequal profits for growers and distributors that lead to unlivable, low wages. Child labor is still widespread, and the tea industry is ripe with trafficking children and women. Deforestation, lack of natural biodiversity, and soil erosion are also rising concerns with an industry that is both growing and being pressured by climate change.

My Favorite Fair Trade Organic Teas

It’s important to me to fill my cup with something I feel good about.

There isn’t a way to know the true impact of the tea I drink and if it contributed to any of the horrors above. But I still think that looking for certain certifications is a start.

I only buy organic teas because it’s better for the workers who pick and process the leaves, for me, and for the environment. I do my best to also opt for fair trade when available. Thankfully fair trade tea is getting a lot easier to find.

Coincidentally, every company featured below is a Certified B Corporation. This means that they are a for-profit company that “meets rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency.” It’s an easy way to know if a company is invested in social good, especially in the locations that they do business.

 

My Favorite Fair Trade, Organic Teas

Quick note: While I am trying to transition to loose leaf teas only, some of my favorites still only come in bags. (If you have a favorite loose leaf please share!) I am still searching for a good local source of loose leaf, fair trade, organic teas in bulk. (Bay Area friends, do you know a place?)

 

1. Numi Decaf Ginger Lemon

Taste: This is the one of the two green teas I like. Okay, I haven’t tried a ton of them, but once I had this one I couldn’t see why I should bother switching. The flavor is light and not at all grassy. A squeeze of lemon juice makes this tea divine and a nice wake-me-up in the morning.

To put it frankly, I trust Numi. They don’t use any ‘natural’ flavors or perfumes. They instead rely on high quality spices, herbs, and teas. I know exactly what I’m drinking when I make a cup.

Impact: Fair Trade. Organic. While I wish this tea came in loose leaf, its bags are made from unbleached hemp paper. They are biodegradable and can be composted at home. The boxes are made from recycled cardboard with soy-based inks, and they don’t use any plastic wrap. They are actively working to create home-compostable, plant based wrappers for the tea bags, according to their website. (Their current wrappers have to be sent to the landfill, a fact that many tea drinkers like me take issue with.) They purchase carbon offsets and renewable energy certificates to offset their production emissions and energy use.

 

2. Numi Golden Chai

Taste: A hot, spicy chia can turn any day around. Once you start making your own chai, you won’t go back to the boxed, concentrated shit they sell at most coffee shops.

I’ve had a lot of chais in my life, but this one is by far my favorite to make for myself. It’s robust and spicy, and it holds up great when flooded with milk (or made entirely with milk instead of water). You can add a sweetener if you like, but for the most part it really doesn’t need it. Take note! The Numi’s loose leaf by far is more flavorful than the bags.

Impact: Fair Trade. Organic. Loose leaf and bags (although the loose leaf is superior in every way).

 

3. Traditional Medicinals Green Tea Lemongrass

Taste: In case you haven’t noticed yet, I love citrus flavors, especially in tea. This tea is refreshing without letting the lemongrass overwhelm the green tea. I feel virtuous with a cup of this in hand.

Impact: Organic. Fair trade. Certified B Corp. 100 percent of their electricity comes from local renewable sources. Traditional Medicinals supports many social good projects in India including building schools, helping provide water security for 3,100 people, increasing opportunities for girls and women, and more.

 

4. Numi Breakfast Blend

Taste: This tea is as smooth as breakfast teas come. It’s not bitter or astringent, and it pairs perfectly with a splash of milk or cream.

Impact: Organic. Fair trade. Loose leaf and bags.

 

5. Numi Moroccan Mint

Taste: Minty with a subtle sweetness, this tea is great for curbing a sugar craving or giving you a little after-meal pick me up. I’ve been in love with this tea for years, and I finally bought it in bulk. It turns out a pound of this mint tea goes a looooong way at 1/2 tsp. per cup. I gave it out for Christmas gifts and still have at least a half pound leftover.

Impact: Fair trade. Organic. Loose leaf and bags.

 

6. Yogi Ginger

Taste: This strong ginger tea used to be my secret weapon when I had a sore throat or an upset stomach. These days I drink it even when I’m not sick. The spicy ginger flavor has grown on me. The lemongrass helps add depth and smooth out the ginger taste.

Impact: Organic. While it doesn’t come in loose leaf, the tea bags are compostable and the outer box can be recycled. Yogi is also a Certified B Corporation. You can learn more about their environmental and social impacts here and see their B Corp. score card here.

 

PS. This is not a sponsored post or an advertisement. I don’t receive free products or any other perks for any posts. There isn’t a single affiliate link on the blog. These truly are my favorite teas.

15+ Christmas Cookies to Gift (And Eat Right Now)

Yes, yes, the decorations are lovely, but hands down my favorite part of holiday festivities (after the people) are the Christmas cookies. For years my mom and I have made big plates of Christmas cookies and wintery desserts to give out as gifts. I love spending the time together in the kitchen… and eating all of the gooey cookies straight out of the oven.

This year my boyfriend and I decided to forgo any decorations in our small space since we were both going home for Christmas. Instead, we are making a batch of cookies each week to eat and share. It’s also my first year baking 100 percent gluten-free, and so far, two weeks in, it’s going great!

Christmas Cookies to Gift

Christmas Cookies and Other Goodies to Gift

These are all cookies that look beautiful, hold up well, and feel special as a gift. But I beg you, don’t forget to save some for you too.

Christmas Cookies to Gift

Easy Shortbread Cookies

I love taking the dough for these and splitting them into different cookies. I’ve made them with cranberries, topped them with jam, and even sprinkled them with candy cane pieces. I’ll be adapting them to gluten-free flour this year.

Chocolate Chip Cookies Stuffed with Nutella

I used to work with Dzung from Honeysuckle Catering at Sunset, and people would go CRAZY for her cookies. We would seriously run down the halls to try to get there first. They go FAST.

I’ve only had her original version (just leave out the Nutella for the recipe), but the look on people’s faces when they bite into this Nutella stuffed version is pure heaven.

Zebra Cookies

My brother asks for these every year. You probably should too.

Soft and Chewy Ginger Cookies (GF)

I’ve made these twice… in the past two weeks. If sugar wasn’t bad for you (and I wouldn’t get sick) I would make them when no one was home and eat the whole batch.

 

Bonus: These cookies look amazing, but they are all cookies I haven’t made yet so I can’t vouch for their tastiness.

Super Soft Gluten-free Sugar Cookies (GF, V)

Chocolate Brownie Cookies (GF)

Salted Chocolate Chunk Cookies

I’m a sucker for salted chocolate chip cookies. The sheer number I have eaten is unreal. I might just need to try to make these gluten free with my own flour blend…

Pumpkin Snickerdoodle Cookies 

These have a vegetable in them (pumpkin), therefore they are good for you.

Homemade Salted Butter Caramels

Chocolate Loaf Cake

This recipe makes my mouth water every time I see the picture on my Pinterest. It doesn’t help that it’s the cover photo for my dessert board.

Clementine Butter Cookies

I’m usually a fan of thick, chewy cookies, but these thin cookies look soft enough to melt in your mouth.

Salted Caramel Sauce

Natural ingredients, beautiful finished product.

Christmas Cookies to Gift

Raspberry Hand Pies (GF, V)

I would cry tears of pure joy if someone gave me buttery, homemade gluten-free hand pies. Huge hint.

Cookies to Eat Right Now

Christmas Cookies to Gift – healthy oatmeal chocolate chip cookies

My Standby ‘Healthy’ Oatmeal Cookies

Gingerbread Men (GF)

Sure, you could give these away. But why would you share them?

A photo posted by Angela Liddon (@ohsheglows) on

Jumbo Chocolate Chunk Cookies (GF, V)

You only have to dirty a single bowl.

Perfect Holiday Party Treats

These treats are the perfect thing to share.

Chocolate Molten Cakes in a Cupcake Pan (GF option)

I made these for a work holiday party last year and they were a huge hit. They worked out great with gluten-free flour.

Chocolate Sheet Cake (GF Option)

This recipe feeds a crowd and comes together FAST. I’m so happy to just pour on frosting and be done with it. Plus, just grab the entire sheet and go. You can decorate it like the cake above or make your own chocolate trees. I won’t tell if you just leave it plain too.

2-Ingredient Dark Chocolate Truffles (GF, V)

People go crazy for little bites. Especially if it’s something that is relatively healthy.

12 Must Have Vegetarian Fall Recipes

Fall has shaken me out of a bit of a food rut. It’s so easy to get stuck eating pasta a couple nights a week and a soup the rest. But fall doesn’t have to be boring. These vegetarian fall recipes are healthy, quick, and delicious. All of the recipes can easily be made gluten-free and/or vegan.

Did I mention they are also easy? I can’t stand recipes with endless instructions and ingredients. Nor do I care for things that have to be made exactly the right way or they fail epicallyThese recipes are perfect for a quick weeknight dinner or a cozy weekend meal. All of them are recipes I have made multiple times and still love.

And to be fair, most of them would be great year round. These are just the recipes I reach for when it’s cold and I’m already hungry.

calafia cafe buddha bowl-skin-cleanse skin cleanse

Vegetarian Fall Recipes: Dinner

1-Pot Kale Sweet Potato Curry

If you only make on dish off this list, it has to be this one from Minimalist Baker. I cannot shut up about it. So easy. So filling. So satisfying. It’s my new go-to “stew.” If you don’t like sweet potato, a squash or really any vegetable would substitute well.

Enlightened Miso Power Bowl

This bowl is straight out of the Oh She Glows Cookbook. I love bowls, especially when someone else is going to make it for me. This one feels filling and interesting without forcing you to cut every vegetable in the market and cook it separately. I’ve made the Orange Miso Dressing (swapping olive oil for the toasted sesame oil because it’s not my thing) to use on other dishes. Oh, and it has 20.3g protein in each serving. Score.

1-Pot Vegetable Penne Pasta

For those lucky enough to live in California and still have ripe cherry tomatoes, this one from Love and Lemons is golden. It reminds me of the frozen Trader Joe’s pasta dish my roommates ate nearly daily in college, but it’s even better. I overload it with vegetables so I don’t have to feel guilty for not making a side dish. You seriously just throw everything in the pot, wait a few minutes while it cooks, and devour.

Gnocchi With Pomodoro Sauce

This recipe from Foodie Crush makes me make Homer noises. My boyfriend and I have made this recipe so many times that we don’t need the recipe anymore. To be fair, it is simple with only a few ingredients. We don’t do the cheese or broil – who can wait that long!?! (It’s only an extra eight minutes, so totally feel free to complete the recipe as written.) We made it with a bit of mozzarella once and it was good, but for my dairy-hating stomach we just sprinkle on a bit of aged parmigiano-reggiano afterwards. I also frequently just make the sauce to use over pasta or another dish. It’s that good and stupid easy.

Miso-Kale Noodles

I am head over heels for miso. The salty stuff makes my heart beat a little faster (and it’s not the extra sodium). To make this recipe I start with Veganomicon’s Udon Recipe. Due to dietary constrictions I now make it with zucchini instead of the mushrooms, garlic olive oil, no onion, and rice noodles instead. It’s a forgiving recipe and I just want to drink the broth anyway. If you don’t have to eat low-FODMAP, the original is great.

Butternut Squash Kale Risotto

I’ve only made this recipe once, but it seemed like a sin not to include a butternut squash dish. The recipe turned out pretty well, but there was a bit too much liquid and I had some trouble cooking the squash evenly. Next time I would roast the cubed squash while I made the rice and cut out a time-consuming step.

Vegetarian Fried Rice

Fried rice is of course a great idea year round, but it’s also a nice way to use up leftover rice and make a fast hot meal when you don’t feel like cooking. You can really use any vegetables that sauté well, even a frozen medley. I use this recipe from The Kitchn as a guide, and I highly recommend opting for the fresh ginger.

One Pan Mexican Quinoa

Tacos are a year-round staple around here, but there is something distinctly fall/winter about this dish for me. It’s hearty without being heavy. You can easily swap in rice for the quinoa, just be sure to check the water ratio and increase the cooking time.

Polenta Bake with Feta and Tomato

This dish is another one where you can pretty much add what you like. It makes a great base for just about any veggie. It’s also really quick.

Veggie Bowl

There isn’t really a recipe for this, and that’s why I like it. But here’s the basic principles: 1. Roast or sauté whatever vegetables you want. 2. Make or use leftover rice, quinoa, cauliflower rice, etc. 3. Put it in your bowl. 4. Drizzle with olive oil and a squeeze of lemon or add whatever sauce you want. 5. Completely cover in parm until you can no longer see the contents of the bowl (optional).

Vegetarian Fall Recipes: Breakfast

Let’s be honest, I eat toast 95 percent of the time. Usually with butter and sunflower seed butter. But when I don’t eat that (or eggs), these are my favorites. Did I include this section just so I could talk about waffles? Yes.

A photo posted by Kate (@cookieandkate) on

Easy Gluten Free Oat Waffles

I would happily eat these every day. Breakfast, snack, you name it. They are incredibly filling because they are made with oat flour – not to mention nutritious and protein packed. I thought the texture would be dense, but I was so wrong. This recipe by Cookie and Kate ruined me for waffles. I only want these ones… okay I’ll eat a different one if it really came down to it.

Quinoa Oatmeal

Thug Kitchen is a staple in my family. I always have at least one jar of this oatmeal in my freezer. Between the quinoa and the steel cut oats, it’s packed with protein. When it isn’t berry season, I stir in some frozen fruit. My absolute favorite way to make this is with an entire can of full fat coconut milk. It keeps me full longer and the flavor is subtle. (It ends up being close to two cups and I just add water to get the full four).

 

Still hungry? I have tons more recipes here.

What’s your favorite fall recipe or ingredient?

6 Healthy Cookbooks – Part 2

As much as I love browsing Pinterest for recipe ideas, it just can’t beat flipping through a solid cookbook. These healthy cookbooks have me all jazzed up about getting creative in the kitchen this summer.

healthy-cookbooks-part-2

Love and Lemons Cookbook
You’ll be hard-pressed to find another book as beautiful as this one. I love flipping through it. The book is full of gorgeous full page photos for every recipe, and the whole thing feels light and calming. Jeanine Donofrio’s recipes include a healthy mix of foods. Notes about how to modify recipes to be vegetarian and/or gluten free are peppered throughout so you can make her dishes to suit your needs.

Bowl
Get ready to crave ramen like crazy. I couldn’t stop myself from flagging nearly every recipe. Vegetarian pho? Yes please! This cookbook has everything from a vegetarian spin on popular Asian bowls to Buddha bowls stuffed with veggies.

Eating Clean
This is the only cookbook I have ever read from cover to cover. Amie Valpone’s story is fascinating, and enjoyed getting some ideas for recipes without dairy or gluten. I won’t follow her meal plan, but I would like to incorporate some of her principles (and snacks!) into my daily eating.

Minimalist Baker’s Everyday Cooking
Confession, I still haven’t actually seen this one. There’s a long list of us waiting for it from the library. But given how create The Minimalist Baker’s recipes are, I’m confident it’s worth my wait and your time. Her vegan (and mostly gluten-free) recipes are flavorful and full of nutritious ingredients.

The Sprouted Kitchen
From yet another blogger I love, this cookbook is pretty and functional. She makes vegetarian food feel innovative and homey at the same time. Her gluten-free cornmeal pancakes are on my short list.

Protein Ninja
Looking to add more vegan protein into your diet? This book is for you. While I loved Veganomicon, I was a little disappointed in this book from Terry Romero. I didn’t realize when I requested it from the library that nearly ever recipe would include protein powder. I also had a hard time finding gluten-free recipes in it.

What are your go-to healthy cookbooks?

In case you missed it: Healthy Cookbooks Part 1

Why You Should Learn How to Cook

I dragged my feet on cooking. It was one of the last “adult” skills I finally accepted I needed to know how to do. It wasn’t until my junior year of college that I started to learn how to cook.

The idea terrified me. I didn’t know what I was doing at all. Scrambled eggs unsupervised stressed me out. It was so easy for something to go wrong! What if I cut myself? What if it tasted terrible? What if I burned the whole dinner? Or worse, me!

It took me a long time to finally stop putting so much pressure on myself to be perfect at cooking and let myself explore, learn, and “fail.”

Now I’m confident in the kitchen. I frequently look at a recipe once or twice, and then do my own thing roughly based on it. I never would have dreamed of doing that a few years ago.

Why You Should Learn How to Cook

Why You Should Learn How to Cook

It shocks me how few of my friends know how to cook! It may be intimidating at first, but learning how to cook is a quick life-changer. Gross microwave meals and takeout be gone!

1. Cooking for yourself is so much healthier.

2. It’s cheaper.

3. You know exactly what’s in your food.

4. When it’s something you made, you appreciate it more.

5. Cooking is relaxing once you get the hang of it.

6. There is a distinct satisfaction and comfort in nourishing yourself and the people around you.

7. You can make your favorite dishes anytime, just the way you like them.

8. Your friends will be blown away by your skills in the kitchen (even if you really just chopped a few things and pushed it around a pan for a little while).

Why You Should Learn How to Cook

Where to Start

The basics. I highly recommend taking a cooking class or learning from someone you know. Being able to ask questions and have someone tell you there is no need to panic will make you feel infinitely more comfortable in the kitchen. You can also watch tutorials on how to do specific things like make scrambled eggs and roast vegetables.

Equipment. You don’t need much to have a functional, efficient kitchen. Get yourself a nice, sharp knife (trust me, you will enjoy cooking infinitely more if it’s easy) and learn how to use it. Worry about the fancy stuff later. You really only need a cutting board, a solid chefs knife, a baking sheet, a medium sized pot, and a good stainless steel frying pan. You’d be surprised how much you can cook with just those five things.

Ease in. Start by cooking one meal per week from scratch (you don’t have to make the pasta, but you do have to make the sauce and side veggie/salad). Be sure to make enough that you can eat it for leftovers. Nothing encourages me to cook quite like knowing I won’t have to scrounge for lunch or dinner the next day.

Embrace the weekends. There is something magical about cooking on the weekends. The lack of stress and excess time make cooking relaxing and enjoyable. Invite a friend or cook with you or your roommate or significant other. Don’t worry about how anything turns out and instead treat it like an adventure. An adventure that will give you killer leftovers instead of sad salads to eat for lunch during the week.

Quick and easy weeknight meals. I have general rules for weeknight meals: nothing with too many steps or dishes, 30 minutes or less of active kitchen time, and only a handful of ingredients. Save the marathon cooking and the obscure ingredients for a luxurious weekend. I also stick to techniques, and for the most part recipes, that I have done before. Weeknight dinners can easily be fast, easy, and nutritious.

Recommended Recipes

Some of the first things I learned to cook:

High Protein Oatmeal in the microwave. I got you.

Mason Jar Salads: Cook is a strong word here. But hello, weekday lunch!

Vegetable Stir Fry: Made at least twice a month around these parts.

Veganonicons Miso Udon: Hands down my favorite recipe of the bunch. I make this nearly weekly in some variation. You can swap in broccoli, carrots, zucchini, or just about any other vegetable for the mushrooms. Bonus, it’s really hard to screw up.

Want more ideas? Check out my Pinterest board for healthy, vegetarian ideas.

Digital Digest

Currently reading Clean Eating: The 21-Day Plan to Detox, Fight Inflammation, and Reset Your Body. While I won’t be doing a “clean eating diet” or a “detox diet,” I am certainly going to incorporate more anti-inflammatory foods in my diet and steer clear some of the big inflammation (and upset stomach) instigators. Hopefully my ankle responds well and heals faster.

Smoothie with Granola

Why do we wait for perfect? Let’s encourage all progress toward sustainability.

I want to eat these dark chocolate pots de creme every day. With only 11 grams of sugar from honey per serving, they are my current favorite substitute that my sweet tooth hasn’t noticed isn’t actually full of sugar.

Why are we so unsatisfied with the limits of our bodies?

The LA Times story on Oxycotin was shocking.

But not as shocking as the wage gap for NBA players and WNBA players. Women athletes still don’t make what their counterparts do. Let’s do something about it already.

Let’s keep doing more of this. And remembering to treat what we have well and buy used first.

Things I wrote:

Best Habits of Yoga Teachers

7 Crazy Things Eucalyptus Oil Can Do For You

7 Things You Didn’t Know Pepper Could Do

The Best Gluten Free Ice Cream Brands (I consider myself an expert on this one)

Zero Waste Trail Mix

Snacks are my biggest barrier to being zero waste. I stopped buying chips and crackers to try to reduce how much processed, packaged food I eat, but I rarely make it from one meal to the next without a snack and my lack of snacks was becoming a huge problem. No snacks is a really bad thing. In an effort to stop scaring people while eating healthier and reducing my waste, I made myself delicious, hearty trail mix.

Zero waste trail mix is so easy! I brought empty jars with me to the grocery store and came home with a killer snack. The bulk bins were full of fun ingredients, and it was great to be able to just get as much as I wanted instead of trying to shove pumpkin seeds into everything I eat before they go rancid. I also got ideas for things I wouldn’t normally put in my trail mix.

zero waste trail mix-zero-waste-trail-mix

Nut-Free Zero Waste Trail Mix

Raw Sunflower Seeds
Pumpkin Seeds
Dried Cherries (unsweetened and unsulfured)
Unsweetened Coconut Chips
Chocolate Chips

All of my ingredients were organic and local if possible. You can leave out the chocolate chips to cut the sugar, but I fell prey to peer pressure and I can’t say I regret having them in there.

Once I brought home my bounty I just poured it into a quart-size jar and shook it up. Done.

zero waste trail mix-zero-waste-trail-mix

Now instead of constantly cramming my face full of (delicious) chips, I am eating nutritious seeds that are full of protein and magnesium. While you won’t find me on a cool trail anytime soon, this is my new go-to snack.

I pop it in a small, reusable container to take it on the go or straight into my hand for convenient snacking sans dishes around the house.

6 Healthy Cookbooks

These healthy cookbooks were a breath of fresh air and a fun way to try new recipes. I am on a major crusade to add more vegetables and nutritious foods of all kinds to my daily diet. To get inspiration, I have been checking out loads of cookbooks from the library after reading Skin Cleanse  – I had 10 at home at one point. From a couple of my old standbys to new goodies, I highly recommend them all.

6 Healthy Cookbooks-6-healthy-cookbooks

6 Healthy Cookbooks

1. The Oh She Glows Cookbook
I loved this book. Every recipe is stuffed with vegetables and whole foods. I made the miso orange bowl that was ah-maz-ing. More please!

2. Thug Kitchen
I can’t get enough of this cookbook. It makes me laugh every time I flip through it or make a recipe out of it. Thug’s blasé approach to cooking is refreshing and makes my time in the kitchen so much less stressful. No other cookbook has ever encouraged me to take a break and check my Tumblr while I waited for something to cook. My mom gave this to me a couple Christmases ago (you heard me), and I’m still discovering new recipes out of it. I can’t recommend it enough.

3. My New Roots
The pictures in this book are stunning. It felt full of light and the seasonal recipes were a fun way to remember that nature takes care of variety for us. Some of the recipes had a few more ingredients than I usually use, but for the most part they are straight forward. I saved quite a few recipes to whip up sometime soon.

4. Superfood Smoothies
I wanted to love this book. I really did. But I just couldn’t. It was a great introduction to a lot of new ingredients and it definitely encouraged me to open my mind at least a tiny bit about what I can put in my smoothies. But a lot of the recipes just didn’t suit my taste. Totally worth a perusal regardless of how you feel about vegetables in a smoothie.

5. The Sprouted Kitchen Bowl and Spoon
I do wish these recipes had fewer ingredients and overall less sugar, but I do love me some bowls. I really enjoyed seeing so many different takes on one of my staples. Bonus, the photos are gorgeous.

6. The Homemade Pantry
Sometimes you just need to step up your snack game and kick the packaged stuff to the curb. I’ve written about this one before, but I think it’s worth mentioning again. If you want to get a little more in tune with what you are eating and you love snacks, this one is for you. It’s also great if you are hoping to be zero waste (or just have fewer chip bags in your trash).

Is anyone else hungry now?

More Books: You can see all of my recommendations here.