Creamy sweet potato stew with chickpeas, red kale, and rosemary

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It’s recently gotten COLD again here. Cold and rainy seems to be the trend in these last days of late March. What better way to warm the soul than with a deep bowl of delicious, thick, hearty stew? This recipe is rich and delicious, simple yet elegant. Hearty, creamy, yet chock full of nutrient rich textures to delight your palate and your belly, warming you from the inside out.

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Creamy sweet potato stew with chickpeas, kale, and rosemary over creamy polenta

For the Stew:

1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed

2 shallots, sliced

1 clove garlic, minced

1 spring fresh rosemary, chopped

2 vegetable bullion cubes + 4 cups water or 4 cups vegetable broth

1 cup cashews, soaked and rinsed

salt and pepper to taste

1 Tablespoon soy sauce or tamari

1 purple sweet potato

1 sweet potato

2-3 large red kale stalks, shredded

4 Tablespoons olive oil

pinch of dried thyme

Cube both sweet potatoes, toss in 2 tablespoons olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast at 350 degrees until tender. In a soup pot, sauté shallots in 2 tablespoons olive oil until translucent. Add garlic, chickpeas, and rosemary, thyme, and tamari/soy sauce stirring to incorporate. Dissolve bullion in warm water and/or add 4 cups veggie broth to the pot. Lower heat and allow to simmer. In your food processor, combine cashews with just enough water to blend until smooth. Scoop cashew cream into the soup pot, then add sweet potatoes and kale. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

For the polenta:

(adapted from Brian Patton‘s The Sexy Vegan’s Happy Hour at Home)

1 cup cornmeal

1 cups water

1 teaspoon salt + more to taste

1 tablespoon nutritional yeast flakes

1 small clove garlic, minced

pepper to taste

Bring water to a bowl. Whisk in salt and cornmeal. Allow to simmer for 20-25 minutes, until mixture has thickened but is still pourable. Add salt and pepper to taste, garlic, and nutritional yeast. Ladle into a bowl, top with stew, serve immediately.

 

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 If you’d like a firmer polenta, you can make it ahead of time and allow it to thicken as it cools or bake it in a baking dish before serving. I love this polenta and it makes the perfect base for a rich and creamy stew filled with fresh seasonal ingredients mostly bought from our local farmer’s market. I couldn’t think of a lovelier way to spend a chilly spring evening, could you?

 

What’s on your face?! Top Home remedies

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There are always those kind of quirky home remedies you grow up with as a kid that the older people in your family are always telling you about. From cuts and scrapes to bug bites, stings, burns, and bruises, it seems there’s some off the wall way to heal them all. While we’ve probably all heard of some down right odd ways to heal skin abrasions in our day, there are several that I trust to work and that I return to time and time again.

Peppermint Oil

Peppermint oil massaged onto the temples will help alleviate headaches. A couple drops with your epsom salt bath water is invigorating and uplifting. Peppermint oil is also delicious in various cooking endeavors. (I’m thinking add a couple drops to your black bean brownies to give ‘em a little umpf.)

Citrus

Yet again, LOVE citrus for skincare. This is a great list of uses for citrus, in and out of the kitchen. My favorite–squeezed into tea with fresh ginger to help digestion. I always keep a lemon in a sealed container in the fridge–I cute off a wedge every time I need it and reserve the rest for later use. Lemon water in my trusty insulated water bottle has become one of my favorite beverages these days.

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Tea tree oil

I adore tea tree oil for many reasons. I love its smell, its healing properties and how affordable it is. I have a large bottle that seems to have lasted me ages. It’s a great toner for your face and can be used as an astringent. It’s good for banishing blemishes, and has powerful antiseptic properties. I first began using tea tree oil after a nasty cat bite. Now any cut or scrape I have gets a smear of tea tree to help it heal up nicely.

Baking Soda

The household uses for baking soda are truly endless! From cooking, to cleaning, even whitening fabrics in the washing machine, baking soda is a great product to keep around. I’ve been lucky to avoid beestings and insect bites for much of my life but the few times I’ve gotten stung I always make a paste of baking soda and water and rub it over the wound. This greatly reduces pain and swelling and helps with the initial discomfort associated with a sting or bite.

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Salt

Epsom salts are truly cure-alls. Soaking in them is not only purifying for your skin but also reduces swelling and inflammation. If I ever have a splinter, I’ll often add just plain table salt to a bowl of warm water and soak my splintered appendage in it for a few minutes. This always makes the skin softer and less swollen and helps the splinter to ease out.

What are you favorite home remedies? Have you heard of any especially wacky ones?

spring

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Deepening my yoga practice has made this season so much more significant to me. Like “awakening” from corpse pose, the little town in which I live seems to be stretching and waking up for spring. Tiny flowers everywhere, still a lingering cold in the air, mossy greens and light violet colors staining the landscape. Lately, I’ve been walking EVERYWHERE, weather permitting. The other day it was a romp around town, including a little detour onto my favorite part of campus, my old art department. It was hard to believe it’s been over a year since I have walked its halls. During undergrad, that building was my haven the hustle and bustle of an enormous campus.

This time of very early spring is perhaps one of my favorites. Nature seems to hold her breath, waiting for the long sigh of relief that is a full-blown spring. I’ve embraced my love of the color yellow in recent months. With all of the proper wintery weather we had this year, yellow was a cheery color in the midst of gray. Yellow flowers have always been among my favorites–daffodils and sunflowers. This time of the year, they seem to glow from the backdrop of a a half-wintery world, and in summer their yellow hue might seem commonplace but it is vibrant nonetheless.

What parts of spring are you loving?

What’s on your face?!: Household Helpers for Healthy Skin

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I’ve heard of some pretty weird home remedies for skin and body care in my time. I remember my grandmother once told me she used to put mayonnaise on her hair once a week when she was young. Yikes! Some of the things I suggest using for your skin care routine might seem just as strange, but hear me out: they’re super affordable and can make a huge difference in your skin care regimen!

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Citrus

If you paint your nails, adding a couple of drops of lemon juice to a sink full of water and soak your nails to help repair them from frequent polishing. Citrus oils like orange and grapefruit are also energizing–add them to a restorative bath or make yourself a quick exfoliating skin scrub by adding them

Tomato

I’ve been using raw tomato as an acne aid for years. Reserve the ends of a sliced tomato and rub over your breakout zone. Tomatoes’ acidity is enough to help with acne but isn’t strong enough to dry out or hurt your skin. I’ll take this over peroxidey acne treatments any day.

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Coconut Oil

I always keep a jar of this around the house because its uses are truly endless! I use it in cooking, especially for baking projects as well as for my skin. Rub some on your lips for a quick lip balm, on your dry spots for a deep moisturizer, or even on your hair for a weekly hair treatment.

Apple Cider Vinegar

I’ve done this a time or two myself, but I have to say it isn’t something I regularly practice: the ACV hair wash. Dilute about a capful of ACV in a bowl of water and pour it over your hair, massaging it in. Allow it to sit for several minutes, then rinse it out. This will help remove any buildup from shampoo or other haircare products.

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Banana

Another weird haircare treatment that I’ve used for years. Take a very ripe banana, mash it up with a fork in a bowl. Rub the pulp into your hair, massaging all the way down to your scalp. Oddly enough, this will help moisturize your hair and like the ACV it restores it after weeks of blowdrying and product buildup.

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Tea 

I’ve already talked about drinking tea for your skin, but how about using your leftover tea bags for your epidermis too? Green tea bags on your eyes will help remove puffiness and redness, especially after err… uh… a night on the town. (In that case, you should probably be drinking a good bit of the tea too.) You can also toss used tea bags in the tub for a quick, scented soak.

So, no mayonnaise, but there is some coconut oil. The oil and all of the other home helpers for healthy skin are so affordable, and are probably products you already have in your kitchen some where. Their pure, natural qualities are hard to find in a bottle. Sometimes going straight to the source is as good as it gets.

Any strange home helpers you have in your skin care arsenal?