SUMMER IS ALMOST OVER YOU GUYS!! Say it ain’t so! We are t-minus 5 days until the first day back to homeschooling, this time with my twins in 8th and the little dude in the big K. #stopgrowingup:(

Until then, I’m going to continue pretending that summer is NOT coming to a close, by enjoying seasonal dinners that remind me of plenty of R & R, ice cold drinks on the beach, and hot summer days next to the pool. Because SUMMER CAN’T END YET… *whimpers*

Raise your hand if you’re with me on this one…I thought so.

Enter this Spicy Jerk Cauliflower, a new favorite of mine and one that will definitely have you feeling ALIVE and ready to close your summer with a bang!

Maybe it’s all those spicy jerk seasonings, but when I eat these delicious roasted cauli’s and fresh mango stuffed tortillas, I feel like I’ve been whisked away to the Caribbean, even if it’s only in my mind. Cue Bob Marley and the Wailers:

A girl’s gotta dream, right?

So when you want to have something that is both tropical AND healthy, this is the perfect dinner to end your day. Cauliflower is so beautifully versatile and this recipe certainly delivers both heat and flavor with a delicious combo of spices.

Top with tropical mango salsa and you have that fresh play between spicy and sweet.

It’s not complicated and it can be ready in about 30 minutes.

If, however, you love the flavor of “jerk”, but don’t want to worry about putting out the fire, simply cut back on the amount of spice mixture you sprinkle onto the cauliflower prior to baking.

As for me, I’m going to be jammin’ with these tacos for the remainder of the summer.

Hope you like jammin’ too.

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Spicy Vegan Jamaican Cauliflower Tacos with Mango Salsa

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No one is immune to depression, but that fact doesn’t help if you don’t know how to deal with it or move forward.

Because depression (and anxiety) is like playing the freeze game, except in this version, you’re on both ends standing still. And defrosting into “normal” isn’t always easy.

Trust me, I’ve had more than my fair share. When I was younger, I spent a considerable amount of time locked away in my room, feeling so anxious I couldn’t even pick up the phone. Depression was like carrying around invisible weights from dawn ’till dusk. And my choices for relief left me with some serious addiction habits that spiraled out of control.

However, this post isn’t about me. It’s about you.

If you’ve been feeling stuck, or even cycling in and out of bad spells, please know that there are alternative therapies that can help.

Specifically, plants.

Using plants as natural healers can not only be effective, but it’s a safe and gentle way to address issues with depression, anxiety, and even insomnia. All it takes is a little patience and willingness on your part.

And this post couldn’t come at a better time, for me and perhaps you too. So many people nowadays silently suffer, afraid or embarrassed to voice the problems that are going on inside. Our society does not seem equipped to be able to handle something so delicate as depression, because after all, aren’t so many of us depressed too?

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Those that do speak up may find that they become slaves to prescription meds, which isn’t *always* the best choice. I’m not here to bash anti-depressants, and I realize there are people that have benefited, however, I am not one of them. My time on prescription drugs was short lived and made me feel detached and shut down.

Which brings me to the most important point: there is no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to mental health.

What works for one person may not work for another, and that’s ok. The important thing is that we keep trying to find an answer. Because if we don’t…well, the flip-side is scary.

But back to the good news: the plants!

Herbs for Depression & Anxiety

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When the chocolate cravings strike, sometimes we need to act fast.

And sometimes, we don’t feel like spending 30 + minutes in the kitchen baking, messing with flour and remembering when to take “said treat” out of the oven on time (what smells like burning!?).

Then of course, there’s the issue of trying to eat healthier while satisfying that sweet tooth of yours.

In my humble opinion, eating healthy does not equal perfection, nor does it mean that we can throw all conscious effort to the wind and say “eff-it” every Friday night. Eating healthy and transitioning to wise plant-based food choices is all about finding delicious alternatives you can enjoy while playing it smart.

Which brings me to the ultimate fix for any chocolate addict…these amazing vegan brownies!!! ♥

Forget the flour.

Forget baking and WAITING and cooling times.

Forget any and all animal products, like dairy and eggs (you don’t need them!).

And forget feeling guilty because you indulged in something you love. There’s no need to feel bad about brownies like these!

And why even feel guilty with good-for-you ingredients?

Walnuts, pecans, and raw chocolate all help bind this baby together, giving you that “fudge-y” texture and flavor, but without the fuss of flour. Cacao, which was also considered the drink of the Gods by the Incas, is one of the highest forms of magnesium, plus contains FOUR TIMES the antioxidants of regular dark chocolate.

All you need is 15 minutes (from start to finish!).

So what are you waiting for!? 🙂

♥ Attention Choco-holics!! ♥

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I'm in the process of developing a Medicinal Chocolate Video Course (to be released in 2018!) that will SHOW you how to create simple, delicious chocolate treats and herbal edibles in your own home. #CHOCOLATEPARTY!

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♥ ♥ ♥

No-Bake Flourless Vegan Brownies (Gluten-Free!)

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I have a weakness for perilla leaves.

From the moment I first tasted them, pickled in a delicious Korean-style sauce, I was hooked! And I’m sure you will be too.

Perilla is part of the mint family (Lamiaceae), yet the taste of the leaves is like no other. It reminds me of a cross between mint and licorice (some would even say cinnamon), adding a unique flavor to any culinary dish. While I personally love marinating mine, I’ve also read that you can toss perilla in salads OR use the leaves as a wrap for rice…yum!

In my opinion, perilla is a perfect beginners herb because the oil content is so high that once you become familiar with the scent/taste, you can easily identify it. Furthermore, and probably most reassuring, is that there is no known poisonous look-alike to perilla. It is genuinely a safe herb to forage.

Medicinal Uses & Perilla Benefits

Perilla is a popular food in Asian countries, dating all the way back to the Song Dynasty, but it is also known for its medicinal and nutritious properties. Used in TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine), perilla can help treat coughs, chest congestion, nausea, and even asthma. The leaves also contain rosmarinic acid, which can help reduce allergy flair ups or attacks.

Believed to be anti-carcinogenic, perilla is thought to clear sodium-nitrates from the body. Helping support healthy immune function, the leaves are high in antioxidants, and provides calcium, phosphorous, iron, and vitamins A, C, and K.

Identification & Growing Season

Perilla has many names, including Shiso, Beefsteak Plant, Rattlesnake Weed, Wild Basil, Purple Mint, and more. There are two major varieties of perilla plants- green and red (which is really purple in color), but both are easy to identify.

Perilla grows worldwide, sometimes year around. In the United States, you can find the leaves in the eastern half, excluding Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont.

Out of the varieties, the green perilla is the most common. It has broad leaves (ovate) with toothed edges, and is slightly fuzzy. The topside of the leaf will typically be bright green (especially after rainfall), while the underside will have a greenish-purple hue to it.  Leaves are opposite on the stem of the plant and four-angled. The plant itself can reach about a yard high!

Look for broad perilla leaves with toothed edges…and don’t forget to use your sense of smell!

As mentioned above, perhaps the easiest way for me to identify perilla has to be the aroma after rubbing a leaf between my fingertips.

If you want to find perilla in your area, but have never tasted it before, I highly suggest seeking it out at Korean restaurants or international farmers markets first. That way, when you’re out in the field you’ll have a clear distinction of the smell and taste, which empowers you to find it confidently.

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Perilla leaves rinsed and patted dry. You will notice the backside of the leaves (top center) have a slight purple hue to them.

The second type you will see is purple perilla (aka the “red” variety).
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