DIY: 2 Ingredient Scalp Exfoliator

DIY: 2 Ingredient Brown Sugar Scalp Exfoliator

Hi and welcome back to Ria Lives Well! 

This is the kind of hair treatment that’s so easy to make, there’s no sense doing an article about it.

sugar 001

Yet here I am, writing an RLW post on this two ingredient scalp exfoliator. My reasoning is simple: not many people know about scalp exfoliation. But an exfoliating treatment for your scalp is just as important as the one for your face. So why is the scalp an area we often neglect? It is skin, and therefor should be treated like such. Not to mention, when this skin is unhappy, your crown and glory {a.k.a. your hair} is unhappy. So let’s give our scalp the attention it deserves. And don’t laugh at the ingredient list.

DIY: 2 Ingredient Brown Sugar Scalp Exfoliator

  • 2 teaspoons organic brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon natural conditioner

Directions

  1. Mix the ingredients until smooth
  2. Apply the exfoliator to your scalp
  3. Using the pads of your fingers, massage it all over your scalp, avoiding the hair {5 mins}
  4. Rinse

Not shampooing…not conditioning – it’s scrubbing: a new way to treat your hair!

2 teaspoons of brown sugar 

sugar 003

 

 

Now 1 teaspoon of vegan conditioner

 

sugar 004

 

 

Combine the two ingredients and mix away

sugar 005

 

 

The end result should look something like this

sugar 006

 

And that’s it!

You can use this recipe as a base and strengthen it with essential oils. If you’re adding oils, focus on oils that nurture the scalp like lavender, cedar wood and rosemary essential oils.

You can use this exfoliator whenever you feel like your scalp needs a deep clean. Is it dry, itching or flaky? Give it a dose of brown sugar! I was inspired to make this hair recipe when my scalp began flaking, and today the problem is unnoticeable. You should follow it up with a natural remedy for dry, irritated scalp. This hair recipe is also good for removing product build-up, which inevitably inhibits growth.

An exfoliator is one of your best friends in growing out long, healthy hair and should be a staple in your hair care regimen {if I had a dollar every time I wrote that sentence…}. Follow up this treatment with a homemade scalp mask and scalp toner.

~Live Well!

Tasty Spinach French Bread Pizza–Vegan

Tasty Spinach French Bread Pizza–Vegan

Hi and welcome back to Ria Lives Well!

spinach pizza 010

So…it looks like I’m updating my blog once a month. Sheesh. Hopefully now that I’m back in Oregon {after a ridiculous 19 hour drive without stops from Colorado} I can get back into the swing of things. It’s amazing how a set routine can bring consistency to every aspect of your life…and how, when that routine isn’t set, can disrupt every aspect of your life. In the past six months, I bounced from Colorado, to Chile, again to Colorado, then to Florida, back to Colorado and now Oregon. I’m not, like, complaining or anything. But, like, that’s ridic, yo.

After I unpacked and got to know my new roommate {and her adorable black lab}, I christened the new house by preparing my first meal: creamy spinach french bread pizza. It was supposed to be quick and affordable-no such luck. Yeah, it was affordable. But after all the tweaking I did to the original recipe, this french bread pizza wasn’t at all quick to prepare. For those on a time crunch, I have good news: if you follow the recipe below and prepare the white sauce and spinach topping ahead of time, you can brag all about that “insanely delicious” french bread pizza that took minutes to prepare.

Plenty of fiber and vitamin B here!

spinach pizza 007

In this meal, I avoided expensive vegan cheeses and made a vegan roux from almond milk. I then drizzled on a coconut cream sauce for that extra creamy umph that makes you think: “Cheese! From a cow! Or a…goat! Or some, you know, animal!”

Creamy Spinach French Bread Pizza

Inspired by: Budget Bytes

  • 2 loaves of sandwich bread {sliced lengthwise}
  • 6 mushrooms {any kind}
  • 1/2 a pound frozen spinach
  • merken (or cayenne pepper)
  • 1/4 red onion (chopped)
  • 1-2 garlic cloves (minced)
  • ground garlic
  • salt and pepper
  • almond milk {1/2-3/4 cup}
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1.5 tablespoons coconut milk {the creamy top}

Directions

Mince your garlic and chop your onion. Prepare your vegan roux: add two tablespoons of olive oil into a skillet set on medium-high. Add 1.5 tablespoons of flour (any type) and stir. Add 1/2 cup of almond milk or more until you create a thick, yet smooth consistency (shown in vegan roux photo below). Add1 whopping tablespoon of coconut milk and stir until smooth. Add 2 pinches garlic powder (optional), two pinches of merken. Salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat.

 Simple Vegan Roux

mas 001

mas 002

 

Thaw your spinach. In another pan set to medium heat, add olive oil. Saute onions until softened and add the thawed spinach. Stir in 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder and 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper. Salt and pepper to taste. Cook spinach for 5-8 more minutes.

Preheat oven to 450 deg. F. Slice your sandwich bread lengthwise and toast bread until crispy-2-5 minutes. Spread on your roux, leaving about 1 big tablespoon in the skillet. Pile on your spinach topping. Add .5 tablespoons of coconut milk to your roux and add enough almond milk to create a thin consistency. Add salt and pepper. Drizzle your coconut sauce over the spinach topping. Enjoy with cold cider!

 

It would be nice if just once in my life I wasn’t on a budget, but until the day comes when I’m not crunching pennies and stretching dollars, I appreciate affordable meals like this spinach and french bread pizza that keeps flavor on my palette.

~Live Well!

Steamed (Seasonal) Vegetables w/ White Bean Sauce

Steamed–Seasonal–Vegetables w/ White Bean Sauce 

Hi and welcome back to Ria Lives Well!

The Chilean Flag,Valparaiso, Chile

I’m going to pretend that I have updated this blog in the last three months. Can you pretend, too?

At the start of September, I went away on a study abroad program in the skinny South American country, Chile. Well, the experience was a struggle. At times, it reminded me of a Rubix cube: I aligned all the colors on one face and thought, “Watson, I’ve cracked the enigma!”–only to turn the cube and find a jumble of mismatched colors on every–other–face.

Although it was a struggle, I came back with the desire to return to Chile-particularly to hike Torres Del Paine, Patagonia-a commitment to learn Spanish; a hope to live in Spain for a year; a B- in my Spanish class and lots of tasty Chilean recipes.

A Side Note About Travel

If this trip has taught me anything, it’s that travel is one of life’s few luxuries. Learning about another country through immersion; the excitement of meeting new people who are equally as excited to meet you; discovering a new culture and re-discovering yourself as the culture changes you- it’s not easy to put into words. You have to go out and see it for yourself.

For 3 Months, I Immersed Myself in Wonderful Attractions

For 3 Months, I Immersed Myself in Wonderful Attractions

If money is an issue, then pick a destination, plan your activities, and start saving today. For cheaper flights, check out STA Travel and if you want to work in your desired country in place of paying rent, then head over to WWOOF.

If time is an issue, remember this: you only live once. 

Chilean “Cuisine” 

Now about those Chilean recipes…I have to share my favorites, while explaining how Chileans “do” food. But not just yet. I’ll be honest with you: after spending three months indulging on fried and caloric Chilean grub, I returned to the states in desperate need of a cleanse. I wanted my first recipe back on RLW to be a Chilean dish-in a way, offering a taste of what I experienced. But my cleanse isn’t nearly over.

And so vegetables galore. Yumm!

steamed vegetables

I picked my favorites: broccoli, cauliflower and carrots. (If I thought about it, I would have thrown in some color. Purple carrots or red beets would boost the physical and nutritional appeal). Then I went to work strengthening their flavor. Filippo Berio Extra Virgin Olive oil {the best!} with fresh herbs  produced exactly what I was looking for. But I didn’t want to give my steamed vegetables too much kick. The real jolt of flavor comes from the white bean sauce.

I don’t typically use white beans {don’t ask me why}, so I didn’t realize they had such a neutral flavor. Much like tofu, white beans absorb flavors very well. So if you prepare a simple meal–like steamed vegetables–a white bean sauce will make a surprisingly flavorful addition.

white bean sauce

Steamed Vegetables  

  • 12 oz steamed vegetables {your choice; seasonal produces the best flavor, of course}
  • drizzle of extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • handful of chopped fresh parsley

Directions

Rub olive oil into your vegetables. Sprinkle on salt and pepper. In a microwaveable bowl, add your thoroughly vegetables with two tablespoons of water. Heat for 2-3 minutes until steamed {or tender}.

White Bean Sauce

  • 1 can white beans (15 oz.)
  • 1/4 cup water (or vegetable broth)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/4 of one large white onion (roughly chopped)
  • 2 garlic cloves (minced)
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon poppy seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon sesame seeds
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Sautee fresh garlic and onions, then set aside. In a blender, add your can of beans and 1/4 cup of water or vegetable broth. Pour in olive oil, blend until smooth. Add your sauteed onions and garlic, blend until smooth. Now add spices, seeds and salt and pepper to taste.

A dish like this can cost a lot. So I headed over to the seasonality chart for a list of in-season produce. Thankfully, February is a good month for produce. Perfect for a large plate of steamed vegetables! 

P.S. if you want to spice up the steamed vegetables, then a little granulated garlic powder and all-purpose seasoning should do the trick without jeopardizing their natural flavor.

~Live Well!

Interview with Stacie Cherubini of Halo Soap

Interview with Stacie of Halo Soap

Are your Lips on Crack? 

Halo Soap’s Crack Sticks…Chap-sticks with ATTITUDE.

Few people get into their line of work because of a hit movie. Even fewer have the gumption not only to stick with it, but to turn it into a successful establishment with two retail shops and a possible third on the way. For Stacie Cherubini of Halo Soap, such a tale exists.

“I started making soap because of the movie Fight Club,” Cherubini said. “Brad Pitt makes soap in the movie and back in the day, I had a male friend who was awkwardly obsessed with Brad Pitt. He decided that since Brad made soap in the movie, we had to try making soap. That lasted about a week for him, but I kept going with it!”

With her new found passion and quality soaps, Cherubini started her company. She settled on the name, Halo Soap due to her last name: Cherubini, which means “little angel” in Italian. Don’t let this angelic name deceive you. Cherubini’s shop promotes natural (mostly vegan) products with an edge. Absinthe chap-sticks, Mojito soaps, and my personal favorite-the Crack Stick-gives this shop a funky personality.

Mojito Essential Oil Soap

Many beauty products, such as this Mojito Soap, come with an eccentric style. While others, such as her Rose Water Bath Bomb Fizzy, come with a frilly style likened to the products at Lush. But one thing remains the same among Halo Soap products: she keeps her ingredients natural.

Rose Water Bath Bomb Fizzy

I recently purchased two Crack Sticks, Cherubini’s popular line of vegan chap sticks. Needless to say, I was amazed with the results. With one smooth swipe, I had become a fan of Cherubini’s product, and a returning customer. My favorite in the line, the Vanilla Crack Stick, is made with 2% Menthol Crystals. This creates a tingling sensation that keeps me coming back for more. And suddenly the name rang true.

“The reason we called it crack stick wasn’t to associate it with “‘cracked lips’”, Cherubini said. “We call it Crack Stick because it’s like crack cocaine for your lips!”

She admits that at times, she does tell people that the name is associated with cracked, chapped lips. But that’s only if they seem to be amused with the real reason. Since RLW comes with a sense of humor, I can’t help but chuckle at the story behind Cherubini’s real reason as well as her “cover up” story. 

After my first application of her vegan chap sticks, I was wasn’t surprised to find that Cherubini’s Crack Sticks were compared to one popular retailer: Burt’s Bees. 

“I actually never realized the crack sticks were similar to Burt’s Bees until a customer pointed it out to me,” Cherubini said. “I had never used Burt’s Bees lip balm! The main difference would be that mine is vegan.”

At Halo Soap, vegan beauty lovers will find the Holy Trinity: 1) quality vegan products, 2) wonderful prices, and 3) a shop owner with heart and spunk.

Currently, Cherubini has two retail shops opened in the greater Milwaukee area of Wisconsin and is in talks of opening a third shop in a different state, along with her friend.

“Things are definitely moving in the right direction!” Cherubini said.

~Live Well!

September’s Crush: 4 Faves of September

September’s Crush: 3 Faves of September 

Hi and welcome back to Ria Lives Well! 

Am I the only one who feels like September went by in a blur? A crazy, confusing, Spanish-infused blur–for me at least.

In case you guys didn’t know…I’m currently living in Chillan, Chile and poorly documenting my experiences on my Chile blog.

October fourth marked one month that I’ve been here. As I cope with being in South America, often silenced by my inability to speak or understand the language, I look back on a few things that made my life more comfortable my first month in this crazy intimidating country.

Organic Aromatherapy Inhalers 

Cosmo Verde Aroma Therapy Inhalers

In order to release my current stress, pre-stress and backup stress, I sniff my Lavender Cosmo Verde Aromatherapy Inhaler for peace of mind; and here in Chile, I always find myself in a situation where I have to say: “You’re overreacting. Don’t take life so seriously. It shouldn’t be this stressful.” For example, last week I got lost one block away from my house–of course I didn’t realize I was a block from my house, but even if I were in another city, I shouldn’t have let my stress and fear cripple me that much.

“I’m lost. No one knows where I am. I don’t know where I am. I can’t find my way home. I won’t ever find my way home.” My mind whirled with these thoughts once every twenty seconds.

I would stop, ask someone for directions, and naturally the person would reply in Spanish. Rapid, Chilean Spanish. Even if I weren’t panicking, I wouldn’t have understood them. But in a brief moment of clarity, I took out my inhaler and had a whiff. My whirling thoughts simmered, my mind shifted into ease and I thought of a solution to my problem. I pulled out my phone and called one of the U.S. students who lived closest to me and asked him for directions to my house…embarrassing, sure: but problem solved.

Being in Chile has been a challenge I can’t put into words. Sometimes I don’t feel like myself, and there are countless moments where I search for my self confidence only to find a fragile, timid emotion in it’s place. It’s nothing fancy, but my Cosmo Verde aromatherapy inhaler provides relief when I need a wash of calm. It works, people. It really works.

Calicutts Curry Powder

I can’t believe I was thinking about leaving this in the states.

CaliCutts Curry Powder

CaliCutts Curry Powder. Does something taste so good that you feel euphoric when you eat it? 

I put this curry powder on everything. Well, everything come lunch and dinner time. When I’m sitting awkwardly at the dinner table, staring at my host family as they converse in Spanish, my discomfort goes by the wayside when I sprinkle a little curry powder on buttered hallullas {some of the best bread I’ve ever tasted}, a few slices of avocado and a little aji sauce.

I also sprinkle it on my rice, soups, salads, sandwiches, fried potatoes and soy meat. My host mom, who speaks no English, can now say Calicutts curry powder.

This right here is a perfect example of enjoying the little things in life.

Organic Cleansing Grains + Facial Astringent 

It’s crazy what lots of Chilean alcohol combined with a diet of fried foods and pastries {I’m going ham with the worst foods in Chile} can do to your skin. I keep telling myself: “I have to change my diet. And starting next week I will change my diet.”

Then I’d walk past a small shop selling pastries or a kiosk selling sopaipilla sandwiches: I’d stop, pull out a few pesos…and I’d go ham. The worst part is, the majority of the foods I indulge in look good but are paltry when compared to home-cooked goodies. Microwaved sopaipillas? Please.

I’ve lost my train of thought.

My skin isn’t enjoying my Chilean lifestyle. The first week and a half that I arrived, I spent most of my time with the other gringos {U.S. students who attend the same school as me here and in Oregon}, attending parties, meeting Chileans and trying to “keep up”. I have yet to figure out why “keeping up” entailed partying for ten nights straight, but that happened.

When I finally settled down, I unpacked my luggage–yep, ten days later–and realized that I had brought with me my Herbolution chamomile facial scrub and Brown Sugar Body Shop facial astringent.

I did a happy dance.

And that night, I scrubbed my face with Herbolution’s cleanser and followed up with Brown Sugar Shop’s toner, and it was like my skin improved over night! So if you have a natural skin care routine, stick with it. I use these two products every night in my nightly skin care routine, and not only does it improve my skin, but my spirits. It feels nice going to bed smelling good and feeling refreshed. 

So these are my four fave products of September.

A quick ode to September: You were a tough month to get through and I’m glad we’ve finally parted paths. I don’t miss you. But hey, what doesn’t kill you supposedly makes you stronger.

~Live Well!

Interview with Robert Orth of Calicutts Spices

Interview w/ Robert Orth of Calicutts Spices

Hi and welcome back to Ria Lives Well!

Many people {including myself} question what Artisan truly means. Is the word “Artisan” allotted more importance than deserved? After reading that Dominoes Pizza came out with an Artisan option, I elicited the expertise of Robert Orth to help me debunk the Artisan hoax and bring meaning back to the word.

Orth also sent me a few of his spices to try in my recipes. I used his Mexican Adobo spice in my Mexican Spice & Cheese focaccia rolls. These rolls are absolutely kiss-the-fingers-snootily good. As you can see from the ingredient list, it’s a simple recipe that comes to life largely in part of Orth’s Mexican Adobo spice. 100 percent Artisan, 100 percent tasty.

Mexican Spice & Cheese Focaccia Rolls

Mexican Spice & Cheese Focaccia Rolls

The flavor is so impressive, that I had to find out what went behind the making of these spices.

“First off, we only use the highest quality herbs and spices from around the world,” Orth said. “We only do business with spice plantations using sustainable practices and growing organic, non-irradiated herbs and spices.”

Orth said that health is important to him, and “a cornerstone value of the business is to not cut corners to make a quick buck.”

“I view my business as helping to promote customer health, as spices have wonderful health properties with a negligible amount of calories.”

Despite the name, foodies don’t love the food as much as flavor. When I go into my kitchen with a new recipe, the success lies not in the fact that my lasagna didn’t burn, or my rolls weren’t stone hard. Success lies in the quality of flavor. A recipe that’s memorable to my taste buds will be included to my book of recipes, then and only then. Calicutts Spices because knows the importance of flavor.

Organic Curry Powder: a blend that offers less heat from the chilies & more flavor from the cinnamon, cardamom & nutmeg.

“My business is all about maximizing flavor and freshness out of those herbs and spices,” Orth said. “To do so, every herb and spice receives special attention. If it’s an herb, the herb gets hand rubbed. This helps to release the herb’s volatile oils, and contained within those oils is maximized flavor!”

And what about those beloved spices, such as cumin, coriander and peppercorns?

“If it’s a spice, they get slow-toasted individually over a fire cast-iron skillet to help release their volatile oils.”

Sometimes, Orth puts spices such as cinnamon sticks, cloves and nutmeg into the oven to gently roast. Christmas may be far off, but I’m already entertaining the idea of using these spices in my Christmas cider.

Slow roasted nutmeg

“These are lengthy processes,” said Orth, “but it’s worth it because it keeps the spice blends pure and non-diluted.”

Orth says that once all the herbs and spices are roasted, toasted and rubbed, thus begins the process of blending the spices.

“We blend-in individual whole spices and herbs,”Orth said. “Our spice blends have various texture profiles. Some, like our Montreal and Mediterranean blends are more course, while some, like our Chipotle & Honey, Autumn Harvest, Cardamom Coffee blends, are ground to a fine powder. If we are making a blend that requires grinding, into the hand-powered grinder the spice mixture goes, and after every part of the blend is ground, we hand-mix once more to make sure all of the ingredients have been incorporated.”

Finely ground Cardamom Coffee Blend

Each blend has a specific process to increase the flavor within the herbs and spices. The result is a unique creation, where no two blends are alike and each spice is superior than the one found at your local grocery store.

My favorite is the Mexican Adobo Spice, but the curry powder comes in at a close second. I find it downright addictive sprinkled over a hearty slice of buttered bread, followed by a thin layer of roughly mashed avocados, some hummus and a few slices of slow roasted tomatoes.

Give it a try and tell me what you think. Addictive, no?

~Live Well!

Mexican Spice & Cheese Focaccia Rolls

Mexican Spice & Cheese Focaccia Rolls

Mother of All Vegan Burgers: Part 1

Hi and welcome back to Ria Lives Well! 

This. Bread. Is. The ISH!

This. Bread. Is. The ISH!

So guys, I’m now in Colorado for two weeks {well, now more like two days}. My spring and summer terms at Oregon State are finally over! Can you believe it was six months ago that I published From East Coast 2 West Coast?

At the time I wrote that, it was a way to cope with the stress of moving, and to put my solutions into words. Time certainly has a way of sneaking up on you, but I couldn’t be happier for the move. These past six months have been difficult as I juggled school and roughly four jobs. Suffice it to say, Ria needs some R&R.

I’ve been putting recipes on the back burner since I burned myself {haha, get it? A little play on words there}. Life without the full mobility of one of your hands is freaking hard, y’all.

The story as to how I burned my hand is embarrassing, so a friend and I came up with an “epic” story: I saved a kitten from a small fire. That’s all I got. The kitten was just, like, running toward the fire. Don’t ask me why. Only know that I saved him.

Bum hand be damned: I needed to get back in the kitchen to bake these focaccia rolls for a few reasons:

1. I’ve been MIA in the food department. I looked at my blog the other day and asked myself: Where the hell are my recipes?

2. For the past few weeks, I’ve been imagining a recipe for an epic vegan burger. The mother of all vegan burgers that will top ALL other vegan burgers I’ve eaten. So it’s time to set my plan into action. And these focaccia rolls make the perfect buns for my burger.

3. I was recently given a jar of CaliCutts Artisan Mexican Adobo blend by the shop owner, Robert Orth, and I’ve used it {almost} every day since. I’m not kidding. This spice is amazing. So the thought of adding it to my rolls was just…I couldn’t contain my excitement.

Robert Orth also sent me a sample of his curry powder and vanilla bean sugar {he’ll soon introduce the vanilla bean sugar to his store, and is a must-have for bakers}. I’ve already used the vanilla bean sugar on my caramelized vegan bacon and loved it.

Orth also helped me debunk the Artisan Hoax that Times magazine recently wrote on. If you’re a foodie, then flavor is important to you. Flavor is the reason you cook, bake and spend countless hours creating and then recreating a recipe. If you are the definition of a “foodie”, then you need Artisan spices in your life. These specfically handcrafted spices help each recipe achieve it’s maximum flavor capacity

CaliCutts Vanilla Bean Sugar

Mexican Spice & Cheese Focaccia Rolls

Inspired by: Budget Bytes

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all purpose flower
  • 1/8 teaspoon instant yeast
  • 1-1.5 cups water
  • Olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons Mexican adobe spice
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Some vegan cheese

Directions

In a bowl, add sifted AP flour, instant yeast and 2 teaspoons Mexican Adobo spice. Mix until combined. Add 1 cup of water until a sticky, wet ball forms. Add a little more until you Cover the bowl in plastic wrap and let it bubble and expand over night {at most 24 hours at least 12 hours}. Once it looks like this heap of mess:

Scrape it out of the bowl and onto a well floured surface. Shape it into a bowl {don’t knead} and then cut out six pieces. Shape these individual pieces into smaller balls, sprinkling them with enough flour to prevent it from sticking to your hands.

Yes, focaccia rolls are Italian, but adding the Adobo spice creates the flavor in these Mexican Spice & Cheese rolls. Orth definitely knew what he was doing when he handcrafted this bad boy. As a major foodie, I’ll be honored to interview him for RLW to see what goes behind the crafting of each one of his spices.

My family and I devoured these rolls so quickly, next time I’m going to double the recipe. I highly suggest you all do the same!

~Live Well!