Vegan Easter Bonanza! And other exciting food news.

March 30, 2010 § Leave a comment

Happy impending Easter to you all! I really don’t get into this holiday, seeing as i’m pretty sacreligious in general…and have a blanket ban on ‘normal people’ chocolate. I’d much rather my raw cacao concoctions! I also have a profound question to ask…are Easter bunnies vegetarian?!?! It seems to me that eating an animal is eating an animal! Hah.

You may have also noticed the increasingly vegan spin on this blog – it’s really funny how things progress, and not that it has been a conscious choice, but for the past couple of months I haven’t been eating any eggs or dairy or animal products at all. When I actually considered it, I felt that going vegan would be something I’d seriously take on. It would be the next level of eating ethically of course, but for the most part I simply think that dairy does not agree with me. Obviously, I’ve never been able to stomach milk, but even just cutting out things like cheese, yogurt & cottage cheese has made me feel so much healthier! I don’t get allergies anymore whereas before I’d wake every morning and have to take a Zyrtec. Score!

A tasty exception was last night’s effort – Jarad took me to this AMAZING Italian restaurant in the city that was all swankified and of course, had no time for picky little vegans. So what was I to do but order the pumpkin, pistachio & ricotta lasagne, followed by a trio of heart-stopping desserts, soaked in the finest red & white wines? Afterwards, with dress was at maximun capacity and food baby gestating, I had a newfound appreciation for my regular ole veggie hippe diet. But it is awesome to indulge every now and then 🙂

Me & the J-man, refusing to smile.

So today I’ve been baking up alterno anti-Easter treats for my friends & family. I’m such a feeder…I love to force my crazy foodstuffs onto/into innocent people! For my grandparents, I created a batch of experimento Cacao-chia seed-spelt cookies. They go orrrrrright. But I really must stop giving people un-tested goods, because for one, the first batch is usually a little off, and more importantly, I take it upon myself to give each recipe a thorough taste-testing…y’know, just to make sure it ain’t poisonous! Result: ALL I HAVE EATEN TODAY IS COOKIES! Aww sheeeet, after last night + today….feel the serious guilts creeping in. But must not engage in silly diet talk!

For these babies, i found a basic recipe here at Green and Crunchy, but did some tweaking to arrive at:

1 1/4 c spelt flour

1 tspn baking powder

1 tspn baking soda

1 tblspn of each: flax seeds, chia seeds, sesame seeds

couple of tblspns shredded coconut + same of cacao nibs

2 tbspns raw cacao powder

1/4 c coconut oil

1.5 tspn vanilla

2 tspn pure maple syrup

1/3 c agave

1 tspn cinnamon

splash of rice milk as mixture quite thick

Method: Mix dry ingredients together in bowl, wet in separate bowl, adding oil last. Mix together, and form into cookie shapes on oiled sheet of baking paper. Bake at around 200˚C for 11 mins. Cool on wire rack.
These turned out OOOOOOKKKKKKKK but a little crumbly. Think it’s because I didn’t make a ‘flax egg’. Anyhoo, i’ll still give them to the unsuspecting grandparents and see what they think of their freaky deaky grandchild’s baking skills…or lack thereof.
Next up, I plagarised some more of Angela’s recipe goodness, and made Banana-apricot-spelt muffins for the lady I babysit for.  All I did differently was used Buckwheat flour & raisins instead of apricots. I also didn’t have baking soda…I feel this was a bit of a failing. But again, after testing 1/2 the batch and declaring them fit for human consumption, I packaged them up for another homemade Easter gift!

I customised these little brown-paper bags, it was fun to be doing craft – took me back!

She’s also just had a new baby, so I wrote a bit of a blurb on the pack…mainly to explain why they may taste a little ‘funky’…but assuring her it was for her own good!

It’s really wholesome and nice to make things for people instead of just buying gifts all the time. It takes a bit more planning but I know myself i’m always very flattered if someone has gone to the effort to create something personal, as opposed to an expensive present.

Slightly off topic, I was SO SO SO EXCITED today to finally source some KALE at a local fruit & veg. shop. Usually the only place I can get it is at the markets, but I am stoked that now I can start buying it and adding it to my smoothies everyday! It’s an amazing food.

I’m also slightly obsessed with mung beans. Aren’t they aesthetically pleasing? And really tasty in a salad.

Finally, my proudest moment of  the past week – the resounding sucess of vegan mac & cheese. Yes, VEGAN. LOOK, IT’S YELLOW! Again, thanks to Angela I will now be making this at least 2-3 times per day. It is sooooo good!

Well, i’ve bombarded you with enough madness for now – have a happy non-religion-specific Easter and don’t forget to surprise people with homemade delights if you’re feeling particularly wholesome! Peace out.

Road testing the best (and healthiest) blogger desserts!

March 28, 2010 § Leave a comment

Ever wanted to try ‘chocomole’ but were too sceptical that a dessert so unique & healthy could be tasty? (For newbies, the affectionately titled ‘chocomole’ is an insanely healthy dessert made from…avocados! Yesir! Read on…) Have you refused to acknowledge raw cookies as a viable alternative to everyday, fatty, sugary, baked ones? Have you ever felt like pancakes on a Sunday morning, but decided they were just too darn naughty? Read this post for inspiration and discover the amazing array of sweet treats you can make that are packed full of super foods and will not exacerbate skin conditions, undermine weight loss, or result in a spontaneous case of diabetes!

First up, i’ve made raw cookie balls before and posted about them, but I decided to try a new recipe from perhaps my favourite food blog Oh She Glows. You can find the original here. These are so great. As you can see, I was characteristically lazy and not only subbed in cacao nibs instead of making my own choc chips, but also did not form the dough into any recognisable shape, instead content to eat it straight from the bowl with a spoon… and alacrity!

And with the help of our favourite tragic heroine, Tess.

Next up was something i’ve been so so so curious about ever since I stumbled across it oh, I don’t know, about 7 thousand times in the blogosphere! The fame of the avocado-based chocolate pudding has spread far and wide, and today it was time to liberate myself from the shackes of that whole avocado-is-not-a-dessert notion and make up for 21 years of lost time shovelling this awesomeness into my gob!

Again, I used another of Angela’s recipes found here but Gena at Choosing Raw has one as does Averie at Love Veggies & Yoga. It was really really tasty, and it’s true, you can’t taste the avocado!

Finally, a sunday favourite, stack ‘o pancakes! I made this recipe from the amazing food blog Sweet Beat & Green Bean and boy, they were delicious. I also made them for 2 friends and they both gave a resounding (if a little stifled with all that pancake in their face) ‘TAST-EE!” Perhaps they were just being nice, but I’m claiming two outta two!

Oh dear lord, save me from myself.

Making berry, water & agave reduction for some over the top drizzle action.

So friends, want to know the best thing about these sweet treats?! They each have no sugar, incorporate super foods and are animal & animal product free! Start thinking about how you can replace sugary cravings with these types of snacks, because i’m sure you’ll find them a delicious substitute! I certainly did…SO FULL! The things I eat for the greater good eh… talk soon! x

Should we fast for health?

March 27, 2010 § Leave a comment

You’ve probably heard along the line somewhere the benefits of having a ‘fast’ day every once in a while – some spiritual gurus and health yogis even promote a day a week dedicated to fasting & reflection. There have also been a lot of studies that show a lower calorie diet (as in, below normal recommendations) actually contributes to longevity, not to mention the arguments that support giving your body one or two days every now and then to just detox and take a breather.

There are numerous methods of sustaining a fast – the complete fast that is just water; the juice fast; a fast where you drink only herbal teas or tonics…the list goes on. Naturally these have sparked my own curiosity for a number of reasons – could a fast be a beneficial detoxing process for me? Is it healthy to allocate a regular day to just ‘being’ in a spiritual sense without the distraction of food and consuming? Is it something that could break the emotional connection I seem to have with eating? Could it teach me that I won’t die if I don’t eat for a day?

I’ve been contemplating how i’d go for even a day without food, and I tend to arrive at the same conclusion each time. I’ve always been someone (my mum & grandma are the same) who needs to eat regularly to prevent getting sick, shaky…that ole’ stomach-imploding-in-on-itself sensation. Definitely there has been a dramatic improvement in my ability to sustain activity without food since I improved my diet…my stomach seems much more calm and my body has more reserves to keep me going in general. But yesterday, after concluding that I probably couldn’t hack a food-free-day, I had an inadvertent fasting experience to test the theory.

I stayed at my boyfriends house and because of his work, he has very different sleeping patterns, so doesn’t get up until much later in the day. Also, he pretty much keeps NO food at his house as he just buys everything out. So i’d had a very small dinner the night before, then stayed at Jarad’s only to not eat until 2pm the next day. You may be thinking….that’s nothing, I do that all the time! I know, many people do – my flatmates can just ‘forget’ to eat and they are fine. But seriously, I’m hungry when I go to bed, having naughty porridge dreams until I wake up, and usually eat breakfast at around 7am.

By 2pm, after being out and about, and getting over the I want breakfast stage…then the I want lunch stage…I thought I was doing ok. I didn’t have a stomach ache or anything and I felt very clear-headed and calm, but then later we were walking around this shopping centre and I just really started to feel fragile. I was so frustrated that I hadn’t eaten, I didn’t want to be there, I was being sulky and glum, and actually started to tear up. At this point Jarad recognised my need for sustenance and bought me a big veggie juice with Spirulina…but even so, I didn’t end up eating solid food till around 3 or 4pm. I was an emotional wreck by the afternoon, and realised that unless I was in some kind of shaman trance or had the day just to quietly relax and reflect, I don’t think I could easily give up eating for a full 24 hours.

I do however believe that it has immense benefits just from what i’ve read, and perhaps at a higher level of eating raw, unprocessed foods, my body would be able to see me through a fasting period. Have you tried fasting before? How did it go?

So to honour eating, here are a few recent eats;

Bean + tomato, lettuce, avocado & nooch wrap (was craving that old el paso taco flavour, but just couldn’t achieve it without the mysterious taco seasoning that is probably terrible for you…ah well).

Morning porridge with apple, cinnamon, chia seeds, coconut, sunflower seeds, walnuts & agave.

Post-run electrolyte booster and brain food to get me through my french homework! This is such a treat; water & flesh of one young coconut, bit of rice milk, 1/2 banana, handful berries, Spirulina & Chlorella. Get in mah belleh!

Ok, time to stop procrastinating and get my uni-work ass into gear. Have a great weekend!

Product Review: Bellá Pierre Mineral Make-up

March 24, 2010 § 4 Comments

I’ve been feeling a little frustrated lately with my skin (and state of my make-up collection in general), so after doing some research, I excitedly went out and  bought some Bellá Pierre mineral makeup today and wanted to tell you all about it!

Not only have continued break-outs catalysed my search for a better make-up base, but in general i’ve been trying to think about everything that comes into contact with my body, and also the ethics behind various products I use each day. It’s a natural progression for me, and i’ve definitely had a bit of a revelation lately that health involves all aspects of our lives, not just being nutritionally thoughtful and sticking to an exercise regime. Even things like cleaning products and shampoos/conditioners should ideally be from natural sources (and for me, saying no to animal testing is paramount). Something like 70% of what we put on our skin is absorbed, so it makes sense to ditch as many chemicals as we can and appropriate our awesome eating habits to what we expose our bodies to as well.

Back to the review!

I found Bellá Pierre after noticing on a lot of health blogs/forums the problem ingredients in many mineral make-ups; namely bismuth oxychloride and talc. Bismuths are known allergens and create problems for people with sensitive skin – although deemed ‘safe’ for use in beauty products, it’s a fairly harsh thing to be putting all over your face. The last mineral make-up I used had this ingredient (GloMinerals) and I always felt that my skin was never quite ‘right’ while using it – it certainly didn’t make my complexion flawless as was so often touted by supporters of mineral makeup. Talc is another filler that is commonly included in these powders, and can clog pores, so I wanted to avoid that too. So in searching for a product that was free of these 2 things, I came across Bellá Pierre, which was conveniently sold close to where I live.

It has 4 ingredients:  Mica, Titanium Dioxide, Zinc Oxide, Iron Oxides. They are also against animal testing, and the representative assured me that it would actually help my skin, and I would look like a supermodel in 3 days. This, I will hold him to.

So what do I think? Well, firstly the price is quite high, but for some reason everything was 50% off today so I bought a basic pack (Loose powder, blush, concealer & brushes) for $190. This, to me, was excellent value. The powder on it’s own was meant to cost $120, so pretty steep – then again it’s meant to last for a year & a half, so in that instance, would be worth it.

I didn’t really appreciate the application of the primer, concealer, powder, blush, bronzer & lipstick RIGHT before I had to go to Uni though. They always put so much on when selling it, and you’re meant to be like ‘ooooooooooh my god, I look amazing!’. I felt I more closely resembled a drag queen who’d done their make-up in the dark, but the powder felt SO smooth and nice on my skin, and it really glowed. I did it again when I got home after cleansing my face of the first onslaught. Please find cheezy danoz-direct before & after shots below:

Not really that much difference huh? But i’ve never been able (or had the desire) to put so much make-up on that it’s really obvious. It’s not a skill I posses no matter how hard I try and spatula the stuff on!

Anyway, I love changing up the products I use, and hopefully this may help my skin with those irritating break-outs that it’s still prone to.

It’s definitely worth thinking about what you’re putting on your skin, because why not be conscious of that aspect of your life when striving so hard for dietary awesomeness?

It can also make you feel nice to indulge in good quality beauty products – it’s a therapy I wholeheartedly recommend!

Recent eats and attempted meaningfulness about dieting.

March 23, 2010 § Leave a comment

Hey friends!

You know, I would post on here A LOT more if it didn’t take a mind-numbing age to upload photos with wordpress. Does anyone else have this problem? Well, I’m moving beyond the rage to bring you some more snaps of my recent gastronomic adventures!

I have this app. on my iPhone called Vegan Yum Yum and it’s a really cute little thing with delicious looking vegan recipes, so i made it my mission this week to try a couple. I made this Nearly Raw Tahini Noodles the other night, but thought it needed some adjusting. I’ll post the recipe anyway as I still quite enjoyed it (after I added more Tamari and lemon juice & copious amounts of fresh mint and coriander) so if you’re making it just beware that it needs a bit of surgery to bring it up to salivatory standards.

You’ll need (to make; a shitload):

200g whole wheat spaghetti (I think this would work equally as well with any healthy noodley doodley food you can find)

2 small carrots, shredded (I grated mine)

1/4 head green cabbage, shredded

1 stalk broccoli, cut into v. small florets

handful of fresh mint, chopped (I used a heap of coriander too)

sesame seeds

For the Tahini Sauce:

1/4 cup tahini

2 tbs Tamari

3 tbs water

1 tbs Agave

1 tbs Rice Vinegar

1 chopped chili

1 tspn Dijon Mustard

Salt & Pepper to taste

Methodé:

  • Cook you noodles, rinse & set aside
  • Shred carrot, cabbage, chop broccoli & herbs
  • Mix together ingredients for sauce, toss with vegetables and noodles
  • Garnish with more herbs, and heaps of sesame seeds

To tell you the truth, even though it’s great because this recipe is allllmost raw, save the spaghetti, I heated mine up a little before I ate it, cos it just didn’t taste right. I don’t know if this one’s a keeper….but definitely makes a stack so i’ve been using it for pre-packed lunches & dinners which is handy.

I’ve of course been guzzling ugly green drinks that are my favourite thing in the entire world, and making particularly tasty ones with:

1 banana

handful frozen berries

handful baby spinach

Spirulina & Chlorella

topped up with rice milk

Continuing to pack dinners and lunches due to cursed night classes and a severe lack of any spare time at all. I took this for dinner last night to my audio class – mashed sweet potato & a big sprout salad with lemon to squeeze over.

Sunny happy Tupperware dinner!

How delectable is sweet potato? I mash it with a splash of rice milk, a bit of butter (cannot find earth balance vegan margarine yet! Devastated) lashings of salt and pepper, and the secret ingredient….nutritional yeast flakes! This is a recent acquisition that may leave you positive that i’ve gone too far & am now scoffing yeast and claiming it’s a food. It is! It is! It’s not yeast like, beer yeast, or like…yeast infection yeast…but it is a kind of yeast that looks like yellow fish food/parmesan cheese and it’s great for vegans because it’s fantastic for you (lots of B vitamins and awesome amino acids) and adds a cheezy taste to dishes. So I add about a tspn of this little guy to my mash and it makes it taste of parmesan!

As always, changing up my oatmeal every morning! This is a particularly mouth-watering batch that i’ve been making.

oats cooked on water

when almost done, add 3 tspn chia seeds

handful frozen mixed berries

tspn coconut oil

topped with apple, walnuts, goji berries, coconut flakes & agave

BAM!

Moving on from mouth-watering cuisine, there’s something that’s been plaguing me for, oh, I don’t know, EVER. It continues on from when we were talking about weight loss, and I think i’ve suddenly realised the most important, stellar, number one thing that holds people back, and keeps resurfacing in my own ‘journey’ to better health/weight loss. It’s guilt. Eating out one night and feeling like you’ve ruined everything…having a week of eating leftover birthday cake…late night snacking on your housemates stash of Arnott’s family assorted… (I am waaay too familiar with this behaviour…). Then because of this, engaging in negative self-talk and carrying around a whole lot of guilt that you’re a failure and you’ll never succeed in being healthy, or thin, or whatever. This is something that STILL gets me, every time.

For example, a few weeks ago I felt on top of the world. I weighed myself for the first time in eons and realised that since the same time last year, I’d lost 6 kilos. Woah! Awesome! Great! Maybe a little embarrassed that I was 6 kilos more of a person not too long ago… But anyway, I felt really happy and confident and like I’d reached a point where I could be comfortable with myself. How long did this elation last? A depressingly short time, because it happened that I ate some dessert, or binged on almond cacao cookie dough balls for a few nights, and POW I felt like I’d let myself down, started telling myself that I was already fatter, and what do you know, it became a lot easier for me to reach for another treat because I considered my good work already undone.

It’s sad that this is the case for so many of us. We wouldn’t talk to someone else in that derogatory manner, so why ourselves?

So I made it my mission to end the fat talk, because in fact, feeling guilty and terrible only facilitates bad habits, as we are not respecting ourselves and aren’t finding happiness in our health.

When I was feeling particularly dismal, I decided to get out and be active to try & allay my big mopey aura. I went on a run that felt so good; it was beautiful, I realised I was fit, healthy and strong, I was looking like a big goofy idiot with a grin plastered across my face because I was out doing something positive, and relaxing, and appreciating our glorious coastline. I told myself I looked great and healthy. Instead of saying to myself, ‘you’re getting fat again, you’re going to feel like shit and be a slave to food forever’, I changed it to ‘I have attractive, feminine curves, and feel strong and healthy and am doing great things for my body’. I thought then that no matter how you see yourself, I can guarantee there is someone who thinks you’re gorgeous. I know this because I have friends who battle with their appearance daily, but to me, all I see is amazing hair, awesome eyes, beautiful skin etc. People don’t do the nit-picky thing of thinking ‘oh gosh, her features are slightly disproportionate’, they see things about you that are pretty, and in this way, all my friends to me, are stunning.

So Oprah-esque, inner-journey talk aside, I just wanted to point out how hugely important it is not to be horrible to yourself, because even though you’re only saying it in your head, those negative affirmations are manifesting themselves into general feelings of hopelessness and unhappiness. Challenge yourself to think nice things about your body & appearance, and though it may sound silly at first, it is much more constructive than feelings of guilt or frustration. You’ll find that once you allow yourself to be happy and content, wanting to be healthy will come naturally – and if you’re trying to lose weight, positive thinking will work wonders.

Your mission? Respect yo fineeeee self. Good luck!

Savoury Green Muffins

March 19, 2010 § Leave a comment

Yello!

Just thought I’d share with you a quick link to a recipe I raaaaather enjoyed – Angela from Oh She Glows posted this delicious recipe for Zucchini Muffins the other day, and I promptly tried it out.

I found them really tasty (though I think they need something on them…that’s why I cut them open and spread cashew, almond & brazil nut butter in the middle because they are quite salty). They are perfect for lunches, are vegan and very importantly green!

Served with huge greenie salad; lettuce, green capsicum, avocado, cucumber, various sprouts with copious amounts of lemon squeezed over.

Anyway, very very quick update…really have to do some uni work today that has fallen by the wayside. Terrible! Have an awesome day x

Getting healthy by degrees; making small changes that add up!

March 18, 2010 § 2 Comments

I’ve been realising more and more the continually evolving nature of our diets and health, and the importance of making small changes in order to create a lifestyle that is sustainable. The other day I was prompted to think about this fact when my boyfriend asked me for a bit of health advice – specifically if the foccacia he was eating was ‘healthy’. Of course, a thousand little red flags went up in my head screaming all the things that were wrong with his choice of lunch; white, processed bread that was probably high in sugar and of course, gluten, wheatey, digestively challenging ingredients; chicken, which although grilled, to me is a dead food that doesn’t really nourish us; bacon which is high in fat and moves slowly through the digestive tract, amongst other things…yes, it had salad and…well, it had salad… but to me the answer was a resounding ‘no!’. The moment I had deconstructed his meal choice and spewed out the list of it’s particular evils, I realised what I had done. I had effectively undermined his attempts at choosing something consciously for health – perhaps as a better alternative to hot chips or worse.

Reflecting further, I realised there are degrees of what we consider healthy, and I too once started out eating things that I now would turn my nose up at. The important thing is, once we start actively thinking about what we are putting into our bodies, we can only improve from there. It’s up to you how far you want to go with it, and each step is positive. For that reason I apologised to my bewildered bf, who was now feeling pretty glum about his delicious foccacia, in the knowledge that small changes add up.

Case study: giving up sugar.

This is a prime example for me, as I can physically trace how I gradually, gradually, gave up sugar by degrees.

Refined sugar is so bad for us because it raises insulin levels and passes quickly into the bloodstream, causing a temporary burst of energy that is usually followed by a ‘low’ and ultimately more sugar cravings. Long term, eating too much sugar can depress the immune system, promote storage of unwanted fat, and is linked to pretty much every disease in the book. It contains no vitamins or minerals, is difficult for our body to metabolise, and excess consumption can mess with your blood sugar levels (this is where diseases like diabetes and kidney probalems come into play). As Kimberly Snyder would remind us, sugar is acid-forming and therefore contributes to ageing and disease.

Moving on, I remember the first step for me was replacing sugar (white or brown) with honey. Honey is of course a natural substance that has many beneficial qualities and anti-bacterial properties, so if you are using honey, this is a step ahead of sugar which your body will be thanking you for. If you want to get fussy, you should probably think about trying to aquire some raw organic honey from your health food store, because the commercial stuff has still been pasturised, killing many of the nutrients…and of course, if you can get local stuff where the beekeepers are kind to our little buzzy friends, this is even better.

Cutting out sugar also requires you to think about the pre-packaged food you eat, such as cereals, breads, bottled sauces…anything that you might not realise contains added sugar. In the end, this is why I only buy the whole, original foods and if I want a sauce, i’ll make it (like hummus, pasta sauce etc). If you have all your own stuff, you can rest assured that there are no hidden sweeteners or preservatives involved. Anyway, if you don’t want to go crazy, at least check the label to know what you’re getting.

So once I started thinking about sugar, I eventually moved on to what I now use which is Agave Nectar. This is raw, organic and has quite a low GI so it is better than honey on the ‘sugar’ scale. Honey is still a sugar, and depending on what kind you are using, can have quite a high glycemic index. Check out Fran’s from High on Health’s article on Honey here.

I reach for the Agave now if I ever need to sweeten something, and now do not have any refined sugar in my diet at all.

That being said, there is an ever ‘better’ alternative to agave if I wanted to get serious and consume a zero-calorie, non-GI-affecting, natural sweetener. Stevia is this miracle product, and just a few drops of the stuff is equivalent in sweetness to a lot of sugar. I’ve used Stevia before, but it does have a bit of an aniseed taste which I didn’t really like, but I also haven’t given it the best chance, and plan to reintroduce it at some stage. There are also other sweeteners such as Xylitol which is natural and low-GI which generally comes in granulated form and looks exactly like white sugar. I haven’t tried this one yet, but it’s also approved by health fanatics.

So as you can see, there is a definite process in motion when you are making changes to your diet, and everything we read and encounter is subconsciously informing our decisions and giving us extra inspiration to try different approaches to our health. For me, reading health blogs has been the biggest influence for me, and with so many fantastic ideas bouncing around, it’s easy to become overwhelmed. But making small changes, picking and choosing ideas that resonate with you and work for your body, is all you need to feel like you are taking better care of yourself.

To my boyfriend, I will try and be more supportive of the little things, and acknowledge that there are degrees of how ‘healthy’ people want and need to be. And to everyone else, know that making thoughtful decisions about what you eat can only stand you in good stead for a lifetime of continuous learning and evolution as to the ideal nutritional lifestyle for you.

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