Posts Tagged With: ecology

Why did the Beach House Kitchen go vegan?

 

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Behold! The Veggie King…..

WHY VEGAN?

What we eat has never been so important.  In many countries we are blessed with the choice to eat what we want.  At the B.H.K., we believe that going vegan is the most important decisions you could make in terms of your own health, the planets health and the welfare and care of animals.  Veganism is the ultimate expression of peaceful intent for the future.  We will never judge anyone for doing otherwise, we were both very much into bacon sarnies, but here is how we feel now and how our opinions and lifestyles have changed.

Veganism is just a name, we all eat loads of vegan food everyday.  If you eat vegetables, legumes, nuts, fruits, you are part vegan already!  Hoorah!!!!  Choosing a vegan diet, even if its just every now and again, is not about sufferance.  You are not giving anything up, you are actually gaining loads!  Vegan food is outrageously flavourful and moreish, naturally leading to weight loss and energy gains.  For us, thinking vegan lead to new and healthy habits and highlighted the importance of a balanced and nutritious diet.  Taking a step towards veganism leads to a giant leap forward in our collective sustainability.  All we need are open minds (and mouths!)

TAKING THE PLANT-BASED PLUNGE

Jane and I have been vegan/ vegetarians for a while now, and around two years ago, I decided to take the plunge and become full-power vegan (Jane is still eating her homemade Kefir and likes a very occasional Indian Railway style Chai).  If you look back into the Beach House Kitchen library, you will find vegetarian dishes with cheese and egg, but no more.  Our recipes are full plant power and loving every plateful!  We have gone through the whole process, from extremely carnivore to content herbivore and we know exactly what its like to be curious about a vegan diet.  I’ve always loved cooking vegan food.  We ended up giving bits and pieces up and finally blooming into full blown vegan-hood.

We were first attracted to vegan food by its creativity and vibrancy.  It really seems like the food for a brighter future.  It all seemed so beautifully fresh and tantalising.  In our experience, eating vegan food has made us feel lighter and brighter, with oodles of well being and energy.  I know we all say that, but its true!  We have never felt so darn healthy and vivacious.

As a cook, vegan food takes you to a new levels of plant-based deliciousness, it is cooking that is laced with constant surprises!  Rich, robust, raw, ravishing…….all that and much, much more.  Organic plant foods are clean and superbly nutritious, there is no need for dairy or meat in our diets anymore.  We can choose a new way to eat.  Munching and cooking a balanced and creative vegan diet is such a joy and is never, ever dull.  It is inexpensive and simple.  Anyone can do it (we did!)  Vegan food worships good produce and is constantly looking for fresh and interesting ways of creating magical meals.  Hopefully we tap into that enthusiasm here on the B.H.K.

A NATURAL PROGRESSION

Avoiding meat and dairy all together seemed a very natural progression for me, especially when based on environmental and ethical evidence (some of the challenging facts and figures can be found here).  The closer we got to nature and the more we learn about the impact of large scale meat and dairy production, the more we realised that this is the only way for us to express our hopes and dreams for the future.  Becoming a vegan has a massive effect on the environment; our own health and the well being of animals.  It is a no-lose decision and can only lead to a more peaceful existence for all.  It’s very big deal!

Leaving meat and dairy off your plate is a powerful message and a stance against many forms of cruelty.  The suffering that animals endure to provide generally unnecessary nutrients to humans seems utterly wrong.  Meat and dairy not only harm the body by labouring it with saturated fats and cholesterol, which inevitably lead to a long term degradation of health, but also see us collectively condoning the destruction of our beautiful planet.

Gorgeous Raf Tomatoes – Too Sexy

A MINDFUL DIET

We are more conscious now of what we eat, we don’t just wolf it down anymore.  We feel more in tune with our bodies and far more creative with our cooking; having to combine a greater number of ingredients and textures to create delicious dishes.  Veganism has made us focus much more on our diets and how they effect our body and mind.  We have also learnt a lot more about nutrition and have come to realise that we are what we eat and most (if not all) mass-produced food is just not up to scratch.  Food made in factories by machines just seems wrong, for a start, there is no love there.  Our food needs bags of love and home made is best.  We know it’s difficult in the busy modern world, but its something to aim for and most of all, enjoy!

We both found that when you begin to give up or lower the foods that are doing us no good (we all instinctively know what these are and you’re not going to like me for saying this…..but) – fatty nibbles, alcohol, caffeine, sugar etc, cravings gradually slip away and we feel lighter and energy levels rise.  Our bodies need good, clean, easy to digest fuel.  Namely, plant based food.  Foods that make you shine!

WHERE’S THE FUN IN IT?!

A friend of mine said to me “Where’s the fun in it?!” refering to a healthy diet.  I can assure you, there is still plenty of fun in the Beach House, just minus the lamb chops.  Healthy eating doesn’t have to be stuffy and rigid, there are endless recipes that are absolutely delicious and an incredible palate of ingredients and flavours to play with.  It does take a little change of the palate and a new approach to the way that you eat and subsequently live, but after a short while it becomes perfectly normal.  Your palate becomes more sensitive, with less exposure to rich and overly seasoned foods and you can enjoy the subtle flavours of ingredients and simpler foods.

Homegrown plums anyone?

Homegrown plums anyone?

NO PURITANS PLEASE

This is not a puritanical vegan blog, we will never preach from an upturned potato crate.  This is a good vibes vegan blog!  We ate meat for years ourselves.  We have found that all vegans get there in different ways.  We do however feel that there is a collective shift taking place, there is more and more awareness about the benefits of a vegan lifestyle.  We are amazed and excited to see society changing in that way.  Most of us are realising that plants have to take a larger role in our diets, not just for our own sake, but to attempt to reverse the damage that we are doing to the earth.

VEGAN FOR ALL!

We try to make our dishes appeal to all tastes and most of our carnivorous friends love dinners at the Beach House (even my Dad, who has gone from a greens hater to Kale’s number one fan).  You’ll find our recipes are packed with flavour and nutrients and we love a good plate of food, so the portions are always hearty and satisfying.  Our food is cooked from the heart, it’s real (good for the) soul food!

If you interested in learning more about a vegan/ vegetarian lifestyle, please see the ‘links’ section which is full of interesting veggie related blogs and sites or leave a comment beneath a post or email us (hellobeachhousekitchen@gmail.com).  We’d love to hear from you.

We are even on twitter and facebook.

Beach House blackberries.  Yum!

Beach House blackberries. Yum!

Jump in!

And some interesting and informative vegan websites based in the UK:

The Vegan Society

Veganuary

Viva!

Veganism makes the world a better place for us all, one forkful at a time.

Viva Vegan!x

Lee + Jane

Categories: Healthy Eating, Healthy Living, Inspiration, Nutrition, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Step-by-step planting recipe for the perfect apple tree

We’re in the process of turning the Beach House garden into an orchard of sorts.  Each birthday and christmas I will be hopefully getting a new fruit tree to plant, I have my eye on a rare pear tree (pink inside and tasting of fennel) which has been discovered by Ian Sturrock who has discovered many different rare fruit trees all over North Wales and the UK.  Soon we will have pears and peaches to add to our gorgeous bounty of garden fruits.

Our latest tree is called Johnny (named after Johnny Appleseed, a very interesting American folk hero who basically spent his whole life wandering around planting apple trees) and it is a Bardsey Island Apple Tree (see here for more info on this almost extinct apple variety).  My Mum bought it for me in May for my birthday and its been sitting quite happily in the front garden and even produced quite a few very tasty apples.  A few weeks ago, just as the warm, light nights began to taper in, we knew it was time for Johnny to find a more permanent home.  We cleared away a hidden rockery, unearthing some lovely little heather plants, and planted Johnny in a nice big hole, filled and surrounded by rich soil.  If you are looking at planting trees this autumn (its a little late now I know, but still very do-able) here are the basic steps in a successful fruit tree re-location.  These steps apply to most ages of trees and sapling, ours is roughly 2-3 years old.

Potted fruit tree, the type you buy in garden centres etc

Potted fruit tree, the type you buy in garden centres, from orchards etc

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Find a suitable spot, reasonably shelter with plenty of deep rich soil, dig the hole two times the volume of your tree pot

Gently loosen your sapling from the pot

Gently loosen your sapling from the pot

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Check that your roots are nice and white (alive!)

Loosen and untangle the majority of the roots

Loosen and untangle the majority of the roots

Lower gently into your ample hole, laying out the roots gently

Lower gently into your ample hole, laying out the roots gently and filling in as you go

Find a suitable spot, reasonably shelter with plenty of deep rich soil

Once the tree is settles and looking comfortable, cover with plenty of soil but no compost.  We’ like the roots to seek food, expanding outwards and not spiraling around the base.  The roots will naturally for a wide anchor for the tree.

Water well, we used two watering cans worth

Water well, we used two watering cans worth

Always have a glamorous assistant nearby

Always have a glamorous assistant nearby

And a mascot

And a mascot

Marvel at one of summers last sunsets

Then feel free to marvel at one of summers last sunsets

If you are planting the tree in a windy location, you will need to support it until it is established.  A tree blowing around in the wind will form a well in the base of the trunk where water will gather creating what is called ‘butt rot’.  Which doesn’t sound like a good thing!

It really is quite straightforward and incredibly rewarding.  To think of the pies, crumbles and unadulterated apple fun that Johnny is going to provide us and hopefully future generations with can only make you feel very wholesome and satisfied.  Planting trees is surely one of the finest hobbies anybody could have.  We are planning on starting small nurseries or rowan, oak, hawthorn etc all over Tiger Mountain (the hill that we live on).  Queue guerrilla tree planting sessions all around North Wales, where much of the forests and woodlands have been cut down to accommodate huge amounts of sheep.  We’re bringing back the trees!  One ‘Johnny’ at a time and when they happen to provide delicious fruits, it seems that nature is surely spoiling us!

If you like the sound of planting trees and making efforts to reforest the planet, you may like the book ‘The Man Who Planted Trees’ a beautiful little story about one mans life time quest to reforest a barren area in the Alps.  I read this book in Auroville, India.  A experimental township with over 5000 inhabitants where the entire area has been completely reforested, taken from a barren, dusty land to a thriving verdant forest where monkeys and big cats are moving back to and where a state of natural equilibrium has returned.  It is stunning to think of what we could do, in a generation, if we planted a few trees along the way.  It only takes a short time and will definitely have a very positive effect on the earth and future generations.  Just like ‘The Man Who Planted Trees’, bury a few acorns the next time you wander around some tree-less areas and in a few years, you may  have your very own saplings to be proud of.

For a proper professional in action and a very interesting site relating to all things orchards and fruit trees, see Ian Sturrock and Sons.








 

Categories: Autumn, Garden, Wales | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Soapnuts – Detergent that grows on trees!

Save the planet one wash at a time!!!!!

We’d like to share with you all the wonders of these miraculous little nobly shells, Soap Nuts.  They are completely biodegradable, hypoallergenic, vegan, organic, chemical and cruelty free.  We love them and you can’t even eat them!  I realise that we normally write about the food that gets our bellies singing, but forgive us a slight deviation from filling our faces with happiness and shift focus to what are, for us at least, the future of household cleaning!!!!!  I know, cleaning is normally not that fascinating, but soap nuts at least make it an environmentally friendly pursuit.

Unfortunately most of the household cleaning products on sale are full of bad things; phosphates, chlorine, petro-chemicals, formaldehyde, parabens and loads of other toxins.  These will all end up in the earth; in our rivers and lakes, negatively affecting animals and nature generally.  This may sound simple, but when it goes down the drain, loo or plughole that is not the end of the story.  Mainly due to the media and the control of large corporations we are constantly sold ‘lifestyles’ that would seem bizarre without things like shampoo, deodorant, washing up powder, anti-bacteria spray, washing up detergent, toothpaste, etc etc (basically whatever they want us to buy).  These products are made by the same companies who have built up this ‘utopian’ way of convenience living and its bogus.  Totally bogus.  You don’t need all this stuff, nature meets all of our needs to live in a healthy and balanced way.  What we found was, a little bit of knowledge goes a long way and when we looked into natural, biological and ecological detergents and cleaners there were long lists of easy to gather bits that we could use effectively in and around the house.  There were so many benefits to switching to eco and soapnuts are certainly one of the stars!

ECO/BIO SOLUTION TO REPLACING CLEANING CHEMICALS

Soapnuts are natures answer to all of our household cleaning jobs.  They are cheap to buy, easy to use and totally non-toxic.  Soapnuts are very versatile and when you use them, there is no need to buy lots of different household cleaning products…… admittedly this is starting to sound like a corny advert, but its true!  When we started using soapnuts, we became quite excited, it seem like we had found a natural way of keeping our house clean and tidy and the fact that it was nasty chemical free meant that the waste water from washing dishes or clothes could be used on the garden, cutting down dramatically on waste water (a standard washing machine uses 50 litres of water per wash!!!!!!!)  I am sensitive to most chemicals and when I touch pretty much any household cleaner I get a reaction, of course with soapnuts, no probs.  They are brilliant for folk with allergies.

Soapnuts

Soapnuts in their raw state

WHAT ARE SOAP NUTS?

They’re the dried shells of the Soap Berry tree.  The Saponin (natural soap element) is contained in the shells and these are harvested after they fall naturally from the trees.  Linen cloths are spread under the trees and farmers wait for big gust of wind I’d imagine.  The shells are dried in the sun after being removed from the berry, this berry can be replanted, aiding reforestation.  Most soapnuts are freighted by ship to the UK making it better for the environment (although still not ideal of course).  Soap nuts are processed without the use of chemicals of any kind.

SCIENCE BIT

When soap nuts are agitated (boiled or scrubbed) they release saponin which is the detergent part, breaking down the surface tension between water and oil, making things clean.  This is the same process that most detergents create, but soapnuts does it all without bubbles (which is a shame because we quite like bubbles), synthetic chemicals and weird/ alien fragrances.  The bubbles and fragrances that we associate with detergent products do not make things cleaner, they are just  the frilly bits that we have become accustomed to.

Soap nuts are completely cool with our environment, no phosphates here, so lakes, river, frogs, fish and algae are all unaffected by our washing up and clothes washing.

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Soap Nuts – pre-boil

NATURAL STAIN REMOVER

If you’re looking for a potent household stain remover look no further than white wine vinegar and bicarb of soda.  Together they form a natural, affordable and generally available answer to tough stain removal, without using poisons like bleach et al.  If you soak clothes in 2 cups of bicarb of soda and 2 cups of white wine vinegar with some tepid water your clothes will be shining after a good wash.  You can also add this concoction to your washing machine to add extra poke to your soapnuts, put 1 tbs of white wine vinegar and 1 tbs of bicarb of soda in the drawer of your washing machine and BHAM!  Spotless results everytime, say goodbye to those pasta sauce splatters.

USING SOAP NUTS

There are a variety of ways that soapnuts can be used in the hoose.  We buy ours from Living Naturally and they send you a small muslin bag with the soapnuts inside.  This bag can be used in the washing machine, you simply pop a few soapnuts in the bag and let the washing machine do its thing.  You can do this in any type of washing machine and they work on any fabric.  Another great advantage is that they work at low temperatures, around 30oC will do nicely.  You may need to use more soapnuts if you live in a hardwater area.  As mentioned above, you can collect the ‘grey’ (waste) water at the end and use it on your garden.  You can also hand-wash clothes using the soapnut liquid (see below) instead of detergent, 1-2 cups is enough for one bucket of washing.

Soap nuts are also great when you’re travelling, pop a few in your bag and use in warm water.  Add your clothes and leaves them to soak for a while.  Then give them a good wash and you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the earth-friendly results.

Soap nuts need no additonal softener, they actually act as a natural softener.

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Soap Nut Liquid – Ready for action!

OTHER AMAZING WAYS OF SOAP NUTTING

Multi-Purpose Spray Cleaner – Fill a standard sized spray bottle with 400ml soap nut liquid, 100ml white wine vinegar, 20 drops lavender essential oil, 20 drops tea tree essential oil, 20 drops of eucalyptus essential oil, 10 drops of peppermint oil.  Make your house shine and smells ace.  Essential oils are optional and of course, can be a little costly.  We dribble in the oils we have handy.

Pet Wash – Pour 100ml of soap nut liquid into a blend and blend until frothy.  Use on your cheeky pooch or friendly goat or animal of your choice.  Soap nuts act as a natural pest inhibitor; fleas, lice etc don’t like it so stay away!  No scratchy pets, hoorrayyyy!!!!

Organic Pesticide – The same applies to plants, pests don’t like it so fill a spray bottle with soap nut liquid and add 10 drops of neem, eucalytus, peppermint, geranium and lavender oils and you have a perfectly natural pesticide that does the job.

Watering the Garden – Use leftover water from washing up or from your washing machine on the garden.  It will have bits of food (mini compost hit) and bits of soap nut (mini pesticide hit).  Its just all good!!!

Soap Nut Liquid Recipe

Boil 50g of soapnuts in pan with 1 litre of water for 25 minutes.  Leave to cool and strain into a suitable bottle.  This makes roughly 500ml of soapnut liquid.

Add the leftover soapnuts back to the pan with another litre of water and boil again, you can repeat this process 3 times at least making 2 litres of chemical free detergent.  Nice one!!!!  Store the soapnut liquid in a fridge.

If you would like a fragrant detergent, simply add essential oils to the liquid or to the bag before you pop into the washing machine.   The essential oils mentioned above are helpful, especially as they have anti-bacterial properties.

If you’d like to buy some soap nuts, we find these guys helpful and they can deliver all over the UK.  Not sure about the rest of the world guys, but I’m sure you’ll find some locally on the web.  If you are lucky enough to live in India, just go out and pick some!  When we are travelling around India we always have a healthy stash of fresh picked S.N’s in our backpacks, keeping us quite clean and tidy.

At present, we are only using 1% of the total worldwide soapnut crop.  There is huge potential there to utilised this brilliant resource and save vast amounts of potentially harmful household waste affecting the environment.  In one swift shift towards the wonderful soap nut, we are cleaner and greener!

The only downside of Soap Nuts is they do travel a long way to get to rural Wales.  Does anybody know of an natural detergent alternative that can be sourced closer to home?

Jane has a new blog and has just been writing about a similar subject that most of don’t even think about.  It relates to needless household waste which could have a drastic impact on our environment in the near future.  Find out more The Moon and The Womb.

Our friend Yolanda over at the Byzantine Flowers blog writes extensively about ecological replacements for household cleaners etc, here’s a great article about natural, organic pest control remedies, one of many.

All info taken from the great guys at Living Naturally, they have a large range of soap nut variations from shampoos to fancy bath stuff.

PS – We support folk like ‘Living Naturally’ because they supply brilliant products, not because we get sent freebies.  Just thought we’d clear that up.    

 

Categories: Healthy Living, Organic | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

Why are we raw this June!

Raw June is here for the Beach House.  Jane and I are going cold veggie (and fruit) for the entire month and we both cannot wait to get going.

It really has come around quickly this 100% raw/vegan June adventure.  We have both been working quite a bit lately and have had less time to plan for the big plunge than we would have liked, hence the lack of any ‘build-up’ posts.  As with most things, we’re going straight in there!

I have a strange excitement in the pit of my stomach and I don’t know why.  I know that I will feel alot better and have bags more energy, focus and vitality, but there is the feeling that this could be something very big in my life.  It could be a huge lifestyle change for the better, no matter how unconventional it is and no matter how many people call me a ‘weirdo’  (there have been quite a few already) I going for this new diet and looking forward to experimenting with my body and mind in a good way.  We are what we eat, well, we shall see.

The main reason for eating raw is that cooking kills nutrients in food.  Vitamin C and B are heat sensitive, enzymes are also destroyed when food is cooked, which are essential to the function of the body.  If enzymes are not replenished in the body, we can age quickly and loss health.  Raw foods have been used for years to treat ailments and illness, most famously by Dr Ann Wigmore,who set up the Hippocrates Health Institute.  The truth is that we are exposed to more pollutants than previous generations and our food has less nutrients, even organic food is grown on soil that is less rich than is was in previous times (normally due to bad farming techniques).

Ecologically, if we all ate more raw foods there would be a relief on the planets resources.  No cooking conserves energy, there is less packaging (hopefully non) with raw foods, there are no emissions created no processing, the waste is compostable and biodegradable, meaning no rubbish.

Below is the Raw Food Pyramid (thanks to the Almost Raw Vegan for this), this replaces the average diet with meat, dairy etc and will give you an idea of what we will be munching on in June.  We are eating no dairy, refined foods, wheat etc and no alcohol or caffeine.   Our diet will consist of many different types of salads, smoothies and juices and another host of interesting raw foods that you will seldom find, especially in the UK where raw food is still a relatively new thing.  In the States and Australia for example, raw food seems to be very popular.  Many people say that raw food will become the new vegetarianism for this generation, I have already seen restaurants with raw options on the menu.

We have always eaten alot of raw food, we just didn’t necessarily call it ‘raw’, just a salad or a smoothie. We will try and be as close to 100% raw as possible, but aren’t really too fussy about things.  We’ll still be drinking herbal teas and if our new lovely looking olive oil is not certified raw, we’ll still use it.  The same goes for nuts, seeds, dried fruits, pastes etc which are all borderline raw foods.  We love these items too much and deem their nutritional values to be too important to eliminate from our diet.

We hope to open a few people’s eyes, minds and palates to the joys of raw food.  Raw food is nutrient rich, meaning you don’t need to eat or digest as much.  When you are eating a bag of crisps, or packet of biscuits, the reason you are not getting full is because they are devoid of nutrients.  Your body needs the right fuel!  A raw diet puts that fuel in and makes it readily available.  We have had a few days almost raw already and the we have been buzzing!  I went for my normal jog and needed to extend it a little, up the mountain.  I couldn’t stop!  With raw food, your body needs less energy for digestion, which can be utilised in other beneficial ways.

The body has clearly define cycles or natural rhythms:

12pm-8pm  Digestion cycle

8pm-4am  Absorption cycle

4am – 12pm  Elimination cycle

The raw diet will help to cleanse our system of toxins and bring us into balance.  After gradually eating healthier for a number of years (we are not just diving in here, we have been eating well for a while now)  my body is quite sensitive to toxins and rich foods.  I sometimes get what is called a food ‘hangover’ after a cheese or chocolate binge, I will be glad to be free of them.  Raw food is devoid of toxins and packed with nutrients.  There is a popular raw slogan, ‘stop counting calories and start counting nutrients’.  It makes perfect sense to me that what we eat has a profound effect on our bodies and minds.  What we consume affects us on ways that we cannot see or know.  Raw food seems like a stepping stone for me to a greater understanding of my body and what makes me tick, what makes me truly happy.

Raw food will also free up so much time, as I mentioned we are both busy this summer with work, so not cooking will allow us to do other things.  The garden is definitely looking like it needs some TLC.

We will be taking alot of inspiration from our fellow bloggers of the cyber world and also have some good books.  ‘Eat Smart, Eat Raw’ by Kate Wood being one of the main ones.  Written by a Brit for British folk, mainly important because we don’t have the plethora of fruits and veggies that many countries enjoy.  We also have the long cold, dark winters, where soup is our best friend and a chilled smoothie seems like a difficult proposition.

We will be supplementing our diets with a few superfood-type bits.   Jane picked up some Barley Grass at the health food shop and that is supposed to be super charged stuff.  We will also be drinking propolis daily, which is a bee resin with amazing properties.  We’ll be writing about it soon.  We will also be sure to drink plenty of water, as this seems to be important no matter what foods you are eating.  Become more fluid!  It is worth noting that many mineral waters are not organic and the best water you can drink is water that has been treated by reverse osmosis, this is pure H2O.  You should also not drink water, or any liquid with meals, as it affects digestion and absorption (diluting stomach acids).

So we are going out in a blaze of intoxication tonight.  We said we wouldn’t, but we are.  It is a relatively decadent evening with some smoked stilton with sparkling wine planned, followed by some of the finest chocolate I have ever tasted (post coming soon..).

Raw June, a time when we in the Beach House gain a greater awareness and respect for the foods we eat and the bodies we inhabit;  a time when we gain a new insight into the world of nutrition and the impact it has on us.

Jane and I are both very positive about all of this, which we feel is crucial, as our mental state has a more profound effect on our health than anything else.

Happy Days!

Categories: Blogs, Healthy Eating, Healthy Living, Organic, Raw Food, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

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