Infusing with Levo OIL - Review + Recipe
If you've hung out here for awhile, you know I love making my own Holiday gifts AND things that save me time and money. I'm a girl who loves a good deal! We've made a couple fun Holiday crafts on the site (see our Homemade Cookies in a Jar, Thanksgiving Centerpieces + 2-Ingredient Christmas Ornaments), but today we're talking about infusing your own oils at home, how to use them for yourself and friends, and the incredible new machine that helps you do it more easily than ever before. I'm obsessed!
When I first heard about the LEVO Oil machine I was totally intrigued; a machine that allowed you to create any custom infused oil, at home, with all the conveniences of a countertop coffee pod maker - but easier, cleaner, and sleeker than any other model on the market. Now maybe you're thinking "What kind of infusions could I possibly make?" And friends - the list is so, so long. As a yoga instructor I see value in this machine beyond food infusions, as a tool to help me create my own custom massage oils for practice and teaching. As someone with a love for cooking, I see unlimited infusion possibilities. Everything from garlic-infused olive oil and vanilla-infused vodka to cannabis-infused coconut oil and cinnamon-infused maple syrup. If you can cook with it, you can infuse it! The machine uses controlled heat and time are used to transfer the flavor, scent, color, and nutrients from a variety of ingredients into the carrier of your choice. The possibilities are nearly endless!
If you've done your own infusions before, you know that process is often time consuming, messy, and often fills your house with whatever smell you're cooking with for DAYS - which can sometimes be fine (think vanilla) and can sometimes be a problem (think marijuana). The old method often involved using a crock pot to keep a low, constant heat for hours or days until the desired infusion was reached. It took too long and was inconsistent. Plus, you had to have a crock pot! Then you were stuck making large batches just to make all of the work worth it, and you still had to strain the cloves or flowers or herbs from your oil once you were done. With the LEVO, it couldn't be easier! When you pull the machine from the box one of the first things you'll notice is just how sleek and counter-friendly the design of this machine is. It's no bigger than your standard Keurig, with a digital, touch-responsive keypad for adjusting everything from the power and lock buttons to the time and temperature of your infusion. The parts are all easily removed and dishwasher safe for easy cleaning, which is always a plus. The machine comes with a a small pod for fitting your infusing item - flower, herb, nut, fruit or root - and a small herb press for packing the herb (what we used) into the pod. Since their release, LEVO has since released a larger, double-sized pod for heavier infusions and a silicon pod press for pressing the last of the oil from your pod post-infusion (both items available on their website).
We've used the LEVO several times now, and the process is incredibly simple. Simply pack the metal mesh pod with your herb of choice - we used marijuana for the infusion in these photos. How much will depend on your personal preference, but for this particular infusion we used 2 grams of Utopia Farms C. Banana Strain Cannabis Flowers infused into 1 cup of Primal Kitchen Extra Virgin Avocado Oil. The flowers contain about 25%-30% THC. This combination means that for every tablespoon of oil, there should be about 36 mg of THC. Good to know if you're dosing! If you're using something like garlic or lavender flowers to infuse, it becomes more about how potent you want the flavor and smell to be and less about dosage.
Figuring out how long and how hot to infuse for can be tricky. Luckily LEVO has an incredible calculator right on their website, so it was easy for me to figure out that our infusion should be set at about 180-200 degrees F for about 2.5 hours. They have clickable options for all kinds of infusion situations, so you should be able to find the setting you need. After that it's easy peasy! Simply pack your pod, place it inside the oil reservoir - its magnetized! - and then pour in your oil or base. Close the lid, and use the keypad to lock the machine and choose the length and temperature of the infusion. Then wait! When the infusion is finished, simply dispense your infusion into a sealable container like a glass jar. Remove the used parts and throw them in the dishwasher. That's it!
LEVO Oil has made the infusion process one of ease, and this chef totally approves. I can see endless possibilities for what we'll make with the LEVO, and have plans for lots of homemade Holiday gifts using the machine. We love the people behind the company, who very much believe in knowing what you're putting into your body and supporting consumers so that they can be self-sufficient and successful. Interested in how you can play with the LEVO Oil? Check out their website for more info + to shop their NEW colors! And don't forget - use code GOODSAINT to get $10 off your LEVO infuser!
Want to learn more about cooking with infused oils? Click the link below to download a simple Thanksgiving recipe that'll have you celebrating Danksgiving, instead! (Don't worry - it's a very small dose. And if you like, you can always just make the most delicious garlic-infused butter or ghee instead.) Happy Thanksgiving!
My Vegan Bachelorette Weekend!
Hi friends! This post has taken me a lot longer to write than it probably should have, between my crippling anxiety that dealing with this particular event gave me and the fact that my wedding was Saturday. If you wanna see some sneak peeks from our gorgeous, perfect wedding (posts coming soon!), check out my instagram page + story. If you're interested in reading more about my anxiety attack and how I am learning, in an ongoing way, to deal with it, you can check out my recent post on both subjects here. If not, then I'm going to dive right into this post and focus on the good: because that's really how I'd prefer to remember it! It wasn't a perfect weekend, but it was pretty great, and I'm really lucky that I had people there that had my back.
The weekend kicked off in a caravan to Palm Springs and a visit to the Palm Springs Art Museum to see the new Jeffrey Gibson installation in the sculpture gardens. Our ultimate goal that afternoon before our AirBNB check-in would be to visit Desert X, his other running installation just a mile from where we were staying in PS. The sculpture garden was really neat, and I particularly loved the amount of blown glass artwork they had - so cool to see!
After the museum we headed a little further into town to the Palm Greens Cafe, one of my favorite places to grab a meal whenever I'm in town. They have a great, super vegan-friendly breakfast, brunch, and lunch menu, plus a board full of fresh juices and smoothies that'll keep you cool in the hot desert weather. My favorite is their Pineapple Jalapeño Cucumber juice - it's sweet, spicy, and super refreshing. We met up with most of the rest of our group at the restaurant for lunch, and texted final grocery and alcohol orders to the stragglers meeting us at the house later. At this point I was getting super excited to see where we'd be staying and to finally head over to the Desert X exhibit. We headed to the AirBNB for check-in, and were a little surprised at how small it was; cute - totally! But also super much smaller than it looked in photos (isn't that always the case?) and a little dingier. But it would do the trick! It was a strange setup - like a house with most of the rooms combined, plus two attached in-law apartments. A strange structure that made for even weirder sleeping arrangements, but it had a pool and hot tub! Not even the semi-creepy on-property manager (yeah, that definitely wasn't in the listing) could kill the vibe.
We split into rooms, my sister and I splitting one of the larger and more personal in-law apartments, and then headed back to the outskirts of town towards Desert X. The exhibit is basically a large house made entirely of mirrors - and it is super cool! Only about half the group made the trip, but we all thought it was rad and made sure to get plenty of cool photos. I mean, we had to! It was incredible to be alone in an entire room of mirrors - which you might've seen behind the scene footage of if you're following my instagram stories. 😉
Since I want to be super transparent and honest with you guys, you should know that I was lucky enough to have some really great brand support the weekend through product donation from the following brands: Dandies, Eat Pastry, Harmless Harvest, YumEarth, Organic Gemini, Tater Tats, Larabar, Ozery, Juicero, Hippeas, NadaMoo and Utopia Farms. I want to give them all a HUGE shoutout for being involved and for sharing their products with us for the weekend. They kept us fed, hydrated, full and ready to party, and for that I am so thankful. I love and support ALL of these brands, and recommend their products for real: no paid advertisement needed!
The snacks made the weekend a freaking blast - and saved us a bunch of time and money. Our fridge was fully stocked - it was truly a thing of beauty. I wish I'd gotten a better picture, but the lighting info ur AirBNB was total crap - lots of shade to block out that hot desert sun. There's a picture of every product on here, but the Ozery + Juicero (in the bottom right of the first photo set) are unlabeled - though were maybe the most eaten products! 😝
We loved using Organic Gemini's tigernut-based protein for our morning smoothies along with some fresh fruit (especially those that indulged in alcohol the night before, haha!) and munching on Larabars all day long between meals to keep us full-time on healthy fats. The Harmless Harvest and Juicero kept us hydrated around the pool, and the Dandies, Eat Patsry, YumEarth and NadaMoo made delicious desserts! Most of the attendees had never tried Hippeas before and they were and instant hit at the party. Utopia Farms provided the medicated edibles - which was AWESOME for me because I don't really drink, and Tater Tats gave us the temporary tattoo entertainment!
The first morning we woke up and everyone was a little hungover - except me - so I practiced a little yoga and made morning smoothies for the group. The rest of the day was the perfect pool day - lots of sun, drinking, poolside snacking, and floating around in fruit-shaped inflatables. I brought along a tie dye kit and we made rad, very nineties souvenirs take home. Turns out you can get a super easy, 30-dye kit with easy apply nozzles at Michaels for like $20. It was so worth it! The evening was a blur of games of Cards Against Humanity, late-night hot tubbing, and some serious dance sessions. We headed to bed late and got up early the next day for our 11 am check out. Everyone was sleepy, a little hungover, and tired of being in the sun.
Lots of long and loving goodbyes later, we were on the road home. I was exhausted from the weekend emotionally and physically, and was so ready to get home to see (my now HUSBAND!) Alex. We cruised back past the Cabazon Dinosaurs and home. Over - a great weekend. My tips? I've got a few!
And once it's all over, just remember - no matter how it goes - you are that much closer to marrying your partner and that part is so, so worth it. A snapshot of the crew below - thanks to all my friends for sharing my bachelorette weekend with me!
Dealing with Anxiety + Preventing Anxiety Attacks
Last week, I suffered from my very first anxiety attack. Before writing this, I considered the terms 'panic attack' and 'anxiety attack' interchangeable. Turns out, there are subtle differences. For the purpose of this discussion, I will consider my attack that of the anxiety variety, which usually includes a direct stressor - i.e., an event or situation - as opposed to a panic attack, which is often unprovoked and unpredictable.
It was last Thursday, the day before my bachelorette party. I was about an hour out from leaving my house for LAX to pick up the first of the weekend's guests - my cousin, Devin. I had been cleaning the house all morning, wiping up stray water drops and scrubbing things no-one but me would pay attention to. I was already frustrated, knowing how little time I had left to prepare. As a crazy perfectionist, I generally can't relax until everything feels perfect. Which it never does, which creates a really shitty cycle of me hating myself for not reaching impossible expectations I set for myself. That morning was particularly hard, as I was also silently dreading going to my own bachelorette party. Don't get me wrong, because I'd really hate to some off as a bridezilla here; it's not that I didn't feel lucky to be having one, or that I didn't think it was grand enough for my expectations. Rather, as someone who generally considers herself an introvert, I was dreading dealing with the social pressures of making sure everyone at the party was socializing, happy, well fed. Things a host does. Things you'd think, just by following me on social media, I'm probably great at. But that's sort of the wonderful illusion of social media - I can show you everything I want and nothing I don't. And as honest as I try to be here and with this audience, I don't normally advertise how hard it is for me to be social. It feels likes it only makes it harder, pointing it out. And makes me feel awkward. If you're an introvert, you get it. If not - imagine social anxiety as one of your greatest fears in place of heights, spiders, or whatever normally gets your heart racing. That's what it feels like - like something you just would reallllly rather avoid if you could.
So, Thursday morning was stressful and feeling heavy and impending, and I don't remember when I started crying. It might've been after my cousin called saying his flight landed an hour early, it might've been when I realized I was leaving my sweet dog for a full weekend, it might've even been when I started packing my overnight bag. All of sudden, I was just a pile of stress and tears and extreme sadness. I've struggled with bouts of depression and anxiety my whole life, but this just felt different. It was like a wave, overtaking my throat, choking my breath, my tongue getting thick and sluggish in my mouth. My shoulders seized up my body was shaking as I just broke down. I sobbed for so long and so heavily it felt like I would never stop. I couldn't catch my breath or open my eyes, and everything hurt. I moved to the back yard and back into the bedroom, with Alex finally wrapping me in a blanket while I just lay there choking on my own snot. It was a mess. It took me about an hour to calm down, from start to finish, and I still feel nearly a week and a half later like it could happen at any time. I knew immediately it was anxiety attack because I'd seen people have similar instances before, but I really, truly thought that somehow (white privilege? societal constructs? all of the above?) it couldn't happen to me. I like to think of myself as well put together, strong, able to handle my shit - but this kind of rocked me. I hated not feeling in control of myself completely, and feeling like my emotions and stress could overwhelm me in such an abrupt and upsetting way.
I'm working on a recap of the bachelorette weekend now, and it should be ready in a couple of days for you guys. It took me a while to sort through my emotions about it, because it went neither like I wanted it to or like I expected it to. And that's okay, just frustrating. In the meantime, I've been spending as much possible time on self-care and things that make me happy as possible. I wrote a post on instagram about how yoga invasions have been helping me deal with stress lately, but I wanted to give you guys a few suggestions for dealing with your own anxiety and stress and hope you'll give me your suggestions in the comments below as well. I think the best part about this platform is the ability it gives me to connect with so many of you who are in the same or similar situations; We have so much to offer each other in terms of support and education!
Here are just a few ways I like to relax + practice a little self-care:
Now that I've had the anxiety attack, the scariest part is anticipating another one. DON'T DO THIS! Haha. It just stresses us out more! If you do feel an anxiety attack coming on try taking deep, regulated breaths (ujjayi breath in yoga), and think about something that makes you genuinely happy. Or just work on clearing your mind - its up to you to find which works best for you. I also try to be super honest with Alex when I'm feeling like this. If you're lucky enough to have an awesome partner, they want what is best for you. Let them comfort you and keep them in the loop when you start feeling more anxiety-ridden so they can help you. If you don't have alive-in partner or aren't comfortable getting super real with them yet, give yourself an outlet. Whether its a close friend or therapist, I'm a big fan of talking it out. Do what you gotta do to keep yourself happy + healthy. And I will too! While I'm sure a lot of stress will leave after the wedding, I'm still considering getting into therapy again. It's so nice to have a neutral outlet when you need it!
So I want to know: how do you practice self-care? How do you deal when you feel an anxiety attacking coming or strike? Let me know in the comments below! ❤️
Top 5 Vegan Finds at the 2017 Cannabis Cup!
Alex and I had the pleasure of attending our very first Southern California Cannabis Cup last weekend at the San Bernardino fairgrounds and had a total blast. We really didn't know what to expect and were pleasantly surprised when, after following respected magazine account High Times on instagram, we saw that tickets were reasonably priced. So we bought them! We arrived in the afternoon (the event went 3 pm to 11 pm) and got checked in pretty easily, barely bag searched, and sent in to get wristbands. Anyone could get in with a ticket, but to get into the sampling + smoking section, you had to have proof of your medical rec on you. After getting into the inner sanctum (and the sampling tents!) we started seeing similarities between this event and something like Expo West. It's basically the same idea - an expo of all the growers, sellers, and products hitting the market in one place, for people who consider themselves connoisseurs. There was everything from flower and bud to smoke, to crumble and shatter to dab, to edibles from every corner of the stoner culinary world - including some really great vegan ones! We scoured the show, taking the occasional dab and sucking down CBD water to stay hydrated, looking for the very best, newest vegan, GF, and better for you edibles at the show and found some really great ones. Scroll down for my list of the best in show - you may find yourself a new must-have treat!
1. Mary Jane Juice Co. Fresh-pressed Juices + Nut Milks
We found the Mary Jane Juice Co. nearly last at the show (pictured above 👆), but we're so glad we did! They had a sampling of at least 6 flavors at the show, but these two were the stand-outs for us; the 100 mg Vanilla Almond Milk and the 200 mg Ancient Healing Tea. They're both low-sugar, vegan, and totally raw, plus each packs a hearty cannabis punch to help sure whatever's ailing ya! The milk, smaller in dosage size, was $10 and the tea was $20, but it would also be more than one serving for most people. These drinks are packed with good-for-you-ingredients so you can reap the pain relief benefits of the drink along with the inherent nutritive value of the drink itself. They're guilt-free, great on the go, and taste great - no weird marijuana aftertaste. Find more info on their Instagram!
2. Cheef Naturals Chews + Super Fruit Bars
Okay guys, all terrible branding and racism aside (the name Cheef and their branding at the show -- white girls dressed as Native Americans -- realllllly needs to be reconsidered) these edibles are really phenomenal. They're one of the only edibles I've seen on the market with a focus on being super, super healthy. I'd tried their super fruit bars before and loved how they tasted like a raw, flax-y granola bar. The high was great too, but it just felt so nice to eat an edible that aligned with how I eat the rest of the time. The coconut caramel chews are a new product, very similar in texture to Cocomels, but infused with marijuana. And packing a hearty THC punch with 5 doses (100 mg) per chew! Find more on their products here.
3. Half Lit 25 mg THC Pops
These pops just get cooler and cooler! Not only do they taste great, pack a solid little punch, and are made with organic ingredients, but when you finish this pop you can recycle the stick by PLANTING it! It contains cannabis seeds, so when planted and watered will turn your trash into a big, beautiful plant. I love this idea! Such a clever way to cut waste and encourage recycling. Just make sure that if you plant the stick, you live in an area where you won't get in trouble if you get caught. Be smart friends. (Here in CA we are allowed to keep plants, but please check your laws before you plant anything! Duh. 😝) We picked up a pineapple and watermelon pop for later, and hope to start seeing these at more of our local dispensaries soon! Find out more about them here.
4. Zendo Infused Peanut Butter
This was one of my favorite product from the show, and maybe the one I'm most excited about for other people to try. It's literally just an infused peanut butter, which each packet 1 oz packet containing a 50 mg serving of THC (hybrid strains). It's the perfect healthy snack, literally containing just all natural raw peanuts and cannabis. With no added sugar or weird ingredients, this edible is perfect for people looking to stick to a specific diet or who have to eat healthfully because they're not well. Plus, it packs a great punch of protein! (If you have to do chemo and can't get a lot of food down, this may be a great option as well.) This same company also makes a similar single serving packet of coconut oil, perfect for eating raw or cooking with. I can't wait to slather this stuff all over my morning toast, add it to my smoothie, and make a soba noodle salad using this for the peanut sauce. It's so versatile! Find more at ZendoEdibles.com.
5. Cali Gold Genetics Cannabis Infused Body Butter
This booth caught our attention as we were walking by because they were one of the few advertising as a VEGAN product - which we loved, and of course stopped to check out. These body butters are made with quality, moisturizing ingredients like cupuacu butter, kokum butter, cannabis infused coconut and olive oils and vanilla infused jojoba oil, and rubs on super thick and emollient, but not greasy. There are 4 different types, all designed to alleviate pain, inflammation and irritation and to protect and nourish your skin. It's amazing stuff! I actually talked to the woman at the booth for awhile about my psoriasis and she explained that she actually started making these salves as an alternative to medicated psoriasis creams for her boyfriend. I've started using it on my psoriasis on my thighs and have been loving the results - super moisturized and no flaking! Find more about their salves other website here.
Living with Reynaud's Disease
My first real memory of dealing with it was when I was about 10 and stayed after school for a soccer practice - or game? Those details are fuzzy. I just remember waiting outside for something organized to start happening and getting really cold - painfully cold in my hands. Soccer is a fall sport in Maine, so it was probably September-October, and probably not that cold outside. But my hands starting HURTING and I started complaining to my friends. By the time the coach came by, one of my hands was completely white in all the fingers with the palm a deep purple, and the other hand was quickly catching up. It totally caught the coach off-guard and I remember him sending me into the bathroom to warm my hands under the water. Which REALLY hurt. And took a while to actually begin to work. I came back out after about 20 minutes with normal looking hands and practiced and was fine. I know - anticlimactic. But it was the first instance I really remember thinking like, why aren't other people's hands doing this, too?
I was officially diagnosed with Reynaud's Disease in high school, but I struggled with it for years before I was given an official diagnosis. It's less of a disease - poor naming?- than a medical condition, in which small artery spasms cause episodes of reduced blood flow to the fingers, toes, and less commonly the nose, ears and lips. These episodes result in the fingers, toes, or affected areas turning white, blue, and finally a deep purple color. Usually numbness and pain accompany the reduced blood flow, and as blood flow returns to the affected areas is turns red and burns. Sometimes it lasts minutes, sometimes hours, and there is no cure or real treatment. It is usually triggered by cold and sometimes even emotional stress.
It is suggested that about 4% of people have the condition, of which there are essentially two types; the first, Reynaud's Disease or Primary Reynauds (which I have), affects mostly women with an average onset between 15-30 years. Secondary Reynauds, also called Reynauds Syndrome, is often seen in older people or as a result of another condition. Both forms are far more common in cooler climates. I'm 26 now and still deal with it constantly. It's a pretty low-key issue, which selfishly speaking is really nice. People don't usually know when it's happening unless I point it out and I can circumvent the issue oftentimes if I'm paying attention and am properly prepared. I've never had a time when I felt like emotional stress triggered an attack, but I can think back to being in situations of extreme stress and absolutely remember numbness in my fingers and toes, I just had never really known the two were related.
Growing up in Maine was tricky. I ALWAYS wore gloves and doubled up on wool (I know, but this was pre-vegan) socks in my 'bean boots. We spent a ton of time outside in the winter, but it was never weird that we were freezing afterward because everyone was freezing afterward. I spent a ton of time in hockey rinks in high school and just always thought I was more prone to the cold than anyone else. It wasn't until about my Junior year after a serious soccer concussion that the doctor told me that on top of being out for the rest of the season, he thought I might have this thing called Reynaud's because my fingers were cold, purple and swollen the whole time I was talking to him and we were inside. Go figure.
I moved to California not long before I went completely vegan, so I'm sure the control of my condition is due to a combination of the two lifestyle changes converging. For one, I'm rarely in very cold weather anymore without being ready for it. That said, I had a terrible foot injury a few years back where a doctor again confirmed my diagnosis. On top of wearing more supportive shoes, she suggested I started wearing warm socks again. Until that point, it simply had never occurred to me that by ignoring the condition, I could be doing real damage. I love walking around barefoot, even outside, and even when I know my toes are too cold. If persistent and ignored, Reynaud's can cause gangrene and ulceration of the fingers and toes. The lack of blood can lead to chronic infection under or around the finger or toenails. Southern California's warm weather definitely keeps me out of year round mittens, but I still have to often wear a fleece headband on runs - no matter the temperature - so that my ears won't ache, and always wear socks and a sweatshirt around the house when its anything less than 60 degrees.
While thought hereditary, people with Primary Reynaud's have seen relief by avoiding the cold (duh), eating a healthy diet with regular exercise, and avoid things like caffeine and smoking, which affect blood vessels. There is a hormonal component, and some people report birth control swaying it's affect on them. I personally haven't noticed, and I am on a low dose IUD. As someone who follows a clean, organic, vegan diet, I also avoid sugar, caffeine, and preservatives, and try to take in plenty of fresh, raw veggies. I workout regularly, including lots of yoga to help improve blood circulation and prevent numbness and tingling sensations. Even though I do my best to counteract it, sometime it just hits and your hands are tingling and number before you can do anything about it. On a recent trip we ended up having to take a pretty lengthy midday break because I had lost a glove and done a single run with no gloves; that was a big mistake. I was miserable and in pain while I worked the blood back into my hands swollen hands in the lodge. I won't be doing that again!
Even in photos, most especially our initial engagement photos, I'll notice that my hands are swollen and red - especially if we've been outside. We were snowshoeing in Mammoth when Alex proposed, so I had my gloves off in the snow for photos and kisses. My hands were getting super red and swollen - so much so that I thought the ring was going to be a tight fit, when it actually ended up being about a size and a half too big when my fingers went back to their normal size that night. I still look at those pictures and notice how red and puffy my fingers looked. Since I have Primary Reynauds, things like that are something I'll need to deal with and be aware of. I'll stay warm and eat healthily to combat any triggers within my control. And maybe keep my creepy hands out of photos.
It is suggested that a diet rich in Omega-3's, Vitamin B, and Calcium + Magnesium to your diet can help to increase circulatory blood flow and reduce stress within the body, thus counteracting some of the effects of Reynauds. I also read an interesting article about how a raw food diet could help in several ways; first, that eating raw foods forces the body to work harder to break them down, thus increasing internal heat and blood flow within the body. Second, that certain raw foods are loaded with beneficial vitamins and minerals and have the ability to improve oxygenation and overall circulation within the body. While I agree that this is probably true, and I'm all for working more raw foods into my diet, I also love cooked foods and am definitely not afflicted badly enough to need to go completely raw. Otherwise, all I can do is stay warm and keep eating well and working out! As I get older it will probably get a bit worse, but I just hope it doesn't work it's way to my nose too - my fingers, toes, and ears are PLENTY, thanks! 😝 Do you have Reynauds Primary or Secondary? How do you deal with it? Are there triggers for you I didn't list here? Let me know!