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Honey & Velvet and all sorts of wonderful things. An organic food and lifestyle blog dedicated to simple, colourful plant-based cooking, healthy living and appreciating the beauty of the magical world that surrounds us.

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Heidi

Leanne Wei

I was going through my archives a couple of weeks ago when I discovered this picture I almost forgot about from a shoot I did last year. The weather didn't exactly go quite as planned that day and we ended up shooting indoors. Despite the not so great lighting, I must say I really love this moment that Chris captured. I'm usually much more drawn to bright, airy lighting but I must say the mood and shadows in this composition really compliment the overall aesthetic of this dress. Here I'm wearing a knit dress by the lovely Heidi Bischoff from her FIT senior knitwear collection. Having had lived with Heidi for the past two years, I've pretty much counted up the hundreds of hours that was spent for this senior collection. This dress is hand knit and hand dyed using a blend of 100% organic cotton and natural fibers. It also took through hours and hours of hard work, blood, sweat and tears. 

For anyone who knows me, I have an inexplicable love for chunky knits and sweaters - and an even bigger love for anything handmade. There's just something so unique and special about handmade things that simply cannot be manufactured. Perhaps it's the fact that no two items will ever be the same? In a world of mass production, it's quite rare to find a really special piece of garment that nobody else has. Soft, lightweight and delicate, what I adore about knitwear is the fun and creativity you can exude through colours, yarns and textures. Simply gorgeous and unconventionally beautiful, this is a pretty unique piece that I definitely wouldn't mind keeping if I ever get the chance to borrow it permanently in my wardrobe.

Dress by Heidi Bischoff
Photo by CME Photography

Organic Herb Basket

Leanne Wei

If you've spent as much as 5 minutes talking to me, you'd probably know about my obsession with food, plants and flowers. I love the idea of having fresh organic produce growing in my own garden. In fact, my dream is to (hopefully) have a rooftop garden in New York one day. Yes, I know I can just buy herbs and tomatoes at the supermarket, but the idea of being able to walk outside and pick my own veggies just makes me happy - and happiness we must follow! 

I was originally making this herb basket as a wedding gift, but my heart just couldn't part with it so I ended up keeping it for myself (please don't tell). My basket of herby goodness is now sitting happily on my fire escape garden ready for harvest whenever the occasions arise in my kitchen.

This tutorial is very simple. Just follow the direction below and click on the individual pictures to see a larger image.

What you'll need

  • A basket
  • An old t-shirt/towel
  • A bag of potting soil
  • A spoon/spade
  • Herbs of your choice - I used thyme, dill, basil, parsley, sage and cilantro
  • Water, love and sunshine
     

Instructions

  1. Using an old towel or t-shirt, line the inside of your basket. 
  2. Fill the basket half way with soil. 
  3. Take your herbs out of their individual containers, loosen the roots and place them to the basket while covering the remaining half of the basket with potting soil.
  4. Repeat with all herbs.
  5. Tuck the edges of the towel and water to set the soil. 

Açaí Love

Leanne Wei

Since graduating this past summer, if there's one thing I appreciate more than anything now that I've started working, it's time. Time to eat, time to sleep and most importantly, time to spend in the kitchen. Due to the combination of lack of sleep, exhaustion and poor meal planning, I haven't spend nearly enough time in the kitchen as I should. One thing I am always grateful for, however, is the simplicity of smoothies. Literally speaking, it's as easy as throwing your ingredients in a blender and pressing the start button! It's so tempting to reach for junk when you're hungry, stressed out and have zero time. Luckily for you and me, even amongst the busiest of days, smoothies are here to save us. I whipped this smoothie bowl together in less than 10 minutes. You see? It's easy peasy.


INGREDIENTS

For the smoothie

  • One pack of Sambazon açaí smoothie pack
  • One cup of almond milk
  • Three bananas 
  • Handful of blackberries

For the toppings

  • Pepitas
  • Dried goji berries
  • Sliced raw almonds
  • Raw cacao nibs
  • Shredded coconut
  • Buckwheat groats

PREPARATION

  1. Blend all smoothie ingredients together.
     
  2. Pour into a bowl, top with desired toppings.
     
  3. Serve and enjoy!

Nana Ice Cream Jar

Leanne Wei

It's been a while since I've updated, but I have a special recipe to share today! Bananas are one of my favourite fruit in the world. I eat about seven of them a day. These guys are packed with tons of vitamins and potassium and you can enjoy them any way you want - fresh, frozen or dried. One of my favourite things to do with bananas (especially the mushy overripe ones) is to peel them and store them in airtight containers in my freezer. This is a great way to ensure you never run out of bananas on hand. For an easy two ingredient nana ice cream snack, just blend frozen bananas with almond milk and you have a bowl of creamy goodness. The consistency is completely up to you whether you want something rich and decadent or light and refreshing. If you have a little more time and are up for something a little more adventurous, try out this recipe for a triple layer nana ice cream jar to tickle your taste buds!


INGREDIENTS

Bottom layer

  • 1 Sambazon smoothie pack
  • 3 frozen bananas
  • A handful of mixed berries 

Middle layer

  • 1/2 cup coconut yogurt
  • 2 frozen bananas
  • 2 tbsp shredded coconut

Top layer

  • 2 frozen bananas
  • 1 kiwi
  • 1 tbsp chlorophyll 
  • A handful of blackberries

PREPARATION

  1. Blend ingredients of each layer separately.
  2. Layer together in a mason jar and top with blackberries or any fruit of your choice.
  3. Serve immediately. Enjoy!
 

Ocean City

Leanne Wei

This past weekend was Michelle's birthday. As one of my oldest and dearest friends, Michelle and I have known each other since second grade. I can still remember the times when we were running around in pigtails and school uniforms. In fact, she dug up an old class photo of us together the other day. Crazy how time flies. As we celebrated Michelle's 24th birthday, it's amazing how we've known each other for 15 years. As I grow older each year, I have come to appreciate old friends so much more. I think It's important to have people who remember you at various stages of your life. They remind you of where you come from and who you are. From growing up together in Johannesburg in sunny South Africa, I'm beyond grateful for the fact that we both somehow ended up in New York. 

As we ventured to Ocean City in Maryland, Michelle's birthday gave me a chance to escape the city. Ever since graduation, I've pretty much dived in head first with the whole job hunting/interviewing process. It's so tedious and frustrating that it makes me so anxious. Dealing with stress is not exactly my forte, but I've learned different ways to deal with it over the years. For anyone who is wondering, my secret is yoga. It's the only time where I can mentally shut off the million thoughts racing through my head and spend an hour focusing on me and my breath. Although this was somewhat of a "party" weekend, I came home with a fresh mindset and a new sense of calm. I think it definitely had something to do with being close to the water. As an Aquarian, there's nothing I quite adore than being close to the sea shores... So smoothing, so calming, so restorative. 

 

 

Preppy

Leanne Wei

I've had these adorable high-waisted burgundy shorts for just about forever now, but I never seem to get tired of them. Same goes for delicate white blouses and being surrounded by early summer foliage and vibrant greens. Perhaps it's the South African in me, but I love being outdoors. I love the feeling of being able to smell nature, to hear little birds sing and feel the grass tickling on the soles of my feet. I had so much fun taking these pictures, which involved some climbing up a ginormous tree. For a twenty-something year old, I can sometimes be very old lady. I've been working on that though. I look at little kids sometimes and it reminds me to always be playful, always be adventurous and always be daring. That's the beauty of childhood. Most of us grow up forgetting. I've been trying to remind myself again. Always remain young at heart; to be young and wild and free.

Fig & Onion Wheat Berry Salad

Leanne Wei

VEGAN  -  VEGETARIAN  -  DAIRY FREE

Nice things have been happening in my kitchen this week. Today's recipe is for a fig & onion wheat berry salad. If you're looking for a light but filling summer salad this weekend - this is it. I've been doing some recipe testing using some of the amazing goodies from Farm To People and the results have been more than wonderful. Today's key ingredients? Organic soft wheat berries, jam and perfectly ripe figs. First of all, I'm so happy it's finally fig season! Not only are they soft and delicious, figs also have some sort of magical power of always beautifying any dish. To add on to my fig obsession, I also picked out a jar of Anarchy In A Jar fig and onion jam and freshly packed Hudson Valley organic soft wheat berries from Wild Hive Farm, both available at Farm To People

With it's chewy texture and a deliciously sweet and nutty flavour, wheat berries are healthy whole grains packed with fiber and vitamins.  Whole grains are pretty much a staple in my kitchen. It's so quick and easy to turn them into healthy, tasty meals. One thing I love to do is to cook a big batch of whole grains (quinoa, spelt, wheat berries) at the beginning of the week and storing them in the fridge for easy and versatile meals throughout the week. It saves me a lot of time and allows me to plan my meals out more thoughtfully. The secret is to season well and the grains will pop with flavour and delicious goodness. Happy cooking!

 

Photos by Leanne Wei


INGREDIENTS (makes 2 servings)

  • 1 cup organic soft wheat berries 
  • 3 cups water
  • 2 tbspn Anarchy In A Jar Fig & Onion Jam 
  • 2 fresh figs, quartered
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 4 cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 2 pink radish, thinly sliced
  • 1 peach, diced
  • 1/2 lemon
  • handful of fresh mint, finely chopped
  • daikon radish micro-greens
  • 2 tbspn olive oil
  • sea salt

PREPARATION

  • On a stove top or rice cooker, cook 1 cup of wheat berries with 3 cups of water and a dash of salt.
  • While the wheat berries are cooking, wash and prep your fruit and veggies. 
  • Drain wheat berries (if necessary) and season with 2 tbsp of fig and onion jam, olive oil, lemon juice and a pinch of salt. 
  • Toss wheat berries with chopped fruit and vegetables together in a large bowl. 
  • Serve chilled and enjoy! 

Vegan Jam Cookies

Leanne Wei

VEGAN  -  GLUTEN FREE  -  DAIRY FREE

A quick post before I head out to work today - I baked some vegan (and gluten free) cookies yesterday and it was wonderful. I have been on a mission to cut down on dairy and animal products lately so here is a recipe for some lovely vegan jam flower cookies using flaxseed and almond meal. Honestly speaking, these cookies did take a little bit longer to make than average sugar cookies. But you know what? Sometimes, it takes a little longer to make nice things! :) 

Dress them any way you want - chocolate, frosting or jam. I used Christina Maser's delicious nectarine jam with fresh rosemary and lemon from Farm To People. As mentioned in my previous post, Farm To People is an online curated marketplace where you can shop for high quality, hand-made, artisanal foods sourced from the finest small-batch producers in the Northeast. With that said, you can rest assured that all Christina Maser jams are locally crafted, GMO-free with nothing artificial. With a belief in eating what's fresh, seasonal, and local, Christina's Pantry work with each fruit as it comes in season. The sweet fruitiness of nectarine jam complements almond cookies perfectly. Packed with protein and healthy fats, these cookies are a perfect pairing with tea, coffee or a mid-morning snack! 


INGREDIENTS (makes 24 mini cookies)

  • Christina Maser Nectarine Jam
  • 2 1/2 cups almond meal
  • 1/4 cup melted coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup raw coconut sugar
  • 1 tbsp ground flax meal
  • 3 tbsp almond milk
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
     

OPTIONAL EQUIPMENT 

  • Cookie cutters
  • Rolling pin

PREPARATION

  1. Preheat oven to 350F/176.6C
  2. In a bowl,  whisk coconut oil, flax meal, almond milk and vanilla extract.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine almond flour, raw coconut sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and sea salt. Add wet ingredients and mix well. 
  4. Separate your dough into a ball, cover with cling wrap and place in the freezer for 15-20 minutes.
  5. Line cookie sheet with tin foil or parchment paper. 
  6. Once the dough is set, flatten the dough with your hands or a rolling pin (I like to flatten the dough over cling wrap for a less sticky experience).  
  7. Cut cookie shapes with cookie cutter and use your finger to lightly press a small dent in the middle (for jam filling).
  8. Line cookies on the baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes. 
  9. Remove from oven and cook for 15 minutes.
  10. Fill the dented centers of cookies with nectarine jam.
  11. Serve and enjoy!

Sunday Brunch at Sanctuary T

Leanne Wei

And... We're back! I hope everyone had a wonderful 4th July weekend. Despite all the rain in New York, I had a pretty dandy time. I certainly ate way too much, but that's okay. That's what long weekends are for: wonderful company and long boozy brunches. I don't know if anyone can tell, but I'm kind of obsessed with Sanctuary T. This Sunday's brunching adventure consisted of the world's most amazing omelet with lancinato kale, red onions, cheddar cheese and parmesan potatoes and the most fluffy blueberry pancakes with warm maple butter. As coffee lovers, we could't help but to treat ourselves with a doppio espresso and a cup of coffee. What a pure delight. I'm not a coffee addict (okay maybe I am), but I love the smell and taste of coffee. It's warm and soothing and it makes me feel happy. For a tea sanctuary, the coffee is not bad at all. Plus, how adorable are the little sugar crystal sticks? 

Farm to People

Leanne Wei

Ever since watching the eye-opening documentary Food. Inc, two years ago, I have become a huge advocate for sustainable food and farming. As a plant-based cooking enthusiast, I’m passionate about food and discovering unique flavours. But cooking isn’t just cooking. It’s also about knowing who grows your food and where it comes from. In addition to factory farming and the inhumane treatment of animals, there are so many products in the modern supermarket today that are filled with industrial food products contaminated with GMOs, carcinogens, artificial flavouring, preservatives and chemical concoctions. I honestly think it’s really important to know what’s in your food and I personally love supporting local farmers and organic producers who value people and the planet. I also love all things hand-made. In short, I love real food. In a world filled with a large handful of massive, powerful food corporations feeding the world with overly processed foods, it’s difficult to find companies who align with these values. That’s why when Farm to People reached out to me for a collaboration, I fell over the moon.

All products at Farm To People adhere to 5 Baseline Standards
Locally crafted   -   NO GMO   -   Small Batch   -   Nothing Artificial   -   Humanely Raised

 

Farm To People is an online curated marketplace where you can shop for high quality, hand-made, artisanal foods sourced from the finest small-batch producers in the Northeast. They are a company that completely align with my values of delivering fresh, high quality and GMO-free foods while participating in supporting a transparent food system. Best of all, you will never find a synthetic alternative or an unpronounceable chemical in anything you buy from Farm to People.  Because quality can never be produced in mass production, all products curated by Farm To People are sourced from small batch producers, which guarantees that you will receive high quality products made with genuine love, passion and attention to detail. 

The wonderful team at Farm to People sent me a lovely box of exciting goodies. From blueberry chutney and fig & onion jam to raw wildflower honey and maple cotton candy, our taste buds are definitely in for a treat! I will be experimenting with these goodies over the next two weeks so please subscribe below to have the recipes delivered straight to your inbox!

Fig & Onion Jam by Anarchy in a Jar  |   Nectarine Jam with Fresh Rosemary by Christina Maser  |  Blueberry Chutney by Hill 'n Hallow

Ready to get shopping? Here’s how it works.

You curate your "crate" - or shopping cart - and Farm To People will take care of the rest! If you live in the US, they will ship your goodies right to your door! Visit www.farmtopeople.com to learn more.

 

Photos by Leanne Wei