The Back to the Roots Official
 2017 Holiday Gift Guide

 

You wake up in the morning, a bit groggy, and turn around to see that your new basil plant has sprouted. Something changes in that moment. Your morning halts. You stop to examine the sprouts. You smile. You feel a sense of accomplishment. “Today is going to be a good day.”, you think to yourself as you walk out of the door.

That feeling, a kind of “growing giddiness”, is why gardening kits make the perfect gift. By giving someone a plant, you’re not just giving them a physical item, but you’re giving them feelings. Feelings that they will remember, and cherish, and appreciate.

In this gift guide, we highlight six of our Indoor Gardening Kits that will bring endless smiles, memories, and yummy foods into the lives of those that you love this holiday season. 🙂 🎄

 

back to the roots mushroom farm kit mushroom growing kit grow your own organic mushrooms

1. Mushroom Farm

This kit gives you everything you need to grow your own organic oyster mushrooms right out of the box in just 10 days! Not to mention, each kit can grow at least 2 crops and comes with a “100% guaranteed to grow” promise. This is a great gift for children or teachers as it comes with access to an interactive learning curriculum that explains the science behind mushroom farming. Another purchaser perk? The rectangular shape of the kits make wrapping as easy as can be!

          Learn more about the Mushroom Farm here!

 

 

back to the roots self watering tomato planter green gift indoor gardening kit best unique gift christmas gift idea

2. Self-Watering Tomato Planter

Spice up your next gift exchange by surprising your guests with a planter that will actually water itself! This planter uses a microporous clay olla that waters the plants continually through the week. This means that you only need to fill up the olla once a week and voila! You get your very own homegrown cherry tomatoes. This is a great gift for a friend that is always on the go because it’s totally hassle-free!

    Learn more about the Self-Watering Planter!

 

 

back to the roots water garden best indoor gardening kit best gardening gift unique gift christmas gift ideas green gift ideas

3. Water Garden

Fish are friends, not food! But what if we came up with a way to make the fish a friend that makes food? Even better! The Water Garden is a closed-looped ecosystem where the fish waste fertilizes the plants and the plants clean the water. This means that the fish tank is self-cleaning and easy to maintain. Not only does this product grow delicious herbs and microgreens to go in your latest winter salad, but it also is a great learning tool for children and makes the perfect addition to any kitchen! 

Learn more about the Water Garden!

 

 

back to the roots garden in a can gift set best green gift best gift for gardeners indoor gardening gift4. Garden-in-a-Can Herb Set

Know someone who likes to cook? Or garden? Or learn?  It’s “mint” to be! This Garden-in-a-Can Herb Set gives you the perfect setup to grow organic oregano, dill, basil, and mint right from the windowsill of your kitchen. Plus, if you post a picture of yourself growing and use the hashtag #GrowOneGiveOne, you can spread the growing giddiness by donating a kit to a classroom of your choice!

 Learn more about the Garden-in-a-Cans!

 

 

unique garden gifts gardening gifts best gifts for gardeners back to the roots mason jar gift set

5. Mason Jar Gift Set

Indoor gardening just got a whole lot more chic! This mason jar gift set is loaded with awesome goodies including 3 Garden-in-a-Jars (grows basil, cilantro and mint), 1 self-watering planter (grows cherry tomatoes), 4 decorative art prints, and a recipe book. A perfect gift for the modern mom, foodie or chef! 

 

Learn more about the Mason Jar Gift Set!

 

 

back to the roots gift set unique gifts green gift best gifts for gardeners

6. The Urban Homesteader Kit

All I want for Christmas is the Urban Homesteader Kit! This kit gives you everything you need to become a full-fledged urban farmer. It comes with 1 Self-Watering Planter, 4 Garden-in-a-Cans, 1 Mushroom Farm, 1 Water Garden, 4 decorative prints and a recipe book. Talk about the ultimate gift! Surprise your best friend, mom, or co-worker with a gift that just keeps on giving! 

Learn more about The Urban Homesteader Kit! 

 

Happy gifting & happy growing! 🌱

– Kalene S. from the Back to the Roots team

 

P.S. Our support team is 100% dedicated to helping you succeed this holiday season! If you have any questions regarding your holiday order, such as on gift messaging or wanting to send to multiple addresses, feel free to reach us at contact@backtotheroots.com and we’ll sort you out!

 

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20 Minutes to Homemade Chili Garlic Oil

chili garlic oil recipe image back to the roots

A spicy chili oil recipe! There’s nothing better than fresh, aromatic and spicy chili oil to spice up your cooking! The varieties of chili oils available at the grocer are never-ending lately and for good reason. There are so many possible combinations of chili peppers, textures, heat levels, smokiness and tanginess that can characterize a chili oil and what combination is most agreeable can be entirely unique to your taste palette. That’s why we created this simplistic 3-ingredient chili garlic oil recipe that you can use both on its own or as a base to spruce up with additional ingredients to create your perfect chili oil. Plus, it’s the perfect recipe to use with your chili pepper harvest from the Chili Pepper Self-Watering Planter! Enjoy.

 

Homemade Chili Garlic Oil Recipe:

Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes
Makes: 1 cup

 

Ingredients:

– 1 cup grapeseed or olive oil

– 4 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced

– 3-4 candlelight peppers, thinly sliced

 

Directions:

  1. Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil to a saucepan over low heat.
  2. Once oil is hot, add garlic and sauté for 2-3 minutes.
  3. When the garlic turns light brown and fragrant, add the rest of the oil, sliced candlelight peppers, and a pinch of salt to the saucepan. Cook over low heat, (the oil should be only slightly warm), stirring often, for 10 minutes.
  4. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature.
  5. Pour the oil into a blender and pulse 4-5 times.
  6. Pour the chilli oil into a mason jar. Store in refrigerator up to 1 month.

 

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Your New Go-To Snack: Roasted Shishito Peppers (in just 10 mins!)

Shishito Peppers are the spring’s hottest snack, and they’re not just for the restaurants anymore! Grow your own with our brand new Self-Watering Planter, and get to roasting. Simply harvest the peppers, and heat up the skillet and you’re well on your way to our new go-to snack!

Most shishitos are mild, but a occasionally you’ll hit a spicy one – you’ve been warned. 😉

Prep: 5 minutes

Cook time: 5 minutes
Makes: 10 shishito peppers
Serves: 4-5 people


Ingredients:IMG_8185

– 1 tsp vegetable oil

– 1 tsp sesame oil

– 10 shishito peppers

– ½ tbsp soy sauce

– 1 tsp black sesame seeds

– 1 lime

Directions:

  1. Add vegetable and sesame oil to a skillet over medium-high heat. Once oil is hot, add shishito peppers and sauté for 1 minute. Add soy sauce and stir over high heat for 1 minute or until the skin of the peppers are slightly charred and blistered. Sprinkle with black sesame seeds, a pinch of flaky salt and a squeeze of lime juice.

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Marinara Out, Mushrooms In!

Did you know eating whole wheat grains boosts your metabolism? Make the switch to whole wheat pasta for a happier tummy, and substitute your go-to marinara sauce for homegrown oyster mushroom sauce — you won’t be disappointed. Buon appetito! 

Prep: 10 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes

Makes: 4 cups
Serves 2-3 people

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Ingredients:

– pasta

– tbsp olive oil

– 2 cups oyster mushrooms, roughly chopped

– 2 garlic cloves, minced

– 1 tsp fresh rosemary

– 1 tsp fresh thyme

– 1 cup spinach

– ¼ cup nutritional yeast

 

 

Directions

  1. Cook whole wheat pasta according to package. Reserve 1 cup of pasta water and set aside. Drain pasta and toss with 1 tsp of olive oil. Set aside.
  2. In a skillet over medium heat, add olive oil. Once olive oil is hot, add mushrooms. Sauté for 2-3 minutes. Add garlic, rosemary, thyme, salt and pepper to taste. Sauté for 4-5 minutes.
  3. Add cooked whole wheat pasta, nutritional yeast, and 3/4 cup of the pasta water. Toss until well coated. Add spinach and stir until it wilts. Add more pasta water if it is dry. Serve while hot!

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P.S. this dish is vegan, an easy weeknight dinner, and perfect for both cold and warm nights!

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National Cereal Day Recipe: Cocoa & Cinnamon Flakes Toast

It’s National Cereal Day! We’re celebrating America’s favorite breakfast with our friends from Peanut Butter & Co., and making a delicious cocoa and cinnamon flakes toast with creamy peanut butter! This easy (but heavenly) recipe is perfect for busy mornings or late night cravings. It’s fun, pretty, and tastes even better than it looks! Get creative with it — add extra toppings and share your best creation with us on Instagram! 😉

Cook time: 2 minutes
Serves: 1-2 people

Ingredients:IMG_0247
– 2 slices of sourdough bread (or bread of your choice)
– 1 1/2 tbsp of Peanut Butter & Co. (Smooth Operator or Dark Chocolate Dreams)
– 2 tbsp Organic Cocoa and Cinnamon Flakes

Additional toppings:

– Chia seeds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, blueberries, coconut flakes, and anything else you want!

 

Directions:

1. Toast the bread until it’s nice and golden on top.
2. Spread peanut butter from Peanut Butter & Co. on top of toast.
3. Top with Cocoa Flakes and Cinnamon Flakes and any additional toppings of your choice!

Enjoy!

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California RULES Against Monsanto, Requiring Cancer Warning Label On Roundup

By Allison Waldbeser

Officials from Fresno, California have just proposed a rule that will require Monsanto to label its herbicide Roundup as a possible cancer threat. The main ingredient in this herbicide is glyphosate – but what exactly is glyphosate? According to glyphosate facts, it is “one of the world’s most widely used broad spectrum herbicides and accounts for around 25% of the global herbicide market.” The scariest part about this chemical is its likely contribution to the development of cancer. The World Health Organization’s International Cancer Agency states that glyphosate is probably carcinogenic to humans”. Due to these findings, California is deciding to take action.

Monsanto Co. uses this herbicide as one of their main ingredients in their popular weed-killer spray “Roundup”. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recommends that people avoid contact with fields for 12 hours after Roundup has been sprayed, while Monsanto maintains that the chemical poses no risk to consumers.

Despite the heavy use of Roundup in our communities, many are still unaware of the potential danger it poses. We think farmers and consumers have a right to know the risks of it so they can make informed decisions about what they’re eating and what goes into their bodies. #JustLabelIt!

Fortunately, it is alleviating to see the state of California taking precautions. In the meantime, California regulators and Monsanto continue to battle it out as the public awaits a formal court decision. 

What do you think – should California (and other states) require Monsanto to label Roundup as a possible cancer threat?

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Spinach Basil Artichoke Dip

Cold weather got you down? We’ve got just the recipe to warm up your day — creamy, cheesy Spinach Basil Artichoke Dip! Our tastebuds are still recovering from this heavenly dip loaded with spinach and infused with homegrown basil. Perfect with some warm pita bread or your favorite cracker.

Cook time: 25 minutes
Makes: 2 1/2 cups
Serves 4-5 people

Ingredients:

  • 4 oz cream cheese, softenedimg_9833
  • 1/2 cup plain Greek Yogurt
  • 1/2 cup ricotta cheese (optional)
  • 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup spinach, blanched and chopped
  • 4 oz artichoke hearts
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil, washed and chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp red chili flakes (or to taste)

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
2. Add all ingredients along with salt and pepper to taste into a medium-size bowl and mix well. Spoon into an oven-safe serving bowl. You can top with additional mozzarella cheese if you’d like!
3. Bake for 25 minutes until dip is nice and bubbly.

Serve while warm and with purple corn tortilla chips, veggies, or thin slices of toasted bread!

Want to make it vegan? Use vegan cream cheese, soy yogurt, vegan parmesan and mozzarella cheese, and leave out the ricotta.

 

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Cinnamon Cereal Snickerdoodles

Whether you’re gearing up for a night in of baking or planning to “wow” at your next social function, we’ve got you covered! We’re bringing a biodynamic® twist to your favorite Snickerdoodle with a surprising secret ingredient – Cinnamon Clusters cereal. Ready, set, bake!

Prep: 30 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes
Makes: 2 dozen cookies

Ingredients:

  • 2 cup all purpose flourimg_9652
  • 3/4 cup crushed Biodynamic Cinnamon Cereal
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp ground clove
  • 1 tbsp milk powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup

Cinnamon Sugar

  • 3 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon 

Directions:

1. In a medium bowl whisk together flour, cinnamon cereal, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, clove, milk powder and salt until well mixed.

2. In a separate bowl, beat butter until creamy. Next, add sugar and beat for 1-2 minutes. Then add egg, vanilla extract and maple syrup and beat until well incorporated. Lastly, add in dry ingredients and mix well. Place in the freezer and preheat oven to 350 F.

3. In a small bowl mix together the cinnamon and sugar for the topping.

4.Once oven is ready, remove cookie dough from freezer. Roll 1 tablespoon of cookie dough into a ball. Roll the cookie dough ball into the cinnamon sugar until well coated. Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Repeat with the rest of the cookie dough.

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Bake for 10 minutes. Cool for 5 minutes on the baking sheet, then transfer to a rack to cool completely.

Enjoy!

P.S. Vegan? No problem – swap in vegan butter, remove milk powder, and substitute egg with 1/4 cup of cup of applesauce!

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Homegrown Mushroom Spring Rolls

Don’t have time to make a meal every day, yet alone a healthy one? This delicious mushroom spring roll filled with homegrown oyster mushrooms and cilantro is the answer to all your troubles! It’s colorful, flavorful, and simple to make!

Prep: 10 mins
Cook time: 5 mins

Makes: 4 spring rolls

Ingredients:

  • img_81501 cup oyster mushrooms, coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup kale, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp sesame seeds
  • 2 tsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp hoisin sauce
  • 4 spring roll wrapped
  • 1/2 cucumber, julienned
  • 1 carrot, julienned
  • 2 scallions, green part only, cut into 2-3 inch pieces
  • 1/4 cup cilantro
  • 2 tbsp vegan mayonnaise
  • 1/4 tsp sesame oil
  • Sriracha, to taste

 

 

Directions:
1. In a small skillet, add vegetable oil on medium heat. When oil is hot add mushrooms and kale and stir. Cook for 30 seconds. Add sesame seeds, soy sauce and hoisin sauce. Stir well and cook for another 2 minutes. Spoon into a bowl and set aside.

2. Add water to a plate. Dip the spring roll wrapper into the water for 3 seconds on each side. Place on a clean surface and rub the wrapper with your hands to make sure the entire wrapper is moist. Add cucumber, carrot, scallion, cilantro, and 2 tablespoons of the sautéed mushroom and kale to the lower 2/3 of the wrapper.

3. Fold both sides of the wrapper over the filling and then tightly roll up the wrapper from the bottom, making sure all the filling stays in.

4. In a small bowl, mix together vegan mayo, sesame oil and Sriracha to taste. Dip spring rolls into the spicy mayo sauce and enjoy! 

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Pro Tips:
– add other fillings like jalapeños, tofu, mint, basil, purple cabbage, sprouts etc.
– use peanut sauce instead if you want!

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5 Must-Make Holiday Recipes

What would the holiday season be without the smell of freshly baked foods wafting through your house? Whether you’re a baking newbie or Emeril Lagasse himself, you have what it takes to put together some delicious, homemade holiday grub.

From sweet to savory, we’ve compiled our favorite recipes of the season, each one sure to make your kitchen into an instrument of holiday cheer!

 

Mini Pumpkin Pie Cheesecake
We all know someone who LOVES cheesecake – heck, maybe that someone is you! Do you also love pumpkin pie? If you’re a traditional pie eater over the holidays, why not change it up a bit and try making these pumpkin pie cheesecakes? For the record, they are delicious AND adorable. Get the recipe!

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Sage Roasted Butternut Squash
Aaaah it’s the vegetable we’ve all been waiting for that only comes once a year – butternut squash. Now you can make sage roasted butternut squash thanks to our favorite foodie guru, Chef Hetal. Get the recipe!

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Roasted Vegetable Lasagna
There’s nothing more satisfying than a plate of saucy lasagna, especially Ms. Martha Stewart’s own Roasted Vegetable Lasagna! Knock your holiday dinner party out of the park with this classic Italian dish. Bonus – this hearty dish will leave you with plenty of delicious leftovers. Bring out your inner Martha and say bon appétit! Get Martha’s recipe.

martha_lasagnaPhoto credit: marthastewart.com


Mushroom Gravy
Gravy, gravy, gravy! What holiday dinner’s complete without some homemade gravy? To change things up a bit, we’ve carefully crafted a simple, healthy gravy recipe you won’t be able to live without with homegrown mushrooms…Did we mention how much we love gravy? Get the recipe.

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Holiday Smoothie
We know what you’re thinking – a smoothie? Not the most intuitive drink for a cold, gloomy winter day, BUT our friend Ayesha Curry has created this UH-mazing holiday smoothie that is the perfect evolution for the eggnog veteran looking to take things to the next level 😉 Get Ayesha’s recipe!

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Photo Credit: popsugar.com

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The Green Gift Every Foodie is Talking About

At some point, even the most committed foodies reach their fine dining plateau or get sick of pinning Food Porn onto their Pinterest boards—eventually, they want more. While some take to the kitchen to dream up their own concoctions, others with farm-to-table ambitions want to take it one step further and grow their own ingredients. But even the most experienced chef can be intimidated by the prospect of becoming a gardening novice. Good news — the lover of all grub can ease into the process and quickly transform from beginner to green-thumbed god. The solution? The Water Garden.

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Back to the Roots co-founders Nikhil Arora and Alejandro Velez initially stumbled upon the idea of aquaponics while doing a farm visit in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Awestruck by the magic of aquaponic farming (2x faster growth with 90% less water? Yes please!) the guys set out to find a way to share this experience with kids and families. After a year-long design process, the Water Garden launched on Kickstarter in November 2012 with a conservative goal of $100,000. To their surprise, there was enough interest around the self-cleaning, food-growing fish tank that they raised $248,000 in just 30 days!

Original Water Garden Video on Kickstarter (formerly the AquaFarm):

Today, there are over 100,000 Water Gardens in homes and classrooms nationwide growing their own organic food via aquaponics. The Water Garden continues to delight farmers of all ages, bringing a mini-ecosystem into the comfort of your own home and yielding organic sprouts and herbs all year long. People love it because it requires 1) no yard or outdoor space at all, 2) no water changes, and 3) comes with everything you need to get started . The only prerequisite is a little bit of light and, of course, a new pet fish (don’t worry – it comes with a coupon for one from Petco!).

This fish-powered garden comes fully loaded, including: 3-gallon fish tank, the aquarium gravel, organic herb seeds, grow stones, natural fertilizer, a silent submersible water pump, fish food, and a coupon for your betta fish. Put your fish in the tank, plant your seeds, and in 2-3 days you’ll have your first sprouts and your ecosystem will be growing away in happy harmony.

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5 Tips for Sustainable Gift-Giving This Holiday Season

Mindful gift-giving eliminates any feeling of dread that might be attached to concern that one’s own behavior is environmentally damaging. Did you know that Americans throw away 25% more trash between Thanksgiving and New Year than any other time of year? It may be easy to avoid images of landfills loaded down with wrapping paper and forgotten gifts, but people still tend toward wastefulness.

Want to decrease your mark on the planet just a little bit? Give your holiday gifts mindfully and sustainably. Here’s how to do it:

1. Give Green-Oriented Gifts: Products that encourage interaction with the environment can send a message. Consider the Water Garden, a sustainable, self-cleaning fish tank that grows organic sprouts and herbs. Without any outdoor space required, it makes it a snap for people to literally grow some of their own food at home. Similarly, there’s the Mushroom Farm, a little box that grows delicious organic oyster mushrooms in just 10 days. Gifts like these remind people that it’s easy to take an active role in nurturing plant life and engaging with our natural environment. And you get to eat when you’re done!

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2. Buy Non-Packaged Gifts: Holiday waste results in an extra 25 million tons of garbage. Try giving something that can’t be thrown away, like classes or admission to an event? Cooking classes, a trip to an eco-farm, concert tickets, and even e-books are all great gifts that require absolutely no wrapping.

Woman giving tickets

3. Use Sustainable Wrapping Paper: Of course, it’s pretty fun to pick out colorful holiday wrapping paper, but what if your wrapping paper was more sustainable than something purchased from a major retailer? Instead of run-of-the-mill gift-wrap from Walmart this year, re-appropriate other paper as you see fit. The comics pages of a major newspaper are a classic standby, but you might also use old wallpaper or cut-up paper bags.

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4. Buy From Local/Small Businesses: Buying locally is an important component not only to the development of a local economy, but to reducing environmental harms. Products made in your community require less transportation to be sold to your community. By investing in local businesses, you also help to create more local jobs and a more economically robust neighborhood.

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5. Make Your Own Gifts: If you really don’t want to waste anything this year, why not make a gift yourself? Make one-of-a-kind holiday cards out of old magazines, newsletters, and envelopes. Bake lots and lots of cookies, or better yet, make meals for your loved ones using herbs and mushrooms you grew in your Water Garden and Mushroom Farm.

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