I am having lots of fun with fruit and herb infused waters this summer. For a recent brunch I hosted, I made up a big pitcher of water infused with strawberries and lemon balm. The one you see here features peaches with basil and lemon balm (I’ve got SO much lemon balm in my garden!).

peach infused water 2_text

I’ve also been dreaming up many other combinations, like pineapple with lavender and plums with anise hyssop, that I plan to try soon. If you are like me and don’t love drinking plain water, infused waters are a nice option.

Infused waters are great because they add subtle, pleasing flavors to the water your body needs. They are also naturally sweet, though much less so than juice. The icing on the cake? They are beautiful to look at…

infused water 1_

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I traveled to Peru with my daughter earlier this summer. Last week, I shared some photos of our time in Lima. Today I’d like to show/tell you about what it was like in and around the city of Cuzco.

The airplane ride from Lima to Cuzco took just over an hour and it was stunning. It was a very clear day and there were gorgeous mountain views the whole ride.

airplane view of Peru

We were super excited about getting to Cuzco because so many people had told us we would LOVE it. They were absolutely right: we did!

cuzco cathedral_

Cuzco is a small city flanked by mountains. It was the capital of the Incan Empire and is positively overflowing with history, tradition, and charm. It’s truly a spectacular place.

Cuzco | Healthy Green Kitchen

Peruvian woman | Healthy Green Kitchen

Cuszco, Peru | Healthy Green Kitchen

Cuzco Vines | Healthy Green Kitchen

Cuzco cathedral | Healthy Green Kitchen width=

Fuschia | Healthy Green Kitchen

Hazy Cuzco | Healthy Green Kitchen

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I am honored to be guest posting over at Gourmande in the Kitchen today! Head over to Sylvie’s blog so you can read about my homemade skin cream recipe :)

Homemade  Skin Cream from www.healthygreenkitchen.com

ps If you like the idea of caring for your skin with 100% natural products you can make at home, please be sure to check out the following inks to more of my homemade body care recipes:

Tangerine Sugar Body Scrub
Chocolate Mint Sugar Scrub
Homemade Bath Salts
Brown Sugar Coconut Oil Foot Scrub
Homemade Toothpowder

I spent much of last weekend visiting with dear friends I haven’t seen in years. We enjoyed lots of great conversation and feasting: it was so much fun! I made this fresh apricot crisp as part of a big breakfast I hosted on Sunday and everyone loved it. If you enjoy fresh apricots, I think you’ll love it, too.

Apricot crisp from www.healthygreenkitchen.com

Very ripe, local apricots are one of my favorite summertime treats. One of the local farm stands I frequent has them right now, and I keep making the trip over there to buy more!

Apricots from Healthy Green Kitchen

If you can’t find fresh apricots, you can certainly make this recipe with a different stone fruit, such as nectarines or peaches or plums. You can also use a combination of different fruits, if you like.

This recipe does not contain all that much sugar compared to other crisp recipes I’ve made in the past. I prefer less sugar because I really want to taste the fruit in recipes like this, even if the fruit is a bit tart; also, as I mentioned above, we had this for breakfast (and I prefer to avoid very sweet things in the morning). Feel free to use a little more sugar if you go for fruits treats like this on the sweeter side, or if you are making this for dessert.

If you don’t eat grains (and therefore oats are out), you could make the crisp topping with ground nuts, such as almonds.

Fresh Apricot Crisp from www.healthygreenkitchen.com

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Do you have a favorite summertime potluck dish? I do and you are looking at it!

Quinoa Salad from www.healthygreenkitchen.com

I’ve been making quinoa salad in one form or another for years. I like to play with the beans, veggies, and herbs I add based on what I have in the house/what’s in season. Black beans are definitely my preferred bean, and as soon as fresh local corn starts to make an appearance in markets around here, corn is pretty much a must. I’ve added basil on occasion but cilantro is definitely a better fit with the other elements in this particular salad.

Quinoa Salad with Black Beans and Corn

If you are as yet unfamiliar with quinoa, it’s a seed that’s native to the Andes region of South America. I ate it several times when I was recently in Peru, cooked in a stew. While it behaves like a grain, quinoa is actually more nutritious than most grains because it is high in protein, iron, and calcium. Quinoa is also gluten-free.

Quinoa seeds are coated with a bitter substance so you need to rinse quinoa very thorough before cooking. Moreover, quinoa benefits from a several hours-long soak in water in order to deactivate the naturally-present enzymes that bind up the nutrients within. For this reason, on days when I am planning to cook quinoa, I like to place it in a large bowl and cover it with water for 2-3 hours. Then I pour off the water, and rinse the quinoa in a fine mesh strainer before proceeding to cook it.

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