Thursday, September 18, 2014

NYC FILES : DAY IN DOWNTOWN

The other day, when hubs had meeting in downtown, I decided to tag along and explore the area. His meeting lasted 3 hours so I had plenty time to walk around in the beautiful weather checking out the Stone Street where we also had lunch at Smorgaschef (delicious veggie meatballs, mashed potatoes, mushroom gravy and lingonberry jam!), Delmonicos and walking all the way to Pier 15 and South Street Seaport that is still under construction after Hurricane Sandy. 

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

WELLNESS WEDNESDAY : THE DIRTY DOZEN

An old saying goes that an apple a day keeps the doctor away but if that apple is conventionally grown it might be a detriment to your health if you consume a lot because every conventionally grown apple has at least one pesticide residue on it.
What’s the big deal? With over a billion pounds of pesticides used in the United States alone, this is a huge problem because we are exposed to pesticides all over. For the sake of this article, I’ll focus on pesticides found in our food source.
We have to be concerned because these chemicals have been linked to various ailments. The most vulnerable to these are children. In a 2010 study done by the University of Montreal and Harvard University children who eat conventionally grown fruits and vegetables may double their risk to ADHD.
In adult’s exposure to pesticide have been linked to various types of cancer like leukemia, breast, brain, prostate, testicular, ovarian and much more. Pesticide exposure on men and women has been linked to infertility. Pregnant women also have to be careful because exposure to pesticides can cause birth defects to the unborn babies and may cause shorter pregnancies.
 One way of limiting our exposure to pesticides is to carefully select the food we eat, an excellent guide to help you is the Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen. Like what I’ve said earlier, over a billion pounds of pesticides is used in the United States alone and a lot of this is used in farmlands. Even though people have downplayed negative effects that pesticide residue has on people, you can’t be careful enough.
One ingredient found in most pesticide is organophosphates and this same chemical is also used as a nerve gas in World War II! Even in small doses this chemical has negative effects, on children it has been linked to delayed brain development and has been found to increase risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
Since organic produce is more expensive than conventional, people buy organic for the dirty dozen items and go organic with the clean fifteen but here’s great news, you can buy organic on the cheap, you just have to know where to look. I’ve included 5 tips in the infographic to help you find save on organic.
Don’t miss on the dirty dozen plus which is also featured in the infographic, if you eat a lot of these, you’ll have to buy them organic because they have traces of highly toxic chemicals that can affect our nervous system.
  Dirty Dozen Infographic

Monday, September 15, 2014

MEATLESS MONDAY : BEETS THE MINT SMOOTHIE

Since I've started going to a homeopathic practitioner I had to give up coffee and mint. And yes, I do have a beautiful mint plant growing in my yard. I will give it to a caring home maybe. Anyways, since I had to use up as much mint as possible before I took my first homeopathic remedy, I tried to utilize it all ways possible. Lots of it ended up in smoothies.  

Beets the Mint Smoothie

1/2 beet (cooked)
2 tbsp mint
3 stalks celery
1 handful spinach or kale
1 pear or apple
1/2 cucumber
1" ginger
16 oz coconut water

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

WELLNESS WEDNESDAY : 2 WAYS TO STORE A SMOOTHIE

Since my husband jumped on the green smoothie bandwagon with me, we always seem to have the Vitamix on blending something. When I work morning shift I make a whole pitcher of green smoothies the night before which usually equals to 4 mason jars (2 days) worth it. And Vitamix gets one day's well deserved rest. But how do you store a smoothie so that it doesn't loose it's nutrients and oxidize? Here's few simple tips. 

REFRIGERATE

1. Store your drink in a glass container with an airtight lid. Fill the container to the very top to prevent air from being trapped in the container as air will oxidize the nutrients in your smoothie (oxidizing degrades the nutrients in your smoothie, making it less nutritious). If I don't have enough smoothie to fill it up to the top I'll add water. 
2. Seal your container tightly and store in the refrigerator. 
Bonus: Add lemon juice to your smoothie or juice. The extra vitamin C will help prevent oxidation. Store for maximum of 48 hours. 

FREEZE

1. Chop and measure smoothie ingredients according to your recipe and out them in a mason jar. Start with fruits adding leafy greens last. Don’t add liquid or any superfood or protein powders just yet, wait until you are ready to blend. 
2. Place all ingredients in the mason jar 
3. Label with name of recipe and date. 
4. Store in freezer for up to 6 months. 

When you are ready to blend: 

Remove mason jar from freezer and pour ingredients into blender along with the desired liquid and powders. Give it a good blend and enjoy! 

Monday, September 8, 2014

MEATLESS MONDAY : VEGAN CAESAR SALAD DRESSING

Happy Meatless Monday! I've been on a Caesar salad kick for the past 3 weeks or so and finally decided to try to make it at home. We don't ever have store bought salad dressings in our house, because balsamic vinegar has been our main salad companion for years now. When I was looking into buy Caesar dressing at the local store it surprised me how many unpronounceable ingredients it had! Even the ones with the "all natural" label (which we all know means absolutely nothing). Needless to say, I left it at the store.

Vegan Caesar Dressing

1/2 cup Cashews (soak 1hr - overnight and drain before using) 
3 Tbsp Nutritional Yeast 
4 Tbsp Lemon Juice
1 Clove Garlic (or garlic salt)
3 Tbsp Dijon Mustard 
Salt, black pepper, hint of cayenne

Add all ingredients in high speed blender, add water slowly until desired consistency is achieved. Some like it thicker, some more runny. Besides salad dressing, you can use it for baked potato filling, tacos, burgers and sandwiches or for dip. Possibilities are endless.

Store in the fridge for about one week.
For the salad I used romaine, little kale, cabbage for crunch, kalamata olives and topped it off with sliced grilled meatless chicken. Add some cherry tomatoes for a pop of color!

Friday, September 5, 2014

MY 9 HEALTHY TRAVEL ESSENTIALS

Often when traveling we let go of our healthy routine and eat whatever is available. In some places it is just plain difficult to find good food. It's ok to indulge a little more (I mean, c'mon, you're on vacation!), but bringing few healthy items with you helps you stay on track.

My travel essentials:


 1. Chia seeds

Throw chia seeds in your morning fresh squeezed orange juice or smoothie. Chia is very rich in omega-3 fatty acids, even more so than flax seeds. Chia is also so rich in antioxidants that the seeds don't deteriorate and can be stored for long periods without becoming rancid. And, unlike flax, they do not have to be ground to make their nutrients available to the body. Chia seeds also provide fiber, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, manganese, copper, iron, niacin, and zinc.

2. Green powder

 If there's no green juices/smoothies available where you are, green powders are the next best thing. I love Amazing Grass, but Aloha also has travel friendly packets of green juice powder that contain spinach, spirulina, wild blueberries and coconut water, as well as peas, enoki mushrooms, lemon, and a little ginger. Try Aloha for FREE here.

3. Zinc

Among all the vitamins and minerals, zinc shows the strongest effect on our immune system. An increase of the zinc level has proven effective in fighting pneumonia, diarrhea and other infections. Zinc can also reduce the duration and severity of a common cold. This is the brand I use.

4. B-12

The only supplement I take daily is B-12. Deficiency in it may cause muscle weakness, fatigue and lack of energy, mental fogginess, memory problems, mood swings, feelings of apathy and lack of motivation. And no, I do not want to have those feelings during my vacation!



Chlorella is one of the most nutritionally dense foods on the planet, containing a full range of vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids, amino acids, detoxifying chlorophyll and plenty of important phytochemicals. Chlorella benefits the body with optimal nutrition for maximum energy, helping to protect cells from toxic substances, supporting growth of healthy tissues and it also helps keep you regular.

6. Homemade trail mix of raw, unsalted almonds, walnuts and banana chips

Rather than eating airport and airplane food (or vending machine "food" at the hotel!) I snack on these healthy goodies to keep the hunger at bay.


7. A glass water bottle

I carry my pink Lifefactory bottle everywhere. In Mexico I used the water fountain at the hotel gym and at the yoga studio to keep filling my bottle up at any hour of the day. No mountains of empty plastic bottles in our hotel room! Plus the weather was so hot that all those toxins from plastic bottles would've leached in to the water we carried around. Yuck! No bueno!
8. Herbal tea

Since I stopped drinking coffee for homeopathy, I drink mostly yerba mate. And since yerba mate doesn't taste like much I bring my favorite herbal teas to give my cup of tea some flavor. I love lemon, ginger and lemongrass. Also, I bring couple of packs of Traditional Medicinals' Smooth Move to drink the night after flight because my stomach just goes wild on the plane, even if I don't eat anything. This may cause constipation for days. Drinking Smooth Move before going to bed generally produces a bowel movement within 6-12 hours (yes, it works!).
9. A cosmetics bag with Yes to Carrots facial wipes, Kiss My Face organic sunscreen, Jing Ai bronzer, Lalicious Everyday Everywhere Spray

Face wipes are the lazy girl's savior. If I'm too tired to wash my face I use these wipes (they get rid of even eye makeup!) and leave my skin feeling soft and smelling great. I don't even need any moisturizer after. Kiss My Face sun oil took good care of my skin in Mexico. We spent lot of time in the water and I did not get sun burned. Good job!
After all the beach fun is over and it's time to look descent for dinner, I like to use Jing Ai's rose scented bronzer to get rid of my overly shiny face. Lalicious' Everyday Everywhere spray smells so delicious I could eat it (but I won't). And the bottle is small enough to bring to the plane since we do not check our bags ever. Travel light is our motto.
BONUS TIP: I always rely on Happy Cow to find the best local veg restaurants. There's an app, as well as a website: http://www.happycow.net 

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

MY WEEK IN SNAPSHOTS

We did cat sitting for a week which is always fun. These two blue-eyed munchkins are Miina's and Moses' cousins named Milio and Mikey. Very vocal as well.
I was off the right days last week and got to go to our local farmer's market not once, but twice. Got to enjoy this while it lasts. When winter comes we'll have to go back to shopping at supermarkets. I've been trying different types of breakfasts and ways to change things up a little. I usually do organic steel-cut oatmeal cooked in almond milk mixed with chia seeds, cinnamon and raw almond butter. I top it off with sunflower, pumpkin seeds, walnuts and banana chips. My newly discovered favorite is the Chia Squeeze. Adds nice sweetness to my oatmeal. Love it.

Monday, September 1, 2014

MEATLESS MONDAY : SUMMER BEAUTY SMOOTHIE

Since it is the first of September and fall is creeping on us, I will do my best to stretch summer just a little longer. So here's a very summery smoothie recipe to brighten up this Monday. I always crave warm drinks in the morning (no matter what time of the year it is)and therefore adding warming spice, such as cinnamon, to smoothies makes them easier to drink. Adding Maca powder makes this smoothie even healthier since it is rich in calcium, magnesium, phosphorous, potassium, sulfur, sodium, and iron. It contains trace minerals including zinc, iodine, copper, selenium, bismuth, manganese, tin, and silicon. It is also high in vitamins B1, B2, C, and E.

Summer Beauty Smoothie

1 cup coconut water 
1/2 cup blueberries 
1 cup sliced peaches 
1 Tbs. chopped mint 
1 1/2 Tbs. lime juice 
1 cup very ripe banana
1/2 tsp. cinnamon 
1/4 tsp. maca powder 
This recipe was originally published in Finnish at Sylvi Online Magazine.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

FIESTA AMERICANA VILLAS CANCUN

Despite my efforts trying to stay on the Isla, we ended up taking the ferry and heading to Cancun. That did not make me happy at all, but I got over it in about 32 hours :). We found a hotel in Cancun's Hotel Zone, about 20 min drive from the airport. We had a nice, big suite overlooking the ocean. Beach was nowhere as nice and clean as on the Isla, water not as clear and the bottom of the ocean was quite rocky. 
The pool area was big with tons of activities from morning 'til late evening (games, contests, yoga etc), music loud and there was a restaurant and a swim-up bar that served all kinds of foods (including brick oven pizza) all day long. Overall the entire area was very americanized filled with pushy sales people, club promoters and a highway that went through the Hotel Zone. Not my cup of tea at all. If I choose to come back one day I'll stay in Isla Mujeres. Cozumel was also highly recommended to us so we might check that out as well.
Our suite was definitely nice. Very spacious with full kitchen, jacuzzi tub, his and hers sinks in the bathroom area and a small balcony with a view to the pool and the beach. 

Friday, August 29, 2014

WEEKEND IS FOR...

I started homeopathy with a care of a very nice MD in our town the day after we got back from Mexico and I must say that things are looking different, in a good way, since I took the remedy she prescribed. I'll miss my cafe mochas and mint ice cream (vegan), but I've noticed that I don't really need coffee to get through the day at work. Tea does just the same. If I want to sit at my favorite coffee shop and write, they also have some delicious chai made with almond milk. So I'm good. :)
It's been good to get back to the healthy, regular eating after vacation. Not to forget some indulgences every now and then. At the Bethlehem Vegfest we had quite a few vegan donuts (you may have seen them on my Instagram) and just yesterday we made the most delicious crispy thin-crust pizzas using a pizza stone (borrowed from sister-in-law) for the first time. What a difference! So worth the investment. 
I've also finally started the process of making my own water kefir. More about it later! I'll be working all weekend plus the holiday on Monday, but that's alright. I've got bills to pay! Enjoy your weekend! 

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

INSTAGRAM TRAVEL THURSDAY: TULUM, THE CITY OF DAWN

One of my dreams, while in Mexico, was to visit the Mayan ruins in Tulum which was about 1,5 hr drive from Cancun. Tulum flourished between the 13th and the 15th centuries, fading only 70 years after the Spanish army arrived and started conquering Mexico.  Tulum ruins are perched on 12 meter high cliffs facing the Caribbean Sea and after the scorching hot and humid tour of the ruins, it felt wonderful to walk down to the gorgeous beach to cool off.
These not so little guys were everywhere. I found them cute (unlike snakes) and they let me get quite close for shots. These iguanas are harmless and used to the crowds of tourists, unlike the Gila Monster and Mexican Beaded Lizard. 
It was so hot and humid I drank about 2 liters of water in an hour. As you can see from the picture, I was pretty well protected from the sun under my big hat, sunglasses and a light blouse. After leaving the ruins there was a little area with bars and stores. I had fresh coconut water and that might have been the best drink I ever had in my life. Boy, was I thirsty!