Saturday, December 20, 2014

LAST MINUTE GIFT IDEAS

It has been extremely busy December (Plant-Based Nutrition Certification studies are way more demanding than I had thought), but I managed to write this little last minute gift guide. Also, see my last year's guide that is still relevant and has more great ideas. 

Vegan Food Gifts

This book is amazing for all your DIY peeps and home cooks that want to create gifts that are kind, eco-conscious and budget-friendly. From baking mixes you can create, package, and label yourself, to gift baskets, preserves, liquors, and more. Also get an extra copy for yourself so next year you can make all your gifts straight out of this book!
Jing Ai

Jing Ai products are formulated with the finest-possible USDA certified- organic ingredients including botanical and flower oils, natural mineral pigments, coconut oil and is 100% gluten & cruelty free. All their containers, pencils and tubes are made with recyclable materials. Comprised of natural fibers, paperboard is recyclable, biodegradable and compostable and printed with soy ink. The bronzer smells like roses (scent actually comes from organic rose oil)and gives you a beautiful, healthy glow.
Caitlin's Super Natural

We all know it is hard to find a deodorant that is a)aluminum-free and b)works. That is why I was so excited to find Caitlin's Super Natural which is made with 100% botanical ingredients. All of their deodorants are completely aluminum free, alcohol free, artificial-fragrance free, gluten free, paraben free, phthalate free, propanediol free, propyl free, propylene glycol free, and triclosan free. They are also completely vegan, never tested on animals and have aromatherapeutic properties because they're made with the highest quality essential oils. Order here!
VItamin and mineral supplements are a good way to ensure you're getting what you need even when you haven't been too good about your diet. I just personally started using the HealthPak in the name of product testing and quite like it! It comes in pre-packed daily AM and PM doses (for 56 days!)of balanced mixture of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants to support the entire body, so it is way more than a multivitamin. Perfect gift for someone looking to kickstart a new, healthier way of life.
Jade Yoga Mat

Jade is said to be the best yoga mat by many, especially yoga teachers love it, and my yoga studio uses them exclusively. One important factor when comparing mats is how well the fabric supports you because you don't want your hands to slip while holding down dog (especially at hot yoga where you sweat a ton). Jade definitely wins in the grip department because I don't even have to pull out my Yogitoes when using Jade.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

NYC FILES: CHELSEA MARKET LOVE

Welcome to one of my favorite markets in NYC, The Chelsea Market. My first time here was in 2004 when a date brought me here for dinner and I just love strolling around with no rush, try different things (so much good food here!)and sit down for a juice from One Lucky Duck and people watch.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

5 WAYS TO STOP PROCRASTINATING

I'm a master of procrastination. I can have a long list of to-do's saved for my days off (I usually have 3 days off in a row) and I often get zero of them done. I might not even look at the list and instead find other unimportant things to do. I've gotten a bit better with it using scheduling, reminders, staying away from social media and keeping the list taped on my laptop screen, but there's still so much work to do in this area. Here are few useful tips to unstuck yourself and be productive.

1. Break your work into little steps. 

One reason why we procrastinate is because subconsciously, we find whatever we're suppose to get done too overwhelming. Best thing to do is to break it down into little parts and focus on one part at the time. If this still doesn't work, break it down even further. Soon the task will be so easy that you just got to do it right away. 

2. Create a detailed timeline with deadlines. 

 Break down your project into smaller steps and then create an overall timeline with specific deadlines for each of the small task.   Break down your goals into monthly, weekly and daily task lists (check out the amazing Passion Planner to help you). 

3. Change your environment. 

Different places can have very different impact on our productivity and creativity. Some people have hard time getting anything done when they're at home because of the distractions it offers. Set up your working space so it inspires you to think big. Or find a cute coffee shop where you can sit down for few hours without being bothered. Environment that made you feel inspired before, may lose its effect after a while. That means that it's time to find a new spot. You may also find that once you're done with one task, changing the environment to start a new task might be helpful. 
4. Find an accountability buddy. 

This makes things so much more fun, but you'll both will also hold each other accountable to your goals. Discuss weekly about your goals and progress. It will encourage you to keep taking action.

5. Hang out with people who inspire you. 

 Just by being around them you will start to get more creative, more imaginative and start to think on a bigger scale. By doing that translates into bigger decisions, bigger actions and bigger willingness to take risks. Identify the people who trigger you and hang out with them more often.

Monday, December 8, 2014

LIFE LATELY IN SNAPSHOTS

I've been working five days a week lately and noticing that there's really no time to do much anything else. I've got involved with some exciting projects and groups and wish I had more time to dedicate to them. Hopefully I'll be back to working part-time very soon so I can start working on my dreams and business. Due to lack of time, here's few snapshots from my phone. Thanksgiving we spent home cooking tons of deliciousness as you can see in above photos. Don't you love the brussels sprouts stalk? I think this is the only way I'll buy them from now on. Last weekend we went to Philadelphia to support an awesome charity Pinups for Pitbulls. They had a peep show, live rock and rum. The next day we had brunch at Jones restaurant (our old time favorite!) and fresh juices at P.S. & Co. We love Philly!

Monday, December 1, 2014

CRISPY BLACK PEPPER CRUSTED TOFU

I've never been too keen on tofu, but in the past two months, I've had two amazing tofu dishes. The first one was Miso Tofu that I learned to make at a "Probiotic Vegetables" cooking class at Montclair Adult School (which reminds me that I have to put the recipe here soon). I use the same marinade for tempeh as well, it's just so amazing. The second delicious tofu recipe I did was Black Pepper Crusted Tofu from Blue Apron. Even Mr. loved it! Here's the recipe. If you are concerned about the health issues and concerns about soy, read this great article from one of my fave docs, Dr. Mark Hyman.

Black Pepper Crusted Tofu

Ingredients:

1 14 oz. package Extra Firm Tofu (choose organic and sprouted version if available)
3 Scallions
3/4 oz. Chinese Broccoli
2 tbsp Sweet Soy Sauce
1 inch Piece Ginger
1tbsp Cornstarch
1 tbsp Ponzu Sauce
1 tbsp Sesame Oil
1 tsp Whole Black Peppercorns
Crush the garlic and mince the ginger, slice the scallions and separate the white bottoms and green tops. Separate the the Chinese broccoli stems and leaves; thinly slice the stems and roughly chop the leaves. 

Drain the tofu and pat dry with paper towels; cut into 6 planks. Toss the tofu in cornstarch. Crush the peppercorns (if using whole ones) and sprinkle with as much of the crushed peppercorns as you'd like. Gently press the pepper into the tofu. Heat oil in a pan medium-high until hot. Add the seasoned tofu and cook about 5 mins per side, or until browned. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate and set aside. Wipe out the pan.

In the same pan used to cook the tofu, heat oil until hot and add the ginger, white parts of the scallions, Chinese broccoli stems and crushed garlic. Cook until softened. Add the Chinese broccoli leaves and 1/4 cup of water. Add the sweet soy sauce, ponzu sauce and sesame oil to the pan of vegetables. Finally, add the browned tofu and cook, stirring occasionally, 2-4 minutes, or until heated through. Season with salt and pepper to taste ad remove from heat.

Serve with garlic jasmine rice Start with the rice: Heat oil in a small pot until hot. Add 2 cloves of crushed garlic and cook until golden and fragrant. Add the rice and cook and stir about one minute until toasted. Add 2 cups of water, pinch of salt and let cook until ready. 

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

WELLNESS WEDNESDAY : HOMEOPATHY

I've started seeing homeopathic doctor since last summer. She came highly recommended through referrals and I've been so happy with her. She has similar holistic view on medicine and health as I do and I always leave my appointments inspired, energized and with wealth of information. Homeopathy is a safe, non-toxic system of medicine that has proven to be effective in treating both new and old diseases, including many thought to be untreatable. Homeopathy seeks to treat the whole person when conventional medicine focuses on treating the disease. It is the whole person who is affected by disease, and it is the whole person who responds to medicines. 
Homeopathic medicine is called remedy. Selection of a proper remedy is based on a homeopathic principle that is similar to the concept of vaccination, in which a substance that can cause certain symptoms if taken by a healthy person, can cure a person who is ill. Like will cure like. This is called the Law of Similars.

During our first appointment we discussed about any health concerns I had and how I wish I would feel. I don't have any major issues so I am keeping a record of few small issues (for example fogginess of the mind, low energy in the evening etc). I check in weekly with each issue and write down in a chart has the issue improved, stayed the same or worsened (I grade it from 1-10). This way we'll know if the remedy is working. For example after I ate the first remedy, 90% of my issues disappeared within a week. I went back after about 5 weeks, got a smaller dosage since the first one had worked so well, and did not notice any difference. 
It's totally normal that after seeing symptoms improve for a time, they will eventually start to return. This is called a relapse. Next time there will be some changes to the homeopathic treatment and symptoms will start to improve again. Usually, they will get even better than they were before the relapse. The healing process will follow this same pattern over and over again, but the relapses will become less and less intense and further and further apart until they stop occurring entirely.

Homeopathy is a powerful addition to a complementary wellness lifestyle, and can work with other modalities to support a holistic approach. It can dissolve long-term and even forgotten stress and trauma that have been stuck in your system for a long time. People who use homeopathy often start making healthier choices in other areas of their lives because their overall vitality is improved and their thinking is clearer.

Download excellent FREE ebook Beyond Flat Earth here to get to know more about homeopathy.

Monday, November 24, 2014

BANANA-ALMOND BUTTER SMOOTHIE

Banana-Almond Butter Smoothie

1 ripe banana (use frozen one so you won't need any ice)
1 tbsp almond butter (use raw if available)
1-2 cups of almond milk (depending how thick you like it) 
1-2 cups of coconut water
1 tbsp flax seeds (or hemp hearts)
1/2 tsp ground cardamon
1 tbsp cinnamon
(1 tsp maca powder, optional)

Throw everything in the blender until smooth and drink up! Cheers!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

LIFE LATELY

Hello friends! Quietness on the blog has been due to feeling a bit uninspired, mainly because of the change of seasons. It is cold, and when it gets cold, I tend to hibernate. I must've been a bear in my past life. On my days off I've forced myself to get out of the house and go for even a short walk around the block. That energizes me and gets me back on the business mode. I just had a session with my homeopathic practitioner and we did supplement session to make sure what I was taking was good for my body. I do not use lots of supplements and beauty/personal care products, but I was so happy to notice that only one of them was not good for my body (deodorant with aluminum). Couple of things were indifferent (waste of money) and 90% of the products I have selected to use were actually good for me. That, according to my doctor, is a sign of a good intuition. 

I also just started studying to become certified in Plant-Based Nutrition at eCornell. I'm very interested in nutrition and hopefully this course will help to fill the gaps in my knowledge left by the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. At the same time I'm researching on yoga teacher trainings which is something I'd love to do this coming spring. Just not sure yet what our living situation will be then (everything is up in the air about where we should move), so cannot quite decide on the studio yet. I'd also like to take some kind of course on raw foods since I believe they are essential for great health, and so far been in touch with Matthew Kenney Culinary school in Los Angeles. 

So this is what's up. Have a great rest of the week! XO

Sunday, November 9, 2014

SIMPLE SPICED GRANOLA

 As long as I can remember I've had three things for breakfast: green smoothie, oatmeal or chia pudding. So there was definitely room for something new. Therefore I decided to make my own granola. I'm quite picky when it comes to granola and store-bought ones always have something in them I don't care about, like my arch-enemy: raisins. I really do not like raisins. I pick them out. I like my raisins before the life was sucked out of them, as grapes. This was my first time making granola and it came out amazing. Better than any granola I've EVER tasted.
SIMPLE SPICED GRANOLA

Ingredients 

3 cups grains (old fashioned, rolled oats are good. Do not use instant oats. You can also use about 1/2 cup of sprouted quinoa like I did)
1-1,5 cups nuts (I used almond, walnuts, cashews. Try pecan too.) 
1-2 cups seeds (I used sunflower and pumpkin seeds)
1/4 cup liquid sweetener (I used maple syrup, but you can also use brown rice syrup, agave or honey) 
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons maple syrup 
1/4 cup oil (I used coconut oil)
3/4 teaspoon salt 
1-2 tsp cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cardamon

Optional:
3/4 cup shredded sweet coconut 
1 cup raisins or other fruit

Directions 

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients and mix well. Add the rest of the ingredients, except the fruit. Spread the mixture in a thin layer on a baking sheet and bake for 45 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes until very lightly toasted. Add raisins or other fruit if you're using them and mix until evenly distributed. 

Keeps in an airtight container in a cool, dry place for up to 2 weeks. I store mine in a mason jar in the fridge.

P.S. To make this even healthier, sprout it! Simply soak the nuts and seeds in water for 8 hours and then set them out for a day on a paper towel before baking.
Granola with pomegranate seeds and coconut milk yogurt


Saturday, November 8, 2014

5 FAVORITES

 One of the supplements that I've been really good at taking daily for years is B-12. I thought that since one of its main purposes is to protect the nervous system (short term memory, mood, etc.) it would be quite important one. Also, if your energy levels are low, B-12 deficiency might be to blame. Why spray though? When you swallow a pill, it must go through your entire gastrointestinal tract: the stomach (with acid and bile), the intestines (where most absorption takes place) and then off to the liver, for some more filtering. And THEN it's delivered to where it's needed. Quite a long way. Going under the tongue bypasses this entire route, and delivers the medication right to the bloodstream. Therefore absorbability is improved greatly.
 I haven't really given any attention to my hair in years (my last professional hair cut was... maybe 8 years ago? Last color treatment 5 years ago?). So I'm at least trying to feed it with right things, internally and externally. I love Dr. Hauschka calling their products "Holistic Hair Care". I use the Neem Hair Oil as a mask before washing my hair and Neem Hair Lotion after washing. 
 The season of cold wind is here and this one oil has taken care of my skin for the past year and is all I need. The small bottle of Argan Magic lasts forever because all I need is is couple of drops.
 Still my main cooking oil and body moisturizer. I recently went to an Ayurvedic workshop and the instructor confirmed my body type to be mainly Vata which explains my cravings for warmth (warm foods, warm clothes, warm beverages). She also reminded me that coconut oil is extremely cooling substance and possibly not the best choice for me due to this fact. She recommended trying sesame seed oil to add to foods and use as a body moisturizer and see if it makes me feel warmer. Test your body type here and get more info on Ayurveda.
I started writing a few lines every single day to this 5 year journal since January 1, 2014 and it has become my way of winding down while sitting in bed getting ready to sleep. It's a fun way to make inventory of my day, let go and a way to keep track on how I evolve in life and how my life evolves around me. I just read few updates from the beginning of this year and was surprised of all that happened then. I love keeping record of things through journaling and photos. 

Monday, November 3, 2014

MEATLESS MONDAY RECIPE ROUNDUP : FALL EDITION

Hello November! Hello darkness! Hello cold! This time of the year is a bit challenging for my recipe blogging career. The sun has gone down by the time I get the dinner ready and I haven't been able to get any good food photos. But not to worry! This Meatless Monday I decided to feature other people's creations! So please, check them out and show some love!

Carrot Apple Ginger Soup (from Oh She Glows)

Grape Focaccia (from La Petite Gourmess)

Gluten-Free Pumpkin Sage Gnocchi (from Healthy Crush)

Glazed Chilli and Beetroot Brownies (from Deliciously Ella)

Grapefruit Hot Toddy (from Thug Kitchen)