Monday, September 30, 2013

MEATLESS MONDAY : MACARONI CASSEROLE

Every now and then I start missing some of our traditional Finnish foods I enjoyed growing up and homemade macaroni casserole was one of my favorites. So I decided to reinvent the recipe and make it vegan. I replaced the ground beef with soy crumbles and the egg-milk with almond milk mixed with raw cashews and nutritional yeast for cheesy flavor.

Macaroni Casserole

3 cups any kind of pasta (I used gluten-free)
1 cup soy crumbs (I used this)
1 cup chopped kale
1/2 cup chopped onion
3 tsp crushed garlic
black pepper
salt 
paprika
4 tbsp soy sauce or tamari

1 cup almond milk
1/2 cup overnight soaked raw cashews
1/3 cup nutritional yeast

1. Cook pasta in salted water for about 8-10 minutes.
2. Saute the onion together with garlic and kale. Add the soy crumbs, soy sauce and spices.
3. Pour the pasta to the baking dish. Top with sauteed kale and soy crumbs. Mix.
4. Combine almond milk, cashews and nutritional yeast in a blender until smooth. Pour on top of the pasta in the baking dish.
5. Sprinkle bread crumbs on top
6. Bake 425°F (225°C) for about 30-40 minutes.

Serve with a side of green salad.

Now add your own Meatless Monday recipe link below!

Friday, September 27, 2013

OKTOBERFEST AT BEAR MOUNTAIN

Oktoberfest has been our little fall tradition since we started dating back in the day. We're about 1 hour drive away from the Bear Mountain State Park in upstate New York and I just love the nature and clean air out here. Oktoberfest at Bear Mountain is quite peaceful and family-oriented. There's live German music, beer (of course), food (sausages, waffles, pierogis etc.)and local crafts and vendors. 
I love these local bee products and we usually get couple of beeswax candles to take home with us. They also had variety of flavored and unflavored honeys, honey sticks, soaps, candies and bee pollen.
Fun times. Totally worth the drive. 

BLONDS IN THE CITY

Shopping.
Eating pizza with knife and fork = the good ol' Finnish way
Love for the kitties.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

AS YOU START WALK OUT ON THE WAY, THE WAY APPEARS

Photo:Tim Shahady
 This past weekend I attended Global Mala in Newark, NJ. Last year was my first time and I loved the energy so I decided to make this every year thing. We did 108 sun salutations, about 50 oms and got to know the people around us. I had great time. Hopefully I'll be able to share some more photos from the event (see above)once they're published.

 Yoga means to unite. Its translation is "to come together and make whole." To me this means that everyone and everything is connected one way or another. Your body, mind and soul. You are somehow connected to every person you meet in this life, you don't meet them by accident. They are all assignments sent to yoU by the universe. They are there to teach and you are there to learn.

Yoga has made me closer to my body. I know it better now. I've also learned to connect the movement to meditation so that it all flows together seamlessly. It took a while, but I've finally figured it out. That one and half hour I spend at the studio flowing is 100% quality me-time, connecting my body, mind and soul together. In life you often get disconnected from everything that is real and yoga is the way to bring it back together.

In case you didn't already know, September is the National Yoga Month. It was created by the Department of Health and Human Services and offers introductory yoga deals designed to help first-timers get on the mat. Gogobot put together a list of the best National Yoga Month offerings at hotels around the United States, take a look at it here.

“As you start to walk out on the way, the way appears.” ~ Rumi
Photo: Laura S. Keller

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

NEW ON MY BOOKSHELF: QUICK-FIX VEGAN

Here's another one of my new cookbooks: Quick-Fix Vegan. Once again simple, easy, quick to prepare meals. Just the way I like to do my cooking. The "Easy make-ahead bakes" section is especially appealing to me. Perfect for the dark evenings of the fall. Yup, they're here. Getting my candles out of the boxes and making the nest homey and warm.
Enjoy your day loves!
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Sunday, September 22, 2013

MEATLESS MONDAY : NACHO BOWL AND PRICKLY PEAR COCKTAILS

I'm honored to be part of the Meatless Monday bloggers which means that I'll be joining some pretty amazing team. Therefore, hopefully, from now on you will start seeing some more quality recipes in this blog. Being part of this community gives me motivation and a nice push to try harder to create pretty, delicious and healthy dishes. 

Here's a lunch from last week when I was in the mood for something crunchy. We had a bag of Way Better Snacks' sweet potato tortilla chips and fresh cilantro in the house and that's where the idea came. Nacho bowl. I served it with a cocktail named Prickly Pear Potion which was created from whatever fruits we had in the house.
Nacho Bowl 

Broccoli (small florets)
Kale (chopped)
Soy crumbs (mexican flavored)
Onion
Juice from half lime

Lightly sauté the above ingredients in oil and transfer to a baking dish. 

Top with:

Sweet potato tortilla chips
Tomatoes
Bell peppers
Raw onion
Almond cheese

Bake in the oven for about 10 minutes at 400 degrees.
Sprinkle on top: 

chopped lettuce 
raw onion
tomatoes 
avocado chunks mixed with lime juice
 fresh cilantro (I love the smell of fresh cilantro!)
Taco sauce
Prickly Pear Potion

- 1 prickly pear
- Juice from 1 lime
- Juice from 1 lemon
- 1 cup coconut water
- Lemon flavored vodka (according to your taste)
Now share your Meatless Monday recipe below!

Friday, September 20, 2013

FIVE FAVES OF THE WEEK

My five favorites of this week are all edible. That's because I got some bulk prices at Amazon and I'm quite happy that I spend my (hard) earned money on things that make me feel good, in a long run, and don't go out of fashion. Not in a short run such as for example piece of cake would. Or a glass of wine. Which are both things I still enjoy every now and then, because it's fun for that moment. Yup. But since I've been on a serious health kick lately I've stocked my pantry and freezer with few new things. 
1. Cacao Nibs

Cacao appears to be the #1 source of magnesium of any food. It works to support the heart, boost our mental focus, and relieve constipation. Cacao contains the highest concentration of antioxidants of any food in the world. By weight, Cacao has more antioxidants than red wine, blueberries, acai, pomegranates, and goji berries combined. Wowser!

Cacao is a great source of iron and consuming it is one of the best ways to keep our blood healthy. Raw Cacao contains zinc, which plays a critical role in the health of the immune system, liver, pancreas, and skin.

Cacao can be used as a mix-in for baked goods or sweets in place of chocolate chips or nuts. Combine it with goji berries and raw nuts to create a nutritious trail mix. I also mix a spoonful of cacao nibs in my smoothies.
2. Chia seeds

High in fiber and offering three grams of omega-3 in every serving, Organic Chia Seeds are also a rich source of calcium, phosphorus and magnesium. Helping to ease digestion, chia seeds can also aid in reducing inflammation, and improving joint health and skin tone.

Chia Seeds can be used in a variety of raw food dishes to create smoothies, sauces, soups, marinades, dips and more! For increased assimilation, combine raw, extra-virgin coconut oil to the powder to help your body digest the omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids in chia seeds.
3. Bee pollen

Bee pollen is said to contain every single element necessary for the human body to sustain life. This is because bee pollen has more than 96 different nutrients, including every nutrient known that our bodies need. One of the most significant facts about bee pollen is that it is an alkaline and energy-rich source of complete protein. Bee pollen has approximately 20% easily-assimilated protein and 22 amino acids, more than 15 vitamins, including many B vitamins and vitamins C, D, and E and 28 essential minerals, including iron, magnesium, potassium, zinc, calcium and copper. Super duper food indeed!
4. Organic spices

I love shopping for spices. Above are few of my favorites. Just as it's important to select and consume wholesome, unprocessed organic foods, you should do the same with herbs and spices. Why risk potential health consequences from artificial ingredients and questionable chemical processes? 

One of the main healthful ingredients in turmeric is curcumin, which gives turmeric its yellow color. Turmeric can help you maintain healthy digestive system, bones, joints and promote healthy blood and liver functions. And I just learned that the effect of eating black pepper with turmeric is so strong that it was shown to increase the bioavailability of curcumin in HUMANS by 2000%. So mix it with some black pepper, people!
5. Home-grown food

My tomatoes are finally here! I've been growing six organic tomato plants in our yard and I'm finally seeing some fruit even everyone says they got their's long time ago. Might be because I didn't believe in feeding them with special organic tomato feed until like July... Yeah, could be it.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

NEW ON MY BOOKSHELF: THE SEXY VEGAN COOKBOOK

Husband has expressed growing interest in vegan food and I needed some serious inspiration to cook at all. Solution = buy colorful cookbooks! And so I did. I didn't want to start making anything too fancy, just some simple, quick home cooking that will keep the man satisfied. So I picked these three: The funny Sexy Vegan Cookbook, Quick-Fix Vegan and Ellen Degeneres and Portia De Rossi private chef's Vegan Cooking for Carnivores
The Sexy Vegan Cookbook doesn't have all those big colorful photos I so like to get me inspired, but the funny names and WTF columns that shed some light on different ingredients keep me entertained.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

WELLNESS WEDNESDAY : WHAT TO EAT BEFORE WORKOUT

I've been normally opting for working out on an empty stomach because the other option, having my stomach full, is way worse. But during my hot yoga journey I've noticed that in order to get everything out of my workout, I must fuel myself somehow. Not with anything heavy, but something little in my belly makes me get more out of my routine, boost in my metabolism and energy. If I'm doing a morning class my regular green smoothie is all I need. But if I'm working out later in the day and if it's been too long since my last meal, I make sure that I charge up with a nutrient-dense and easy-to-digest food that picks me up without feeling bloated or heavy.
Bananas. This sweet fruit is potassium-rich, which makes it a great pre-workout snack. Potassium interacts with sodium and keeps your body properly hydrated. The magnesium prevents cramps and bloating. Bananas are also packed with nutrients like vitamin A, iron and potassium – all of which can help promote bone health. Smear some raw, organic almond butter on slices of banana or have a handful of almonds for added protein.

Almond Butter and Celery. I'm so not a fan of the taste of celery, but it's rich in protein, fiber, healthy fat and nutrients (vitamin A, calcium). The fat and protein give a “slow-release” energy which will keep you going. Spreading some almond butter on it makes it taste ok and almonds contain potassium, magnesium, and vitamin E, helping you to stay hydrated and giving your muscles staying power. Here's a good recipe for almond butter (because the ones at the stores are usually pasteurized...).

Avocado. They contain critical electrolytes like magnesium and potassium (60% more than a banana), which contributes to proper cell and muscle function. Most of the fat in avocados helps to lower bad cholesterol and promote lean muscle growth. Squeeze fresh lemon juice on cubed avocados and enjoy. You can also add spices such as himalayan salt and pepper.

Berries. High in fiber and low in sugar, berries are loaded with antioxidants and nutrients, making them an ideal pre-workout treat when paired with protein. 

Granola. Toss a small handful of granola into a bowl with a little almond or hemp milk. Opt for an organic, low-fat variety. Granola is a natural complex carbohydrate great for providing energy, a healthy fat and protein. Add some berries for extra kick.

Monday, September 16, 2013

MEATLESS MONDAY : TOMATO STEAKS

 Easy, fast recipe for Meatless Monday! Slice tomatoes (thick), dip them to a plate with oil, then to a plate with flour and spices (I used gluten-free flour mixed with salt, nutritional yeast, black pepper and cajun spice mix). You can then either grill them or pan-fry. I grilled mine for about 5 minutes (2,5 min per side). They are ready when golden brown. Add raw, minced red onion on top and enjoy with a side of lemon-herb potatoes and a green salad. Voila!

Sunday, September 15, 2013

STYLE SUNDAY : OUTFITS OF THE WEEK

Here comes the exciting part of the week: Style Sunday, where you'll see some ordinary outfits :). It has been warm, but mornings are starting to get quite chilly. So if I have to go to work early morning (such as 6am)I'm usually wearing a light jacket or a poncho and a scarf. When I get off work in the late afternoon it's really warm and I'm wearing way too many clothes, sweating my butt off.
Hope you've had a fun weekend! I've been just working. We were actually suppose to be in Amsterdam Thu-Mon, but 2 hours before the flight we had to cancel due to hubs' job. There was just too much going on for him to just leave and be ok about it. Luckily his company will reimburse our tickets and hotel so it's alright. We'll see you another time Amsterdam! It just wasn't meant to be this time.