Tuesday, December 31, 2013

YEAR 2013 IN REVIEW

Yet another year has passed by. 2013 had more travel involved than the previous years and I hope that's going to continue as we move forward to 2014. I also finally made the decision to change my career, which many of you know, has been long time coming. So I started a school and hopefully will build a fulfilling career in the next year.
We rang in the New Year 2013 in freezing Old Montreal, Canada. This was my first time in Canada and I loved the old European feel of Montreal. I also had an experience with a ghost in a haunted hotel...
I also took my first trip ever to the West Coast, Seattle to be more specific.
In May we celebrated Vappu by having a traditional bubbly picnic in Central Park with the Finns. What a lovely, warm day!
Same time we were ready for a change of scenery again and headed out to Orlando, Florida for a long weekend.
In June we took a short trip out to Los Angeles, California. This was my first time there and loved the laid-back California lifestyle. Convinced that we should live in California. Damn you Fukushima!
This year's theme picnic happened after all despite the bad luck with the weather. Blue Picnic was fun as expected and we had hot, sunny day in Central Park munching on blue goodies and cocktails. And took like a million photos.
This summer we finally managed to get a boat owner in to our social circles and had magnificent time cruising around Manhattan. Best feeling ever.
I picked up my hot Yoga training again and did it quite intensively the entire spring, summer and fall. I'm truly in love with it.
We got to experience summer in Finland, although the weather was not the best most days. It's been a while since I spent summer here and it was as good as I remembered. Despite the weather.
We also spent week in London and day Hampshire with some new friends. London totally rocks! My first time in London.
 In September I got the opportunity to do my first juice cleanse and partnered with Urban Remedy. Magical experience!
In October we attended Oktoberfest in Bear Mountain, not once, but twice. 
Thanksgiving was spent in Philly just enjoying the love of the city, great eats and relaxing. November I also joined IIN and started working hard towards my new career and lifestyle. 
In December us Finns had a little Xmas party where delicious foods and glogg were flowing. Another party worth mentioning was Annabella's awesome baby shower.
It's fun to look back where I've been and what has happen, but now it's time to face forward. I have so many plans and intentions for 2014 and I can't wait to get started.

Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 29, 2013

MEATLESS MONDAY : RAW VEGAN CHOCOLATE MOUSSE CAKE

I made this cake for the very first time for our Xmas dinner this year and was surprised how quick and easy it was. I don't think I ever need to make any unhealthy, sugar and butter laden, baked cakes again. Crust is super simple and for the topping only your imagination is the limit. Try for example strawberry whipped cream or lemon meringue filling if you get tired of chocolate.

Crust: 

1 cup cashews
1 cup almonds or walnuts
1,5 cups dates

Pulse the cashews and almonds/walnuts fine in a food processor, then add the dates and process until it begins to stick together. Press into the bottom of a small spring form pan. Put in the fridge. 

Mousse: 

2 avocados 
1/4 cup melted coconut oil 
3 tablespoons cacao powder 
2 tablespoons maca powder 
1 teaspoon vanilla powder 
3-4 tablespoons raw honey or maple syrup
1 tsp cinnamon
Pinch of salt 

Blend or process all the ingredients until smooth and thick. Spread evenly on your crust and refrigerate for 3 hours- overnight. Sprinkle cacao nibs and bee pollen on top. Or walnuts. Or goji berries. Anything pretty goes. 
"My body will not be a tomb for other creatures." 
~ Leonardo Da Vinci

Saturday, December 28, 2013

BABY AND BEAUJOLAIS PARTY

Beautiful friend of mine Annabella is expecting a baby (update: he was born around 2am this morning!) and invited some friends and family over to celebrate. We munched on some vegan treats (including vegan cheese and doughnuts), enjoyed a glass (or two) of bubbly and failed miserably (I for sure did) in a baby and wine themed quiz.
Vegan donuts from Brooklyn's Dun-Well Doughnuts. Super delicious!
Gorgeous mommy-to-be wearing Free People.
Quiz time!
Thank you for the wonderful party! I can't wait to meet this little guy! You're going to be amazing parents!
P.S. If interested in baby-related stuff you should check out Annabella's weekly blog at KaksPlus-magazine's website (in Finnish).

“Every morning we are born again. What we do today is what matters most.” Gautama Buddha

Monday, December 23, 2013

MEATLESS MONDAY : ROASTED BROCCOLI WITH TAHINI SAUCE

 Here's another super easy, healthy, quick, delicious Meatless Monday dish. It can be served as a side on your Christmas or New Year's dinner. The buds on the broccoli florets toast nicely brown and the texture remains crisp. It goes wonderfully with the classic tahini garlic sauce, which is a very good source of copper and manganese, calcium, magnesium, iron, phosphorus, vitamin B1, and zinc. 

For the tahini sauce: 

1 garlic clove, cut in half, green shoots removed 
Salt to taste 
1/3 cup sesame tahini 
2 to 4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (more to taste) 
1/3 cup water 
Aleppo pepper or red pepper flakes for sprinkling 

For the broccoli: 

1 to 1 1/2 pounds broccoli crowns 
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil 
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste 
(I also added tabasco, chili powder and paprika to taste)
1. In a mortar and pestle mash the garlic cloves to a purée with a generous pinch of salt. Transfer to a bowl and whisk in the sesame tahini. Whisk in the lemon juice until the sauce has the consistency of thick cream (or runny yogurt). Taste and adjust salt. 

2. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees (fahrenheit). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Slice the broccoli crowns 1/3 inch thick, letting the flower buds on the edges fall off. Toss with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Place on the baking sheet in an even layer. Roast until the tops are nicely browned, stirring and flipping the large slices over (tongs are a good tool for this) after 8 minutes, roasting about 15 minutes total. Remove from the oven and transfer to a platter or to individual serving plates. Drizzle on the tahini sauce and serve, or serve the tahini sauce in small bowls for dipping. 

The tahini garlic sauce will keep for a few days in the refrigerator but it’s best freshly made. 
Another serving suggestion: cook pasta al dente, strain, add tahini sauce, broccoli and gently get it all mixed. 

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

HOLIDAY PARTY WITH THE GIRLS

We had a little get-together with the Finnish girls last Saturday during the blizzard and this time it was only natural to have a holiday theme around it. We had glogg in Moomin cups, mini Karelian pies, gravlax on some delicious dark bread as well as Finnish Christmas and pop music. 
This is quite impressive collection of Moomin mugs. 
Hot, spiked glogg with raisins and slivered almonds. I had mine with Finlandia vodka, of course, but most commonly it is mixed with red wine. Super good and gets you in the holiday spirit immediately.
Karelian pies. One of my favorite foods of all times.
Annabella brought her famous vegan carrot cake and as always, it was delicious, and oh so moist. 
Our lovely hostess and her little Mr.
Watching Katri Helena perform "Katson sineen taivaan". We're such old ladies.
Thank you everyone who braved the weather and attended, especially big thanks to our hostess Anu. Let's meet up soon again!
“The day is what you make it! So why not make it a great one?” ~ Steve Schulte

FIVE FAVORITES

I saw this Crystal Cream advertised on Daily Om and the words "Vibrational Therapy" got me. They blend actual tiny crystals with minerals, essential oils, flower essences, herbs and liquid crystal amplifying formula. Wow. I use this in the mornings and evenings for my face (alternating with organic argan oil), but you may also apply to specific area that could use some vibrational TLC such as a sore throat, knee, stiff shoulders etc. It is suppose to work miracles so let's see after few weeks. 
Oh cup o' Joe. You got me hooked. I usually drink coffee only those days when I work at the hotel (3-4 times a week), but sometimes I like to make healthier version of soy mocha at home. I've used either Trader Joe's Mocha Mix or Starbucks' Peppermint Mocha Mix that I add to a hot, organic almond milk. I also mix in two teaspoons of raw cacao powder, cinnamon and sometimes little bit of turmeric (for a health kick). I know these mocha mixtures from Starbucks and Trader Joe's don't have all so great ingredients in them, so I am looking for healthier alternatives. Any ideas?
Dark chocolate is here to stay. Eating a small, 1.6-ounce bar of dark chocolate every day is good for you since they contain high amounts of antioxidants and flavonoids. Flavonoids are also known to be found in fruits, vegetables and certain drinks such as tea. In fact, dark chocolate contained four times as much catechin, a type of flavonoid, as tea. Flavonoids keep cholesterol from gathering in blood vessels, reduce the risk of blood clots, and slow down the immune responses that lead to clogged arteries. And it makes you happy!  :)
Fresh herbs go bad so quickly, but I found an easy way to store them for prolonged times by freezing them in ice cube molds. I mostly buy cilantro and parsley and freeze them in water to use later in my smoothies. You can also freeze them in oil and use for cooking.
Fall veggies. I am a huge fan of brussels sprouts, sweet potatoes, turnips and beets. Roast them in the oven with some oil, salt and garlic and eat like that or make them into a pureed soup.