Saturday, May 31, 2014

NEW NATURAL BEAUTY FINDS


While at the Mind, Body, Spirit Expo few weeks back, I got to try some new natural beauty products and brought home two that I really digged. First one is concealer and bronzer from 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. Hands down this is the best concealer I've ever tried. Really gets the job done with the smallest amount of product used. The bronzer smells like roses (scent actually comes from organic rose oil)and gives a beautiful, healthy glow on your face. Been using it every day since getting it.


The second new find, a one step face wash, is inspired by the ancient Ayurvedic tradition using the highest quality botanical ingredients that are neither bleached nor chemically processed and refined. Om Botanicals uses pure, whole ingredients preserving the bio-activity and synergistic balance nature has created. Their products are fair-trade, organic, pH-balanced, contain no perfumes, no fillers, no synthetic compounds, are vegan, not tested on animals, hypo-allergenic and aloe-based (no water). Sounds quite perfect, right? And it works perfectly getting my face cleaned without leaving it dry. Double-score!

Donna Cristino is the founder of Jing Ai, which means Pure Love in Mandarin Chinese. Jing Ai is an eco – chic beauty brand inspired by timeless memories of the pure love received from her grandmother Rose who died of breast cancer. The products are named after different types of roses from around the world.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

SOFITEL PHILADELPHIA

We stayed in this hotel once before and had a good experience so it was easy to pick it again. The location is superb right in the heart of the Center City. Within a block or two I got few favorites of mine such as the Philadelphia Chutney Company (delicious dosas), Capogiro (dairy-free gelato) and Hip City Veg (veggie burgers). So this location works for me more than well. 
Comfortable bed and big bathroom with separate tub and shower gives Sofitel huge extra points. Also their front desk staff (I interacted with three different ones) were super friendly and helpful. 

HOT MEMORIAL DAY IN PHILLY

Memorial Day in Philadelphia was nice and quiet. The weather turned out to be beautiful and warm, we didn't have plans or reservations. As soon as we arrived to Philly we headed out to the Headhouse Farmer's Market to see how it was. Got some coffee and walked around the beautiful area of Society Hill enjoying the sun and pretty streets. Then we decided to have lunch at our regular spot in the Gayborhood: Knock. Once again, service was outstanding and Bellinis delicious. 
Around 3pm we were able to check-in to our hotel in Center City, the Sofitel where we stayed once before. We got a good last minute price on one of their corner suites and relaxed for a little bit while waiting for our friends to come to town so we could head out to dinner at Alma De Cuba. I would've taken some photos of their culinary creations, but the restaurant was really dark. I always get the same dish (the only vegetarian option on the menu): Crisp Rice And Black Lentil Cake curried vegetable stew, carrot chimichuri & chayote squash salad, which was delicious.
The second day we explored the historic areas of Philadelphia which we've actually never done before. Oh Philly, you're the best! Hope to come back very soon!

INSTAGRAM TRAVEL THURSDAY: SNAPSHOTS FROM PHILLY

Since the beautiful beaches of Costa Rica didn't happen to us this week we still wanted to have a little getaway, even if it was just for couple of days. Therefore we headed out to our favorite city, Philadelphia. It didn't disappoint us this time either. Warm summer days in Philly are just the best. Love this city. Instagram Travel Thursday.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

GOING SUGAR-FREE FOR SPRING CLEANSE

What is this cleanse? 
April 1st I quit eating sweet things (including fruit, excluding Granny Smith apples), gluten, yeast, starchy vegetables, alcohol and caffeine for 30 days. I ordered CandiGONE herbal supplement which is a blend of natural herbs and ingredients that have been traditionally used to help maintain a healthy balance of intestinal flora. It includes vegetable capsules and a tincture that I've been taking first thing in the morning and last thing at night before bed. What is candida? Read everything you need to know about Candida overgrowth here.
From top left: black beans and quinoa topped with sweet peppers, veggie plate, kale salad and raw crackers, raw maki rolls from Juice Generation
How did I feel? 
During the first week I craved for sweet things almost all the time. I was used to having something sweet after meal, a lifelong habit which I thought would be hard to break. The thing is, I CAN have something sweet to satisfy the craving, but it should be something healthier and low-sugar. During these four weeks I've enjoyed pieces of green apples with almond butter. And not right after meal, but I wait at least 30 mins before having dessert. Another craving kicking in was bread. I chose to make my own gluten-free flatbread since it's super easy to bake. Problem solved. 
From top left: kale salad and homemade flatbread, cashew cheese ravioli from Juice Generation, cabbage and quinoa stir-fry, smoothie ingredients.
No coffee? 
I thought this was going to be the toughest one. I'm used to having my little soy mocha before work to get me in great mood so I was a little worried how I was going to behave without it. I worried for no reason because I was just fine. I actually have way more energy than normal. During my lunch break I walk a lot, when home I clean, cook, play with the cats ad organize the house instead of just crashing on the couch. I don't fall asleep on the train on my way to work and back home. I drink tons of herbal teas and some Yerba Mate as well.
From top left: apple with almond butter, chickpea stew with quinoa and sprouts, sesame tahini & almond butter, black beans, lentils, black rice and sprouts.
Adding exercise to the mix? 
Yes, April 1st I also started my hot yoga studio's hot yoga challenge aspiring to do 20 yoga classes in 30 days. It was a painful start because I was so out of shape, but after the first week I started feeling amazing. Muscle memory is one magical thing! Sweating profusely an hour a day gets the toxins out. My stomach has also been working like a dream. I really do feel all cleaned out! 
From top left: raw falafel from Juice Press, oatmeal, flatbread with hummus, cauliflower rice with bok choy.
What did I eat? 
I've been cooking a lot more than normal because I've been always really hungry after yoga class and because now I actually have tons of extra energy to do that. Mostly lentils, beans, stir-fry, kale salads, curry, soups, quinoa, black rice, steel-cut oatmeal with apple, cinnamon and almond milk, green smoothies and -juices. And homemade bread with hummus. Yum.

Would I do it again? 
Yes, absolutely! This is my second Candigone cleanse if you count the one I did last year for 2 weeks even though you're really suppose to do it for 4 weeks. It feels amazing to have so much energy and be able to do so much more than I'd normally done. The feeling of lightness, your stomach working like a well-greased machine, feeling great mentally and physically for eating healthy, nourishing real foods. No guilty feelings at all! I think this can totally be something I'll do once or even twice a year in order to balance my body. I believe that these short cleanses can be a way to change my eating habits for good. Sugar and processed  Just imagining how my life would be if I felt like this 365 days a year??? 

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

GROW YOUR OWN FOOD

We've gone from owning a huge garden to renting a little patch of concrete that we're now calling our backyard. Of course back when we still lived in our house with the garden I was not yet too into gardening or growing my own food. Well, the day has come and I have to make the best of our tiny, sad, grey yard that's made purely from stones and brick. 
Solution here is a container garden. I already had few big pots from my tomato growing experiment last year, so all I needed to do is get some plants from our farmer's market. I picked kale (hail to kale!), mint (summer calls for mojitos!) and cherry tomato plant. The man who sold them to me recommended feeding them once a month and that's it. I think I'll be able to do that. Last year I started feeding my tomatoes too late in the season and therefore I didn't get too many. So let's see how I do this year!

Sunday, May 25, 2014

MY WEEK IN SNAPSHOTS

From top left: Raw vegan blueberry cheesecake and Black Label milk from Juice Press. Delicious! / Pretty flowers in liquor bottles on a restaurant window in Verona, NJ. / Big Buddha welcoming people to the most amazing book/spiritual store Namaste in West Village. / Taste-testing Ciara's kombuchas. These are super good!
From top left: my kale is growing so well! Already used it for smoothies. / Beetroot has been the main ingredient in my smoothies this week. I don't add a lot, just about 1/2 beet because it is very high in sugar. / My babies love paper bags. / Ciara's peach bellini kombucha is so far my favorite!
Getting back to eating healthy: black rice with black beans, fresh tomato sauce with grilled corn and a side salad. / View from Jazz at Lincoln Center. / Happy glowing after Institute for Integrative Nutrition Conference. / Beets smoothie while planning my week

SATURDAY IN DUMBO

Saturday, May 24, 2014

TREAT YOURSELF

Every so often the craving for an unhealthy treat hits everyone. I'm very aware of what I should and should not be eating for my health which is why cravings for junk food used to bother me a lot. Walking past bakeries (or even Dunkin' Donuts which is a place I never go) can be hard sometimes when all those colorful masterpieces of sugar are whispering you to come in and pick one up. Or the craving might be just for a bag of potato chips. Or ice-cream.

 I don't feel guilty about my small indulgences but it's the binge-eating that gets me down. The reason I am okay with occasional giving into cravings is because I know that overall I eat healthy. I think good approach to this is the 80/20 rule. 80% of the time you focus on eating clean, good-for-you foods, and 20% of the time you have the freedom to indulge as you please. Simple: if you eat three square meals a day, three of those meals every week are your 20% cheat meals. Research says individuals that are okay with consuming the odd treat here and there were more likely to stick to eating healthier overall. 

So enjoy your weekend and eat something really delicious, but do it slowly and enjoy every single bite of it!

Thursday, May 22, 2014

THE KIND MAMA

Infertility is on the rise globally, affecting as many as one in six couples. But instead of considering diet and lifestyle factors, doctors pump their patients full of expensive and invasive fertility treatments. 
In The Kind Mama, Alicia Silverstone has created a comprehensive and practical guide empowering women to take charge of their fertility, pregnancy, and first 6 months with baby. Drawing on her own experience, as well as that of obstetricians, midwives, nutritionists, holistic health counselors, and others, Silverstone offers advice on getting one’s “baby house” in order through nutrient-rocking foods that heal and nourish, and, once pregnant, gentle ways to boost comfort, energy, and health during each trimester. 
She helps readers navigate everything from prenatal testing and birth plans to successful breastfeeding and creating a supportive “baby nest.” The result is an authoritative, one-stop guide that empowers women to trust their instincts during this vital milestone, while helping them embark on a healthy and more vibrant path to motherhood.
As a vegan, Silverstone advocates a plant-based diet over meat and dairy. “When you take plants as your medicine and you use these nourishing miracles to truly get well, everything’s easier. You get to have happy, healthy mommas and babies, and when mommy feels good, everybody feels good. And when babies feel good they act really well. They’re not uncomfortable and just struggling to process everything that’s being done to them. They feel amazing and they thrive."
According to Silverstone, what women eat in pregnancy “sets up the taste buds for your children’s lives. Not that those things can’t be broken or changed, but you’re certainly setting a great foundation for them when you’re eating healing, natural foods. Once they’re old enough and they start seeing these other things, you've built the foundation. Alicia's son Bear Blu loves tofu, beans and green vegetables, and when he’s tempted by what she considers to be unhealthy food, she offers him berries. It’s the easiest thing to distract them from anything. It’s like candy. So if they never know candy and they only know blueberries, isn't that a great thing? Buy The Kind Mama here and check out Alicia's website The Kind Life here.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

MY WEEK IN SNAPSHOTS

From top left: Finland Center Foundation's Board Meeting in West Village, frozen margaritas and delicious Mexican food on a hot day after work, BBQ in Dumbo and a beautiful street in West Village.
Mother's Day flowers from Miina and Moses, Miina and I enjoying breakfast comfortably, tulips in bloom at our local garden and apple-cinnamon oatmeal.
This weekend I've spent at the Institute for integrative Nutrition's Conference in NYC getting inspired and meeting new people. Weather has been absolutely gorgeous and I feel very motivated starting to create my own business. Hope your weekend has been fabulous! 

Friday, May 16, 2014

THE MIGHTY TURMERIC

Turmeric (Curcuma longa)is related to ginger and is a major ingredient in Indian curries, and gives many foods a beautiful yellow color. But evidence is accumulating that turmeric has disease-preventive qualities as well, because turmeric contains more than two dozen anti-inflammatory compounds. By itself curcumin (the component in turmeric most often cited for its healthful effects)is a multifaceted anti-inflammatory agent.

Turmeric is also an effective live detoxifier and has been used in Chinese medicine to treat depression. More than 50 studies have found evidence on turmeric's effects in addressing Alzheimer's disease. 

Curcumin appears to be universally useful for just about every type of cancer, and has the most evidence-based literature supporting its use against cancer. It has the ability to modulate genetic activity and expression, both by destroying cancer cells, and by promoting healthy cell function. 

So if you already haven't, go buy your turmeric now! Here are 7 ways to eat (& drink) turmeric. Or try this Calming Creamy Turmeric Tea recipe from Dr. Sanjay Gupta.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

TREE RESTAURANT

While in Hawley, PA I googled vegan restaurants in the area and the Tree came up first. Therefore I needed to make a plan how I could lure my carnivore partner there. But when taking a closer look at the menu I noticed that they also served foods for his kind so no need for intricate planning. Located at a health and wellness resort The Lodge at Woodloch, Tree serves healthy "spa cuisine" breakfast, lunch and dinner. Many vegetarian and vegan options on the menu daily. And what a beautiful surroundings. I would love to come back and stay here for girl's pampering weekend. They offer many activities including arts and crafts, lectures, cooking demos, spa treatments, yoga, pilates and tai chi classes and so on.