Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014 OVERVIEW

2014... What to say about you. It definitely wasn't the most fun year. There was one huge change in family life concerning finances, I graduated from IIN, started studies with Dr. Colin T. Campbell to become certified in Plant-Based Nutrition, worked a lot at my day job, made some new connections and became a small business owner as well!

We celebrated New Year in absolutely freezing Montreal. It was so cold that I didn't even take many photos. Next time I'll visit Canada will be strictly during the summer time. My year 2014 started off on a high note with a trip to Finland where I spent 3 wonderful weeks eating a lot, hanging out with fam and friends and just enjoying the quiet city life. Need to do this way more often. I also did a light 30-day Spring Cleanse and eliminated all sugar (including fruit), gluten, most starches, alcohol and caffeine from my diet. What a great way to spring to summer. And to celebrate the beginning of the summer we spent Memorial Day in Philly adoring this beautiful old city.
I haven't met too many celebrities despite working in Manhattan, but got the chance to meet with one celebrity vegan during her book tour in Jersey. We also felt the need to leave the city (need for this is more frequent now than ever before) and took a little midweek getaway to the countryside.
Summer was filled with fun events like the Night of renewal and we even managed to squeeze in one Picnic in the Park into this summer despite the hectic work schedules, as well as a little Midsummer celebration. This year I also started seeing homeopathic practitioner which has been very helpful in taking a total holistic approach to my health. I've had nutritional and supplement counseling with her on top of our regular sessions and feel confident I'm heading to the right direction for optimal health. 

Minimum one beach vacation a year is a must and we decided to take a short flight just over the border to Mexico and that trip inspired me to write about my Healthy Travel Essentials, because I get issues with my stomach every single time I fly. Otherwise Mexico was gorgeous (and extremely hot) and we spent most our time in the water and driving around the island with our little golf cart just admiring the nature.
October we did our "traditional" Pumpkin picking and carving party and I also attended Healthy Cooking Club in NYC which was fun.
2014 I also found a little more inspiration for cooking and whipped up a few really nice dishes. Here's some of my favorites:
Now off to the New Year! Let's make it fun and eventful!

Sunday, December 28, 2014

MEATLESS MONDAY : ROASTED CAULIFLOWER MEUNIERE

This was another delicious meal from Blue Apron. I love it because it is completely different from what I would normally cook. It is very lemony which is why it is so refreshing.

Ingredients: (for 2)

2 Cloves Garlic 
1 Bunch Lacinato Kale 
1 Bunch Parsley 
1 Head Cauliflower 
1 Lemon 
1 Shallot 
4 Tbsp Butter (or butter alternative)
1 Tbsp Capers 
¼ Cup Panko Breadcrumbs 
¼ Cup Grated Parmesan Cheese (or vegan alternative)
Oil for cooking
1. Prepare the ingredients:

Preheat the oven to 500°F. Wash and dry the fresh produce. Peel and thinly slice the garlic and shallot. Cut out and discard the kale stems. Pick the parsley leaves off the stems; discard the stems and finely chop the leaves. Cut out and discard the root of the cauliflower; cut the head into medium florets. Using a peeler, remove the rind of the lemon, avoiding the pith; mince the rind to get 2 teaspoons of zest. Quarter the lemon and remove the seeds. Roughly chop the capers.

2. Roast the cauliflower:

Place the cauliflower on a sheet pan; drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Arrange the seasoned cauliflower in a single, even layer. Roast, stirring halfway through, 18 to 20 minutes, or until golden brown.

3. Make the Parmesan breadcrumbs:

While the cauliflower roasts, in a medium pan, heat 2 teaspoons of olive oil on medium-high until hot. Add the breadcrumbs; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, 2 to 4 minutes, or until golden brown and toasted. Remove from heat and add the Parmesan cheese; stir until well combined. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate and set aside. Wipe out the pan.

4. Cook the kale:

In the same pan used to cook the breadcrumbs, heat 2 teaspoons of olive oil on medium-high until hot. Add the shallot and garlic; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, 1 to 2 minutes, or until softened and fragrant. Add the kale and ¼ cup of water; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, 5 to 7 minutes, or until wilted. Stir in the lemon zest and season with salt and pepper to taste. Transfer to a plate and set aside. Wipe out the pan.

5. Make the meunière sauce & plate your dish:

In the same pan used to cook the kale, melt the butter on medium-high heat. Cook, 1 to 2 minutes, or until the bubbles have subsided and the butter is browned and nuttily fragrant. Remove from heat and stir in the capers, parsley and the juice of all 4 lemon wedges; season with salt and pepper to taste. To plate your dish, divide the roasted cauliflower, cooked kale and Parmesan breadcrumbs between 2 plates. Top each plate with a couple spoonfuls of the meunière sauce. Enjoy!

Friday, December 26, 2014

NEW EARTHING SHOES


I have mentioned earthing a few times before, but in short, here's the drill. Earth is a giant magnet with an endless supply of electrons. Every day we are exposed to stresses and toxins that leads to a buildup of free radicals in our bodies. These free radicals attack healthy cells and cause inflammation - the root of almost all medical ailments. By placing copper dots in shoes, electrons are absorbed from the earth to cleanse your body of free radicals, just as if you were barefoot. Because copper is a conductive metal, you’re able to go about your day and experience the relief of earthing on the go. 

My Kama shoes are light and equipped with memory foam footbed = super comfortable. They fit like a glove since the first use, no "break in" needed. I've tested them at work where I stand and walk 8 hours and my legs are not tired at the end of the day. So together with my yoga and meditation practice, these shoes play a role in keeping me calm, grounded and balanced in this life of constant ups and downs. Check out all the beautiful styles of Juil shoes here!

Thursday, December 25, 2014

HAPPY HOLIDAYS 2014!


Hope you are all enjoying the holidays! I have couple of days off and the plan is to hit the yoga studio, drink green smoothies and tea, take a walk or two and get some studying done too. Here's a few tips to make the best of your holidays and staying on your game despite all the sweet treats around you.

-Drink warm lemon water first thing in the morning to stimulate digestion and give your body a metabolic boost. Also drink a glass of water 15 minutes before every meal. This will prevent overeating and keep you properly hydrated. 

-Give your family and friends something that's new to them and healthy. Matcha Green Tea, Pink Himalayan Salt in a nice glass jar or a pretty package of Yerba Mate is a great gift to give instead of sugary sweets

-Get outdoors, even if it's cold! Take a quick walk around the block or hike it. This will energize you more than you think and clear your head at the same time.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

BLUEBERRY AND CHOCOLATE RAW CAKE

Blueberry and chocolate raw cake

Crust: 
1 cup walnuts 
1 1/2 cups dates

 Creme: 
2 cups cashews (preferably soaked in water for 4 hours or so) 
1 tsp vanilla extract 
Juice from 1/2 lemon 
1/4 cup maple syrup 
1/4 cup coconut oil 
1 cup water 
2-4 tbsp raw cacao powder

2 cups blueberries


Instructions: 
The crust: Pulse walnuts into powder in a food processor, add the dates and keep processing until it starts sticking together. Press into the bottom of a springform cake pan, or adjustable pan. Put in fridge.

 The creme: blend everything, except the blueberries, until smooth, thick and creamy. If too watery add more dates, coconut oil or nuts. If too thick add more water or maple syrup. Pour half the mixture onto your crust. Mix the rest of the filling with blueberries, blend well and pour on top of the cacao creme to layer. Let set overnight in the fridge (or for at least 10 hours). Decorate with walnuts, blueberries, cacao nibs or coconut flakes.


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.