A Few Of My Favorite Things

One day, when browsing through my e-mail, I noticed a personable e-mail amongst all of the Ad-mail. A reader had contacted me asking what my favorite cookbooks are. Great question! It got me thinking about a few things: a) I was happy to get a personal e-mail, b) what are my favorite cookbooks, and c) I haven’t checked out any new ones recently! As I’m writing this, I just realized that I haven’t really made any recipes from cookbooks in awhile either. However, I still have my favorite picks.

Sometimes I go to the library and browse through cookbooks.

Or sometimes I go to the bookstore. When I find myself exclaiming at almost every recipe (or sneakily jotting them down), that’s when I know it’s a keeper. Here are some of mine:

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When It Actually Works Out

Ladies and gentlemen, yesterday I poached an egg. As far as I can recall, I don’t think I had ever eaten a poached egg before yesterday. I just heard that it was a great way to enjoy them. Yes, I am joining Melissa’s club for the egg obsessed.

At first I thought to myself,

“Oh, I will use a small saucepan so I can use it to heat up the cheese sauce I made the other night. That way I won’t have to do as many dishes.”

Then as I was creating a whirlpool for the egg, water kept spilling out and hissing on the burner. That’s when I thought I had messed up, but I already started and you know… I don’t want more dishes to do! So I continued. Then I was pouring the egg from the dish into the hot water. According to the “how-to’s” on how to poach an egg, it is directed to not dump the whole egg in at once. Well, I tried to follow directions, but the egg just canon balled into the pan. Plop! First, this magnificence happened.

If I didn’t mess up before, then I definitely failed my first egg poaching attempt at that moment. Or so I thought. I thought a lot of things during the whole process, didn’t I? Anyway, I carried on. I tried to keep the egg intact, and safely above the bottom of the pan. To my surprise and excitement it was turning out! First egg poaching attempt was a success.

It was quite the little polite egg

As my dear friend and design extraordinaire, Marleigh, pointed out!

Minding its p's and q's

Pints and quarts of what?!

Then it was time for the revealing...

Who knew what I would find inside? A prize. Yes, to me it was a prize. My stomach was growling while I was snapping photos, but I had to document these moments first. I’m not sure how long it took me to eat lunch yesterday, but I know I took my sweet time.

Also, the other night we had some guests over for dinner.

Meet the Tomatoes!

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Reinvented

Hello everyone! In my last post I asked what you guys would like to see in my blog/would you be interested in seeing things from me beyond the realms of food. I used to cover more things on the blog, but somehow as life got busier I stopped frequently capturing life in front of me. I remember pausing at a detail in my outfit that I thought was beautiful and feeling the inclination to share. Or being down on the ground and looking up just to see what it looked like to see things from that perspective–and snapping a picture of it. I’m still curious in that sense, but don’t think to capture it as often. Sometimes I go back and forth between thinking: it’s silly to think those things are important enough to capture, it’s meaningful/meaningless, or why not just enjoy? C’est la vie. It’s true. For right now though, it’s important to me again.

What would I like to be in focus?

The plants, the deteriorated posts, or the other side of the Hudson River?

Whenever I go to the market I like to walk around and find things I’ve never heard/seen of before.

One day I stumbled across Siberian Kale.

Kale is a great winter vegetable, and the more it’s been kissed by a frost the sweeter it is.

Here are some more seasonal foods that I’ve prepared in the kitchen recently using recipes from a book I reviewed on here awhile ago, “Thrive Foods” by Brendan Brazier.

Mashed Kabocha Squash with Toasted Coconut

Toasting the coconut shreds is so key for this recipe. It’s an extremely delicious that you may have to approach with willpower as to not to eat the entire batch!

Dandelion Salad with Sundried Tomatoes and Lentil Dressing

Dandelion greens are not something I usually pick up, but that was what drew me to this recipe. It was a new way to try various flavors together, and well… it had me had sun-dried tomatoes as well. I also found myself pouring the lentil dressing on to other things.

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I Really Mean It

While thinking about what I wanted to write a post about (as I do with every post because I don’t just ‘wham bam thank you ma’am’ anything) it occurred to me at a random moment (as with most things) what the topic at hand would be: inspiration. On a sidenote: I find that most brilliant ideas come while doing the most monotonous things like sitting on a toilet. Imagine a toilet couch. Better yet, a toilet chaise. I’d be full of ideas! I’ve noticed that lately, especially, I’ve been surrounded by things that have been opening my eyes with even more wonder.

Beautiful fruits

This particular apple tasted like an Asian pear, and supposedly has more vitamin C than an orange! There’s a little juicy plum to tag along.

When one of my best friends introduced to me Balthazar’s ‘Ginger-Citrus Tea’, I knew I had to recreate it at home.

It’s a very comforting and awakening recipe, as the ginger has a bold presence. Just pouring a cup of it makes me feel better, like wrapping up in a Swayter. Luckily, Balthazar’s spilled their secret for this precious recipe.

Aside from tea and fruits, the friends I’ve been making since I moved to New York have all been so wonderful.

I’ve had instances recently that have shown me when someone is not a real friend, but the true golden hearts shined brightly . Those golden hearts help me stay hopeful and are reminders of the compassion that exists in this world.

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Health and Food Coming Together

I’m sure many of you know that I’m a big fan of Brendan Brazier, and I had the pleasure of meeting him a few months ago during a lecture. He recently wrote another book called “Thrive Foods”. I was asked to be a part of the campaign to launch his newly released book, and I couldn’t wait to jump into the book!

This one discusses different points compared to his other book I’ve read, “Thrive: The Vegan Nutrition Guide to Optimal Performnace in Sports and Life”. This book seems to focus more on how our diet has an affect on the environment. How the conditions of the foods grow in greatly changes their nutritional density, and other interesting points. For instance, when plants grow in depleted soil, the minerals aren’t as abundant. It made me think of a pregnant woman and how what she eats greatly affects the health of her child. That was my best understanding of the phrase “Mother Nature.” What I really enjoyed about this book was that there were lots of footnotes, and I could look in the back to see the sources listed. I’m the kind of person who is curious to know where the basis of certain ideas come from. Especially when mentioning statics and studies. Maybe I should make my mom disclose footnotes when she tells me her crazy elaborate stories!

On top of all the abundant information Brendan shares in this book, he’s compiled over 200 recipes in the book as well! He also features some well-known contributors to share their recipes, such as Chef Tal Ronnen and award-winning restaurants. There are a few beautiful pictures included as well (granted there could be more, but I just love pictures), to give you an idea of how vibrant these dishes can be. I perused through them and bookmarked so many! I’ve made three so far, and all were delicious indeed.

Chef’s Summertime Salad

The recipe calls for avocado, which I added each time I served it. No one likes brown opened avocados that have been sitting out for awhile. This salad was great though! Summertime in every crunchy, fresh bite. This was like a yummy farewell to the warm weather for me, and all those ingredients that taste so wonderful when they’re at their peak.

Banana Pear Smoothie

This was thick and not overly sweet. There is an option to add a medjool date for sweetness, but I liked it just fine without it. This is great for mornings when I’m not feeling too hungry, or I need to run out the door and get my day started. The ginger added a little zing to it as well. It just tasted so refreshing. Next on my list is the smoothie that calls for lemon grass and coconut water.

Cheers to a great day!
Next up was a recipe that I thought was perfect to welcome the chillier weather.

“Wild Rice with Kabocha and Sage Butter”, but I opted to use quinoa instead of rice. It Since the other ingredients are already coming into season I went over to the farmer’s market and picked them out.

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On the Topic of Skin

My skin is something that I try to take care of. I haven’t been blessed with smooth and clear skin, so it takes a bit more TLC on my part. I think skin is such a beautiful thing, and when it feels soft and glows… it’s just so admirable to me. I also think it’s a reflection of what’s going on inside of ours bodies. When we don’t get enough sleep all of a sudden our eyes start accessorizing with purple bags. Recently though I’ve been getting tiny bumps along the contours of my face, and I don’t like the way it feels right now. I’m not sure if it’s from being active, hormones, a combination of things, or what; but I’ve been incorporating some things that should make these little bumps start to go away. Actually, I think a swim in the ocean would help out a lot as well! Ocean water is so healing.

I used my parents’ juicer all by myself for the first time.
This is not a “monster smoothie” here.
This is Peggy K’s “BeYOUtifying Cleansing Cocktail”.

Remember the book review and giveaway I did awhile ago featuring Peggy K’s “Must Have Been Something I Ate“? Well, this recipe was definitely calling out to me since I’ve been having some skin problems lately.

Every other week I’ll make a clay mask.

I use either French green clay or bentonite clay in combination with apple cider vinegar (I wouldn’t advise this for sensitive or dry skin). There are other great combinations like using yogurt, essential oils, honey, or even coconut milk. Here are a few links that I find useful: facial mask ingredients, and homemade face masks.

Evening my skin out from scars… picking is a no-no!

I’ve also been getting facials done weekly as well (tip: check out if a beauty school near you offers services to the public for good deals). When I was 15 I went to beauty school instead of summer camp to become a licensed esthetician, but doing a facial on yourself just isn’t the same. Part of its benefits come from being able to relax during the treatment. It’s one of those times when falling asleep is actually a compliment.

Beet crust = rosy cheeks according to my mom.

Another one of Brendan Brazier’s recipes! The  Sunflower Seed Beet Pizza was calling out to me when I was browsing through the recipes. The crust alone is so delicious! There was just something about it… it was salty, sweet, earthy, crunchy, and slightly oily all at the same time!

I followed his suggestion and made the Sweet Pepper Hemp Pesto as the pizza sauce.
Toppings!
Out of the oven (at a lower than usual temperature).
I could eat this all day.
After trying that delicious “pizza” recipe I wanted to try another one: Sweet Potato Sesame Pizza.

I thought the crust looked amazing! I also used an Okinawan sweet potato for this, so the flavor was a bit sweeter I think.

Similar toppings
But a very different taste

For the sauce I made his recipe for Creamy Nutritional Yeast Sauce, and I also sprinkled on some of Bragg’s sprinkle seasoning.

I think my favorite part of the “pizzas” was the crust.
Many of us have “beauty secrets”…

And I was wondering, what are some of yours? Who knows maybe you have the same secrets as someone else, or you may learn something you didn’t know. So I encourage you to read other people’s responses and perhaps start a conversation!

I’ve got some more secrets that I’m going to share in another post.

What's Interesting?

I was looking back at some posts… reminiscing… and I couldn’t help but notice how things have changed. I believe that everything changes, and that it’s just a part of life. But I’ve noticed that for awhile I seemed to have lost interest in myself in a certain regard. Or perhaps I got use to being so busy that I could only skim over things, not being able to share much of myself. I have had interests… in other things though. But I think it’s also important to wonder at yourself; to genuinely be interested in who you are, and the things you do. The saying goes “treat others how you’d like to be treated,” but don’t forget to treat yourself how you’d like to be treated as well.  To have interest in myself. So with that I want to reflect more of myself into my blog again. When I was going to school I was focused on finishing up, and I think that’s when my posts started to seem more like lists of things I’ve made in the kitchen. Every once in awhile I’d share what was on my mind, but I want to do that again more often because there’s a lot to write about. Not to mention, reading what you all have to say is the most interesting part!

Bulgarian yogurt?

It’s slightly more sour-tasting than other yogurts, and in Bulgaria it’s known as “sour milk”. It’s made using just these two different strains of bacteria: Lactobacillus Bulgaricus and Streptococcus Thermophilus. So since there are no other chemicals you can easily “grow” your own yogurt just by pouring some more milk in the jar.

A tasty way to wake up: Bulgarian yogurt, raisins, raw oats, pumpkin and sunflower seeds, and cinnamon.
Another electrifying breakfast!
I made Brendan Brazier’s “Banana Chocolate Pancakes” recipe…
Toppings of choice were sunflower seed butter and maple syrup.

These weren’t like your average light and fluffy pancakes. These were dense and rather moist, with so much chocolate flavor!

Another one of Brendan Brazier’s recipes (I’ve been making them a lot lately): Toasted Apple Cinnamon Cereal
A cereal that actually kept me full!

I loved the crunchiness from the seeds, the graininess, and how it tasted very wholesome. My taste buds recently have become very sensitive to saltiness and sweetness, preferring earthier flavors.

I haven’t posted anything fashion-related in awhile, but I recently got a top that I absolutely love!
Even though it’s very effortless looking, there are small details that make it special.
The front has various textures.

I bet you can guess where I found it!

Awhile ago I was contacted by Rudi’s Organic Bakery to try out some of their breads. I’ve enjoyed their breads before, and I recommend them if you’re looking for a store-bought loaf of bread (great gluten-free options as well).

“Honey Sweet Whole Wheat”
So good with almond butter and a sliced Asian pear!

This bread has little bit of honey that makes it taste extra satisfying, especially with Irish butter.

Sunflower seed butter + sprouts + hummus =  a surprisingly tasty combination

I also got to try out “7 Grain with Flax” which was great for sandwiches! You get a little crunch and nuttiness from the seeds, and it tastes different than whole wheat bread since they use seven different grains. Have you guys tried Rudi’s bread?

 A little bread for dipping into soups?

I know soup may be the last thing on some of your minds, but this one is still delicious even slightly warmed.

Vegan Cream of Broccoli Soup

Ingredients

3 1/2 cups water

1 1/2 cups carrots, chopped

1 1/2 cups sweet potato, chopped

1 cup yellow onion, diced

1/2 cup raw cashews, soaked

4 cups broccoli florets, chopped and steamed

salt, to taste

Directions

1. Bring the water to a boil in a large pot.

2. Put the carrots, sweet potato, and onions in the pot and cook for about 10-20 minutes depending on how small you cut the pieces.

3. In a blender throw in the cashews, salt, and a bit of the cooked veggies + liquid. Make sure it’s only a little bit of the cooked mixture because at first you really want to blend the cashews well to get that creamy consistency.

4. Once that is blended, pour in the rest of the cooked vegetables and liquid and blend. Then blend in the broccoli as well to a smooth, creamy consistency. This may take a couple minutes.

I sprinkled it with Bragg’s Sprinkle Seasoning and voila! There’s a delicious soup.

So to begin this reconnection I would love to know if you guys have any blog recommendations. I haven’t ventured out on to new blogs in such a long time, and it’d be nice to see what different people are up to. I have two for you! A great style blog, and another one about all sorts of things written by a beautiful lady.

To Thrive

Hi everyone! So I said that I’d be sharing my recap of my trip to New York City, but that is going to have to wait because something very very exciting happened earlier this week that I just can’t wait to share! But before I jump right into it I’m excited to announce the four lucky winners of a $25-gift certificate from Restaurant.com for the restaurant of their choice. Congratulations to Ivanna, Claire, Janelle, Jim!!! I will be e-mailing you with an official congratulations and further information. I’d love to hear about your dining experiences in the D.C. area! Bon appétit my lucky friends.

Earlier this week I flew in from New York, and I was anticipating the next day back in Florida already! Want to know why? I’ve mentioned Brendan Brazier and his book “Thrive: The Vegan Nutrition Guide to Optimal Performance in Sports and Life” on my blog a few times. He’s someone that I look up to, and am amazed by how he’s informed himself of not only the science of nutrition, but how it impacts things from our bodies to the environment. Somehow he manages to bring all of this information to the table in a way that just makes sense. No nonsense. Anyway, I saw that he’s been on tour giving lectures and lucky for me he was stopping by my town! Not just that, but at the local health food store… of all places! As soon as I found out I signed me and my mom up right away.

He actually brought up a topic that I’ve recently discussed on here: hormones. As I’ve noted I’ve recently gone off birth-control, and I really just want to rebalance myself naturally. So far I’ve found that my skin has cleared up tremendously. Funny because that’s one of the reasons why I went on the pill anyways. Birth control for breakouts? What was I thinking? When I initially came off the pill I felt moody, but I reminded myself that it may have just been a symptom of stopping the pill. Anyway, Brendan mentioned something else that may be contributing to my off-kilter hormones. I’m an avid long-distance runner, but I honestly can’t remember the last time I really gave my body a break. Running helps me relieve mental stress, but that doesn’t mean that my body doesn’t feel the physical stress it endures from pounding out the miles. Running is something that I’d like to be able to do for the rest of my life, but my overall well-being is what will allow me to do that in the end. So after hearing Brendan’s own story about how over physical exertion affected his health, I came to the decision to lay low from running for a little bit. I’m hoping that my body will have time to really recover and get a break from the physical stress. This morning I went on a brisk walk with a book in hand. T’was a nice change. It’s hard not to break out into a leap and stride though because sometimes that’s exactly what I want to do. I just love running! But it’ll be back in my life soon, and I’ll be feeling better than ever.

After the lecture we got to try samples of the Vega products.
They had some drinks made with water, coconut water, or almond milk.

The surprising mixture was the chocolate flavored Vega formula with coconut water, but it tasted good! Have any of you tried these products before? I saw them all over Canada. Not just in regular grocery stores, but even at restaurants as a smoothie add-in.

Like any good fan I made sure to bring my book to get it signed!

It’s not everyday that you get to meet someone you look up to. I think he’s making great advancements in the fields of health, sports, and the environment. He’s even dubbed as an inventor, and has been nominated for the Manning Innovation Awards.

If only I had more time to pick his brain!

On the topic of “thriving”, I made some things that could have a life of their own!

Yummy treats inspired by Nutella.
The undeniably delicious combination of chocolate and hazelnuts…
With coconut butter kisses

Chocolate and Coconut Hazelnut Medallions

These no-bake treats are simple to make, and add a flavorful note to your day or night!

Makes around 24

Ingredients

20 Medjool Dates

1/4 cup Old-fashioned oats

1/4 cup Hazelnuts

1/4 cup Shredded coconut

1 tsp cinnamon

3 tbl Chocolate chips

1/2 tsp Vanilla extract

Pinch of Sea salt

Coconut butter (optional)

1. Pulse the oats and hazelnuts in a food processor, but not too much because you still want them to add texture to this treat.

2. Mix in the dates, vanilla extract, cinnamon, sea salt and pulse again. Then throw in the shredded coconut and chocolate chips into the paste and chop for a few seconds.

3. To make a medallion take about a tablespoon size of the batter and roll into a ball, then flatten down to desired thickness. This part is optional but you can imprint your thumb in the middle of the medallions and drizzle a pool of coconut butter in the imprint.

4. You can enjoy them right away or leave them in the fridge to set.

Once again inspired by Brendan Brazier I decided to make one of his recipes.

The Mango-Coconut Energy Bars called my attention as I was browsing through the recipe section of his book.

Taking a satisfying bite into a macadamia nut.

These are dense and full of electrolytes, which are great for recovering from a workout. Or even if you’re just feeling low on energy. Last summer I almost fainted from being overheated, but I believe that my mind-power and bottle of coconut water kept me from being a damsel in distress. So this would probably be a good thing to have during these months where the heat can get intense!

This was a recipe I threw together keeping these two things in mind: vitality and the lovely Lauren.

Awhile ago Lauren reminded me of one of the yummiest salad pairings I’ve had to date: avocado, mango, and beans. I’ll share my “recipe” with you guys, but it’s very loose. I’m just estimating how much I used since I prepare mostly by eye and on how hungry I am at the time.

Mango, Avocado, and Bean Kale Salad

Serves 1

Ingredients

4-5 Kale leaves, chopped

4 grape tomatoes, halved

1/2 pearl onion, sliced

1/4 mango, cubed

1/2 avocado, diced

1/2 cup pinto beans, cooked

1/2 cup quinoa, cooked

Dressing

1 tbl Extra virgin olive oil

1 tsp balsamic vinegar

Splash of lemon juice

Sea salt to taste (*tip: mix the salt and balsamic together before you mix in the oil)

1. Massage the kale leaves with the dressing.

2. Throw in the rest of the ingredients, toss, and enjoy!

Oh these are the salad days.

Who is someone you admire for the contributions they’ve made?

A Very Happy Belly Helps Make a Very Happy Heart

Greetings everyone! Today is the start of another week, but it’s not just any old Monday. Oh no! Today is the day that voting for Project Food Blog opens. You can check out my profile here, so don’t forget to vote hehe. Also check out all of the other entries as well! I’ve been awaiting this day with much anticipation.

Can't you tell?

A watermelon caught my eye at store, and I had to make sure that I got to have some of this refreshing fruit at least once while the weather is still warm! I’ve also been eating things that are a… “happy medium” between summer and fall. For example…

Baked oatmeal with figs and banana, then topped with almond butter and Coconut Bliss ice cream.

Warm soups like this quick Cuban black bean soup recipe from my "Ayurvedic Cooking for Westerners" book.

I threw in some rice, diced avocado, tomato, and cilantro to make it complete. I love simple recipes that satisfy my taste buds!

A delicious smoothie made without ice, since I'm kind of sensitive about harshly cold things.

Whenever I go out to eat I always ask for water with no ice, please. Anyway, the Chocolate Almond Smoothie recipe from Brendan Brazier’s book, “Thrive: The Vegan Nutrition Guide to Optimal Performance in Sports and Life” (that’s a mouthful) immediately caught my eye the first time I skimmed through the recipes. When making this, I noticed that there was no added sugar. It called for medjool dates though so I was interested in how it would end up tasting. Verdict? I’m definitely going to be making this again!

The other day I met up with some classy ladies at a great local restaurant.

I don’t go out to eat often, but when I do I like to eat very well! And by well I mean incredibly delicious. The last time I went to Cafe Gutenberg was with another friend from New York, and we got to enjoy our breakfasts seated in a comfy nook with pillows overlooking the market. I remember the food being so tasty, and I figured it was time I pay this place another visit. I remember in high school coming here and ordering steamed milk with a shot of mint syrup (TRY IT!). Anyway, the menu makes it hard to choose, boasting things like pumpkin spiced waffles with whipped cream, scramble on a corncake (which I had ordered before, veganized with tofu), sandwiches using artisan rolls, and plenty of delicious cheeses. They also have vegan options for much of the menu as well, such as vegan biscuits and gravy. Can you tell that this place puts thought into their menu?

My dates decided to split some appetizers so they could try different things.

The hand cut frites with fresh herbs, parmesan, and truffle honey.

Sounds good, but I think these fries were actually just herbed and had salt and pepper.

Nonetheless, these were so good!

We all can attest to that!

Beets served with goat cheese, house baguette, and greens.

How beautiful! Two of my favorite things on one plate: beets and goat cheese!

Fondue! Steamed vegetables, house baguette, and Vermont cheddar gravy.

The green onions and wild mushrooms were my favorite things to dip!

I felt like ordering an entree so I got the vegan caesar salad with a house baguette on the side!

I usually don’t order salads when I go out to eat unless I’ve heard great things through the grape vine, or it just sounds too delicious to pass up. Hearing only great things about this salad, I had to try it. Oh my goodness! It’s not the kind of salad that sounds undeniably incredible, but it definitely tasted like one! I never had tofu that was actually so rich in flavor, nor had I ever tried hearts of palms! Maybe the tastiness of the tofu had to do with the fact that it came from the local food commune, Twin Oaks. The lemon-caper dressing was perfect for this as well, especially mixed with the juices that burst out of those little grape tomatoes. The house baguette definitely helped in soaking up every last bit of this wonderful meal. All of us were so glad that we went there to eat, and moseyed on out feeling wonderfully spoiled.

Voting for Project Food Blog goes from 6 AM Pacific Time September 20th through 6 PM Pacific Time September 23rd. So make sure to get your votes in during that time! Once again, click here to check out my profile, and here’s a reminder going back to my last post aka the first challenge. Everyone’s posts for the first challenge are so inspiring, and I wish the best of luck to everyone participating!!!