A Westside Institution

Thank you for the well wishes everyone. The area where I’m living in Manhattan didn’t get too badly affected, and I haven’t been by midtown, downtown or the outer boroughs that were more affected. People have to plan a little more right now to get around in the city though because of traffic and the lack of subway transportation. This whole thing has gotten me to observe, more than usual, people’s relationship with nature. Nature is pretty straightforward about its relationship with us… even with basic knowledge of ecology. There’s lots of talk of this storm being a result of climate change, and this is just a taste. Here’s what I wrote on my informal blog:

Strong forces of nature can look very awe-inspiring within nature, but juxtapose its affects with manmade creations and all of a sudden it becomes disaster. Today I walked with Matilda to the park, and people were taking pictures of snapped trees. Maybe they wanted to feel more a part of the damage? I’m not sure, but I have been noticing this energy of attraction.

The attraction is also mixed with those who repel any news of the storm—viewing it as a mockery. Maybe it is silly that people react in this man vs. nature sort of way with their lost possessions, schedules and conveniences. At the same time these moments call for compassion. As a human, I know we interpret things in a spectrum of ways and express however those in our species do. To negate that makes me wonder… why does one care to be alive in their present state… as a human that is?

Fact is, right now, people are a part of it.

If you’re a home cook in the area Mealku is  coordinating delivery of prepared foods (at least 4 portions of a meal) to Red Hook Recovers.

Today’s post features one of the local markets around here: Westside Market. You can tell I appreciate food by the fact that I’m inspired by a grocery store’s trademark selection. Westside Market features an extensive selection (it takes me about 30 minutes to decide what I want to get) of “Made by Maria” dishes and spreads. They even have many vegetarian/vegan options. I always wondered who Maria was. Well, turns out that Maria is real and a part of the Zoitas family, and every family recipe that comes from her kitchen is reinvented. Last item I picked up was a sweet and warming vegetable dish with butternut squash, sweet potatoes, dried fruits, honey, and spices. The ingredient list was simple, and after trying it I attempted to recreate it with my own touch.

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Honoring My Body

Hey everyone. So I haven’t written a post myself in a bit, and usually when I don’t post it’s because of two reasons. I don’t have time, or I’m not sure what I want to say. Granted this blog is considered a food blog, it’s also a place where I find parallels and intersections between food and philosophy, or I may simply want to tell a story. Well, today I was talking to a very close friend of mine (some of you may know her as “Veggie Girl”, which she is no longer hehehe). We were actually reunited the other day at her dance competition!

   

Anyway, so I was talking to her and we were discussing bodies. At one point I had mentioned that when I think about all of the tasks our bodies do, in a matter of time that we can’t even grasp or imagine… well, that is something that inspires me to respect it. You see, with my soul and ego I have more control over the cause and effect. But with my physical body, I can’t entirely decide how my body will respond. I definitely play a role though. What I subject it to whether it’s food, environments, thoughts, or what have you… all play a role in how my body functions. So that’s what I want to share today. The idea of respecting my body, and what that means to me as of late.

I’ve been becoming more intuitive with knowing what to do when I feel out of balance. I’ve also become more aware of what may throw me out of balance, and gravitating towards certain foods depending on how I feel.

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Boast about your Toast

Go in this direction when cleaning your eyes.

Go in this direction when cleaning your eyes.

The summer I was fifteen years old I decided to go to beauty school rather than the usual summer camp. My mom actually came up with this idea! She was like, “would you rather go to beauty school or summer camp… again?” So of course I wanted to be like Frenchie from Grease, minus the drop out part. I learned many divine secrets of the ya-ya sisterhood, and once in a blue moon I decide to share these tidbits. Well, readers, tonight is one of those nights! I know some people are concerned with the wrinkles emerging around their expressive eyes. Here’s a little secret that was passed on to me: when cleaning around your eyes, go outward for the upper lid area and inward (towards the nose) for underneath. Basically, in a counter clockwise motion. Also, it’s best to use your ring finger since it puts the least amount of pressure. Makes sense, huh?

What are your beauty secrets?

A basket full of goodies.
A basket full of goodies.

These are some of my favorite beauty products that I use. I started using pond’s cold cream when I found out that is one of my grandma’s secrets. So many secrets in this post! I won’t divulge her other one though. The round thing you see is actually a solid shampoo by this company called LUSH. All of their products are handmade and they use fresh, organic fruit and vegetables. And whenever I’m down in Florida I use some of my mom’s stuff too, like her Kérastase products. Neela knows what’s up and also uses this brand!

The big kahuna!

The big kahuna!

Coconut oil can be used for so many things! Sometimes I even use it to remove my eye makeup. For the most part I leave it on my hair overnight and wash it out in the morning. It leaves my hair feeling and looking incredibly soft! Umm did I mention that it tastes delicious too?

However, I think the best beauty secret is a glass that’s half full… half full of what? Positivity! I find that looking at the bright side of things and keeping stress at bay is a big contributor to aging well. There’s this look of calm, grace, and innocence that I can see in people’s faces when they have this attitude. Being around people like this bring my heart level down, not out of boredom, but because they’re exuding all these good vibes. Less tension equals a less tense face!

What is beauty? Not the show
Of shapely limbs and features. No.
These are but flowers
That have their dated hours
To breathe their momentary sweets, then go.
‘Tis the stainless soul within
That outshines the fairest skin.

–Sir A. Hunt.

All this talk of beauty led me to thinking about habits I want to change – have been changing. There are certain things that seem unimportant that I really want to develop. Like little things that involve me taking care of my outward appearance. Oh say… putting on lotion, plucking my eyebrows, pampering myself with hair masks. It’s these silly little things that I know will slowly help me regain my confidence and just feel better about myself overall. I think it’s more the idea behind these activities: self-love. I can’t help but feel good inside. Why don’t I deserve to take some time out of my day to indulge in a little princess treatment?

On the topic of self-love, there’s been a wonderful message going around the blog community. Caitlin’s Operation Beautiful has been spreading like wildfire! I love seeing everyone’s notes. The other day I left some of my own around town. They don’t necessarily have to do with loving yourself per se, but it’s the thought that counts!

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"Hey! It's Friday :)"

I love touching rosemary bushes then sniffing my fingers.

I love touching rosemary bushes then sniffing my fingers.

The veggies were a delicious mix of yellow peppers, tomatoes, and onions. The top and bottom parts of the pepper were used as bowls for some roasted red-pepper hummus.

They were grilled with this incredible sauce!

They were grilled with this incredible sauce!

Later on I went over to my best friend’s house to celebrate a special one year old’s birthday! I also found out one of my good friends is two months pregnant! I’m looking forward to going on our girl’s nights with the baby! Oh my gosh I should get back into crocheting and make something really cute. She doesn’t know if it’s a boy or a girl yet, so maybe I’ll wait.

Birthday boy was looking cute in his car pajamas!

Birthday boy was looking cute in his car pajamas!

We had pizza, cake (duh!), and other goodies.

We had pizza, cake (duh!), and other goodies.

For Saturday I wanted to make something special. I figured this would make up for not having been able to really celebrate Father’s Day. I decided to make French Toast with a couple of twists. Let’s just say I was inspired by Indian sweets and colonization gone semi-vegan! For the bread I decided to use Trader Joe’s crumpets and I followed a vegan recipe for the mixture.

The ingredients!
The ingredients!
I love experimenting with different extract flavors.

I love experimenting with different extract flavors.

I think I'm going to save the rest for some afternoon tea.

I think I'm going to save the rest for some afternoon tea

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Cardamom seeds were the Indian inspired ingredient.

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The mixture called for nutritional yeast and flour instead of eggs.

Hard at work.

Err good morning! Hard at work.

Who am I kidding? French toast is so easy to make! But I love how it’s so special anyway.

So far so good!

So far so good!

I also decided to use my other Sun Warrior sample.

I also felt like making a smoothie with strawberries, banana, and a peach!

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I also decided to use my vanilla Sun Warrior sample.

Breakfast is served!

Breakfast is served!

Yet again, Sun Warrior was a tasty addition to my morning smoothie topped with cinnamon clusters. I also had some blueberry green tea in my cheery yellow mug!

A close up of my creation.

A close up of my creation.

Man, this French toast has been dog piled! I sliced some strawberries, chopped some macadamias, sprinkled fresh ground cardamom seeds and sugar, and drizzled a bit of maple syrup on everything. Cinnamon sticks can make anything look fancy, but my favorite part is the gooseberry I’d like like to call a little edible beach ball.

Once I started eating it I thought of something else I could add to this! As if there isn’t enough?

I put a modest spoonful of fig preserves on top.

I put a modest spoonful of fig preserves on top.

Mmm now that's more like it!

Mmm now that's more like it!

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My mom joined me mid way through my breakfast. She was running late because she had a session with her personal trainer. Mom is super fit, so don't mess!

After this delicious breakfast I got ready to go to my favorite yoga class. The instructor is incredible and I feel like every time I go to his classes I learn something new, even if he repeats the routine. By the time me and my mom got home we were hungry and ready for lunch! So we whipped up something as quick as we could. Her and I are a dream team in the kitchen. I took care of the veggies, while she handled the rest.

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A stir-fry of yellow peppers, onions, tomato, and banana.

Bananas in stir-fries are so yummy! I also used the Key Lime Honey Ginger sauce for a bit more flavor and topped the veggies with paneer.

Mom made some mung beans in the pressure cooker.

Mom made some mung beans in the pressure cooker.

We also heated up a methi paratha and a horseradish and herb one as well.

We also heated up a methi paratha and a horseradish and herb one as well.

Looking worn out after the yoga class, I was ready to eat!

Looking worn out after the yoga class, I was ready to eat!

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Dad is reppin' South Florida with his shirt.

Guess who else wanted in on all the action?

Guess who else wanted in on all the action?

For dinner we used up the leftover mung beans to go along with some spinach, goat cheese, and balsamic vinaigrette.

For dinner we used up the leftover mung beans to go along with some spinach, goat cheese, and balsamic vinaigrette.

I was feeling pretty simple so I opted for some slices of toast with butter, apple butter, and my forgotten favorite – honey!

I just updated my MacBook Pro and it is so cool! I almost feel like a got a new laptop. Insert holy music!!!

I’m so excited about my next post! I’ve tried so many things over this past weekend and I have a few special shout-outs to some of our beloved  bloggers. I hope you’re all relaxing on this sunday evening and wake up on the right side of bed tomorrow morning.

Stir-fry and Goat Cheese

 

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This was my lunch awhile back but I just wanted to share the goods. I made a stir-fry with red cabbage, chickpeas, summer squash, and I forgot what sauce. I love red cabbage in my stir-fries. Actually, a really yummy addition to stir-fries are pomegranate seeds! My mom likes to do that, and it adds this delicious splash of flavor. Now! The toast was my favorite part of the meal. I had some goat cheese leftover from the pizza I made, so I thought, “hmm… why don’t I put this on top of some bread?” So I toasted some bread, spread on some goat cheese, and put on some of Trader Joe’s Rosemary Marcona almonds. I also sprinkled on some extra rosemary because I can! Have you guys ever had rosemary bread? If you haven’t, I highly highly recommend it! You can try baking it yourself and dipping it in a mix of olive oil and fresh ground black pepper. It’s seriously to die for.