Monday, July 25, 2011

Busy Gal Granola

This is one of my 'throw it together' recipes. I had yet to make it to the market and a busy day ahead, so I made homemade granola with the supplies I had sitting in my pantry to pair with yogurt and peaches (frozen) for next days breakfast (or mid-day snack). You can add whatever you'd like (or have) to this recipe; play with it! 

2 cups dry oats
1/2 cup raw pepitas 
1/2 cup raw whole almonds (with a mallet or can crush into little pieces)
Pinch of celtic sea salt
Dash of vanilla extract (optional) 

*I am not "gluten-free" but use gluten-free oats. Why? Gluten is an unnecessary additive for anyone when it comes to oats. Oats do not need to contain gluten, though it is present in many brands. 

In a large bowl combined oats, seeds and nuts. Mix and gradually add agave (not a lot-you want the mixture to stay pretty dry or it won't turn out). Add salt and cinnamon to taste. Mix well then transfer to a nonstick baking sheet. Spread the mixture out to create a thin layer. Bake on low (ideally no higher than 200 degrees fahrenheit) to allow all the nutrients to stay intact (my oven has a 'dehydrate' option, yours might too-those on raw diets use dehydrating machines when "cooking" foods). Use a spatula to move the mixture around from time to time while it bakes. Remove from oven when golden brown (could take a few hours on low temperature; about an hour if you cook it on a high temperature). If you're not into the whole "raw" thing-bake on 350 and finish with a quick broil (very quick or it will burn) to give your granola an extra golden brown kiss! Set aside to cool and harden. 

I am a huge believer in soaking nuts and seeds (oats and grains too!), it helps your body digest them (see soaking benefits and how-to in 'Pretty Porridge'). A lot of people get bad stomach aches after they eat, if that's you, it could mean you're not digesting your food properly so take note of which foods do this and then email me! I'll help you with some suggestions and steps to take to avoid the aches (perhaps some type of digestive enzyme would do the trick-we'll need to make sure it's the right one for YOU though). Stomach aches or not, if you have the time I suggest soaking. I didn't soak the oats this particular time (since they're just quick oats for oatmeal), but I did soak the nuts and seeds. 

Home-work? Perfect! Since this recipe takes little time to actually make and more time soaking or in the oven, it's a great opportunity to get some work done or do some cleaning!

I am in love with Siggi's yogurt! It's non-fat and contains much more protein than your average yogurt so it keeps you full longer, plus has a great thick texture. It's not certified organic but it is natural, meaning the cows are not injected with any growth hormones; they are also grass fed. Most often I'll buy plain which does not contain a sweetener of any kind (I add my own Stevia and/or vanilla extract) however the ones that do have some sweetness (fruit flavors and vanilla) contain agave instead of sugar or high fructose corn syrup. 

Why agave? My personal reason for using agave is because it's a natural sweetener that is low in the glycemic index and glycemic load-both measure the impact that foods have on our blood sugar levels. Agave releases insulin slowly rather than quickly. Foods that raise blood sugar more rapidly can release hormone insulin-no good if you're looking to keep your blood pressure regular and/or avoid weight gain. Overtime raising blood sugar too quickly (and often) can lead to metabolic syndrome (insulin resistance) such as stroke, coronary artery disease and type 2 diabetes. 

Have dairy issues? Try So Delicious Cultured Coconut Milk Yogurt or Amande Cultured Almondmilk! Both contain those added sugars that I am not a fan of but I am also not a fan of feeling deprived. It helps to have some kind of option to incorporate from time to time-especially if you have an allergy to dairy. Always try to go with the 'plain' version of prepackage foods, less additives and even sometimes less calories! 

Happy morning! xo

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Trophy Wife Mojito

Most of us have high hopes of becoming the worlds greatest wife-one day. You know, smokin' hot, established, always available to meet the needs of our husband (having some kind of alcoholic beverage on the rocks waiting for him when he gets home from work is a must), savvy and never in the wrong, of course! Cake walk. Despite our efforts we all know men can be very stubborn and unfortunately since they don't necessarily think anything of it, "it's just who I am," we must not blame them for it-merely trick them. 

Sorry boys, you asked for it. 

The best 'trophy wife' (or girlfriend) always has a smile on her face and a hidden agenda stewing (we're not talking about a malicious agenda, ladies). Since men have the incredible ability to act like a 12-year-old one minute and then their actual age the next (eh-sorta), we must find every possible way to keep them 'healthy' and at the same time not cause any extra stress or unnecessary fuss for ourselves. One way to get the job done-masking a leafy green (read about the amazing benefits of kale in 'Lean, Green, Beauty Queen') with an alcoholic beverage! 

"I'm tired of pretending I'm not special. 
I'm tired of pretending I'm not a total bitchin' rockstar from Mars." 

7 leaves of kale, washed (dinosaur kale)
½ cup agave syrup
1 cup cold water
1 cup fresh mint, washed
5 limes (juiced) plus 1 for garnish (total of 6 limes)
White rum
1 bottle of sparkling water (mint if possible)
Ginger ale (Zevia-chemical and sugar free!)
Stevia drops (optional)

*Ingredient list serves 4

Kale juice:
  • Tear the kale into pieces, removing the vein (steam) and put just the leaves in the blender.
  • Add the agave. Start to blend, adding cold water as needed to make a thick syrupy juice. Blend until it is as smooth as possible.
  • Set aside.
In a shaker (or mason jar) place ice then add in a shot (or more-depending on how funny or annoying he is drunk) of rum, 2 tbs. of lime juice, 3-4 tbs. of the kale juice and a few mint sprigs. Shake well and serve over ice in a high ball glass (the glass pictured was too small). Top each glass off with ginger ale and sparkling water (or more lime juice if desired). Stir in 3 drops of Stevia (added sweetness). 

Garnish with mint and a lime wedge! 

Gone in a sip. Back to his college days.
Bottoms up! xo

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Healthy Change

New York City is one of those places that makes you feel absolutely fearless but fearful all at once. Passion and drive linger, though your ability to succeed is just as great as your ability to fail. There is no middle. No sorta. No grey. You roll the dice and take a leap...and you leap far far far away.There is no looking back. No room for doubt. You live. You learn. You pray you'll survive. 

The average woman will change her mind an infinite number during her lifetime. Of course, the severity of these changes vary. You could wake up one morning wanting to wear a dress and end up in pants or wake up happily dreaming in California (it wasn't easy to leave-it's my safe spot) then hours later jump on a one-way to NYC to dream on different turf. What I am getting at is that WE as women are very powerful. We have the ability to be different and change our destiny by just being us-women. That screams power if you ask me. Now, this doesn't mean I think men are any less powerful or extraordinary; in fact, I love men and what they stand for in society. I believe in the power of a woman, but I am also quite alright with not opening my own car door on a date or single handedly moving boxes into my apartment-both really do take someone very strong. 

I moved to New York City with the mere luck of having the opportunity and means to follow a passion. In my opinion, good or bad, change is something to embrace. I am a true believer in the saying 'everything happens for a reason' and repeat it time and time again in my head, especially on the tough days. Change is healthy. It is a chance to learn and explore from a mindset you might never have found otherwise. It is empowering and powerful and you, as a woman, have it within you. 

I have found in many women our age that taking control of their health and eating habits are one of those changes that can be the most difficult to overcome. I will not tell you it's easy, but it is possible and once you realize it's possible too-it is a heck of a lot easier and much more fun! Welcome change into your life. Ask for it and embrace it. I bet if you look back at all the "difficult" situations you've stumbled upon thus far, you'll see that the positive things in life might never have been possible without the difficult to help open your eyes or steer you in a new direction. 

Okay so now that we've found our power and made a move, we must now live in it! Live in it-literally in my situation. Let's talk décor!

If you have spacious living quarters or not decorating can be quite the challenge. My challenge to tackle at the moment: turning a living room into a bedroom for myself and a friend-to share. There is a shop called Tumbleweed & Dandelion in Venice, Calif. that I absolutely adore. I reached out to the owner in hopes she would help guide me and my roommates as we started our décor journey, she happily offered her time and wisdom! Since she is located in Los Angeles we are working together via pictures and phone. We've officially started the process and are now on to picking accent colors. Stay tuned in the weeks to come and learn some fun-living tips with me! xo

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

California Leavin'

Hello beautiful ladies! I apologize for the delay in posts for the week, as I have officially moved to New York City full-time (as of yesterday)! It is 4am and I am sitting on a tower of boxes writing to you as I google "how to make the most out of a small space." Needless to say, I am a bit overwhelmed but have tons of ideas and tips stewing that I cannot wait to share with you once I'm all settled in to my new digs. Lets meet back here at the end of this week! xo

PS. My new obsession: LABELING! You forget how helpful labels and baskets can be when organizing. Get creative! Here are a few silly labels I made for our basics:

Cleaning supplies: Main in Manhattan
Tools/handy must-haves: Man of the House
Office supplies: We Mean Business 

Have any tips you could spare? I would love your advice!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Coffee Break-It Up

No matter weight or age, cellulite can be a huge burden! Simply put, cellulite is toxic build up trapped in fat layers of the body. It is caused by the breaking down of collagen fibers used to connect the skin and layer of fat below it. When those fibers become frail the skin is much more likely to show impurities, causing the appearance of cellulite.

Eating well and exercising regularly play a large role in controlling and eliminating some of those unwanted dents (less toxins equals less cellulite), but how do you demolish years of build up? ‘On a budget, please. I spent my extra cash on parking tickets this week. Last time I checked, the 30 minute limit only applied when someone was waiting; I am merely a victim of lack of communication between the LAPD and Equinox.’ Well, if I knew the magic secret for every woman out there I would probably be blogging from a yacht right now, sailing in a sea of Christian Louboutin pumps; however, what I do know is one helpful remedy that works pretty darn well-coffee grounds and coconut oil!

Here is my all natural, cellulite eliminating, skin softening treatment:

1 cup ground non-flavored organic coffee beans
¼ cup organic extra virgin coconut oil (it should smell like coconuts-if it doesn't, its too processed)
¼ tsp. pure organic peppermint oil (peppermint oil is super uplifting; it can help increase energy and decrease muscle/joint pain!)

In a bowl, mix ingredients together. Place an old towel down, newspaper or apply in the shower (don't use water until you rinse off) to avoid a very unpleasant clean up. Apply mixture to area(s) with cellulite. With a flat hand, apply pressure and massage mixture into skin in a circular motion, then continue with upward strokes towards your heart. Press hard enough so your skin becomes red, it hurts a little, but pain is beauty! Do this for a couple of minutes in each problem area. If you have leftovers, just use it for any other areas you’d like to exfoliate. Let the mixture sit on your skin for 3-4 minutes. Rinse with warm water. Repeat 2-3 times a week. It is best to apply in the morning; the caffeine will promote energy so it could keep you wired if it’s done too late in the day.

Many of you have probably heard that caffeine helps decrease cellulite; over the counter cellulite treatments claim to hold tons of caffeine. 'Why don’t they ever work?' Well, a big reason I personally believe they don’t is because though those treatments may contain one of my sworn by ingredients, they also contain chemicals (remember, chemicals lead to toxic build up and toxic build up leads to…yup, cellulite). I am no scientist, but in my own little world, I would like to say I am and I know for me personally, chemical infused cellulite creams do not work. Caffeine helps to pull out fluids from spaces between fat cells, thus reducing cellulite. The texture of ground coffee also acts as an exfoliator, helping to reduce the size of pores, smooth away dry skin, improve circulation and breakdown fat (basically acts as a polish!). The caffeine and coffee grinds together will tone and tighten your body, effortlessly! In order not to increase toxic chemical build up, it is very important to use only organic fresh coffee beans. Grind the beans in store, or at home with a coffee grinder.

Coconut Oil:
I use coconut oil every night before bed, all over my body (especially when I get sun burnt-it helps reduce sun damage and pain!). It’s greasy so if you choose to use it as lotion, make sure to rub it in well and blot with a towel before getting dressed. As we age, our skin (made up of connective tissues) will lose elasticity and strength thanks to free radical attack breaking it down. When free radicals meet antioxidants they become stationary, meaning we need antioxidants to fight off the effects of free radicals. Natural-unprocessed virgin coconut oil contains vitamin E (supports circulation, aids the appearance of scaring and sun damage), antioxidants and fatty acids. It is also known to support thyroid function, a healthy metabolism and promote weight loss. Lotion with refined oil (stripped of antioxidants) could actually cause your skin to age faster.

Caffeine, the texture of coffee grounds and beauty aspects of coconut oil make up the ultimate exfoliator for healthy, flawless skin. Now, grab your most daring bikini and hit the beach for some 'oh so smooth' sailing! xo

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Kale Me Crazy

Continuing on with my greens kick, I made a summer dish for friends the other day. This recipe is my go-to when it comes to kale (see kale health benefits in 'Lean, Green, Beauty Queen') it's easy, fresh and packed with vitamins and minerals. I didn't have much time to prepare, so I served it with cold leftover quinoa from the night before and one of the girls brought over some white wine. It was a blast and great to catch up!

Kale Me Crazy
2 bunches of raw kale (any kind-I used curly kale this time)
1/2 small lemon
2 tbs. (or more) extra virgin olive oil
3-4 cloves of garlic crushed (optional)
1 tsp crushed red pepper 
Pinch of sea salt
Parmesan-Reggiano cheese to taste (optional)

Serves 4
Remove the vein (middle) of the kale and chop up the remaining leaves. In a large bowl add kale, garlic, olive oil, lemon and sea salt. Mix. Gradually add crushed red pepper and cheese if desired, taste as you go! A lot of people think this recipe tastes like a Caesar salad when cheese is added. I like using Reggiano because of its strong flavor, a little goes a long way! Serve cold if possible. Don't worry about making extra, kale doesn't wilt so you can save it for a few days! Refrigerate and store leftovers in air tight tupperware. 

Cook as instructed on package (you can serve it warm or cold-it saves pretty well too). I mix in a little olive oil and sea salt for added flavor before serving. Serve under kale salad. 

I cannot tell you how many times I've made this kale/quinoa combo, with all kinds of kale. It is one of my favorite meals to have before a night out (minus the garlic!). Its filling enough so you aren't drinking on an empty stomach, but won't make you feel like you're about to pop out of your dress (ah-how nice). xo

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Lean, Green, Beauty Queen

I bet we can all agree that 4th of July weekend left the door wide open for some serious fun, but also some not so healthy food/drink choices. No biggie! Let’s just get back on track this week. In order to kick off my ‘no longer on vacation’ state of mind, I have decided to commit to a morning-breakfast green drink every day this week and I am dragging my friends along with me!

Here is my easy no juicer needed, beauty-boosting "margarita" recipe: 'Lean, Green, Beauty Queen.'

½ cucumber
2 stocks of celery (not to be confused with “bunch”-just two sticks)
Large handful of spinach
Large handful of curly kale (vein removed)
1 small-medium green apple
¼ lemon
1 cup of filtered water
Ice (blend or serve on the rocks!)

Serves 2 (you can try to drink the whole thing in one serving-no pressure ha!)
Simply blend all ingredients together, minus the lemon then pour on ice. Add lemon to taste. Depending on the strength of your blender, you may need to blend a few things first then keep adding as you go. It is easiest to chop all the veggies, or at least make them a little smaller so you don’t destroy your blender.

This may not be your favorite drink, taste-wise, but it is refreshing, a great energy booster, aids detoxification and will make your skin look incredible. It is perfect to incorporate after a not so healthy weekend or anytime you want to boost your health, no matter the time of day. I’ve gone months drinking it daily. Consider this your new beauty secret-might be a pain but it's well worth it!

Here is a break down of all the ingredients and their benefits:

Hydration is key to maintaining good health. Cucumbers are 95% water so incorporating them into your diet is an easy way to increase hydration and help the body flush out toxins. Cucumbers contain vitamin C, vitamin A, potassium, magnesium and fiber, along with other vitamins and minerals especially important for beauty (and hair growth!)! What’s up with putting cucumber slices on your eyes?’ Other than resembling an open face sandwich, relaxing with cucumbers is known to decrease dark circles and puffiness around the eyes. ‘Everything makes me breakout, I’m not risking it by putting Nicole Richie’s dinner on my face. Don’t fret; any excess cucumber juice trickling down your cheeks could help reduce those unpleasant bumps! Cucumbers are known to help calm acne. What is that waxy coating on the outside of cucumbers? EW.’ Conventionally (nonorganic) grown cucumbers are often waxed to protect them against bruising while being shipped. Plant, insect, animal or petroleum-based waxes are most commonly used, along with extra compounds such as milk casein (protein linked to milk/dairy allergies). It is difficult to determine the source of the waxes being used and many people have different reactions (one of my friends gets really bad stomach aches and bloating when she consumes wax coated cucumbers) so try to buy organic when possible. Well, can I just peel the skin off so I don't eat the wax?’ Yes, but unfortunately you then loose many of the cucumber’s nutrients only found in the skin.

Summer is the perfect time to shop for celery! It is in the summertime that celery is in season, meaning you can easily find it locally, naturally grown (a lot of times, this means it has gone through the same process as “organic” produce just without the certification) and at its best price. The largest vitamin found in celery is vitamin C. Aside from supporting the immune system vitamin C helps to prevent free radical damage (by-products such as pollution are know as ‘free radicals’). Vitamin C can help reduce the severity of inflammatory complications such as asthma, while also helping to prevent more serious health issues like cancer or heart attack. ‘I heard celery has tons of sodium.’ There is about 100 milligrams of sodium in approximately two stocks of celery, the U.S. Food and Drug Administrative daily value for sodium intake is 2,300 milligrams, which is about 46 stocks of celery. Lets be honest, no one is having that much celery in a day, and like I talked about in 'Pass the Sodium, Please' there is huge difference in good and bad “sodium.” Good sodium, like sodium from natural resources such as veggies, is a huge beauty and health booster!

Thanks to Popeye, we’ve all grown up knowing we should eat our spinach. I call spinach the ‘hot mama’ veggie because it holds some ideal vitamins and nutrients for our beauty and body overall, but especially if you plan to have kids one day. It is a great source of protein, vitamin C (antioxidant, protects against free radicals), vitamin A (healthy skin, teeth, reproduction and helps promote good vision, also some super duper quality breast milk) and vitamin K (makes proteins which help produce healthy bones and tissue. Newborns are very low in vitamin K; another reason spinach is great for you and your baby if you plan to breast-feed in the future). It also contains fiber and acts as a natural laxative, helping to eliminate toxic build up. Spinach has been said to fight against eczema, acne and psoriasis.

There are many kinds of kale, so this means many to choose from! Yes, they all are great for you too. Kale is one of those incredible veggies that most people often look past when shopping for produce. It is one of my favorites! The many nutrients found in kale are known to aid digestion and support the body’s detoxification process, giving those who consume it the upper hand in dealing with all kinds of toxic exposure. Like spinach, it contains vitamin A, C, K and fiber. It has also been linked to the fight against cancer. It holds omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants too, which are major beauty must-haves! ‘Kale is too bitter, I hate the taste.’ Try a few kinds of kale to find one that best fits your taste buds. Most often, I’ll remove the 'vein' and just use the leafy part in my recipes; the vein is usually the reason for its “bitter” taste.

Green apple
We’ve all heard the saying, ‘an apple a day keeps the doctor away,’ but why is that? Well an apple is full of vitamins, minerals and contains tons of fiber. It helps control apatite, aid digestion and stabilize blood sugar. Green apples are one of the sweetest (ha!) beauty tools in my bag of tricks, as they are known to have a “whitening” effect; I hardly ever use “traditional” whitening toothpaste. ‘I hate green apples, can I have red?’ Green apples are lower in sugar (reason for its sour taste) and tend to be easier digested so I suggest going for green before sugary red. If you absolutely cannot stand green apples, try Pink Lady. Pink Lady apples contain the least amount of sugar for a red-ish apple (though still more than green). If you want, switching it up between the two; your body will soon start to crave that sour beauty!

See benefits of lemon in 'Lemon Drop Detoxifier.'

Put your beauty margarita in a fun glass and sip with a friend. Making my concoctions look appealing allowed me to really start loving health, even if its 7am, I’ll drink this in a margarita glass while I get ready. Find the beauty in health. It really is a mind thing; if it doesn’t look good I won’t eat/drink it nor will my friends. Allow yourself to see health as fun, festive, enjoyable and absolutely beautiful! xo