Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Goat Cheese Fig popsicles


I saw Figs at Trader Joe's and wanted to give them a try. We don't eat them that much in this country, they're more popular in the Mediterranean, although California is a big producer of them. I made this recipe a few times and discovered that figs are a very perishable fruit, growing mold very quickly!  If you're looking for an exotic recipe with a flavor you don't have very often, give these a try. The recipe originally called for 4.5 TB of honey but I cut that in half to save calories.

Ingredients
  • 10 black mission figs, sliced in half lengthwise
  • 2 TB of honey
  • 2.5 oz of soft goat cheese (abou¼ cup)
  • 2 cups non-fat plain Greek yogurt
  • ½ TB Yacon Syrup 
  • 2 TB of Ideal Sugar
    Directions

    1. Preheat the broiler.
    2. Lay the sliced figs cut side up on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Drizzle 1½ TB of the honey over the figs. Broil the figs for 8 minutes.
    3. Meanwhile, whisk the goat cheese, Greek yogurt, remaining honey and other sweeteners in a medium bowl until completely smooth.
    4. When the figs are done, purée them in a food processor or blender until smooth.
    5. Pour into popsicle molds and freeze for 6 hours of overnight.


    Recipe source: snixykitchen

    Makes 6 popsicles
    147 cal, 12g protein, 16g sugar
    (without the honey if will only be 11g of natural sugar from the figs and yogurt)
     

    Monday, September 29, 2014

    Nectarine-Buttermilk Pops


    I've always liked  nectarines better than peaches. Did you know that nectarines are just peaches with a recessive bald gene that make them fuzzless? lol  If you don't have buttermilk (like myself), you can make it by mixing 1 cup of milk with 1 TB of lemon juice or white vinegar. This recipe uses my favorite ginger liqueur  Domaine de Canton. If you don't have it, you could try mixing roasted nectarine with fresh basil. This recipe takes quite a bit of prep work, it's not as easy as my other popsicle recipes, but it's worth the effort. Roasting the fruit brings out a richer, sweeter flavor.These were more orange looking in person, although they look red in my photo.


    Ingredients 
    • 2 lbs of nectarines, thinly sliced
    • 2.5 TB freshly squeeze lemon juice
    • 1 cup Ideal Sugar
    • 3 TB ginger liqueur
    • 3/4 cup cold buttermilk
    • ½ ts finely grated lemon zest
    Directions
    1. In a medium saucepan, toss the sliced nectarines with 3/4 cup of the Ideal sugar and 2 tablespoons of the lemon juice and let stand until juicy, about 20 minutes. Bring the nectarines to a boil and simmer over low heat, mashing lightly, just until softened, about 8 minutes. Let cool.
    2. Transfer the nectarines to a food processor and pulse to a coarse puree. Strain the puree, pressing hard on the skins to extract as much juice as possible. Add 2 tablespoons of the ginger liqueur and ½ cup of water to the puree; you should have about 3 cups of loose puree. Fill the popsicle molds with half of the nectarine puree and freeze until firm but not solid, about 1 hour.
    3. Meanwhile, in a bowl, combine the buttermilk with the remaining 1/4 cup of sugar, ½ tablespoon of lemon juice, 1 tablespoon of ginger liqueur and the lemon zest. Whisk until the sugar is dissolved, then refrigerate.
    4. Pour the buttermilk mixture into the popsicle molds and freeze for about 1 hour, until firm but not solid. Pour the remaining nectarine puree into the molds and add the sticks, pushing them nearly through the popsicles. Freeze until firm, at least 4 hours and preferably overnight.
    5. Dip the molds in hot water for a few seconds, then unmold the popsicles and serve right away.

    Recipe source: foodandwine


    Friday, September 26, 2014

    Hector and the Search for Happiness


    I'm back from Bali and got a chance to go to the movies today to see Hector and the Search for Happiness. This book turned movie was on my summer reading list and was such a cute simple book! It's written like a cute children's book not naming country names and simplifying complex issues. It was a best seller in France then translated to English. It about a psychiatrist named Hector who was tired of his job and decided to take a trip around the world to understand what made people happy and to discover if there was a secret of happiness. Here were my favorite lessons he learned in no particular order:

    Happiness come from others: friendship, mutual love, caring about other people's happiness or unhappiness, feeling useful to others.

    Observation: People are kinder to a child who smiles (very important).

    Lesson no.1: Making comparisons can spoil your happiness.

    Lesson no. 3: Many people see happiness only in their future.

    Lesson no.22: Women care more than men about making others happy.

    Lesson no.4: Many people think that happiness comes from having more power or more money,

    Lesson no. 6: Happiness is a long walk in beautiful, unfamiliar mountains.

    Lesson no. 11: Happiness is having a home and a garden of your own.

    Lesson no. 13: Happiness is feeling useful to others.

    Lesson no. 16: Happiness is knowing how to celebrate.

    Lesson no. 19: The sun and the sea make everybody happy.

    Here's the trailer:

    Wednesday, September 24, 2014

    Twice Born


    Based on the bestselling book of the same name by Italian author Margaret Mazzantini, the movie (released in 2012) stars Penélope Cruz and Emile Hirsch who both gave powerful performances. 

    There's a big twist at the end that I won't spoil for you. The movie has a  few twists and turns that I never saw coming and it really makes you think. It's the story of an Italian grad student who travels to Sarajevo (when it was still part of Yugoslavia) for her doctoral thesis. There she meets an Italian photographer whom she later marries and then discovers she is infertile. Without giving too much away their story line continues with several trips back to Sarajevo during the backdrop of the 1990s Balkan wars which you can read more about it here. 

    I vacationed in Croatia and Slovenia 6 years ago and they're beautiful countries! Did you know that Rome doesn't have the only Colosseum, the Croatian city of Pula has one and many other Roman ruins. Dubrovnik, the walled city on the Adriatic Sea is now a popular cruise ship destination. Every major city I visited that was next to the sea had crystal clear blue waters so anyone could jump off the pier and swim. Croatia is very close to Venice, you can take a bus or a 2 hour ferry ride. But as I drove through the countryside there were still signs up warning of landmines. Because I had visited this country and was familiar with their history, and  this movie piqued my interest.

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    Monday, September 22, 2014

    Apricot Oatmeal



    I made the most delicious apricot popsicles so I thought I should try it in my oatmeal. I cooked the apricot along with my oatmeal because doing so brings out the natural sweetness of the fruit. When it was done it was as sweet as candy!

    Ingredients:


  • ½ cup rolled oats 
  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk or water
  • 1 apricot
  • 1 ts Yacon Syrup
  • 1 ts chia seeds
  • ¼ tsp vanilla extract
  • pistachios (optional)
  • dash of cardamom 


  • Directions:
    1. Bring milk to a boil.
    2. Reduce heat and add oatmeal, vanilla,  chia seeds and diced apricot.
    3. Transfer to a bowl and mix in yacon syrup and cardamom.
    4. Top with pistachios if desired. 


    Friday, September 19, 2014

    Dancing in Jaffa

    Dancing in Jaffa is a documentary film (released last year) by Pierre Dulaine who  is a well-known ballroom dancer and dance instructor. In the film he travels to Israel to teach ballroom dancing to 11-year-old Jewish and Palestinian Israelis with the idea that dancing with your enemy will dissolve political and cultural differences. For the Arab children they are not raised to touch people of the other sex and some of their parents were against this idea. The kids in the film started out mistrusting each other, not wanting to touch each other, but later became friends. A film follows a few kids home to show you what their home life is like. It's an interesting film that gives you a glimpse of what life in Israel is like. It's one of the most heartening films I've watched because it shows how tolerance can be forged between communities who have historically viewed each other as enemies.You can watch the trailer here


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    Thursday, September 18, 2014

    Hearts Trending

    Another sale drew me into the Loft and I'm loving their new heart trend! I scooped up these three tops. The blue tank I thought would be perfect with a baby pink cardigan. The sweater is my favorite shade of pink which I've talked about before in this post.  The neck tie blouse is purple, though it's hard to tell. The thing I like about bow blouses is that I don't have to worry about a necklace.

    Heart Trend



    Wednesday, September 17, 2014

    Baked Parmesan Zucchini


    After baking two loaves of sugar free oil free zucchini bread, I looked around for more recipes to use zucchini and came across this delicious recipe.

    Ingredients
    • 4 zucchini, quartered lengthwise
    • ½ cup grated Parmesan
    • ½ teaspoon dried thyme
    • ½ teaspoon dried oregano
    • ½ teaspoon dried basil
    • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
    • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
    • 2 tablespoons olive oil
    Directions
    • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Coat a baking sheet with nonstick spray 
    • In a small bowl, combine parmesan, thyme, oregano, basil, garlic powder, salt and pepper, to taste.
    • Place zucchini onto prepared baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with Parmesan mixture. Place into oven and bake until tender, about 15 minutes. Then broil for 2-3 minutes, or until the crisp and golden brown.

    Nutritional Analysis
    4 servings, 167 per serving
    9g protein, 11g fat

    Recipe source: damndelicious



    Tuesday, September 16, 2014

    Pina Colada Oatmeal


    After making pina colada popsicles I thought I should try the same for oatmeal. This is similar to my Tropical Oatmeal I made last year.

    Ingredients
    • ½ cup rolled oats
    • 1 cup almond milk or water
    • 1/3 cup pineapple
    • raw cashews or chopped walnuts
    • ¼ tsp vanilla extract
    • 2 tsp chia seeds
    • dash of cinnamon (optional)
    • 1 tsp yacon syrup or maple syrup
    • unsweetened coconut flakes
    • raisins
    Directions
    1. Bring milk to boil on the stove. Then add the the oats and reduce heat. Simmer for 8 minutes.
    2. Mix in vanilla, cinnamon and chia seeds.
    3. Transfer to a bowl and add the yacon syrup and top with pineapple, nuts, raisins, and coconut.


    Monday, September 15, 2014

    Spicy Yellow Lentil Hummus


    I'm not a big hummus person, I'll eat it but I don't buy it. But I came across this yellow lentil hummus at my local Giant and thought I'd give it a try. It's delicious! And true to the name it is very spicy! I've been dipping baby carrots into, it's a great snack, you should check it out! 


    Friday, September 12, 2014

    Gladiator Heels

    So what do you think about the gladiator style shoe trend? I never liked the lace up flat sandals or the knee high boots but when I saw these short heels I thought I'd give it a try. All of these shoes come in black, but that's so boring I wanted to show you a different shade. What do you think, would you rock these?

    Gladiator Heels



    Tuesday, September 9, 2014

    Weekend in New York



    I spent the weekend in NYC with my cousin and we had a blast! I was lucky enough to score one of the elusive $1 Bolt Bus fares. The ride went by really fast because I was read a riveting book on my kindle. I was worried because the forecast was supposed to be 60% rain all day but we only had two 5-minute downpours. I have never been to NYC in the summertime even though I went to college there but always went home in the summertime. Since then I've gone back once a year to visit but it's always either spring, fall or Christmastime so it was a lot different to see the city in hot humid weather. The sun was shining and I saw so many people riding bikes and walking around with yoga mats.  

    I walked through Union Square and they had a farmers market with a rainbow of colors! Carrots, beets and tomatoes in orange, yellow and purple; white eggplant, sweet corn and lots of flowers. 

    A couple weeks ago on the cover of the Wall Street Journal I read an article on street art so we checked out some pieces in Little Italy as well as had some cannoli. In fact we walked all day long, so hopefully we burned off those calories! We were constantly buying water bottles and seeking out the shady side of the street. We went to Central Park and I saw a section I had never seen before and got lost on the way out walking in circles. lol We walked past the zoo, to the Bethesda Fountain with its beautiful water lilies and lotus, and the crowds watching the famed street performer Throth who has been performing under the Angel Tunnel for years. Coincidentally this video was filmed the day we were there but we didn't see this incident but it gives you an idea of his art if you watch the whole short video. I enjoyed sitting at the boat house watching the turtles pop their heads out the water and people paddle boats. On the way out we passed tons of cyclists and the Guitar Man in Central Park which had a number of people sitting in the grass in front of him listening. We ended the day at the Brooklyn Bridge Park for a gorgeous view of the city. Of course we went to a couple clubs with table service and danced the night away!


    I had a green tea facial at a Japanese spa which was so relaxing and my skin looked vibrant afterwards. I didn't get much sleep the night before because we stayed up late to chat so that morning I rushed out without eating breakfast. But I remember reading in Cameron Diaz's book that her makeup artist can tell by looking at her skin if she's eaten yet and won't touch her face until she does. So I stopped by Liquiteria which is the original chain of juice bars in NYC going back almost 20 years. I was totally overwhelmed by the menu and it was packed with people. They offered samples of their delicious new fall smoothie the Applecrisp which I will have to replicate at home. I ended up getting a brown juice called the Skin Trip which has Parsley, Spinach, Cucumber, Carrots, Liver Kidney Lymph Detox, and Aloe Vera. My neighbor told me she drinks aloe vera juice daily and it's done wonders for the elasticity for her skin. I have aloe vera juice in my fridge but I've only ever used it for my hair. After I had my juice I just happen to walk by the vegan food truck the Cinnamon Snail which I've wanting to try forever but not living in the city never had time to chase down a food truck. I was so excited to see it and got the tempeh reuben sandwich which was so delicious! 


    My cousin spent the day being a vegetarian with me! lol We went to a the vegan sushi bar Beyond Sushi which my carnivore cousin said was absolutely amazing. I never get sushi because veggie rolls are boring and don't fill me up, so this was a really unique and exiting experience for me! We had the Mighty Mushroom roll which tastes like fresh mushrooms with a delicious cream on top, unlike anything I've ever had before. The roll in back of the picture is the Spicy Mang which is mango/avocado and spicy veggies. The rolls looked immaculate, I was so impressed with the assortment. They demonstrated that sushi without fish can be amazing. For dinner we went to my favorite vegan restaurant in NYC, that I go to every time I'm in the city - Blossom.

    A few of the apps I used while there was the Charmin Sit or Squat (bathroom finder), Central Park app which had a useful map locating me on it, and something I should have invented myself the Exit Strategy NYC Subway Map which saves you valuable time by telling you where to stand to make your next connection. 







    Monday, September 8, 2014

    Balsamic Strawberry Popsicles


    I know this combination might seem odd but I've been to Italy a few times and they pour balsamic vinegar over strawberries for dessert. With this special ingredient you don't taste the vinegar, but it makes the strawberries taste more vibrant so it's a perfect combination. The vinegar adds a sweet and sour twinge, you won't believe how sweet these strawberries taste, it's unbelievable! Strawberries also benefit from a touch of lemon juice to prop up their weak natural acidity. I am sure you will love theses brightly flavored popsicles too! I bought the white balsamic vinegar from Trader Joe's and also used it in this recipe.


    Ingredients 
    • 4 cups fresh strawberries
    • 2TB white balsamic vinegar
    • 2TB Ideal Sugar
    • 1 TB freshly squeeze lemon juice
    Directions
    1. Wash and dry the strawberries.
    2. Place the strawberries and sugar in a food processor and pulse just until the mixture is finely chopped  but still chunky; you don't want a smooth purée. 
    3. Transfer to a bowl and stir in the balsamic vinegar and lemon juice.
    4. Pour into popsicle molds and freeze for 6 hours of overnight.
    Makes 6 popsicles.


    Friday, September 5, 2014

    Boozy Apricot Pops


    I absolutely love this flavor combination!  I love Indian food and the spice cardamom. A local gelato place sells cardamom ice cream and that quickly became my favorite flavor! Apricots are an ignored fruit I think. I enjoy eating them when they're in season, it's a mix of peach and melon. I've used them in a smoothie recipe in the past because in the blender they become a smooth thick texture. Make sure you're using soft to the touch apricots that are fully ripe. You can use bourbon or whisky interchangeable. The coconut milk make these very creamy! I use a no calorie sugar, but if you sub it for honey or maple syrup this will be a little higher in calories and will have a lot more sugar in it.

    Apricots to me are a delicacy of a fruit. It has a short season, just in the summer. Dried they are also delicious, but you can’t eat too many or else you end up with gas pains. lol Apricots are rich in carotenoids which are good for protecting your eyesight. Originally they come from China but now the top producers of it are Turkey, Italy, Russia, Spain, Greece, U.S.A. and France. When I think of how to consume apricots I envision either Moroccan couscous or apricot jam in cookies. I’m trying new ways to consume it with these popsicles and an oatmeal recipe coming soon.

    This recipe can also be made with plain yogurt instead of coconut milk. You can make this recipe with fresh apricots, however the flavor of apricots really blossoms when cooked because the heat intensifies their flavor and their sweetness is released.  You have two options to do make them from good to amazing:

    Cook over medium- low heat for 5 minutes with some sugar, stirring often. Once the sugar has melted and the apricots are soft you can pureed it. 

    Alternatively you can roast them at 400F drizzled with some honey and cardamom pods for 15 min.  Then flip over for another 5 minutes. You’ll know they’re done when they are completely soft and their juices are bubbles up around the edges of the pan.

    Ingredients
    3 apricots, halved, pits removed
    3 TB Ideal sugar
    ½ can of full fat coconut milk
    ½ ts ground cardamom
    2 TB Whisky

    Directions
    1. Mix all ingredients in your blender and pour into your molds. 
    2. Twirl the sticks in your mold around to get rid of the air bubbles.
    3. Freeze for 6 hours or overnight. 
    Nutritional Analysis
    Makes 5 popsicles
    109 cal, 7g fat, 3g of sugar

    Recipe adapted from tasty-yummies

    Thursday, September 4, 2014

    Watermelon Kiwi Popsicles


    Did you know that kiwi has more potassium than a banana, one kiwi has more Vitamin C than an orange, contains tons of fiber, and enhances energy levels too. Kiwis are my mother's favorite fruit so I grew up eating them often. You can add a little white rum to recipe to make watermelon mojitos, but not too much because liquor doesn't freeze well. You could also put gummy bears inside the popsicles. 

    Ingredients
    • 2 cups watermelon, chopped
    • 1 kiwi, peeled and diced
    • 1 ts fresh lime juice
    • 1 TB Ideal sugar
    Directions
    1. Blend all ingredients in a blender. Taste to adjust sweetness.
    2. Freeze for 6 hours or overnight.
    Makes 4 popsicles

    Recipe Source: yummyhealthyeasy




    Wednesday, September 3, 2014

    SoulCycle - Tap It Back


    SoulCycle opened up a new location in my city and I was excited to try out this cult following people rave about with a friend. SoulCycle is a boutquie cycling studio that gives a total body spinning workout that infuses the energy of the music into the workout and uses light hand weights. During my first class, I was given 1 lb dumbbells but thought they were too light so I asked for a 2 lb pair. This is what differentiates SoulCycle from other spinning classes - they include triceps and chest exercises, think doing a push up while spinning. I have to admit this was a challenge for me. The high energy music blasting out the speakers in the dark room made it feel like a club atmosphere. The instructor kept calling us “Tuesday Night” and doing fist pumps in the air. Her kick ass energy and upbeat music kept me motivated to push myself harder. Most of the ride was done off of the saddle We were often asked to "tap-back" which are is a subtle movement of a standing ab crunch. 

     The walls in the studio are painted with SoulCycle slogans and mantras. The lights go out at the start of class and the room is only illuminated by candles and a few spotlights on the instructor. I was in awe of how fast some of the other students legs could spin as I was barely keeping up. They encouraged me to go faster. Several times during the class the instructor asked us to high five our neighbor! I’ve done spin classes before but nothing like this. Usually I get bored with spin class and can’t wait for it to be over, but at SoulCycle the 45 min class went by so quickly!  We finished class with stretching and yogic breathing - closing our eyes and with our hands over our heart. 


    I sweated a ton, but honestly I think it’s because they don’t turn the a/c on until one third of the way into the class. Classes are expensive as one class is $30 and they don’t offer monthly memberships. You can buy class passes but you only save $1 or $2.  Then shoe rentals are $3, see you clip into the bike. And getting my foot off the bike was a challenge afterwards. lol I ended up just taking my foot out of my shoe and leaving the shoe attached to the bike. All in all it was a fun challenging workout. I took two classes with different instructors to get a good sense of the studio, but the price will deter me from coming back too often.

    But at least they don’t charge you for a towel. When you book a class you must also reserve a specific bikes (there's 60 bikes in the studio). I was very impressed by how awesomely friendly and helpful the staff was. The place is small, there’s a small co-ed locker room that gets congested but I like how the lockers are combination locks, all gyms should have this.

    They also sell their own line of merchandise, here are my favorites.


    SoulCycle




    Tuesday, September 2, 2014

    Summer Recap

    I had a nice relaxing Labor Day Weekend. I met up with friends for happy hour, went to a birthday party, a cookout, and volunteered with my church at a shelter for homeless families. At the beginning of the summer I created a  Summer Adventure Book and I'm happy to say I've completely most of the list this summer! I thought I'd recap my summer blog posts for you.

                The Glo Run Race                       Summer Running Playlist                        Beach Run





    Salad dressing
    Peach Vinaigrette                 Cilantro Lime


    Vacation
                          Los Angeles                               Santa Monica                                 Vegetarian in LA

    Beauty Posts
             Drugstore Makeup - NYX                   Face Contouring                                   Sunburn Relief

    Fashion Posts
              31 Day Closet Challenge                         Stylebook App                                Scarf Vest

    Oatmeal
            Peach Steel Cut Oats                        Chunky Monkey Overnight Oats      Peanut Butter Baked Oats



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