Spheres of Stress Relief

 

I spent the majority of my freshman year of college rolling around on the floor in my sweats and trying to release the tension in my jaw. Allow me to explain. I went to theater school and this type of activity was the basis for first year Voice and Speech. All kidding aside, that class was probably one of the most eye opening for me as an artist and really truly helped me get in touch with myself and my voice.

Back to my tense jaw. I have always been a rather tightly wound, Type A person. I am constantly looking for new way to relax, unwind and loosen up. Since my schedule and my wallet do not allow me to always run out and get massages, I love when I find ways to chill out and loosen up at home.

When I came upon t spheres I was thrilled. These aromatherapy infused massage balls are the perfect cure for tight, stressed out muscles. I have the Peace and Quiet variety, which are infused with lavender. Lavender is the most versatile essential oil and is great for calming nerves, reducing headaches and easing anxiety and stress.

I keep my t spheres in my bedside table and break them out to help me relax before bedtime. To help release the tension in my jaw I roll them in my palm along my jaw line while breathing deeply and inhaling the lavender. It really helps.

These little spheres of relaxation are also great for tired feet. When I spend a particularly long night in high heels, the next day I roll them under the balls of my feet while at my desk. Feels so amazing!

I am heading to Mexico for a friends bachelorette on Thursday morning and plan on slipping these in my carry on to help make the flight more “spa like.” They may also come in handy if anyone on the trip encounters a tequila induced headache!

 

 

 

Basketball, Sushi and Kale Salad

Sushi, and more specifically nori/seaweed and I have a long history. I have been eating sushi and sashimi since I was very little. I am the youngest child in my family by many years and I was always a little adult, with little adult sensibilities and tastes.

When I was in middle school my dad and I had Knicks seasons tickets (this was in the Patrick Ewing days when the Knicks were good, before they got BAD, and then good again). We would go to every single home game, and beforehand would go for sushi. Just me and him. I always loved seaweed salads and would order one every time (I still do).

My love for seaweed and basketball has not waned much over the years, except now I tend to route for the Celtics instead of the Knicks. That’s what happens when you fall in love with and marry the world’s largest Boston sports fan.

The other night I was making dinner to have while watching the Celtics game with Doug. Looking in the pantry I discovered a package of nori sheets tucked away towards the back. I knew their crunchy, salty texture would be the perfect addition to this slightly asian kale salad. With miso in the dressing, and sesame seeds and nori on top this salad is my personal version of those I enjoyed all throughout the 80′s and 90′s (and today!) with my dad.

For me basketball and seaweed will always go together.

Kale Salad with Cucumber and Nori

  • 1 bunch of kale torn into small pieces by hand
  • 1/4 cup of tahini (preferably raw tahini)
  • 2 T mellow white miso paste
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/2 of a large cucumber
  • 2 sheets of nori
  • 1 T Gomasio
  1. In a bowl massage the tahini, miso and lemon juice into the kale until it is soft and evenly coated.
  2. Chop the cucumber into wedges
  3. Tear the nori sheets into small pieces
  4. Divide the kale between two bowls and top each with cucumber, nori and Gomasio
  5. Enjoy while watching the NBA game of your choice
A Spa Treatment for…Kale?

Who doesn’t like going to the spa? Facials, massages, sometimes it is oh so important to take some time to unwind and indulge in a little self care.

Well, like you, your kale also loves a little massaging!

A lot of people think you can’t eat kale raw. They say its too tough and hard to chew. Well, to them I say, “do you massage your kale?” By massaging kale before you use it in a salad you allow it to soften and become easier to chew and digest. I usually massage my dressing ingredients right into my kale. You can certainly get fancy and mix up a dressing first and then massage your kale with it. Or you can massage your kale alone and add a dressing later. Whatever you choose to do, your kale will certainly love the treatment!

Here’s my latest Clean, Pure and Simple How To video to show you just how easy it is to give your kale a massage!

And tomorrow I will be back with a new delicious kale salad recipe.

 

In the Beginning- An Old Favorite with a New Twist

I have a few recipes that are go to standards in my kitchen. Dishes that bring me comfort and pleasure. Dishes I know I can make with my eyes closed. Spaghetti squash with my favorite homemade vegan pesto is one of those dishes.

A little over a year ago, at the urging of a close friend I had eight girlfriends over for a cooking class/dinner party. We hung out in my kitchen, cooked together, chatted and had a great time. At what I now refer to as the first Clean, Pure and Simple Party this dish was the highlight of the menu. Everyone was shocked at how it was much harder to mess up pesto than to make it taste amazing. As long as you have fresh basil you really cannot go wrong. They were also thrilled at how filling this dish is and how it really does satisfy you like a bowl of pasta would!

Last week was a very busy one full of social dinners, Broadway openings, Passover and more. I could not wait until Saturday night when I could stay in and cook dinner for me and Doug to eat in our sweats. Yes, I look forward to staying in on Saturday nights. I never said we were the coolest people in town. In need of some serious comfort food I decided to revisit my old favorite and see if I could add a new twist to it. I came up with a new version of pesto that uses steamed broccoli to add extra flavor and smoothness. I loved the results so much so that on Sunday I made this using my new pesto. Serious yum.

I may just have to have my girlfriends over for another cooking party so they can revisit this dish as well!

Spaghetti Squash with Vegan Broccoli Pesto

  • 1 medium spaghetti squash
  • 1 cup of broccoli florets
  • 3 big handfuls of fresh basil ( about 1 cup)
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • ½ cup nutritional yeast
  • 3 cloves of garlic minced
  • sea salt
  • black pepper

Spaghetti Squash

  1. Preheat oven to 425
  2. Pierce skin of squash all over with a fork and place in baking dish
  3. Bake squash for 45 mins-1 hour or until skin is easily cut with a knife.
  4. Remove squash from oven, allow to cool.
  5. When squash is cool enough to handle cut in half lengthwise.
  6. Remove seeds and discard.
  7. With a fork scrape flesh of squash away from skin. It should separate and look like spaghetti.
  8. Place squash “pasta” in pan over medium heat and gently toss with pesto until well coated.
  9. Top with a little extra nutritional yeast and serve hot!

Vegan Broccoli Pesto

  1. Steam the broccoli for 5-6 minutes until tender. Drain and pat dry.
  2. In a food processor combine the steamed broccoli, basil, garlic, lemon juice, nutritional yeast, sea salt and pepper until smooth.
  3. Adjust seasoning to taste.
Pure Food and Wine with a Special Visitor

I love when out of town friends come to New York. I have lived in this city my entire life and know it like the back of my hand. I love sending friends a list of places they must check out, things to do, places to eat etc. It is even better when I get to enjoy these adventures with them.

This week my friend Jean has been in town from Chicago for work. Jean is a very new friend, we only met in September (through a mutual friend) and it was love instantly. She’s into green juice and smoothies, loves vegan food, and coolest of it all just finished training to be a doula. Seriously, I love this girl.

When I heard that Jean had never experienced the raw vegan mecca that is Pure Food and Wine I knew she had to make a pilgrimage. On Monday night Jean, myself and my childhood bestie Alli (she introduced me to Jean) went to Pure for an amazing dinner.

We started with a few appetizers to share. Sharing dishes is my favorite way of eating- I like to try as many menu items as possible. First we had the Philly Roll which had a cashew cream cheese, avocado and spicy kim chee filling. Yum! It was the perfect balance of creamy and spicy. So good. Must make at home!

We also got an order of the King Oyster Mushroom “Scallops” to share. I love king oyster mushrooms and am always surprised at how their taste and consistency really does remind me of scallops. The miso sauce on the bottom of the plate was also lovely.  For my entree I had my most favorite dish at Pure. The Hen of the Woods Tacos Al Pastor. These smokey, spicy jicama tacos are filled with smoked guacamole, and topped with hearts of palm and pickled onions. The combination of the smoked guacamole and the tangy onions is perfection. I have since been craving this dish all week. 

There are many amazing desserts at Pure. Many. But since it was Jean’s maiden voyage I insisted that we get the Mint Sundae. Just reading the description on the menu make my mouth water : chocolate, fresh mint, and mint chip ice creams, mint chocolate cookies, chocolate sauce and vanilla cream. Seriously? I feel fully confident saying that this is my favorite dessert on the whole planet. And that includes some non-vegan, gluten packed things I have eaten in my (not so clean) past. 

I think the girls agreed with me about the sundae. It is just too good. 

Sweet Basil Smoothie

I am ready for summer. It’s my favorite season and I cannot wait for it’s arrival. I am so ready that this past not-so-warm Sunday I went out to brunch in my light floral jeans, light sweater, light jacket and ballet flats. Not exactly the kind of outfit for 45-50 degrees in NYC. I was cold. My sister gently mocked me. You see, this was something I would do as a child. I hated sweaters and would always want to wear my bright floral sun dresses in the chill of fall and winter. Old habits die hard. But this weekend, for the few minutes I was getting dressed in the warmth of my closet, it felt like summer.

Apart from seasonally inappropriate clothing, the smell and taste of basil always transports me to the heart of my favorite season.

Inspired by the Scottsdale Green smoothie  I had while in AZ the summer craving, basil lover in me was thrilled to come up with my own version. The combination of sweet cucumber and pineapple with basil is unexpected yet works so so well. I can see myself drinking a lot of these in the future.

Sweet Basil Smoothie

  • 1 cup coconut water ( I use Harmless Harvest 100% Raw)
  • 1/2 of an organic cucumber peeled
  • 1/4 of an avocado
  • big handful of spinach
  • handful of fresh basil
  • 1/2 cup frozen pineapple
  • liquid stevia to taste
  1. Combine all ingredients in a high speed blender or Vitamix
  2. Adjust sweetness to taste
  3. Enjoy immediately

 

Rosemary Donut Holes

I never thought I would be inspired by an airport. Stressed? Yes. Dehydrated? Yes. Inspired? Unlikely. That is until our recent visits to Turks and Caicos and Arizona, both of which departed from the lovely (by airport standards) JetBlue terminal at JFK.

Although I always pack my own snacks while traveling I do like to check out the airport stores to see what healthy options they have. Knowing not everyone travels with a mini-cooler, this gives me ideas to share with my friends and clients when they are on the road/in the air.

It was at JFK that I discovered Simple Squares. These savory-sweet, nut and honey treats are free of wheat, gluten, dairy, soy and refined sugar. I picked up a few to try and was delighted with how satisfying, simple, clean, and just sweet enough they were.

Sadly I have not been able to find these delicious treats anywhere in NYC other than the airport. Yet. So, the other day I decided to make my own sweet treat inspired by Simple Squares. These delicious little bites are incredibly easy to make and last quite awhile in the fridge.

I have to admit I was struggling for awhile with what to call these. Anything with the word “balls” in the name is less than appealing to me.

Then the other night Doug asked me, “do we have any of those donut holes left?”

“Donut holes?”

“The little balls that were in the fridge.”

“Oh, those… baby, those aren’t donut holes.”

And so the Rosemary Donut Hole was named. Thanks honey!

Rosemary Donut Holes

  • 1 cup almonds
  • 1/2 cup dried unsweetened coconut
  • 1/2 cup raw honey
  • 3 springs of rosemary de-sprigged
  • pinch of sea salt
  1. Pulse almonds in food processor for a few seconds until they are broken into smaller pieces
  2. Add all other ingredients and let food processor run until a sticky “dough” is formed
  3. Using your hands pinch off small pieces of the “dough” and roll into balls
  4. Allow to set in refrigerator or eat immediately!
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Brownie Cookies

Skeletons in the closet? How about in the freezer?

I currently have about 20 cups of frozen almond pulp in my freezer. Hey, I make a lot of almond milk! The other day I decided to spring clean my freezer and put some of that pulp to good use. What I came up with were these delicious brownie cookies. They vaguely remind me of the Two Bite Brownies from Whole Foods, but oh so much better for you. They are fully approved by my resident Cookie Monster, who devoured about five of them the other night!

 Brownie Cookies

  • 1 cup almond pulp (leftover from making almond milk)
  • 1 T ground flax
  • 3 T water
  • 2 T coconut oil (melted)
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened  cocoa powder
  • 2 tsp liquid stevia
  • pinch of salt
  1. Preheat oven to 350
  2. Combine flax and water in a small bowl. Set aside in fridge for five minutes to gel. This will be your “flax egg.”
  3. Combine all ingredients in a bowl until a sticky dough is formed
  4. Drop dough by the tablespoon onto a lined baking sheet
  5. Bake for 10 minutes rotating the pan halfway through

Allow to cool throughly before eating. These keep best in the fridge!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Weekend in the Desert Part Two – A Love Letter to Whole Foods

Ever heard someone mention their “secret single behavior?” The things they do when no one is watching? Like Britney karaoke with a hairbrush? Or eating peanut butter from the jar with a spoon?

Well, Doug and I have “secret couples behavior.” We watch the Bachelor and Bachelorette (current and old seasons). We talk to our dog as if she were a person. We seek out and explore the local Whole Foods wherever we travel.

Yup, we love the giant Whole Foods you find as soon as you leave NYC. You thought the TriBeCa Whole Foods was good? You should see Scottsdale, AZ!

Seriously, this place was awesome, huge and well laid out.

I found fresh chunks of coconut pre-scraped and ready for snacking!

My favorite discovery was the juice and smoothie bar. Usually, at a smoothie bar I have to ask them to make me a special concoction involving greens. Not here. They had a whole “Green Smoothie” section of the menu. I tried both the Dark Star and the Scottsdale Green. Yum!

Notice anything about the names of the smoothies? Most of them come from Grateful Dead song titles. When Doug realized this he was so happy! “Fire on the Mountain” is one of his favorite Dead songs and now one of his favorite smoothies.

The morning after my dad’s birthday party we were both feeling a little sluggish (hungover). We headed back to Whole Foods to try one of their green juices. 

We both got the “Jellyfish” which was a perfect combo of kale, spinach, parsley, celery and cucumber. 

My juice was so large is lasted me the entire  20 minute drive home! On Monday we left AZ at 11 am and did not arrive home in NYC until 9pm that evening ( traveling West-East is rough!) Thanks to Whole Foods I was able to stock us up with healthy snacks for the flight. When we pulled everything out of my cooler the man next to us looked over and said, “that’s some picnic.” Hey, I’m nothing if not prepared!

Does the Whole Foods near you have a juice and smoothie bar? I wish the TriBeCa one did!

Weekend in the Desert Part One

This past weekend Doug and I headed to Scottsdale, AZ to visit my dad and step-mother and celebrate my dad’s birthday. It is a rare and special treat to celebrate my dad’s birthday with him and I loved every minute of it. We had a great, relaxing weekend in the perfectly warm desert sun.

On the day of our arrival we had a late afternoon snack outside. This is one of my favorite go to’s and can be made super fast. Romaine + mustard + avocado = a light and delicious wrap!

My dad’s birthday dinner was just perfect. So much fun in such a beautiful setting. I didn’t get any pictures at dinner, but it truly was delicious including a tomato and guacamole “caprese salad” that I cannot wait to recreate. 

The next day my dad, Doug and I went to the brand new Salt River Field to see the Rockies vs. the Reds in a spring training game. Even though neither of our teams were playing (Red Sox for me and Doug, Yankees for my dad) we still had a great time. Knowing it was unlikely I would find any healthy snacks at the game I planned ahead with a trip to the (amazing) Scottsdale Whole Foods. In fact, the local Whole Foods was so awesome that it deserves it’s own post (coming tomorrow). Into my purse went a small tub of guacamole, baby carrots, Go Raw Carrot Cake Super CookiesSea Tangle Snacks, and a Larabar for Doug (heard of Cookie Monster? I call Doug Larabar Monster).

My dad especially loved the Go Raw cookies ( he even had the brilliant idea to dip them into guac!). I may just send him a care package of them!

Check in tomorrow to find out just how awesome the Whole Foods in Scottsdale is!