Spinach and Berry Smoothie Bowl
- Put the spinach, berries, banana, nut butter, protein powder and milk all in a blender and puree until smooth.
- Pour into a bowl and add toppings as you’d like!
As much as I hate actually flying – it scares me to death, I’m constantly trying to get on a plane to adventure somewhere. There’s something soothing in being somewhere you’ve never been, experiencing everything for the first time.
A few weekends ago I flew to Denver to visit my sister and a few old friends I hadn’t seen in a while. I fly Southwest as much as I can, and the flight was smooth, easy and really quick. I’m kicking myself for not having visited sooner! It was an absolutely incredible trip. I’ve always lived around bodies of water, whether they were lakes or oceans, but the mountains are something different. They have a grandeur and depth that the flatness of the horizon over water just can’t capture. They are breathtaking, and never get old.
We spent a full day in Estes Park, rising in elevation as the hours passed. We rented snowshoes, and once we got close to the trail, we parked on the side of the road and started climbing. Zigzagging around Lily Mountain gave us new, incredible views at every turn. It took us about 2 hours to reach the top, where the climb got steeper and increasingly difficult to move with snowshoes on, but it was SO worth it!
The rest of the days I spent in Denver were filled with heartwarming laughter and love with friends and family. For a long time I worked my butt off. I never took a vacation, made time for friends, family or holidays. I even missed my cousins wedding. Seeing all these people in Denver that I hadn’t seen in so long really made me realize what was important in life. Working that hard for somebody else’s benefit just wasn’t worth it anymore. It gave me the push I needed to really focus on Local Hospitality and let it flourish.
Winter this year took a slow start. It was over 40 degrees into January, which is very rare in a place like Chicago. While nobody was holding their breath for a mild winter, secretly everyone was hoping for it. And here comes February, true to nature, bringing temperatures below 20. Absolutely freezing.
Looking for something to do that did not involve going outside, my mom suggested I make a soup, a vegetable soup to be exact. After hanging up the phone, I decided that was a great idea. I truly enjoy making homemade soup – mainly because there are minimal dishes to clean!
I’ve been eyeing this particular soup on Beth Kirby’s blog Local Milk. Her food and aesthetic have inspired me for a while now. Having worked in restaurants for 7 years, I find her recipes to be incredibly succinct and perform very well for home cooks. I’m very happy with how well this soup turned out. I added my own twist to it with asian spices, but the soul of the recipe still comes through. Its warm and soothing with a little kick to it. PERFECT for these current freezing temps!
Here is the recipe from Local Milk with my additions
“Beauty is not in the face; beauty is a light in the heart.” – Kahlil Gibran
I couldn’t agree with that quote more. However, as some one who was dealt a hand of unruly combination skin, it can be hard to believe at times. I wouldn’t go as far as to say that my skin was horrible, but it was never as clear as I would’ve liked. I tried everything from at-home remedies (lemon and honey masks) to dermatologist visits. NOTHING. I mean NOTHING worked.
Everything came to a head about 3 months after moving from Chicago to San Francisco. My skin is so sensitive that the quick change in the environment took its toll. If that wasn’t enough, I had started regularly taking yoga classes, and was sweating out all sorts of toxins. One morning, I woke up with the worst breakout of my life. It was so bad I thought I had hives. I’d never seen anything like it on my body before. I immediately took to researching everything I could.
More and more of the same old tricks I had read and tried before were resurfacing. I was getting worried. That’s when I came upon my holy grail: Dr. Hauschka. Their philosophy is to “always deliver the most effective, highest quality natural skin care that supports both the health and beauty of your skin.” They take a refreshing and logical approach to skin care. For instance, I have combination skin, meaning my t-zone can be very oily, whereas my cheeks tend to be dry. Part of my routine was to cleanse with their ultra-soft Soothing Cleansing Milk, spritz my face and decolletage with the brightening Clarifying Toner, and then put their Clarifying Day Oil on my face. The last part was radical to me. I have NEVER moisturized my face, let alone put oil on it, in fear that it would clog my pours even more and cause further breakout. Even though it was crazy, I tried it anyway. I was desperate and had nothing to lose. Of course, I coupled this new skin regimen with healthy eating, continued exercise and drinking lots and lots of water, which is always recommended across the board for healthier, glowing skin.
The first few days, I didn’t notice much difference. It was troubling, but I knew these kinds of things take time to start working. After the first week, however, there were MASSIVE improvements. I literally couldn’t believe it. My skin wasn’t just clearing up, it began actually glowing, and all the typical redness went away completely. Strangers would comment on how lovely my skin looked. With all of the healthy eating and exercise, I felt better than I have in years. It was like everything finally connected. I was strong, positive and happy.
That was 2 years ago. I’ve continued using almost the same skincare regimen, with a few tweaks here and there. It was amazing how thinking about my body and skin differently – trying to nourish it instead of force it to be what I want – changed everything. I always believe skin care to be very personal, and what works for me will not necessarily work for anyone else. But thinking about my skin in a new light made all the difference.
“We did not inherit the Earth from our forefathers, we are borrowing it from our descendants.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
Traveling is one of my greatest pleasures. Being somewhere unfamiliar really allows me to open myself up to new adventures and experiences I may not be willing to pursue at home. It’s mentally cleansing for me, and usually comes at necessary points in my life. However, it tends to wreak havoc on my body. The dehydration of flying, over-indulgence, and lack of regular exercise leave me feeling fatigued and unhealthy.
It’s always nice to come home and enjoy something light and refreshing to reset myself. To me, there’s nothing more refreshing than fresh citrus. Conveniently, it’s also citrus season, so I made a quinoa, blood orange and herb salad. Eating based on seasonality is so important. Not only are you enjoying produce when it’s the absolute best, you’re also doing a service to the environment. The seasonality of produce means that it is growing naturally at that time, which means less intervention by humans.
Citrus is my all time favorite winter ingredient. It brightens everything up, including your skin, especially during such a chilly, gray winter. While Cara Cara is my favorite for snacking, I prefer something a little less sweet for vinaigrettes or finishing. For the salad I chose blood oranges and lemons combined with a little rice wine vinegar. Herbs are also perfect for brightening dishes and adding flavor and nutrition at the same time.
Quinoa is one of my favorite grains to build meals on. It’s high in fiber, and contains all nine essential amino acids making it a complete protein. I tend to prefer red or black quinoa over white since it tends to hold their shape after cooking. White quinoa can get a little mushy.
Quinoa Salad with Winter Citrus, Walnuts and Herbs
1 cup Quinoa
2 cups Water
1/2 cup Castellvetrano Olives, chopped
3 Blood Oranges
2tbsp Olive Oil
1tbsp Rice Wine Vinegar
3/4 cup Walnuts
Dill and Mint for garnish
Salt and Pepper to taste
I always begin a new year with a vacation – a sublime week turned off from work. It is a much needed time for me mentally and physically. 2016 was one of the most challenging years, professionally, that I have had, and this getaway was just what I needed. We headed south, through Indiana, to Kentucky to visit Mark’s family. I look forward to these visits every time we go. They are always full of love, happiness and lots of good food – particularly the BBQ. Oh, and of course the whiskey! We always end up coming home with a car full.
From there, we continued south, into the rolling hills of Tennessee to the home of Honky Tonk. Nashville has been on my list of places to go for a long time now. I really don’t know why we hadn’t visited earlier. It has all the things we love – music, food and whiskey. I have to say, Nashville is a BLAST! We were non-stop for four straight days eating, drinking and dancing our way through the city.
We thoroughly enjoyed the bagels and lox at Proper Bagel across from Belmont University. They make their bagels and bialy’s daily and the divine smoked fish is flown in from New York. The New York Leo on the Spinach Everything bagel was my absolutely favorite.
We had quite a tasty brunch at Josephine on Saturday morning. They make a delightful scrapple – minced pork mixed with cornmeal and flour – paired with eggs benedict.
For all of the eating and drinking we did, Husk had to be the absolute best meal/experience we had. We started off with drinks in the basement bar sipping some very special (again) whiskey’s and ciders sourced strictly from southern states. The bartenders depth of knowledge of each selection was both humble and passionate – something I appreciate very much. Once we were seated, the progression of food began. From the very beginning, it was exceptional. We were invited to do a multi-course tasting with beverage pairings. It was a very special meal. If you ever have the opportunity to sample any of their country hams, DO IT. It was the absolute best ham I’ve every had – pair it with some Pappy Van Winkle for something VERY special!
Another highlight was our midday date at Pinewood Social’s bowling alley. Pinewood Social is a renovated old bowling alley. The six gorgeous lanes are reservation only – and yes, they are ALWAYS booked. You are welcome to drinks and food from their bar and lounge, as well as coffee from Crema inside the space.
Nashville is such a fun and inspiring place, and I look forward to many more visits!