Try This—Jicama!!!

I should probably admit that I’m kind of a picky eater. I’m almost always certain to pass on funny looking veggies I’ve never heard of at the farmer’s market. Seriously, no matter how many rave reviews jackfruit, or whatever, gets on cooking sites, just looking at that thing gives me the shivers. I’m the one at the kitchen table using the prongs of my fork to separate that unidentified ingredient from the rest of the meal, holding it up to the light, crinkling my nose, and asking, “what is this?” I’ll even go so far as to do a ton of research on the superfood du jour, but not even a stellar report card of health benefits can convince me to take the plunge.

Anyway, as with most of the new foods I end up trying, the story starts with a stir fry. I love stir fry. No other meal can trick me into putting fermented whatever-the-hell into a dish I’m about to consume, no questions asked. It is stir fry that got me to try mung bean sprouts, bok choy, water chestnuts and countless varieties of mushrooms. So on my latest run to the Asian food store, I got my hands on jicama.

I’d been hearing a lot of good things about jicama. I decided to just bite my bottom lip and add it to my weekend stir fry.  Omigod! Probably the best decision I’ve made in a long time… My decision to pack tank tops when flying to England was decidedly the worst decision I’ve made recently because cold. Anyway, jicama is the truth, y’all. It’s like a mix between an apple, a russet potato, and a turnip. I mean, who knew? Okay, so maybe I’m a little late to the party, as I’ve seen a ton of recipes floating around Pinterest, but still, better late than never!

For the rundown on jicama, check out these useful infographics below, courtesy of draxe.com, then keep scrolling for some serving suggestions courtesy of thekitchn.

Jicama (HEE—KAH—MAH)

Serving Suggestions

  • First, know that a jicama stick can stand up to a carrot stick any day — excellent on its own, or with a dip or vinaigrette.
  • Jicama makes an excellent salsa — a perfect match for a tortilla chip or to top a taco. Cut jicama into slim sticks, then dice it finely. Combine the jicama with corn or diced tomato, black beans, a little red onion or scallion, minced jalapeno, cilantro, and lime juice.
  • Cut jicama into thin strips or matchsticks and make a slaw with shredded red cabbage, carrots, and avocado.
  • Tuck jicama matchsticks into fresh spring rolls.
  • Stir-fry jicama; its flesh stays crisp when cooked briefly, adding a refreshing crunch to any strir-fry. Try it with broccoli, garlic, ginger, scallions, and toasted sesame seeds or cashews.

 

Spa Oasis: The 4 Best Shower Plants To Add to Your Bathroom + A Nifty Idea for the Commitment-Phobic Plant Lover

This summer I went to Stockholm and got to see Scandinavian design first hand. Ikea definitely rules the city, but one thing that I hadn’t really noticed before my visit was this new trend that’s sweeping across the internet: shower plants. I stayed at this cute little air bnb and the bathroom was full of potted plants. I absolutely loved it. The shower stall had hanging plants creeping down the side of the wall and the tub was adorned with beautiful potted plants. It made for the most relaxing spa shower I’ve had in a long time.

As soon as I got back to the states, I knew I just had to add a little green to my shower. I did some investigating and soon discovered that Swedes might be on to something here. Not only are potted plants in the bathroom totally beautiful, but they also serve the function of purifying the air of bacteria and humidity. Perfect for a bathroom! It’s no secret how much I love houseplants. Even though I have the worst luck in keeping plants alive, I’ve found some houseplants that totally thrive even when they are in the care of an herbicidal maniac like me. Finding houseplants for your shower is no different. These plants are totally well suited for a bathroom’s humid environment and are all seriously low maintenance. Check it out!

Air Plants

These amazing little guys are really making the rounds on Pinterest lately. Practically impossible to kill, they add a touch of elegance without all of the fuss. They don’t need soil and when stored in a bathroom, they get most of their water from the air. Just perfect!

Ferns

An oldie, but goodie. Ferns never lose their charm. They require little maintenance and are super prolific. they don’t need direct sunlight and your shower will feel like a rainforest. These look amazing on a vanity, on the lip of a tub, or on a shelf above the toilet.

Spider Plants

Spider plants serve double duty by adding a beautiful touch of low maintenance green to your loo, while at the same time purifying the air. They don’t need much light and they really do well in the humid environment provided by a bathroom.

Eternity Plant

So aptly named, the eternity plant is virtually impossible to kill. Seriously, I tried. I am horrible at taking care of plants, but this one here doesn’t mind the fact that I, ahem, never water it, never talk to it (aren’t you supposed to talk to plants?), and have only indirect sunlight in my bathroom. Forget about marriage, this guy will never give up on his relationship with you.

Nifty Idea: Bath Bouquets

Ok. So what if you’re not willing to even attempt to care for a plant, no matter how low maintenance it is? I totally understand. I have a guest bathroom that I seriously never use. I only go in there to wipe it down from time to time when I know I’m going to have company. Not an ideal place for indoor plants that rely, even just a little bit, on human interaction.

For that bathroom, I like to put together a bouquet of eucalyptus, mint, lavender, rosemary, or lemongrass stems that i tie up with natural twine (find it here) and hang from the shower curtain. These ‘bouquets’ last for weeks and release the most beautiful fragrances when in an enclosed space. When and if you do use the shower, the bouquet reacts to the steam and creates an amazing aromatherapy shower. Such a cool little idea! You can avoid commitment, but still enjoy the benefits of bringing the outside in!

4 Miraculous Overnight Face Masks + A New Super Indulgent Beauty Secret

Lazy girl beauty tips are really the best beauty tips. I love homemade beauty recipes, but truth be told I love-love the homemade recipes that use just 2 ingredients. No muss, no fuss. Who doesn’t crave a simple, effortless beauty routine that literally works miracles while you sleep. Nature has provided us with all we need to make that a reality. These 2-ingredient masks will have you waking up to a brand new you! Beauty sleep, y’all!!!

Lemon + Almond Oil Astringent

If dark circles are your issue this lemon + almond oil astringent is gonna be your new best friend. Just mix a few drops of lemon juice with a little bit of almond oil. Apply this mixture underneath your eyes before you go to bed and wake up to a visible difference.

Tomato + Honey

Vitamins and minerals galore! Tomatoes are the star of the show in this face mask. If you’ve struggled with large pores or acne or if you just want to rescue a dull complexion, you should give this a go. Chop up a slice of tomato and mash it up with a little bit of honey to form a paste. Apply this to your face before bed and wash it off in the morning. You may want to lay a towel over your pillow to prevent your bed linens from getting stained.

 

Oats + Honey

To give dry skin the boot, try this mask. This one is one of my all time favorites! It’s perfect for all skin types and is a go to combo for sensitive skin. Mix equal parts oats and honey into a thick paste. Apply evenly to your face before bed, massaging in circular motions. Wash it off in the morning to reveal skin that is soft and dewy to the touch! Again, you may want to lay a towel over your bed linens.

Coconut Oil + Tea Tree Oil

These oils combined are the holy grail of antiseptic blemish control! If your skin can tolerate coconut oil as a moisturizer (steer clear if you’re prone to acne and clogged pores), try mixing in a few drops of tea tree oil into a spoonful of coconut oil forming a semi-clear serum. Apply this all over your face and neck before bed and rinse off in the morning.

Super Indulgent Beauty Secret

Now for the part where we all start living the dream: how about your new beauty secret is eating chocolate!!! Thanks to the geniuses over at Sakara Life (yep, the same Sakara Life that does organic meal delivery) we can now nom nom on delicious dark chocolate on our way to beautiful skin. Beautiful skin from the outside in!

As Sakara Life co-founders Danielle Dubois and Whitney Tingle explain, “You can moisturize the top layer of skin with creams and serums, but the phytoceramides in Beauty Chocolates replenish the cell barrier and stimulate collagen from within, helping to seal in moisture, plump and smooth wrinkles, and boost your glow!” All that goodness is packaged in a delightful little chocolate that you can enjoy as a midnight snack. Best part is these babies are clinically proven to give you results in two weeks. Snack on chocolate for two weeks. Seriously?! Yes, please! My advice: whip up one of these simple overnight masks, pop a chocolate, and slip into the most extraordinary beauty rest of your life.

Your Beauty Diet: The Very Best Skin-Nourishing Foods

You guys!!! I’ve been so busy since I got back from Europe. The new school year is starting, so I’ve been helping my sister set up her classroom down in Philadelphia. I’m always amazed at how much work teachers have to do and how many classroom resources they have to pay for themselves. Shout out to all the educators out there! Side bar: if you want to donate to her classroom, please don’t hesitate! You can donate here and if you’d like to know a little more about her classroom check out this link.

Anyway, I’m just getting back into the swing of things since the trip. I came down with a horrible cold as soon as I got back, and that really took the wind out of my sails. If you’ve been following for a while you know that I rarely, and I do mean rarely, get sick. I’m totally married to taking preventative measures against cold and flu season, and on the rare occasion that I do get sick, I’m all about those quick, natural remedies. All this travel had my immune system in a tailspin though, and what’s worse is that all that sick and tired started to surface on my skin. You know that weary-eyed, dull look you get when you’re sick? Well let’s just say that cold added about 20 years to my Gesicht. Not cool.

Beauty is only skin deep, right? Meh. Not always. The foods we eat definitely impact our beauty from the inside out. We are what we eat for real! So when trying to bring your sexy back, diet is a key component. Here is a list of the best beauty foods to incorporate into your lifestyle.

THE BEST BEAUTY FOODS

  1. Lacto-fermented foods are excellent for improving digestion as they are predigested by bacteria so nutrients are more available for the body to use. The process also creates natural probiotics, key for good gut health. Studies also show that lack of certain acids such as hydrochloric acid in the gut contributes to skin problems from rosacea to acne.Lactic acid bacteria can help increase these acids. Other important beauty foods to eat are prebiotic foods such as Jerusalem artichoke, bananas, green veggies, asparagus, onions and garlic that feed the good bacteria in your gut. Foods rich in digestive enzymes such as papaya and pineapple can also help nourish gut and skin health.
  2. Anti-inflammatory foods. Inflammation contributes to a host of skin problems including dryness, pimples and loss of skin tone, as it breaks down essential collagen. Anti-inflammatory foods include lacto-fermented foods and those rich in antioxidants and omega-3s. Grain-fed meats contain inflammatory fats whereas grass-fed meats are rich in CLA (conjugated linoleic acid) and omega -3s. For beauty and health, avoid highly processed foods, sugar, alcohol, pasteurized dairy and gluten that can all contribute to inflammation.
  3. Alkalising foods. Many naturopaths believe that too much acid in the body may lead to skin and health issues from arthritis to eczema. The modern diet is full of acidic foods such as red meat, alcohol, refined grains and sugar. To see and feel the benefits, reduce these and eat lots of alkalising foods: lemons, green leafy veg, fruit, herbs, spices, herbal teas.
  4. Antioxidant-rich foods have anti-inflammatory properties and help protect the skin from free radical damage that ages it prematurely. Free radicals are unstable molecules that naturally roam our bodies looking to partner up with healthy cells, which they then damage. Antioxidant-rich foods include fruits, veggies, spices, green tea and legumes. While oxidation is a normal part of our body’s processes, it is exacerbated by exposure to toxins and pollution, eating processed foods, stress, cigarettes and alcohol so try to cut down on these for your health, and your complexion.
  5. Vitamin C-rich foods. Vitamin C helps support collagen production and boost the skin’s immunity. Lemons, camu camu (a cherry-like fruit), acerola cherry, green leafy veggies, berries, papaya, kiwi fruit, broccoli and cabbage should all be on your shopping list if you want a beautiful complexion.
  6. Vitamin A. Beta-carotene or pro-vitamin A helps rejuvenate the skin and promotes cell turnover, improving dry flaky skin. Carrots, sweet potato, leafy greens and seaweeds are rich in vitamin A. Cod liver oil is another great source and also contains skin-loving vitamin D.
  7. Spark up your skin. Minerals are key catalysts for many biochemical reactions, helping to make enzymes, antioxidants and hormones. They are essential for skin’s hydration, resilience and overall texture and health. Oats, buckwheat and chickpeas contain silica, for example, which can help to promote skin elasticity. Zinc in pepitas is another anti-inflammatory helpful in repairing and building the skin, particularly if you are prone to acne or oily skin. Soak grains, seeds and legumes to reduce anti-nutrients, aid their digestibility and unleash their goodness.
  8. Support the liver. Foods that support the liver are very important to wellness and beauty because this organ is involved in every metabolic process. Max sulphur-rich foods, including those from the brassica family – cabbage, broccoli, kale – in your diet and enjoy nourishing, slow-cooked bone broths.
  9. Eat liver-supporting herbs such as milk thistle, rosemary, fennel, dandelion and burdock root.
  10. Eat fat. Eat essential fatty acids. The ideal ratio is 1:1 – 5:1 of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids, but in the Western world it looks more like 20:1 – 50:1. While omega-6s are essential, their dominance causes inflammation in the body, so avoid processed packaged foods and refined vegetable, seed and nut oils.Eat fresh seeds and nuts for omega-6s and dose up on omega-3s by eating fresh fish (especially cold-water fish), flaxseeds and chia seeds. Be sure to eat freshly ground flaxseeds and chia seeds as they oxidise very easily. Krill oil is also a great omega-3-rich supplement. Other skin-boosting unsaturated fats are olive oil – avoid heating it as it oxidises – and the fats in avocado.Cook with saturated fats such as red palm oil and coconut oil: these are stable and rich in medium-chain fatty acids, which are great for digestion, brain and skin health.
  11. Eat protein. Insufficient protein in the diet can lead to sallow-looking skin and lack of muscle tone. Protein is vital for collagen synthesis, tissue growth and repair. It’s important for balancing blood-sugar levels and it builds muscle, increasing basal metabolic rate or the rate at which you burn fat. Good protein sources are fish, grass-fed meats, fresh nuts and seeds and cultured dairy.

Your body will thank you for introducing all of these cleansing foods into your diet. I’ve been really good about changing the way I think about and choose the foods I eat. The payoff is immediate. More energy, a total relief from abdominal discomfort, and now that I think of it, I’ve also been less stressed out and anxious than I’ve been in years. Cherry on top? A youthful glow to my skin. What more could a lady ask for?!

Source: The Beauty Chef

Try This—Halloumi Burgers With Sticky Sriracha Glaze

I finally got back home from a month long vacation to Stockholm and London! I totally missed you guys, but I seriously had an amazing time. London has officially become my second favorite city (you know I gotta represent my hometown NYC). I’m already planning my next vacay with a must have pit stop in the UK.

Anyway, I stayed in Limehouse, an area in East London right next to Jack the Ripper’s old stomping grounds in Whitechapel. I’d never been to London before and I’ve heard horror stories about the food all my life, but when I arrived, I was absolutely famished and exhausted so I had to brave it. I dropped my bags at the air bnb, and walked right out the door to find something to eat. I was staying on Commercial Rd., a giant, super busy street, so I figured that I’d be able to at least find a grocery store. Limehouse is an up and coming neighborhood, so there weren’t as many restaurants as there are in areas like say Bloomsbury. Nevertheless, I stumbled upon this little cafe a few blocks from my place called Sylvia’s Corner that served all kinds of specialty coffee drinks and diner type food. Yes and yes! I was in the mood for a sandwich, so I scanned the menu looking for a veggie burger.

As a vegetarian, I’m always fully prepared to suffer through a soggy, poorly made portobello mushroom sandwich when I’m ordering at a restaurant. I was pretty surprised when I saw that Sylvia’s had a halloumi burger on the menu. Halloumi has been trending for quite some time now in the foodie world. If you don’t know what halloumi is you are truly missing out. Get this, it’s a kind of cheese made from goat’s and sheep milk, that doesn’t melt when you cook it. I know that sounds crazy because like who doesn’t appreciate the perfect gooey of melted cheese? Right?! But hear me out— the reason halloumi is so amazing is precisely because it doesn’t melt like regular cheese. It basically catapults itself into the position of being the very best thing to throw on to a grill or into a frying pan for your vegetarian friends. This halloumi burger at Sylvia’s was transcendent. I mean, I was pretty much full half way through the thing and still, not only did I just have to finish it all, but I seriously considered ordering another one to take home to the air bnb.

Fast forward: as soon as I cleared customs coming back to the States, I was on a mission to recreate those amazing halloumi burgers  (yeah, burgers, plural) that I enjoyed at Sylvia’s. The good news is that you can find halloumi at a ton of stores. Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, and even Walmart carry it. The even better news is that halloumi is so easy to cook that you’ll be in sandwich heaven in no time. With Labor Day right around the corner, and the final days of perfect bbq and picnic weather fast approaching, drop everything—You must try this!!!

Halloumi Burgers with Sticky sriracha glaze

Ingredients

2 servings

For the Burger

  • about 3 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 5 mushroom, sliced
  • 3 tbsp bread crumbs or semolina
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 egg
  • 5oz (about half a pack) of Halloumi, cut into slices
  • 2 brioche rolls
  • Cup of lettuce or spinach leaves
  • ½ red onion, peeled and sliced

For the Glaze

  • ¼ tsp ground ginger
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 1+1/2 tbsp soft brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp sriracha

Directions

  • To make the sauce: Place all the sauce ingredients into your smallest saucepan and bring to a boil stirring occasionally. Continue to stir, and cook for another 1-3 minutes until the sauce has reduced down to a runny syrup. Remove from heat allowing the glaze to thicken even more as it cools.
  • Heat some oil in a skillet and fry your mushrooms. Remove the mushrooms from the pan. Add the remaining oil to the pan and heat.
  • Place the bread crumbs or semolina on a small dish with the a little salt and pepper. Crack the egg into a small dish and whisk lightly with a fork. Dip the halloumi slices into the egg, then coat in the bread crumbs or semolina. Place in the pan and fry on a medium-high heat for 2-3 minutes on each side until golden brown.
  • While the halloumi is frying, assemble your sandwich. Lightly toast the brioche rolls. Add the lettuce and mushroom slices to the rolls. Once the halloumi is cooked, place the slices on top of the mushrooms. Top with red onion (you can saute some with the mushrooms if you prefer) and then drizzle over a little (or a lot!) of the glaze. Enjoy!!!

***this is a variation of a recipe that first appeared on Craftberry Bush