Try This— Vegetarian Lebanese Stew

I’d rather spend half an hour rearranging things in the dishwasher to fit in that last mug than spend the 20 seconds it would take to wash it by hand. Are you sure you want to turn me loose on meal planning? Ok. Let’s go! If my dishwasher ambition tells you anything, it’s that I crave efficiency. I like the idea of making a big meal on a Sunday evening and eating the leftovers throughout the week. Cook once, eat all week. I’ve found that when the weather is as cold as it’s been, there’s nothing more satisfying than a piping hot bowl of stew. Served over rice, mashed potatoes, with a side salad, or as a stand alone meal, vegetarian stews are probably the easiest weeknight meal you can make.

In the past, I’ve always just sliced up root vegetables and dumped them in a slow cooker with some pre-made soup (carrots, turnips, parsnips, onions, potatoes, and yams, with a butternut squash soup base is my favorite). Totally easy way to make a stew, but after a while it can get a little boring. I decided to play with some Middle Eastern flavors in the stew I made last night and I’m so glad I did! Oregano, mint, and cinnamon take this stew to new heights. It’s hearty, stick-to-your-ribs good, yet still seems fresh and lighter than most stews. You must try this!

Lebanese Vegetarian Stew

Ingredients

  • 2 medium onions, diced
  • 1 large bell pepper, chopped. You pick the colors. I like green peppers in this stew
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced.
  • 3 baking potatoes, peeled and chopped.
  • 1 16 ounce can of chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 1 16 ounce can of white beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 26.46 ounce box of Pomi Strained Tomatoes or a 28 ounce can of tomato puree
  • 13 ounces or a generous 1-1/2 cups of canned crushed tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup of white wine or a couple of splashes of dry vermouth (optional)
  • 1 1/2 cups of vegetable broth
  • Drizzle of honey or about a teaspoon of sugar to balance the acid in the tomatoes.
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon of dried oregano. Rub it between your fingers to release the flavor.
  • 1/2 teaspoon of dried marjoram (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon of dried mint
  • A couple of pinches of ground cinnamon
  • Olive oil for cooking and drizzling
  • Sea salt or kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste

Directions

  • In a large dutch oven or an oven safe pot with a lid, saute the onions and bell pepper on medium to medium high heat with some olive oil, salt and pepper.
  • Once the pepper and onions are soft, add the potatoes, garlic, chickpeas, white beans, tomatoes, vegetable broth, wine/vermouth, sugar, dried herbs, spices, bay leaves and more salt and pepper.
  • Bring to a gentle boil. Immediately turn down the heat, simmer, covered for about 5-7 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  • After 5 minutes of stove top simmering, place the pot in the oven and cook for an additional 30-40 minutes or until the potatoes are tender.
  • When the stew is finished cooking, remove bay leaves.
  • Adjust the salt and pepper. Also add a pinch more of dried oregano, mint and cinnamon.
  • Serve with rice or a salad and a dollop of sour cream.
  • Enjoy!

This recipes makes a pretty big pot of stew. If you’re cooking for yourself, you can place the leftovers in mason jars and store for up to a week in the refrigerator, and up to 2 months in the freezer. Bonus: If you’re feeling like you want a pot pie (and really who doesn’t?), this stew makes the perfect filling. Just pour this into your pie pan and bake. Seriously, how easy is that?!

Pro tip: I prefer to use Pomi tomato products because they come in a box instead of a can, and somehow always retain a garden fresh flavor.

recipe adapted from Vintage Kitchen

Interior Design Trends to Look For in 2018

Confession: My Christmas decorations are still up and I’m toying with the idea of just turning my place into a New Jersey-style restaurant to avoid taking them down. But with so much on the horizon in the world of interior design and home decor, I’m feeling inspired. There are so many cool ideas gaining popularity that I might have to get off my a– and pack this stuff up now. I haven’t made it a secret how much I love those Scandi, mid century modern, and minimalist styles. I’ve even learned ways to spice things up a bit with a Bohemian twist. Still, the lack of bold colors present in these design trends really gets to you after a while. Seriously, who doesn’t cheer for Reese Witherspoon and Tobey Macguire when all those beautiful colors start to wash over Pleasantville? Apparently, everybody cheers because 2018 is going to be all about color! Check it out!

2018 Interior Design Trends

Maximilism

Yeah. This is becoming a thing. Mixing contrasting patterns and prints, Maximilism, marks the moving away from the mininmalist and Scandinavian design aesthetic that’s been on trend for some time now. Be honest. Haven’t you been getting a little bored scrolling through Instagram and seeing all the uniform colors and patterns? Well, Maximilism is the antidote.

Cubism

Apart from the neutral color palette that’s dominated design, form and function has been super popular. We’ve been looking at sleek and functional designs in furniture and home decor for so long that sooner or later we knew there had to be some kind of backlash. Enter Cubism. Cubism celebrates the complexity of perspective. It’s like looking at one thing from many viewpoints all at the same time in one piece. I mean, I’m no art historian, but I’m pretty sure that when Picasso finished painting the Sistine Chapel, he was so excited that he accidentally cut his ear off. You gotta respect the art coming from a dude like that. This year, expect to see a lot of colorful wall hangings that are perfectly imperfect.

Ceramic

Subway tiles have been trending for what seems like forever, but this year expect to see something moodier, darker, and more dramatic in design. Handmade, painted tiles are going to take over kitchen backsplashes, while handmade ceramics will be a prominent feature on counter tops. Also, if subway tile has taught us anything, it’s that more grout = harder to clean. This year you’ll definitely see a trend toward bigger tiles.

There are so many exciting things abuzz with design, and I promise I’ll keep my ear to the ground for you guys. Check back with me often and be sure to follow me on Pinterest.

Wellness Trends to Look For in 2018

I had a major crush on this boy that was way into Tai Chi and who (spoiler alert) turned out to be a totally self important tool bag. Considering he was so wrong about so many things, I started to firmly believe that Tai Chi is ridiculous because, ya know, there’s no “I” in denial. But with the new year comes the opportunity to restart, rejuvenate, and reinvent yourself. Even though I’ve come to see the practice of Tai Chi as a reliable red flag as any, this new year is already telling me otherwise. Tai Chi classes have already started making their way into a gym or park near you. Alas, this low impact exercise is perfect for reducing stress and creating calm in both mind and body. Still bitter. I probably need to work on that. Wellness is all about mind, body, and soul, right? So, what else is 2018 bringing into the world of wellness? Here are just a few things that we’ll be seeing more of this year.

Indoor Air Purification

As world leaders continue to compare missile sizes, and pretty severe weather patterns are devastating entire regions, we can’t help but notice environmental effects on our overall sense of wellness. Clean water has been a concern for decades, but this year, expect to see more talk about indoor air purification.

After you painstakingly planned your diet and really got yourself into a successful workout routine, breathing in the comfort of your own home should be a no-brainer. Sadly, dust, mold, and other pollutants have been putting a strain on that otherwise quiet existence for some time now. Searches for air purifiers and air purifying household plants have already increased by nearly 300% and we’ve only just begun.

Fortunately, there are some pretty awesome air purifiers available on amazon. For larger spaces in your home, this tower-style HEPA air purifier with a charcoal filter is a workhorse, clearing the air of allergens and odor from pets and smoke. For smaller spaces, like your bedroom nightstand, this cute purifier will filter out 99% of the allergens in the air. Best part, they’re extremely affordable.

The Importance of Self Care

Mindfulness in meditation has been trending for a while now. The idea is to be present in the moment and gradually let go of the thoughts that produce anxiety and adversely affect our mental well being. This trend is going to have some company this year as self-care becomes more and more important. Whether the emphasis is on caring for your body through restorative post workout stretches or snacks (Huel and Althletic Greens have been my saving grace), getting enough sleep, or slipping away into a spa-like bath, the principle of self care is no longer a luxury. This year, it’s a necessity.

¬†Well + Good predicts…

From athletic gear, to women’s health, to brain-boosting supplements, to craft Kombucha elixirs, to gut health, and beyond. Those trailblazing folks over at Well+Good have rounded up their Top 18 Trends of 2018. It’s so worth the read. I don’t know about you, but bio-hacking and high-tech sleep sound uh-mazing!

Green Beauty Trends to Look for in 2018

Fact: Queen Elizabeth I wore lead based makeup that brought all the boys to the yard, but tragically turned her skin a very permanent and sickly shade of gray, and lead to blood poisoning that eventually contributed to her death. Fact: Today, the beauty industry, ignoring the newly discovered power of milkshakes, still uses a bunch of poisonous additives that over time have some awful side effects. Fortunately, the past few years have given rise to the green beauty movement. More and more companies are ditching the harmful chemicals and opting for a natural ingredient approach to cosmetics. That’s good news for us die-hard, natural beauty DIYers. So what can we expect to see more of in 2018?

Celestial Skin Care

It should come as no surprise after the unreal fascination with the Solar eclipse of 2017, but the beauty industry is tapping the heavens for the next big thing. Companies like Girl Undiscovered and Terra Luna Beauty are leading the pack with their cosmically inspired lines. Girl Undiscovered has launched a crystal-infused, three-piece facial collection that includes the aptly named Stars Aligning Organic Face Elixir. Meanwhile, Terra Luna Beauty has bath time covered with its range of tub soaks like the Moon, UFO, and Saturn Detox Baths.

Ayurvedic Beauty

I’ll be honest, I never really got into the whole K-beauty thing. For some reason I always thought that there was an emphasis on skin lightening which kind of freaked me out. This year, we can look forward to the next international beauty craze coming from the Middle East and Southeast Asia. Brands like Reshma Beauty and Ranavat Botanics each offer a line of skin care products that draw on the Ayurvedic tradition. Believe me when I say that Reshma’s affordable turmeric bar soap is a game changer, while Ranavat Botanic’s range of masques and toniques, though pricier, are well worth their weight in saffron.

Clean Make Up Finally Gets Bold

So if you’ve been on this natural skin care journey for a while, you know that the color variety and the staying power of a lot of these natural make up brands hasn’t really stacked up next to the more commercial brands. Well, that is sooo 2017. This year, the natural beauty industry is getting a bold make over (pun definitely intended). Bold colors that last is the name of the game. Luk Beautifood has literally taken our favorite smoothie ingredients and turned them into a colorful line of lipsticks. They even have a Toxin Free Starter Kit Bundle that includes lipstick, lip stain, mascara, and an eye pencil. What’s missing? Oh yeah! Eye shadow! Josephine Cosmetics continues to do some pretty amazing things with eye shadow as part of their organic make up line. To all my natural beauty fashionistas out there, we can finally say goodbye to sticking to earth tones! Go bold or go home!

Meanwhile, On the DIY Beauty Front…

As always, I will continue to experiment with natural beauty recipes throughout this year. I can’t wait to recreate some of these facials, masks, and toners in my kitchen and bring them to you! In the meantime, you can check out some of my favorites by following these links to some homemade, natural beauty recipes for your face, body, and hair.

Food Trends to Watch For in 2018

Happy New Year, everyone!!! Fact: The closest I came to dieting in 2017 was when I deleted some of the food photos from my phone gallery. I’ll admit, when I’m talking about dieting here, I’m almost never talking about weight loss. What I am talking about is the way diet totally effects how we feel.  I’m here to tell you that skinny vegetarians can feel like crap too. Take it from me. I’m also here to tell you that big girls can be amazingly fit. Case in point: this fierce yogi. So, with less of an emphasis on weight, nutrition and health take center stage. This year, we can expect to see some super nutritious additions to last year’s growing list of healthy food trends. I don’t know about you, but I’m totally ready! Seriously, after a steady diet of cake, sweet, sugar, pastry, and cocktail since Halloween, I’m determined to start this new year off right. Let’s take a look!

2018 Food Trends

Whole Foods Predicts…

Whole Foods just released their annual report on food trends, giving us a clue as to what we’ll be seeing a lot of this year. Plant based products, floral flavors, mushrooms (anyone ready for a mushroom coffee?!), airy snacks like jicama crisps, root to stem recipes (zero food waste, hello!), and both Middle Eastern (mmm, Halloumi Burgers) and Filipino cuisine are all set to have a huge impact on 2018.

the dairy aisle gets some help from Sweden

Last year, while I was in Stockholm, I had one of the best lattes ever, y’all. I went to this coffee shop called Snickarbacken7 in the Norrmalm neighborhood. Anybody that knows me knows that me ordering a latte is always a production. Vanilla soy latte, one pump of vanilla and light on the foam. I’m trying to buy coffee, not air bubbles and simple syrup. Does that make me picky? Anyway, Snickarbacken7 didn’t have any soy milk, and I was so over almond milk and coconut milk lattes the second I tried them. The barista offered me an oat milk latte instead. YOOOOOOO!!! Oat milk is absolutely amazing. Creamy, subtly sweet, and easily my new favorite dairy alternative milk. Look for the Swedish company Oatly to hit US shelves in February.

Move over, matcha, Make Room for Moringa.

While matcha has made it’s rounds in everything from lattes to must-have beauty products over the last few years and while it doesn’t show signs of stopping, get ready to see a lot more moringa. Moringa is made from the leaves of the moringa tree, a plant native to Southeast Asia and parts of Africa. The leaves are dried and ground into a powder that has a deliciously earthy flavor, not so different from matcha, but with comparable anti-inflammatory properties to turmeric. This year, you’ll see moringa in smoothies, nourishment bowls, health bars, and even lattes. Moringa powder is readily available on amazon making it easy for a home cook to experiment with it’s unique flavor.

The next big thing after Instant Pot

In 2017, our Instagram feeds were flooded with delicious Instant Pot creations. That versatile little kitchen appliance combined the capabilities of a pressure cooker, steamer, slow cooker, and skillet into one convenient device. The Instant Pot gave us healthy meals in a fraction of the time, using a fraction of the energy. What it didn’t give us was fried food. Um. We need fried food. Enter the air fryer. What sets fried food apart is that familiar crunchy texture we all love. What makes it unhealthy is the loads of oil we have to use to get that tasty crunch. The air fryer remedies all of that by evenly circulating air around your temptation of choice, giving you that fried food comfort without all the guilt. These gadgets aren’t exactly new, but more and more companies are joining the trend and offering more affordable options. If you wanna go for broke because fried food is your happy place, you can opt for the pricier, latest version of the Phillips Air Fryer. A more frugal version is yours for under $100 here.

I’m so excited for this year! You guys! 2018! Can you believe it?