Friday Favorites – February

Brain.fm

Someone at work recommended this to me and, placebo effect or not, I love it! It’s “music for the brain” that you can listen to when you’re trying to focus on work, meditation, or even reading. There’s also a sleeping one that I haven’t tried but plan to. When I’m starting to feel frantic at work with a million things to do, I pop in my earbuds and turn on a 2 hour “work focus” playlist. Instant focus.

Sadly I only have a few more listens that come with the free trial but Mike and I are thinking about paying for it. He’s tried it too and also finds it helps him focus.

Cherry and almond chocolate

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In February I wanted to cut back drinking alcohol and I’m happy to report that having a cup of tea, a cutie 🍊, and a few pieces of this cherry and almond chocolate from Whole Foods was an easy swap for a glass of wine.

I know it’s a low % of dark chocolate but I have so little of it in one sitting, I don’t really care. Plus, I can’t get over how delicious the combo of crunchy almonds and gooey dried cherries are. THE BEST.

Honey bush tea (and these cute cups)

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As mentioned, I’ve been all about a honey bush tea that we got from Steepers in downtown Campbell. I’m typically not a tea lover but I crave this one; especially since it’s been cold here lately.

I love drinking it out of these cute, costume cups my grandparents bought us a few years ago fro Christmas too. It just feels fancy for some reason!

Barre classes

So sore but so good. Last week I went to Cardio Barre and Barre Sculpt. Omg, the booty and the calfs! I definitely need to attend regularly to build up my strength but barre is the only workout, aside from yoga, that I look forward to. I hope to go at least once a week in March. I go to a local gym but I remember Jessica Smith had some good barre workouts on YouTube so always an option for an at home workout.

YouTube vlogs

Lately I’ve been heading over to Pick Up Limes almost daily to soak in Sadia’s nom vegan recipes and minimalist lifestyle approach. I’ve* made her Olive Tapenade a few times now and everyone raves about it.

I have also been watching a lot of Sarah Lemkus’ vlogs. Also a vegan (see a trend here??), Sarah lives in New Zealand and a lot of her vlogs consist of her and her family drinking smoothies and going to the beach. (I might be a little bit jealous.) She also does some opinion pieces (one on coffee and another on alcohol and how bad they are food you; clearly I disagree… hah) and occasional recipes. Her videos are a little long but I like watching them on my iPad while cooking dinner.

*By “I’ve” I mean, I measure out the ingredients and Mike chops everything ❤

THIS recipe

Shameless plug but I made this last week and had leftovers throughout the weekend. I also had enough to freeze for another time. It is such a yummy, comforting, filling recipe.

I also made this sauce again for dinner when Mike and I had our neighbors over on Monday. So creamy. Easily one of my top 3 recipes.

Other Friday Faves:
January

2017
Friday Favorites #5
Friday Favorites #4
Friday Favorites #3
Friday Favorites #2
Friday Favorites #1

Moroccan Stew

It’s winter in California which means rain, rain, and more rain. That’s good news for my drought prone home state but I find the winter blues creeping in. This dinner is perfect for warming both your body and soul; great for the nights we’ve been having!

The cumin and paprika in it gives it a nice kick that keeps you cozy. Plus, it’s packed with nutrients and, I don’t know about you, but I always feel better about myself when I’m filled with nourishing food.

This would be a perfect dish to bring to a neighbor or to enjoy with family because it makes a lot. And who doesn’t love a yummy stew (that someone else made!) on a cold night?! Consider making it for someone special in your life. (Bonus points if you pair it with a crusty baguette or a side of pre-cooked rice to really round out the meal for your loved ones.)

Side note, I don’t know how I came up with this name but this is what I called it years ago when I first made this dish and it’s sticking. 😉


Moroccan Stew

Prep time:  10 minutes – Cook time: 35 minutes – Servings: Enough to share 

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 4-5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 Tbs olive oil
  • 2 Tbs cumin
  • 1 Tbs paprika
  • 2 potatoes, cubed
  • 2 large carrots, chopped
  • 32 ounces of vegetable broth
  • 28 ounces of diced tomatoes
  • 1 box of chickpeas (~13oz)
  • 1 bag frozen kale (or spinach)
  • optional: brown rice or bread to serve with

Directions

  • Sauté onions and garlic in olive oil until translucent and fragrant
  • Add carrots and potatoes for 4 – 6 minutes
  • Add cumin and paprika
  • Add vegetable broth and bring to boil
  • Reduce heat and add tomatoes, simmer for 20 minutes
  • Add chickpeas and simmer for 10 minutes
  • Add kale during the last 5 minutes so it doesn’t go brown
  • Scope and serve

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Cooking and catching up on Netflix!
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Love Whole Foods BPA free cans (Trader Joe’s get on it!)

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Color Factory

Mike and I visited the Color Factory in San Francisco a few weeks ago. Holy photo ops! 😉

It was a fun experience and worth the money (tickets were $35/person), mostly because you get treats along the way. You start the journey walking down rainbow steps. (Pretty sure this is also when Mike realized we were going to be taking way more pictures than he wanted to that evening… must.capture.everything.)

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At the bottom of the steps, a Color Factory employee greets you, tells you a few rules and gives you your photo cards that you can scan during your experience to take HD pictures in the rooms. Our first pic is below. 🙂

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There’s a Willy-Wonka-feeling smell wall after. I was less than impressed with this but that could have been because THERE WAS SO MUCH COLOR WAITING TO BE EXPLORED.

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Plus, MACAROONS!

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A back and white room was next, complete with charcoal lemonade to sample.

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After macaroons and lemonade, was the orange room; a room that was painted orange with an orange couch and orange things on the walls. I think this is something I could have put together but whatever! It warranted a picture nonetheless.

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Next was a tiny room filled with balloons. Pretty cool! This was the first room that was more interactive, which I enjoyed.

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We ran into a plethora of disco balls after, in a room that was playing old disco hits.

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Then, a giant light bright. Sounds super Silicon Valley but I was kinda like, been there, seen that at the Googs

In typically Mike fashion, he explained the wall to me and the mechanics behind it. Also super Silicon Valley, an engineer fiancé. ❤

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We were dumped into a bright white room with 5 foot green markers after. I think this room is better in theory than reality. It turns out, a marker that is as big as you are is hard to use. (Disclaimer: the photo below is staged — I did not have the talent, or the strength, to draw that heart.)

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My second favorite was next! 10,000 colored ribbons hanging from the ceiling to walk through. It felt whimsical to be surrounded by all of those ribbons, despite the little kids you couldn’t see in there that were constantly bumping into you. lol

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THEN THE BEST ROOM OF ALL TIME.

One word. Confetti.

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It was so fun scoping up handfuls of confetti and throwing them up above us. Like, I want a confetti room at my next birthday.

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The only downside, confetti everywhere. (I was finding pieces in my purse for days.)

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(There was also a “selfie” room, that had a printer spitting out selfies from the internet every second. They were all over the floor, black and white selfies everywhere. And… that was kind of it…?

To be fair, maybe there was some profound artistic message that was lost on me. Idk, either way, no photos of this room.)

The big sha-bang ending was the yellow room/ball pit. Again, I’m already familiar with the ball pit game from my days at Google but this one was massive and had cameras on the ceiling to take pics like these:

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As to be expected, diving into a ball pit is still as fun as it was as a kid. But, hot!

A sweaty, swell time.

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After the ball pit, we got our last treat. An ice cream cone that wasn’t photographed.

Overall, I’m glad we went and recommend going if you can snag tickets! Just be sure your phone is charged. 📸

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Friday Favorites – January edition

Read on to see what I’ve been loving this month!

Cocokind Organic Skincare 

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My manager bought this sampler kit for me for Christmas and when I opened it, I was like, are we best friends!? I’ve been wanting to try this product for a while and it does not disappoint. I don’t use it everyday. I don’t always use all of the products at one time. But when I do use it, bliss. Every time.

On New Years Day, I started my morning by doing the whole regimen. My skin felt so clean and soft after. I don’t have the time It’s not a priority for me to do a whole skincare circuit every night (a simple face scrub in the shower usually works for me). That being said, I do find myself reaching for the cocokind moisturizer almost everyday.

Somebody Feed Phil

Who has watched this on Netflix? It’s my current binge. The producer of Everybody Loves Raymon – Phil – travels to different parts of the world trying local cuisine. …I know, I know, this kind of thing has been done a million times but, for some reason, I really like this show. (Although, sometimes I find Phil a little annoying… hah)

One of the episodes is in New Orleans, where I recently booked a ticket to for a bachelorette party in June. Exciting!

Another good one was in Vietnam. Mike and I are throwing around honeymoon ideas and when he mentioned Vietnam, it was a hard no. “Was” being the operative word… After watching the episode in Ho Chi Minh (and reading a few of my future sister in law’s blog posts on visiting Vietnam), I’m thinking, maybe… Stay tuned. 😉

Natural deodorant

THIS IS LIFE CHANGING. I’ve been looking for a natural deodorant that actually works for years and I finally found it. The only weird/kind of inconvenient thing about it is that you have to apply it by scoping the paste on your fingers, rolling it around to semi-liquify the deodorant, and then spread it under your armpits. It’s a intimate thing to do first thing in the morning when you’re half asleep…

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New to us/old blender 

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My mom and stepdad were getting rid of their Breville blender and asked if Mike and I wanted it. Um, yes! There’s a joke that Mike’s family loves any Breville (between us and them, we must be racking in like, 15 appliances) but I understand why. They’re such good products. Mike and I have their tea maker, espresso machine, toaster oven, and now, a blender!

Side note: I didn’t know what my mom was talking about until she brought it to my house. I instantly remembered it from my illegal margaritas when the ‘rents were out of town smoothie making days when I lived at home. Aside from it being a BREVILLE, I love that the jug (?) is stainless steel vs. plastic or glass. Everything stays so cold! …Perfect for a marg. 😉

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All of the Breville

This coffee cup

Speaking of my mama llama, she got me this “A” cup for Christmas and it quickly became my favorite. It fits perfectly under my (#breville) espresso maker for those morning cups of java and I love anything with an A on it.

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Buddha Bowl Foods

I went to visit my friend, Lauren, for lunch at Facebook last week and looted a bag of Himalayan Pink Salt Popcorn from Buddha Bowl Foods. Omg, love! I hope they sell this at Whole Foods or … I’m going to need her to start snagging bags. 😉

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Thyme roasted carrot hummus

Like many of my recipes, my inspo for this came from Oh She Glows. That, and a pesky bag of Trader Joe’s roasted carrots I’ve been trying to get rid of…

In the new year, when I was doing a big TJ’s haul, I came across a bag of multicolored roasted carrots in the freezer aisle. FUN, I thought, picking up a bag and putting it in my cart. Apparently I was the only one who thought cooked carrots were fun delicious…

A week or two passed and I still had that bag of roasted carrots in my freezer when I found out my grandparents would be coming down to visit. One of my favorite things to do is cook for my family and friends so I knew I wanted to make them dinner the night they arrived. I had a plan to make chicken in our sous vide, garlic cheesy bread, peas, and those roasted carrots!

…Until my grandma told me my grandpa doesn’t like cooked carrots (what!?). I nixed the carrots and told Mike. That’s when he told me he actually doesn’t like cooked carrots either (double what!?).

Fast forward to a girl’s night at my next door neighbors’ house last week. We were doing wine and heavy apps. I brought cheese, salami, hummus, snap peas, spanakopita, and, as a last minute edition, I cooked up those roasted carrots. Badda bing, I was going to use them after all!

Or so I thought… Everything was a hit, except for the carrots.

Full of apps wine, and laughs, I walked home with my glass container still full of roasted carrots. Damn. I really hate wasting food so I plopped them in my refrigerator hoping I would get around to eating them (the whole bag, by myself) before they turned…

AND THEN I stumbled upon the genius idea to make hummus with them. Yes! Let’s go.

The great thing about this recipe is the carrots basically double your hummus volume. Plus, if you cheat and buy pre-roasted carrots like I did, it’s super simple. Also a win, Mike is going to eat those roasted carrots and have no idea 😉 mwahahaha

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Thyme roasted carrot hummus

Prep time:  10 minutes – Cook time: 5 minutes – Servings: A LOT 

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 cups of roasted carrots* (if you can’t find the pre-roasted, I would follow the Oh She Glows recipe on how to roast them yourself)
  • 1 can or box (no BPA!) of chickpeas
  • Chickpea water, reserved
  • 1 Tbs olive oil
  • 2 Tbs lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup tahini
  • Garlic clove and salt to taste
  • Cumin to taste (optional)

*note: the carrots I bought were roasted in thyme but I think you can change the herb here to whatever you have on hand

Directions: 

  • Add everything but the carrots to a blender and blend until smooth
  • Slowly add carrots and blend until smooth
  • Pour out and serve with veggies and crackers

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Look at all of that HUMMUS!

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Vegan Taco Salad (with lentil and walnut “meat”)

Ehyooo. My first post of 2018. In 2016 and 2017 I sat down and wrote meaningful pieces about the year ahead.

2018 is a whole different ball game, y’all. I know everyone says this but, THERE JUST ISN’T ENOUGH TIME. Updating my blog has been at the bottom of a long list…

That being said, I’m going on 3 months at a job I love (and that keeps me busy). I’ve been doing more yoga than ever. I feel caught up with a lot of friends and family. My house has recovered from the holidays. And we’re eating pretty healthy around here. Speaking of….. what’s better than a taco salad loaded with fresh ingredients? (How about that segue, huh?;)

I love Mexican food (California girl!) but often feel too full after (which may or may not be because my actual superhero power is to finish any burrito ever – no matter the size!). Self control are two words I just don’t know when there’s yummy goodness wrapped in a tortilla in front of me. Who else!?

That’s why taco salads are great. (Especially in January; coming off a month of nothing but indulgence.) All of the flavor without having to exercise my superhero powers of polishing off a burrito the size of my head.

We had a giant taco salad for dinner the other night and it was so satisfying. Plus, I bet most people would mistake the lentil and walnut “meat” for actual ground beef. #notjoking it’s so good. Seriously. Make it tonight!

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Note: inspo for this recipe came from Oh She Glows. Alternations are based on what was and wasn’t in my kitchen already.

Another note: I don’t have a food processor and a blender works …alright. Truth be told, it takes time and effort to keep scraping down the sides of the blender to get it all blended. For this reason, it’s great to make extra here so you can freeze and use later. (Also, is it just me or is washing the blender the most annoying kitchen appliance to get clean? So many nooks and crannies!)


Lentil and walnut “meat”

Prep time:  10 minutes – Cook time: 25 minutes – Servings: 4 -6 servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup green lentils
  • 1 cup walnuts
  • 1 Tbs. olive oil
  • Chopped white ends of a bunch of scallions
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1.5 teaspoons oregano
  • 1.5 teaspoons garlic powder
  • .5 teaspoon paprika

Directions:

  • Bring 1 cup green lentil and water covering them to a boil; reduce, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes or until soft
  • While lentils are cooking, heat walnuts in a nonstick pan at a low heat* (stirring occasionally) and chop white ends of scallions
  • Once walnuts are heated and giving off a toasted aroma, place in blender
  • Add olive oil and scallions to pan and sauté until tender (I turned the stove off after this and let the scallions sit until the lentils were softened)
  • When ready, add lentils to same pan and stir in spice mixture
  • Add lentils, spices, and scallions to blender with walnuts
  • Blend well until ingredients are fully incorporated  (should have a crumble texture)
  • Scope out and serve in tacos, burritos, or on a taco salad!

*you can also do this in your oven but I prefer using the pan for less dishes!


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The flavor.. 🙂
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Before
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Blended!

 

Holiday festivities

Oh, whoa. How are we already down to the last 2 weeks of December?! This year flew by. It seems like every year is over faster than the last, doesn’t it?

Like most people around this time, Mike and I have been jam-packed these past few weeks. This past week/weekend was particularly crazy. On Thursday my team and I had an offsite at Sur La Table in Palo Alto, where we spent the afternoon drinking wine and cooking. Talk about team bonding! We cooked up some nom Thai food and learned a few cool cooking tricks. Did you know a potato peeler peels both up and down?! I didn’t! The time I could’ve been saving by peeling on the way up too (instead of taking the peeler off of the vegetable before peeling down again)!

Lucky us, the fun didn’t stop on Thursday! On Friday, Upwork rented out a theater for everyone to see the new Star Wars movie. We even had shirts made for the occasion. So fun!

Work hard, play hard y’all.

After the movie, Mike and I headed up to San Francisco for a little staycation. My holiday party was in the city on Saturday evening so we decided to get a hotel room up there for the weekend. We took the train (valet parking was $55/night! what!?) and walked the mile or so to the Intercontinental. I love walking, especially through cities where there is so much to see.

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We quickly checked in and headed right back out to meet my friend Debbie for hot pot near Golden Gate Park. We ate a place called Nabe that Debs suggested. Debbie and I went to high school together and I know the girl is good with restaurant recommendations. She always picks yummy places that are healthy. My kind of gal!

Mike and I had never had hot pot before and it didn’t disappoint. As the title suggests,  a “hot pot” that is filled with boiling broth is placed in front of you. Depending on what you order, an array of vegetables and meats are brought out and you cook them in the pot. The broth was delicious (a part of me was like, there has to be MSG in here… mer) and it is a lot of food with all of the sides and the rice they give you. Definitely worth a try!

We kicked off Saturday morning with brunch at Samovar. Mike and I love this place and used to make it to the city once a month just to go there (back when they still had more locations throughout the city). Our good friend Merriem met us and we caught up over chai tea and noshes. So good to see old friends!

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What else but #avotoast

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After brunch we walked to All Birds, a shoe shop that sells slip-ons and lace-ups made of wool. I know it is the holiday season but I was shocked to find a line outside the store. We waited for about 15 minutes before getting to go inside and try on shoes. They are so comfy, we both walked out with a pair and “joined the flock.” 😉

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Next we walked along the Embarcadero and enjoyed the nice weather. Then a quick trip to the Ferry Building for some browsing before getting ready for the holiday soiree.

My holiday party was at The Pearl in the Dogpatch. Holy glamorous! It was Speakeasy themed and the venue/decorations transported me. There was even a “secret” speakeasy you could only access with a pin and once you left, the pin was taken from you and your access revoked. Mike and I enjoyed the evening, drinking cocktails and mingling with everyone.

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On Sunday we took full advantage of late check out and slept in. I wished we capitalized on another day in the city (Saturday was so fun walking around and taking in SF!) but after a night of drinking and dancing, sleep was priority.

This week we’re finishing starting Christmas shopping and packing up to go to Toronto! Happy holidays!