I was going to title this “2013 Things I love in 2013” and can probably find that many since all seems new and exciting here on another continent, but I imagine you are all very busy getting back to work and back to la vie, so let’s stick with 13, shall we? We still have 12 months to add a few more, mes amis. The Mayans may have been wrong, but I’m not. I promise you’ll love these too.
1. The Juice Press
In Paris, there are cafés or bakeries on every street corner. In NYC, there are gyms or juice bars. Juice bars have become increasingly ubiquitous in Manhattan. NYC is “the city that never sleeps” likely because everyone is pumping their veins with chlorophyll and superfoods these days. There are several chains of pressed juice all over the city, but my favorite is TheJuice Press. Think $10 is too expensive for a juice? Try making your own. By the time you buy the 467 carrots required for ONE juice (approximate estimate, bien sûr ;), bring them home, peel or wash them, chop them and clean your juicer… trust me, $10 is a bargain. Their new location on Greenwich Ave. is fantastic – it’s a futuristic, vast space with massive refrigerators filled with juices, smoothies and healthy raw treats of all kinds. It’s what I imagine all refrigerators in NYC will look like in the future. Only there will be robots serving up the green juice instead of the Juice Press’ always smiley employees. (Will miss you guys in 3013.) I also adore their fun drink titles and (sometimes painfully) honest marketing tactics. My current favorites are the “gravity juice,” the “complete source” …and “mother earth” if you are hard-core enough for that one. The “perfect pear” lives up to its name and the “love at first sight” had me falling head over sandals (I’m a green juice-drinking hippie now, kids, no more heels ;) And I can’t wait to try the “$*#%ing genius” and the “horny gorilla” simply because I like the names. And – bien sûr! – the lait de coconut which is a fancy Franglais way to say coconut milk, my all-time favorite beverage in the history of the world (see below). It's so high quality that sometimes I get fancy and drink it out of a wine glass (highly recommend).
Make sure to pick up some very fun postcards on the way out with slogans like “assertive women who drink juice are f—ing sexy.” How could you not love a company whose website has a sidebar titled “you’re a pig”? Juice Press, je t’aime.
OK, I’m cheating – I loved them in 2012 too, but I just can’t get enough of this wonderful site that offers lovely articles from contributors across the globe about all things health and happiness.
Here are some of my recent articles:
Try one of my “hot milkshakes” :
Hot Turmeric Milkshake
Hot Maca-phrodisiac Smoothie
Or read about coming home again, Lafleur-style:
How to Stay Healthy in a City that Isn’t (even though I am now back in a city that IS):
And some delicious recipes for these cold-weather days
It may be cold, dark and gloomy as winter gets into full swing, but I’m still Glo-ing. Yogaglo.com is the best thing to happen to yoga since the dog headed downward. What’s great about most of the videos is that they can easily be played over and over again, specifically some of the morning or nighttime practices. For cold winter days when you want to do yoga, but don’t have the courage to get outside and go to a class, Yogaglo is the perfect solution. There are 60 or 90-minute classes when you have time on your hands, or ½ hour, 20 or even 10-minute segments just to get the body warm in the morning, take a mid-day stretching break or wind down at night. Their 15-20 minute segments got me through this year’s Cannes Film Festival in one piece, may I add. The classes are a great way to practice in some way, shape or form (pun very much intended) at home. Of course, it is great to be in a class with all of the energy of the people around us and have a teacher there to correct our postures, but this really is the next best thing, and, sometimes, even better. There are videos for every level, several different styles of yoga and some really great teachers. I have perfected The Art of Paying Attention to Elena Brower (whose new book The Art of Attention is, by the way, remarkable and inspiring and beautiful http://www.artofattention.comArt of Attention ). Her physical yet meditative videos always move me and keep me moving. I’m loving the twisty “Locate More Space” sequence she recently posted and the new “Create a Quiet Presence in Your Bones” complete with live music from Masood Ali Khan and Sheela Bringi. And while I sadly had to leave him behind in Paris, I can still practice with Marc Holzman thanks to his wonderful Yogaglo.com classes. I highly recommend his basic “Yoga for Travel,” Morning Yoga and Nighttime yoga sequences and his most recent “Come to Know the Preciousness of Your Life” is truly magical. Plus, Yogaglo is only $18 a month, so Glo for it!
It even works during a stressful commute home on the train:
4. The Vitamix
OK, I’ll let out my little secret. I’ve been having a mad love affair for months. It’s getting me through these cold winter nights and I wake up to comfort every morning. Oui oui, mes amis, I am truly, madly, deeply, in love with … my Vitamix.
I know, I know, I’m not the only one (it’s such a slutty appliance, what can I say?) but it’s true love. My kitchen has become a beautiful Mecca of winter soups, nut milks, hot chocolate and purées. The simplest winter vegetables are transformed into rich, creamy soup without adding any cream, a simple handful of almonds becomes a smooth “milk” and a small potato becomes a velvety purée with just the flip of a switch. And the best part is that, while the Vitamix is my favorite winter lover, I know the love affair will continue into the Spring and Summer with smoothies, chilled soups and other cooler concoctions. As Magritte would have said had he been alive today, “Ceci n’est pas un blender.” It’s an essential part of any kitchen, and really is a MUST for a healthy lifestyle. Sure, it’s possible to stay healthy without eating blended foods, but blended foods not only alleviate inflammation and digestive ailments since the food is already predigested, but they also increase energy and allow us to consume more nutrients at a time. Vive le Vitamix!
5. Bobbi Brown’s Extra foundation
They French use the word “extra” as an adjective to describe things that are extra fabulous. Bobbi Brown’s Extra foundation is “extra” (pronounced “ex-traaaaah”) in all senses of the term. It’s the perfect marriage between the best moisturizing lotion ever and the best foundation ever. I adore Bobbi Brown’s products – they provide an “au naturel” look. It’s a very “French” look in that the makeup makes it look like I’m pretty without any makeup on (like French women. Has anyone written “Why French Women don’t Get … Pimples” yet?)
I also love to support Bobbi’s message of “pretty and powerful” – it’s all about confidence. I am missing Bobbi's store on the rue de Turenne in Paris (and the new Left Bank spot, bien sûr, but I must say my heart belongs to the Place des Voges location), but happy to be back "chez Bobbi" in Montclair, NJ!
Harmless Harvest Coconut Water
My favorite scent? L’eau de Coco. That’s French for coconut water, though it does sound like a fancy fragrance. In fact, coconut water IS fancy, and fragrant. The coconut water craze is certainly not new – it has taken the US by storm in recent years and has also slowly migrated across the Atlantic too. However, there is coconut water…and then there is Harmless Harvest coconut water. OK, so the BEST coconut water is literally drinking water from an actual coconut (while on a sunny beach in Thailand as you have a relaxing massage and the wind blows in your face and – OK getting a bit carried away there, sorry), however Harmless Harvest is the next best thing. In fact, it may actually be better since it does save me the time and energy of cracking open a coconut or deux. Harmless Harvest’s coconut water is raw and unpasteurized so all of the health benefits are preserved, but, most importantly, the taste is delicious. I’ve been adding it to smoothies, hot drinks, nut milks, puddings and even soups lately – it adds sweetness, but also adds electrolytes and keeps me hydrated. Try adding it to anything – I promise, it’s “harmless” !
And I am rolling out the Green Carpet to sport my new t-shirt that says "I'm Harmless" on the back– love it!! (Note: that is NOT me in the photo, but I swear this stuff is so energizing, I may be doing that SOON if I continue to go through an entire case per week. To be continued...)
Manduka Ombré eQua Plus Towel
As many of you may know, I am cocobsessed (cocobsessed n.f. the act of being obsessed with coconuts and their delicious taste and incredible health and beauty benefits). Around this time last year, I found my soul mat. No, that’s not a typo – I’m still single, but incredibly attached to my yoga mat, the proLite from Manduka. And now, Manduka has gone on to give me a reason to be even more nuts about them but taking my favorite nuts (of the coco variety of course) and turning them into towels. Coconuts? In a towel? Yes. Manduka’s Ombré eQua Plus towels use Cocona technology, a way of using recycled coconut shells that would have otherwise gone to landfills and converting them into activated carbon particles that are infused into the microfiber, which will then – OK, I will spare you the details, but it is a process that is literally cool as a coconut, especially since it’s great for the environment. Plus, it is literally the gift that keeps on giving since the active carbon renews itself every time it’s washed. More importantly, the towels are très pretty – solid blue or purple at the bottom that gradually fade to white at the top. This one will definitely be (nama)staying on top of my mat for awhile. And now that I am officially a New Yorker, I need to travel to and from yoga classes in style and just LOVE Manduka’s “daytripper,” “commuter” and beautiful lyrics tote bag for carrying my soul mat everywhere.
Exotic Superfoods Coconut Meat
Coconut: the other other other other other white meat. While, again, I’d much prefer to be on a beach in Thailand sipping a fresh coconut and scooping out its meat, Exotic Superfoods’ frozen coconut meat is the next best thing. I’ve been making delicious coconut almond yogurts with it (with another thing I love in 2013, Sunbiotics’ Probiotic Powder blend) – so good. And SO good for you, especially to hydrate the skin during these cold, dry winter months.
And a glimpse of my amazing coconut almond yogurts. I've been making them for so long, I'm now a pro (biotic!)
Do you hear the people sing? And by “people,” I of course mean me. I have been singing the entire Les Mis soundtrack (oh, sorry, filmmakers are insisting we refer to it by it’s real title, aka a terrible American pronunciation of Les Meez-uuur-aaaaab-luuuuuh) from start to finish for weeks now. If you have been in downtown NYC recently and thought you heard screams that sounded strangely like “There is a Castle on a Cloud” or “On my own, I walk with him till morning,” yup, that was me. The film has gotten mixed reviews, but I think the performances were excellent and have found it nearly impossible not to communicate solely in song since I saw the film. Victor Hugo may be turning over in his grave, but I dare you to start singing wherever you are. Hugh Jackman and Anne Hathaway give Oscar-worthy performances and Sacha Baron Cohen added some much-needed lightness to this traditionally heavy tale. It’s not a GREAT movie, but it’s an enjoyable one.
Plus, the film is a perfect one to see to start the new year: ”There is a life about to start when tomorrow comes!” Oh, here I go again.
PS If you loved les Misérables and also eat gluten-free, take a bite out of THIS video – love it
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k9QbC41oQRoOne More Grain
Confession du jour: I really want a Southern accent. Not a Southern French accent (though I do a great impression of a Marseillaise thug, remind me to impress you with that sometime). I’m a bit late to the party, but have finally caught up on ABC’s soap oper- uh, prime time series, about the music biz. As you may have noticed, I have an affinity for musical interludes, so this show satisfies my harmonious desires and also happens to be a delicious mix of scandal, romance and drama. Nashville culture is pretty foreign to me, so while I may be missing some of the more subtle insider aspects of the show, the series is the perfect weekly trip down south. Not to mention quite possibly the sexiest men on television: Jonathan Jackson, Sam Palladio and Charles Esten – how do you say “oh là là” in Nashvillian? They’re hot, y’all! (OK, I sound ridiculous, I’m from New Jersey, I promise I will never say “y’all” again.) And, just when I thought that things couldn’t get sexier, I also just discovered that Sam Palladio has a British accent in real life. (As does Brody – Homeland just got a bit more sexy and British too.)
In addition to a Southern accent, I’d also like to sing a cappella. Since I clearly am capable of neither of these options, luckily Anna Kendrick and co. pulled the latter off this year in the wonderful guilty pleasure of a film “Pitch Perfect.” Rebel Wilson provides the film’s best lines (see: “Even though some of you are pretty thin, you all have fat hearts, and that's what counts”), but Kendrick, Anna Camp (who I am also enjoying on the wonderful “The Mindy Project” lately) and Anna Kendrick are all wonderful too in this girl powered musical romp through college. (That I have also been listening to on repeat on iTunes ever since.) (In between musical interludes from “Les Mis,” of course).
8. Chocolate chia pudding
I am convinced I was an Aztec in a former life. They are definitely my favorite people. Cacao! Chia! Quinoa! Maca! Those Aztecs sure knew how to party…. Or at least how to eat. Now, I may not have been around in 14th century Mexico (though, again, really wish I had been), but I’m pretty sure this was the typical Aztec breakfast of champions. This may taste like a guilty pleasure, but it’s actually a healthy indulgence. Chia and hemp seeds are both packed with omega3s and protein (among their 100000000 health benefits) and cacao is rich in magnesium, serotonin, dopamine and phenylethylamine (“the bliss chemical”). The mesquite adds even more protein and soluble fiber, the date adds potassium and the spices are nutrition powerhouses too. Oh and did I mention? The taste is ORGASMIC. I challenge you to eat this and not smile (or, in my case, start belting out songs from Les Misérables, Pitch Perfect and Nashville.) This is even better with Sunbiotics’ vanilla probiotic powder blend – a great way to incorporate probiotics into this to fight off that crazy Flu and keep our bellies singing. http://www.sunbiotics.com
Chocolate Chia Pudding à la Lafleur
2 heaping tablespoons of chia seeds (I like Nutiva’s white chia seeds) http://nutiva.com/chia-seeds/
Chocolate hemp milk
1 cup of coconut water
2 heaping tablespoons of hemp seeds (also like Nutiva: https://store.nutiva.com/hempseed/)
1 Medjool date
(soak if too dry, should be plump and moist)
½ tablespoon of Mesquite powder
1 very heaping tablespoon of cacao powder (I like Pacari: http://pacarichocolate.com)
½ teaspoon of vanilla powder
½ teaspoon of cinnamon
A pinch of cayenne
*Optional: 1 teaspoon of Sunbiotics probiotic powder blend.
Blend hemp milk ingredients in a Vitamix (see above for my ode to this lovely appliance) until smooth. Pour over chia seeds, stir lightly a few times then let sit for a few minutes, stir again, then let sit on a counter until the chia absorbs the liquid, around 15-20 minutes at least, but I prefer to leave for a few hours or overnight in the refrigerator. This will last for a couple of days, but I dare you not to lick your bowl on the first go. You can also make this with other nuts if you don’t have / can’t find / don’t like hemp seeds – almonds, walnuts, cashews or pumpkin seeds are all fabulous too. Bon appétit!
9. Yummi Yogi cookie cutters
I’ve got a lot on my plate these days. Luckily, everything is stress-free and peaceful thanks to Yummi Yogi’s très original cookie cutters in the form of yoga postures like downward dog and tree pose. They’re called “cookie” cutters, but they can be served up any time of day for any meal. On my menu: Warrior 2-shaped quinoa, Crescent Lunge Chia Pudding, Velvety Virabhadrasana pancakes and Downward facing… spirulina spread. Stay tuned for more yoga-inspired recipes, but in the meantime… an apple-yogi a day keeps the doctor away!
$8.50 each or $40 for the whole collection
9.5 Funky Yoga
And while we're on the topic of delicious and nutritious yoga-inspired things I love, I must mention FUNKY YOGA. I am loving their fabulous t-shirts at the moment (thanks to the best - and only? - all-Yoga boutique in Paris, that I miss terribly, Yoga Concept http://www.yogaconcept.com )
I'm a little bit obsessed with my black and white NAMASTE shirt, and also loving my "Breathe Deep and Let Go of Things" model, and especially my "Warrior Girl" shirt with a stick figure doing warrior pose whose legs look just like mine and I am convinced the company modeled it after moi. I also may have to invest in a "Namaste y'all" shirt (see above and my new affinity for the Southern accent). They have designs for yogis, yoginis, and even funky babies. I even love their "nutritional information" tag.
Let's get funky.
Ever since he melted every woman’s heart on both sides of the Atlantic when he went on French TV and spoke fluent Français, I have been madly in love with Bradley Cooper. The love story began one “Wet Hot American Summer,” continued in “He’s Just Not That Into You” (mediocre movie, but I WAS just that into his character) and is now true love. I’m so in love that I even enjoyed “Limitless” (yes, love is indeed blind, as they say.) And then, this just in, he’s taking his mother to the Oscars. (I am busy that night obviously). On that note, I must add that I really liked “Silver Linings Playbook” and highly recommend the film – no singing, but great cast, great script and a film that makes audiences smile and cry, what more could a girl want? Other than perhaps a date with Bradley Cooper ….
While New Jersey has had to endure its fair share of insults (see: “what exit?”) and thanks to MTV, is now mostly associated with drunken fools with no necks and orange-tinted skin, 2013 will be the year of The Garden State. TIME magazine just named Chris Christie the “Master of Disaster” and called him “The Boss” on its cover. Between his recent criticisms of Boehner and his hard-core rescue tactics post-Sandy, Christie has been making headlines. Sure, he could stand to lose a few (hundred) pounds, but, as a New Jersey native, I’m certainly glad he’s got my back. And as for you, Sandy, you are no match for New Jerseyans. The state will rebuild and will soon see light at the end of the bridge ‘n tunnel.
My grandmother used to say: “you have to suffer to be beautiful.” And, while eyebrow plucking and bikini waxing are part of the necessarily evils of being a woman, Tata Harper has proven that, in fact, our health doesn’t have to suffer to be beautiful. The natural, non-toxic skincare line is beauty as Grandmother Nature intended – ingredients that include lavender, beetroot, aloe vera, olive oil, alfalfa and other things that will make your skin simply delicious. I have yet to try all of Tata harper’s products, but the ones that I have tried have all been amazing. The Jet set survival kit is a mix of Tata’s aromatherapy product the “Irritability treatment” (Wish I’d had this to hand out on the streets of Paris for the past eight years ;) ), hydrating floral essence and replenishing nutrient complex. As soon as I graduate to “jet setter” status, I shall invest, bien sûr. The Reparative Moisturizer is a must for dry skin, especially in the winter especially, and the Rejuvenating Serum is spectacular as well. The Refreshing Cleanser is perfect for those of us with sensitive skin and the revitalizing body oil is also great for dry, sensitive skin. And my overactive mind is very happy about their “Bed Time” and “Stress” aromatherapy treatment too. So Tata for now, but I’ll be back soon once my skin recovers from the winter for more amazing beauty products à la Tata Harper.
You can be mean and scary sometimes, NY, but deep down, I love you. Good to be back.