(Because 10 wasn't enough - it's SPRING!)
1. Vitamix Professional Series 750
I have an announcement, readers. My happy family has expanded. We’re filled with so much joy. We’ve adopted… the Vitamix Professional Series 750. Just when I thought I couldn’t love a child – er, blender, sorry I do tend to get carried away when talking about my favorite appliance ever – more, enter… the next offspring in the Vitamix family: the Professional Series 750. Now, I don’t want my Vitamix 5200 to get jealous of its younger sister, but the Pro Series 750 is truly beautiful… even if it is shorter and fatter (and thus, more kitchen-friendly). The Pro Series 750 is perfect for the professional chef or the home chef (I consider myself to be somewhere in between). It’s all the same blending perfection of the Vitamix, only this time, there are pre-programmed settings complete with corresponding icons for cleaning, smoothies, frozen desserts, soups and purées. When I make my morning (green, of course) smoothie, I simply add all of the ingredients, turn to the smoothie icon, turn the machine on, and, seconds later, I have a perfectly blended smoothie. It’s like having my own personal chef… who cleans up after himself, may I add. That said, I still adore my Vitamix 5200 and have been using both machines several times a day for different things. I love the smaller sized containers for making individual portions of nut milks, smoothies, soups, purées and puddings and certain preparations necessitate a more hands-on approach. Plus, for the average home chef (and by “average,” I of course mean wonderfully talented, beautiful and fabulously amazing, but perhaps neither in the kitchen all the time nor able to splurge for the pricier professional model) the 5200 and other standard series machines are just perfect. That said, I have really been enjoying my perfectly smooth smoothies, perfectly puréed purées and perfectly SOUPer soups à la Pro 750. I also find that the new shorter, fatter container is easier to clean and to scrape every last bite or drop out with a spatula (“no banana pudding left behind!”) – who said taller and skinnier is better? I like my Vitamix petite and pudgy, personally.
A few of my recent Vitamix-friendly (and by “Vitamix-friendly,” I mean that if you attempt this with any other blender, be warned, it will be far less creamy and delicious … not to mention healthy since the Vitamix breaks down plant walls and pre-digests the food for us for optimal digestion) recipes. Remember that personal chef who also cleans up after himself? Yes, he’s also a doctor. Incredible. Here are some ideas for family fun à la Dr. Vitamix:
Green Smoothie à la Rebecca
This can easily be turned into the Green Smoothie à la…INSERT YOUR NAME HERE. Just add your favorite greens, favorite fruits, a banana and/or avocado for texture, your liquid of choice (and by liquid, I do NOT mean soda, sugary drinks or dairy milk – think: coconut water, almond milk, hemp milk, coconut milk or even plain old H20), and any protein powders or superfoods or spices you wish. I’ve been enjoying Matcha powder and vanilla bean lately or I love the mix of maca, cinnamon and mesquite (plus a little bit of cacao is great for an extra energy and antioxidant boost in the morning) or some fresh bee pollen if you can get your wings – I mean, hands! – on some.
Serves 1 Leffler (or 2 people with less crazy appetites in the morning)
2 handfuls of greens, 1 piece of ginger (to taste), a pinch of vanilla power, 1 teaspoon of Matcha powder, 1 banana, 1 small apple, ¼ avocado, juice of one lemon, 1 cup of coconut water. Blend, baby, blend!
(Red) Maca Mousse
Add two tablespoons of chia seeds to a bowl. In your Vitamix, blend together: 1 teaspoon of red maca powder (see below), 1 teaspoon of Mesquite powder, 1 Medjool date, a pinch of vanilla powder, a pinch of cinnamon powder, 2 tablespoons of hemp seeds and 1 cup of coconut water or water. Pour over the chia, mix with a spoon and let sit until the liquid is absorbed. You can add 1-2 teaspoons of cacao powder to that as well.
Everyone I’ve made this for absolutely adores it. This sauce is great drizzled on (and by “drizzled” I of course mean DROWNED in then licked until your plate is clean) some cooked quinoa, millet or brown rice and steamed or sautéed veggies or as a dipping sauce for Nori rolls or even as a salad dressing.
Add ¼ cup of almond butter, 1 cup of coconut milk, 1 teaspoon of coconut aminos, 1 teaspoon of miso (I like a subtle white chickpea miso), the juice of one lemon and/or lime, ½ garlic clove and some fresh ginger to the Vitamix and blend together until a creamy sauce is formed.
I’ve been writing a lot about foods that make us beautiful from the inside out. Now, I’ve found a makeup that makes us beautiful from the outside… in! M.A.K.E. Cosmetics is a for-benefit cosmetics line, part of the We See Beauty Foundation that will launch this summer. (More details to come on that, bien sûr, mes amis.)
M.A.K.E. is a brand new cosmetics line featuring skin care and color products with 33.3% of every sale donated directly to the We See Beauty Foundation. M.A.K.E. will feature both a permanent collection and limited-edition concept collections in partnership with artists from the design, music, art and even gaming worlds. The makeup is très chic, but also très affordable – prices range from $5 - $42. I admit that I was surprised at how wearable the products are since I find that, in the past, I’ve had to choose between non-toxic, eco-friendly products that are good for the earth, good for my skin, but don’t really make me look pretty and chemical-infused, very UNgreen products that do “work” from a solely aesthetic perspective. Enter, M.A.K.E.! These products LOOK good and they’re good for me – for my skin, for the earth and for humanity. Plus, I am convinced that I look prettier after contributing to a charitable cause. We all do. I love the packaging, the colors and, most importantly, the philosophy behind the company. The “skin illuminator” does what it says it will, the “silk satin lipsick” made my lips so silky I am sure men on the street were dying to M.A.K.E. out with me and the “defining mascara” is now appropriately the defining item in my purse at all times. The hydrating toner is like getting a facial every morning. The products aren’t tested on animals, are cruelty-free, vegan, paraben-free and hypoallergenic. And yes, I promise, all that and they “work” / look great on. Check out their website weeseebeauty.com – it’s one of the best I’ve seen, especially in the beauty world. You can try out different looks and learn everything you want to know about the products and the artists (it’s perfect for the curious and obsessive among us – cough cough.) In a world where the government doesn’t have to tell us that they’re putting chemicals into our food (see: this week’s Monsanto decision), isn’t it great to know exactly what is going onto our faces and where our money is going? (to a good cause, that is) I love that this is where the cosmetic industry is moving. We See Beauty hopes to “establish a more equitable and beautiful society for all.” Glowing skin, radiant color, art and a worthy cause all in one? Now that’s true beauty.
“What’s black and white and red all over?” Answer: My bowl of chia pudding. I’ve been doing the Maca-rena for awhile now – the Peruvian superfood is a powerful adaptogen that can balance the body. It’s an amazing source of natural energy, boosts immunity and can really help to balance hormones. Legend has it that Incan warriors ate maca before entering into battle. I totally get it. I haven’t been entering into any battles (although, does taking the train at Penn station during rush hour count?) but do feel like I can conquer the world after a bowl of chia pudding with maca. “Regular” maca is wonderful, but I just discovered Sunfood’s fabulous red maca powder and find it a bit more nutty, subtle, sweet and smooth. It’s perfect for adding to smoothies, desserts (it’s a match made in chocolate heaven when combined with cacao) and my new favorite chia pudding concoction (see above). Maca is perfect for a morning energy kick that lasts all day long and, unlike caffeine, doesn’t make you jump up and down like a crazy person then crash hours later. Maca is a powerful aphrodisiac so add it to anything you – or your lover – are eating or drinking for a natural Love Potion. Sing it with me now : “Heeeeey, (red) Maca-rena!”
BIG announcement. I’m madly in love. The object of my affection is a bit square, but filled with goodness, is always there for me and loves me and my body in return. Don’t worry about sending me wedding wishes, readers, I’m still – le sigh! – a Mademoiselle. I’ve fallen truly, madly, deeply in love with… Lulu’s Chocolate.
There are suddenly so many healthy chocolate bars out there now. I feel like everywhere I turn, there’s a new “healthy,” even “raw” chocolate company sprouting up to offer cacao-infused goodness. However, to be honest, I’ve been disappointed by many of them. First of all, my definition of “healthy” is not a processed bar drowning in agave syrup or other sugar nor do I want to bite into a chocolate bar whose consistency more closely resembles a piece of cardboard covered in mortar than a melt-in-your-mouth sweet treat. Enter… Lulu’s. It was love at first bite. And second. And third…and, well, needless to say the box of chocolate bars and truffles on my kitchen counter is no longer with us after just a few days and there have been no other accomplices to my chocolate crimes. How do I love thee, Lulu’s? Let me count the ways.
1. You’re actually healthy. Lulu’s claims to use only the finest organic, fair trade ingredients in their chocolate and I believe them. Why? Because I can taste the difference. Raw! Vegan! Low-glycemic! Organic! Fair trade! Gluten free! It sounded so good to be true that I expected it to taste like … well, I didn’t actually expect it to have any taste with that description. I have since been proven wrong. Although, while I do believe Lulu’s uses only the best products Ecuadorian cacao, wildcrafted Maca, environmentally-friendly packaging, etc., I DON’T believe that there are no drugs in their chocolate. Seriously, these babies induce some hard-core euphoria. I can’t believe they’re legal.
2. You taste good. These chocolates really do “melt-in-your-mouth-not-in-your-hand.” They’re “simple but elegant” with just a few quality ingredients so you can really taste each one. The cacao nibs in the Aztec and Maca bars add crunch, but aren’t too overwhelming. The Raw Love bar (perhaps my favorite – I’ve always been a simple girl you know…) adds just a bit of quality vanilla for a creamy chocolaty texture that is neither bitter nor too sugary. The Smoked Salty Almond bars use sprouted almonds so they are easy to digest and the Maca Love combined my love for white chocolate with the hormone-balancing, energizing effects of maca – truly amazing. The Maca buttercups are a gourmet, adult way to eat your Reese’s peanut butter cups with a healthy conscience. And the coffee cr—oh sorry I didn’t get past the first bite before I was interrupted by running three marathons, doing 467 pushups and saving the world (I exaggerate, but the energy kick in those was enough to make me feel like I could do all of the above).
3. You’re perfect just the way you are. The 1 oz. bars are really the perfect size. Not too big and not too small. The ½ bar serving size is just enough to get your chocolate fix after a meal or with a tea and the full bar isn’t too fat, calorie or caffeine-heavy for a mid-day indulgence (or, if you’re brave, a before bedtime treat).
4. You tell me it’s OK to slather my body in chocolate. Lulu’s also makes an edible body butter featuring cacao butter, coconut oil and cacao essence. It’s like taking a chocolate bath. Sorry, it IS taking a chocolate bath. It is an orgasmic experience – whether alone or à deux (or à trois I imagine, but I’ll leave that part to you dear readers ;) ).
Modelesque women decked head-to-toe in lululemon looking you up and down and discussing their latest spiritual awakening in broken Hindi as the instructor tells you to plant your hands into the floor with a specific radius and turn your knees to a 43° circumference and, oh by the way, you’re breathing wrong (yes, breathing. Wrong.) Sound familiar? I’ve certainly been to yoga classes like that. I love yoga, I love spirituality, I love learning new Hindi words and hey – luluemon clothing is comfortable and flattering (if not see-through). That said, classes at Strala Yoga are the opposite of this scenario. I admit that I was a bit wary of heading to a studio not only in New York City (scary!), but also in the heart of trendy Soho (scarier!) with classes taught by a former model turned yoga celebrity (scariest!). Yet from the moment I walked through the doors at Strala Yoga, I have felt nothing but happiness. (well, I did feel my abs burning during Mike Taylor’s Strong class recently, but you get the idea.) Strala’s yoga room is a vast space filled with light (I mean that both literally and figuratively of course) and, even though many of the regulars there are totally advanced yogis and yoginis, no one is there to prove anything or show off their bending skills. It’s all about letting each person express themselves no matter what their yoga level and no matter who they are or where they come from or what they’re wearing (though they SHOULD be wearing Tara Stiles’ new yoga collection from Reebok which I must admit is FABULOUS. The “Who Made the Rules” tank, really comfy bra and short-sleeved tees are SO comfy and wearable and somehow manage to look good on everyone, all shapes and sizes and even … Lefflers!)
Their “Strong” classes definitely live up to their name, but aren’t overwhelming and the “Relax” classes can be as dynamic as one wants to make them. All of the different instructors take each other’s classes and what’s amazing is that they slip so effortlessly and modestly through the poses that it’s hard to spot them with an untrained eye (unless you are Heidi Kristoffer whose signature bright blue yoga pants and contagious smile are hard to miss – can’t wait to take her class soon!) I always leave feeling both strong AND relaxed. Strala is my drug du jour. Look what I can do now!
Just kidding, just wanted to see if you were paying attention. THIS more closely resembles me doing yoga:
I have also been enjoying Stiles’ podcasts and online videos for quick yoga fixes when I don’t have time for longer yoga classes at a studio. This routine is amazing to literally get you out of bed in the morning – enjoy!
Two Guys from Woodbridge
“It’s easy being microgreen.” –Kermit the Healthy Frog
Microgreens provide more nutrients than pretty much any food out there. They are the young seedlings of vegetables that are harvested just days after germination. Microgreens are high in protein, chlorophyll, amino acids, vitamins, minerals, enzymes and antioxidants and they are packed with living cells. Microgreens are pre-digested by the sprouting process and are rich in natural enzymes. They also happen to be crunchy and delicious, not to mention pretty in pink…and green… and other colors. I recently discovered my two favorite guys from Woodbridge, CT. (OK, so they’re the only two guys I know from Woodbridge, CT, but still, I’m a huge fan.) This company based in – you guessed it – Woodbridge, CT is a fixture at the Union Square Farmers Market in NYC. I stumbled upon them last weekend during a glorious sunny Spring day and was overwhelmed by how beautiful their array of greens looked…and tasted! Their watercress was divine and their bouquets of mesclun even more beautiful than the flowers at the stand nearby. Speaking of flowers, Two Guys sells a gorgeous mélange of mesclun with edible flowers that taste as good as they look. Of course, La Fleur de Paris had to get her hands on some edible fleurs. I also stocked up on sunflower sprouts, a very delicate swiss chard, some rainbow microgreens (a mix of several varieties) and perhaps the most beautiful and delicious basil I have ever tasted in my life. I had Spring in my step all day long thanks to the blue sky NYC day then, thanks to my two new guy friends from Woodbridge, had Spring on my plate when I got home!
(This oeuvre d’art is a mélange – that’s a fancy word for mix, but hey, look at this plate, I’m fancy ! – of quinoa mixed with curly and lacinto kale, grated carrots, English peas, Two Guys’ swiss chard and broccoli sautéed in (lots of) coconut oil and garlic and topped with Two Guy’s microgreens and basil, some fresh mint and chives and some creamy mustard and lemon dressing.) Welcome to Café de Fleur!
Can’t wait to try more of their beautiful greens now that Spring has sprung – I love to support local farmers, especially ones who feed me so well. I leave you with the wise words of dear Kermit :
Can’t wait to try more of their beautiful greens now that Spring has sprung – I love to support local farmers, especially ones who feed me so well. I leave you with the wise words of dear Kermit :
“But green's the color of Spring
And green can be cool and friendly-like
And green can be big like an ocean, or important
Like a mountain, or tall like a tree
When green is all there is to be
It could make you wonder why, but why wonder why
Wonder, I am green and it'll do fine, it's beautiful
And I think it's what I want to be…”
Detox à la Hollywood
So, mes amis, there is not one, but DEUX books out about detox and Hollywood. Thankfully, one is en français and the other in English so there will be no food fights or cruciferous crusades.
“The Beauty Detox Foods.” I have been anxiously anticipating the release of this book ever since I first read Snyder’s last book “The Beauty Detox Solution.” Since then, I’ve enjoyed reading Snyder’s informative blog posts and watching her rapid rise to success from the page to the small screen. Snyder is known for her work with Hollywood heavyweights – or, in this case, LIGHTweights – like Drew Barrymore, Josh Duhamel, Fergie, Kerry Washington and other celebrities. She also just launched a new juice/smoothie bar in L.A. that I hope to try one day. I love Snyder’s philosophy that includes a light-to-heavy daily eating plan, lots of water with lemon juice, probiotics and gluten and dairy-free meals. She also shares my passion (/obsession?) for coconut, avocado, kale, chia and sweet potato and is on the anti-agave team – love this lady already. Her latest book is all about beauty from the inside out and features a long list of 50 foods with superpowers that affect the entire body from head to toe. Think: avocado and sweet potato for glowing skin, pumpkin seeds or nutritional yeast for thick hair or bananas to get rid of under-eye circles. Snyder proves that you don’t need to sacrifice flavor for nutrition – that you can have your (dairy-free, gluten-free, raw, soy-free, alkaline) cake and eat it too. Her book is also very accessible to everyone – most of the foods on her list can be found in the average neighborhood grocery store and her recipes aren’t complicated, nor do they feature esoteric ingredients like many vegan cookbooks today. Her book also sets itself apart from others in the genre in that it is a health book AND a gourmet cookbook. So many vegan cookbooks sacrifice health for flavor (think: recipes drowning in soy, vegan junk food and sugar) and others are so healthy they are not only unrealistic in today’s busy society, but, well, the recipes taste like cardboard. Snyder does a great job of explaining the health benefits of the different foods on her list without being too didactic. This is a wonderful book that I highly recommend for both those gradually easing their way into a healthier lifestyle and those already there and looking for more creative ideas for mealtime. I am totally (coco)nuts about this book that is beautiful from page 1 until the end.
“Ma Detox Made in Hollywood.” A book about detox, Hollywood and in the French language? Bien sur this was le livre for moi. The lovely Elsa Launay translates the concept of detox Hollywood-style into a whimsical and colorful French “oeuvre d’art.” This day-by-day guide to health is based on Launay’s experiences in the City of Angels and features some detox-friendly, but also taste bud-friendly concoctions. Many of the recipes are vegan and gluten-free and include some of my all-time favorites like almond butter, kale chips, almond milk yogurt and quinoa and green bean salad. The 10-day program is easy to follow and even includes detox-friendly tips to accompany the recipes like yoga, morning walks (likely much more enjoyable under the California sun than Paris, France in the dead of winter) and even musical selections from Launay’s personal playlist. This is a great transition diet for anyone needing a detox. Would have loved to see less meat and fish-based options, but hey, bébé steps, my French friends, I’ll take it!
I keep seeing different varieties of blue flowers everywhere. In French, the expression “blue flower” refers to someone who is a bit naïve and sees the world through rose-colored lenses. These varieties spotted at the market recently are instant happiness and a reminder that Spring has sprung!
Just when I (and you, I imagine) thought I couldn’t get any more obsessed with coconut…enter: coconut aminos! Some other Liquid Aminos are somewhat controversial in the health food world, with some claiming that they contain MSG. I personally have been sensitive to them. However, nama shoyu isn’t gluten free and tamari is still soy-based albeit fermented. So what’s a girl to do? Simply give up the salty goodness of soy sauce and its cousins forever? What will become of my Asian-themed meals henceforth? Have no fear, coconut aminos are here. When I first heard “coconut aminos,” I pictured body-building Thai warriors. In fact, coconut aminos resemble traditional soy sauce in texture and flavor, but they are MUCH healthier (and, as it turns out, have no relation whatsoever to gym rats in Bangkok). Coconut aminos are organic, raw, soy-free, gluten-free, dairy-free and vegan and they boast 17 naturally-occuring aminos acids to boot. The coconut aminos come from the sap of the coconut tree that is very low glycemic and packed with amino acids, minerals and vitamins AND has a very neutral pH unlike soy sauces. Use it just like soy sauce in salad dressings, marinades, stir frys and sushi. I’ve literally been pouring it over everything lately. It adds a nice salty flavor without the salt to all cuisines, Asian-themed or other.
Try these sushi rolls courtesy of Rebeccasan, sushi warrior:
Top nori sheets with some cooked quinoa, steamed slices of sweet potato, avocado and spinach or greens, some miso, coconut aminos, fresh ginger, lemon juice and chives then roll up. Dip into some coconut aminos or make a dipping sauce out of almond butter or tahini, lemon juice, ginger and coconut aminos.
Oz: The Gatekeepers and Powerful Place Beyond the Pines
‘Tis NOT the season for good movies. Christmas is over, the Academy has named its victors and summer blockbuster season is far away. These early months are usually packed with unexciting fare both from the major studios and the independents. That said, a few titles have snuck into a theater near you and me that I think are definitely worth checking out namely thought-provoking documentary The Gatekeepers, prequel to perhaps my favorite film of all time Oz: the Great and Powerful and the talented Derek Cianfrance’s latest project starring the two loves of my life in one movie (Ryan Gosling and Bradley Cooper) The Place Beyond the Pines. Sit down, relax, and enjoy these shows.
90s on 9
This Sirius XM channel has gotten me through these last days of winter with a huge smile on my face. It is my daily blast from the past complete with musical interludes from that amazing decade that was the 90s. Oh how I missed you Ace of Base, the Spin Doctors and Blessid Union of Souls. And you too Naughty By Nature, Meat Loaf and 10,000 Maniacs. Welcome back to my life.
PS My New Favorite Song by Justin Timberlake
No, it’s not “Suit & Tie.”