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A Backyard in Queens

May 28. 2010

Summer is blooming here in New York.  I can tell just  by stepping into my backyard.

Raspberries are growing, getting ready to turn sweet and red and get eaten by me.

Baby pears are getting fat!  I can’t wait for fall!

I’ve got a few random mushrooms springing up around – but I like how they look so I think they can stay.

The first rose to bloom on my several rosebushes!

And my backyard wouldn’t be complete without some cute kitty-ness.

Trust me, they love this weather just as much as I do.

PS- Click here to win some Artisana lovin’ from Katie!

Freeze!

May 27. 2010

Hola Hotties!

I don’t know about where you are but it is HOT in New York!  Yesterday it hit the nineties!  Yikes!  I love the heat and all so I wasn’t really complaining but when it gets this hot all I want is water, water, water, and fruit, fruit, fruit.  Ultimate: Watermelon.  Fact: At my third birthday, I ate an entire watermelon.  I am a Watermelon Monster.  But alas, I have none right now because that would require a car OR me carrying a watermelon seven city blocks, and while I love Dirty Dancing, I’m scared to carry watermelons further than up my driveway.

Anyway, in lieu of icy cold pink watermelon I’ve been making a lot of smoothies and other frozen things.  I whipped this one up yesterday morning and and I’m still dreaming of it.

I hate that this photo is so dark…but these ingredients make one delicious breakfast

Epic Antioxidant Blast Smoothie

  • 1 frozen banana
  • 1/2 mango, diced
  • 1/2 cup cherries (I pitted fresh ones because that’s all I had.  I recommend you use frozen)
  • 2 stalks swiss chard
  • 1/2 cup pomegranate juice
  • 1/2 cup coconut water
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon

All in a blender, until smooth!

in an empty jar – I save all my glass jars

This is such a GORGEOUS red smoothie – even the brown and green ingredients don’t hide the color.  And it tastes phenomenal.  Tart fruit and chocolate.  My two favorite things.  Amazing.

But no, I didn’t stop there.  It has recently come to the attention of the children I babysit for that I am a lactose-intolerant vegetarian (that’s what they keep calling me – it’s hysterical).  Yesterday as I was scooping up some ice cream for those two adorable but overheating children, the nine year old boy I babysit for sweetly told me he feels sorry for me because I can’t have ice cream.

Oh yeah?  I’ll show him.

I was considering running out to the ol’ health food store and picking up a cardon of So Delicious ice cream in some amazing flavor, but instead I decided to put my newly-burgeoning knowledge of raw techniques to the test and whip up some frozen sweet treats in my own kitchen.

Into the trusty ol’ Magic Bullet:

  • 1 banana
  • 2-3 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 2-3 tbsp almond milk (I used unsweetened vanilla, I prefer unsweetened unflavored)
  • 20-30 drops vanilla stevia/1 tbsp vanilla extract+2tbsp agave
  • 1 1/2 tsp mint extract

I poured this goodness into little paper cups – I knew my jello-shot making skillz would come in handy for real-life purposes one day.

Oh, but I can’t just stop there sweeties.  No no.  Mint chocolate ice cream obviously requires some more chocolate.  So I decided to concoct a chocolate coating to compliment my little ice cream cups.  I based it off of Katie’s chocolate butter and Averie’s coconut oil chocolate.  I’m amazed at how simple this is but at the same time I realize I shouldn’t be.  I mean, check your cocoa powder box.  It flat out says “3tbsp powder+1 tbsp oil=1 square baking chocolate.”  No brainer people!  If you haven’t tried this you really should!!  It’s turned into my go-to for my healthy chocolate fix.

  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 4 tbsp coconut oil (it was so hot in my kitchen that my coconut oil is LIQUID!)
  • stevia/agave to taste
  • 3-4 (or more) tbsp water, to thin

In a bowl I whisked together all the above ingredients and just kept adding water until it reached a consistency I found thin enough to spread but thick enough to properly coat the ice cream.  Of course, I used hot water to thin the mixture so suddenly the logistics of covering cold ice cream treats with hot chocolate seemed a little daunting, so I just frosted the top of each little cup with the chocolate and stuck it back in the freezer to set.

Aaand…here’s a picture of a half-eaten one:

I might be a hottie but I gotta stay cool, yo!  (Katie, I’d love to share some with you!)

I think my Magic Bullet is about ready to jump ship, by the way.  I don’t have a blender, and my food processor committed suicide a few months ago, so the Bullet has been getting a LOT of play lately (no comments please).  Everyone, cross your fingers that the Vitamix Fairy just drops one into my kitchen magically.  Thanks.

I’m loving everyone’s wonderful comments on my post about living too fast and wanting to slow down!  It’s definitely nice to know I’m not alone in feeling like the world is rushing by and I need to rush to catch up too.  Maybe if we all take a few moments to slow down, the world itself would stop seeming so fast.

What are your favorite hot-weather treats? Fruits, frozen things, whatever?  I want to spend my time this summer whipping up homemade versions of commercial favorites, so let me know what your faves are!

Later babies.

Slow

May 26. 2010

I move too fast.

crossing 42nd St

I’m always moving.  Even my brain never stops.  I walk fast.  I always have somewhere to be that is more important than where I am at the moment.

It’s not just the city I live in, it’s the world I live in.  The internet age, the fast food era, instant gratification, stat.

I always need to move.  I always need to go.  It’s a constant condition.  Stasis scares me.  Calm scares me.  Silence scares me.

I’ve never learned to just take a moment and appreciate the place I am right in the moment.

the Chrystler building

And I always miss so much like that.  The way the flowers gracefully burst off a tree, the butterfly drifting past, the miracle of throngs of people existing and surviving in such close, intense proximity all the time.  It’s so strange how we live so close to each other but we keep one another so far away.

Papyrus window display

It’s worth it – and more than that, it’s okay – to slow down once in a while.  Enjoy the scenery.

in front of the New York Public Library

I’ll never know what I’ve missed but I can try to take it slower and try to enjoy more, now.

Yesterday, I went to my beloved yoga in the park, and Janna was wonderful enough to meet me (we were bad bloggers, we took no pictures – but trust us, you don’t need to see how sweaty we were).  The instructor prompted us to imagine, in that time, that we were simply on vacation.  Nowhere to be but in the moment.

It’s not easy, not for me.  But I want to carry that with me.

Next time I get stressed out, overwhelmed, and I think the load is too heavy I can turn into my mind, my quiet space, and find that inner sense of peace I know is there waiting for me to remember it.  I can turn off my cell phone, go for a walk without my iPod, feel the grass beneath my bare feet.

I want to slow down.  So I will try.

Morning after

May 24. 2010

Good morning hotties!

Just to get this one out of the way, I openly admit I am still reeling in the aftermath of Lost.  I know plenty of people don’t watch this show, and I know even more people who watch the show will not be satisfied with the way it ended, but for the past six years, Lost has appealed to all of the literary sensibilities in me and although I’m still processing everything, I’m happy to say I believe it was worth it.

Confession: I don’t even have a TV in my house, but I make room in my life for that show.  And now it’s over.

It’s a strange thing to look back at the course of a television show and not only see where the show has gone, but where you’ve gone with it.  How much has changed over the past six years.  How, when my roommate my freshman year of college sat me down and made me watch my first episode of Lost, was I supposed to know that I had actually just seen the first episode of something I would become so mentally and emotionally invested in?  I had no idea.

(I have to admit, in the last fifteen minutes of the episode, I was sitting in lotus position with my palms open to the sky, receptive to what was coming.  Yes.  I am THAT MUCH of a geek.)

And now I have a buttload of writing to finish!  It’s finals week right now.  By tomorrow at midnight I hope to have completed writing a total of at least 75 pages spread over five different papers.  I’m soooo close.  So sorry my content as of late has been, well, less than exciting, but I promise once I’m done with finals Hottie will be back to tell you about being Hot.  Because I’d rather talk about that.

Here’s some Music Monday for ya’ll!  This is one of my yoga/warm up playlists – it always makes me want to move and open up.


Everybody, celebrate the return of Gaga to my weekly playlist.  Hah.  Also, look fast, you’ll catch my favorite song from the Broadway musical rendition of The Lion King.  We used to warm up to “He Lives In You” in my dance class in high school.  It always makes me smile for that reason.

With yoga in mind, I am setting an intention, not just for today, but for my week: Openness and availability to receive what the universe has to offer.

I’m not usually the type of personality to set an intention or goal but this seems like the right kind of week for it.  And hey, just because I don’t “usually” do something, doesn’t mean I can’t try it.

But seriously.  How am I supposed to concentrate on my papers when I have LOST on the brain?  And what am I supposed to do now?  Haha I have no TV shows I like!  What TV shows to you watch? Are you more into mindless television (reality TV, etc) or do you like shows that make you think?  When I used to have a TV I would watch anything and everything – Law and Order, Food Network, America’s Next Top Model, MTV shows, prime time dramas and sitcoms … Now when I go somewhere that has a TV it feels almost foreign to me!  I’m so unaccustomed to sitting in front of a TV just watching a show, I always feel really unproductive.  It’s so weird, especially since I used to love lovelovelove TV.

Anyway, being the morning after, I’m feeling like I need a little bit of catharsis and detox.  Therefore, I forewent my usual morning oatmral (which they totally eat on Lost) and instead went for a smoothie which I  an claim draws on thematic food elements from Lost.

Green monster, not Smoke Monster

Post-Lost Green Monster

  • 1 banana
  • 1/2 mango
  • 2 large leaves swiss chard
  • peanut butter!!
  • almond milk
  • cinnamon

Ok.  I’m officially just writing to procrastinate.  Off to … write some more.

Have a fabbity fab week, babies!  I’ll be back soon!

Weekend Reading

May 22. 2010

Hey hey hotties!  I hope you’re all having a positively fabulous weekend!  I’ve been busy busy busy reading, but when I procrastinate, guess what I do?  I read more.  Here are some articles that have recently caught my eye out on the web!

What Does A Healthy Body Look Like? from That’s Fit
Lisa Edelstein: “I Don’t Eat For Entertainment!” in Prevention Magazine
How To Spring Clean Your Life from EpicSelf
iDifferent on TrueSlant by Dreena Burton
Mangoes and Smoke: A LOST Series Finale Menu from TheKitchn
Kim Kardashian Cried, Prayed, and Was Embarassed Because of Her Big Boobs from SkinnyVSCurvy.com
Alfalfa Sprouts recalled after at least 22 ill from Associated Press (Eep!  Good thing I’m learning to sprout myself…or not!)
Grown-Up Cyclists Need Helmets, Too from New York Times
Vitamin D: Why You Are Probably NOT Getting Enough and How That Is Making You Sick from Huffington Post
15 Most Bizarre Diets In History from Women’s Health
Top Ways To Learn Pilates from About.Com

What are you reading now?

Babies, I love all your amazing comments!  I love when my cell phone buzzes to tell me I have a comment from some amazing person who has done me the pleasure of gracing my blog with their presence!  I have been especially fond of hearing how all of you came up with your blog names and where you like to shop for your groceries.  My biggest obsession in life is how everybody is so different – it amazes me and mystifies me and every day I am struck breathless at least once by how incredibly dynamic our world is because of this, and I feel so lucky that I get to connect with so many different people from places I might never even get to go just because I write a blog.  What a wondrous world.

Also, I got the greatest search engine hit of all time.  Someone Googled “Lady Gaga likes hummus” and found MY blog.  Whaaaaaaaaaat?  This cracks me up!

Oh, before I forget, Averie has a seriously awesome Naturally Nutty giveaway going down right now and Michelle is giving away an incredible Aurorae package.  I happen to be a fan of Aurorae myself, so go go go enter!

La la la. I  have more reading and lots of writing to get to, and I would like to have the majority of it done before the (sniff) Final Episode of Lost (sob).  Yes, that entire thing is a proper noun.  It’s an event.  I am stocking up on chocolate and hot pepper, which both stimulate endorphins, to counteract the extreme cloud of sadness about to eat me alive.  Ohhhh yeah baby.

I’ll end this sufficiently inane post now.  Catch ya later.

Four Eyes

May 21. 2010

A little bit of Fashion Friday for ya’ll!

Look what someone I like a lot bought for me … how freaking cute are they?

I am all about accessories.  (They’re red and black&white checkerboard)  I never wear my glasses though!  But these are so awesome I’ll just have to wear them.

Random: I went into Whole Foods today and I simultaneously experienced extreme repetitive foodgasms as I was entirely overwhelmed by the availability of product.  How does anyone go inthere and come out alive?  I left without buying anything.

Where do you shop for your groceries? Do you ever go to Whole Foods/other “higher end” national stores?  What is your favorite thing to buy at the grocery store and what are your necessary buys?  Since I don’t drive and I am on a budget I usually just shop at my local grocery store – like I said I was totally overwhelmed with the selection at Whole Foods and ran out!  I love to buy fun chocolate I see and also whatever produce is fresh and awesome looking.  I was wandering through a farmer’s market today and drooling over how great everything smelled.

If you haven’t yet added to the discussion on how you decided to name your blog what it is (if you’re a blogger), go check it out!  I’m really enjoying everybody’s responses – I know it was a long process for me to get to Happy Healthy Hottie and I wonder if I’m going to come to want to be known as something else in the future?

Song of the moment: Beyonce “Why Don’t You Love Me”

Have a fantastical weekend Hotties!

Hot Stuff: NuNaturals NuStevia product review!

May 20. 2010

Holy cannoli.

First of all, I have no idea where my brain is this week.  From Tuesday at sundown until tonight was the Jewish holiday of Shavuot, which meant my plans for the week were completely derailed.  I simply forgot about it!  Even though it’s in my BlackBerry scheduler AND my iCal calendar.  Seriously…whereismymind?

One note about Shavuot – it’s customary on this holiday to eat DAIRY.  Well, what is a lactose- and casein-free girl to do?  I know, eat things with tehina!  Like in my Vegetable Fettucini a la Vodka!  Yes, that was my sneaky not so sneaky way of trying to tell you that I added a page for my recipes on the site.  I’ve only posted three recipes so far, but I’m sure there was even a time where Martha Stewart only had three recipes to her name, so everyone’s gotta start somewhere!

So I was one lucky girl to win a sweet giveaway from Ms. Averie – yes, NuNaturals stevia products!  Since I’m a major sweet tooth but trying very hard to limit my sugar intake these days, stevia has been something I’ve wanted to try but couldn’t find the room in my budget to branch out to.  So imagine my thrill when a huge box arrived on my doorstep carrying not only the promised vanilla drops and stevia packets, but also the NuNaturals NuStevia baking blend!  My #1 form of procrastination/stress relief is to create bakery confections in my kitchen, so thank you NuNaturals for making all my sugar-free pastry dreams come true!

First of all, when I opened the package to find not just the drops and the packets, but the baking blend as well, I literally squealed in delight.  I scared my cats.  I’ve never heard myself make that noise.  Then I opened this giant envelope to find a wonderful and informative letter from the company, telling me about their products, and a huge packet of creative and fun recipes for suggestions on how to use the Stevia.

I have to say I was impressed.  I like to see when a company is proud of their product and interested in promoting its benefits.  And this is a great product.

Now, I must confess that I haven’t yet had the time to devote to finding a recipe I would like to test out my precious NuStevia baking blend on (no offense to all the fabulous recipes they sent me, but I like to make my own stuff up), but I have had a chance to give both the vanilla drops and the packets a spin, and I am a happy girl!

The other day I used half a packet of the powder in my coffee, and it was the perfect amount of sweet for me – I actually like my coffee bitter, but some bold roasts have a little too much of a burnt taste for me, so somehow this stevia adds the perfect, minimal touch of sweetness to my coffee without making me feel like I’m sipping simply syrup.

By far, though, my favorite product is the vanilla drops.  I can guarantee you that when these run out I will be droppin some of my squeezed tight dollas on this stuff.  One drop is absolutely perfect for an Ilana-sweet cup of coffee, and three drops mixed into a tablespoon full of peanut butter makes me a really happy girl.

Oh yeah, and using it in chocolate butter also makes me a really happy girl.  Katie, from one chocolate-covered hottie to another, DAAAAAYYMMMN GURL!  In case you were wondering, hotties, chocolate butter takes less than three minutes to make and tastes like a chocolate truffle on a spoon…which is basically what it is.  Excuse the awful picture of my half-eaten jar of it (I just had to keep taste-testing to make sure the RIGHT balance between bitter and sweet was used).  Just try it.

chocolate butter and boysenberry jam on an organic whole wheat waffle

(Side note – this post is taking me a million years to write because I keep getting distracted by having a personal dance party in my mirror to Lady Gaga.  Just thought you needed to know.)

Something to talk about: Two of my best friends, kind of inspired by me, are thinking about starting their own blogs.  Of course, both of them are having difficulties deciding on a name for their blog.  As you may or may not know, I actually blogged for nearly six months before I landed on the blogdentity of Happy Healthy Hottie (yes I am corny as hell).  I totally feel their pain as they toss around different names for their future creative spaces.  I mean, the title of any creative work is supposed to identify, in some respect, the essence of the piece (I guess I am considering a blog to be a “creative piece” in and of itself).  My question is, how did you come upon the name for your blog? When you started blogging, did you have a clear sense of what you wanted to achieve through your blog, or has their been evolution and development in that area as you continue?  Looking back, if you could, would you want to change your blog name, or does it still reflect your core goals for your blog?  How has your blog changed since you started?  What I love is how I’ve learned so much from reading various blogs over the past few years, and the most valuable lesson I’ve been able to take is how change is good, and that change is possible ANY time.  I was nervous about scrapping my original project for a new one, but I couldn’t be happier with where Happy Healthy Hottie has been going, so I know I took the right step to start a new blog.  Tell me about yours!!

Anyway, I’m off to catch up on Glee and Lost and try to pretend that Lost doesn’t end in three days (I’m tearing up right now thinking about it — this is going to be a rough separation).  Have a goodnight hotties!