Saturday, January 11, 2014

Nut Milk + Some Current Thoughts about Health..

Wow, has it been a crazy week or what??

I had the fullest intentions of posting earlier this week, but I literally had no extra time to do so. This has probably been, musically, one of the busiest weeks of my life (outside of Christmas, of course - Musicians + Christmas = no free time). 14+ hours of rehearsal for Fiddler on the Roof, and those hours don't include the 6 hours I spend every week singing in university choir or the three small jobs I'm currently working. Then there were the assignments. The bad part? Staying up until 3:00 am trying to finish reading a short story so that I could write a couple pages about it and turn it in online to my Humanities professors (I might write more about that author/short story and that class later. It's pretty awesome). The good part? The material in my assignments for this quarter is simply amazing! Literature homework + philosophies of health = best homework ever! I just wish I had more time to look at the stuff so that I could actually enjoy it more.

Anyhow.. I just need to make sure I keep my health a priority (which I sometimes struggle to do).

Currently, in my Dimensions of Health class, my professor is challenging his students to ask themselves what is their health philosophy (he's also asking us to write an essay about it, but let's not talk about that right now).

My health philosophy is constantly changing, but there are some things that don't change:

1) Truly, optimal wellness comes through all five dimensions of health: physical, emotional, intellectual, environmental, and spiritual. The top three on my list are emotional, physical, and spiritual. 
2) It's better to be healthy in general and have a mistake here and there than to be SUPER healthy and very unhappy. However, working for better health should always be the goal. 
3) God has made people capable of much more than they realize. 

Just felt like including that in here. :)

My new year's resolution is to work my way to a healthier lifestyle - and to have fun doing it. I don't want to feel stressed out or deprived all of the time, so I'm taking the steps slower this time. And this time, I won't be so hard on myself. Besides, A happy mind feeds a healthy body, a healthy body is a happy body, and a happy body feeds the happy mind!

That's why I made me some homemade nut milk!


People, if you were ever afraid of making nut milk, fear no more!!!! It is so much easier than I expected - and I didn't even follow a recipe!! 

I had some almonds, and I had some water. I added a little sweetness and cinnamon spice in there, blended it up, and curiously poured it through a cheesecloth.


It looks yellow because of the lighting, but it was a gorgeous color, trust me. 

Then I milked my very first vegan cow!! ;)


It was quite an experience, and the milk tasted amazing. I even soaked some raw vegan muesli with it overnight. Yep, pretty much the most amazing breakfast ever (besides fruit, of course). 


Here's a loose recipe for you to try! So far, this one is my favorite.


Basic Vanilla Almond Milk

Fills a decent sized mason jar (I believe it was a 32 oz.)

Ingredients:
* 4 cups water
* 1 cup almonds 
* 1/4 cup coconut palm sugar (more if you want a sweeter milk)
* 1 Tbsp. alcohol free vanilla
* pinch of cinnamon (preferably freshly ground)

Directions:
1) Blend all ingredients until smooth.
2) Grab a medium large mixing bowl and a cheesecloth. Lay the cheesecloth over the mixing bowl.
3) Pour 1/3 the milk mixture into the cheesecloth, grab the corners and then start squeezing. While squeezing with one hand, make sure the other hand keeps the cheesecloth closed (or else milk will fly everywhere - this happened to me). When finished squeezing, empty out the almond pulp into a separate bowl for later use in other recipes. 
4) Continue step #3 until all the milk has been squeezed out. 
5) Pour finished product into a mason jar or milk bottle and enjoy. :)

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I want to start making more nut milks, homemade baked goods, and maybe I'll even try my hand at some vegan cheese. I think that would be pretty cool! :)

Enjoy the rest of this weekend. Oh, and try making nut milk - it's so much fun!

Much love,

~ Natalyn










Thursday, January 2, 2014

Green Smoothie Goodness

When I think of seasonal winter produce, the first fruits and veggies that come to mind are oranges, avocados, winter squashes, and dark leafy greens. Especially citrus and greens. 

When I walked out to my backyard the other day, I saw the beautiful rainbow chard and kale with their vibrant green colors and I knew I had to use them in my green smoothie. 


The parsley in my mom's garden has been a little lonely these days, so I decided to include a little of that too. I mean, why not? I've heard it's super detoxing. 

Tip: If you would like to improve your green smoothie's texture, add half a frozen banana - that should do the trick. 
Ok, truthfully, I was a bit wary of adding the parsley to the smoothie, but I had hope that the mangos and orange juice would help even out the flavors of sweet, savory, and earthy. 

I also added a small piece of frozen pineapple, and I'm sure glad I did. It gave such a nice flavor, and of course it paired great with the mango and orange. 


The result? Success! It tasted healthy, but in a refreshing, delicious way. It's a great way to include more greens in your diet - that's what I'm trying to do, since I'm a fruit lover. 


So if you're interested, here's the recipe:


Glorious Green Smoothie
Tropical fruits, parsley, and winter greens

Serves 2 large glasses

Ingredients:
* 4 small leaves of kale
* 4 larger leaves of rainbow chard
* large handful of organic baby spinach 
*2 small sprigs of parsley
* Flesh of 1/2 large mango
* 1/2 frozen banana
* small piece of frozen pineapple
* 1 cup fresh squeezed orange juice

Directions:
1) Tear the greens into small pieces and add to blender. Add other ingredients.
2) Blend until smooth and creamy. If not using a Vitamix or other high-speed blender, you may need to chop up the frozen fruit into smaller pieces. 
3) Pour into glasses and enjoy immediately!

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I hope you enjoy the green smoothie. It's a great way to start the new year! :)

Much love,

~ Natalyn



Wednesday, January 1, 2014

New Year + Music Favorites + Favorite Eats at LA/Pasadena

Happy new year, everyone!!!!! It's officially 2014!!!!

Sorry for the weird background - I'm currently at Starbucks

Today I want to share with you my music favorites of 2013. 

Favorite Singers:

* Brooke Fraser - her music style is unique, and I just love it. I really enjoy the lyrics to a lot of her songs - very deep stuff. She has biblical references in her songs every now and then, which is pretty awesome too! 
Currently, my favorite songs from her are Ice on Her Lashes, Seeds, Hosea's Wife, and C.S. Lewis (yes, that's the name of one of her songs).
* Josh Wilson - I love this guy's music. Many of his songs are about his relationship with God. Very relatable (as you can see, lyrics are important to me), and the music is nice too. 

* John Legend - he is so talented. I went to one of his live concerts recently and it was great! If you're in the mood for a laid back, romantic love song, may I recommend All of Me or Ordinary People. They are two of my favorites.
* Alexander Rybak - Alexander Rybak is quite a talented man. He is also pretty good looking, in my personal opinion. He plays the fiddle like nobody's business and has an awesome voice that's very pleasant to listen to. I don't always agree 100% with the lyrics, but overall they are fun and playful. Some great songs I recommend from him: 1) Fairytale, 2) First Kiss, 3) 13 Horses (this one is with piano and it's so beautiful but be warned: It is depressing!) 4) Roll with the Wind (this one I couldn't find on Spotify, but I know it's on Youtube - the same goes for 13 Horses). 

Favorite Composers:
* Brahms
* Shostakovich
* Addinsell
* Manabu Oshishi

That's pretty much it for music. On to food!!!

Favorite Restaurants/Cafes in LA and Pasadena
* My Vegan - My Vegan is so great. I've now been there twice. The first time I went to the one in Pasadena, and the second time - yesterday - I went to the one in LA. I definitely enjoyed the one in LA because the interior looked nicer and there was a different menu with organic ingredients. My Vegan restaurant is especially known for their Thai/Asian dishes. My favorite dishes: 1) Vegetable Bowl (it was the Vegan Bowl of the Day or something like that) with marinated kale and red/brown rice, topped with a soy sesame sauce. 2) Miso soup (from the one in Pasadena), 3) "Chicken Drumsticks" with choice of buffalo or BBQ sauce, 4) Pineapple Lemonade, 5) Any of the Thai coconut curries are fantastic! They are served in big, beautiful bowls and come with a side of brown rice. 
Pasadena Website: http://www.myveganpasadena.com

* Real Food Daily - another organic vegan restaurant. What can I say? Vegan restaurants are my favorite!  The food here is so tasty, and so wholesome. In my opinion, the best part of this restaurant is the sweets. Ok, I'm biased, since I haven't tried any of their main dishes yet. Haha ^_^ But seriously, try their strawberry hemp "milkshake". You won't be sorry! 
Real Food Daily has locations in Pasadena, LA, and Santa Monica. 

* Le Pain Quotidien - this restaurant is superb! Seasonal ingredients, fresh baked bread, raw, vegan, gluten free, and vegetarian options among the fancy meat options - and everything tastes fantastic. I enjoyed the seasonal turmeric chai latte (not sweet at all, but had a very nice taste), as well as the minestrone soup (best minestrone soup I have ever eaten, no joke), and as my main course I had the seasonal Kale Caesar salad. Yeah, pretty much the best salad ever. The dressing had lapsang in it (lapsang is apparently some sort of smoked tea) and gave the whole salad a delicious, cheesy and nutty smoked flavor. And here's the cool part: this caesar salad was dairy and egg free! Healthy, dark green salad that tastes AMAZING and is super nutritious - yup, can't beat that.  
Besides offering great food, this place also encourages great company. The restaurant has a lovely mix of modern and traditional, especially with a giant communal table in the middle of the room. I had the pleasure of sitting there with some great friends of mine, and we had a wonderful time together. 
Here's the webiste:

There were other great restaurants I visited, but those were my three favorite for this year, I think. 

Well, that's pretty much it! Pretty soon, I plan to share a delicious green smoothie recipe that turned out SO fantastic. I can't wait to share. :)

Much love,

~ Natalyn