Mango Lassi Overnight Oats

Mango-Lassi-Overnight-Oats

If you haven’t heard, I love convenience and I love jars, so I’m fairly obsessed with overnight oats. Stir up some oats, milk, and whatever else you want to jazz it up, refrigerate overnight, and you’ve got yourself a perfect grab-and-go breakfast come morning.

This Vegan Mango Lassi Overnight Oatmeal Parfait from Fo Reals Life is a fancier version of simple overnight oats. The dish pairs oats with chia seeds to make an overnight oat chia pudding, then layers in a homemade mango lassi to create a delicious breakfast parfait.

Chia-Seed-Parfait

So, um, okay, this is embarrassing, maybe even a little shocking, but I HATE YOGURT. I know, everyone is obsessed with it! And I’m jealous! You get to eat out of those cute little containers and try all those yummy, healthy, slimming, probiotic-filled varieties! You can even enjoy yogurt from other animals besides cows! How cool! But still, it leaves me gagging. But I can trick myself into eating a little bit of it, here and there– using Greek yogurt in place of sour cream on baked potatoes or in soups, choosing the ‘tart’ flavors at FroYo places, and, of course, lassis! I used regular dairy yogurt (instead of vegan) in the lassi and, yes, I ate my parfait all up!

Enjoy the video and the parfait! What thing that you DESPISE can you add a little sweetness to and layer into your life this week?

 

Daddy

Daddy-Birthday

Today is my dad’s birthday.

I love my daddy a ton. Both of my parents are super helpful. They’re just the best people to have around if you need an extra hand. When I forgot my performance shoes for a Show Choir concert in middle school, my dad rushed home and back in record time to retrieve them and save the day! In high school when I realized the Civics citizenship project was due the next day (and I hadn’t started), he left work and took me down to the courthouse to sit and observe a trial for hours. In college, my parents drove the eight hours to Chicago each time I directed a student film, serving as a couple of extra hands on set, cooking for the cast and crew, bringing props and set dressing, and meeting my friends. At the end of every school year in college we had a big premiere of all the student films. Of course my parents attended all four years, whether I directed a film or not, but they were also somehow the only ones that stayed after to roll up the red carpet and clean up the catering.

I remember making my dad carry me up to bed until I was far too old…and we had quite a large flight of stairs.

 

Fathers-Day

Thinking back on it now, the poor guy had to sit through SO MANY dance recitals, speech contests, volleyball tournaments, and performances of Annie. Sounds brutal, but he was always there, he always watched and supported me and leant an extra hand.

He calls me “Little Buddy,” which I think is a Gilligan’s Island reference, and I love it.

Happy birthday Daddy! I really hope you enjoy today!

 

Glass and Plastic

Glass-and-Plastic

I’ll admit, I can’t keep up with all the studies and scare-tactics surrounding personal health and environmental impact, especially when it comes to food storage. I prefer glass to store food rather than plastic, but if you have plastic tupperware, I wouldn’t recycle it just yet!

 

Flour-and-Sugar

My rule of thumb is simple. If foods are purchased that come in their own handy-dandy storage container, we keep the container, regardless of its chemical makeup. But we don’t purchase any plastic tupperware (though we’ve acquired some over the years from friendly leftovers.) I’ll admit, our “tupperware” drawers are filled with plastics, but almost all are plastics that were once something else– a container for hummus, yogurt, shredded parmesan, crème-fraîche (I worked really hard on getting those accent marks right!) I don’t put these containers in the dishwasher or microwave but I still don’t completely trust them. And I feel like I will seriously reconsider plastics if I ever have small children in the house.

But reusing plastics once they’re in the house seems as best an option as I have. And if a container won’t really work to use over and over, of course, we recycle! I’m proud of my roommates, our recycling bin is always fuller than our trash can!

 

Oats-Glass-Jar Rice-Glass-Jar Sugar-Glass-Jar

I prefer glass for many reasons, but it comes with its own caveats. Most notably, it’s heavy. That means it was heavy to ship, meaning it takes more energy to get to you.

But if we are already purchasing products that come in their own glass jar, and reusing for years, I feel like we may just offset those shipping emissions. I keep all the salsa, pickle, tomato sauce, nut butter, and coconut oil jars and reuse for food storage. I’m not as worried about glass reaching high or low temperatures. It doesn’t take on the color or smell of the food as easily as plastics do (how many reddish plastic tupperware containers do you have in your house from storing spaghetti?) Even though you can use it probably for the rest of your life, if you do need to recycle a glass container (if you are me, you probably dropped it on the kitchen floor), you can rest assured that recycling glass is better than recycling plastic, with most glass being reclaimed instead of downcycled, like plastic.

 

Nuts

Then there is the simple fact that glass is SO CUTE and CLASSY and storing my grains and dried goods looks so PINTERESTING and NEAT! I love jars so much I received a bunch of jars for Christmas. Oh, my loved ones know me so well!

 

Forty Acts

Forty-Acts-Lent

Somehow the weeks flew by and the start of one of my favorite holidays totally snuck up on me! Yesterday was Ash Wednesday and the start of Lent!

Now, let me preface this by saying I don’t practice or subscribe to any particular religion. Nor was I raised in a household that actively practiced a religion. But I do love learning about and borrowing from religious traditions, especially when it comes to holidays, especially especially when that holiday is focused on self-reflection, introspection, and simplification. And I have always “given up” something for Lent. I actually get kinda excited, even giddy, at the thought of my upcoming forty days of monk-like adherence to a certain abstinence.

Yesterday, my friend told me about the book Simplifying The Soul: Lenten Practices to Renew Your Spirit by Paula Huston. The book outlines a plan for the Lenten period, with a different practice and meditation each day. Though the book is specifically geared toward the Catholic tradition, I have started reading it and loving some of the ideas on how to declutter, refresh, and show compassion over the next 40 days. I’m just going to have some trouble on that day where I’m meant to say the Rosary, and I have no idea how to pray the Divine Office.

I love the idea of over the next forty days doing one thing each day that works towards larger goals. I’ve made a list of my own 40 acts I’d like to do in the next 40 days, and hopefully these acts will inspire me to keep up similar work throughout the year. If you’d like to follow along with me, you could make your own list of 40 acts or borrow mine!

 

FORTY ACTS
  • Do something fun you’ve been meaning to do for a long time
  • Talk to a stranger
  • Don’t set foot in a car
  • No grooming for a day (skip showering, shaving, hair styling, make-up)
  • Educate yourself on an issue you don’t know about
  • Talk to a neighbor you’ve never met
  • Spend time alone in nature
  • Identify something you consume everyday and don’t consume it
  • Change your language/perspective about one thing today
  • Tell someone about a woman you admire
  • Tell someone about a person you admire who is a different race from your own
  • Go on a date with yourself
  • Dance
  • Clean out a storage area
  • Reorganize a junk drawer (borrowed directly from day 1 of Simplifying The Soul)
  • Don’t use electricity all day
  • Don’t throw anything away all day (ie: don’t use anything that requires throwing away)
  • Start a book you’ve been meaning to read
  • Write a letter to a friend
  • Play a game
  • Try a new (fun) activity that will likely make you look silly/foolish
  • Write to a local politician for change
  • Find one thing to make at home instead of buying from a store
  • Listen to a song you loved as a kid
  • Don’t eat meat all day
  • Only shop and buy local all day
  • Learn about your local government and politicians
  • Attend a religious service different from your own
  • Apologize to someone you hurt
  • Forgive yourself and let it go
  • Do something today to conserve water
  • Get all bills paperless, if already done, unsubscribe from all paper junk mail
  • Get a pen-pal in a different country
  • Read a text or listen to a podcast about gender and/or women’s studies
  • Read a text or listen to a podcast about an ethnic group/race not your own
  • Identify elitism/privilege in your speech today and brainstorm alternatives
  • Volunteer for a cause you care about
  • Install a clothesline
  • Take public transportation
  • Spend time with someone you haven’t seen in awhile

 

I plan to document my experience with the forty acts throughout the Lenten season on this blog. And luckily, though I missed Ash Wednesday, I already accomplished one of my acts by not setting foot in a car yesterday!

 

Slow Cooker Thai Chicken Soup

Thai-Chicken-Soup

I received my beautiful purple crock-pot for Valentine’s Day last year. So I guess you could say I recently celebrated the anniversary of the most amazing relationship I’ve ever been in. Oh how I love the convenience of plopping a bunch of ingredients into the slow cooker, pressing a button, and LEAVING IT ALONE. Next thing I know, dinner is ready! I’m obsessed with time management and efficiency so The Almighty Slow Cooker is right up there next to The To Do List in the greatest inventions of all time, at least in my opinion.

It’s still quite cold in many parts of the country, despite the recent heat wave we had in LA. This Slow Cooker Thai Chicken Soup from Foodie Crush is perfect for a blustery winter day. It’s got just the right amount of kick from the curry paste but the coconut milk and peanut butter make it super comforting. Plus the ginger is great for any little winter bugs you might be fighting!

Set the crock-pot, take a four hour nap, then treat yourself to this comfort in a bowl! I guess if you don’t want to make the soup, that’s cool, but at least try to fit in that four hour nap! You deserve it!

 

Biking is Selfish

Biking-LA-River

I figure I’ll be speaking at length about my experience as a bike commuter on this blog.

But today I want to talk about BIKING as THE ULTIMATE (SELFISH) ALTERNATIVE FORM OF TRANSPORT.

 

Biking-Safety Selfish-Biking-Instagram Biker-Girl

Biking cannot be a reality for every single person. I am lucky to be able-bodied and live in relatively flat city with incredible weather. I wish we had more systems in place to make biking more convenient and less terrifying for everyone, everywhere. We know that biking is great for our community, economy, and planet, but let’s be real here, it’s hard to stick with anything unless it benefits yours truly. For those of you who have been toying around with the idea of becoming more than just a weekend biker, I present to you my list of some amazing self-serving benefits of biking.

 

Biking-Downtown-LA

The Awesome Selfish Side of Biking

  • No ifs, ands, or butts – I have to get places and I have to get there at a certain time. I used to set my alarm early to work out in the morning but usually would snooze til I needed to rush out the door. Now I have no choice but to wake up and get a great workout before I’ve even really started my day. I don’t have to fight myself to get the motivation to do this form of butt-whittling…and, what a coincidence, I HAVE to get another great workout later on my ride home.

 

  • Alertness and Energy – Basically there are dangers everywhere – cars, car doors, pedestrians, other bikers, street debris, the occasional bloodhound. Biking makes you incredibly aware of the roads. A sideeffect of having to be insanely alert is additional energy. Instead of zoning out like I used to in a car, I have to have my head on a swivel with my brain in hyperdrive and my reaction time at its peak. I feel AWAKE and ALIVE after a trek on my bike.

 

  • No more headaches – I’m never stuck in traffic! It’s no secret, the traffic in LA is awful. No more just hanging out on everyone’s favorite parking lot- the 405. Even better, if I’m running late I can DO SOMETHING about it. I can pedal faster! How empowering!

 

  • Fun – Biking is fun! It’s like when we were kids, we would just ride our bikes around the neighborhood for FUN! I don’t know what it is about making a machine move with your body, but it feels fantastic and playful! I swear I’m infinitely happier just from my daily ride endorphins.

 

Biking-Is-Fun Biking-Bridge

And when I say selfish, I mean it’s just about the best thing you can do for yourself, your community, and your world. Ride on!

 

Winter Detox Smoothie and Soup – VIDEO!

 Enjoy this video for a Ginger-Mint Pear Smoothie while I get real LA on you and talk about detoxes.
Detox-Smoothie

I’m sorta split down the middle when it comes to dietary detoxes and cleanses. On the one hand, I think they are unnecessary as our bodies are likely doing all the detoxing work they are meant to do, whether we drink green juices or not. Also, I definitely don’t condone anything that is too strict or extreme when it comes to health and nutrition. For me, tight parameters almost always means failure and self-loathing.

That said, the modern human person is eating insane foods in wildly large portions, things maybe our bodies weren’t expecting to consume. Had the caveman invented fire and then Fiery Hot Cheetos, we’d probably have developed an additional snackfood detox organ.

 

Winter-Cleanse-Soup-Ingredients Winter-Cleanse-Soup-Spices

I am grateful to be in a situation where I have access to fresh and healthy food and the ability to prepare meals in a safe and sanitary way. One thing I like about detoxes is the mental and emotional aspect. I become more grateful for and appreciative of the food I consume. Because I’ll usually have a plan I’m sticking to, I tend to stop overthinking my daily eating and start savoring each bite or sip. I become keenly aware of how much advertising for unhealthful food exists EVERYWHERE but especially in places where fresh and healthy food is in short supply. And, as much as I hate to be a detox-bandwagoner, after a detox I usually feel like a popstar princess warrior angel, that is to say, I feel amazing.

Here’s the video for the Cilantro Spinach Sweet Potato Soup!
Winter-Detox-Soup-Blender

All that and now I have to admit that I made the recipes from Sarah B.’s Winter Weekend Cleanse not as part of an official detox but in addition to my normal eating. Both the smoothie and the soup were delicious, super easy to make, with a limited amount of ingredients to procure. I chose to eat and drink other things instead of these two recipes exclusively, but do as you please!

Whether you want to officially “detox” or just spin some greens around in a blender, enjoy the videos, the smoothie, and the soup! I mean truly enjoy them! Let’s all take a cleansing breath and pretend we have an extra detox organ that filters out all the bad stuff, like Cheetos and self-loathing.

Remember, you are a popstar princess warrior angel.

 

Alternatives Exist

Paper-Towel-Alternatives-Exist

Once when my sister was little, she ran smack dab into a cabinet and bonked her head. My mom opened the silverware drawer and pulled out a butter knife. She turned to my sister, who in turn took off screaming, convinced my mom was trying to kill her…or so the story goes. Of course, my mom was just doing exactly what her mom had done for her as a child when she bumped her head, and probably her mother’s mother had done for my Grandma– houses weren’t as well insulated, drawers and cabinets were cool, silverware was cold, a perfect remedy to a fresh bruise! It makes sense!

Household tradition was sorta the original lifehack, right? For the most part, our daily habits are likely still based in the household traditions and learned conveniences passed down from generations, some of which are time-honored and lovely, and some of which are hilarious and involve lunging at your injured child with a knife.

But part of adulthood is figuring out your own way of doing things and creating new traditions. I never really questioned my own daily habits until an embarrassingly late epiphany a few years ago. I think the instigator was paper towels. Someone mentioned they were cutting back on their paper towel usage and my brain blew up.

WHAAAAaaaaa?

So, let me get this straight, you are actively attempting to stop using a product I’ve used multiple times a day, everyday, all my life — AND you are going to find something that WORKS JUST AS WELL IF NOT BETTER!

You can guess what happened next! I bought some sponges and my mom crocheted me a bunch of dishrags and I switched to a squeegee for mirrors and windows.

 

Oh, and my life was changed forever.

Because now I KNEW. And I could never forget that great fact.

THERE ARE ALTERNATIVES TO EVERYTHING.

That was it. That was the big epiphany. It seems simple, but for me, it changed my whole way of life!

I began to question more and more of my rituals, habits, and daily decisions. It wasn’t about rebelling against the world I had once known, in fact, I have the utmost respect for the traditions and habits from my childhood. However, it was important to me to question my habits and educate myself on options that made me feel most comfortable, fulfilled, and authentic. For me, that means a continuous process of finding the most sustainable, least environmentally-destructive alternative to my daily habits — but balancing that quest with self-care rituals, so I don’t completely lose myself in the overwhelming task of saving the planet.

 

ALTERNATIVES EXIST TIP #1

  • Try reusable towels, rags, and sponges instead of paper towels!

or

  • Keep a knife in the freezer as an alternative to ice packs to really freak out your child or loved one next time they bump their head!

 

Almond Pulp Hummus – One Weird Thing VIDEO!

Almond-Pulp-Hummus

If you know me but at all, you know I despise waste. I CANNOT handle it. Most notable in my obsession is wasted food. Oh, it makes me so sad when I have to throw out a once perfectly good, edible thing because it is now far from edible or good or perfect. Don’t go with me to a restaurant and expect to leave even a french fry on your plate. I lay awake at night thinking of all the things in my fridge that are soon to be turning and which of those things I can salvage by freezing or consuming or transforming.

It may come as no surprise that I love recipes meant specifically for using up an ingredient oft in surplus. If you are a nut milk drinker and producer, as I am, you’ll understand the struggle over what to do with the remaining pulp once the milky goodness is extracted. Oh, sure, there’s always cashew milk, the miracle of the nut milks for its no-strain, no-bag, no-pulp abilities. But for the most common of the nutty drinks, almond milk, the pulp is real.

There are a couple things I’ve tried in order to use up my almond pulp– dump it into a protein shake or smoothie, dehydrate it to make almond meal for baking, or repurpose it raw into other foods, like hummus or fudge!

In my quest for raw almond pulp recipes, I came across the Eating Vibrantly blog, with a treasure trove of nut-related goodness! I love this recipe for Raw Almond Pulp Hummus! It fits all my criteria– it reuses the pulp, it tastes amazing, it’s easy to make, and it freezes nicely to save batches for later use.

Enjoy today’s One Weird Thing Video! This week, salvage something while it’s still perfect and good or transform it to make something a little nutty!