LG Faves: February 2019

LG Faves February 2019

It’s time for some February favorites. Since I have been following my February intention of read more, stream + read online less, I have two books and no TV shows, lol! A big part of being able to read more is to not be addicted to a TV show. Anyways, I hope you find something interesting to check out below.

Food: Lavva Coconut Yogurt

Oh Lavva how I love thee! I have finally found a dairy free yogurt that I actually enjoy, doesn’t have tons of sugar, and the ingredient list is normal. I had been missing dairy yogurt because I grew up with my mom putting a dollop of yogurt or cottage cheese on so many things: fruit salads, oatmeal, granola, toast, etc, but as I got older I started having skin issues on my arms and we found out that it was linked to dairy so the yogurt had to go. I had been searching for a replacement but I didn’t enjoy the flavor of any of the ones on the market – until I found Lavva! It is delicious and the ingredient list and sugar content is amazing. I highly recommend checking it out if you have to find a dairy free yogurt alternative.

Nonfiction Book: What Made Maddy Run? by Kate Fagan

Oh this book! I have talked about it a lot now – you can read my takeaways from it here. I can’t recommend it enough. No matter who you are you will learn something and gain some empathy and understanding reading this powerful book.  

Fiction Book: The Thinking Woman’s Guide to Real Magic

This book is so much fun. It’s all about entering into a different magical world surrounded by magicians, kings, dragons, fairies, and I just loved it. It was a nice change from such a serious book (Maddy) and you find yourself falling into a wonderful fantasy hole that sweeps you away. If you’re looking for something fun this is the book for you. 

Music: Lizzo

Lizzo’s music is upbeat and empowering. She has an incredible voice and her music reminds me of powerful woman’s voices from the Motown, soul, disco era. It immediately puts me in a good mood and makes me want to dance, and I love that most of her lyrics focus on loving your body, embracing who you are, and strutting your stuff. It is refreshing! She just came out with a new song called Juice and her new album – Cuz I Love You – is coming out in April.

Clothing: Girlfriend Collective Bodysuits

I have been wearing these bodysuits for a while and can’t believe I haven’t mentioned them before! I love them. The brand – Girlfriend Collective – is amazing. They believe in slow fashion and only use ethical manufacturing and recycled materials for their clothing. The body suits are so soft and comfortable. The Lily bodysuit is my favorite so far, and I love that theres button snaps at the bottom so you don’t have to take the entire bodysuit off to go to the bathroom, makes life so much easier! They’re soft, comfortable, and flattering.

Movement: Running

I started running again after many years of having to avoid it because of recovery and it has been so special. I can’t believe how much I have missed it and am so grateful I was able to reintroduce this movement back into my life. I am going to write a longer post about this because there is much more tied with running and my eating disorder, but for now what I want to say is that I feel so profoundly happy that I have reached a point in my recovery where I can enjoy running again in a healthy way.

 Movie: The Boy Downstairs

I have always liked Zosia Mamet from her days on Girls and the column she wrote for Glamour. I find her very interesting and thoughtful so I enjoy following the work that she does. I recently saw this cute rom-com she did on HBO and enjoyed it. It was a quirky indie film but a nice light watch with a different storyline than the typical rom-coms and takes place in hipster Brooklyn which is always fun.

Roasted Squash Soup Recipe

Roasted Squash Soup Recipe

It is soup season! Well sorta here in LA — but it is quite chilly in the evening. I love soups and stews and this recipe is one of my favorites because it is SO easy to make and SO delicious.

You can make it with really any vegetable you would like, but I tend to make it with butternut squash or cauliflower most of the time. Those veggies come out particularly amazing with this recipe. Enjoy!

*Note you need a high speed blender for this recipe because that’s how you mix the soup!

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 large butternut squash, halved vertically and seeded (or chopped cauliflower)

  • 1 tbsp avocado oil

  • ½ cup chopped shallot or red onion

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 4 garlic cloves, pressed or minced

  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

  • Up to 4 cups (32 ounces) vegetable broth

  • 1 to 2 tablespoons ghee, to taste (this is optional, and if you’re vegan sub for more avocado oil)

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit and line a rimmed baking sheet with tin foil. Place the butternut squash on the pan and drizzle each half with just enough avocado oil to lightly coat the squash on the inside. Rub the oil over the inside of the squash and sprinkle it with salt and pepper.

  2. Turn the squash face down and roast until it is tender and cooked through, about 45 to 50 minutes. Set the squash aside until it’s cool enough to handle, about 10 minutes. Then use a large spoon to scoop the butternut squash flesh into a bowl and discard the tough skin.

  3. Meanwhile, in a large soup pot, warm 1 tablespoon avocado oil over medium heat until shimmering. Add the chopped shallot and 1 teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring often, until the shallot has softened and is starting to turn golden on the edges. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute, stirring frequently.

  4. Transfer the cooked shallot and garlic to your blender. Add the roasted butternut squash, and a few twists of freshly ground black pepper. Pour in 3 cups vegetable broth, being careful not to fill the container past the maximum fill line (you can work in batches if necessary, and stir in any remaining broth later). Securely fasten the lid and select the soup preset, being careful to avoid hot steam escaping from the lid. The blender will stop running once the soup is super creamy and hot.

  5. If you would like to thin out your soup a bit more, stir in the remaining cup of broth (I usually use the full 4 cups, but if you used a small squash, you might not need all 4 cups). Add 1 to 2 tablespoons ghee, to taste, and blend well. Taste and stir in more salt and pepper, if necessary.

  6. Serve immediately!

Low Sugar, Gluten & Dairy Free Granola Recipe

Low Sugar Granola Recipe

Low Sugar Granola Recipe

There are some things that taste SO much better homemade than store bought, and once you’ve made them yourself it’s impossible to go back.

One of those things for me is: GRANOLA. Store-bought granola does not even come close to how delicious it is when you make it yourself. Another thing about store bought granola is that it is usually processed, made with lots of sugar, and shitty ingredients. If you look at the ingredient label it is loaded with sugar and the worst types of processed vegetable oils (not the good fats).

Plus when you make your own granola you make it EXACTLY how you like it – for me that is low sugar and low grain with lots of cinnamon, vanilla and coconut — and you know EXACTLY what you are putting in it.

I have followed a few different granola recipes and have finally perfected my own. My recipe is adapted from the Simple Gourmet Granola recipe on My New Roots. I lower the amount of maple syrup and sub some of the rolled oats for raw sunflower and pumpkin seeds. Oh, and I add lots of cinnamon and vanilla – because duh.

Here it is:

Ingredients:

2 cups rolled oats (not instant)

1 cup raw almonds

1.5 cups unsweetened coconut fakes

1/4 cup maple syrup

4 tbsp coconut oil

2 tsp cinnamon

2 tsp vanilla extract

¼ tsp sea salt 

Directions: 

1. Preheat over to 350°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

2. Put the nuts and seeds into a food processor and pulse until the nuts are chopped up, but still chunky enough to have texture in the granola.

3. In a small saucepan over low-medium heat, whisk oil and maple syrup together.

4. In a large bowl combine oats, almonds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, coconut, cinnamon, vanilla and sea salt.

5. Pour oil and maple syrup mixture over dry ingredients and stir very well to coat.

6. Pour the mixture onto the lined baking sheet and spread in an even layer so the granola bakes evenly. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until golden brown. Stir halfway through.

3 Easy Plant Based Recipes

Cooking is such a wonderful way of showing yourself some self love. Taking the time to make yourself a nourishing home cooked meal is such a gift and something we don’t make the time for very often.

I enjoy cooking and eating delicious meals but one thing I hate is spending hours in the kitchen and having tons of dishes to clean. Talk about not fun at all. For me simplicity and ease is key. If the recipe has more than ten ingredients - I get turned off.

Thats why these are 3 of my favorite go-to meals. They are easy to make, healthy, require little clean up, make great leftovers, and most importantly - delicious!

ALSO I have made these dishes for my brothers and father at home - aka meat loving men - and they enjoyed all of them. My dad even said I had to make him the curry again.

Hope you show yourself some self-love this holiday season and make yourself a home-cooked plant based meal!

Plant Based Recipe: Thai Yellow Curry —  Image from The Minimalist Baker

Plant Based Recipe: Thai Yellow Curry — Image from The Minimalist Baker

Thai Yellow Cauliflower & Chickpea Curry from the Minimalist Baker

All of the recipes I have made from the Minimalist Baker are very good. I love this one because the curry has great flavor, it warms your soul, and you make the entire thing in one pot so the clean up is as easy as it gets. This recipe is a favorite at my house.

Simple Mills Plant Based Pizza -  Image from Alison Wu @alison__wu

Simple Mills Plant Based Pizza - Image from Alison Wu @alison__wu

Simple Mills Pizza Dough

This pizza crust is delicious, healthy, and so easy to make. I usually like adding a pesto or marinara sauce, mushrooms, red onions and zucchini and then some vegan ricotta cheese from Kite Hill. Sometimes I will also sprinkle some Daiya Mozzarella Cheese :) Believe me - it is a great combination!

Plant Based Recipe: Chickpea & Zucchini Stew -  Image from People

Plant Based Recipe: Chickpea & Zucchini Stew - Image from People

Natalie Portman’s Chickpea & Zucchini Summer Stew

Ok confession — I did try this recipe because I am a big fan of Natalie Portman and wanted to try out one of her favorite recipes, but I am glad I did! This recipe is extremely easy to make and tastes amazing. I add a little bit of cumin and paprika when I make it myself for a more robust flavor. Serving this stew on top of rice with a squeeze of lemon is the way to go.

The Ultimate Matcha Review

Morning Matcha

My love of matcha is no surprise. I drink my matcha tonic every morning and enjoy it as an afternoon pick me up if I’m feeling tired.

If you want to know exactly how I make my morning matcha you can find the recipe here.  

How did I become so obsessed?

I’ve known about matcha for a while but I didn’t start drinking it religiously until a few months ago. I used to be a coffee drinker and was in the habit of drinking that every morning. The switch to matcha happened for two reasons:

  • I stared having strong reactions to coffee with the medication I was taking for anxiety. It would make my heart beat fast, make me extremely jittery and it was causing sleeplessness even if I drank it at 10am! I started noticing that when I didn’t have the coffee I would sleep really well and was much calmer. I know these are normal reactions to coffee but I had never experienced them before.

  • I discovered how to make a matcha elixir and that blew my mind. Before this I had only had matcha lattes at coffee shops and they aren’t that good compared to the tonics I started making myself. When you add collagen and coconut butter and adaptogens and all sorts of magical ingredients it really takes your matcha game to the next level.

So, needless to say, I now drink a lot of matcha and have done comprehensive research and experimentation on which matcha is my favorite. Here is a thorough review of all the matcha brands I have tried that takes into consideration quality, flavor, price points, and convenience so you can choose the one the best fit your needs.

Ippodo Matcha

Ippodo Tea

This is the best tasting, best quality matcha I have tried. In my opinion it blows the other matchas out of the water and hard to go back to other brands once you’ve had it. Ippodo Tea Company has been producing superior quality green tea in Kyoto Japan since 1717 — so basically they are masters at it.

They have a few different flavors of matcha: Rich, Balanced and Smooth.

I have tried the Rich and Smooth flavors, and, in my opinion, the difference between the two wasn’t extreme. The Rich was a little bit stronger and had more depth, the Smooth was a little lighter and smoother. The Smooth flavor is cheaper so that has become my go-to matcha.

Here are the prices for the largest size tin (40g): Rich — $46.99; Balanced — $39.99; Smooth — $32.99

Overall Thoughts: If you’re going to spend the money and invest in the best quality and tasting matcha — I would absolutely go with Ippodo.

DoMatcha Organic Matcha

DoMatcha

I found DoMatcha at Whole Foods when I wanted to see what matcha selection they had available. They had a large tin available or single serving packets that were sold individually. Having the ability to buy the single packets is incredibly convenient for travel or if you want to make sure you like it before investing in a larger quantity.

I bought a few of the single serving packets. This brand is more on the expensive side so I was grateful for the single packet alternative. The tin they had available at Whole Foods was the Summer Harvest 80g tin for $32.99.

This is the best matcha I have bought at a grocery store. I wouldn’t buy the larger tin because if I am spending that money I would buy the Ippodo tea, but it was good and the closest matcha I have found in terms of quality and taste to Ippodo.

Overall Thoughts: This was a great quality matcha and my second favorite in terms of taste that I have tried. Having the ability to buy it at Whole Foods and get single serving packets make this matcha brand extremely convenient. These single serving packets were my favorite for blending quality, great taste and convenience.

 

CapBeauty Matcha

CAP BEAUTY - The Neat Matcha Stick Box

 CAP BEAUTY sells a good quality, expensive ceremonial grade matcha that you can purchase in individual packets or a larger tin. I purchased the “The Neat Stick Box” so I could have those available as an easy travel option. When I tried them however I didn’t find the flavor that rich so I couldn’t really taste it in my matcha tonic. In order to get a stronger matcha flavor I had to use two of the packets or if you purchased the tin you would have to use an even larger amount which ends up making it more expensive.

You have to order CapBeauty online if you don’t live in LA or NYC.

 The 39g tin they have available online costs $36 and the Neat Stick Box costs $34 and comes with 15 packets.

Overall Thoughts: The Neat Sticks are convenient for traveling but I enjoyed the DoMatcha single serving packets better which I can easily buy at Whole Foods. If you’re going to spend the money on matcha I recommend Ippodo, or if you want to go the single serving packet I would recommend DoMatcha.

Pure Leaf Matcha

Pure Leaf Matcha

I was recently in Texas and forgot to pack my travel matcha – what was I thinking right? I don’t know what was wrong with me that morning – anyways all of this to say that I had to see what I could find at our local grocery store. I found this brand in the tea section and decided to give it a try. Pure Leaf is probably easier to find and more convenient if you don’t live in an area with a Whole Foods and you don’t want to spend a lot of money or order online. I saw that it is also sold at Target.

This ended up being my favorite of the matchas I found in Texas - it cost $7.99 for 12 packets, but I had to use two sleeves of matcha for each drink because the matcha just wasn’t rich enough for me. When I made my tonic with just one sleeve it was too light and not enough matcha flavor.

Overall Thoughts: This isn’t the matcha I would drink if I had my ultimate choice but it was the best one i could find in Texas at the local grocery store. I think it’s a good option for convenience, availability, and price point.

Navitas Organic Matcha Powder

Navitas Organics

This was another matcha brand that I found at the local grocery store in Texas in the health food section. I had high hopes for this one because it looks like it’s good quality but was disappointed. The flavor of this matcha was bitter and not smooth. I ended up using this one least.  

It cost $21.99 for a 3oz bag.

Overall Thoughts: It will probably be better used for cooking or something else but in terms of in a matcha drink the flavor isn’t good and makes your drink bitter.

Green Foods Corporation Organic Matcha

Green Foods Corportation — Organic Matcha Green Tea + Brown Rice Solids

This was the last matcha brand I found in the health food section of the grocery store in Texas. I was apprehensive about it right away because the ingredients weren’t pure matcha - it clearly says in the front that it also has brown rice solids. When I opened the jar the powder wasn’t a bright kelly green like matcha should be, but instead was a light muted green so I was expecting for the flavor of the matcha to not be pure. When I tried my matcha drink it didn’t have that rich matcha flavor but tasted more like the other ingredients in the drink. It was smoother than the Navitas brand but it wasn’t great matcha either.

Overall Thoughts: Better than the Navitas Organics matcha but still not great. If you’re buying matcha at the grocery store I would recommend Pure Leaf before this one or Navitas.

Well there you have it — a comprehensive review of my favorite matchas and some brands I have tried due to where I have been when traveling or a current circumstance. If you have a matcha brand you recommend I try let me know. Hope this is helpful for you when selecting which matcha best fits your needs!

Healthy Eating - Gone Too Far?

Does anyone else think this obsession with food, healthy eating and exercise has gone too far? It seems extreme and fanatical to me, and I keep wondering: What is it even for? What are people trying to accomplish with these insane diets and workout regimens?

If it’s coming from a place of disease prevention and trying to live longer – news alert: WE ARE ALL GOING TO DIE. Even the most health-conscious person will die. When we die is remarkably random and thinking we can control this by eating a particular diet is quite silly. We could walk outside and get hit by a car tomorrow and the fact that you were only eating raw vegetables will not make a difference.

I am not saying we should eat fast food every day, of course not, but this absurdity of not being able to eat normal versions of foods and instead having all these crazy alternatives and weird substitutions is too much. I don’t think having regular rice is going to be the thing that kills us.

If it’s a concern of how we look and being the thinnest, most beautiful version of ourselves, then the amount of time and obsession we have dedicated to this is alarming.

We seem to have lost sight of the serious issues affecting the world and our values are all mixed up. And on top of that it’s NOT EVEN WORKING – the obesity and eating disorder rates are increasing. Whatever it is that we are doing is truly leading us astray.

The other issue I have with this is that I can’t help noticing that it’s an obsession for the privileged, wealthy people. So much money is being spent on cleanses, diet/meal delivery programs, $25 coconut yogurt jars, when there are people who are grateful if they have one meal that day and have a safe place to sleep. When I stop and look at it this way, I feel so shitty to give that stuff even an ounce of my attention.

It’s pointless when you put things in perspective and realize how lucky we are to even have these choices.

There are so many other issues that we should spend our brainpower on – not whether we can eat grains this week or the latest food labeled the culprit of weight gain or fatigue. We are fine, we are lucky to even be able to eat that food. 

I read a great article by Barbara Ehrenreich in The Guardian that explores this topic in a very insightful and enlightening way. You can read it here: Why are the poor blamed and shamed for their deaths?

She also just came out with a new book that looks very interesting called: Natural Causes: An Epidemic of Wellness, the Certainty of Dying, and Killing Ourselves to Live Longer

What are your thoughts about this healthy eating obsession that has become so popular? I would love to read your thoughts in the comments below!