🍋 Sour Treat 🍋

Back to my favorite corner at home, my kitchen! It’s been since I got busy with our move that I haven’t really spent quality time in there. I circulate in the kitchen pretty much most of the day, everyday, having converted it temporarily to an operation room/playroom/dining room while the rest of the house is gradually getting fit for use. Nevertheless, I only recently started using my kitchen to create things that makes my family happy and not only sated. And voila some happiness in a bowl!IMG_4172

It is called Harrak Osba’o (حراق اصبعه) which translates from Arabic to “finger burner” (I promise no finger burning required for the recipe)! It is a Syrian dish that I discovered a couple of years ago when my mother-in-law was entertaining. A fun and really easy vegetarian dish when Mdardara (lentil based Lebanese vegetarian dish) starts becoming meh. It is all about that sour punch that gives it all its juiciness and the secret for that is pomegranate molasses. The recipe combines lentils and pasta seasoned essentially with sautéed onion, garlic and coriander. The combination of a legume (lentil) and a grain product (pasta, preferably whole grain) makes of Harrak Osba’o a rich-in-protein vegan dish. Not to mention that lentils are also rich in fiber, folate and iron. The original recipe includes garnishing the dish with fried pieces of dough or fried pita croutons. I chose to omit this part to keep it as healthy as possible:

Ingredients (4 servings):

  • 1 cup of brown lentils
  • 1 cup of small shaped pasta
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 5 garlic cloves mashed
  • ½ cup of coriander chopped
  • 4 cups of water
  • ¼ cup of pomegranate molasses
  • 4 spoons of lemon juice
  • 1 spoon of vegetable oil
  • Salt, to taste

Method

  1. Place oil, onion, garlic and coriander in a cooking pot and stir-fry
  2. Add lentils and water, bring to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes
  3. Add pasta and cook for 10 minutes
  4. Add pomegranate molasses and lemon juice and cook for 5 minutes

Sour never tasted so good!

Après la pluie ☔️ 🇬🇧… Saadiyat 🌴☀️🌴

I know it’s been a while… but life’s determined destiny overpowered my wider family in the past few months with a few sudden events and we’ve been adjusting to a new reality all while moving to a new corner of the world (that part was pre-planned – oh well as much as we pre-plan anything in our spontaneous household i.e a couple of months earlier for a move!)… Abu Dhabi whose growth, vision and ease-of-living became irresistible (and no not because I got obsessed with “Sex & the City 2”)! Part resort-living, part Oriental fantasy, tonight I celebrate finally feeling like Saadiyat island is my new home… and for that I’m blending into the theme!   
   

Yes You C.A.N.

It sounds overwhelming and vague whenever you hear the well-known phrase: Fad diets are not the answer to lose extra body weight, a healthier lifestyle is. Nevertheless, it is true, diets provide only short-term solutions and could have serious side effects on your health and a healthier lifestyle is the ultimate long-term solution to a healthier weight. In theory, this is a simple notion, yet we find it difficult to put into practice. Because old habits die hard, figuring out how to change our eating habits into healthier sustainable ones can be challenging. The key to an efficient and smooth transition is to take things slowly and simply, one step at a time.

I recently came across a new study about healthy eating conducted by Cornell University and found it really interesting to share with you all as I thought it suggests brilliant yet simple and practical ways to healthier eating. After analyzing 112 studies that collected information about healthy eating behaviors, the study suggests using what they called the C.A.N. approach to achieve a healthier weight. The CAN approach highlights 3 important principals that focus on designing an environment that makes healthy eating simple by making healthier foods easiest to choose and consume. Hence, to get to eat healthier, healthier food must be:

1- Convenient (visible and easy to reach)

2- Attractive (enticingly displayed)

3- Normal (appear like an obvious choice)

The C.A.N. approach

 

For instance, placing a fruit bowl in a convenient place, where people walk by it, make it more accessible hence more convenient rather than storing the fruits in the back of a drawer in the refrigerator where they are out of sight and out of mind. Fruits assembled in a nice bowl are more attractive than fruits stored in a plastic bag or a drawer in the fridge. Making fruits easily accessible, appealing and part of your daily environment will gradually instill them into your daily routine and create healthy long-term dietary habits. Before you know it fruits will become a more popular choice in your household than cookies!

Apples and flowers

Here are some CAN inspired ideas to get you started:

  • Use canned and frozen fruits and veggies for more convenience. Like canned beans and frozen greens
  • If you still prefer fresh, opt for pre-packed pre-cut fruits and veggies for added convenience and accessibility like baby carrots, celery sticks and cucumber slices
  • Have single-servings of various proteins in:
    • the refrigerator (e.g. hard-boiled eggs, string cheese or bite-size cheese, or single-servings Greek yogurt); or
    • the pantry (e.g. packs of trail mix or raisins)
  • Buy a better brand of apples or yogurt that you will be more incentivized to eat (vs. let it perish in the fridge!)
  • Make appealing well-organized colorful veggie platters (tomato, celery, cucumber, carrots, cauliflower) and place them somewhere easy to grab like the coffee table in the sitting room (that could also be an interesting alternative to a flower arrangement for a change!)

It’s all about manipulating your environment to normalize and favor healthy choices at home or even in your office. As for the less-healthy food options, the CAN approach works in reverse: make them less convenient, less attractive and less normal. Although I think a swift shift to this lifestyle is best, you can take baby steps, for example move that Hershey Kisses bowl just 6 feet away from your desk and you will eat, on average, about 125 fewer calories every workday!

Oh and remember… Yes you C.A.N.

Happy International No Diet Day! 🍮

If you’ve just started that latest extreme diet fad, please stop and remember that today thousands of people are:

  • saying NO to diet and weight obsession
  • celebrating the diversity of body shapes and the acceptance of our natural shapes and sizes
  • asserting that a healthy lifestyle is about finding a sustainable way of eating healthy and that is unreachable without a wholesome balance between keeping healthy and enjoying what we like
  • highlighting that drastic and extreme dieting can be very dangerous and could lead to serious physical, emotional and psychological distressesRoquefort & Raspberry JamI’m celebrating this day with a favorite -Roquefort & raspberry jam- breakfast, miam miam! How are you celebrating?!

🌳 Charming 🇬🇧 British 🌳 Spell ✨

My New York loyalty, French education and Mediterranean pride, as well as a very busy summer move-logistics schedule upon my arrival to London almost a year ago, made me quite resistant to an instant British infatuation… Initially, I didn’t find that there was anything particularly unique or novel that I had not enjoyed or experienced in a prior place I lived in or travel to… but what I didn’t realize is that London had a lot of what I actually loved or enjoyed in one place and mixed in a harmonious way that made me feel increasingly at home. I gradually realized that London is brilliant in how it seamlessly mixes between the urban feel of a major city and a quaint calm village-y vibe in certain parts – all within minutes of each other. As the sun made its way back to this island and as I started to increasingly trust my nanny, I had the chance to discover more hidden gems both in my neighborhood / Chelsea (which offers lovely birds singing in the morning, cherry blossom filled streets, Camelias, a crazy squirrel that hangs on the edge of my garden’s tree branches and amazing “bespoke” shopping…) and beyond. This past bank holiday weekend was particularly inspiring, as I had the chance to enjoy a lovely tea time with friends in Mayfair, explored the Wallace Collection and the icing of this culinary and visual treat was spending a day in Cliveden – a gorgeous estate at Taplow, Berkshire set near the River Thames, which includes a mansion that was previously home to an earl, three countesses, two dukes, a Prince of Wales and the Viscounts Astor! Cliveden was described in a journal entry by Queen Victoria with the following spot-on words: “it’s a perfection of a place,…the view is so beautiful”. Thanks to a Relais & Châteaux hotel now operating the mansion and the National Trust’s amazing work maintaining the estate, one can truly relive this estate’s prior glory and create a fairytale getaway just 40 minutes from south west London! My daughter kept on asking me if a princess actually lives in the mansion and at one point an employee of the estate overheard her and came up and told us that the latest Cinderella movie was filmed in part on the estate! However it was only when he pointed to the clock and confirmed that it was the clock used in Cinderella that he truly succeeded in capturing both her (and my!) imagination… each hour the clock bells rang to signal the time, my daughter’s eyes would open widely and a smile would instantly appear on her face as she relished in her British Cinderella moment… a magical moment that caught me off guard every single time and filled me with an instant rush of childhood dreams and motherly joy…

Cliveden

Cliveden

Cliveden House

Cliveden House

Cliveden House

They didn’t go for white walls…

parterre

Parterre

parterre

Parterre

Horloge

The clock featured in Cinderella 2015

Parterre

Parterre

The Long Garden

The Long Garden

street style

Street/Garden Style

bird baby

Baby meets Bird/Tree

The River Thames

The River Thames

boat

The River Thames

woods

In the Colorful Woods

🍓 Birthday 🎂 Picnic 🍓

In the past few days London has been blooming with the most exquisite of Springs and unseasonably great weather has made it possible for me to take it all in and get inspired… so much so, that I opted to organize my second daughter’s 1st birthday as a picnic birthday in Hyde Park. Everything went to plan… except  see the left chair in the penultimate picture…

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🌀 So today ultimately felt like a battle between my relentless desire to get the sunny season really started and the weather reminding me that it’s still April in London and that there are no weather guarantees around here! (a.k.a chill (literally) ! we’re not in the Mediterranean!)… I’ll call it a tie! 😉

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Confessions of a MUM

Photo inspired by the catwalk at the D&G show during the latest Milan fashion week: "Viva la mamma!"

Photo inspired by the catwalk at the D&G show during the latest Milan fashion week: “Viva la mamma!”

What I love and don’t love about being a mom
(because it’s Mum’s day in Britain)

 

👍I love how rewarding it is being a mom for my two little daughters. The time and work I put day after day, week after week, month after month, and year after year to raise them as good individuals is worth everything.

👎I don’t love how high maintenance they can be.

 

👍I love that I have the privilege to stay at home and keep up with my kids all day. I can’t see myself doing anything more fulfilling than nurturing my kids and caring for them.

👎I don’t fancy having to deal with a gazillion crises per day including whining, tantrums and separation anxiety.

 

👍I love to hug and kiss my daughters. My favorite hug is the one my daughter gives me in the morning when kissing me goodbye before leaving to school. To make sure she melts my heart even more she often complements it with “je ne vais pas faire pipi dans mes vêtements, je te promets maman, je vais faire attention / ENG: I won’t pee in my clothes mommy, promise, I’ll be careful!”

👎I don’t love when my kids become needy and don’t give me a break… (I love hugs and kisses even more after a break away from them!)

 

👍I love those little moments during the day watching and hearing my daughters do and say the cutest things. I giggle randomly whenever their memory comes to mind. I love how my husband and I can’t hide our relief when the girls go to bed and are quiet and it’s finally “us” time, but then we spend the rest of the evening watching iPhone videos of them and marveling at how quickly they’re growing and changing and how amazingly they overwhelmed our life with joy and sleep deprivation.

👎I don’t love that movie night starts at 11, by the time my husband decides on a movie (time to choose a movie can sometime take longer than the actual movie)…or I don’t love that we watch movies as series.

 

👍I love how I miss my baby during sleep time and I love to pick her up from her crib when she first wakes up in the morning and starts calling for me. Her eyes glitter in excitement when she sees me. That moment is everything. No matter how tired and short on sleep I am, the promise of that face waiting for me in the next room promptly gets me out of bed!

👎Even though I am more of a morning person, I don’t fancy preparing oatmeal at 6am, on a Sunday.

 

👍I love the special bond I have with my 3-year-old daughter. I love how at this age she can see through me and understands my emotional state. She stares at me and tells me: “maman, j’aime pas quand tu te faches / ENG: Mom, I don’t like when you get angry”. I love how capable she is in calming me when I’m anxious with a simple smile or word. I love how invested she can get whenever my husband and I argue. I love how she always manages voluntarily or involuntarily (breaking into an argument with a chain of never ending questions but why, but why, but why….) in converting an argument to laughter and jokes.

👎I hate when they drive me nuts sometimes: “go tidy up your room for the 7th time! stop stepping on your sister’s hands/toes/head! Where did you hide your other shoe!!!”

 

👍I love when she comes from school with her silly sense of humor boosted / e.g. as we’re playing kitchen: “maman, je veux te preparer une surprise, c’est un sandwich de caca avec des crottes de nez/ENG: Mom, I have a surprise for you, it’s a poop and boogers sandwich!”.

👎I don’t fancy her saying “Caca boudin” the second I meet her friend’s mom at school and to make the situation even worse, grabs my phone and blasts at that same moment: “My Anaconda don’t want none unless you got buns hun”!!! Here I am getting the once over look and being labeled the creepy mom who listens to trashy lyrics and lets her daughter swear.

 

👍I love lazy weekend mornings when we all snuggle in one bed and we indulge in a cuddle session.

👎I don’t love that it’s virtually impossible to have any guaranteed uninterrupted private time!

 

👍I love being a mom of 2 GIRLS. I love having been able to give my 3-year-old daughter a sibling.

👎I hate that for most of the time she still sees her as a rival.

 

👍I love when my 3 year old daughter, out of the blue, looks me in the eyes and tells me: “maman je t’aime beaucoup, PAS UN PEU, BEAUCOUP” / ENG: “Mom, I love you a lot, not a bit, A LOT”.

👎I hate when I proudly prepared a creative gourmet dish for my family (which took me all day) and at first taste my daughter hits me with: “J’aime PAS” / ENG: “I don’t like it”.

 

👍I love when I wake up and find my husband sitting with my daughters reading them a book / playing basketball with the mini sand bucket as the net….I love him even more when on his way to drop our daughter at school he sends me a texto saying: “she says “papa, une autre hitoire de Johanna” / ENG: “Daddy, another Johanna story please!” one more time and I’ll 🔫 myself!” (me 😝) (ps: Johanna is a fictional character I invited one day while giving her a shower and now Johanna has taken a life of her own and we’re at her adventure #156! Our daughter refuses to hear the exact same story twice! It’s like being in a creative writing class everytime we take a cab ride with her!)

 

👍I love how my daughters challenge me, inspire me, strengthen me and push me forward… the thing with children is, and that’s something that probably only parents can truly appreciate, is that even though raising them is exhausting and can make you lose touch with some aspects of your pre-children self, they have an ability, whether it’s through a smile or a joke or a new word they’ve learned to empower you to endure the hardship… it’s your pride and bedazzlement turning into increased patience and limitless willingness to sacrifice and endure their screeching screaming voices!

Now it’s your turn to share with me what you love 👍 or don’t love 👎 about being a mom! xoxo Happy Mother’s Day!

Breakfast at SilhouettEtiquette

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It doesn’t take long for London’s elaborate tea time tablescapes to capture a girl’s royal imagination and I was no exception…so much so that I + my 9 month old daughter are hosting our first English breakfast tomorrow morning! It’s doubling as a double playdate for her so we’ll attend to our respective guests! When I’m hosting, I love lining things up and rehearsing the tablescape look the night before… particularly if it’s a breakfast!!! ⏰ This gives me time to tweak and create the fantasy I want my guests to escape to for those few hours where tea, harmony in colors and gossip (don’t worry we’re not talking about you! 😜) are all that matters! Now I’m not sure what her prep plans are, she seems much more relaxed about it all and has gone to bed. She’ll probably have a better glow than me… Perhaps that’s her strategy!😏 Smart baby! Meanwhile my 3 year old knows nothing about it as she’s supposed to be at school at that time but I’m preparing myself for a lot of questions tomorrow morning when she sees my tablescape!

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🍊rangey Amalgam

D&G window

I was walking by the D&G store and spotted this fruit trolley featuring a certain orangey fruit and I wasn’t quite able to pin down what to call it! Being a nutritionist, I was alarmed and on a mission to solve my dilemma!

I remembered that I’ve always called any tiny-looking orange, labeled “cutie” in the US and “easy-peeler” in Britain, Clementine. Although I knew some of these “tinies” could also be Mandarin or Tangerine, I was never quite confident which is what! After a couple of investigation trips to my local supermarkets, here is what I gathered and hopefully this will help you tie-up your orangey jargon!

Mandarin, Tangerine and Clementine can all look pretty much similar but each still got some interesting characteristics

Mandarin, Tangerine and Clementine can look pretty similar but each has a unique history & distinctive characteristics

Ultimately though, don’t let those distinctions drive you mad as nutritionally speaking they’re all a great source of vitamin C and antioxidants and rich in soluble fiber, a great cholesterol fighter. After all, despite their unique characteristics, each batch of a given type will taste slightly different as well! So just make sure you get fresh ones and you’re set.

Fruit art in my kitchen

Sunnies et Voilà! 👌

In my day-to-day, I’m a no makeup 🚫 💄 but statement sunglasses type-of-girl 😎 & must confess that I enjoy blending into the overwhelming identity of each of my carefully selected statements… so you may find me acting slightly differently depending on the pair I’m wearing! 😜 What I love most about statement sunnies though is that they look even more decadent the more dressed down you are, which frankly works very well for me these days juggling the bambina and the tot… While I might not be ballroom dancing my way through my daily errands, I definitely get a boost knowing that I’m sporting sunglasses in my quotidian that can compete pretty well in a masked ball!

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