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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Afternoon Kastana 🔥🌰🌰🌰🌰🔥

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Whether directly from a chimney, a street vendor or even the oven, roasted kastana (arabic & greek for chestnuts) are guaranteed to transport you to cosy land, bringing back fond memories of prior times you gathered around a chimney with family and friends and most importantly they will warm you up!

As I’ve already discussed in a previous post about nuts, chestnuts are also a great source of fiber which lowers cholesterol and reduces the risk of heart disease. Kastana is a great option for an afternoon snack on a cold day and complements an afternoon tea very nicely.

While people often go for the marron glacé version during the holiday season, i’m not a fan from a nutrition perspective as they’re pumped with sugar (but I won’t deny that the marron glacé deserts can be quite delicious, so perhaps limit those unhealthy versions to very special occasions (e.g. over the holidays in a bûche de Noël / Yule log)). If you’re really looking to try a healthy variation from the classic roasted version, remember that chestnuts can be eaten raw – they will have a different texture (crunchier / harder) and the taste will be a bit stronger, but I find they make a great addition to a drink (warm or cold).

Of course, for the ultimate experience, you have to pop on this tune while you enjoy your kastana!

Go Nuts!

Nuts often get a bad rap for being high in calories but a handful of nuts is a fantastic crunchy and nutritious daily addition to your diet. Not only are they flavorful and filling but in fact, they make an excellent source of vegan protein and are high in fiber and other power nutrients such as phytonutrients, vitamins, minerals and Omega-3. It’s currently harvest season for walnuts, chestnuts, hazelnuts and pecan and they are at their peak in taste and nutritious value, so squirrel some away and enrich your meals and snacks!

Here’s what I found in my local market in Chelsea today:

Go Nuts!

Walnuts’ power: Omega-3 fats  lower LDL cholesterol, blood triglycerides and blood pressure

Hazelnuts’ power: Vitamin E  antioxidant properties associated with a stronger immunity and healthier skin and eyes

Chestnuts’ power: Fiber  lower cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart disease

Pecans’ power: Antioxidants  help protect our cells from damages such as cancer

The best way to enjoy nuts is to munch on them raw or to dry-roast them lightly in a pan for 3 to 5 minutes (no burning as it takes away from their nutrition value). Stay away from salted and flavored varieties!

Nuts are also a delightful add-on in so many recipes but here are some basic add-on tips:

  • Scrumptiously enjoy them in your breakfast by sprinkling some in your bowl of milk & cereal or cup of granola & yogurt
  • Make your salads more filling by adding a handful of nuts
  • Complement your steamed rice with some roasted or stir-fried nuts

So many ways to go nuts!

Last Days of Winter

The last stretch of winter is the toughest. You’re sick and tired of the gloomy weather, beaten by the cold and worn-out by the toll of heavy coats and layers on your shoulders. When these blues hit me, I take shelter in my kitchen where I always end up finding my remedy: Hello food innovation! Here are a couple of cold-weather-worthy recipes to try shortly before kissing wintertime goodbye!

Cabbage Cigars

photo 1-19I find that cabbage is usually not given its turn in most people’s diet from both gastronomical and nutritional perspectives. When raw, it’s commonly associated with abdominal conditions (such as bloating and flatulence) and is often kept away from cooking pots, as many find the smell of dissipating sulfur compounds in cooked cabbage unpleasant. Work around its minimal drawbacks and you’ll discern a smooth texture, a sumptuous flavor and a distinguished comfort in this winter veggie, a really great fix for cold days! You’ll also benefit from a great dose of vitamins such as vitamin K, vitamin C and folic acid in as little as 20 calories in a serving (75g).

Here is my favorite approach to savor cabbage:

*For a better digestion: parboil before cooking

*To mask its sulfuric smell: add some lemon juice and/or herbs (such as fresh or dried mint) to the cooking water

Cabbage Cigars is a melting-in-mouth dish! Cabbage leaves are stuffed in minced beef, rice and spices and seasoned with sautéed onion, garlic, mint and lemon juice. Here’s my recipe:

(Makes 6 servings)

1 whole cabbage

Filling:

  • 1 cup of sushi or Egyptian rice
  • ½ lbs. of ground beef
  • 1 tsp. of each: black pepper, allspice, ground cinnamon and salt

Seasoning:

  • 1 onion finely chopped
  • 1 head of garlic peeled (half of the cloves mashed and the other half left to distribute between rolls)
  • 3 Tsp. of crushed (dried or fresh) mint
  • 1 cup of lemon juice
  • 1-2 cup of water (or just enough to cover the cabbage in pot)
  • 2 Tsp. of vegetable oil

Blanch the cabbage leaves in boiling water until they are tender. Cut the leaves in half if necessary and take the thick stems out (save them to line pot). Mix the meat with rice and spices and put aside. Stir-fry onion, garlic and mint in vegetable oil in the bottom of the pot then line the pot with the cabbage stems. Stuff the leaves by placing a tablespoon of the filling mixture in the middle and rolling it like a cigar. Place each stuffed leaf in the pot, one tight layer at a time. Add some garlic cloves here and there. Place a small plate on the cabbage rolls to hold them in place and to avoid the stuffing from coming out. Pour the lemon juice over the rolls and add water to cover the cabbage. Cook for about 1 hour over low heat or until the leaves are very tender and the stuffing is well cooked. Serve warm with plain Greek yogurt or with a minty cucumber yogurt accompaniment. Yum, trop chou!

Spinach Stew 

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Spinach is a treasure food for a light and healthy cuisine. Rich in water, super light in calories and unlike other veggies, its nutritional profile is enhanced once it’s cooked. Known for being packed in iron, thanks to Popeye, spinach also provides an exceptional amount of other vitamins and minerals (vitamin A, vitamin B9, vitamin K, magnesium and manganese). Furthermore, some antioxidants in spinach are particularly beneficial for the eyes.

Spinach stew is a zesty wholesome dish, a great consolation on cooler days. Moreover, lemon complements spinach perfectly as it enhances beautifully its flavor and improves iron absorption. Here’s my recipe:

Makes 6 servings

  • 1 kg of  frozen chopped spinach
  • ½ lbs. minced beef
  • 1 onion
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • ½ cup Lemon juice
  • 1 bouquet of fresh cilantro
  • ½ tsp. of: black pepper, allspice, 7 spice mixture (optional)
  • 1 tsp. of salt
  • 2 Tsp. of vegetable oil
  • 1-2 cups of water

Blend the garlic and cilantro into a paste and stir-fry it in vegetable oil on the side. Stir-fry the onion in main pot with the rest of the vegetable oil. Add the meat and cook it while breaking it into very small pieces. Add the spices and salt. Cover the meat with the spinach and add water. Let it cook for 15-20 minutes. Add the lemon juice, cilantro-garlic paste, and stir all the ingredients together. Cover the pot again and cook for 5 more minutes. Serve warm with whole grain rice.

23 Weeks: Direction Babymoon!

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Since NYC has become an icebox in the past few days and because the 3rd trimester is looming on the horizon and promising to be quite a rollercoaster with discomfort making its big comeback and a long list of preparations in anticipation for the big baby # 2 day, it was time for one last sunny Hooray! Hello Babymoon!

My Babymoon Planning Checklist:

• Consult with OB prior to booking to make sure it is safe to travel and because some destinations require prior vaccination

• Timing: 2nd trimester (week 18 to 24) is the safest time for pregnant women to travel

• Destination:

– Would like South Africa but need relaxation more than adventure at the moment so –> any amazing beach

– Short travel time is ideal but will not compromise on the beach

– Somewhere with good medical facilities

Result: Hawaii (I know I’m pushing it a bit with the 11hour flight time!)

On the plane:

• Wear compression socks, comfortable clothes and layers to account for the various temperatures during transit

• Keep feet elevated if possible and don’t cross legs to help prevent leg swelling

• Get up and walk around every hour or so to aid blood circulation

• Keep hydrated

My Beach Packing List (I’ll only share the essentials here…I’m not a light packer!):

• Don’t forget the prenatal vitamins

• Plenty of sunscreen to avoid dark pregnancy patches in the sun

• Hand gel sanitizer and sanitizing wipes

• Fill iPhone with the latest hit tunes and delete all pictures to make space for new ones

• Lots of bikinis

• Jelly sandals

• Light flowy clothes

• Sunnies

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Inside my travel bag