Making Space This Spring

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I’m writing this to you on the Spring Equinox, full moon, and three months till my 3-0 birthday. This is no big deal, just making it big because I want to. And I can, because this is the place I share things that help me relate in the deepest way to all of you. So a quick thank you, THANK YOU FOR BEING HERE NOW! And, we shall continue.

So, it is finally here. That little glimpse of hope for my people still hustling in this frigid (I’m dramatic, remember) cold weather. I don’t know about you, but I suffered in my usual fashion. With my move to New York, finishing up culinary school, and still not knowing what is to come next month (again, typical Yesi fashion), my urge to hibernate and not deal with it all has stronger than ever. But, I did. I pushed, then hibernated, drank a lot of wine, ate a lot of roasted vegetables, walked to places unknown, then hibernated some more. What happens when we ground, separate ourselves from the outside world even? We think, a a lot.

During the winter, I find myself secluded and internally focused more than ever. Makes sense. We have time to assess and prepare, to make ourselves feel comforted, whether from what we consume to our surroundings. We may eat a little more heavily (almost always seasonally acceptable), clutter our space to comfort or fit our every desire. If you are me, we hardly make it out. In general, it’s cold.

With daylight savings, it only served as a slight reminder. The time is coming to clear out. I don’t so much make a whole production like I used to. No kitchari, no juicing, no cleaning out closets or wiping down my whole place to smell like Method cleaner. We are doing what’s needed. When making space, I’ve learned it doesn’t have to be so grand, but what you see fit. Our needs, changes, and level of ability vary, so rather than go beyond my comfort to make space, I rather stay warm and open up to the not so comfortable that may take room.

Spring is three months, so I make three points. We are still in the beginning, so if you are looking to make changes, it’s okay to take your time…

  1. Make space in your surroundings.

    I tend to have extra blankets, candles, and sweaters lying around all winter long. I like to tackle one room or space at a time. One big clean can jumpstart a season of maintenance. And, while my closet doesn’t really need to be cleaned out (I literally left more that half my stuff behind), I will start folding up sweaters and knits. Leaving space for the simplicity of the warmer weather is one of my favorite to-dos. Don’t underestimate the power of a good T-shirt and jeans combo!

  2. When it comes to food, think GREEN.

    And I’m not talking juices or smoothies. Literally the market will have a theme of green leaves and more. We are still early for the bright reds and oranges of peppers, tomatoes, peaches, and strawberries (can you tell I”m a lover of summer), but we still have a good selection! Greens will naturally either help cleanse your system or give you the extra nutrition boost to go along with the blooming spring season. Like leaves growing away from the soil, I believe we slowly move forward from the grounding practices and earthy vegetables of winter.

  3. Move.

    Confession. This is my “obstacle” and if there is anything that might bring me slightly out of my comfort zone, it’s to move. It’s crazy how we get so accustomed to what we do most, and if you work a desk 9-5 job, you know what I mean. Whether you’re a runner, spinner, or power yogi, I believe these exercise help not just release toxins, but thought as well. You will be doing the mind and body justice to relieve what has been cooped up all winter longer.

So do we fill this Space? Use it? Let it be?

I say it’s all up to you, my dears. I look at this as a time to release, reset, and recharge. I also use each of these points as guide lines. Some are more important, even complicated, to me than others. With my lifestyle, I want to use the joint effort of greens and sweat to boost my energy and immunity to allow something new in. Whether job, friends, or adventure, I’m looking to fulFILL again. As seasons and time go by, the more I see and appreciate the uniqueness in us all. So the saying goes, “Do you, boo!”

Do it with all your heart and health.

Root

Gandules Guisado con Bollitas de Platano and quinoa

Gandules Guisado con Bollitas de Platano and quinoa

Located at the base of the spine, the pelvic floor, and the first three vertebrae, the root chakra is responsible for your sense of safety and security on this earthly journey. The word Muladhara breaks down into two Sanskrit words: Mula meaning “root” and Adhara, which means “support” or “base.” 

The Chopra Center, The Root Chakra: Muladhara

Simply, the foundation.

To say I have been in survival mode for the past couple of months is dramatization of a strict routine ruled by weather and finances. Eat, sleep, and pay the rent. Every penny is counted (2.01 for a super small coffee), every minute is dedicated (can’t skimp on my 130 minutes of netflix a night), and I officially live by the bedtime feature on my phone (10:15pm reminder).

Writing this now, I even just realized that I cannot be alone on this. It’s the winter, none the less, we are cold and desperately trying not get sick. I mean, what if we actually had to take a SICK DAY? Nobody can afford those, anymore. Winter, you are something else. And New York too, goddamn, you’re tough.

During the last few weeks I’ve cried over a 9-5 survival job more than any grateful person should, counted just enough quarters to dry the last batch of laundry I could afford, learned how to set a mouse trap, and bring up the subways so effortlessly in everyday conversation with every other New Yorker. How quickly we get accustomed.

I’ve read books to go back. I go back to the days when Puerto Ricans fled to New York (Brooklyn to be exact) to have light, running water, and work. Go back when the Incas and Andeans who lost their land, but not their teachings. I also talk to my grandma. She tells me how easy it would be to make mofongo (after I buy a pilón, claro) and how she used to go to Prospect Park all the time, over 50 years ago….

That’s about the time, they were learning to survive to. From New Jersey, to New York, and back to New Jersey to raise a family and work their asses off. That’s where the foundation began. Merging Puerto Rico into an American way of life. My parents merging their Latin AND American values into our American Dream household. How I’ve been surviving? By trying to get to the root of where it all began.

I want the rice and beans to fill my protein deficient body, the bread to keep me full, the local squash and potatoes for that sweet nourishment I crave, sugar and coconut oil to for the cravings of my skin, classic salsa to keep my mind dancing when my body is too cold or tired to do so herself, and the New York spirit, because even when you have exhausted me, the reminder of fucking doing it, is still with there.

Rooting down with my culture and vegetables, surviving the winter months by keeping a roof over my head and my head out of the clouds, for once, I built my foundation. Lonely nights were filled with projects of dim lights and candles, perfect for cozy productivity in bed. Counting quarters taught me the value of accessible nourishing foods, not just for myself, but anyone who gets hungry. Subway rides gave me not space, but opportunity to go deeper, through the words of those before me.

This is how I root. Making my home in New York, with experiences I couldn’t have anywhere else, I dig my feet a little deeper, making sure I may extend my hunger, heart, arms, and mind ANYWHERE else, but with feet on the ground. In case you do need to go back to basics, the foundation will always be there.

Saturday Coquito

My holiday take on a Sunday Cortado…

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Wishing you the all the amazement and wonder next year, each season, everyday.

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Puerto Rican Coquito

Adapted from Daisy Cooks

  • 15 oz can unsweetened coconut cream

  • 14 oz can condensed milk

  • 12 oz can evaporated milk

  • 1/2 cup simple syrup or agave

  • 4 egg yolks

  • 2 tsp vanilla extract

  • 1 tsp cinnamon

  • 1/4 tsp cloves or nutmeg

  • 2 cups rum

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Siempre,

~yesenia

Back Home Buttermilk Pancakes

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One week and a couple days down… forever to go. Is it sad that I didn’t even make it a full week until I had to visit home? It was different, nice, and as always, bittersweet.

I guess you can say I’m in that limbo. I went from a place I always called home and family, to a new city that needs exploring and roommates I’m still getting to know. I went from a kitchen I got so used to call my own, to one that has great value to a few others.  And, if you love to cook, you know what I mean.

I went back to Jersey for less than a day with a goal in mind, and maybe for that sense of familiarity and comfort as well. Yet, changes were made. I slept on the couch and didn’t even take time in the kitchen that was once my “space.” I rested and let my expectations go. Instead, I indulged myself with home cooked meals (not made by me) and I even made sure to bring some of that with me, a little bit of home. From black beans, sofrito, peruvian aji amarillo, and more clothes, I loaded up the car once more. We drove back to my little spot in Brooklyn I am still getting used to calling mine.

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So, I came to accept. Accept my new home, this new reality. It wasn’t quite real before. In the back of my head, I thought I would be home in no time, so I made sure of it.  And for a split second, back in Jersey, I wasn’t even sure which place I can call my own. Then I remember writing back in Florida (kind of wish I still had those post to go back to), I’ll embrace this gypsy heart, where ever it wants to be.

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To this day, I go to Florida not for vacation, but to go back to my second home. The one where I rest, fed bomb Puerto Rican food , do some yoga, and spend time with some pretty important people in life. l noticed I leave a piece of my heart where ever I go. Like any meaningful relationship it made an impact, and most likely will always stay with me, if I choose it to. Where I am now, I can’t say will be forever, but at least I know it will forever be home too. Have you ever walked the streets of New York City in the dead of night or the break of dawn? You’ll never forget it.

With that I leave you with some Buttermilk Pancakes. They are yummy, perfectly light and chewy. The best part? They can easily be made where ever you choose to call home, whomever you wish to them share with.

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Buttermilk Pancakes

Serves 2-3

Ingredients

  • 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour

  • 1 tbs sugar

  • 1/4 tsp baking soda

  • 1/4 tsp sea salt

  • 1 - 1 1/2 cup buttermilk

  • 1 egg

  • 1 tbs melted butter + butter for greasing pan

Combine dry ingredients in a bowl and set aside. Whisk together wet ingredients. Preheat pan over medium heat with some butter to prevent sticking. Combine the dry ingredients into the wet and using a spatula, slowly fold to combine. Mix together until fully combined, leaving any clumps. Batter should be thick, but still easy to pour.

Check to see if pan is ready by testing a dot of batter. Pan should sizzle and batter start to cook. Depending how big you want the pancakes, pour evenly onto frying pan. Once edges start to brown and bubbles form on top of pancakes, flip to cook other side for about one or two minutes. Take off pan, grease with butter, and repeat.

Top with butter, maple syrup, and whatever fruit your heart desires.

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Enjoy!

Brooklyn Baby

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A long time coming. Not necessarily the Brooklyn part, but my move away from home, out of Jersey.

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For a while, I felt deeply out of place. If you asked me two years ago if I would consider even working in New York, my answer was “Hell. No.” I was a Jersey Girl. I had a car, I knew towns by their exits on the parkway, familiar with the east and west, laughed if you thought North and South Jersey were the same. I loved the dirty jersey beaches and was a frequent goer every summer with every car that I had. Until recently

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Things were destined to change, with unexpected turns and losses, I slowly started to give it all up. I became a commuter. I was not sure if my sanity and money was worth it, but I continued. I continued to hustle, I sold my car, I started adding extra days and nights in the city, only to be home a few nights for dinner and on Sundays where I hated leaving the house. I felt displaced.

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Boqueria, Forte Green, Brooklyn

Boqueria, Forte Green, Brooklyn

I fell in love with New York and everything it had to offer. Going to school for something I was passionate about, the Union Square Market at my finger tips a few days a week, the buildings, the freedom, the ultimate place to be single and not feel yourself being left out. You are always welcomed somewhere. That’s what I drew me into this city. I never felt so happy or fortunate to just be me, to be on my own.

With uncertainty, little sleep, and not enough money, I took the opportunity. Instead of my will to merge my two worlds, the one of suburban NJ and the city streets, I decided to make New York my home, and pretty lucky to say Brooklyn now.

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With every decision I have made, comes concerns and opinions of others. And, I guess that is why I kept this decision to myself. With only family and couple of friends to talk to about it with, even still I got every side mentioned to. And I moved the fuck along. Because, I not only learned a few years ago, but recently accepted, that my path is unique. It has not been done. Not the way I could do it.  I have taken much of what I learned in childhood and school, and pushed it away. I needed to create space to learn something new. 

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So I leave you with this. A sincere thank you and promise. Thank you for continuing to read this blog and follow My Whisk and Mat whether in New Jersey, Florida, or New York. For the unbelievable support.  Believing in my mission and being part of the journey. And a promise, to not give up. Even when things got so emotionally and physically impossible, I found a way to make it happen again. Blogging, creating, and sharing is part of what I love, and I knew I had to find a way back to it.

I moved to Brooklyn. I moved to New York City.

MI familia, gracias.

MI familia, gracias.

Pictures by Michele Vignola.  Photography badass and amazing friend. 







Sunday Cortado 15: Siempre Con Amor

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Life lately has definentily been all over the place and unpredictable, and I'm just not talking about my own.  When I started Sunday Cortado, I wanted EVERYONE to feel connected.  There are wars on the fence, innocent children too common becoming victims, and history being made in the name of love.  How can you not feel something all the time?  

Even with all the shit and fear, is it still possible to feel that light?  The one that makes everyday doable and worth a little more.  Whether smiling and feeling love with another or with a passion still fiery inside you.  I ask you give it a chance, this thing called love... amor.  

If you fear you haven't yet felt it or don't have enough in you, like I sometimes do, maybe something as small as this cortado can help.  Because, I still believe in the simple things, and the ones we hold close us to enjoy them with.  

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1.  I've been working incredibly hard trying to create and bring together new content to share with you all.  Whether new recipes or pages OR news, I'm excited for the changes that lie ahead!

2.  Rekindling my love for Ayurveda through this fool-proof Idiots Guide.  I only just begun, and already started making connections I haven't seen before. 

3.  Flowers.  I have never been a flower kinda girl, and I say girl because it is the norm for girls to receive flowers for any occasion/reason.  That's cool and all... but they die.  So I never understood the point.   Although, I guess for that moment, the beauty is simply that... beauty.  

4.  These 70's NY photos.  One amazing point made, no-one is looking at their phones.

5.  I love women who empower women.  Nothing says empowerment like owning and knowing your body.  I've already tried the menstrual cup once, but I love this honest and positive review to inform even the most skeptical lady.  

6.  Speaking of empowering women, you can hate on me all you want, but she has the confidence, heart, and badass I will always need in my life.  

7.  A Kitchen Alter.  How have I not thought of this before?!  Where the therapy, joy, magic, dance, and even tears happen all at once. 

8.  The farmers market, because nothing there is nothing like mother earth working her own magic to make this world a little more beautiful . 

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siempre con amor,

~yesenia

Spring Cleaning, Your Way

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A confession before we begin...  1) Sorry, for the hiatus!  But, not really.  Sometimes we need a change or a break.  Mine was a change, and blogging was something that just didn't fit into what I was doing and trying to achieve.. for a bit. 2) I wanted a comeback - an informative post full of food facts, nutritional advice, and stories!  After I spent a few hours writing, I deleted it.  Because once again, things change.  And personally, this place of "change" is exactly where I'm at.  Let's begin.   

Spring has officially came and has decided to stay.  I could not be any more psyched!  Let's be real, I don't even love Spring, as my heart belongs to Summer. And that just means we are so much closer.  Heat and humidity, where you at?! 

During this season, our bodies can start to take a toll. Not only with the weather change, but the longer days, change of pace, or the sudden realization of all we need or want to do.  Winter hibernation is no longer an excuse.  So what should we really be doing?  Getting rid of all the stuff weighing us down! From some extra pounds, toxins, clutter and past bullshit.  Yes, I said it.  That bullshit. 

It's so easy to get caught up in unnecessary clutter.  We can even call it the excess that no longer serves us.  Whether it is extra weight from the winter to our unorganized thoughts and closets, I wanted to find a way to make it not so intimidating, rather something you want to get done.  Your own way of therapy.    

What it's going to come down to is CREATING SPACE.  In 3 areas, how I've been able to get it done, and make it my own.  

Create Space in Our Bodies

Anybody else dramatic about the cold?  Eating all the heavy comforting food, and maybe very well experienced in hibernation.  That would be me!  From all the winter's heavy foods and lack of movement there is an excess that needs to be rid of (toxins and weight) and a digestive system that needs to be reset.  By ingesting seasonal cleansing foods and igniting some inner fire, we can rid and make space for a new seasonal diet and a much lighter feeling.

~ Eat Seasonally.  Dandelions, spinach, sprouts, radishes, and asparagus are my favorite.  Play with recipes!  I found cooking to be my therapy as of late; even being able to make a simple nourishing plate beautiful.  Maybe you're not a big cook?  Find some local restaurants that specialize in seasonal and local fares.  Cleansing does not have to mean depriving! 

~Move!  Sweat!  I took a break from yoga, but as soon as I went back, I couldn't believe why I stopped in the first place.  It felt amazing (and scary) and I immediately felt a difference.  Keep your body moving and the rest of your systems and endorphins will follow!

Create Space in Our Minds

This one was tricky for me.  Food and health, I can write and talk about forever, and feel pretty confident about.  The mind?  Well working on myself alone, that was a challenge in itself.  Basically, I knew that I needed a change of mindset.  Whatever that has happened in the last few months, good or bad, had to take a backseat.  I needed to reevaluate what exactly it was that I wanted to feel and where I wanted to be for right now.  I needed space in my head, not for it to be filled with more ideas, but a clarity of what I was already doing for myself.   

~Get active! The past few months I've had every excuse to not get moving.  I stopped yoga and really became an expert in not leaving my house.  After getting out and going back, I decided to take advantage of this new lifestyle.  The "just do it attitude" came about, no contemplation.  I got rid of all the excuses in my head.  Time, money, and motivation.  Being active became my excuse to let go of those repetitive thoughts.  

~ Surrender.  Because the bullshit is going to keep on coming.  Honestly, I learned to feel it out and let it be.  I let go of things I could not change or handle.  From relationships lost to selling my car, I felt my world being turned upside down.  And it truly did.  Accepting what I had to do allowed me to be in the present.  Let go of the past and what could have been, do not worry about the future and what is unknown.  Be Here

Creating Space in Our Surroundings

Pick just one or two things.  No matter if you discard or reorganize, you will find yourself wanting to see less around you...more space.  I've had some very messy habits in the past.  Now I live to see clear surfaces.  Especially in my kitchen.  It became my canvas.  My space to work from scratch again and again.  

~Clean out your closet and drawers.  Donate or recycle!  Plenty of ways to discard guilt-free.

~Organize your pantry.  Or whatever it is that you use everyday.  A bookshelf?  Computer?  Make your space manageable again.

~Your relationships.  Friendships, family, or lovers, where might the space serve you?  I'm not even talking about completely letting go. It does not have to be all or nothing, which is something I'm. Still. Learning.  Keep in mind what it is you need out of them and what can you be without them?

Spring is 3 months long.  It's never too late.  Don't rush.  Work with what you got.  Small means can do great things.    

 

 

Sunday Cortado, 13: Feminist Fire

I have been reading and chatting with you guys over quite a few cortados now.  And let's be real, sometimes it's all about the goods.  The links to something new, thoughtful, questionable, even yummy. 

Today's cortado is brought to you by the women.  I found that most of the articles I have read and bookmarked had a theme, and it was too good to ignore.  

Now with all the accusations and confessions of sexual harassment and assault being brought to light, the little representation of women in political office, and the history of how we have been treated in EVERY part of the world, I knew I wanted to spread the world in my own way... in my own space 

We are woman of different color and culture, talents and beliefs.  Stick together and stick it to them.  I believe in using where you came from and who you were born to be to your greatest advantage no matter what is to be expected.  Lately, and even looking back as a woman, I've noticed commentaries from men are way too common, sarcastic, and inappropriate to ignore.  You may play it off as that's just how they are, but no, that's how we allowed it.  

Every time I read an article of woman strength, bond, leadership, I can't help but think in the words of Kendrick, "We gonna be aight."

~~~ 

The Life and Death of A Radical Sisterhood, the history and commentaries that were brought to light right in my favorite city, New York.

The UN plans are making steps to help climate change, and female focused initiatives are leading the way.  

Free speech and abortion. California, what you going to decide?

The 2018 World Economic Forum will be co-chaired by seven women - and zero men.  BAM! 

Lady Gaga and Joe Biden coming together to help sexually assaulted and abused woman.  Add this to the list on why I admire these people. 

I did love the movie Wonder Woman, but now I really love Wonder Woman

We have the first Hijab wearing Barbie, and she has an amazing story. 

More men are marrying up now to successful educated women.  Future feminist families to come?

Now let's unwind.  This woman wants others to feel... a little more comfortable when doing yoga. I can dig it. 

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Sunday Cortado, 5

Mad Sq. Eats, 5th and Broadway, NYC

Mad Sq. Eats, 5th and Broadway, NYC

These weeks have been flying by.  Both in good ways and ways I wish they wouldn't.  Somehow life happens and it's during these transformation periods we wonder, "What the hell have I been doing?"

Seriously.  It doesn't even have to be so deep or thoughtful as I probably make it.  We can't all help but wonder how this summer has ended. I guess it really started to hit me this week.  Scarfs and chunky knit sweaters made their grand appearance most mornings and I sometimes find myself unable to fully enjoy the quiet nights on the patio.  I am officially making myself readily available to those with fire pits.  I will bring you wine and homemade cheese and fruit platters.  Please?

For myself, I really tried to think about what stood out for me this season.  While I am a firm believer of making the most out of the little things, sometimes you kinda want to shake it.  I went to new and local beaches, reconnected with a few friends I haven't seen or lost touch with, and ate pretty damn good.

I just thought I had timeee.  Time for the passion to explode, beauty to be created, and adventures to be taken.  So, I made a commitment.   I wanna bring a new kind of living to life.  Inclusive, connected, and unrestricted...

~~~ 

There are major disasters going on, everywhere.  Yes, I get upset and empathize, but it isn't until now, hitting places where I used to call home and with loved ones, I get nervous.  A lot of what if's.  For family and friends, please be safe and stay compassionate.

I've been try to cut plastic out of my life.  No more tubberware, but I can say giving up cheap razors may be the challenge.

I've heard rumors of the not so sustainable practices that go on in the palm fruit oil industry.  Here's a little more personal information and something to think about on your next beauty purchase. 

I bet you didn't know and sometimes I forget, but being an adult is hard.  Making friends is hard.  Why can't we just share our crayons and be bff!

Fall = Fashion.  At least that's what I've heard and learned.  So, help!

Fall also equals squash! This is one of my favorite quinoa salads to make.  Perfect mix of sweet and savory, perfect meal prep lunch...

Arugula Pesto Zucchini Noodle Bowls.  I'm not gonna lie though, if I'm gonna eat a bowl full of veggies, Italian meats just may give me that lovely life balance . 

As we say good bye to the peaches and blueberries, I would like to welcome other things.  Fig Jam seems fitting for this Fall season ahead.

I'm going to Maine!!! I've been reading so much about, but as soon as I saw this post, I knew it was meant to be.  Have any recommendations?  Things I MUST DO? Please let me know! I'm a newbie to road trips and mini travels, so I'm open.  

Don't get it twisted though.  I do plan on relaxing.  I am so over 4:45am wakeup calls...

 

 

 

Summer Time Fine Favorites

Summer Solstice Mind Over Matter - Times Square NY

Summer Solstice Mind Over Matter - Times Square NY

Since I am now the person who craves the weekend, I thought we keep it somewhat casual.  Almost like a Saturday morning coffee date or brunch.  I wanna chat with ya'll.  Talk about what's been going on and what we are totally in love with right now.  There is a recipe waiting for you all but I thought I save that for a Monday.  It's actually pretty healthy and easy, which is all I'm throwing down in this kitchen lately.  

This is an update, shoutout, and way to get some inspiration from you guys on what you are loving about this Summer season.  Are you traveling?  Hitting up the beach?  What's your favorite? What are you eeeeaaaatttingggg? I hate to admit the the Summer is flying by, so I really trying to take in everything and anything I can get. And eat, duh. 

MOGOS - Asbury Park Boardwalk

MOGOS - Asbury Park Boardwalk

Before we get all foodie, know I love current events.  It maintains my humility and awareness, sometimes from another point of view.  

For the everyday update sans bullshit, The Skimm.

I also love it when other amazing foodie bloggers do the same.  That's where the humility comes in.  Example here, or just cut to the chase here

Al fresco dining.  Some people love it, others can live without it.  I actually rarely eat outside, but when I do, most of my dining takes place in the backyard.  I'm working on one day getting a long picnic bench for the future gatherings and dinners, but for now, my set up does me well. 

Summer Cocktails... HOMEMADE.  Yes, I have fell in love and probably won't turn back.  I love at home cocktails (even mocktail!) drinks.  They keep me portioned and save me $$$.  So easy and so delicious, mostly because you make it however you like best.  I like to skim different recipes and do my own concoction on whim.  Even though, they might turn out better if I followed a damn recipe.  

Oh and I also am drinking A LOT of green juice.  Every morning to be exact.  I like to keep it homemade to save $$$ once again.  It's so important for us to have the opportunity to reap amazing benefits of raw greens, so if you are on a budget, time is your BFF.  Take it.  I also do weeks where smoothies work magic.  Super foods are key to knock out some amazing benefits!

Union Square Green Market - Union Square, NY

Union Square Green Market - Union Square, NY

NEW. YORK. FARMERS MARKET.  Specifically the Union Square Green Market.  There are tons of in-season fruits and vegetables, homemade jams and local honey, Kosher, vegan, and gluten-free goodies.  In all honesty, most markets got it like that, but like most things that come from the city, a certain vibe is not comparable.

So what's next? I guess some of the more common Summer loves.  The beach, the ease, wondrous travel, or some backyard barbecues.  Ya feels me?  I am learning now more than every that less can mean a great deal.  It's actually giving.  Giving to your sanity and sense of appreciation.  A work in progress, but with just a few months left, can we handle doing a little less?

Feminine Fire Pt 2: Summer Beauty Foods

Happy June!  So excited to start off this month with a few of my favorite things. Summer, food, and beauty!

It actually wasn't until a few years ago, I started to get into beauty.  Like skincare, makeup, and eyebrows-on-fleek beauty.  (Yes I still use fleek, even fleeky sometimes....)

I was a Jersey Girl in Florida figuring out new roads, befriending new people, living in what felt like another world sometimes.  I was becoming more involved with my full-time job, which was transforming from working in retail, to working in the fashion industry.  I started to put my clothes together differently (I somehow managed to maintain what I call City Tropics), wearing makeup as both a feature enhancer and bold statement, and then looking into natural beauty options.

You see, no matter how much makeup I wore and experimented with, I wanted to stay true to my roots.  Yes, I wore foundation, but would I love my skin even if I didn't?  I caked, contoured, and penciled in every bare spot, and then washed it all off at the end of the night.  Keeping my face clean and healthy became more important than ever before.  I made sure to buy the cleanest vegan makeup I could find and purchasing natural face mask and cleansers.  Read: Shit got expensive.  In Florida, not only did I divulge in this whole other world, I learned to incorporate what I already knew to be true.... Food creates Health and Beauty.

That is when I began to believe in feeling beautiful in every aspect of my life.  From using inside out practices, to creating products to take care of the skin I was in.  

Now that is is Summer and seeing that I started this love in the hot humid days of the south, I thought it was only fitting to do this post as a little tribute .  My Northeast, down South, and West Coast loves can enjoy most of the in season foods and ingredients.  These are just my favorite, there are many more to experiment and enjoy for your specific skin type.  Also because this is food, most of the ingredients are great to use on your skin as well!

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Aloe

My summer favorite.  This is a regular/must for me when I travel to hotter and more humid climates.  Aloe serves double duty too!

The Aloe Vera plant has very cooling and healing properties.  Full of vitamins, minerals, and amino acids, this plant is great topically or taken internally.  Notice I say plant, get more for your buck ya'll!  Everything from healing rashes, sun burns, to even constipation and digestion.  Quick little tidbit, if you're digestion is not track, most likely neither is your skin. It's in your gut, not genes.  

How To:

  • Peel off the skin, chop jelly interior into fine pieces.  Put into a gallon of purified water and refrigerate.  
  • To drink, enjoy a glass with some pineapple juice, agave, and/or herbs for an easy go to cocktail.
  • To heal irritated or sensitive skin, apply aloe mixture on top and let air dry.  

Avocado

How can I not?  If I don't have avocado in a day, I sometimes feel incomplete, like I missed something so delicious to make it my day/dish ten times better. 

Rich in all the good GOOD fats, which is great for overall body health, the effects are amazing for the skin as well.  These good fats are anti-inflammatory which is also play a key role for the skin.  If you are prone to redness (rosacea), dry patches, and feel your skin becoming dull or loosing elasticity, this is for you!  I find myself more often than not poking and pulling at my skin.  Have I reached the time in my life where I worry about wrinkles?  Yes, I think I have.  But, I embrace it and now have the excuse of eating all the avocados.  Honestly, a win-win.  Also containing antioxidants which repair cell damage, so for those who love the summer sun, you absolutely cannot say no to a bowl of guacamole. 

Whether eaten or applied as a mask, affects are the same! On the skin for fast relief, eaten for overall maintenance.  

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Greens

From vegetables such as kale, spinach, and dandelion, to herbs like cilantro and parsley, every green has an abundance of properties to help maintain great skin.  Full of vitamins and minerals that basically start the journey to clean beauty.  Whenever I do a detox, the first thing I notice right away is my skin.  It is calm, clear, and because of less inflammatory foods, less likely to get irritated.  The chlorophyl in greens is one of the most detoxing properties which rid heavy metals and impurities which cleanse your gut and colon, which in turn automatically helps clear your skin.  Vegetables like cucumbers and celery are great for keeping you and your skin properly hydrated, helping the cleansing effect and keeping your skin glowing!

How To:

  • You DO NOT need a detox.  Simply just up your greens.  Green juices and monsters, salads, and super greens will do!
  • Play with different facial mask using herbs such as parsley or basil.  More to come on next post!

Fruits

Fruits don't get enough praise and love as they should.  They are first healing, full of antioxidants which as previously mentioned help repair cell damage.  Whether from the sun or harsh temperatures, we sometimes miss how to properly care for our face and skin.  Antioxidants are an easy way to do any reversal.  Along with Vitamin C which creates radiance within the skin, it helps to absorb other nutrients such as magnesium which serves your body and sleep well.  My favorites are blueberries and raspberries (I sometimes eat a pint for a light dinner), mangos, pineapples, and watermelon more for hydration.  If there is one thing that your skin is usually missing no matter if you have dry or oily skin, is proper hydration.  

Another plus for fruit, natural sugars which help curb cravings!  Some may have a higher sugar content than others, but I guarantee you, it is better than that piece of cake, ice cream, or even nutrition bar, that you save your calories for.  Those ADDED sugars wreak havoc.  

So there you have you it,  not a complete list, but a great guide to keep your skin looking and feeling amazing.  It all comes down to following three different keys/nutrients... hydration, anti-inflammatory, antioxidants, and CONSISTENCY. 

Yes, I could add all the ingredients and foods to stay a way from, but in reality, I like pizza, meaty tacos, coffee, and a cocktail every now and then.  This practice is called MODERATION.

Dedicated to all my summa lovin' beauties.

 

Feminine Fire Pt. 1: What Being a Feminist Means to Me

DISCLAIMER: I am not a life coach, psychiatrist, or currently participating in any activist group. 

Feminism - The theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes.

My dears, this post was a long time coming.  I have given little hints and sneak peaks, but I thought in honor of the summer and birthday to come, I want to express what I find beautiful.

I found myself talking to my mom one night, confiding how I want to speak more about womanhood, current politics, and all those "taboo" subjects that aren't to be spoken about at work, public place, and sometimes even between friends.  So, with who then? When is it okay? I know there are communities and organizations who focus on the real big stuff.  But damn, I just wanna have some deep inspiring conversation, unafraid, and authentic, about presidencies, war, the environment, white privilege, and woman empowerment.  Yes, ALL THAT. 

Then, on the other hand, I find myself thinking, "WHO THE HELL AM I?" I talk about avocados and salads, the importance of mindfulness and kindness.  The uncomfortable stuff, even words, I dare not speak or avoid, because well, I created a healthy-living wellness blog with a focus on food. But, if I must classify and justify myself, I'm just a woman who believes in her potential and the potential of this crazy beautiful world we live in.  With that said, here we go.

I believe that being a feminist is nothing more than being a human being.  Nobody is better than you and you are better than no one else.  There are certain reminders and ways I keep myself humble, open, and female as fuck.

Lay Off the Judgement

Whether you practice modesty or religious dress, a doctor or stay at home mother, a woman who shaves her armpits or not, or a man who resonates with the female soul, there are so many difference between us all, you will never hear about many at all.  It's okay to be curious and ask, even maybe just wonder.  But, when I hear that someone is not good enough, smart enough, or pretty enough, it breaks my heart. There are so many different beliefs it has become too easy to pass judgement onto one another.  What makes us unique and human, especially in a place I call home, has created so much DRAMA.  

Because I choose to wear revealing clothing and no bra make me seem I have less self respect?  Because I choose to refrain from sex in time when women sexual liberation is becoming well acknowledged and accepted, make me a prude?  Does me not smiling make you uncomfortable?  I heard women are prettier when they smile.  Are you automatically intelligent and worthy of work because you went on to higher education?  If I didn't, would you think I was ignorant? When did clothing, job choice, education, or looks define a person?  Those things were meant to empower us, not put us down. 

You never know what someone else has went through or done to get where they are.  When it comes to woman I see this way to often, even within themselves.  What we do is usually for ourselves, not attention or praise.  And if it is, I say this with sincerity, it is time for you seek something greater than approval.  So please, be mindful of automatic judgement and be open to see what really makes that individual beautifully being.

Stand for Everyone

It's not just women rights, it's every individual's birth right to feel free and unafraid in the skin they are in.  Whether it is indigenous Latinos being seen as illegal (correct term - undocumented), Muslims suspected as terrorist, blacks perceived as violent, or women seen as too sensitive or inad (forever far from), we have segregated ourselves greatly.  There are men of different races violating women in the same way and when being prosecuted, they have different sentences. Why? Because one "will not be able handle the devastating impact." Oh, and the woman? Well, she should have never put herself in such a position to be abused in the first place.  

Stand up for our children who are open and ready to receive so much love and knowledge, but maybe can't because politics say lower budget schools are not priority when it comes to education.  Stand up for the woman next to you being harassed for wearing too little AND for the one made uncomfortable for wearing too much, stand up for the colored men who are being seen as a threat.  Use your voice. Not your phone.  Your voice is the greatest tool you have to make up for the women and children who are silenced.  Ignorance may seem like bliss, until it affects you.  

Shit Happens. Don't Get Over it. 

I recently received came across a quote by Gloria Steinem. "The truth will set you free, but first it will piss you off."

Get mad, get upset, send prayers, and love.  Understand that this is the Universe we live in.  It's hard to see the good in so much bad and hurt that happens EVERY DAY, but it's possible.  Talk about it.  Read about it and don't let anyone ever tell you, you are one person.  There was once only one vegan, only one farmer, one female politician, and one company donating their products to young women in need of feminine hygiene products so they may go to school.  

Do you see where I'm going with this?  Don't stop with "that's the way it is." 

Always with love and a big fucking heart.

PS.  We are all a work in progress.  To say I haven't classified myself once or twice as a chonga, or thought any man I met may be worth my time, would be lie.  Take note on your own thoughts and words.  They mean a ton whether spoken to yourself or to others. 

 

 

 

 

What I Found... Again: Scenes from Peru

Hello, my beauties! If you only read my blog, you probably think I disappeared, or even ran away.  Don't worry, I've been around!  Social media has a way of letting me get in yo face.  Or maybe, you haven't worried at all and you've been so busy living your spectacular lives as any wild human being should! Either way, I'm gonna explain myself.

I've been making jellies, body scrubs, and deodorants. I've been traveling, started working in a new enormous city, and dealing with every commuter issue you could think of.  It's been time consuming, frustrating, beautifully new, surreal, and of course scary. It kind of looks more like a negative than positive, but trust me, the positives are way big too ignore. 

I was actually up the other night, not able to sleep, thinking about... shit, and what the hell I was going to write.  And even though I had an idea, I had no clue how I was going to do it.  Meaning I couldn't put into words.  

I wanted to talk about my trip.  The first time I traveled out of country and visited where my father, who I believe makes America great, came from.  I also wanted to talk about my experience working in a totally new environment.  Everything from the position, place, and people has been SO DIFFERENT. 

Then it occurred to me, I didn't want to talk about my experiences.  Honestly, I tried writing for a few days and couldn't find the words to put it together.  I couldn't even find the words for it to actually mean something.   So instead, I decided to talk about my feelings.  Because, I realized that's where my experiences were connected.  Are you with me?  Did I lose you?  Look at pictures or read on.  It ain't no thang.

I've been feeling two great forces as of late.  

There is the one that makes me feel it's my time to go again.  It's time to pack up leave into a new world (maybe just state) and experience something there.  Because, I want to feel alive every fucking minute of the day.  Because, I felt stuck. 

When I was in Peru, it actually made me miss some of my past.  My past of living in a place where, goddamn it, it was warm, there was a culture, latin food, and cafe con leché on every corner.  It made me miss traveling to mother land #2.  Humble countries and islands, fruits falling from the trees, and nature's beauty made for everyone to enjoy.  I think that's where I left a piece of my heart at.  

Then there is this other part.  The part that reminds me why I stay.  For the first time in a while, I'm working on and progressing, SLOWLY, towards a vision.  A vision to do what I love, sharing what I create, and making some kind of mark within my communities.  It's hard. Even when those times come and I really think I am about to give it all up, I remember yet, something else.  I have every kind of support I could ask for and a family I don't think I'm ready to leave again.  I actually find this even scarier.  The feeling of familiarity, being committed to one place.  Have I reached the other reason people "settle down." 

I actually love where I spend most my days... for a change.  The most intense area of the melting pot.  Where everyone is different.  I walk next to richest people and some of the poorest every day.  We all look so different, dress different, and most of the time I never understand the words they speak.  It's amazing.  I'm learning the deepest of patience and finding the absolute littlest things miraculously beautiful.  Even though I walk alone, ride alone, and work alone, in a place where everyone stands out individually, I can't help but feel of sense of belonging.  I feel as if I belong in this crazy noisy city made of the hustlers, dreamers, and radicals.  That's where I'm at.

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For the first time, I feel my vision coming alive.  What it fully is, I'm not %100 sure, and sometimes I'm so damn scared and annoyed.  I have my what-if moments, breakdowns, and feeling of defeat.  Then I remind myself why, my passion creates those feelings of empowerment and true love.  I turn to those who believe and make worth while every little thing I have accomplished.  My family that has learned to except each of our rebel, introverted, and traditional ways. For the first time, I started to feel confident in my version of stability.  I made it my own. 

I can't help my feelings of loving the road that takes me any where and every where.  The freedom being a woman who let's herself feel free any way she can, who dreams the unthinkable, and has learned to manifest love with her heart and hands.  

With every person I pass by, I only hope they are thinking of something just as spectacular.  Feeling unstoppable.  Becoming curious of the uncertain.  Pushing those limits and rules that were set upon them.  In every humbling place, I see your beauty, I feel your potential to be home. Thank you for teaching me in your own way patience, openness, and appreciation for both what I both experience and what I already have. 

Coffee Confidential's

Joe & The Juice, New York

Joe & The Juice, New York

Well another week has passed, and if you are like me as of late, we really are confused as to wear the time has gone.  I've been considering a lot of different things as of late.  Job options, menu choices, and coffee vs matcha as of late.  Some really hard stuff, ya feel me?

Then every Sunday I think to myself, "Did I accomplish everything?" Not something I'm proud of, but something I learn to accept, for RIGHT NOW.

I thought we talk and list and ramble this Sunday morning/afternoon, if you will.

1.  Let's talk about working with what you got. I spent two shopping prepping for meals to come and I still found myself needing more! Seriously?  I looked at my pantry and for the first time in a while it was full.  I realized I had been over thinking it.  I used to make magic with anything.  So, when my menu comes out, don't be surprised if it says vegetable in season/available.  Surprise!!! Own it. Explore it. Be proud of it.

2.  I'm in a need of a new book.  I've been reading Gabrielle Bernstein's 108 book.  But, with longer train rides and alittle more downtime, I think a story is needed.  Even to give my mind a rest from thinking about food and work.  

3.  I've become a matcha fan.  A matcha fanatic if you will.  Can you believe I actually used to have to force it down my throat?  Sorry for any visuals.  But in all seriousness, I was not a fan.  I thought it made for a good coffee alternative for when under-the-weather.  But it used to taste like creamy green tea? Well, now I like creamy green tea lol

4.  Found another Netflix series!  I've actually been watching, Parenthood, as I've noticed I'm a sucker for family-real-talk TV.  I grew up with being very close with my family, grandparents, aunts, uncle, and cousins.  I guess it's a bit of nostalgia and wish to never change.  Like I say, "La vida no es facíl."

5.  The runner up is, The Chef's Table. OMGGGG! Give me all the inspiring foodie stories, all the failures and struggles, and all the good food proudly created.  It really does make you think about food in it's more vulnerable pure form, and how one person can make this ingredient so accessible to the masses.  Only with care, conciousness, and curiosity. Extra. Ordinary.  Basically, I want to go to cooking school now.  Or maybe in 10 years.  Or maybe in my dreams.  Hey, it's never too late, right?

6.  I finally see, or rather feel, the energy that so many people have tried to express.  I'm talking there love and appreciation for New York City. To be honest, I never saw much past the Christmas spectacular, broadway, and people looking super trendy in the dead of winter.  Yet now, I kinda love it.  I feel the diversity, strength, and pride that has gone with it.  I may be there to stay, just for a bit longer.

7.  I'm still a Jersey Girl.  My car let's my soul wander.  Downtowns keep me humble. The shore is my forever summer love affair. 

8.  Go to yoga.  Practice yoga. Make yoga. 

 

PS.  Excuse the typos.  I was flyin' free this morning

PSS. None of my links decided to work. So this is what we talked about.

https://www.joejuice.com

https://www.amazon.com/Miracles-Now-Life-Changing-Finding-Purpose/dp/1401944337/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1488729261&sr=8-4&keywords=gabrielle+bernstein

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1416765/

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt4295140/

Puerto Rico

One week later, and I finally get to recap.  I've been going back and forth.  Trying to pick the perfect pictures and amazing words to do this trip justice.  Not easy.  But here it is, doing the best I can, with the quality camera/iphone I had.  From daytime travels full of history, to nights out in the city full of reggaeton and one too many drinks, I can honestly say this is it.  Puerto Rico, you are exactly what I needed.

I bought my first pair of sneakers, not for the beautiful island, but actually for work.  Turned out to be the best investment I ever made.  We hiked through El Yunque without a tour or knowledge of where it would lead us, but the trails, rocks, and streams were beautiful hints of what was to come.  Something that I was able to share with so many different people.  We were all there to see and experience what El Yunque had to offer.  

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If you ever get the chance, please go... and RENT A CAR.  Uber is not so accepted yet, and taxi situations could be better.  We relied on questionable rides from strangers, which turned out to be pretty interesting.  It actually forced us to bond with the locals, all with different backgrounds and stories to tell. 

Las Cuevas del Indio was also an amazing sight.  Probably the only place that actually charged to get in, but for five dollars, you get every penny worth.  The water colors, currents, and views were everything but ordinary.  Probably the most out of my comfort zone, I walked and sat on cliffs, experienced amazing heights, and looked further into the ocean than ever before.  Oh, and I saw bats.  A family of them.  And I watched them fly right above me as I climbed up rocks and over streams.  FYI, that was never on my agenda.

The. Food.  If you are going to another foreign country/land, take advantage of the culture.  I mainly mean food wise.  I am of Puerto Rican decent and pretty knowledgeable of the cuisine, so it wasn't so much exploring the food, but enjoying every bite of it.  The authentic shit.  From rice and beans, mofongo, and comida criolla, I was in all my glory. 

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If you can get out of the main city, and deep into the island, do it.  I had the opportunity to get aquatinted with someone who was able to take me THERE.  To that spot of real puerto rican street food.  It was very much so nostalgic.  When I used to visit my own grandparents on the island, where alcapurrias and empanadas were more common then any mofongo.  It was greasy.  It was delicious. 

From the beginning, I was surrounded by so many adventurous, food loving, understanding beings.  It may sound super corny, but I say it firmly and proudly.  They helped me get to amazing beautiful places, kept me company, and kept me smiling.  Even on my own, I felt at ease.  Nothing was more insightful than walking the streets of Old San Juan alone.   Nothing was more calming than just reading a book under the tropical skies.  

Puerto Rico is a beauty.  I think I got to experience it on a whole other level than my previous visits.  Not only was it my first solo trip, but one that I was able to explore from a different perspective.  One that is open, accepting, and ready for whatever may or may not come my way.  Like every place and experience,  there is the good, there is the bad.  I wouldn't have it any other way.  It actually encouraged me to see the amazement right here.  That everyday adventure in right now.  

Letting Go of Expectations

You are exactly where you need to be.  The universe has a way of working it out. 

 

I can go on, but I think most of us have related to these quotes every now and then.  There is as much truth in them as you make it to be.  

From the time we are young, we all had expectations put upon us, from ourselves or others.  Some with the best intentions.  Some from what society has said is best for us.  From being a great student, obtaining that amazing job, or being in a wondrous relationship, all of these are possible.  Some of them amazing goals and visions for the hopeful driven soul.  

But, what happens when things don't go as planned? When you haven't found that amazing job for you just yet?  When the "clock is ticking" and you are trying to find that true love to lead to an amazing family. That person you thought would be there for you through it all, disappeared.  How do you cope when things didn't go as expected?  

More than ever, I think timing has a way of bringing a negative aspect to these "expectations".  Here is what to have instead.

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Goals and Visions.

Make a vison board.  Make it beautiful , make it you.  I love what vision boards stand for.  They are your goals sans the time frame.  Nobody really makes a vision with a time stamped on it.  Visions are timeless, a story.  Understanding there is change, and letting that come into play.  Maybe you have to start out as a hostess to become an amazing chef, no matter how long it takes.  Looking at love as something shared between all of us, may attract the one who compliments the kind you offer (we all have our own ways of showing love).  Peace? The goal for the masses, make it your own to share.  Again, it may not be a fairytale, but it's yours to write.  Enjoy every chapter of it, till the very end.

Motivation

This can be a tricky one.  Mostly because it doesn't so much change, but come and go.  We depend so much on the outcomes to keep motivation going.  But positive ones aren't always going to be the case, your expectation.  Make your motivation intangible.  Not the amazing body, but amazing health.  Your motivation shouldn't be that dream home, but what you will fill that home with.  Vacation?  Not what you did.  How you experienced it.  This is the behind the scenes.  The feelings that take over, that's the motivation.   

Do Your Best

This is something that not only my parents always told me, but I was able to read more about in the book, "The Four Agreements," by Don Miguel Ruiz.  No matter what keep it going.  You may feel defeated at times and maybe even unappreciated.  Until you can get yourself out of the situation, never stop putting your best effort.  Either it will work out how you envisioned, if not move on.  But, as long as you know you tried your hardest, not only will it be seen, but you can move on with a lighter heart.  No matter the job, relationship, or love, doing your best, a beautiful agreement to live by.  

 

"It's not about getting into the pose, but what you learned along the way." ~ yogi quote

Summer's Not Over!

Yes, people!  We still have one whole month, plus a few more weeks of warm weather!

For myself, I am about to take advantage of what the rest of the season has to offer.  In more ways than one, I think there is something we are all going to miss.  Whether it's the laid-back vibes, vacations, farmers market, or beach days, there is no better feeling than the freedom Summer has to offer.  

With Fall coming, not only is this month the time to take advantage, but also prepare.  More mentally, than anything else.  A post is to come soon filled with Fall tips and treasures, but for now, I want to make sure we are living in-tune with the late Summer Sun as much as possible. 

Here is a list of the goodies, recommendations, and last minute reminders on how to enjoy and prepare for what is to come.

Greens

Drink them.  Eat them.  Blend them.  Whether in juice form for straight nutrients, or smoothies and salads for fiber, we want to take advantage of the greens this month before the colder temperatures kick in.  Even though they aren't as abundant when we started summer (Spring's abundance), we still have great herbs and green veggies to mix in.  Kale, zucchini, okra, cilantro, and parsley are some of my favorites.  If you are lucky enough to get your hands on some detoxifying dandelions, go for it!

Fruits

My all time favorite snack (next to hummus and chips, of course).  Each one full of so many vitamins and minerals, great for both the skin and body.  Eat'em up!  The sun has certainly taken a toll on our skin, so natural prevention and remedies start with food.  Stock up on your tomatoes, peaches, and blueberries as a great and easy way to keep your skin bright and belly full.

Coconut Oil

Your skins best friend during the warmer months.  This is an all-Summer routine, and for some, all year round.  A great anti-bacterial and moisturizer with a light SPF, most people can benefit from this oil, even those with oilier skin.  Out of all the oils, coconut oil is one of the lightest when applied.  Great for skin and hair, keep your skin hydrated and healthy right until Fall hits us with the dryness. 

Healthy Sun

In the winter, Vitamin D levels drop so much, many experience what is called Seasonal Affective Disorder.  This compromises your health, motivation, and over all good-feeling.  Although it is something that can be helped starting in the Fall, for now I want to focus on soaking in all the sun/Vit-D you can.  Whether it is a morning walk or mediation, to a day at the beach or park, enjoy what's left.  Don't be afraid of sweat and don't be afraid of lotion.

Movement

How easy it is to stay active and fit in the Summer!  Warm weather and longer days motivates myself more than I care to admit.  Which is why this month is key to keep it up and maybe go a little harder.  Yes, even a yogi like me wants to kick some ass.  Enjoy the tacos, enjoy the vacation days, and enjoy the work that comes with it.  You want to make sure we go into Fall feeling amazing as possible.  However that may be for yourself, commit to it for a lasting effect.

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This is a LIFE-STYLE.  Fit it to your every want and need.