Archive for May, 2013

May 31, 2013

Joy the Baker

She’s charming in my favorite way. You may notice her pins from Pinterest (Spinach Artichoke stuffed grilled cheeses, bacon and pancakes, white rose cakes, jalepeno muffins, smashed avocado on buttery French baguette). Explore your heart away on this lovely food blog. Joy is perfection and deserves every ounce of success headed her way. She’s lovely.

Joy the Baker

You’re welcome.

as always, health and happiness,


May 31, 2013

Cinnamon Olive Oil Chocolate Torte


They say there are two people in life, the cookers and the bakers. The bakers are more careful, measuring and cleaning as they go. They are the Type A personalities. In cooking, you need to be more flexible. You need to be able to think on your feet and taste as you go, adding the right spices or seasonings and using a recipe as a template. There really is nothing like baking. As much as I love cooking, I love the process of measuring out sweet sugar, flours, sorting, melting coconut oil, pouring oil oil, springform pans, ripping parchment paper, and putting out all the pots and pans for mixing. I love the process of lightly whipping eggs, of cracking eggs, of sprinkling spices. From scraping out pureed pumpkin to pouring coconut milk, the whole baking process gives me something to keep my hands busy. You put it all into a pan or you scoop the batter into rounds and you end up with this creation that warms the whole home. My new future apartment in my head has the perfect kitchen. It has a new oven that I don’t have to play with the temperature, but as it always is with me, the moment I have that, I will miss my oven that I know so well. I am the queen of never being satisfied.

I bake the most often when I need an escape from the dilemmas that roil around in my mind. There really isn’t anything that is plaguing my mind at the moment, but there is always that haunting feeling that is so common among millennials like myself. It’s that cold, sinking feeling that you are not living up to your true potential. The feeling of not so instant gratification and being too impatient to realize that life is actually always on time. I am always dreaming about something better, and lately I have been doing something better to get to where I want to be, but part of me is still petulant that it isn’t here yet. Pretty awful of me, huh?

We pretend like we are rooted to the places we are, but we have the freedom to fly anywhere we want to. I know I do, but for me, it is just about finding the right place to fly to. I pretend that I need a new solid job offer to move anywhere but that isn’t true. It is not easy to pick up your life, pack it into boxes and move across the country, but with some savings and an open heart, you can do it. But I have always been the controlling type. I like knowing when things will happen. My Moleskine planner is a necessity and when I don’t have it on me, I get pretty nervous. In savasana (corpse pose), I still run over my to do list in my head. I lay awake sometimes at night and think there is so much to do everyday, and while anyone should be proud of being able to work 50+ hours a week and run around all the time, some weeks it gives me more anxiety than anything. I am unfulfilled on a level that I felt like I settled for something, and I haven’t really forgiven myself for doing that just yet. I feel as though sometimes I don’t take enough risks, and I am trying to work on that. Even if it is something small, I think it will help me make some big jump sometime soon. I am still the girl that traveled to a dozen countries and would rather hop on a plane than do anything else. I didn’t know how it would turn out when I went to live in two countries for nine months when I was 21, and now at 23, I keep thinking of all that could possibly go wrong. But at 21, I didn’t have obligations besides academic ones, and at 23 I have financial responsibilities.

Maybe that is why I like baking so much, you need to be in control because substituting another oil for olive oil would ruin the science. The perfect measurements of things and the right ingredients can yield you something beautiful. And then there are these recipes that are great bases, but with the right warm spices, it is brought to life. This is one of those recipes. I originally read this in a magazine while I was sitting in Barnes and Noble after a yoga shift on Sunday, waiting for some yoga classes to start in two hours. This lovely, simple recipe is from Nigella Lawson. I have always loved her attitude and accent, and watching her on the Food Network has always given me countless ideas to play with in the kitchen. I have embedded her recipe below, with my additions and notes for the torte I ended up making. I don’t cook with all purpose flour a lot, but I do love the cakelike texture of this torte with the all purpose flour is worth it enough for me to try it once in a blue. The addition of light brown sugar and warm cinnamon made the torte even more flavorful to me, but feel free to add cayenne instead if you want more of a Mexican hot chocolate inspired torte.


— From Nigella Lawson’s “Nigellissima: Easy Italian-Inspired Recipes” (Clarkson Potter, $35) 8 to 12 servings

2/3 cup regular olive oil, plus more for greasing
6 tablespoons good-quality unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
½ cup boiling water
2 teaspoons best vanilla extract
1½ cups almond meal (flour) (see note) (I used unbleached all purpose)
½ teaspoon baking soda
Pinch salt (I used Pink Himalayan)
1 cup superfine sugar (I used light brown sugar)
3 eggs

**3 teaspoons cinnamon (my addition)

**I topped the torte with a sprinkle of powdered sugar

1. Preheat your oven to 325 degrees. Grease a 1 x 9-inch springform pan with a little oil and line the base with parchment paper.

2. Measure and sift the cocoa powder into a bowl or pitcher and whisk in the boiling water until you have a smooth, chocolatey, still runny (but only just) paste. Whisk in the vanilla extract, then set aside to cool a little. In another smallish bowl, combine the almond meal with the baking soda and pinch of salt.

3. Put the sugar, olive oil and eggs into the bowl of a freestanding mixer with the paddle attachment (or other bowl and whisk arrangement of your choice) and beat together vigorously for about 3 minutes, until you have a pale-primrose, aerated and thickened cream.

4. Turn the speed down a little and pour in the cocoa mixture, beating as you go, and when all is scraped in, you can slowly tip in the almond meal mixture. Scrape down and stir a little with a spatula, then pour this dark, liquid batter into the prepared pan.

5. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes or until the sides are set and the very center, on top, still looks slightly damp. A cake tester should come up mainly clean, but with a few sticky chocolate crumbs clinging to it. Let it cool for 10 minutes on a wire rack, still in its pan, and then ease the sides of the cake with a small metal spatula and spring it out of the pan. Leave to cool completely or eat while still warm with some ice cream, as a dessert.

Note: For a more cakelike crumb, substitute ¾ cup plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour for the almond meal. But without the almond meal, it’s more of an everyday cake, Lawson writes.


Next time, I might add some citrus zest or lavender. You could always use chia eggs (water and chia seeds) for the eggs if you would like, but I love eggs and the rich flavor this has with the ingredients I used, so please feel free to adapt this according to your tastes. As I always say, there is always room for dessert.

health and happiness always,



May 30, 2013

Proud Ally of Curvy Yoga

Check out Curvy Yoga here!

May 30, 2013

VBarre Review at Philadelphia Sports Club

Yesterday was a hot, but nice day in Philadelphia. A perfect day to try a new fitness class.

I grabbed some free class passes from lulu lemon (perks of working at a yoga studio next door, I can always sample a fitness class if I want to because there are so many studios trying to lure clients in with their first class free). I went with a couple friends who were also love trying new fitness classes, and I heard great things about barre. I have also never been inside a Philadelphia Sports Club before and I was pleased with their fitness facilities, pool, and group fitness studio.

Vbarre combines micromovement exercises to target forgotten muscles, and I am feeling deliciously sore today. Some yoga will definitely help with that though and ease any pain later. With an air inflated ball, a polished sliding board, resistance band and 2 pound weights, we targeted some arm muscles like the triceps and the biceps, the inner and outer thigh, did some stretching, curtsies, arabesques, and plie squats. It was more like ballet boot camp though, and I am not sure if I could do this class on a regular basis. I am such a fan of yoga because I don’t look at a clock while I am there. In fact, it is usually the fastest part of my day. I like workouts like stimulate the mind and the body, since they are so intrinsically connected. I don’t have a lot of time to work out, and  anything that is a workout and therapy is definitely worth your time in my book. I loved the friendly, eager staff and the instructor was enthusiastic, motivating, and knowledgable.

What should you bring? Socks, leggings or capris that are sweat proof (because you will be dripping), and a breathable top, and good support if you’re a girl. 

Final verdict: Loved the experience and I could do it once in a while but as a lifestyle, definitely not for me. Not a barre convert, but maybe that is not fair considering I only went to one class. Since it was Vbarre at a gym and not a studio, the atmosphere is different here as well.

I love working with people who are passionate about their careers, and I am quickly realizing that is what it takes to live a long and happy life. You need to love what you do everyday. This instructor definitely knew how to keep people going through a hard class, and it truly is mind over matter. It took me learning this the hard way, but I can understand why people tell you to leave a job if it doesn’t fulfill you, to not waste time when you know something isn’t right for you, and to actually find happiness in your livelihood because it is what you will be doing for most of your hours awake. I am not perfect but I am making progress, and it is always progress not perfection that we should be working towards.

Want to try your own free barre class? Check out your local fitness gear stores to see if there are any promotional deals.

May 29, 2013

Shrimp Frittata with Spinach and Crunchy Quinoa Topping

Frittatas are such a good way to refuel after a workout and it is not uncommon for me to boil some eggs for the week as a take along snack. Eggs get a bad rap sometimes but they are delicious, and full of awesome nutrients. This dish is fresh and simple, and you can make it when you have some time on a Sunday if you want to food prep for the week. I usually steam a couple bags of veggies like broccoli or zucchini and take it to work for the week so I always have veggies on hand with fresh herbs and lemon for flavor. It takes the worry out of my day because I don’t have to go searching for lunch somewhere that is a good option for me around where I work, and buying lunch everyday adds up. Feel free to modify this recipe to your tastes!


Protein packed and delicious, many of these can be prepped the night before for easy assembly. The quinoa, eggs, and shrimp are just added protein for great muscle healing, so if you don’t want to make this with a protein the eggs are simple enough and taste amazing with toasted quinoa. I like to serve this on a bed of greens like kale or a side of avocado. Superfood plate anyone?

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 12 minutes

Total: 22 minutes

Fresh herbs, greek yogurt, toasted quinoa sprinkled in shrimp and egg frittata with spinach and the creamy tang of Greek yogurt.


Fresh herbs, I used dill and some parsley

1/2 cup shrimp, I used canned baby shrimp but if you are worried about canned foods, feel free to use fresh or jumbo shrimp

1 cup baby spinach, julienned

1/4 cup greek yogurt, plain or plain regular yogurt

1/4 cup toasted quinoa, (just place dry quinoa in an oven for 10 minutes or so at 350 degrees)

4 eggs, 2 egg whites, lightly whisked

2 tablespoons nonfat milk

1 tablespoon nutritional yeast for topping or parmesan


Preheat oven to 350 degrees, and spray a baking dish with coconut oil or any oil you usually use to bake with. EarthBalance is also a great choice. I used a round pan but feel free to use any baking dish you prefer. Mix all ingredients well except for the toasted quinoa. Pour the frittata mixture into the oiled or buttered dish and place in the oven for 8 or 9 minutes until the frittata is almost done. Add toasted quinoa and parmesan/nutritional yeast on the almost set frittata and place back in the oven to finish cooking, about 5 more minutes.




May 28, 2013

Steamed Shrimp with Simple Mango Salsa

Steamed shrimp with a sweet and spicy mango salsa on top. An easy, light summer meal that is a pinch to put together. Would be great with some grilled shrimp too.



8 or 10 jumbo shrimp, about a pound

1 ripe mango, cubed

1/4 cup thinly sliced red onion

1 teaspoon red pepper flakes, or more to taste

Juice of one lime, freshly squeezed

1 jalepeno, thinly sliced, to taste

Cilantro, to taste


Steam shrimp and set aside. I used a microwave steamer but you could use a bamboo one or whatever you have. In a separate bowl, add all ingredients except the lime juice. Top the mango salsa with lime juice and toss lightly. Serve with steamed shrimp.




Happy light meals!


May 28, 2013

Sometimes your tea is so right


May 28, 2013

Berry Minty Salad with Mixed Berries, Neem Honey Drizzle, and Pink Himalayan Salt

Hello happy healthy readers,

I hope everyone had a good Memorial Day Weekend! I know I did, and it was that much harder coming in to work today. But a day off in the beginning of the week means the weekend is that much closer. I meant to send a package of goodies over to my friend, and I did a great job with her letter but I am still figuring out the perfect dessert that flies well. Let me know what you guys think and if you have any suggestions!

The perfect summer berry salad with pink himalayan salt and neem honey drizzle. I am sure that I am not the first one to combine salt and fruit together, but the ingredients were on my shelf and I knew there was no going back.

Salt makes sweet taste sweeter. I guess you could apply that to life as well. I am sure This was also a hit at the BBQ I went to yesterday with some old friends and a good catch up session. I tried veggie hot dogs for the first time and I was very impressed. There was great company and there was good wine.

Try to use organic honey and organic berries.


2 cups mixed berries, I used blackberries, blueberries and strawberries because it is what I had on hand but you can use your favorite mix

1 tsp pink Himalayan salt

1 tablespoon neem honey

1/4 cup mint leaves, or more to taste


Wash berries and pat dry. Add honey to taste and mix, top with mint leaves and salt. Mix well and serve. This salad gets better the longer you let the salt break down the berries. Good for a day or two.

Can be made vegan if you sub agave for the honey.




May 28, 2013

More Informative Inspiration

On such a gloomy day, what is better than looking at awesome, easy to make veggie recipes? We all could use some more veggies in our lives. Wish I thought ahead enough to bring my soup from home to work today but steamed veggies with fresh herbs will have to do.

Check out Kiersten’s veggie blog, Oh My Veggies!



May 28, 2013

Coconut Loaf from Sprouted Kitchen

I have a love affair with this blog. I have made some of her recipes when I had checked out the cookbook from the library. I love his crisp photographs and her way of writing. They come up with really incredible recipes, and I like reading about them and their lives. Any life that is filled with love, laughter and whole foods seems like a good one, no?

I love the flavor of this loaf because it is a loaf cake hybrid recipe, and it manages to have the perfect amount of coconut flavor even though you are using three different sources of coconut (oil, milk, and toasted coconut). The recipe suggests serving the loaf slices toasted, which would also be incredible. I went to a BBQ tonight and brought this cake over, and it was a hit. We ate it with vanilla ice cream and fresh hand picked strawberries.

Coconut Loaf (from the Sprouted Kitchen Cookbook)

1/4 cup coconut oil, melted, plus more for the pan

2 cups unsweetened shredded coconut

3/4 cup turbinado sugar (I used light brown sugar)

3/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour

1 cup whole wheat pastry flour

1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt (I used Pink Himalayan Salt)

2 eggs

1 (13.5-ounce) can coconut milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1 cup powdered sugar

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8.5-inch loaf pan with a thin coat of coconut oil.

Spread the shredded coconut on a baking sheet and toast in the oven until golden brown, about 4 minutes. Set aside 1/2 cup for topping the loaf.

In a large mixing bowl, combine 1 1/2 cups of the toasted coconut and the sugar. Sift in the flours, nutmeg, baking powder, baking soda, and salt and stir to combine. In another bowl, whisk the eggs together, then whisk in 1 cup of the coconut milk, the coconut oil, and the vanilla. Gently stir the wet mixture into the dry ingredients until just combined. Pour the mixture into the loaf pan and bake until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean, 45 to 50 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool to room temperature.

While the loaf is cooling, combine 1/4 cup of the remaining coconut milk and the powdered sugar [it helps to sift it] and mix until there are no lumps. Add more sugar or coconut milk to taste, depending on the consistency you prefer. Pour the glaze over the cooled cake and sprinkle the remaining toasted coconut on top.

Recipe by Sprouted Kitchen