Recipes: Fire-Roasted Eggplant Salad

I love having friends who like to eat as much as I do. Especially when they can cook. Nick and Mary, one of our favorite couples to hang with, had us over recently for a BBQ. Everything was tasty of course, but their Fire-Roasted Eggplant Salad was a major win. It’s a beautiful dish that’s perfect with bread, chips, as a “salad" or can double as a salsa or topping. This recipe is fantastic and so good for you. Roasted vegetables, fresh herbs, salt, pepper and olive oil. Done. Perfect summer food. 

*Note: You can sub in any other vegetables that roast well. Zucchini and yellow squash would be nice options. If you like it spicy, try adding roasted poblanos or jalapeños...yum. 

Clean Karma’s (/Nick & Mary’s) Fire-Roasted Eggplant Salad: Yield’s 4-6 servings

1 Eggplant
2 Whole vine tomatoes
1 Lemon, halved (leave skin on)
1 Red bell pepper
1 Red onion, peeled and halved
Handful of parsley, chopped
4 T extra virgin olive oil
Himalayan sea salt & black pepper to taste
1/2 Ripe avocado, chopped or sliced and/or 1/2 cup parmesan, grated (both optional but Clean Karma suggested)

Heat charcoal grill (or campfire!); roast vegetables on the grill as follows: eggplant, red pepper and tomatoes whole; red onion and lemon, cut side down. Turn veggies as needed until all sides blackened. (Note: eggplant will take the longest so may want to start that one 10 minutes before the rest of the veggies go on)

When all veggies blackened and very soft, remove from the fire and let cool. Half the eggplant and filet out the innards leaving only the skin. Discard skin. Rough chop and place in large bowl.

Half and de-seed red bell pepper. Rough chop. You may leave on blackened skin if you wish. Add to bowl.

Rough chop red onion, tomatoes and parsley and add to bowl.

Mix together with 4 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, sea salt and black pepper to taste. Season well! Squeeze juice of lemon halves (cut sides up to keep seeds from falling in!) and mix.

Top with avocado and/or grated parmesan cheese. Serve with chips as a super chunky salsa, with crusty Italian loaf as bruschetta or as a topping for burgers and grilled meats. Will stand alone well as a veggie side dish too!

Dinner prep...

Dinner prep...

So many pretty colors...Enjoy!

So many pretty colors...Enjoy!

Recipes: Springtime Pasta

It's finally starting to warm up so my menus are a changing. Goodbye butternut squash, hello ramps! If you’re looking for an easy, airy pasta dish for the warmer months, this recipe is for you. As many of you may know, I’m a big fan of “cutting” my pasta with zucchini noodles. I use this little trick to keep balance and add texture but for this dish, it's most importantly used to lighten up the pasta. The addition of fresh herbs, chopped ramps (noms) and lemon juice makes this recipe a refreshing springtime favorite. I like to use lots of very good quality grated parmesan cheese but feel free to omit if you’re vegan or cutting back. Other awesome spring additions would be mushrooms, asparagus and/or fennel. Get out to the farmers market, get creative and enjoy spring!

Clean Karma's Springtime Pasta: serves 4

8 ounces of fresh pasta, cooked (I used fettuccine) 

1 large zucchini, cut into long noodles with a spiralizer

2 medium ramps, finely chopped (both white and green parts)

5 springs of fresh thyme

1 tablespoon of fresh parsley, chopped

2 cloves of garlic, chopped

1/2 cup of olive oil

1 tablespoon organic butter (or substitute) 

Juice of half a lemon

1 roma tomato, chopped

Freshly grated Parmesan, optional but highly recommended

Salt and pepper to taste

Heat olive oil and butter in a large sauce pan. Add fresh thyme to infuse. About 3 minutes. Remove sprigs of thyme and add ramps and garlic and salt and pepper to taste, cook until softened. Incorporate lemon juice. Add pasta and toss well to coat. 

Remove from heat and add zucchini "noodles" and fresh parsley. Toss in tomatoes and top with grated Parmesan cheese. 

It's time for dinner! Eat up. 

It's time for dinner! Eat up. 

  

 

 

Travel: Exploring Yoga from IndieTravel - Rio

Thank you to guest blogger, Maureen Mizrahi at IndieTravel for this wonderful post. IndieTravel is a blog about traveling as way of life. Maureen and Salo were bitten by the travel bug and started their journey back in 2013. Since then they've been blogging about the wonders they see along the way; new adventures, new people, special locations, photography and anything related to traveling, culture and living outside the box. Check out their website to join in on the adventure and enjoy the recipe below! You can also follow them on FacebookTwitter and Instagram...

One of the most fulfilling experiences I've had in Rio has been my yoga practice! Rio de Janeiro is one giant outdoor playground with a super-relaxed beach lifestyle and a vigorous fitness culture, all while offering plenty of yoga studios and retreats. 

During my month of living in this amazing city, between soaking up the sun, riding bikes and eating Açaí, I also enjoyed lots of amazing and energetic yoga classes at Yoga Blyss in the city’s best neighborhood, Ipanema! Having the time to spend focusing on and deepening my practice has been incredibly rewarding. The small cozy studio of Yoga Blyss was a mere 10 minute walk from my flat, and the classes were all so diverse. The studio caters to tourists as well as locals, so the yoga teachers are all multilingual and super friendly, which is  part of the reason why my experience there was so awesome. 

The studio is run by Coaracy Nunes, the Director, who also teaches classes at the studio for all levels, and sometimes does occasional yoga sessions at Ipanema Beach and in different spots around the city. These open air classes are free and open to all. I usually went to the Vinyasa flow classes that were held in Portuguese. After studying yoga in Buenos Aires for a year, I was used to classes held in Spanish, and although Portuguese was a big challenge, I managed to understand  more Portuguese with every class. Although having practiced Vinyasa Flow in Buenos Aires in what was called “Urban Flow” classes, the Vinyasa classes at Blyss Yoga were very different and challenging.

While some teachers use music purely in the background to create ambience, others incorporate it into the practice. My favorite Vinyasa classes were with Director Coaracy. His classes had a really beautiful flow and powerful sequence and he ended every class with a beautiful and very moving Shavasana, playing the guitar and singing “non-traditional” Savasana Songs, like the Beatles “Let it Be.”  I had heard ‘Let it Be’ countless times before, but at that moment, lying there in Savasana, listening to his beautiful voice, tears began to fall from my eyes and it was by far one of the most amazing and moving yoga sessions I’ve ever had!

I think with it’s amazing energy, good vibes and friendly people, this wonderful city is the perfect backdrop for your yoga practice. Whether you want to go to one of the yoga centers or boutique studios, or if you prefer to practice outdoors and enjoy the city’s beautiful natural surroundings and sunny weather, Rio de Janeiro has many options for all you yoga enthusiasts.

This place...stunning.

This place...stunning.

Go explore. Namaste.

Go explore. Namaste.

DYI: Essential Oil Air Freshener

Living in small spaces and cooking often (and having a precious fur baby!) is not the best mix for a fresh smelling household. I occasionally use soy candles and/or diffusers but really wanted to find a nice spray for smell good touch ups and to keep our couch, chairs and linens fresh. There are about a billion sprays out there but 99% of them (like many store-bought products), have a ton of questionable ingredients. I'm very sensitive to smells so I needed something easy and simple with only a few ingredients and a gentle scent. As an essential oil enthusiast, I knew there had to be a way to incorporate my favorite oils into a household air freshener. I've found the easiest and cheapest way to make your own at home that actually works. Check out my DYI recipe below and spray away...

Clean Karma’s Essential Oil Air Freshener: Yield varies

1 spray bottle (any size that works for you)

2 parts water

1 part alcohol (rubbing or a very cheap vodka)

10-20 drops (depending on the bottle and how strong you want the scent to be) of your favorite essential oil. I LOVE geranium and lavender. A citrus would also be nice, especially in the summer months.

Mix all ingredients together. Shake before use and spray ANYWHERE. On couches, rugs, linens etc are best as they're absorbed quickly and last longer but in a pinch you can also just spray liberally in the air for a quick fix. Store in a cool place.  

I found this spray bottle on Amazon for about $5. They have a nice selection of essential oils as well!

I found this spray bottle on Amazon for about $5. They have a nice selection of essential oils as well!

My attempt at a zen pic of me enjoying my freshly sprayed couch. Feebs wasn’t having it...;-)

My attempt at a zen pic of me enjoying my freshly sprayed couch. Feebs wasn’t having it...;-)

Products: Joriki Yoga

I recently went on a field trip with a charity I support called Pencils of Promise. I, along with some amazing humans, raised money to build a school in Laos. On the trip, I was lucky enough to meet some other amazing humans who did the exact same thing. 

One of these people was the founder of Joriki Yoga For those of you who are not familiar with the brand, they are amazing. The company manufactures stunning yoga wear with beautiful prints from developing countries. Their patterns are inspired by women artisans in impoverished nations from around the world. They contribute a portion of their proceeds to humanitarian organizations that help women and children in these communities. Very impressive. 

Upon my arrival back in the states, I ordered a pair. They are incredibly well made. The fabric is nice and thick, holding you in and not letting anything show through...this is always an issue with yoga wear. The prints are even more stunning in person. Since then, my personal Joriki collection now includes 3 pairs of yoga pants, a super comfy pair of their slouchy pants, backpack, and a bracelet. 

Joriki's price points are on the higher end but rightfully so. Follow them on Instagram as they often run specials and they also offer free shipping on orders over $200. In addition to their pants, they have an awesome selection of tops, jackets and accessories. Stock up!

Yoga & travel with a philanthropic effort? Throw in some pizza and a puppy and they would have the world’s most incredible business model. Thank you Joriki!

The beginning of my Joriki obsession ...

The beginning of my Joriki obsession ...

Camel pose in my Tibetan Prayer Flag pant. Love. 

Camel pose in my Tibetan Prayer Flag pant. Love. 

Recipes: Winter Smoothies

I get a lot of requests for smoothie recipes. I literally start every morning with one of my fruit and veggie smoothies (if I’m traveling or pressed for time, I may just do green juice powder and coconut water). This helps ensure that even if I splurge later in the day, I've done something good for my body first thing. I do change up my smoothies from time to time and during the winter months, I like to add a few extras to pump up my immune system for cold season. Below I have shared my favorite “Winter” Smoothie recipe which includes raw ginger, honey and extra fresh lemon juice for a germ fighting boost. You’ll love this recipe. I’m also posting this at the most perfect time...we’ll all likely need a little nutritional recharge tomorrow morning...;-)

Clean Karma’s Winter Smoothie: Serves 1

1/2 of one banana

1/4 ripe avocado

1 cup favorite frozen fruit (I like to use mixed berries and mango)

1 cup raw spinach

Juice from 1 whole lemon

1 tablespoon raw honey

1 inch piece of raw ginger

1 scoop green juice powder of choice (I use Amazing Grass)

1 tablespoon Chia Seeds

Enough fresh (or store-bought, but good quality ) OJ to blend

Blend all ingredients until very smooth and enjoy!

Drink up!

Drink up!


...and enjoy!

...and enjoy!

Products: A Few Of My Favorite Things...

Every year my very best friends (my soul mates) and I do a secret santa. We use a website called Draw Names and the only rule is that the gift has to be under $25. $25 is not a huge budget but you would be surprised with some of the awesome gift giving options out there. Christmas is just around the corner, so if you're looking for some last minute, budget-friendly gift ideas, this list is for you. Below you'll find options for your favorite yogi, food lovers and spirit junkies. 

Let me know if you have any solid ideas of your own! I'm always on a search for new, fun finds. Happy shopping & Merry Christmas from Clean Karma!

10.) Lemon Juicer $7.49 from Amazon - Y'all know I love my fresh lemon juice. This inexpensive kitchen MUST HAVE is great for juicing both lemons and limes. Awesome for making fresh margaritas...just sayin'.

9.) Kitten Travel Candle $14 from CatBird - The perfect little candle. You'll love the sexy fragrance and convenient packaging.

They have several scent options...Kitten is my personal favorite. 

They have several scent options...Kitten is my personal favorite. 

8.) Energy Mala Bead Bracelets $6 on Etsy - So cute and great for stacking. Quite the steal at $6. Other sites also have great options at slightly higher costs. 

7.) Point Rings $24 from Karma Mantra - I love these rings. Perfect for any crystal lover. 

6.) Mandala Prints $25 from Luxe Wild - These stunning prints are an amazing gift for any spirit junkie or art lover. At $25 a piece they're a hell of a bargain. Right now they have a sale...2 for $35...GO!

So beautiful. Be sure to snag one for yourself!

So beautiful. Be sure to snag one for yourself!

5.) Spiralizer $15.84 from Amazon - I love my spiralizer. A great gift for any home chef.

4.) doTERRA Essential Oil Starter Kit $22 from Amazon WITH A-Z Usage Guide $3 from Kick the Sick - Perfect for anyone looking to explore the world of essential oils or for those who are already hooked. 

Read up!

Read up!

3.) Kimberly Snyder Cookbook $10.99 from Amazon - One of my favorite books. Amazing recipes, tips & tricks and health advice. Vegan centric but also wonderful for those simply looking to include more veggies and less protein/dairy in their diets. 

2.) Brownstone Apron $28 from Owl & Thistle General Store - Ok, so we're a few bucks over on this one but it was too cute not to include. You may need to call in your order as these babies sell out fast online. Check out the rest of their site too...tons of adorable stuff. 

My new favorite kitchen accessory.

My new favorite kitchen accessory.

1.) Aim True Yoga DVD $11.94 from Amazon - My favorite yoga DVD from Kathryn Budig. The Beginner set is only 25 minutes so it's perfect if you're new to yoga and/or pressed for time. The Intermediate set is very challenging. Both sets are fantastic and the DVD includes an interview with Kathryn and a section breaking down more advanced postures. A great gift for any yogi. 

Namaste...

Namaste...

Tips & Tricks: Stay Healthy While Traveling

Hello from Bangkok! Being that this is an extremely travel heavy week for me, I thought it fitting to write up some of my favorite stay healthy tips. Up next I’m headed to Laos to visit a school I fundraised money for last year through an awesome charity, Pencils of Promise. Check out my Give Back page for more details. 

If you have some healthy travel tips of your own, please share! I am all ears! 

1.) Load up on the good stuff. I know it’s hard. If you’re traveling you’re likely on vacay or working, so it’s tough to make sure you’re eating properly. I ALWAYS pack my green juice powder and magnesium pills when I travel. At least if I splurge or I'm in a place (like now) where one has to be weary of fresh fruits and vegetables, I at least started my day with a dose of the green goodness. The magnesium pills are to aid in digestion and keep me regular. We all know what happens to our gut when we travel...

2.) Essential oils. Y’all know I love my essential oils. I pack the following...Oregano to dab outside of my nose and ears on long flights. It’s anti-bacterial and helps keep the germs out. Lavender to relax. It’s hard to sleep on planes and I am not in a position to fly first class every time...maybe one day! :-) Peppermint to keep my sinuses clear and help me sleep and also to help wake up me and cure jet-lag. A few dabs on your chest and neck will go a long way. 

3.) Pack a scarf. It’ll keep you warm on the plane and can help block the germs. I like to dab a little of the aforementioned Oregano oil under my nose, wrap my scarf around my neck up to my nose and dream of pizza. 

4.) Get moving. Just because you’re on a long flight, doesn’t mean you have to just sit there. Walk around a bit! I like to walk to the back of the plane and do a few stretches every hour or two when I’m not napping or binge watching movies. Once you’ve arrived at your destination, don’t completely neglect your work outs either. If you’re going somewhere for more than a few days, you need to make sure you stay active. Go for a run around your new city or take a local yoga class. 

5.) Be a mindful eater. Trust me, I love to eat as much or more as the next person but your system is already a little off if you’re taking a long trip that involves a time change or are in a different country. If you’re traveling internationally, do your research on available foods and what not to eat. This usually involves fresh fruits and vegetables as mentioned above and dairy. Also, try not to over eat and drink a lot of water. You don’t want to make yourself uncomfortable/sick and not be able to enjoy your adventures. Stay hydrated!

Safe & happy travels friends! xoxo

A few of my travel must haves...

A few of my travel must haves...

Hitting the gym at our hotel in Bangkok!

Hitting the gym at our hotel in Bangkok!

Sending lots of love from afar...Peace.

Sending lots of love from afar...Peace.

Recipe: Celery Root & Shallot Bisque

I was doing some recipe testing for Classic City Cooking.  One of the recipes called for a celery root remoulade. I’ve never cooked with celery root before but found it to be delicious and I just happened to have a bunch of it left over. I thought a perfect-for-fall, homemade soup was in order. Celery root is extremely low in calories and I've found it to be one of the most unappreciated vegetables I’ve ever worked with. It’s not only yummy but so good for you. It’s a great source of vitamin K and contains an abundance of essential minerals such as phosphorus, iron, calcium, copper, and manganese. It also contains some B complex vitamins, vitamin C and is high in fiber. 

I found an awesome recipe from Epicurious and did some tweaking based on what I had in my kitchen. The end result was delightful. Pair with a little thyme garlic bread made with olive oil and roasted garlic and you have an easy to make gourmet meal. 

Clean Karma’s Celery Root & Shallot Bisque: Serves 2-4

1/4 cup of olive oil
1/2 cup coarsely chopped shallots (about 3 large)
1 pound celery roots, peeled, woody parts trimmed and discarded, cut into 1/2-inch cubes (about 3 cups)
1 yukon gold potato, peeled, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme
1/2 cup whipping cream
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat.  Add shallots; sauté uncovered 3 minutes. Stir in celery root cubes and potato, then broth and 1 teaspoon thyme. Increase heat to high; bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until vegetables are very tender, about 30 minutes. Cool slightly. Transfer soup to blender and puree until smooth OR use a hand blender (one of my favorite kitchen tools!). Return to a pot over medium heat and stir cream into soup. Bring to a simmer. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Ladle soup into bowls. Sprinkle with additional chopped thyme and serve. Vegans! Feel free to use a non-dairy cream substitute...

Enjoy!

Dinner is served...#noms

Dinner is served...#noms

DYI: Minty-Cinnamon Mouthwash

We love a good mouthwash in our household. Traditional, store-bought versions often contain alcohol, fluoride (great for your teeth but no so great to ingest), and artificial colors and/or sweeteners. Although I love the nice minty kick, I was never fond of the burning sensation I always felt after using them. After a few tweaks and some essential oil testing, I found the DYI recipe below to be a wonderful alternative to store-bought options. My husband really liked the flavor as well. It doesn't burn and it's not as strong as the conventional stuff, but still super effective. Give it a try! Bonus: This recipe is not only natural but extremely cost effective...it’s a win-win!

Please note: Do not ingest and of course, do not use as a substitution for brushing...gargle away!

Clean Karma Minty-Cinnamon Mouthwash: Yields 1-12oz Mason Jar

1 1/2 cups cold, filtered water

1 tablespoon baking soda

5 drops peppermint essential oil

5 drops cinnamon essential oil

Combine all ingredients in a mason jar and shake well. Before each use, shake a bit as the baking soda will settle. Gargle for 60 seconds. Either refrigerate or store in a cool place for up to 1 month.  

All you need for an all-natural, effective DYI mouthwash.

All you need for an all-natural, effective DYI mouthwash.

 

Products: Heavenly Organics

I did it. I’ve discovered healthy candy. I’m being totally serious. I've discovered a candy that tastes fantastic, has only three all-natural ingredients, and is produced in a 100% sustainable, fairly-traded and humane way. Enter Heavenly Organics. Heavenly Organics Chocolate Honey Patties are 100-percent dark chocolate shells, filled with organic, raw white honey, blended with natural flavor. The Pomegranate thus far is my favorite but they also offer Mint, Almond, Ginger and most recently Peanut, Coconut (Yay!) and Double-Dark-Chocolate (Double yay!). The Patties are also gluten, dairy and soy-free and have no added sugar. What’s not to love?

Heavenly Organics also sells their Heavenly Whole-Cane sugar and assorted honeys. Their honeys are wonderful. The white honey (the same honey used the in the aforementioned healthy candy), is my favorite in tea and I can not wait to test it out in my homemade snack bars. Their honeys come to you raw ensuring all of the delicate enzymes and health-promoting qualities are preserved. All of their products reflect the highest standards of purity. Every item is 100% organic and natural. 

You can order online and they even offer a great starter pack that includes one case of each product (their honeys and sugar) at a 10% discount and free shipping. If you’re a baker or are looking to sell the product yourself, this is a great option. We're fast approaching cold season so stock up on these nourishing raw honeys for your hot water, teas, and/or all of your DYI household and beauty needs. Enjoy...in moderation. Healthy candy does not mean you should go and eat the entire bag. Read the labels and pay attention to your serving sizes. These sweet treats go a long way...so let me know what you guys think! I hope you love the products as much as I do. 

My current stash of Heavenly Organic goods. I can not wait to try the rest of the Chocolate Honey Patty flavors. The Almond and Coconut are calling my name...

My current stash of Heavenly Organic goods. I can not wait to try the rest of the Chocolate Honey Patty flavors. The Almond and Coconut are calling my name...

Recipes: Creamy Vegetable Fettuccine

Pasta is everything. I love it. It’s quick, inexpensive and delicious. It’s no wonder so many households considerate it a family favorite. Pasta’s best quality is its flexibility. Like pizza (my other favorite delicacy), you can enjoy it plain or jazz it up with just about anything. Sauces, spices, meats, vegetables, fruit...literally anything to your liking. 

One way I try to balance out my pasta dishes is by adding loads of veggies. I particularly like to “cut” my pasta with homemade veggie “noodles". Veggie “noodles” can be prepared with zucchini, squash and even beets using a spirilizer, grater or peeler. 

The recipe below is a bit of a splurge, as I used heavy cream to make the herb sauce. Feel free to modify as you see fit. You can also use low-fat sour cream or, if you’re a vegan, cashew cream or silken tofu can work well as a heavy cream substitute. Now go ahead and enjoy my Creamy Vegetable Fettucine made with a mix of regular fettuccine and freshly prepared zucchini noodles. 

Clean Karma’s Creamy Vegetable Fettuccine: Serves 4

1 medium zucchini
1 medium summer squash
8 ounces fresh mushrooms
8 ounces uncooked fettuccine
1 cup thinly sliced red onion
1 cup 2% reduced-fat milk
1 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/3 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup chopped fresh tarragon
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Optional: Grated fresh parmesan! 


Shave squashes into pasta-like strips using a spirilizer or peeler; set aside. 
In a medium saucepan, add olive oil and put pan over medium-high heat. Add red onion and cook until just soft. Toss in mushrooms and add a few good dashes of both salt and pepper. Once the mushrooms have browned, set the mushroom and onion mixture aside. 
Bring a large saucepan filled with water to a boil and add 1 teaspoon of salt. Add pasta; cook to al dente. 
While your pasta is cooking, return pan to medium-high heat. Add milk and flour; bring to a boil. Cook 1 minute or until slightly thickened, stirring constantly. Stir in cream; cook for 1 minute. Add mushroom and onion mixture, pasta and squash “noodles” stirring to coat. Stir in the herbs and remaining salt and pepper. Serve immediately. Salt and pepper as needed. 

Gettin’ my spiralizer ready!

Gettin’ my spiralizer ready!

So delicious. Enjoy!

So delicious. Enjoy!

Tips & Tricks: Essential Oil Cure Alls

Those who know me well, know I’m not a big fan of taking pills or over the counter meds. I avoid the doctor like the plague and prefer to either find DYI options or simply suffer through. I personally do not believe in a 100% holistic lifestyle as in many instances, my aforementioned dislikes are a must. I have however found there are many natural ways to cure minor illnesses and discomforts. Enter my new found love for essential oils.

I started reading up on essential oils after I found many of my natural nighttime beauty products contained lavender. Although I’m still a bit of a newbie on the essential oil bandwagon, I've found the following to be must-haves. Not only do they truly work in the ways I’ve described below, but they smell delicious and are wonderful for adding to candles and DYI cleaners. Some are even great to use as a natural perfume e.g. Rose, Lavender etc. There are many different brands and price points, so get googling and find the ones that work best for you. Comment or email me with other yummy essential oil recs!

1.) Rose: I adore rose oil. I use it as perfume, in candles and cleaners and most importantly on my skin. Rose oil has been used for centuries in skincare and is perfect for dry or aging skin. I use it often in the winter months. Did I mention it smells amazing?

2.) Lavender: Lavender oil is best known for it’s calming and relaxing qualities. I use lavender oil when I’m having trouble sleeping (great on long flights!) and for when I’m experiencing shoulder/back tension (which is sadly often). You’ll also find this oil in tons of natural beauty products as it’s also known to help with skin irritations.

3.) Peppermint: I literally just discovered peppermint oil and I’m in love. It can cure a headache in minutes. Just put a small dab on each of your temples, massage in, close your eyes and breathe deep. Voila! This oil is also particularly amazing for muscle pain. I swear it works just like icy hot. If you’re congested it can help clear breathing and promotes respiratory functions. Try adding it to DYI toothpaste or other DYI products for a minty, fresh scent. 

4.) Ginger: The oil, like its raw counterpart, can help cure nausea and stomach upsets. It aids in overall digestion so it’s a great oil to have on hand...especially if you’re like me and love to splurge on all things delicious. 

5.) Oregano: I heard about the benefits of oregano oil from a fellow yogi. She said she uses it when flying on her nose and around her ears (just a dab), to help prevent colds. Oregano oil is chock full of antioxidants and is antibacterial so it’s excellent for travelers and to have around for “sick season”. I always have it in my travel bag. I’ve also read it works well as a cleansing agent so I plan to start using it in some of my DYI cleansers as well. 

My current stash...

My current stash...

Products: The Perfect Polish

I used to bite my nails when I was young. I quickly learned from my grandmother and Aunt Sharon that this was a big no-no. Once I hit my teen years, I finally kicked the habit and learned how to give myself mani-pedis and enjoyed the occasional treat of going out to the salon. Since then, I constantly wear polish on both my finger and toe nails. I don’t think I've gone more than a couple of hours without polish on in over 10 years. Although my nails always looked on point, I started to notice them becoming discolored and a bit brittle. Nail polish has come a long way in recent years. My lovely manicurist at Polish Beauty Bar in Manhattan explained to me that most nail polishes used to have the “Toxic Trio”. Dibutyl Phthalate (DBP), Toluene and Formaldehyde...Yikes! Many polishes nowadays do not contain these ingredients and are considered 3 FREE. The most recent round of “toxic free” polishes are now called 5 FREE and are also free of Formaldehyde Resin and Camphor. This of course does not mean one should constantly wear nail polish (like I had been doing in the past...). It’s always good to give your body a break from ANY products and truly go au naturale. I decided when doing my nails at home (which is 90% of the time), I was going to start using natural (AKA 5 FREE) polish and removers to help keep my nails (and body) healthy. Enter Priti NYC.

Priti NYC  is 5 FREE, made in the USA and “hand poured with love”. The colors are stunning! My favorite is the 127-Blush Noisette for my hands and the 630-Love Lies Bleeding for my toes. The polish holds up well and dries quickly. What’s not to love?! You can purchase directly from their website above or there are also a few select colors available on Amazon. Enjoy beauties!

My faves...

My faves...

I love going with natural colors on my nails. SO much easier to maintain and mess ups are easily hidden. Hey, nobody’s perfect...;-)

I love going with natural colors on my nails. SO much easier to maintain and mess ups are easily hidden. Hey, nobody’s perfect...;-)

Recipes: Paneer Makhani from IndieTravel

Thank you to guest blogger, Maureen Mizrahi at IndieTravel for this fantastic recipe. IndieTravel is a blog about traveling as way of life. Maureen and Salo were bitten by the travel bug and started their journey back in 2013. Since then they've been blogging about the wonders they see along the way; new adventures, new people, special locations, photography and anything related to traveling, culture and living outside the box. Check out their website to join in on the adventure and enjoy the recipe below! You can also follow them on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram...

My time spent in India was nothing less than an unforgettable adventure. I had the honor of engulfing myself in the culture and exploring all that this beautiful country has to offer. During my 3 months travel I got to experience its rich history that has established its well defined culture, the friendly people and of course, the food! Whether in the small villages or around the big cities, walking down the streets of India was a real treat. They're so lively and the aromas escaping from local Dhabas is the perfect representation of India’s culinary diversity. One of the most memorable dishes (and probably my favorite) from my travels is paneer makhani. Paneer makhani, also known as paneer butter masala, is a classic northern paneer dish packed with robust flavors. It consists of cubed cheese in a tomato based gravy that is rich, mildly spicy, a little sweet and surprisingly easy to make at home. Here’s how...

IndieTravel’s Paneer Makhani: Serves 2-3
* Paneer cheese is more common in India and Southeast Asia so you can either make your own with milk, lemon juice, vinegar and salt or substitute with farmer’s cheese, cottage cheese or tofu (for vegetarians).
* If you’d like to make a non-dairy vegan version of the paneer makhani, simply add Tofu instead of cheese and use all the ingredients besides the dairy ones.

•    1 cup paneer cheese or selected alternative, cut into 1 inch cubes
•    ½ cup whole milk
•    ½ cup water
•    6 cashews
•    4 garlic cloves, mashed
•    3 ripe tomatoes, blanched
•    2 green chilies, halved
•    2 medium yellow onions, finely chopped
•    1 bay leaf
•    2 tablespoons canola, olive or vegetable oil
•    1-2 tablespoons cream
•    1 tablespoon ground coriander
•    2 teaspoons dried fenugreek leaves (kasuri methi)
•    1 ½ teaspoons red chili powder
•    1 teaspoon fresh ginger
•    ½ teaspoon garam masala powder
•    Pinch of granulated sugar
•    Salt, to taste
•    Chopped fresh cilantro, for garnish
•    Butter, for serving
•    Rotis, for serving

Start by soaking the cashews in water. They will be used to make a paste which will give the dish a nutty taste. As the cashews are soaking add the chopped onion, garlic and ginger to a food processor and process for a few seconds until a paste forms. You do not want chunks of onion and garlic in the gravy. Once that is done, add the tomatoes to a blender or food processor. Blend to make a puree. Complete your prep by grinding the soaked cashews to form a paste.

Drizzle the oil in a medium pan and heat over medium. Brown the onion paste in the pan along with the bay leaf. Color has to develop because color builds flavor. Place the green chili into the pan along with the red chili powder once the paste has browned. Sauté while stirring for 30 seconds or so. The paste will begin to take on a reddish hue. 

Add the cashew paste and cook for 2-3 minutes. From here, pour in the tomato paste and cook for 3-4 minutes. Follow this by adding the coriander and garam masala. Make sure the spices are well distributed before pouring in the milk and water. Stir and cook for 5 minutes. At this point you can add the dried fenugreek leaves, sugar and the paneer. Allow the gravy to cook for a few more minutes so it has a chance to thicken. Once thickened, stir in the cream.

Now that the dish is complete, season to taste with salt and garnish with cilantro if desired. Serve with rotis and butter. 

Photo: IndieTravel

Photo: IndieTravel

DYI: Moisturizing Avocado Face Mask

I've recently found this to be my favorite DYI face mask. I haven’t bought a store-bought mask in years. I used to get regular facials but have found with the right products and whipping up my masks at home, there’s really no need. You’ll likely have most of the ingredients on hand and know exactly what you’re putting on your skin. Store-bought masks and monthly facials can also add up major $$$, so this mask is clearly a DYI no-brainer.

Why this mask works? Avocado's contain vitamin E, healthy fats and antioxidants to keep your skin smooth and supple. I love this mask before and/or after a long flight or during the winter months to help keep my face moisturized. The lemon juice and apple cider vinegar contain citric acid which brightens your skin tone and reduces redness. Both ingredients also contain natural cleansing properties to help keep breakouts at bay. Honey can also help brighten and cleanse the skin in addition to it’s natural antibacterial properties...In short, everything in this mask will love your skin to pieces.

Clean Karma’s Moisturizing Avocado Face Mask: Yields about half a cup

½ avocado
1 tablespoon raw apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon organic, raw (if possible) honey
1 teaspoon lemon juice

Combine ingredients in a bowl and apply to your face (Or any area in need of a little love. Think body breakouts...).
Let the magic happen for about 10-15 mins.
Rinse with warm water.
Follow with moisturizer if desired. 

The goods. Frankly, these are staples in the Kocher household. 

The goods. Frankly, these are staples in the Kocher household. 

Sexy right? I promise, your skin will thank you... 

Sexy right? I promise, your skin will thank you... 

Tips & Tricks: Yoga with an Injury

As many of you know, I love yoga. Not only for its physical benefits, but also for its magical mental side effects; the idea of staying calm, taking deep breaths and having a few precious moments to yourself. I enjoy the many levels of yoga; the process starting as a beginner and watching your form improve and change with constant practice. Yoga really is for everyone.

In the midst of moving two weeks ago, I fractured my foot while carrying a floor lamp. Lame right? I have to keep it wrapped and engulfed in a walking boot for a few weeks. Not an ideal situation, but stuff happens and life goes on. I’m so thankful it’s only a fracture and that I did not need a cast and crutches. An injury like this definitely puts limits on what I can do day-to-day, especially pertaining to my workouts. I’ve been maintaining a slightly less robust routine with arm weights, light walking (with the boot on of course) and basic yoga postures and breathing exercises. 

If you’re suffering from a foot/ankle injury and want to keep up your yoga routine, the following poses are for you. These can also be executed as beginner poses if you’re just starting out or trying to quickly squeeze in a solid stretch and/or breathing sequence. Please keep in mind that some injuries are more severe and you may be better off taking a break and allowing your body to rest. Always take extra care when coming in and out of your postures, paying special attention to your injured limb. Have a chat with your doctor if you’re unsure about your capabilities. 

Be safe and stay healthy.

Standing Forward Bend:

Allow yourself to hang. Take in a few deep breaths and really stretch it out. I often put my hands under my feet or around my calves for a deep stretch. 

Allow yourself to hang. Take in a few deep breaths and really stretch it out. I often put my hands under my feet or around my calves for a deep stretch. 

Cat Pose:

This is a great stretch for your back and neck. Be careful not to force your chin to your chest but instead, gently round your spine and drop the top of your head to the floor. 

This is a great stretch for your back and neck. Be careful not to force your chin to your chest but instead, gently round your spine and drop the top of your head to the floor. 

Cow Pose:

I always pair this pose with Cat Pose (above) on the exhale for a relaxing, flowing vinyasa. Be sure to draw your shoulders down. You can’t see due to my flowly shirt, but you should really let your belly hang and stomach muscles relax. 

I always pair this pose with Cat Pose (above) on the exhale for a relaxing, flowing vinyasa. Be sure to draw your shoulders down. You can’t see due to my flowly shirt, but you should really let your belly hang and stomach muscles relax. 

Boat Pose:

I love grabbing my ankles and pulling up my legs for a good, deep stretch. Release your hands and hold to help build core muscles. I like to hold this pose for a least 20 seconds. Depending on your injury, you may need to keep your feet flat as opposed to pointed. 

I love grabbing my ankles and pulling up my legs for a good, deep stretch. Release your hands and hold to help build core muscles. I like to hold this pose for a least 20 seconds. Depending on your injury, you may need to keep your feet flat as opposed to pointed. 

Seated Forward Bend:

When you have a foot or ankle injury, seated postures are your friends. Feel free to bend your legs if needed and flex your feet back (as much as possible) to increase the stretch. 

When you have a foot or ankle injury, seated postures are your friends. Feel free to bend your legs if needed and flex your feet back (as much as possible) to increase the stretch. 

Wide Angle Seated Forward Bend:

This one is a little tougher for me as I’m tight in my inner thighs. All the more reason to do this pose often! Again, flex your feet back and release your neck. 

This one is a little tougher for me as I’m tight in my inner thighs. All the more reason to do this pose often! Again, flex your feet back and release your neck. 

Legs on the Wall:

I love this posture. It’s particularly nice as it helps to relieve foot and leg pain. You can use an actual wall, throw your legs up there and relax. Deep breaths...

I love this posture. It’s particularly nice as it helps to relieve foot and leg pain. You can use an actual wall, throw your legs up there and relax. Deep breaths...

Savasana:

Ahhhhhh...everyone’s favorite pose. See my smiling face? It’s essential that the body be placed in a neutral position and you allow your hands and feet to relax and turn out. Namaste.

Ahhhhhh...everyone’s favorite pose. See my smiling face? It’s essential that the body be placed in a neutral position and you allow your hands and feet to relax and turn out. Namaste.

Recipes: Cheesy Egg & Avocado Toasts

Busy? This is hands down my favorite quick & easy meal. I make this often for lunch and at dinnertime when my husband is working late. When put together correctly with healthy, high-quality ingredients, Avocado Toasts can be a fantastic, quick and inexpensive meal option. Avocados are full of healthy fats, dietary fiber and are an excellent source of potassium (containing more per weight than bananas). In addition, avocados are rich in vitamin K, vitamin B9, vitamin B6, vitamin B5 vitamin C, and vitamin E2. I love the addition of eggs and cheese as it bulks up the dish and of course adds a heavenly taste. If you’re vegan, feel free to skip the egg and use vegan cheese or even no cheese at all. Other nice additions include tomatoes, cucumbers, onions and/or radishes! For my meat eaters out there, adding a little organic ground turkey, your favorite sausage or bacon is quite a treat. Take it upon yourself to go nuts and make the recipe your own!

Clean Karma’s Cheesy Egg & Avocado Toasts: Serves 2 (or 1 if you’re super hungry)

2 slices of whole grain or gluten-free bread (I like Ezekiel Sprouted Grain!)

1 ripe avocado                                                                                                                                      

2 slices organic American cheese (or any cheese of choice)  

2 organic, pasture-raised eggs (if possible)  

2 tablespoons olive oil (enough to lightly coat your pan twice)  

Dash red pepper flakes      

Kosher salt & pepper to taste

Start with a nice drizzle of olive oil in a hot pan. Add bread slices and toast until golden brown. Flip bread and quickly add your cheese to melt. Turn down heat and allow the other side of the bread to slowly toast up. While your bread is toasting, slice open your avocado and spoon out the goods in a small bowl. Add red pepper flakes, salt and pepper. Mash up your avocado until chunky but spreadable. Take your toasts off the pan and plate. Re-oil your pan and add your eggs. I like to lightly fry my eggs and leave the yolk just a touch runny, but feel free to cook up the eggs to your liking. Spread the avocado mash on your cheese toasts and top with eggs. Add another dash of salt and pepper and eat up!

Avocado, eggs and cheese at their best...You’re going to love this recipe. Enjoy!

Avocado, eggs and cheese at their best...You’re going to love this recipe. Enjoy!

Tips & Tricks: Eat Wild

I’ve tried the vegan/vegetarian thing. I'm all about a plant-based diet but found I simply feel better with a little meat and dairy in my diet. Plus I’m pretty obsessed with seafood and in love with all things cheese. I work in the culinary/hospitality industry in Manhattan, so a restrictive diet is not conducive to my lifestyle. I do, however, try and be very careful about where my animal products come from. I buy “organic" and "free-range” whenever possible but know often times these labels can be miss-leading. How sad is it that we have to monitor our food this closely?! I personally wish food laws, restrictions and codes were more clear, firm and concrete. Until that happens, I choose to pay extra attention as to where my food comes from. I was researching local farms a couple of years back and found an amazing website I wanted to share with you guys. EatWild is jam. This wonderful site breaks down local, grass-fed, pasture-based farms where you can place orders and have your meats, eggs and dairy shipped right to your door. The farm's pages include information about each location and many even invite you to come look around and/or purchase on-site. 

EatWild was founded more than 10 years ago. It's mission was to promote the benefits—to consumers, farmers, animals, and the planet—of choosing meat, eggs, and dairy products from 100% grass-fed animals or other non-ruminant animals fed their natural diets. Today it is the #1 clearing house for information about pasture-based farming and features a state-by-state directory of local farmers who sell directly to consumers. The prices may be slightly higher than conventional grocery stores but it’s 100% worth it. You can tell a massive difference in the appearance and taste but more importantly, these animals experience a comfortable quality of life and are treated humanely every step of the way, even through the slaughter process. EatWild even has a fabulous cookbook and provides website readers with tidbits of information including foodie news, grass-fed basics and food safety. Check them out!

You can order their cookbook directly from the website. Order away!

You can order their cookbook directly from the website. Order away!

Live (and eat!) on the wild side...

Live (and eat!) on the wild side...

Products: Nature’s Gate Glow Lotion

Who doesn’t love a bronzed summer glow? I’m half Korean, half Irish and I definitely owe my fair skin and freckles to my Irish side. Back in my early days, I would hit the tanning beds like so many others in an attempt to look as tan as possible, year around! We all know about the potential side effects (and high costs!) of tanning beds. After college, I started using self-tanners and gradual bronzing lotions to give myself a little color. The products I used worked quite well. They were much less expensive than the tanning beds as well as less time consuming than trying to find a place to lay out. Although I was getting my glow on, my skin started to break out. Nothing major, but at times my arms and legs would get very dry and I would start to feel small bumps on my skin. Not summer sexy. I attributed this to the fact that these lotions are often times chock full of harsh, dehydrating ingredients and preservatives. I decided to search for a more natural option. 

Enter: Nature’s Gate Glow Lotion. I researched natural tanning locations, read reviews and found this lovely product right on Amazon.  You can order it for light or medium skin tones and the large 16 oz. bottle will put you back about $13. Nice. I use this year round. For best results, dry scrub and then shower before applying. Shine on!

Allure.com even named Nature’s Gate Glow one of their “Best of” products for summer!

Allure.com even named Natures Gate Glow one of their Best of products for summer!

Go ahead and give it a glow...(see what I did there? ;-))

Go ahead and give it a glow...(see what I did there? ;-))