Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Happy Birthday Busu

3.5 months after my husband and I got married we decided to get a dog. After doing tons of research I decided on the Whippet or Italian Greyhound breeds. Luck was on our side and we found a Whippet/Jack Russell Terrier mix at Sean Casey Animal Rescue in Brooklyn, NY. We named her Busu ("Kiss" in Swahili) because she is uber friendly and gives kisses (ie licks) to everyone she meets.

It's been two years since she's joined our home. Two years full of lots of love, laughs and joy. To anyone wondering if they should get a dog, I encourage you to research options and make it work :) And when you do I highly recommend Sean Casey Animal Rescue or your local shelter.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Anyone there?

It seems most people find my blog when searching for a particular term/topic. My most popular post is the one I wrote about our dog - Busu, our whippet/jack russell terrier beauty - with 3,091 page views. I guess a lot of people are searching the terms whippet & jack russell terrier.

However, the non-search wielding page views are in the teens. Which leads me to the question "Is anyone actually reading this?' ..... "Is anyone there?"

If you read my blog often, can you take my poll (on the right side panel)?


Friday, September 28, 2012

Vegan Okonomiyaki (Japanese savory pancakes)

my vegan Okonomiyaki
"Okonomiyaki, is a Japanese savoury pancake containing a random variety of ingredients. The name is derived from the word okonomi, meaning "what you like/want" and yaki meaning "grilled" or "cooked". Okonomiyaki is mainly associated with Kansai or Hiroshima areas of Japan, but is widely available throughout the country. Toppings and batters tend to vary according to region."

some get creative with toppings
Most Okonomiyaki recipes require eggs and seafood. However, I found this great recipe for vegan Okonomiyaki on the blog Your Vegan Mom (reprinted from the cookbook Japanese Cooking: Contemporary & Traditional [Simple, Delicious, and Vegan]). I love the use of veggies and whole wheat pastry flour (making it a healthy meal).

2 cups water (I used a vegan bouillon cube)
1/4 pound regular tofu (or about 1/2 cup)
2 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
4 or 5 cups thinly sliced vegetables (I used broccoli, onions and mushrooms)
Puree the water and tofu in a blender until smooth.
Combine the flour, salt, and baking powder in a large bowl, and mix well.  Pour in the liquid mixture, and mix lightly.  Add the vegetables and mix well to combine.

Cook large pancakes on a lightly oiled skillet or griddle over medium-low heat until browned on both sides.  Serve while hot with soy sauce or tonkatsu sauce (I used sweet chili sauce)

Yield: 4 - 6 servings

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Run 10 Feed 10: a 10K to close my racing season

Today I ran my last race for this 2012 running season. I didn't PR, running the 10K in 46:54 (7:33 pace) but I was really close to my June PR at 46:34. A nice twist being that my time today placed me in the top 3% of all finishers (1.6% of all females) :)

My favorite part of this race was the cause, Run 10 Feed 10, my entry fee went to feeding 10 people in the NYC area. Granted I'm not sure it's the most financially efficient way given all the money spent on advertising etc.....but in the end I was going to run a 10K in September anyway so why not have some of the money go to a good cause. Plus I like the race swag bag.

The course was slightly boring -> an out and back setup on West Side Highway with almost no spectators. However, I still enjoyed myself. Now with this racing season over, time to up my yoga practice from once a week to 2-3x a week and reduce my miles. 

Monday, September 17, 2012

Wanderlust Outdoor Yoga

Last Sunday (Sept 9), I had my first outdoor yoga experience….and I loved it! I even convinced my husband (who has only done yoga twice in his life) to join me. The FREE outdoor yoga festival was hosted by Wanderlust. The location and weather was perfect, sunshine by the waterfront in Chelsea Piers. The 90-minute session was 3-part experience.

The first instructor (Kelly Morris) led with a beautiful exercise requiring each of us to turn to the person next to us and ask them to describe something they are struggling with in their lives in 1-3 words. Then our job was to dedicate our yoga practice to that person and meditate on their struggle. Doing yoga took on a much deeper meaning for me after doing this…..and I found myself sending out my positive intentions with every breath.

The second instructor (Kay Kay Clivio) was my favorite in terms of leading a yoga class. She perfectly blended the pace with focus on breath and intentions. The moment that stays in my mind is when we were all doing tree pose…..100+ people all in the same position, heads lifted towards the sky, sun rays streaming down and feeling the grounding power of the earth.

The third instructor turned the session into a dance class. We left soon after she started. But 60 minutes of yoga bliss was more than enough :)

I strongly recommend everyone try to find an opportunity to practice yoga outdoors!

Friday, September 7, 2012

Homemade Almond Milk (part II - how to blanch almond)

Last week I made almond milk using store brought blanched almonds and coconut water (read about this deliciousness here). This week I decided to save money and use only raw almonds (the blanched ones cost ~$2 more), water and 4 dates. So I Googled and learned how to blanched almonds myself!

How to Blanch Almonds:
~ Place almonds in a bowl

~ Pour boiling water to barely cover almonds
~ Let the almonds sit for 1 minute and no longer (or they lose their crispness)
~ Drain, rinse under cold water, and drain again
~ Pat dry and slip the skins off

Truth be told the whole process took about 20 minutes for 2.5 cups of almonds. It's quite time consuming to take all the skins off. They slip off super easy but when you have a lot of almonds the seconds add up. Next time I'm going to try using a garlic peeler to try to speed up the process.

I did discover that although almond milk made with coconut water scores a 9.5/10 (taste bud wise). Homemade almond milk with water is still really good....and much better than the store brought variety.

Now if only I could find a cheap organic supplier of raw almonds. Any suggestions????

PS. I highly recommend buying a nut milk bag if you plan on making almond milk frequently. It cut down the straining time significantly.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Hiking Black Rock Forest (and other weekend activities)

The hubby and I had another packed weekend

Friday – Dinner with hubby’s medical school friends
Saturday – A fundraising event for TETEA (Tanzanian Empowerment Through Education Association) turned into a lovely Peace Corps reunion. We even cooked some delicious chipsi mayai
SundayBrunch Devotional with some Brooklyn Baha’i friends
Monday – We took our doggy with us to visit my parents and hike Black Rock Forest. Busu loved running around the trails with us for 3.5 hours. We loved the views and fresh air. I adore the feeling of being surrounded by nature (we only saw 10 other hikers and 4 dogs the entire time). To find trails in the NY/NJ/CT area check out this great resource

Monday, August 27, 2012

Homemade Almond Milk (with coconut water)

Almond coconut milk

This article in Veg News magazine inspired me to try making my own almond milk. Mylkman founder, Jeff Leaf delivers fresh almond milk made with almonds and coconut water to customers in the Los Angeles area ($14 for 32-oz delivery). Since I don’t live in LA and was really curious how the mixture of almond and coconut milk would taste, I made my own!

The whole process is relatively easy. The most time/labor is spent straining out the almond bits with cheese cloth. The taste is super delicious. Next week, I’m going to try making plain almond milk (sans coconut) to determine how much of the deliciousness is because it’s homemade vs. because I added coconut water.

2 cup blanched almonds
water for soaking nuts
2 cups filtered water
2 cups coconut water
2 dates

Soak the almonds in water overnight or for at least 6 hours.
Drain the water from the almonds and discard. Blend the 4 cups of coconut/water, almonds and dates until well blended and almost smooth.
Strain the blended almond mixture using a cheesecloth or other strainer.
Homemade almond milk will keep well in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.

Cheese cloth straining
Read my part II - how to blanch almonds

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Quinoa Cranberry Salad

Quinoa Cranberry Salad
Dried Cranberries
Salad dresssing

Bring water to boil (about twice the amount of quinoa), add quinoa, simmer for ~25 minutes or until tender
Chop spinach
Top spinach with quinoa, dried cranberries, salad dressing

Friday, August 17, 2012

Spaghetti Squash

Healthy meal with minimal prep =  Spaghetti Squash topped with pasta sauce, sauteed Smart Ground veggie protein crumbles and daiya mozzarella cheese.

Spaghetti Squash has 1/5 the calories of regular pasta and 1/4 the amount of carbohydrates. You can read more about the nutritional comparison here.


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
Cut squash in half (lengthwise), scoop out and discard seeds
Lightly grease a baking sheet
Place spaghetti squash cut sides down on the prepared baking sheet
Bake for 30 minutes or until a sharp knife can be inserted with only a little resistance
Remove squash from oven, and set aside to cool enough to be easily handled
Spoon out spaghetti strands and add toppings

Friday, August 10, 2012

Baked Zucchini Fries with Sriracha Sauce

Baked Zucchini Fries
Fry making station
We had a lot of zucchini left over from last week's CSA so I googled the words "zucchini" and "bake" to figure out what to do with them. I found a great recipe on Vegan Happy Hour's site for Zucchini fries. I decided to bake them instead and made a spicy dipping sauce.....

Baked Zucchini Fries
~ 2 medium sized zucchinis cut into spears (leave the skin on)
~ 1/2 cup flour
~ 1/2 tsp salt
~ 1/4 tsp pepper
~ 1 cup breadcrumbs
~ 3/4 cup water
~ 1 tbsp ground flax seeds combined with 3 tbsp water microwaved for 45-60 seconds (mimics an egg)
Preheat the oven to 350*F degrees.

Put the cup of water/flax mix in a bowl, the flour, salt and pepper into another bowl, and the bread crumbs in a larger bowl or shallow dish.

Dip the zucchini spears into the water/flax mix, letting the excess run off, then dredge in the flour mixture and let dry for about 2 minutes.  Dip the zucchini spears into the water/flax mix once more then dredge in the breadcrumbs until the entire surface of the spears are covered.

Oil the baking dish with vegetable oil. Place the zucchini fries in the dish and bake for 45-55 minutes.

Dipping Sauce: mix Vegenaise (I used Follow Your Heart's reduced fat vegan mayo) with Sriracha.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Kirani "Jaguar" James, making all Grenadians proud

Kirani James post victory
My father is from Grenada, a beautiful country in the Caribbean. Although it's a small country of ~110,000 people, it's famous for its picturesque beaches (including the rare black and white sand variety), rivers, waterfalls, rainforests and mountain lakes. I've always loved and embraced my Grenadian side, the majestic Island of Spice (one of the world's largest exporter of nutmeg and mace).

Watching Kirani James represent Grenada in the 2012 Olympics over the past few days has brought great pride and happiness to not just Grenadians but sports fan around the world. Not only did Kirani's superb 400m performance win Grenada our first medal in history, a gold one at that......but Kirani did it was such class and grace.  Sunday, immediately after winning his heat for the 400m semi-finals Kirani "Jaguar" James asks Oscar "Blade Runner" Pistorious (the first double amputee to compete in the Olympic games) to exchange bibs with him. Today, directly after winning the 400m final in 43.94 seconds Kirani shakes every racer's hand before beginning to celebrate his victory. 

James said of Pistorius, “He’s very special to our sport. He’s a great individual - it’s time we see him like that and not anything else.”.... Pistorius called James a “phenomenal competitor” and said that trading the name bibs was “what the Olympic spirit is all about.”  (Today in London)

400m semi-finals: Kirani and Oscar exchange
I just go out there and just try to do my best in terms of representing my country in a positive way. As long as I do that, they are going to be proud of me, and as long as they are proud of me I’m happy with that. But just being there and this being an Olympic gold medal, this is a huge step for our country in terms of stepping up to the plate in track and field, just going out there and putting us on the map.” (NY Times)

Kirani is now the only sprinter from outside the United States to break the 44-second barrier. At 19, Kirani has a very promising career ahead of him. As some focus on if he will be able to beat Michael Johnson’s 13-year-old world record of 43.18 seconds, I'm already so proud I'm bursting at the seams ;)

Kirani won by a sizable margin

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Do you have enough?

Great article on The Atlantic: What My Son's Disabilities Taught Me About 'Having It All'. The author encourages us to stop asking "Do I have it all?" and instead ask "Do I have enough?"

Reading Marie Myung-Ok Lee's article reminded me of a quote that I memorized to say whenever I need to remember to be joyous/positive: "If we are not happy and joyous at this season, for what other season shall we wait and for what other time shall we look?...Be calm, be strong, be grateful, and become a lamp full of light, that the darkness of sorrows be annihilated, and the sun of everlasting joy arise from the dawning place of heart and soul, shining brightly." ~`Abdu'l-Bahá

My favorite snippets from Marie Myung-Ok Lee's article:
"When I look at friends and acquaintances, many with perfectly beautiful children and wonderful lives, and see how desperately unhappy or stressed they are about balancing work and family, I think to myself that the solution to many problems is deceptively obvious. We are chasing the wrong things, asking ourselves the wrong questions. It is not, "Can we have it all?" -- with "all" being some kind of undefined marker that shall forever be moved upwards out of reach just a little bit with each new blessing. We should ask instead, "Do we have enough?" 

[W]hat bothers me is the implicit expectation: that people are waiting for our inevitable breakdown, a breast-beating howl against fate that is sure to come once we realize we'll truly never "have it all" -- because of our imperfect son.........For all the people who are puzzled by my seeming happiness, I'll be glad to let them know my "secret." I'm not in denial, I'm not on antidepressants, and I don't live in a fantasy world. I have a wonderful husband and I am pursuing a career I've dreamed of since I was nine years old. I have a beautiful son, friends, and a working stove. I am not paraplegic. I have parents who, through luck and fate, had me here in the United States, and not in North Korea. I live in a time where my awful vision can be corrected with glasses. I am a college graduate. I am never hungry unless I choose to be. Do I have enough? Resoundingly: yes. And I ask you to take a moment: I suspect you might, too."

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Teavana Cast Iron Tea Set: Elephants and green tea

After months of research and one failed attempt I finally found my ideal tea set, Teavana's Elephant Cast Iron Teapot and Hobnail tea cups. "The Elephant is a symbol of the strength of the mind in Buddhism teachings, as well as astuteness, strength and stature, wisdom, patience, courage and luck."

Teavana Elephant Cast Iron Tea Set

My review: * * * * * (5/5 stars). The elephants remind my husband and I of Tanzania, the country where we met. The detailing of the family of elephants and mix of red/black color is very well done. The pot is heavy as cast iron is supposed to be, plus I wanted something that would lasts years without breaking. The pot keeps tea hot for at least 1 hour. The steel mesh does not go all the way to the bottom of the pot so if I need to make less than 30-40 oz I use disposable tea filters. The hobnail design on the tea cups makes them much easier to hold/grip than the others I tried out. 

Teapot Product description : Enameled on the inside for years of use, preventing rust and oxidization, and is equipped with a stainless steel mesh infuser for use with loose-leaf tea, the ideal way to brew. 40oz (1.2L) capacity. Made in Japan
Tea cup product description: These cast iron cups feature a traditional Japanese hobnail design, which symbolizes strength, and is painted on the outside and enameled on the inside with a 3-ounce capacity. Made in Japan. 

Beautiful but full of lead
What I've learned from this whole saga is to be extremely wary of products containing lead - I tried to go the exotic traveler's route at first. I purchased a tea set in a local market in Akka, Israel for about $30. One seller warned me that the cheaper products contain lead. We ignored him, assuming he was trying to get us to buy his more expensive ceramics. However when we returned to NYC the lead test was positive (we used 3M-LeadCheck Swabs). Guess we'll be using the beautiful ceramics as decoration only :(

Teavana has multiple locations (, but I visited their store on Lexington and East 87th.
1291 Lexington Ave.
New York, 10028

Friday, July 27, 2012

Ziggy Marley: I'm a Runner

I am loving Runner's World piece on Ziggy Marley - "I'm more satisfied with natural highs. And running satisfies me in that aspect."....Click the video below to watch

If you haven't heard his music before, check out my favorite two Ziggy Marley songs:
Beach in Hawaii
Love is my religion 

Friday, July 20, 2012

Brooklyn hero: some happy news for your week

I have an obsession/interest with trying to be informed. I read my favorite news source The Economist every week. I browse Foreign Policy's Morning Brief daily. I laugh through The Daily Show (although with US politics it's more of a cry/laugh). Unfortunately the way the world is all this information can weigh on one's soul. So I love it when I come across a happy making story.

This week's happy story is about Stephen St. Bernard, a Brooklyn resident who caught a falling girl and saved her life. He even suffered a torn tendon in his shoulder from the event. I personally love how he thanked God that he was able to catch her.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

An anniversary of Yin and Yang

Wedding in Central Park
July 17, 2010 in Central Park surrounded by our loved ones and beautiful weeping willows overlooking the water, my husband and I were married "in the heaven of Thy mercy". Blessed "that from the union of these two seas of love a wave of tenderness may surge". I’m so grateful that I found the love of my life in 2007 in a small town in the beautiful Tanzania. Together we are Yin and Yang. In fact, once people get to know us this is often what they say. And not just because we’re a biracial couple ;)

“At its heart are the two poles of existence, which are opposite but complementary. The light, white Yang moving up blends into the dark, black Yin moving down. Yin and Yang are dependent opposing forces that flow in a natural cycle, always seeking balance. Though they are opposing, they are not in opposition to one another. As part of the Tao, they are merely two aspects of a single reality. Each contains the seed of the other, which is why we see a black spot of Yin in the white Yang and vice versa. They do not merely replace each other but actually become each other through the constant flow of the universe."
~ Aaron Hoopes, Zen Yoga: A Path to Enlightenment though Breathing, Movement and Meditation

Friday, July 6, 2012

Veggie BBQ

Clockwise starting top right: Marinated portobellos, bean salad, grilled corn
The hubbie, dog and I traveled to Westchester to spend the Fourth of July with my family. We had a great time enjoying the fresh air, eating BBQ food that we made, sitting by the pool, playing with my nephews and watching our dog run around the backyard high on life.

Here's the recipe for the delicious marinated BBQ portobello mushrooms I made:

Busu enjoying Westchester life
-1 sweet onion
- balsamic vinegar (glaze or dressing is better because it's thicker)
-Gorgonzola cheese
-1 garlic head
- 5-8 portobello mushrooms

- Pre-heat oven to 400*F
- Cut off the top of the garlic head, wrap in foil with olive oil and bake for 20-30 mins until roasted
-Saute cut onions in a pan
- Add garlic, vinegar and cheese to the onions - - Simmer all ingredients until cheese melts
- Remove from heat and pour over mushrooms
- Marinate mushrooms overnight in the fridge

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Haifa, Israel - Baha'i Pilgrimage

"In brief, all in the Garden were recipients of the choicest bounties and in the end expressed their thanksgiving unto their Lord. O that all God’s beloved would have been present on this day!" 
~ Bahá'u'lláh

I'm still processing the amazing and glorious past 9 days of our Baha'i Pilgrimage in Haifa/Akka, Israel....for now here's my favorite 2 pictures from the trip:

Shrine of the Bab

Garden of Ridvan

Thursday, June 14, 2012

CSAs are for lovers: fresh organic fruit and veggies

Veggies & fruit from our CSA have started rolling in! I’ve wanted to join a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) ever since I found out they existed. Location (sometimes laziness to travel far) and other things always got in the way. This year we found a CSA with a pick-up location that is a 10 minutes walk from our place. Our delicious organic veggies come from The Farm at Miller’s Crossing, a 200-acre farm in Hudson Valley, New York. We also got a fruit half-share from Breezy Hill Orchards, a third-party Eco Apple-certified orchard also located in the Hudson Valley. A single share of veggies a week is more than enough for my husband & I (see picture for proof). However, I sort of wish we got a full share instead of a half for fruit. A half share equaled a batch of organic strawberries that we ate in 3 days. Our CSA also offers shares in Eggs, Pasta, Meat, Herondale Farm Beef and Chicken, Cheese and Coffee.

There are tons of benefits to joining a CSA. I recommend researching if your community has one.
  • It’s healthy! CSA vegetables are organic and free of harmful pesticides. Plus there’s nothing like having a batch of fresh veggies delivered every week to encourage you to cook healthy meals.
  • It’s fresh! CSA produce is super fresh and delicious because it’s hand picked the same day it’s delivered.
  • It’s affordable! Most CSAs have no paid staff and there is no wasteful packaging thus reducing costs. For veggies at our CSA a Single Share: $320 ($14.55 per week) & Double Share: $580 ($26.36 per week); Fruit Full Share: $264 ($12 per week) & Half Share: $176 ($8 per week) my husband & I only spend an average of $22.55/week for veggies and fruit ($11.25/person/week)
  • It’s good for the environment! CSA is better for the environment because no chemical fertilizers and pesticides are used, and fossil fuels are not wasted on long distance transportation.
  • It supports a local farm! As more and more small farms are losing out to ‘agribusiness’, joining a CSA is great way to support a family farm. Farmers receive payment early in the season, which helps with the farm's cash flow. We paid for our CSA in full in April, then the picking season begins in June-November. CSA involve a ‘shared risk and reward’ agreement, i.e. that the consumers receive what the farmers grow even with the vagaries of seasonal growing
  • It builds community! CSA is a great way to get to know your neighbors and get more involved in community activities. We've already gotten invited to some neighborhood block parties/events.

Friday, June 8, 2012

San Diego - Torrey Pines

I've been traveling every other week, between that and work there's not much time for blogging. In the meantime here's some lovely pictures of San Diego's Torrey Pines.

My husband and I spent 3 days enjoying the Cali outdoors with my older brother. Hiking and running trails, eating lemons & oranges from trees in my brother's backyard & eating lots of food.

Next stop Haifa, Israel in 9 days!!!!

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Why I love Riga, Latvia

 Business took me to Riga, Latvia last week. I admit, I knew very little about the country/city before I left. I was pleasantly surprised at how lovely it was. Here are 9 reasons why I love Riga, Latvia:

9. In the summer the suns sets around 10:15 pm
8. Padlock bridge - the tradition is to put a padlock on the bridge on your wedding day, lock it and then throw the key in the water. The padlock can't be opened the same as marriage can't be divorced. 
7. Skābeņu zupa (Sorrel soup)- After years of drinking the Caribbean drink made from the flowers, I was able to try out the rest of the plant
6. Black Magic Cafe - they have secret Harry Potter like doors that open when an employee pulls down a statue on a bookcase
5. Dozens of creative ways to eat beets (in soup, in salad, steamed, baked, juiced)
4. Dried fish galore! Who knew dried sea bass would taste so good, plus 1 serving is 2 Lats ($3.50)
3. Parisian and Italian style cafes. I had an espresso and chocolate everyday :)
2. Tasty high quality food for 3 Lats ($5).  For example: a piece of baked salmon, beet salad, bread and cake all for $5 :)
1. The peaceful city allows you to enjoy a walk down cobblestone streets or along the river without the noise and crowdedness of normal cities

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Brooklyn Half Marathon

Brooklyn Half Marathon in Coney Island
I PR'ed today! (that's Personal Record for the non-runners). I ran the Brooklyn Half Marathon in 1:40:33, averaging a 7:41 pace per mile....beating my goal of 1:45 and running faster than my 10K pace last year :)

Considering I was sick all week and hurt my achilles tendon last month, I was quite worried about how I'd run. Maybe it was my awesome breakfast of Tangerine energy gel spread on toast - I ran out of jam and decided to be really efficient and eat both in the same go. It doesn't taste very good so unless you're hardcore I wouldn't recommend it.

The course was a nice mix of hills, downhill and flat. It covered Prospect Park, the surrounding area and then a straight shot to Coney Island. The weather was gorgeous and sunny. My husband ran with me most of the way, finishing only 1 minute before me. All in all a great day!

Now off to the airport for a business trip to Latvia.
Tangerine Energy Gel on Toast

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Strawberry Nut Shake

My friend who follows a Paleolithic diet recommended a few smoothies that involve soaked nuts/seeds for me to try. Although the Paleo diet which restricts carbs would never work for me, I like the smoothies...natural protein and sweetness 

Berry Nut Shake
2-3 cups pure water (depends on what consistency you want)
3 tablespoons almonds
3 tablespoons pine nuts
1 tablespoon flax seeds
1 cup strawberries (fresh or frozen)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
Stevia (didn't use)

Soak flax seeds and almonds in pure water overnight. Process the nuts on high in food processor or blender until ground. Add water slowly and process. Add berries, vanilla and nutmeg. Add stevia to sweeten to taste. Blend well

Yield: 2 servings

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Brooklyn Food Conference: Saturday, May 12!!!

Excited for next week's free food conference in BROOKLYN! My husband and I have had this on our calendars for 3 months now. I downloaded the program of events and was pleasantly shocked by the 92 pages of options and information. So many workshops :)

May 12: 9 am - 6 pm
Brooklyn Tech HS
29 Fort Greene Place
Brooklyn, New York 11217

More information: On May 12, 2012 over 5,000 people are expected to attend this free, all day event filled with keynotes from notable food activists, workshops, panel discussions, food demos, family programming, art and much more. The 2012 Conference will help strengthen the cooperative effort of individuals, groups and organizations fighting everyday for a healthy, sustainable and fair food system. Food activists, local farmers, academics, restaurateurs and health advocates and all those interested in food justice will gather to discuss the global food economy and its impact on our lives.

Mission Statement: The Brooklyn Food Coalition is a grassroots organization dedicated to the vision of a just and sustainable food system in Brooklyn through community organizing, public education, and research and advocacy. The Coalition is fundamentally committed to building an inclusive, multi-racial, multi-cultural alliance of residents and community-based groups from all parts of Brooklyn, reflecting the borough’s rich diversity. The Brooklyn Food Coalition is composed of neighborhood-based groups, working committees, and affiliate groups all working together in Brooklyn on projects that promote food justice and sustainable food. BFC staff provide coordination between groups.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

‘Abdu’l-Bahá: a NAACP man of the month in 1912

I’m so proud to belong to a religion that has valued unity and equality (race & gender) from day 1. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, the son of the prophet of the Baha’i Faith, was even named one of The Crisis’ (NAACP’s official publication) “Men of the Month” for May 1912 by W. E. B. Du Bois. (read more here)  

April 30, 1912, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá gave a talk at the 4th Annual Conference of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People at Handel Hall, Chicago, Illinois . He clearly states that ones color does not matter. What matters is ones heart:

“Color or race is of no importance. He who is the image and likeness of God, who is the manifestation of the bestowals of God, is acceptable at the threshold of God — whether his color be white, black or brown; it matters not. Man is not man simply because of bodily attributes. The standard of divine measure and judgment is his intelligence and spirit.

The character and purity of the heart is of all importance. The heart illumined by the light of God is nearest and dearest to God, and inasmuch as God has endowed man with such favor that he is called the image of God, this is truly a supreme perfection of attainment, a divine station which is not to be sacrificed by the mere accident of color.” 

Monday, April 30, 2012

Dirt Candy - a Vegetarian Culinary Experience

My husband and I had a random date night last Tuesday just because ;) We went to a place I've been meaning to check out ever since I read about them in VegNews, Dirt Candy! This place is now one of my favorite spots in NYC. Great food! Beautiful presentation! Be warned though, it’s very popular and extremely small so reservations are a must.

"What is dirt candy? Vegetables, of course. When you eat a vegetable you’re eating little more than dirt that’s been transformed by plenty of sunshine and rain into something that’s full of flavor: Dirt Candy" ~ Amanda Cohen

 All their food is vegetarian but a few things on their menu include diary. The first question they ask you when you sit down is “Are you a vegan?” because they can make 95% of the menu options vegan by request. We started with the sweet and spicy Jalapeno Hush Puppies. Then my husband ordered Cucumber (coconut poached tofu, shiso, galangal sauce, salsify & hearts of palm) and I had Chard  (chard gnocchi, grilled chard, garlic granola & drunken fig jam).  I would have never guessed gnocchi made of chard would taste so delicious.

Dirt Candy
(t) 212.228.7732
430 East 9th Street
NY, NY 10009

Thursday, April 26, 2012

African Men. Hollywood Stereotypes.

Great ~3 min video featuring Kenyan men poking fun at the way African men are portrayed in Hollywood films. There are so many stereotypes that continue to be reinforced in popular movies. Yes, there are a few Hollywood movies featuring Africans that are based on a true story. However, we only see the negative truths and often through the eyes of a Western. As one of my favorite author once said:

"The problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue, but that they are incomplete."
~ Chimamanda Adichie (from TED talk The Danger of a Single Story)

This is for all the students I taught while at Tukuyu Secondary in Tanzania who will be our future doctors and lawyers :)

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Omega VRT350 Juicer over Breville, lettuce over carrots

Omega VRT350
After a year of debating if it made sense to purchase a juicer and as my love of Blue Print Cleanse's Green Juice (at $10 a pop) grew, I decided to buy an Omega VRT350 Juicer.

I posted "What juicer should I buy?" on Facebook and 2 teams quickly emerged: Team Breville (centrifugal juicers) and Team Omega (masticating juicers). After reading tons of reviews and speaking to my friends/relatives here's the recap:

Team Breville: Juices 2-3x faster (65,000 - 125,000 RPM), $100 cheaper, awesome for fruit based juice, can handle leafy greens but you need to ball them up, wastes more pulp, fast speed causes the juice to oxidize (not a problem if you drink the juice right away, but not good it you want to refrigerate leftover).

Team Omega: Much slower but also much quieter, gets more juice out (less and drier pulp), more expensive but longer warranty, handles leafy greens better, slow speed (80 RPM) means no oxidation allowing juice to be stored for up to 72 hours without degradation.

My husband and I decided we prefer quality juice over speed. The first juice we made I went a little kale crazy and ended up with bitter tasting juice. Note to self: do not put more kale then carrot & celery. The second time I learned my lesson and made a delicious lettuce-kale-apple blend (1 head of lettuce, 1/2 bunch of kale, 2 golden apples). The whole process (set-up, juicing and cleaning) takes about 20 minutes and makes 20oz. Next time I'll probably double the ingredients to have some for storage. I also learned that carrots produce tons of pulp/waste whereas lettuce is extremely efficient for a base.
the Omega VRT350 makes 24 oz with little waste

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Dogs experience a runner’s high too

More scientific research to explain why I’m addicted to running :) Plus it turns out my dog experiences a runner’s high too.

Click here to read the entire The Economist article

  • Running triggers the release of brain chemicals called endocannabinoids that create a potent feeling of pleasure in the same way as the active ingredient of marijuana
  • The surge of endocannabinoids aka “runner’s high” is an evolutionary benefit that was used to encourage humans to remain fit enough to run after game and away from predators and enemies for survival.
  • A study led by David Raichlen of the University of Arizona has revealed that the runner’s high exists in other species who gain an evolutionary benefit from being fast on their feet
  • After running the average human’s endocannabinoid levels rose from 2.4 picomoles per millilitre (pmol/ml) to 6.1. Dogs showed a similar trend, with levels rising from 2.4 pmol/ml to 8.0
  • Ferrets did not show a statistically significant rise because running consumes a lot of energy, may cause injury, and is not crucial to the stealthy hunting technique of sneaking down burrows and killing rabbits in their sleep

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Williamsburg Bridge - Manhattan Bridge run

Running tours are a favorite of mine. I love being able to run around exploring a city, pausing to take pictures if I want, enjoying the views.

Sunday's 13-mile run was Prospect Park - Williamsburg Bridge - Manhattan Bridge - Prospect Park. Sunny and a sweaty 75*F but clear blue skies and great sites.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Commemoration of Abdul-Baha's talk at Church of the Ascension - April 14, 1912

Church of the Ascension
Yesterday we attended a beautiful commemoration to celebrate the 100 year anniversary of the first public address Abdu'l-Baha gave in America on April 14, 1912. The Reverend at the Church of the Ascension warmly welcomed 100+ Baha'is into his church in the loving spirit of interfaith & unity. It was amazing to be sitting in the same place that Abdu'l-Baha stood in and on the same exact day 100 years ago.

A century later His words are still applicable to the issues going on in the world today:
"Today the world of humanity is in need of international unity and conciliation. To establish these great fundamental principles a propelling power is needed. It is self-evident that the unity of the human world and the Most Great Peace cannot be accomplished through material mean........For man two wings are necessary. One wing is physical power and material civilization; the other is spiritual power and divine civilization. With one wing only, flight is impossible. Two wings are essential. Therefore, no matter how much material civilization advances, it cannot attain to perfection except through the uplift of spiritual civilization." ~ Abdu'l-Baha (to read the entire April 14, 1912 talk click here)  

NY Times article from 1912 covering Abdu'l-Baha's visit

You can read more about Abdu'l-Baha's visit to the church here.