“Chiling” with Friends

Its been a wet week here in New York and it made going out this past weekend very uninspiring.  So Friday night we had Mike’s brother, Anthony and a couple of friends over to hang out and watch a movie.  Since we were going to be sitting in front of a television I wanted to make something really easy to serve with the least amount of dishware.  I instantly thought of my go-to veggie chili that I found about a year ago in Food and Wine magazine and some  Trader Joe’s cornbread. I know, everyone asks how you can do chili without meat?  But trust me when I say that this is delicious, hearty and the biggest of meat eaters I know have tried and loved it!


  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 3 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 2 cups broccoli florets, cut into i/2 in pieces
  • 5 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 1 red bell pepper, cored, seeded, and chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, cored, seeded and chopped
  • 1 cup corn kernels (frozen)
  • 2 28-ounce cans diced tomatoes with juice
  • 2 15-ounce cans black beans, rinsed and drained


  1. Heat oil in a dutch oven or large pot over medium heat.  Add garlic, onion and jalapeno.  Saute until onion is slightly translucent, about 4 minutes
  2. Add the sweet potato, broccoli and spices, then stir until powders evenly coat vegetables.  Cover and cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. Add bell peppers and corn, then stir.  Cover and cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally
  4. Add tomatoes and black beans.  Simmer uncovered for 20-25 minutes.

As any chili I think that it tastes better the longer the flavors stew together.  So if you have a little more time I’d let it simmer for closer to an hour.

Per serving: 200 calories, 4g fat, 8g protein, 35g carbohydrate, 10g fiber

This recipe can feed an army!  Even with 5 people who all went in for seconds, I still had plenty of leftovers.  This made Mike extremely happy because he’ll wrap some in a tortilla for a snack and take it to work for lunch the whole week.

Happy “Chiling!”

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Earth Day this weekend!

Earth Day is this Friday, April 22nd!  Always a fun day to reflect and give back to Mother Nature, I think Earth Day is one of my favorite holidays!

Having troubles figuring out what to do and where to join in the festivities?

I thought I’d share some of the events that are going on in some of my subscribers neighborhoods!  If your city’s events are not highlighted on this post, you can go to the Earth Network website for a more extensive list of events.  I’ll start with New York and then list the other cities in alphabetical order.


The be the E campaign is running events in Times Square and Grand Central April 21st-23rd.  Times Square will be featuring a Green Car show, speakers and an interactive area.  As Grand Central will be hosting a two-day festival of art, music and the environment.  Click here to get the detailed schedule.

Brooklyn’s Earth Day Celebration is held at the Erie Basin Park for the Ceremonial Launch of the Giant Floating Earth Ball. It launches 100ft  into the air symbolizing your commitment to 100% percent dedication to action toward mitigating the impact on climate change and pollution.  Click here for more details.


A night of three violinists from different parts of the world, Tara Bangalore, Beth Bahia Cohen and Mimi Rabson.  All proceeds go to the environmental organization, www.350.org. The music begins at 7:00 pm, at Emmanuel Church, 15 Newbury Street, Boston, MA. Tickets are $20; $15 students/seniors.  Click here for more details.

Head down to the Rose Kennedy Greenway on Friday, April 22nd for a free lunch time concert starting at 12p sponsored by the solar-powered radio station, The River.  Musical guests include the Bodeans, Colin Hay and Entrain.  Click here for details.


This is a volunteering event where participants will perform park beautifying activities such as mulching trees, removing litter, restoring a nature trail, cleaning signs, and repairing fencing around new planting areas.  Happening Saturday, April 23rd at 10a.  Click here for more details.


In true Hoboken fashion, they like to celebrate holidays bar style!  The Village Pourhouse will be holding an Earth Day Happy Hour on Friday April 22nd from 5p-8p.  Guests will be able to sample Sierra Nevada (an eco-friendly sustainable brewery) and first 100 customers will receive Village Pourhouse seed packets! Click here for more details.  


This event will be held on April 23 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the Kenneth Hahn State Park in Los Angeles.  Admittance to the Expo portion of the event is free, and will have healthy cooking demonstrations, youth educational activities, health screenings, eco film festival, gardening tips for urban spaces, green job symposium, green product demonstrations, and concessions. Click here for more details.   

A Venice Beach Fashion Show held for Conservation International on April 22, 2011 at 6:30 p.m.-9:30 p.m at the G2 Gallery.  They will be selling $5 donation tickets and showing their spring/summer collection.


The Dana Point Ocean Institute will be hosting a day of celebration on April 23rd from 1oa to 3p.  Events will include, learning how to track your carbon footprint. Discovering the benefits of using California Native Plants in your garden.  Performing experiments to learn how air pollution affects our oceans.  And learning about the impact of pollution along the coast and throughout the ocean.   The cost to participate is $6.50 for adults, $4.50 for children ages 4-12. Participate in a beach clean-up that morning, and receive free admission for the remainder of the day.  Click here for more details.


Go check out Mike’s alma mater, Carnegie Mellon University, on Friday, April 22nd who will be hosting a Film Screening of Carbon Nation.  The screening will be held in Doherty Hall, at 7p with refreshments at 6:30p.  Watch the trailer at www.carbonnationmovie.com.  Click here for further details.


The City Repair Project and the Buckman Neighborhood Association will be hosting the We Need You! campaign at the Washington high school field.  Festivities start at 10a.  Click here for full schedule. 


UC San Diego Earth Week

Make your way down to the UC campus for the Grow your food, gardening demo and compost workshop on April 24 from 12p to 2p.

Learn how to grow your own vegetables, herbs, fruit and flowers in these garden demonstrations. They will also teach composting techniques to help you reduce your landfill contribution and help your garden sustain itself.  Click here for more details.

California Earth Day Jam is the region’s largest Earth Day observance and will take place in National City on Saturday, April 23rd from 12p to sundown.  The festival will feature more than 8 bands and 70 environmental exhibitors.  The entertainment will run on two stages all day and night at Kimball Park.  Click here for more details.  


Head down to the Civic Center at 10a to participate in the largest Earth Day festival in the Bay Area.   An educational and multi-cultural entertainment event will keynote pressing environmental issues and promote solution oriented community actions.  With three stages there will be well-known speakers, activists, and musical performances.  Click here for more information.  


The District Department of Environment is hosting GreenDC Day on Wednesday, April 20th in Freedom Plaza.  

GreenDC Day is an Earth Day Celebration where DDOE seeks to increase public awareness about environmental protection, energy efficiency and natural resources. This purpose of this annual event is to expose DC residents to various businesses which offer eco-friendly options for greening their lives, homes, offices, schools.  Click here for more details.  


Hopefully this post gets you to start thinking about how you want to celebrate Earth Day!  I also hope that we all take a little moment and give thanks to Mother Earth and share a way that we can make this precious planet better for today and for the future.  

So, what are you going to do for Earth Day? 

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Always lovely in Tannersville, NY

Tannersville, NY not to be confused with Tannersville, PA which according to Google Search is way more popular, is a really special place to me.  As much as I love the stimulation of New York City sometimes the whole “concrete jungle” part gets me a little antsy.  Growing up in a Southern California beach town I was very spoiled to have the ocean right there, but also to have hills, mountains, deserts all within a quick drive away.

So about a year and a half ago, I was going through one of those “I gotta get out of the city” spells and told Mike I was dying to do some hiking and see some nature.  After asking around and doing some research he presented me with Tannersville, a small, quirky and colorful town in the Catskills about a two and a half hour drive outside of the city.

We stay at this really amazing place called the Hotel Mountain Brook.  It has great views of the mountains and the owner Amy is really sweet.  Every morning they make a delicious breakfast using all local products.

Besides the popular Hunter Mountain, where New Yorkers flock to during the winter, Tannersville is also well know for the Kaaterskill falls.  It is considered the longest waterfall in New York, not to be confused with the largest which would be Niagara Falls.  We started our hike by taking the Escarpment Trail which runs along the mountain above the falls.

Once we hit the trail we were a little surprised as there was still a significant amount of snow on parts of it, but it made the scenery that more beautiful.  One thing I found to be especially pretty was the way the fallen debris imprinted itself into the snow.

It reminded me of a finished paper product I created as a kid with the old flower presses.  As we kept hiking we continued to come across more of the trails treasures.

Falling leaves

Winter growth

And iced over water streams

After we finished along the trail we made our way back down to check out the Kaaterskills.   The first time we hiked the falls we started from the top and made our way down and back up, but with ice on the trail we were unable to do so. Normally you’ll find people swimming at the bottom of each of the falls, but this time the watering holes were frozen over.

We really lucked out with the weather which made this day of nature that much more enjoyable.  After the falls we made our way to Last Chance Cheese Antiques Cafe where we indulged in a couple of their beers from the over 300 bottle selection and their local cheeses.  Main Street, though small has great restaurants including Pancho Villias, a Mexican place with yummy fajitas and guacamole.   We also came across a new find, Currans.  Using only local ingredients and changing their menu seasonally, this place exceed our expectations.

So after a weekend of hiking and great food I felt refreshed, renewed and excited to get back to the city life that keeps me on the go.

Even if you live in a tranquil place, everyone needs a little escape from the craziness of their life.  So I’m interested, where do you like to go to recharge you batteries?

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Imagina a Paz

A couple of weeks ago my boyfriend, Mike (who was somewhat hurt I left his name out of the Orchid Show post, oops sorry!) and I went to the Yoko Ono and Friends to Japan with Love benefit show at Le Possion Rouge.  It was such a fun night of amazing performers with the friends list including Antony, Patti Smith, Tony Shananhan, Cibo Matto and Lou Reed.

When we were at the bar waiting to get a drink I stumbled upon a bowl full of buttons.  As I grabbed a handful to start reading I realized that they had the phrase “Imagine Peace” in all different languages written on them.  Being of Mexican decent I was obviously very happy to come across the button with the phrase in Spanish, but I was equally excited that I was able to recognize other languages.

These other two buttons had a special meaning to me because my dear friend Helena is Korean and one of my oldest, closest friends, Kim’s husband is from Tibet.

I just thought the whole thing was very beautiful and a really great way to remind people that “Imagine Peace” is an international phrase worth spreading.

As excited I was to see Yoko Ono for the first time live, I would be lying if I didn’t tell you that it was Patti Smith who I really went to see that night.  I have been a fan of Ms. Smith for many years and always find her music, style and message to be an inspiration.  So I’ll end this post with a video of Patti, Tony Shananhan and their band performing “People Got the Power” at the To Japan with Love benefit.  Hope this brings a little bit of peace to your day!

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Not your everyday Pâté

My friend Jess and I were having a ladies dinner last night and I invited her over to my apartment to have a glass of wine before we went out.  I would normally run downstairs to our little market and grab some chips and salsa or humus and pita, but Jess is kinda a foodie so I wanted to offer something a little more sophisticated!

I recently took an “All About Root Vegetables” cooking class from the very talented chef, Peter Berley at the Institute of Culinary Education.  One of my favorite recipes from the day is a Roasted Vegetable Pâté.  Its super easy to make and it’s really delicious.


  • 2 cups diced onion
  • 2 cups peeled and sliced carrots
  • 6 oz button mushrooms, sliced
  • 6 plump cloves garlic, peeled and left whole
  • 3 tbls extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp finely chopped fresh herbs such as rosemary or thyme
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • 2 tbls barley miso
  • 2 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice or to taste
  • Freshly milled black pepper to taste
  • Finely chopped fresh parsley or a herb sprig for garnish

I know you are swooning over my new cool cutting board.  Yes, that it is a colander attached, yes it is sitting over my sink creating more counter space, and yes its my new favorite kitchen item.  It’s genius and it’s from Crate and Barrel.  I could talk about this cutting board for hours, but back to the recipe!

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F

  1. In a bowl, toss together the onion, carrots, mushrooms, garlic, olive oil, herbs and salt.
  2. Spread the mixture on a baking sheet and roast for 25 to 35 minutes, stirring every 7 minutes or for even browning.
  3. When the vegetables are tender, transfer them to the bowl of a food processor.  Add the miso, lemon juice and black pepper to taste and puree.  Add 1 tablespoon of water if the pâté is too thick.
  4. Allow the pâté to rest for 5 minutes to marry the flavors before serving.

This dish is nice warm and cold.  We had leftovers from last night and I put some on an english muffin this morning!

Buen prevecho!

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Orchid Show

Last Saturday my boyfriend and I and two other couples met at Grand Central Station and made our way up to the New York Botanical Garden’s Orchid Show.  Taking the Metro Train North was super easy and a quick 25 minutes.  The travel time was just enough time for us to start with a bottle of a Wölffer champagne that our friends Ryan and Sabrina brought.  Being a big lover of champagne I just had to mention that this bottle was delicious and I’m looking forward to making a trip to their Long Island winery.

The original plan was to attend the garden’s Orchid evenings event, but with the event falling at the same time as the Final Four we opted to do gardens by day, basketball games by night (see Juice Madness for a post tournament cleanse)

As we entered the Conservatory we were welcomed by a theatrical display of orchids.

And each turn and room we wondered into just continued to allow us to enjoy these flowers in all their grace and beauty.

As a majority of the rooms celebrated the orchid, there were other rooms that adapted the climates of different parts of the world.

There was the desert:

And the Rain Forest:

All in all it was a great day!  I highly recommend the Orchid exhibit to anyone in the New York area.  Though we were really lucky to get a beautiful day, I think the Orchid Evenings would be a really fun date night.  They serve wine and have cool lighting throughout the Conservatory.  The show ends April 25th with the evening event the next two Saturdays.

And on the topic… Look what bloomed this week!

Couldn’t be prouder of my little orchid!

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Juice Madness

Growing up in a basketball family, March Madness was a very important time in our house.  We would sit on the couch together to watch the games, listen to my father discuss each play, and root for the underdogs.   My mother, who always cooked dinner for our family, would bring our plates into the living room so we could be properly nourished; even though if you asked my dad a March Madness game is all the nourishment a young body needs.

As I have left my parents house the tournament is no longer home cooked meals and evenings on the couch with my family. It’s now celebrated in loud bars with big TVs, imported beers and spinach dips.  So after all that bar food and beer drinking my body was ready for a restart.

Feeling similar to how I do now I had my first juice cleanse experience this past January after an over indulgent holiday season.  I purchased the 3-Day Cleanse written by founders, Zoe Sakoutis and Erica Huss, of the Blueprint Cleanse and finished the three days feeling refreshed and clear of the holiday excess. I have yet to do another three continuous days of just juice, but I will occasionally do a full day or two days of juice with a light meal for dinner to give my body a break.

So this time around I’m doing a two-day cleanse with a light dinner at night.  A basic day of the cleanse is three vegetable juices, two fruit juices and then a light salad.  I start my morning off with a glass of room temperature water with a squeeze of lemon.  While I’m drinking this I begin my prep for the veggie juices.

I start with 5 apples, 1 cucumber, 3 lemons 2 handfuls of spinach and 6 large leafs of greens.  I used collard greens this time around, but I have used kale and chard.  Place all these ingredients in a juicer, I use the Breville Juice Fountain, and its as easy as that.  With these ingredients you should be able to yield 32 oz. of liquid goodness!  I make two juices at a time and store the other 16 oz for later.

I try to space my juices out every 1 1/2 hours to 2 hours.  The next juice is a pineapple mint slushy.  I take my hand blender and blend pineapple chunks, mint and ice.  This is one of my favorite juices as its refreshing and the ice gives it that thicker consistency that you start to crave when only drinking juice!

I follow the pineapple with another green juice then move to a watermelon juice.  The watermelon juice is made just like the pineapple, with the option of mint (I prefer mine without).  By this point of the day your body is a little weak and starting to feel pretty hungry.  I think the watermelon juice takes the edge off nicely with the right amount of sweetness and natural sugar.

If I am doing a full day of just juice I do one more green juice and then a cashew milk drink at night.  But since I’m doing a meal in the evening I skipped the last juices and made a mixed green salad with tomatoes, bell pepper, and Trader Joe’s lentils. It’s the perfect way to end my evening.

My body is much happier now that I am giving it the proper attention that its been screaming for the past three weeks, but was mostly drowned out by the loud bars, the big TVs, imported beers and spinach dips!

Happy Juicing!

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April Flowers

When I woke up to a rainy Friday I continued to repeat the well-known phrase, “April showers bring May flowers.”  As I did my rebellious nature started to get the best of me.  I wasn’t going to let the rain bring me down and I was determined to bring flowers to my first weekend of April.   So the first thing I did Friday morning was go to Trader Joe’s and picked up two bunches of tulips. 

What I find so amazing about tulips is how quickly they open up.  Only closed buds when I purchased them, they were practically in full bloom 12 hours later.

As the tulips gave me instant gratification, there is another flowering plant in my apartment that brings me to whole new level of happiness.  It’s my orchid.

Anyone who’s ever had an orchid knows how difficult and temperamental the plant can be.  The best advice that I received about the up keep of an orchid was leave it alone!  I like to say that they are the divas of the flower world and they really want to do their own thing at their own pace.  I purchased this plant about a year ago already in bloom and as the flowers died I was left with just two leaves.  I couldn’t bring myself to throw it away while there was still life; so when I saw these buds I couldn’t have been more excited.

I cannot wait to watch this plant continue to grow and don’t worry, I’ll be sharing the progress!

Are you starting to see your plants begin to bloom?  What flowers put you in the Spring spirit?

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Will you be there?

My girlfriend Helena, the Youth Marketing Coordinator for Peta2, sent me this link a few weeks ago and I was so happy when my phone calendar went off to remind me of the event.

I’m definitely going to stop by for a couple of hours and check out some of the exhibits, demos and lectures.  I’m particularly excited to participate in the vegan cupcake contest and watch the Unapologetically Delicious Vegan Desserts for Everyone demo.

Check out the link for yourself:  nycvegfoodfest.com

Hope to see you there!

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Radicchiously easy and Butternutsly good

So after my first post about this Spring Awakening I was having, in true New York “spring” form it snowed.  With the temperature heading back into the 30s, I was craving a night of good tivo and something warm in my belly.

A little unmotivated to do a monster amount of dishes on tivo night, I decided to make  Alicia Silverstone’s radicchio pizza from thekindlife.com and a butternut squash soup.  What’s great about this menu is that it has few ingredients, the preparation is easy and it is quite nutritious!

Game Plan

  1. Prepare and roast butternut squash
  2. With about 15 minutes left in the roasting process cut and dress the radicchio
  3. Remove squash and begin to simmer with the vegetable stock
  4. After 5 minutes of simmering place the pizza crust in the oven.  As the pizza crust is baking for the initial 7 minutes start pureeing soup
  5. Place radicchio on pizza and allow the soup to reheat as the pizza is finishing baking.

Radiccho Pizza with Truffle Oil

  • 1 large head radicchio
  • 1 tbsp. of olive oil
  • 1 pinch of fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 tsp. of White truffle oil, to taste
  • 1 fresh pizza crust (preferably a healthy, whole grain one)
  1. Cut the radicchio in half, then slice each half crosswise into thin ribbons (as thin as possible).
  2. Dress with olive oil, salt, pepper, and a few dashes of white truffle oil to taste.
  3. Preheat the oven to 415 degrees Fahrenheit.
  4. Toast the pizza crust in the oven for 7 minutes, or until it is heated through and slightly golden, but not crunchy.
  5. Scatter the dressed radicchio over the pizza crust and return to the oven for another 3-5 minutes, until the radicchio is warm and just starting to wilt.
  6. Serve immediately.

For those who are unfamiliar with radicchio as I was it looks like this:

It has such a beautiful purple color and according to radicchio.com it provides an antioxidant content rivaling that of blueberries and spinach.

My Butternut Squash Soup

Butternut squash soup was the first type of soup that I explored making back when I was living in San Francisco and over the years I think almost every roommate, friend, and family member of mine has had a bowl or at least a bread dip of it.  It has been made in many kitchens and in many forms, but I think this last batch was one of my best.

One suggestion I would like to make is to get yourself a hand blender.  I just purchased the Cuisinart Smart Stick Hand Blender about a month ago and my cooking world is infinitely easier.  Before I used to use a regular blender and the process of pureeing the soup in sections though doable is much more time-consuming and I never manage to not make a mess.  Also as I mentioned before, it was tivo night and my dishwasherless self prefers not to hand wash a blender!   I use mine all the time for soups, smoothies, and even margaritas!

  • 1 butternut squash halved and seeded
  • olive oil
  • 16 fl oz Vegetable Stock
  • 6.5 fl oz (approx half of can) lite coconut milk
  • Sea salt and ground pepper to taste
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees farenheit
  2. Rub a light layer of olive oil on the flesh side of the squash and sprinkle with salt and pepper
  3. Flip upside down (skin side up) and place squash in a baking pan or on a cooking sheet puncturing the skin a few times with a fork.
  4. Place the squash in the oven and let it roast for about 45 minutes or until the flesh is completely soft
  5. With a spoon, carefully scoop out the squash into a 4-5 qt pot
  6. Add vegetable stock and let simmer for 5 minutes
  7. Add coconut milk and take off the heat.
  8. With a hand blender, blender or food processor blend soup to a creamy consistency
  9. Put back on low heat again to warm the soup back up and then SERVE!


Bon Appetit Friends!

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