Destination Relaxation: Monterey Bay Area

As you’re probably well aware at this point, I’m currently living in the San Francisco Bay Area and chronicling my life as a vegan (among other things). Admittedly, California and the Bay Area especially is probably one of the best places in the world for vegans. Even still, it’s always a special treat to escape from your every day environment and see what other places have to offer! This passed weekend, my Mom and I decided to take a quick trip to Pacific Grove and Monterey, CA where I stumbled upon some beautiful vegan meals, beverages and gorgeous views.

Before I begin to gush about all that Pacific Grove and Monterey have to offer, I’d like to give you a little bit of background information about weekend getaways with my mom and I (the self proclaimed real life, authentic version of the Gilmore Girls). Since day one, my mom and I have always been chillers. Hanging out and relaxing, living on island time is our absolute jam and we do all that we can to indulge ourselves in some good old fashioned lazy vacation days at every opportunity we can find. For us, the perfect getaway involves lots of long walks, comfort food, wine, and shopping. The Pacific Grove, Monterey, Carmel area has always been exactly our speed for weekend getaways because of it’s quaint, mellow nature and dog friendly communities as well as it’s close proximity to the Bay Area.

Since I was a little girl, my mom and I have stayed in a picturesque, rustic group of cottages in Pacific Grove called Andril Fireplace Cottages. We love it there because of it’s laid back, vintage feel and it’s dog-loving environment. We also love it there because of it’s walkable yet not-too-close distance from the downtown areas of Pacific Grove and Monterey, if I had to guess I would say that it’s about one mile from downtown Pacific Grove and two miles from downtown Monterey (where the famous Monterey Bay Aquarium is located). Our go-to vacation day activity is covering ourselves head-to-toe in athlesiure wear and setting out on foot to find brunch, shopping, and wine tasting if we’re lucky.

As promised, the best brunch was found this passed weekend in Pacific Grove at a restaurant called Toasties Café on Lighthouse Ave. A die-hard lover of potatoes, you can probably imagine my excitement when I spotted “potato dish” on the menu of an otherwise somewhat traditional, non-vegan brunch menu. A restaurant meal of breakfast style potatoes, vegetables, avocado, and various hot sauces? I honestly don’t think I could name four things I would choose over those for any meal. To make the experience even more wonderful, we were able to sit outside on a sunny patio with our beagle, Diego while we enjoyed mimosas, coffee and our breakfast.

I could seriously go on and on… and on and on and on about how delicious this breakfast was. Maybe it was the mimosas, but this simple dish was exactly the brunch that I always dream of, and as someone who used to enjoy breakfast scrambles it’s the perfect vegan substitute for that simple savory breakfast option.

After our wonderful breakfast experience, we continued to walk around downtown Pacific Grove and all the way through to Monterey. On our walk, I found an awesome store called The Mind Shop Metaphysical Books and Gifts where I was lucky enough to find some low priced quartz, rose quartz, amazonite, selenite, and amethyst. Although I don’t know a lot, or anything really, about crystals, I have been wanting to educate myself on their healing powers and how to use them so I was excited that I could pick some up for less than $10.00! I also got a bumper sticker for my computer that says “There’s No Place Like Om”.

Just down the road, and located in the tourist area of Monterey, we came across another highlight of our trip: the Carmel Ridge wine tasting room overlooking the Monterey Bay! We had the most pleasant experience looking out at the water and tasting some awesome wines (somewhat reasonably priced, too!) and we were even able to veganize their meat and cheese platter, turning it into an assortment of delicious crackers, dried fruit, and nuts! Lucky for me, my mom is completely on board with my choice to be vegan and she even tries to eat vegan as much as possible herself, which makes traveling and eating together super convenient for me.

We loved the Carmel Ridge tasting room so much that we ended up going back the next day! After our long walk home that second night, we were more than ready to indulge in some margaritas and Mexican food. It is a common misconception that vegans would have an extremely difficult time finding fare at Mexican resteraunts. Fortunately for me, the reality is quite contrary! Vegetable Fajitas are a staple on pretty much every single Mexican menu, so they tend to be my go-to when ordering Mexican.

This weekend, however, I was able to mix things up a bit on the Mexican food front with El Torito’s delicious spinach enchiladas! Aside from the fact that they sprinkled some cheese onto my dish (which was very minimal and easy to remove), I was obsessed with everything about this dish. It was as amazing to look at as it was to taste. The margaritas and guacamole were splendid as well, we had the most wonderful time watching the Warrior’s game and enjoying our dinner. All and all, both my mom and I were left with a good taste in our mouth – literally and figuratively!

Along with these four places that we found and loved were countless other adorable spots in Pacific Grove and Monterey. There are tons of vegan eats that I didn’t have time to try, and dozens of charming shops and experiences that we made a note to check out on our next trip. At the end of the day, the Monterey Bay Area is an amazingly beautiful, unique and relaxing part of California and we will definitely continue to cherish our stays there! Walking, eating, drinking, and shopping our way through a new place is by far our favorite way to get to know a new location and after this weekend I have a few other recommendations up my sleeve. Feel more than free to reach out to me if you’re curious. For now, keep on keeping it simple and keeping it whole 🙂

Yogi Diaries: Updates and Intentions

As I delve deeper into the world of yoga and as I am suddenly at a point in my life where free time is scarce, I am becoming more and more aware of the importance of going about my life in a more purposeful and mindful way. When there are fewer hours in the day than you might like, it’s important to ration your time and to assign a purpose or reason to each thing you do, which is why I want to start to focus more on setting clear intentions for my life, weeks, days, and even little tasks.

While I have always had goals in life, I’m finding myself now at a time where I am completely in the driver’s seat of my life for the first time. It’s a strange mixture of terrifying and exhilarating, most importantly, however, it’s inspiring. At any transition point in life, it’s important to find the direction that’s right for you and run with it. While I am constantly exhilarated and excited by the possibilities of the future, I’m beginning to learn that the “run with it” part of finding your path can be easier said than done.

For the past week or so, I spent time focusing on the beginning two aspects of the 8 limbed yogic path: the first Yama, Ahisma which represents non-violence or non-harm, and the first Niyama, Saucha which stands for cleanliness and purity in all aspects of life (for more background information, see my earlier post Yogi Diaries: A Spiritual Journey Beginning with Yamas & Niyamas). The outcome of my focus on these aspects of life was somewhat minimal, but meaningful nonetheless.

Since I already have an inherently non-violent vegan diet, I sort of feel like I used it as a cop-out for focusing on Ahisma. I would have liked to spend more time looking inward and focusing on how I treat all of the people I interact with on a daily basis. I would have liked to make more progress towards eliminating any accidental rudeness or unintentionally inconsiderate behavior, but at the very least it’s good that I am thinking about it at all so that I can continue to make an effort going forward. For Saucha, I made an effort to keep my bedroom space more tidy and to clean up after myself more thoroughly, especially in the kitchen. While my room is still far from perfect, I do think that I made some progress or at least taught my self some helpful tidiness tips and tricks that I’ll be able to employ in the future.

For the week or so to come, I’ll be focusing on the next Yama and Niyama. Respectively, Satya which stands for honesty and truthful communication, and Santosha which represents personal contentment and being enough on your own. As someone who has recently been in recovery from an eating disorder, I think that this one could be particularly hard for me. Intrinsic contentment and confidence is something that I deeply struggle with. I am nervous and scared to look that still-open wound directly in the face because I don’t know how it will feel. I’m terrified to be alone with my thoughts and feelings on this matter, but the fact that I have such fear shows me that it needs to be done and that I should give this aspect of my life special attention. I think that Satya and Santosha will compliment each other as my focuses for this time period to come because I will have to focus on communicating honestly with myself, and being truthful about my progress when it comes to self acceptance. Wish me luck and send me good vibes through this microjourney that I’m embarking on!

Now on a very different note…

Since this is my diary as an emerging yogi, I’m going to bring the conversation back to the mat for a hot second. Since day one, my balance has been sub-par to say the least. Nailing crow was much more of struggle for me than I would ever care to admit. Since I mastered it, I have been trying to work on my tripod head stand and my chin stand. I want to emphasize how unbelievably difficult balancing is for me, because these poses seem to be much harder for me than the average person. It is beyond frustrating to advance so slowly in some aspects (balances) as compared to other aspects of my practice.

That being said, last night I finally found myself in a comfortable straight leg supported head stand (or sirshasana if you prefer Sanskrit)!!! This was a seriously big deal for me, like HUGE! I was so excited and proud of myself that I lost my focus and toppled straight to the ground. In the process, one of my knees ended up hitting my right forearm instead of the ground and as a result my arm has been hurting all day since. It actually caused so much pain in my forearm that I decided to skip yoga class completely today in order to avoid putting weight on the arm (since that’s when it hurts the most). This kind of stuff is scary for me as someone who has little to no experience with injury. Luckily, my arm is feeling better already so I think I’ll just be able to chalk it up to a close call and a sign that I shouldn’t get ahead of myself in the future.

At the end of the day, I’m so so so very excited about getting into my head stand and I hope it will open more doors for me! I am attending a balancing workshop this coming Saturday so hopefully I’ll have a few solid days of headstand practice before then. I hope that my struggles and constant sequences of trial and error will inspire y’all to try something new or tackle your goals because even if you (literally, in my case) fall on your face the first time it will always be worth it in the end.

I know that my writing has been lacking lately, but I’m getting back into my groove this week I promise so stay tuned for more recipes and/or bay area eats and whatnot. For now, keep it HONEST and keep it CONTENT in solidarity with me!

 

Fluffy Vegan Blueberry Cinnamon Muffins

I’m usually not the type who reaches for a muffin first thing in the morning, but every once and awhile I just crave something sweet and decadent in the morning. As a vegan it can be hard to satisfy certain cravings, especially when it comes to baked goods since options are somewhat limited, that’s why I decided to take matters into my own hands!

Even beyond the fact that there are few vegan baked goods available to buy (although the options are improving exponentially), I prefer my own homemade baked goods because I like to know exactly what I am putting into my body. I tend to be weary of store bought baked goods because it’s hard to know exactly what you’re getting, especially when it comes to preservatives and the quality of the ingredients.

This recipe is extra near and dear to my heart because it will forever go down in history as my very first original vegan breakfast baked goods recipe. As such, it’s extra simple with no complicated directions or uncommon ingredients which makes it super easy to replicate! I always love to whip up a batch of some yummy vegan food to share because it gives me the opportunity to show the people in my life that you don’t have to sacrifice flavor or indulgence in order to enjoy a vegan lifestyle!

Without further adieu, here’s the recipe:

You’ll Need:

For the Muffins:

  • 2 Cups of Brown Rice Flour
  • 1 Cup All Purpose Flour
  • 1 1/2 Cup Coconut Sugar
  • 3 tbsp. Baking Soda
  • 3 tbsp. melted Coconut Oil
  • 3 tsp. Ground Cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 3 tsp. Vanilla Extract
  • 1 1/2 tsp. Sea Salt
  • 1/2 Cup Unsweetened Coconut Flakes
  • 1/5 Cup Blueberries

For the Topping:

  • 1/4 cup Chopped Raw Almonds
  • 1/4 cup Oats
  • 2 tbsp. Coconut Sugar
  • 1 tbsp. Agave Syrup (maple syrup will do as well)

To Prepare:

This is the easy part! Preheat oven to 225 degrees. In a big mixing bowl combine all of the muffin ingredients except for the blueberries together until the batter is smooth and even. In a separate bowl, combine all topping ingredients to make a granola-ish mixture. In a greased muffin tin, fill each muffin hole about 1/3 of the way, and add 2-3 blueberries to each one. Bake in for 20 minutes. At this point, sprinkle the topping mixture over top of each muffin, and bake another 5-10 minutes or until the tops are just solid. Let cool, and watch them disappear! 🙂

The cool thing about this recipe is that it’s extremely versatile so it gives you the freedom do customize it however you want. For example, you may want to exclude the coconut flakes and add in chocolate chips or substitute the blueberries for goji berries! The options are endless. The other awesome part about this recipe is that the batter is so light and fluffy that it works as a vegan baked doughnut recipe as well! To make vegan doughnuts, just grease a doughnut tin and fill up each doughnut about 1/3 of the way, bake for 15-20 minutes and voila! Vegan Doughnuts! I actually made a few flower shape mini muffins as you can see in the photos below, and they turned out great as well.

Since this recipe is so new, I would absolutely love to hear any feedback or constructive criticism that you might have for it! I hope you enjoy these as much as my friends, family and coworkers that I served them to did! Keep it simple, keep it vegan and keep it whole!

Vegan Rosemary Flatbread Crust

When I think of some of life’s greatest pleasures, it’s hard not to think of pizza. Unfortunately, it can be tough to find a truly satisfying and delicious vegan pizza, which is why today I decided to take matters into my own hands! The final product was this addicting Rosemary and Brown Rice Flour Flatbread Crust topped with a modified version of my garbanzo avocado mash (see my recent post Worlds Best Garbanzo Avocado Mash), heirloom cherry tomatoes, sliced radishes, and black sesame seeds.

I want to share this vegan pizza crust recipe with y’all because I’m pretty sure it’s the best thing to ever grace my oven, and it will definitely be a staple for me from now on. It has the perfect combination of rich flavors (rosemary is my favorite in this) and crunchy yet doughy texture. It’s also easy and quick to make, and you have the freedom to customize the toppings to your hearts desire! I tried to keep it to as few ingredients as possible, but feel free to add or take out any spices based on your tastes and what you have in your pantry.

You’ll Need:

  • 1 tsp active yeast
  • 2/3 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup brown rice flour
  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1/3 tsp salt
  • 1/3 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/3 tsp dried rosemary leaves
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder

Cooking Directions:

  1. In a large bowl, combine 1 tsp active yeast with 1/2 cup warm water and 1 tbsp of all purpose flour, let sit for 5 minutes to let yeast activate
  2. Add in 1/2 cup all purpose flour, 1/2 cup brown rice flour as well as all of the seasonings and 1 tsp olive oil and mix and kneed until dough is soft and slightly sticky
  3. Roll dough into a ball and let sit for 15 minutes, preheat oven to 435 degrees
  4. Add about 1/2 tsp olive oil to the outside of the ball of dough, and use your hands and a bit of flour to spread the dough thin on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper – remember that the dough will rise slightly in the oven so spread it thin, leaving it just slightly thicker around the edges (think 13-14 inches)
  5. At this point you can add sauce and toppings to your pizza, or you can bake it with no toppings and wait until after the crust is cooked to add toppings (depending on if you want the toppings to be hot or cold)
  6. Bake for 17 minutes or until dough becomes golden brown on the edges
  7. Remove from oven, add toppings, and enjoy!

I hope you enjoy this one as much as I did. Pizza is one of my favorite foods, and it’s even better knowing that each ingredient has nutritional value that will benefit my body. I might consider adding hemp hearts or changing up the spices in the future based on what toppings I intend to use, but I can’t imagine an outcome much better than this rosemary and brown rice flour combo!

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As I said above, I used my yummy Worlds Best Garbanzo Avocado Mash as topping tonight. I modified the mash by adding some baby arugula, another half of an avocado, chili pepper, and pink Himalayan salt.

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Stay healthy and stay compassionate y’all! B-)

Quick n’ Easy Sweet Green Smoothie Bowl

Generally, I don’t have time to put together a delicious home cooked breakfast on my way out the door in the morning. As much as I hate to admit it, I’m the girl who presses snooze 5 times on the alarm clock and then ends up rushing out the door with no time to spare. This morning, however, I found myself with an extra half hour on my hands and felt my blender calling my name.

When it comes to breakfast, I don’t like to fill up first thing in the morning because I find that a super full stomach tends to drain my energy and slow me down. So on this workday morning, it was my mission to create a light, refreshing, and simple smoothie bowl that would give me energy for the day and pack tons of nutrients into one pretty package.

The result was this Nutty Zucchini and Tuscan Kale Low Sugar Smoothie Bowl! I loved this recipe because it had the perfect texture to leave me feeling both energized and satiated, plus it tasted amazing and was packed with veggies. In the toppings, I included wonderful sources of plant based protein and fats, it ended up with the perfect amount of fortifying substance that prepared me to tackle the day. There’s no better feeling than beginning your morning knowing you have already done your body a favor and everything else you do for it is just bonus!

This bowl made the perfect amount for one medium size smoothie bowl, no more and no less. I hate having extra in the blender because I rarely end up eating leftover smoothie, so a recipe that yields the perfect amount for one bowl is a keeper for me! Here’s the recipe:

In the blender:

  • 1 1/2 Frozen Chopped Zucchini
  • 1 Extra Large Handful of Tuscan Kale
  • 1/2 Small Banana
  • 2 Large Cauliflower Florets
  • 1/4 Cup Coconut Milk (or nut milk of your choice)

Blend these together on high for 2 minutes or until the color is even and the consistency is just thicker than a regular smoothie

Toppings:

  • Banana
  • Raw Almonds
  • Organic All Natural Cashew Butter
  • Black Sesame Seeds
  • Hemp Seed Hearts


Lucky for me, this morning was gorgeous in the Bay Area and I was able to sit outside on my front porch and enjoy the early morning light while I ate my smoothie bowl. I like to power down my electronics and savor my food whenever I can, so this morning was a special treat. I would love to hear about any modifications or additions that you used to improve upon this recipe! Keep it green & keep it whole 🙂

Low Sugar, Low Calorie Smoothie Bowl Hack

I think we can all agree that the beloved trend of beautiful smoothie bowls is here to stay. There’s nothing as refreshing as a nice cold smoothie bowl packed with nutritious fruits and veggies to put some pep in my step, not to mention all the fun you can have with toppings! The options are endless when it comes to these magical meals. From all textures and colors of the rainbow, eaten for any meal of the day, and modified for every different taste and diet, new and exciting smoothie bowls are popping up in the kitchens of first time chefs and gourmet food stylists alike.

Lately, I have been trying my hand at concocting some equally nutritious, delicious, and easy to look at smoothie bowls. Health nut that I am, I tend to be hyper aware of the nutritional value of my smoothie bowls, which brings me to their downfall. There is no question that smoothie bowls are chock full of the best foods for your body, but unfortunately too much of anything can be a bad thing. As a novice smoothie bowl creator trying to get the perfect color, consistency, and volume in a smoothie bowl can lead to packing in unnecessary amounts of banana, avocado, nut butters, sugary fruits, or whatever ingredient you use to beef up your bowl. This process has the potential to yield a highly deceptive final product containing tons of hidden calories, fats, and sugars. Luckily, mother nature has provided us with some nutritious and low calorie alternatives to give your bowl that extra oomph without negating the nutrition or taste of your beautiful bowl:

Drum roll please…….

Zucchini and Cauliflower! Before you dismiss these as the perfect fillers thinking that they will ruin the flavors of your smoothie bowl, let me assure you that you can’t taste either of them at all. Seriously, at all. Since neither of these vegetables have particularly loud flavors, they are ideal for bulking up your bowl without altering the flavors you work so hard to achieve. They both have different and wonderful qualities that can add the perfect body to your smoothie in a pinch, so I like to keep tons of chopped up frozen zucchini and cauliflower on hand at all times.

Frozen zucchini makes a perfect base for a light, fresh smoothie bowl that won’t weigh you down or absorb and mask other subtle flavors. Since they’re mostly just water, you can toss in basically unlimited amounts of zucchini to make a high volume, low calorie smoothie bowl. I particularly like to use them for green smoothie bowls, or bowls where I am already including avocado or other creamy ingredients so that the texture is well balanced. Cauliflower, on the other hand, is the perfect counterpart for zucchini in that it builds a smoothie bowl to a thicker consistency that will balance out overpowering flavors. For fruity smoothie bowls, cauliflower is my go-to base even over banana because of it’s low sugar content that allows me the freedom to include more berries or flavor building, characterizing fruit.

Considering the terrific qualities that both zucchini and cauliflower bring into the mix (literally), I rarely find it necessary to choose between the two. More often than not, my smoothie bowls will include varying proportions of  both of them! Having both of them on hand is extremely convenient because it gives me the freedom to throw in a couple extra frozen zucchini slices or cauliflower florets if I want to alter or thicken my smoothie just slightly. Part of beauty of these two awesomely healthy smoothie bases is their accessibility, they are available at basically any supermarket year round! We all know that the proof is in the pudding (or the smoothie in this case), so go ahead and play around with these two magical ingredients and have fun testing out different combinations and consistencies! Keep it creamy or keep it icy, but whatever you do, keep it simple and keep it WHOLE 🙂

Cauliflower Based Strawberry Smoothie Bowl

Cauliflower and Zucchini Based Pitaya and Berry Smoothie Bowl

Cauliflower and Zucchini Based Pitaya and Berry Smoothie Bowl

 

6 Healthy, Quick, and Economical San Francisco FiDi Workday Lunches

As I mention in pretty much every post (which, by the way, I apologize for), I’m currently trying to get into the groove of working full time in the San Francisco Financial District. With such a long day, my hour of freedom at lunch time is extremely precious to me, and something I most definitely want to make the most of. It’s a very welcome time to fit in some extra steps, catch up on my Holistic Nutrition or Yoga Teacher Training reading, do some shopping, or just unwind and soak up vitamin D from the sun!

Although I try to meal prep every Sunday so that I can save money by packing my lunch instead of buying it, sometimes those perfectly packed lunches just don’t materialize by 6 AM and I end up getting to the office empty-handed. On these days, I have to admit that I very much enjoy wandering the city in search of my next favorite lunch spot. With all this along with my limited budget and vegan diet in mind, I have scoured the surrounding area for healthy vegan lunches that are quick to pick up and don’t break the bank. While my search is far from over, here are 6 of my favorites so far:

  • Eatsa: With various locations including one at 1 California Street, this place is the fast food restaurant of the future. You can order and pay online through their user-friendly app or at a kiosk on site and your meal will be available within minutes in a small cubby. No human interaction involved whatsoever! The menu features tons of delicious and healthy customizable quinoa and salad bowls for lunch, as well as some great sides. There is also a wonderful breakfast menu that includes quinoa apple “oatmeal” which is delicious as well as chia pudding (not vegan, much to my dismay) and coffee. Right now my favorite lunch bowl is probably the Tres Chiles Bowl (with no cheese or tortilla chips, and added free garnishes). It’s unbelievably tasty, filling, and nutritious, coming in at just under $8.00 in price.

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    Eatsa Tres Chiles Bowl  (no cheese or tortilla chips, and added green onion and lime)

  • Blue Hawaii Acai Café: Located at 2 Embarcadero Center. Sometimes I just have to have a smoothie bowl, and on those days I look no further than Blue Hawaii Acai Café. The bowls are so tasty (I like the Kaiser or the Lime Fresh without honey) as well as filling and beautiful! What more could you ask for in a smoothie bowl? They also let you customize the bowls to your liking, sometimes I’ll ask for peanut butter mixed in to change things up. It’s perfect if you’re in a rush because they are unbelievably efficient, and they will even give you a lid and a bag if you need. Finally, the people there are SO kind and welcoming, they remember familiar faces and always greet you with a smile. Most orders will come in between $8.00-$11.00, but it’s well worth the price for such a fresh and nutritious meal that will keep you full through the day.
  • San Francisco Soup Company: On a cold and rainy day, or whenever I’m in a hurry and just need a quick vegan lunch in under 5 minutes, I can always count on finding a San Francisco Soup Company near by. There are tons of locations around the Financial District, all with reliably great soups that always make a perfect lunch. My go-to is the Smoky Split Pea Soup with an orange on the side. It has the perfect amount of chunkiness and flavor, plus it’s a heaping serving of veggies! Sometimes they will feature some vegan specials, for example Tuscan White Bean & Kale Soup, or Coconut Dal with Roasted Butternut Squash. Coming in usually just under $10.00, this is one of the most accessible and reliable lunches in San Francisco!
  • Onigilly: Located at 4 Embarcadero Center and also at 343 Kearny St, this is one of my very favorite lunches because it allows me to satisfy a sushi craving for under $3.00! The Onigilly menu is nothing short of awesome, offering delicious traditional Japanese street food that can be described as sushi sandwiches (pictured below), as well as rice bowls and salads! If you’re not absolutely starving, you can pick up just one onigilly for under $3.00, or if you’re having a hankering to fill up on some delicious japanese food you can get three of them plus a side of edamame for $10.00. It really is a bang for your buck!

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    3 Veggie Onigillies and a Side of Edamame

  • Sushiritto: Since we’re on the topic of Japanese food, I can’t stop myself from raving about this infamous Sushi Burrito establishment. Though there are multiple locations around the city, I frequent the 388 Market Street take out window. I was beyond excited to discover that they offer a vegan option, called the Buddha Belly. It is absolutely sensational, especially for mushroom lovers like myself, and it will keep you full for hours (sometimes I can even split it into 2 meals). To save time, you can download their app and order and pay ahead of time and avoid waiting in the super long line! My order, the Buddha Belly, is on the more economical end of the spectrum at just $10.00.

    Buddha Belly Sushirrito with Diablo Sauce

  • Mixt Greens: Similar to SF Soup Co., there is basically a Mixt Greens on every corner in the FiDi, making it another super convienent and reliable lunch spot. That being said, you can usually find me at the 100 California St. location enjoying one of their vegan options (my favorites right now are the Be Well and the seasonal winter Bodhi Salad). If you’re in the mood for a big, beautiful, fresh, nutrient packed salad, then this place will be your absolute jam. As is the trend for the lunch scene around here, my order usualy comes to $10.00 or so, but expect to pay $1.00-$4.00 more if you’re a meat eater.

While I only mentioned six of the lunch spots that are particularly close to my office and convenient for me based on my diet and budget, the Financial District is something of a healthy food mecca. There is (quite literally) an infinite amount of awesome options. Honorable mentions go out to Tender Greens, Plant Café, Cantina Verde, Urban Remedy, Proper Foods, and that’s just to name a few. If you have any suggestions for me, I am always looking for something fun and new to try so please feel free to share your favorite spots with me! As always, stay tuned, keep it simple, and keep it whole 🙂

Yogi Diaries: A Spiritual Journey Beginning with Yamas & Niyamas

At Yoga Teacher Training, we recently spent a few hours learning about the yogic philosophy and specifically the 8 limbed yogic path. The philosophy of yoga is very different from the organized religion and beliefs that I have grown to identify with, and in some ways I find it more applicable to my every day life. Normally, I wouldn’t bring up the topic of religion or share my beliefs on this sort of platform, but I feel that some background information on my spiritual journey is necessary here (don’t worry I’ll be brief!).

Growing up, organized religion was always an important part of my life and the beliefs that I was raised on are still a primary aspect of my life that I cherish. What might be considered unique about the spiritual aspect of my childhood, however, was that I was taught to always have an open mind and I knew from the start that ultimately my spirituality was my own to cultivate on a path separate even from my immediate family. My journey with the Divine is just that: my journey with the Divine. While some people choose to follow certain philosophies in their entirety, devoting their whole life to that philosophy and following every single rule or pillar, I’m not at a point in my life where I feel ready to pick one spiritual path and accept it as the only truth or way of life. Maybe one day I will be, but for now I am excited to welcome new aspects of different spiritualities into my life by taking what works for me and cultivating my own spirituality, letting it all be mutually inclusive. At this point so early on in my life, I am enjoying learning about new and different ways of thinking, and opening up my mind to many uniquely beautiful spiritual paths and beliefs.

Learning about the 8 Limbed Yogic Path  has been a very spiritual experience for me, and has given me a new lens to view my every day as well as my big picture through. Right now, however, I want to make an effort to start at the beginning of the yogic path and foster my own spirit and soul as well as my outward outlook and behavior. Before I explain how I want to go about focusing on these vital parts of my spirit, I want to briefly go into my (still very elementary and evolving) understanding of the beginning of the 8 Limbed Yogic Path, Yamas and Niyamas:

Yamas and Niyamas are the first two limbs of the 8 limbed yogic path; they form the base of the 8 branches of the yogic tree or the bottom two rungs of the ladder if you choose to view it as such. You must foster your Yamas and Niyamas if you choose to continue along the path or up the ladder.

Yamas make up what could be referred to as your moral compass. They are a set of five broad principles that guide your outward behavior towards your fellow earthlings. Here are the five guidelines, or the five yamas:

  1. Ahisma: Freedom from harming and from violence of any kind. This includes your thoughts, words, actions, and even your diet.
  2. Satya: Truthfulness, but not at the expense of ahisma. Keeping your words, actions, and thoughts consistent with one another.
  3. Asteya: Non-Stealing. This includes material things, but more deeply consider respecting others’ time and energy. Balancing the give and take portion of your life.
  4. Brachmacharya: Moderation. Avoiding obsession and overindulgence of any kind throughout all aspects of life, including sexuality and dominance as well as moderation itself.
  5. Aparigraha: Non-Hoarding: Freedom from over attachment to things that you don’t need, namely possessions and material goods.

Niyamas are what make up a more inward facing set of pillars for how you treat your self and go about your life, they come from a  more personal and individual perspective. Like Yamas, Niyamas are made up of five broad guidelines:

  1. Saucha: Purity and cleanliness. Consider your physical environment, personal hygiene and diet, information and social media input, and the people you surround yourself with. Ridding yourself of all types of toxicity.
  2. Santosha: Innate happiness and contentment in the now. Fill your life with gratitude, and look inward for a source of happiness, appreciating how things are in the present.
  3. Tapas: Self Discipline. Freeing yourself from bad habits and behaviors, and putting effort into cultivating good ones.
  4. Svadhyaya: Self study and self-awareness. Be conscious of your actions in the moment as they are occurring, and take time to reflect on them later. Ideally, incorporate journaling into your every day habits and get to know yourself on a deep and reflective level.
  5. Isvara-Pranidhana: Surrender to a higher power or being. Devotion of actions and of yourself to something outside of yourself, creating a heightened sense of purpose.

So, there you have it. The beginning pillars of a yogic lifestyle and the most basic guidelines for how to conduct yourself, both inwardly and outwardly. No matter which religion you identify with, Yamas and Niyamas are worth opening your mind to and reflecting on. Most of us have room in our lives to benefit from incorporating some of these principles into our day-to-day life, or at least to be aware of these principles as we go about our daily activities and routines.

Moving forward, my goal is to focus weekly on one of the Yamas and one of the Niyamas, working my way down the respective lists. Rather than attempting a complete spiritual cleanse and trying to incorporate focus on all of them into my life at once, I am going to carefully focus on and enrich each one on its own, taking baby steps towards a larger goal of self-improvement.

This means that I will be beginning this week with a special focus on Ahisma (non violence) and Saucha (purity/cleanliness). Working on my Ahisma, I hope to improve my actions towards others and consider ways that I could be harming the people and beings around me without realizing it or meaning to. In terms of Saucha, I have started by putting extra effort into keeping a clean room and a clean self and trying to use fewer curse words. This week, I’ll be reading up more on Ahisma and Saucha and making efforts to incorporate them into my life on even deeper and all-encompassing levels. Stay tuned to hear about my progress and transformations and for my intentions in the weeks to come. For now, keep it compassionate and keep it clean 🙂

 

Smoky Spicy Sunday Night Buddha Bowl

I think we can all agree on one thing when it comes to Sunday nights: in a perfect world it definitely includes meal prepping. If you’re like me, it also includes one last delicious and indulgent meal to end the weekend on a perfect note. But what if you only have an hour to cook and you have to choose between the perfect dinner or a weeks worth of lunches? Your head tells you meal prep… but your  heart and tummy tell you to make one last perfect weekend dinner. Well debate no more, head and heart, because you can do BOTH with this delicious, nutritious, Buddha Bowl composed of healthy week day recipes that will keep in the fridge for the work week ahead!

For my work week lunches, I like to have a big bowl of ready-to-eat greens so that I can quickly throw together a salad with any toppings I’m in the mood for. The thing about most salads is that they wilt and get soggy with time, leaving them basically inedible. I also struggle with bringing dressing with me in the morning, it just takes too much extra time and leaves me lots of Tupperware dishes to wash and lug around. Fortunately, superfood Tuscan Kale exists!! Unlike other types of greens, Tuscan Kale keeps its crunch if left in the fridge with dressing for a few days. It makes the perfect work week salad base, which is why I like to make a huge container of a simple, vegan Tuscan Kale Caesar(ish) Salad (recipe below)!

I think it has become clear at this point that I’m extremely into spicy food. The more flavorful, the better! Any simple meal can be vastly improved with just a little bit of fun flavor, so I always like to keep some versatile little “flavor bombs” of some sort on hand that I can toss into any dish to spice it up. I’ve been on something of a garbanzo bean/chickpea kick lately, so this week I decided to stick with the trend and make some Crunchy Smoky Paprika Chickpeas to use as croutons and toppings on anything and everything (recipe below)!

The sweet potato lover that I am, I can’t last the week without a batch of my Sweet Potato and Heirloom Carrot Hash. I can’t get over this dish because of the versatility of it; I can seriously eat it for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or all three. It tastes great with a salad, on some quinoa, in a pita pocket, or even by itself! Another thing I can’t last a week without is a copious amount of ready-to-eat quinoa. Right now I’m really into white quinoa because I love that it goes so well with breakfast foods as well as lunch and dinner recipes. It absorbs and really highlights the flavors and textures of whatever it is paired with, so I like to prepare a good amount of it on Sunday nights so I can quickly put together a filling quinoa bowl in a pinch.

Anyway, I digress.. Back to the star of the show: my Spicy Smoky Sunday Night Buddha Bowl! After preparing all of these work week dishes I was starting to get pressed for time as well as just plain lazy, so I decided to combine all of my meal prep elements into one perfect dish! All I needed to perfect this combination was avocado (of course) and some home made Sweet and Spicy Peanut Sauce (recipe below). Below, you’ll find all the information you need to recreate my little meal prep masterpiece, but don’t be afraid to go off book a little bit and add or subtract any ingredients you want! Cooking is a journey of trial and error… with an emphasis on the error if you’re anything like me. Everything tastes great when it’s tailored perfectly to your tastes, so go ahead and individualize everything (or just stick to my recipes, because I think they’re pretty darn good)! Also remember that some of these recipes make way more than you’ll need for the Buddha Bowl because they’re meant to be kept in the fridge and used as lunch or dinner elements through out the week!

Tuscan Kale Caesar(ish) Salad:

You’ll need:

  • 10 cups Tuscan Kale Leaves (if you can’t find it fresh at your supermarket, you can also use 1 bag of organic Tuscan Kale but make sure to still measure out 10 cups)
  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • Juice of 1 large or 2 small lemons
  • 5 cloves of garlic
  • Chili Pepper, Salt, and Pepper to taste

To Prepare:

  1. In a large mixing bowl, shred the Tuscan Kale leaves into somewhat small, bite size pieces (omitting any stems or spines)
  2. In a small bowl, combine olive oil, lemon juice, finely chopped and crushed garlic, salt, pepper and chili pepper
  3. Pour dressing mixture over shredded kale, and toss until leaves are evenly coated

Crunchy Smoky Paprika Chickpeas:

 

You’ll Need:

  • 1 can chickpeas/garbanzo beans
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

To Prepare:

  1. Preheat Oven to 425 degrees, drain and rinse chickpeas and dry them off a little bit with a towel or paper towel
  2. Combine all spices in to a small bowl
  3. In a larger bowl, combine chickpeas, olive oil, and about 1/3rd of the spice mixture and mix them together until the olive oil and spice mixtures are spread evenly
  4. On a cookie sheet, spread out the chickpeas and cover them with the remainder of the spice mixture, making sure they are fully coated with the spices
  5. Bake for 22-25 minutes or until they are crunchy

Sweet and Spicy Peanut Sauce:

 

You’ll need:

  • 1/4th cup all natural peanut butter (I like crunchy)
  • 1/4th cup unsweetened coconut milk
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce or tamari
  • 1-2 teaspoons (or to taste) Sriracha Chili Sauce
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • lemon or lime juice to taste

To Prepare:

  1. I’m going to be honest with you here, I’m not sure how you’re supposed to prepare traditional peanut sauce, so I’m just telling you guys what works for me (as someone who is not above cutting corners for the sake of efficiency) – Step 1: Melt the peanut butter over the stove or even in the microwave
  2. Combine all ingredients until combined into a creamy sauce texture. If you are looking for a thinner consistency, add small amounts of water (maybe a teaspoon at a time) until you have achieved your desired consistency.

Spicy Smoky Sunday Night Buddha Bowl:

You’ll need:

  • 1 -1.5 cup cooked white quinoa
  • 1 cup Tuscan Kale Caesar(ish) Salad
  • 1/4 cup Crunchy Smoky Paprika Chickpeas
  • 2/3 cup – 1 cup Sweet Potato and Heirloom Carrot Hash
  • 1/2 Avocado
  • 1/4 cup Sweet and Spicy Peanut Sauce
  • Black Sesame Seeds or Garnish of Choice

To Prepare:

  1. In a bowl, lay down a base of quite quinoa, adding the kale salad and sweet potato hash second, and the avocado and chickpeas afterwards
  2. Drizzle peanut sauce overtop of the quinoa. Sprinkle black sesame seeds or garnish of choice over top
  3. Enjoy!


I hope you guys enjoy this awesome and nutritious Buddha Bowl as well as the recipes included in it! I know I’ll be enjoying them all week 🙂 I would love to hear if you have any great tips to improve any of my recipes or if you made any yummy or nutritious changes. Have a great week, keep it simple y’all!!

 

Sweet Potato and Heirloom Carrot Hash

If I had to pick a favorite food, you best believe it would include sweet potatoes (well.. either sweet potatoes or split pea soup). They’re the perfect food in my book: delicious, nutritious, versatile, and beautiful! The first time I ever had sweet potato hash was at True Food Kitchen, and ever since then I have been trying to perfect a sweet potato hash recipe of my own.

Sweet potato hash is one of my favorite side dishes to have on hand because it’s an awesome compliment to almost anything. In the past I have used it as a topping on nachos for dinner, as a side dish with tofu scramble for breakfast, as an ingredient in a buddha bowl, as a filling for a pita, and of course as a main course in all it’s glory!

Along with sweet potatoes, heirloom carrots are also up there on my list of favorites. The two flavors compliment each other wonderfully. They also take on the flavors of seasonings perfectly which makes them an awesome addition to my sweet potato hash, bringing some new flavors, nutrients, and pretty colors to the table!

You’ll need:

  • 2 medium size sweet potatoes
  • 2 heirloom carrots
  • 6 cloves chopped garlic
  • 1 cup of vegetable broth (I use vegetable bouillon)
  • 1/2 cup diced white onion
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon thyme
  • chili pepper
  • salt and pepper

To Prepare:

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees
  2. Thoroughly wash and finely chop the sweet potatoes, heirloom carrots, garlic, and onion and combine them with the olive oil and vegetable broth. Roast them for 20-25 minutes in a glass cooking container.
  3. Heat a large skillet over medium to high heat and transfer the vegetable mixture into the skillet. Add in spices (chili pepper, salt and pepper to taste) and sauté 10-15 minutes or until the potatoes begin to get crispy
  4. Enjoy!

On a nutritional level, this dish packs a great punch as well. Sweet potatoes are an absolutely awesome source of healthy carbohydrates and dietary fiber as well as some key vitamins and heirloom carrots are an excellent source of antioxidants, vitamin A, and several B-vitamins. This is the perfect side dish to serve with any salad or as a carbohydrate and vegetable component of any macro bowl!

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Finished product, still in the skillet. Feel free to add in any additional spices and cook it to the crispness of your liking.

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Sweet Potato and Heirloom Carrot Hash as a component of a macro nutrient bowl! One of the endless ways you can use this recipe

I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I do, and I would love to hear about any modifications or new uses for it! Stay sweeeeeet as yams y’all & don’t forget to keep it compassionate and keep it whole!

Strawberry Dragonfruit Smoothie Bowl

There’s nothing to kick off a weekend morning like a tasty and nutritious smoothie bowl. They are just about the most gorgeous breakfast food I can imagine, and they’re so customizable that everyone is able to enjoy them and taylor them exactly to his or her liking! This morning, I had a dragonfruit (also called pitaya) on hand, so I decided to make it the star of my smoothie bowl!

The result was a creamy, bright, and satisfying smoothie bowl that I will definitely be recreating in the future. Here is the recipe:

In a blender combine:

  • 1 cup frozen cauliflower
  • 1/2 frozen banana
  • 4 frozen strawberries, 3 fresh strawberries
  • 1/3 cup fresh dragonfruit
  • 1/4th avocado (for texture)
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened coconut milk
  • 1 tbsp unsweetened coconut flakes
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

I had my blender on high for about 2 minutes, but I’m still playing around to figure out the best techniques for blending. Just make sure to blend until it’s mostly the same color and there aren’t any chunks. You can also blend shorter or longer amounts of time to adjust the thickness based on your tastes! This amount of ingredients yielded just enough smoothie to prepare 2 small/medium smoothie bowls, or one medium/large one! I made a couple different variations of toppings:

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Toppings (Left to Right): Banana, Dragonfruit, Hemp Seed Hearts, Black Sesame Seeds, Unsweetened Coconut Flakes

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Toppings (Left to Right): Cranberry-Rasins, Hemp Seed Hearts, Blueberries, Dragonfruit, Banana, Unsweetened Coconut Flakes over top

This was actually my very first time using a dragonfruit at home, and I was pleasantly surprised at how easy it was to cut and use as well as how tasty it was all by itself! Dragonfruits are so pretty that they can be intimidating to use at home, but they are much easier to maneuver in the kitchen than other, more common fruits like mango or pineapple.

I also want to add that even though there is no protein powder included (I’m not as into using powders and supplements), the nutritional value of this smoothie bowl is off the charts! You’ve got all your macros: carbohydrates primarily from the banana and cauliflower, healthy fat from the avocado, and protein primarily from hemp seed hearts. I recently learned that hemp seed hearts are also a fantastic source of omega-3 and omega-6, which was wonderful news to me because those are the main nutrients that I struggle to find enough of in my plant based diet.

This recipe couldn’t have been better for a perfect Sunday morning pre-yoga meal. I hope you enjoy it just as much as I did, and feel free to let me know if you discover any modifications to improve upon it!

Worlds Best Garbanzo Avocado Mash

According to my friend, this recipe is “award winning” so hold onto your hats everyone because this one’s about to blow you away. If you know me, you know that avocados are very near and dear to my heart. I LOVE them, and I know I’m not alone in that. Sometimes, however, it’s nice to mix it up a little bit when it comes to guacamole, which is why I decided to try a garbanzo avocado mash – and boy am I glad I did!

Basically, this is a hybrid of hummus and guacamole. It’s perfect as a dip for chips or veggies, but I also like to stuff it into a pita pocket as a super filling lunch on the go! Once again, it’s unbelievably simple to prepare and you can easily customize it to your tastes.

Here’s what you need:

  • 1 can of garbanzo beans
  • 1 1/2 Avocado
  • 1 carrot
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1/4th Lemon
  • Sea Salt
  • Nutritional Yeast
  • I also like to add a little heat to everything, so I added a bit of Tajin Seasoning in with this one, but chili powder or any spicy seasoning of your choice will do the trick!

Just when you thought it couldn’t get any simpler, here’s how you prepare it:

  1. Strain and rinse the garbanzo beans,  then in a big bowl mash them with a fork
  2. Add in the avocado, continue to smash
  3. Finely chop the carrot and the garlic and add them in, squeeze in lemon juice
  4. Add in everything else, smash until combined evenly
  5. Watch it disappear

Aside from the fact that this stuff is literally addicting, this stuff is seriously good for you. Garbanzo beans have protein content similar to that of lean meat, which pretty much makes them a vegan super food. They’re also a great source of dietary fiber as well as various vitamins and minerals. Combine ’em with the healthy fats and vitamins in avocado and you’ve got yourself a dose of macronutrient perfection!

I love this recipe because you could easily add more veggies (maybe tomatoes or peppers), seasonings, lime, or anything you like into the mix to give it some extra pizazz. You could also just slather it all over everything you eat, and fill your sandwiches, pita pockets, and burritos with it the way I did! Lots of options, lots of nutrients, lots of love for this stuff.

 

 

Baked Sriracha Soy Tofu

Between working, attending 9 hours of yoga teacher training as well as daily yoga classes, and studying for my holistic nutritionist certificate, my week days don’t have lots of extra time for cooking. Pair that struggle with the constant search for vegan meals full of protein and healthy fats to get me through the day, and I have something of a pickle on my  hands! Fortunately, I came across a delicious and easy recipe for some BOMB tofu on OhSheGlows.com this passed weekend. It serves as a perfect dose of protein and flavor in salads, pita pockets, wraps, you name it!

I don’t know what my problem is, but it took me a hot minute to warm up to tofu. As a young girl, I didn’t eat much of it and was always very weary of it. Not until the past year or so did I grow to love tofu and consider it a staple in my life. If you’re looking to serve tofu to someone who is generally a tofu hater, this would be a great option. It packs in lots of awesome flavor and highlights the flavor of the tofu itself in all it’s glory! It also lasted in my refrigerator through the week without going bad or losing it’s flavor, so it’s perfect for meal prep.

Here’s my favorite part, you only need four ingredients for this guy – and you probably already have them on hand (of course, I added some spices and seasonings but that’s totally optional):

  • One Block Extra Firm Tofu
  • Sriracha Hot Sauce
  • Soy Sauce (I prefer low sodium)
  • Olive Oil

Yep, that’s ALL you need, and it doesn’t get much more complicated from there:

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees
  2. Chop up tofu however you like (try half dollar/1 inch size, not thicker than 1 cm – I also like to make french-fry size rectangles for snacking)
  3. Mix together Sriracha, soy sauce, and olive oil – (this is where I deviate from OhSheGlows) I use equal parts soy sauce and Sriracha (2 tablespoons or so) with just a small bit olive oil (maybe half a tablespoon). Feel free to add more Sriracha or Soy Sauce so that this marinade/sauce tastes awesome to you! I also like to add a dash of chili powder and a little sea salt to give it an extra kick
  4. Coat the tofu pieces in the soy sauce mixture, make sure they are completely covered
  5. Transfer coated pieces of tofu onto a baking sheet with parchment paper, bake for 10 minutes, remove from oven, flip over each piece of tofu and drizzle the remainder of the sauce over top, bake another 10 minutes or until they look slightly crispy
  6. Let cool and ENJOY all week long 🙂

See, it’s easy as pie! I will definitely be making this recipe on a regular basis. Sriracha Soy Tofu ain’t nothing ToFu(nk) with!

Honey, I’m Home!

Update: I have relocated from sunny South Carolina back to the San Francisco Bay Area and I am working as a Front Office Coordinator in the SF Financial District while I peruse my Holistic Nutritionist Certificate and train to be a Yoga teacher at CorePower Yoga. The move was a big one and a hard one but the hardest part was saying goodbye to my friends in Columbia, SC and my life as a traditional college student.

Since my return and the start of my new job (mentioned above) I have been busy settling in and getting used to my first real and full time office job. With a 9 hour work day and a commute on either end, finding a groove that allows me to preserve my individuality has been a challenge. However, I’m happy to say that I am feeling every-groovier and I’m settling into an enjoyable routine!

First and foremost: Food. As a vegan, I am basically living in the motherland here in the Bay Area. The options are endless and ever growing, and I have hardly scratched the surface. So stay tuned, my foodie friends! I have also begun to expand my cooking horizons, and am enjoying trying out new plant based recipes – all simple and easy to reproduce, of course!

My fitness groove has evolved since I returned home as well. At first it was the struggle of struggles trying to pencil in workouts on one end of my work day. I confirmed my suspicion that at the end of a long day, working out is NOT my jam, as much as I wish it was. I also love my sleep, but I invested in apps (a whole $1.99 for an alarm clock???) that force you out of bed in the morning and am now accustomed to getting up early enough to include an hour long work out in my mornings. As mentioned above, I have finally embarked on my yogic journey, which has always been a dream of mine (more on that later). My work outs consist of mostly yoga at CorePower with some treadmill, weights, and FlyWheel mixed in for fun!

I am excited to continue to share in more detail everything that I have been up to and revamp KISS to match my newfound devotions to holistic nutrition and yoga that are currently my life’s main focuses! Stay real and stay tuned, y’all 🙂