Delicious Green Soup

Delicious Green Soup
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When my husband travels, it’s hard to make dinner for one.  Hence, my recent curiosity into soups. I have never been big on soups but the occasional french onion soup has piqued my interest. Yet I don’t think I’m ready to make my own! The last couple weeks I have made several soups and was surprised to find that they are actually really easy to make and a great to just have in the fridge. It’s also a nice warm treat during these cold Joburg winter days. My favorite so far has been this Alkalizing Green Detox Soup. Surprisingly, its filling and good for you! It’s absolutely delicious and if it’s not enough, a nice warm baguette would make this a complete meal!
INGREDIENTS
  • 1 bunch fresh asparagus, roughly chopped
  • 1 small onion, finely diced
  • 1 bunch fresh kale leaves, roughly chopped
  • 1 fennel bulb, finely diced
  • 1 cup fresh spinach
  • 2 celery stalks, roughly chopped
  • 1&1/2 cup low-sodium vegetable stock
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp coconut oil
  • 1 lime, juice only
  • Toasted nuts and seeds, to garnish
INSTRUCTIONS
  1. Heat the coconut oil in a soup pot, add the onion, garlic, asparagus, fennel and celery stalks and cook for 5 minutes over low heat.
  2. Add the vegetable stock, bring to boil and simmer over low heat for 5-7 minutes.
  3. Add the kale leaves and spinach, and remove from the heat.
  4. Transfer into the blender, add lime juice and process to obtain a smooth cream. Add more vegetable stock to adjust the texture.
  5. Serve warm, topped with toasted nuts and seeds or in my case some garlic croutons.

Almond Flour Banana Bread 

Almond Flour Banana Bread 

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I am always on the lookout for the perfect healthy banana bread recipe. I have tried dozens as it’s a favorite for the whole family. I have found tons of banana bread recipes that are good but none that I could deem 100% healthy and good till now! Almond flour has always been tricky and most of the recipes I tried, the bread would either come out too dry or tasting like cardboard. I found this one last week and made muffins instead of a loaf but today decided to make it as a loaf and it’s absolutely delicious and moist. I usually change a little something in a recipe but with this one I didn’t change a thing. When making muffins though, I found they were ready within 20 minutes. Today the loaf did take almost an hour, I think it varies depending on our oven. I prefer this one with walnuts but when I made them for the kids last week I omitted them. I also used raw honey vs. honey and used Greek yogurt vs. plain yogurt. Again I think these are preferences. Give this one a try and I am sure it will become a family favorite! Would taste divine with ice cream! Lol

Almond Flour Banana Bread

Ingredients

2 1/2 cups blanched almond flour

1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp ground nutmeg

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp baking soda

3 eggs

1/2 cup honey

1/4 cup plain whole milk yogurt (I used GREEK yogurt)

3 bananas ripe, mashed

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

1/4 cup walnuts chopped (optional)

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 350ºF.

Grease a large bread pan with butter or coconut oil.

In a large bowl mix together the dry ingredients: almond flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, and baking soda.

In a medium size bowl, whisk together the eggs. Add in the honey, yogurt, mashed bananas, and vanilla. Whisk together until combined.

Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until combined. Fold in the chopped walnuts.

Pour the batter into a large bread pan and bake for 50-60 minutes until the center is firm.

Allow to cool. Remove from pan.

 

Something Old into Something New

Something Old into Something New

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Who doesn’t love a bargain! One of my favorite pastimes in New York was to comb the vintage and second hand stores for a great find! It was always so fulfilling to find a great deal on a vintage bag! There were a couple right by our neighborhood so it was always a breeze to pop in.

I haven’t quite found the same in Joburg but I have discovered a hidden gem, New To You, in Bryanston. They sell new and second hand furniture and there’s always something you need! To say I was here once a week when I first discovered it would be an understatement! Lol My best friend and I would find some excuse to stop by and fortunately/unfortunately we would always find something we had to have. Coming from a NYC apartment, we just didn’t have enough furniture to fill a house. New to You helped furnished our new homes. Most people don’t know that our pieces are second hand!

There’s something for everyone and Tracey, the owner, is great. She could not be any easier to deal with. If you find something you like and it doesn’t fit in your car, she organizes delivery as soon as the next day! It made shopping for furniture less stressful and also instant gratification…no wait time! This became our quick fix as we don’t shop much here in Joburg but this certainly, satisfied our shopping needs! And I know many of you can relate…when you get that itch to just buy something! Another great thing is that prices are so good that you still had money to get pieces reupholstered if the color or fabric didn’t suit your needs. Tracey doesn’t house anything that isn’t up to par. Plus the quality of her pieces are better than what you get in stores these days! Sometimes older is better! You can find everything from headboards, coffee tables, desks, ottomans, sofas, pillows, nickknacks to furnish your home. Definitely worth a drive by if you’re in the area. You can also shop on their website but going in and browsing is half the fun!

Where: New to You

Address: 2 Brian Str, cnr Peter Place, Bryanston (1 block below Sandton Clinic)

Hours: Thurs & Fri: 9am – 4pm, Saturday: 9am – 1pm

Website: newtoyou.co.za

 

One Stop Shopping

One Stop Shopping

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I don’t know anyone that doesn’t like one stop shopping…so when Wellness Warehouse showed up at Moema’s old spot in Parktown North I was excited! They also have a location at the Thrupp’s Centre.

Wellness Warehouse originated in Cape Town in 2007 and has only now made its way to Joburg. This was my first visit there and it reminded me of a mini Whole Foods from the states. It sells a variety of organic foods, natural skincare, and supplements. It also has a small wellness cafe where you can get fresh wraps, salads, kombucha and juices. Looks like their Cape Town stores also carry fresh produce but I don’t see any of the stores around here doing that yet. Well, beggars can’t be choosy so I will take what I can get for now. Hopefully the growing success will convince them branch out here like they have in Cape Town! Here are some of my favorites from Wellness.

Skoon 

Loving this natural skincare line that I picked up at Wellness. For me, these products are the foundation of my skincare. I will venture out and use more specialized products but when it comes to the basics, I like to keep it simple.

Taken from the Skoon website:

SKOON provides you with the health giving properties your skin deserves by harnessing the best of nature with science. Combining ingredients like Wildflower Honey and Buchu, organic oils of Jojoba and Coconut etc with established scientific actives, we ensure your skin is nurtured just the way it should. Most importantly though, our full range complies with the stringent, toxin-free, criteria of the globally recognised EWG (Environmental Working Group).

Here’s my loot:

  • Whitewash – purifying clay cleanser
  • Gel to Milk – cleaner and  makeup remover
  • Retinin Minipot – resurfacing moisturizer
  • White Cloud Manuka – concentrate
  • Ruby Marine Minipot – overnight hydrating mask
  • Frangipani Flowers Minipot – solid body oil
  • Pretty Smooth – moisture gel
  • Mineral Matte – balancing serum

After two months, I can’t say anything bad about the products. They work well and I’ve been happy with the results. They are pretty standard. There are no miracles but I have to say I’m pleasantly surprised with the Retinin Minipot. I wake up with brighter skin and we all know, us moms, need all the help we can get in this department.

 

Rude Health

This is one of the lines that Wellness carries that caters to milk alternatives, raw cereal, crackers and health bars. My favorite though is the Ultimate Almond Milk as it has nothing but water and almonds! It’s the closest thing to making your own almond milk as many of these milk alternatives have stabilizers and other chemicals in it to make it long lasting or froth like regular milk. So remember to check and read your labels!

Wazoogles 

I have never been one that enjoys protein shakes until I found Wazoogles. Wazoogles is a plant based protein powder developed by two brothers in Cape Town. I can’t say I have anything to really compare Wazoogles to but I do know that it gives me a great morning boost and keeps me satisfied till lunch time. More importantly, it tastes good! My shake is a scoop of the powder, frozen bananas, frozen berries, tablespoon of almond butter, dash of honey and ice. I put everything in my nutribullet and I’m set to go!

So next time you walk by a Wellness Warehouse, it’s definitely worth a visit or you can easily shop on their website, which I like, as everything gets delivered to your door!

Happy Shopping!

La Boqueria

La Boqueria

I’m always up for a night out as these days it’s rare and what a treat La Boqueria was. Newly renovated in Wombles’ old haunt, La Boqueria, welcomes people in with their open and airy industrial boho decor. I could totally see this place buzzing in the warmer months as their steel doors open out to a large patio. The bar is situated on the far left and is very inviting. It also helps that they have great drinks! The place is grand and even when it’s packed you won’t feel like you’re on top of each other. For me, this is key as the last thing I want after a long day with the kids is someone breathing over me or in my personal space! Since we were situated in the private room, there were no complaints. It’s upstairs and gives a great view of the whole restaurant.

The restaurant is suppose to be an ode to their favorite food markets around the world and surely they do. Yet, I have to say some dishes were better than others. For me, the serrano and asiago croquettes were the star of the evening. Our party ended up ordering quite a few of these as they were that good. For my entree, I made the mistake of ordering the Wonder Bowl which was a hot ramen noodle bowl with miso broth, grilled pork belly, soba noodles, Asian greens, dried chili, pickled cabbage, sprouts and poached egg. Now if you ever had a ramen bowl, you would know that it doesn’t contain soba noodles! I should of known better but I thought the rest of the bowl could make up for the noodles. Boy was I wrong, it was a disappointment. The rest of the party was divided…some had steak, kebabs, paella, poke bowl and the reviews were mixed. The desserts on the other hand were all crowd pleasers. Sorry no pics as they were gone in a flash! I would of been perfectly happy with my Miss. Demeanor cocktail, croquettes and dessert!

Place: La Boqueria

Where: 17 3rd Avenue Parktown North

My Take: Love the ambience, great food and drink. I would stick to the more traditional tapas as that seems to be their forte. The more adventurous dishes definitely need more tweaking but this won’t stop me from visiting it again. For a mom’s night out, this is  worth a try!

Changes…

Changes…

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It’s been more than 7 years since I’ve posted and so much has happened within that time. I’ve gotten married, had two kids, quit my job and moved to South Africa. So where to start…

Home

There really is no where like “home” and I miss it terribly. It’s been three and a half years and for three of those years, I have felt displaced. Having never known anywhere but New York and New Jersey as home, it’s been really hard to be away from the city I know best. I miss our East Village loft and the convenience of being able to walk out the door and just go anywhere. Never having much of a plan but always finding something interesting to do or interesting to see. I miss the abundance of different foods…anything you want at anytime of the day. If I felt like an everything bagel toasted, scooped out, with sausage, egg and cheese and a large ice coffee, it was down the street. A plate of sushi, ramen, and dumplings for lunch, that was also just a few blocks over. I miss it all…the people watching, the new stores to explore, the subway, the buses, the taxis…the chaos of it all. I miss the four seasons…spring, summer, fall and winter. I miss snow!

Yet, our kids (Finley and Becket) really know nothing else but South Africa as home. When we arrived Becket was just about to turn two and Finley was three. How could they possibly remember the city life? Shockingly though, Finley does remember and Becket lives vicrariously through her. It’s really sweet but they love it here…our house, their schools, their friends and therefore, I can finally say South Africa is now “home”.

Family

My family means the world to me and not having them here has been hard. I miss their support. I miss their faces. It’s hard to be on the group family text and seeing pics of my parents with my siblings and their families. They go to lunch, dinner, recitals, shows, museums, parks, etc…and we are here.  The kids have asked why can’t we live in NY so we can see our cousins but what they don’t realize is that what they are seeing is not everyday…it’s just that occasional outing. Sure at this point in life, everyone has their own agenda and lives but our family makes time for each other. It’s special. It’s rare. I always thought the cousins would grow up together but now Finley and Becket get to see their cousins twice a year. It doesn’t seem alot but to them, it’s become highlights in their lives. They look foward to it everytime. They reminensce about every detail from the summer or winter before and when they all see each other, it’s like we never left. I guess it’s true when they say family is just family. It’s amazing to see how the cousins just know that something is different. It’s an inate comfort. It’s natural. It’s family.

Friends

I miss my old friends. I miss our talks, our breakfasts, lunches, dinners, playdates, runs, vacations, all of it.  Now if I’m lucky I get to see them once a year. Yet like our kids and their cousins….we always pick up exactly where we left off. It doesn’t make it easier though…

If it wasn’t for the amazing friends I have met since arriving Joburg, I would be devastated. They have made the transition easier, life easier and slowly they are becoming family.

Body

No one ever tells you that after kids…your body just goes to shit! During my younger years, I solely relied on the fact that I had a fast metabolism even though I didn’t know I had it. You name it and I ate it! LOL Now for the past 5 years, I have been struggling to go back to my “ideal” weight. A weight I feel comfortable with, that last 10 lbs I need or want to lose. It’s social media that contributes to our insecurities and just like most women, I’m a victim. I know I shouldn’t look. I know I shouldn’t compare but I do. Trust me, I have done it all to see what could possibly be wrong….why can’t I lose the weight?!  I have gone to my GP to see if I’m going through early menopause or have thyroid problems but nope I’m as healthy as can be. I went to a dietician to see if I have any allergies…none to serious to mention. So it all comes down to exercise and what I’m eating. I don’t want to say diet as I’m allergic to the word. I hear diet and I want to eat chips, chocolate, pizza, popcorn, etc. They don’t work for me. So slowly…….very slowly, I am trying to eat healthy. I need to. Our kids are young and they need me. When I look it that way, I can do this and hopefully, the weight will just melt off! LOL Oh and I forgot to mention, those darn stretch marks…but I can have surgery for that right? Just kidding!

Mind

So I have saved the best for last. It has taken me three and a half years for me to be able to finally say….I am HAPPY!

I am happy being a full time mom. This sentence has taken me five years to write. Growing up, my mom emphasized independence. Being Chinese, you know that means she drilled this mentality into me. That I shouldn’t rely on any man. That I should be able to do it all on my own. I needed to graduate college, get a job, make my own money. She did this because she never finished school. She married young. She was a young mother. So I got it and I tried my damnest to make her proud.  I am proud to say that I did work hard. I enjoyed my various jobs and after 10 years in the workforce, I finally made a six figure income. I lived in the city. I paid rent. I paid for my metrocards, the gym, the dinners, the take outs, the bags, the boots, the leather jackets, the debt…all of it. So when you’re not working, not making your own money, not going out, not socializing, not buying and transported to a different country where you know no one…..it’s hard! You literally start with nothing, a clean slate. It’s not just the money but the mind. Your mind becomes blank. You’re a mom. You’re driven by routine. You’re against the clock. You’re in the car. You’re making lists. You’re making lunch. You’re making dinner. You’re making sure they have the right gear for the next day. What’s happening at school? When’s the next playdate? And while this is all happening….I am finally okay that I’m basically a single parent during the week. My husband travels….ALOT. I don’t say this maliciously, it’s just a fact… I can’t say I was always okay with it though but now I truly am. During the school week, it’s actually easier for me. Things get done on time and there are no distractions. The kids go to sleep on time and I have my time. Everything is on schedule = Happy Mom.

Their life becomes your life.

I had to go to a psychologist to make sure I wasn’t going crazy. I had to know that I was normal. I felt lonely. I felt useless. I felt incomplete. I felt lost. I felt nothing. I was sad. I was angry. I was melancholy. I was depressed.

In my mind, I felt I needed to do more. I wanted a job. I wanted to find balance. I wanted my own life apart from the kids. I didn’t just want to be a MOM.

Fast forward to today….I am just fine being a “MOM”.

Maybe it was the affirmation that I got from the psychologist. That I was normal. That I didn’t need meds. That I wasn’t going crazy. Maybe it’s because I know that South Africa is now home. That our kids are flourishing. I have friends. They have friends. We go back to the states twice a year. That for the first time in my life, I love cooking. I’m not a gourmet chef but I enjoy looking for recipes. I like sharing them. I like meal prepping. I love the new glass containers that make my fridge look clean! LOL I like working out?!?! Okay maybe that’s going to far!

Or it could just be life happening and me, finally realizing that if I worry about all the crap I can’t control I will miss out!

MY JOURNEY + THEIR JOURNEY  = OUR JOURNEY

Love, Me