Of course I have to throw my healthy little twist on everything, even staples like hot cocoa. But seriously – you’re going to thank me for this one!
I love nothing more than cuddling up by the fireplace with a good book and a hot cocoa when the weather gets colder. Even in San Diego, right now the fact that I need socks and sometimes even a COAT(!!!) is a big deal and calls for a lot of warm grounding potions and healing concoctions so that I don’t get sick! Hot cocoa was a staple in my childhood and something I am really enjoying experimenting with (and perfecting!) as a full fledged adult.
You guys know by now that I don’t do anything the “normal” way. Stay weird is my motto and I literally walk the walk. So, here’s my healthy secret of the week (maybe of the whole season!): I make my hot cocoa collagen-infused. YUP.
Every delicious, frothy sip is infused with one of the best skin rejuvenators out there: collagen peptides.
The benefits of collagen are bountiful – from helping bone growth and soothing joint pain to acting as a natural botox, there is a reason everyone should be taking this vital supplement daily for optimum health and all of its wonderful wellness benefits. Once you incorporate collagen into your life for just a little while, it’s easy to notice the great advantages it provides for overall appearance (your skin literally glows!) and for those of us with chronic pain or illness (you’ll start to notice you suffer much less frequently!)
Supplementing with collagen peptides can protect the degradation of the connecting tissues. If you take 30 – 70 grams of collagen peptides per day, it’s been shown to provide a reduction of risk for injuries on muscle, tendons, and ligaments, even in professional athletes!
You are seriously never going to go a day without this stuff!
I love Vital Proteins so much because they are sustainably sourced, which is always important to me. They’re odorless and tasteless and these supplement powders deliver real results in just days! Several studies show that a daily intake of just 10 grams of collagen peptides for 4 to 24 weeks may increase bone mass density. I find that my hair, nails and skin cells all grow so much faster and thicker when I am taking a lot of collagen in my meals and drinks – and this way is sooooo much easier than popping vitamins all day!
Not sold on Collagen yet? In a recent study, women who took just 2.5 g of collagen once a day saw a 20% reduction in wrinkle depth around their eyes… in just 8 weeks!! Even more significant, levels of the body’s own procollagen (the precursor to collagen) were significantly elevated, with production up by an unprecedented 65%!! SOOO impressive. It seems that the pills in this study could make a woman’s skin behave like a younger version of itself!
So, why not incorporate these healthy peptides into everything you can? I start my day every morning with a collagen chamomile tea (where I just mix the powder in with the tea), and at night I wind down with this collagen infused hot cocoa. I use an amazing, affordable and light espresso machine (my first! A gift from Todd last year, which I just adore!) to easily add the body-building, skin regenerating boost to this winter classic. Alternatively, this recipe can be done on the stovetop with a wooden spoon if you don’t have an espresso machine at home, however it won’t stay traditionally “frothy” as pictured. Still heavenly!!
I cook every single meal at home – almost every single day. We are huge homebodies and rarely go out to eat. Honestly, theres two reasons for this: one, it’s how I always pictured adulting. Especially in seasons like this, I love setting my mind to a recipe, putting on the fire and some holiday music, taking in a few scenes of the pups cuddling by the fireplace and just being domestic. There’s something really special and magical about it. Two, it helps that I adore cooking and baking, because we are gluten free, dairy free, we don’t drink caffeine and are (mostly) sugar and alcohol free around here, which may sound like we don’t eat (or drink or DO) anything. Not so, though!
What? This doesn’t look exciting?!? ^^
Each day I’m inspired to come up with delicious, wholesome meals and melt in your mouth desserts so we don’t feel like we’re missing out. And sometimes, I invent something that’s super healthy but still comes so very close to the “junk food” version of itself that I absolutely HAVE to share it!
Today is one of those days!
The other morning Todd came home with this gluten free brownie mix from Trader Joes. After a few days of pondering it, I decided I was going to make us the BEST brownie treats ever. I know he (and I and everyone in the universe) loves the edge of the brownies the most. I knew that if I mixed the batter in just the right way with the right balance of “soft” ingredients, that I could create a delectable little chocolate peanut butter mini cake – without dairy, without gluten, and with our sugar intake cut in half. The best part is, many of this ingredients in these delicious little cakes are healing and healthy for you.
For sweetening, I recently switched to Sugar 2.0 +probiotics, since probiotics have cured the guts of our whole family and this particular brand cuts sugar in half and replaces it with fiber. Your body uses fiber to control blood sugar levels, so this is seriously so genius! Love this substitute!
These darling little chocolate peanut butter cakes barely need any sweetening at all and they come out otherworldly – ala brownie flavored Reese’s peanut butter cups – but BETTER. The brownie mix crisps perfectly and hugs the filling. The combination of ingredients is so soft and superb. Absolutely delightful – and they were gone overnight!! A perfect treat for yourself or the whole family – and the mini size makes it easy and fun to do!
This week has been non-stop healthy cooking. For Thanksgiving, I made this vegan sweet and savory harvest squash + pecan pomegranate salad for our little family and it was a huge hit, so I wanted to share it on the blog today. I shared on my instagram stories that I candied the pecans for this salad, which really adds a delectable honied sweetness I can’t live without in my greens.
We aren’t huge fans of regular sugar around here, so I’ve been using Sugar 2.0, which has a 50% fiber and 50% real cane sugar. That way we are only using half our normal amount of cane! It’s delicious and a great substitute for sweetening. I then added skin-boosting pecans and delightful, delicious pomegranates to balance the taste! Enjoy a simple but impressive side dish that’s perfect for the holidays!
To the butternut squash add the coconut oil, Sugar 2.0, cayenne, salt, nutmeg, cinnamon and toss to combine.
Bake the squash for 15-20 minutes or until it is tender, sweet, and golden brown. Toss occasionally to ensure even baking.
Add the pecans to a separate baking sheet and bake on a separate rack in the oven for 8 minutes. Then remove from oven and add coconut oil, nutmeg, Sugar 2.0, cayenne, salt, and cinnamon. Use a spoon to carefully toss until well coated. Then return to the oven and bake for 5 minutes more, or until golden brown and fragrant. Set aside.
To serve, either place the squash and pecans on the kale or mixed greens on a serving dish and top with pomegranates.
Enjoy immediately. Best eaten when fresh.
*This post was created in partnership with Sugar 2.0.
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This February, my first book “Cured by Nature” hit bookstores and Kindles everywhere and skyrocketed to #1 on Amazon in less than two weeks. This catapulted into an amazing career whirlwind, as this written extension of myself and deep reflection on my health journey became a huge part of my day-to-day reality, with a ton of tasks at hand. A lot of what I’ve been able to accomplish has been passion, and a lot of it has been my ability to multi-task.
These days I’m either running my company, The Organic Life, or writing bestselling books, songs or wellness articles over on my blog (www.theorganiclifeblog.com—say hi!). You can also find me teaching folks worldwide the secrets of forming a healthy, mindful relationship with themselves through my Cured by Nature workshops. After embarking on a remarkable road trip and relocation from New York City to California in 2011, and traveling the country and globe, San Diego was no contest as a home base because of all it has to offer for a clean, balanced lifestyle. From the expansive hikes, to the organic farmers markets, the engaged community, music venues, gorgeous views and perfect surf—I am so proud to live in San Diego and I definitely fall more in love with this city every single day. Nothing can compare to the inner peace and enrichment I’ve found here. For the Healthista, SD is paradise.
I find most of my inspiration in the moments when I can get lost in a sunny day and fulfill my most important obligation of all: the one to myself. My secret to success: constantly find a balance between doing important work and finding time to prioritize, meditate and practice self-care. We all know how our days can get jam-packed quickly, so it’s great when you find one local destination that encourages efficiency, while also providing a great place to eat, write, shop and chill out. I thrive off of nature; adore clean, healthy meals; and I absolutely love spaces that celebrate the outdoors and allow you the ability to step back and take a moment to yourself.
Since landing in San Diego, I’ve been looking for that one, special place—and I finally found it in The Headquarters at Seaport Village! This charming, one-size-fits-all destination is where you can do all of your meetings, shopping, then grab satisfying dinner and drinks, plus pick up something unique for the house or a friend on your way out. If you’re like me, this will be your new go-to spot! Between the views, the food, drinks and shopping experience, The Headquarters at Seaport checks all the entertaining, enjoyable lifestyle boxes! Located just blocks from multiple parks and the harbor, this dining and shopping haven is a hidden San Diego gem. During my recent adventure there, I quickly found out why!
The Headquarters at Seaport Village provides beautiful ambiance in a trendy, casual setting as well as a unique dining and shopping experience for every age. You won’t find many cut-and-dry shops here! Take your best friend and stop by Urban Beach House for a boho shopping spree or bring the whole family to Puesto for your choice of tacos! You can always treat yourself to a self-love date sometime and chow down on a Vennissimo Cheese’s melted cheese plate by the fountain, or swing by Eddie V’s for a divine dinner or drink with your parents or significant other.
Native Knowledge: The Headquarters at Seaport Village used to be the location of the San Diego police department which included several jail cell blocks. Today, they’ve used that fact to their advantage as a local tourist attraction. Do yourself a favor and check out the tiny cells where they used to keep inmates (they’re on the way to the bathroom—you can’t miss them!) The walls are even decorated with old mug shots to explore. A perfect backdrop for selfies!
The taco restaurant of my dreams! Whether you’re looking for an exclusive Mexican dining experience or a delicious drink, Puesto has you covered! With seating both inside and outside, this vivid restaurant looks out onto The Headquarters courtyard and provides delightful menu options for everyone. The tacos are out of this world (I tried three different kinds and could not pick a favorite! Sorry—you’ll have to try them all yourself!). Puesto’s guacamole is the best I have EVER had and their margaritas are out of this world. Strong and gratifying! You don’t have to cross the border to enjoy authentic Mexican food or drinks. I was pleasantly full but not stuffed—my favorite feeling after a meal! Bring a bestie!
Dallmann Fine Chocolates is a truly one-of-a-kind experience for the chocolate lover or your inner child. Like an adult version of Willy Wonka, this shop is chocolate heaven! Choose from dozens of different chocolates, truffles, beers, wines and cheeses. Be sure to make it upstairs, where Dallmann does delicious chocolate, cheese and wine tastings for under $20. In a rush? No worries. You can scoop up a mixed box of delightful chocolates or truffles and do one of your own pairings at home for a super reasonable price! I grabbed a box of sea salt and white chocolate truffles as a gift and was amazed by the handmade detail of each one. So beautiful you almost don’t want to eat them! You can tell that they were crafted with a lot of love, care and skill. Absolutely delectable! I could live here! (Can I?!)
My secret to success: constantly find a balance between doing important work and finding time to prioritize, meditate and practice self-care
If you like cheese, you’ll LOVE Venissimo! This gourmet cheese shop is surprisingly charming, with darling photos of goats on the walls to pay homage to your appetizing options. The selection of cheese is exceptional, and can be paired with a variety of meats, fruits, wine and beer. With such a choice variety of artisanal cheeses on hand, I couldn’t help myself from picking up some gifts for family and friends while I waited for my meal to be freshly baked by hand—yum! I had their melted cheese plate and it was fit for a queen! There is something for everyone, and with a sample option you won’t have any problem picking the perfect cheese for you!
Up until this trip to The Headquarters, I had not tasted a decent gelato since my time in Italy because every option paled in comparison. So when I stepped into Gelato Paradiso, my eyes lit up! Was this really the gelato paradise of my dreams?! YES! Yes it is! I am SO excited I found this place, because I saved myself a round trip ticket back and forth to Europe—seriously! If you’re craving something refreshing and fulfilling (or the kids are!), this one-stop-shop is the way to go. They have a tremendous selection of gelatos to choose from and their cones are finger-licking delicious. Just try to pass by this place and the smell of waffle cone wafts into the courtyard and beckons you in! I munched down on the chocolate, vanilla and cherry! Can’t choose, either? Don’t worry—they’re happy to let you sample first and they’ll be delighted to make you a mixed cone of your very own!
Urban Beach House is everything you ever dreamed a SoCal shop would be! They have so many coastal inspired gifts to choose from and it feels like you are truly home (if home was steps from my beach). Just my kind of taste! They’ve selected locally made candles, stylish shirts, sun hats, dresses, jewelry and trinkets that all give a nod to the San Diego shore. Urban Beach House provides a wealth of options for cute, ocean inspired patterns, textures and colors to decorate or spruce up your wardrobe, home or outdoor living space. The perfect place to stop in for a thoughtful gift for the man in your life, too. There are definitely a lot of treasures to be found here (and treasure-inspired décor, at that!), especially if you dig into their sale section. Friendly customer service and absolutely no pressure from staff to buy anything—which is my favorite part of any retail store!
Beautiful ambiance. Strong, well-made drinks. Fresh, healthy seafood. For a taste of the local catch, it doesn’t get much better than Eddie V’s. I finished off a whole plate of perfect, melt-in-your-mouth scallops and sipped on a crafted gin and tonic, made with love and the most professional shake-and-pour I’ve ever seen! The service is quick and attentive, so it’s the perfect place for a first date, birthday, anniversary or graduation party. Eddie V’s has a romantic atmosphere, so I can only imagine a lot of engagements have gone down here! The building itself is crafted beautifully inside—with a bold, rural style and an expansive floor-to-ceiling wooden wine cabinet.
Native Knowledge: Live musicians play at night and the staff goes above and beyond to make sure you’re truly satisfied with your experience. Come during Happy Hour to catch the killer prices!
As a native New Yorker, I’m an admitted pizza snob. I thought the very best pizza came from Manhattan and Brooklyn—exclusively. Well, my mind’s been changed! The brick oven pizza at Flour and Barley is legit. Absolutely amazing! I’ve found my new pizza hotspot and instantly felt like I was back home in NYC with a pinch of classic Italian charm to boot! Be sure to try their bacon infused spirits (with a bacon garnish, in case there wasn’t enough bacon!). Beyond pizza, you and the family can choose from amazing entrees, home-cooked style pasta, exquisite salads and a great selection of beer and wine. You’ll find the hostesses greeting and exposed brick walls a warm surprise! Our waiter had me laughing the entire time and the service was exceptional.
Cherry Hills Market is the hidden gem among gems. Definitely my kind of shop! A mix of old school, New York City apothecary and inviting, SoCal chic, this market is charm—personified!
In addition to hand picking items, they partner with designers, visionaries and bloggers to bring engaging collections that thrill and inspire. Plus, the market has killer sales events every week. I just love getting something rustic and unique for my house or wardrobe on sale! Cherry Hill Market is right up my alley, with a brand focus on simplicity and sustainability, They boast a beautiful boho swank and a curated, home-focused beach style. You can feel the good vibes all around the store! Coming soon: vinegars and olive oils. Before you leave The Headquarters, be sure to stop by and ask what’s new!
Native Knowledge: The front desk is reclaimed wood doors that originally resided in The Headquarters. In fact, every nook and cranny of Cherry Hills Market is alluring and curated.
Secret to Success: Constantly find a balance between doing important work and finding time to prioritize, meditate and practice self-care.
Five years ago, when I began living a healthier lifestyle, one of the first things I wanted to do was get new cookware for my kitchen. It freaked me out that I could barely remember where my silverware or cookware came from, how long I had owned them all, if I picked them up at the dollar store. Most of what I owned was plastic, cheap and practically disposable. Some of it even had Prop 65 cancer warningson it! This was a huuugea-ha! moment for me!! My food was touching all this stuff before it ever even entered my mouth!! This was soooo important to get under control!!!
I wanted to replace my cookware, but I didn’t. Not then. For some reason, it was something I put on the back burner mentally – investing in just about everything else – even more expensive things (moving, supplements, workout gear,green beauty products) before I got back to thinking about my kitchenware.
Today, this is probably one of my biggest wellness regrets.
Not only is what we cook with and eat off of essential to our health, it was super alarming when a quick bit of research reminded me again of the kind of effects that we can suffer if we go long enough without changing out what we cook and eat with!
Chances are, there’s all kinds of toxins lurking in your cookware, silverware and even your food wrapping! Teflon, for instance, is a huge culprit. And it’s in just about all conventional cookware. Toxic fumes from the Teflon chemical released from pots and pans at high temperatures may kill pet birds and cause people to develop flu-like symptoms (called ‘Teflon Flu’ or, as scientists describe it, ‘Polymer fume fever’),” according to Environmental Working Group. Teflon is especially prevalent in cookware marketed as “non-stick”.
Another creepy culprit? Cooking products with finishes made of perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs) that leach toxins remain the popular choice in many homes across the country. PFCs are a large group of manufactured compounds that are widely used to make everyday products more resistant to stains, grease, and water. Because they are made to help reduce friction, PFC’s are another “non-stick” marketing and manufacturing favorite. The side effects? In animal studies, some PFCs disrupt normal endocrine activity; reduce immune function; cause adverse effects on multiple organs, including the liver and pancreas; and cause developmental problems in rodent offspring exposed in the womb.
These guys can leach hormone disrupting chemicals and toxins into food… probably not the best choice!!
We cook everyday, so cooking with an unsafe material can take it’s collective toll over time.
So is it worth the risk?
Not with perfectly good, handmade, organic, pure and simple options out there it’s not!!!
I recently made the self-love move of a lifetime!
I made the leap to simple, pure, organic cookware – and I could not be happier about it!
I’ve always wanted an organic cast iron skillet so this is a personal dream come true. I would love this to be in my family for generations! To say that I am obsessed with my brand new organic cast iron skillet is an understatement. I cleaned and christened the skillet with organic Flax Seed Oil and then seasoned to cook with her for Labor Day week – totally giddy! I’m going to make soooo many amazing things on this skillet — but started with fish! I fired up an incredible sage and rosemary encrusted ginger salmon and it was absolutely delectable! New level kitchen skills! Cast iron cooking has been around in the kitchen for hundreds of years: it was a favorite over fires during medieval times and widely used in China many years before that. It was the original stockpot, slow cooker and skillet of choice. It still is. Ohhhhh, I love it so much! I’m seriously so inspired to cook every time I look at it! I can’t wait to make years and years of flavorful meals! If seasoning is a little intimidating for you (this was my first time seasoning, but the instructions that were sent with the cookware really helped!), Housekeeper Crockery’s cast iron is sold raw or pre-seasoned with organic flaxseed oil. It’s like holding a slice of history in your hands.
One of my absolute favorite classes in college was ceramics. I absolutely love handmade pottery, and I can really appreciate a nicely crafted, one-of-a-kind piece. I couldn’t believe that an organic, handmade bowl was MISSING from my kitchen! ME!! When I was finally making a lime and garden herb butter batter in this beautiful bowl, I couldn’t help but get lost in all the delightful little details and feel content in finally getting HERE – to the healthiest start to a meal there is! These nesting mixing bowls are created using pure clay. Sooo gorgeous!! I find more unique details and things to appreciate each and every time I use it. These are clearly made to last and invoke the spirit of grandmothers everywhere — with their sturdy rims and thickness they’re perfect for whipping up a meringue, salad oil, cookie dough or dinner seasoning.
Did you know that spoons were originally made from wood to soak up the flavor of your meals and give them right back to you as built-in seasoning in the future? AMAZING, right? One ticket to Flavorcountry for me, please! Huge inspiration to dive headfirst into replacing my silverware – and I starting by switching from metal to wooden spoons! Whetstone Woodenware lovingly creates these gorgeous wooden spoons. They are a family-owned company located in Indiana that specializes in reproduction woodenware. The wood is culled from Akron, Ohio from American maples and the pieces are designed to soak up the seasonings you use as you cook – just the way they used to do. How WONDERFUL is that?!
I absolutely love and trust Housekeeper Crockery because their commitment to their customers health is amazing! They use local and American artisans, foundries, forges and wood to make their exquisite products, so you can feel proud about supporting something USA-made. I personally love that they use organic materials and oils without compromise. Each piece comes with lovingly written care instructions that are super simple to follow! Ask about their adorable organic tea towelstoo. My grandma used to have tea towels around the house when I was a kid and I look forward to passing these organic ones onto my own granddaughter some day!
This is a self-care no brainer! And you deserve it!
The cucumber/grapefruit combo lends this drink a beautiful fresh scent and taste that’s also super healthy for you! Both of these sweet plants have amazing healing properties. I also love the smell of the basil (considered one of the world’s healthiest foods!) and grapefruit before taking a sip.
Bonus: they’re not sweet and a lot less tart than lemonade!
Flower remedies are powerful yet gentle healing tools that can catalyst the resolution of deep emotional imbalance. They contain a small, medicinal amount of alcohol (typically around 23%) plus the essence of flowers that have been infused in water. They are amazing for your health! Flower remedies can do everything from soothing grief to calming fears, manifesting dreams, releasing unwanted thoughts and can even help with physical exhaustion and public speaking. I’ve been taking them for a couple of years now and I can’t live without them!! You can either add them to a drink or smoothie or you can take them straight under your tongue.
My love marine collagen is just amaaaaazing and this brand, Vital Proteins, is my absolute favorite!! It reduces wrinkles, encourages healthy cell production and is an all-around anti-aging agent. It also promotes bone and hair growth! Seriously so many incredible benefits. I can’t get enough of it!! Do yourself a favor and add a scoop of this to everything!