I’m here, I’m here!

Hi everyone, Shaye here.

The last month or so has been a whirlwind. I was home in New York for my 25th (!!!) birthday mid-September, I landed a new gig with an incredible mission-driven company, and I moved into a new apartment in a new city. From Long Beach on the east coast to Long Beach on the west coast… who woulda thought?

It’s a Spanish style 2-bedroom, with orange tile in the kitchen and dark wood throughout the rest of the apartment. It’s been a little “October spooky” due to echoes caused by lack of furniture, but last night we finally committed to a vintage rattan set (as seen below). Not only am I in love, but now I can set up shop somewhere other than my bed to read and write and do gal things.

I can’t wait for all the gal adventures to come~ stay tuned.

Your Gal, Shaye

 

Advertisements

ginger, carrot, ‘n turmeric power bites

sugar, you are my candy ginger, carrot, ‘n turmeric gal

Many people claim to have a ‘sweet tooth’, but if they have a sweet tooth then I have a plain old sugar tooth. My candied cravings have lessened as I’ve gotten older and the types of treats I look for have changed as well. That’s not to say that if I see warm cookies and ice cream* I won’t go for it, but my palette has matured and I’m more mindful of what I feed my body. *(NadaMoo! is the best you heard it here first.)

In an effort to satisfy those stubborn gut bacteria every now and then, I’ve been messing around in the kitchen with various not-that-unhealthy ingredients. I must say, I am pleasantly surprised with the outcome(s). There have been two trial runs thus far in Studio 3 and the results are coco cacao bites and these, GCT power bites.

IMG_1402

I’ve never been a culinary master, so if I can whip up these balls and have them taste delish, it’s safe to say that you can, too. These GCT power bites are jam-packed nutrient-rich ingredients serving up a wholesome, guilt-free snack experience. I’ll elaborate on the benefits of each ingredient in a bit.

This whole recipe sharing thing is new to me, so I apologize in advance for guesstimations on the measurements. I usually eyeball and add based on taste, texture, etc; emphasis on ‘new to me’ in the previous sentence. Okay, so to be clear, all ingredients accompanied by an asterisk (*) is an approximated measurement. If you add a little less or a little more, it’ll be just as tasty. The next recipe I share will be exact — bear with me 🙂

Ingredients:

  • 4 medjool dates, pitted
  • 7 baby carrots, sliced and grated
  • 2 tsp. ground cinnamon*
  • 1 1/2 tsp. ground turmeric *
  • 1/2 cup coco shreds
  • 1/2 cup grated ginger root
  • Dash of salt
  • 1/3 cup Almond butter*
  • 1/2 tbsp. ground flaxseed *
  • A touch of chia seeds

IMG_1284 2

Instructions:

  1. Add all ingredients to your food processor.
    • I used a NutriBullet; I’m not entirely sure whether or not it’s adept to mix ingredients like this on an everyday basis, but it’s served me well so far.
    • You’ll have to stop a few times to scrape the contents on the sides since there is no liquid base to help swoosh them around.
  2. Process for about a minute or so.
  3. Once it’s done, you can do one of two things: take the dough and put in the fridge to harden for about an hour then roll into balls or if it’s consistency allows you to roll it into balls right away, go for it.
  4. Once balls are rolled, put them in a glass Tupperware and throw ’em in the freezer.
  5. For the finale: once frozen, take out and feast on your GCT power bites! If eaten immediately out of the freezer, they take on a frozen treat persona- and wow, are they something else.
    • Note: although they’re perfect by themselves, if you’re looking to spice it up, toss one in with your morning yogurt.

Prep time: Less than 10 minutes

IMG_1392

Onto the good stuff: the benefits

  • Medjool dates: Dates get a bad rap for being sugar laden; they still provide several health benefits. Great for: weight loss, bowel movement support, reducing blood pressure, and promoting respiratory and digestive health.
  • Baby carrots: Good source of beta-carotene, fiber, vitamin K, potassium, and antioxidants. Help reduce the risk of cancer, lower blood cholesterol, and the improve eye health.
  • Ground cinnamon: Loaded with antioxidants, cinnamon has anti-inflammatory properties that help lower your risk of diseases. Great for your heart, lowers cholesterol and reduces high blood pressure. Also helps fight diabetes by improving your body’s sensitivity to insulin. The list goes on…
  • Ground turmeric: Turmeric contains a curcumin, which is renowned for it’s anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties. It also helps lower your risk of heart disease. Almost too many benefits to count. Here are some more.
  • Coconut shreds:  Chock full of protein, fiber, iron, and zinc. Quadruple threat. Keep in mind that there is a high-fat content, so it’s smart to limit your intake.
  • Ginger root: fights fungal infections, helps treat nausea, protects against stomach ulcers, eases menstrual pains, regulates blood sugar, relieves joint and muscle pain, and improves brain function- just to name a few.
  • Salt: In moderation, salt has plenty of benefits. It helps with oral rehydration, prevents iodine deficiency, helps prevent diabetes, and improves cardiovascular health.
  • Almond butter: Contains magnesium which boosts heart health, and potassium, which is important for good blood pressure and heart health. Almonds have a low-glycemic index, making almond butter blood sugar friendly.
  • Organic ground flaxseed: High in fiber, low in carbs. Helps lower cholesterol, support digestive health, and are high in omega-3 fatty acids.
  • Chia seeds: These tiny seeds are a great source of omega-3 fatty acids, anti-oxidants, and protein. They also support digestion and promote energy.

IMG_1404 2

Phew, that was a mouthful. What are you still doing reading this? Shimmy over to the kitchen so you can have a mouthful of GCT power bites by dessert time. Remember: life can be sweet and healthy.

Your Gal, Shaye

tru·isms: there’s an herbal tea for ‘that’

Afternoon tea, anyone?

For generations, people had no choice but to live off the land and work with what Mother Nature gave them. Lucky for them, our planet was fully equipped with all of the ingredients necessary for a fruitful life.

Several of those ancient remedies continue to be whipped up to this day, which speaks to their potency. One of my favorite magical herbal mixtures is none other than herbal teas. Not only is cuddling up with a cozy mug of organic goodness a gift to your taste buds, but it’s also a mega treat for your body.

Herbal teas, otherwise known as tisanes (pronounced tea-zahn), are not to be confused with regular teas. Interestingly, the word ‘tea’ really only accounts for the mixtures derived from the camellia sinensis plant. This includes black tea, white tea, oolong tea, and green tea. Herbal teas, on the other hand, are essentially just infusions (or decoctions) from any other plant that is brewed in hot water and thus, creates a sizzling bev.

These soothing concoctions have been around the block a few times and can be definitively traced back to Ancient China and Egypt, where they were consumed for the same medicinal and sheer enjoyment reasons.

Pro-tip: Using muslin bags and loose-leaf tea is an easy way to reduce your footprint and lessen the amount of waste you produce.

What’s your type?

There are a slew of tisanes that fall under the herbal umbrella, all of which are categorized based on the part of the plant they come from.

  • Leaf:  lemon balm, mint, lemongrass and verbena
  • Flower: rose, chamomile, lavender, and hibiscus
  • Bark: cinnamon, slippery elm, and black cherry bark
  • Root: ginger, chicory, and echinacea
  • Fruit/berry: peach, blueberry, raspberry,  and apple
  • Seed/spice: fennel, cardamom, and caraway

I’m here for the benefits (and the taste).

I love the way tisanes taste, but I’d be lying if I said the benefits didn’t play a role in why I drink it on the daily. Here are a few of the biggest draws for me:

  1. Aids in digestion: can help ease bloating, nausea, cramping, and diarrhea.
    • Try chamomile, peppermint, fennel, or ginger.
  2. Diuretic & laxative: helps eliminate toxins from the body, which in turn relieves stress on the gastrointestinal system, kidneys, and liver.
    • Try dandelion, hibiscus, or hawthorn.
  3. Boosts brain health: Adding teas to your diet can help prevent oxidative stress in the brain. It is also credited with boosting focus and concentration.
    • Try rosehip, ginger, or rooibos.
  4. Relieves stress, anxiety, & sleep issues: Certain teas can help relieve stress and anxiety which in turn helps lower levels of depression, boost energy, and reduces inflammation. By reducing inflammation, you can decrease gastrointestinal distress as well as arthritis, headaches, and hemorrhoids.
    • Try chamomile or valerian for stress & sleep-related results.
    • Try turmeric, peppermint, eucalyptus, or ginger if you’re solely looking for tisanes with anti-inflammatory properties.
  5. Antioxidants: In layman’s terms, antioxidants neutralize and remove the free radicals from the bloodstream, which is crucial to our well-being. Herbs naturally contain antioxidants which provide solid benefits when consumed. With that said, every herb is created differently thus antioxidant levels vary depending on the type of herbs used in each tisane.
    • Try elderflower, lemon balm, or thyme for a tea rich in antioxidants.

It’s brew time.

There are two ways to make and indulge in herbal teas.

  1. Infusion: This method is simply pouring the boiling water over the herbs. Remember to strain out the berries or plants, although there’s no harm in swallowing a few.
  2. Decoction: This method of preparation is commonly used for root, bark, and berry tisanes, as the longer boiling time extracts more of the flavor from the ingredients. It consists of placing the plants in the water to boil and boiling 2/3 of the water away, creating a rich, thick mixture.


The low-down: my faves.

Now that we’ve covered the herbal tea basics, I’ll give some personal insight on what my favorites teas are and why.  As mentioned in previous posts, I try to avoid prescribed or over-the-counter meds at all costs and usually turn to herbal or holistic remedies instead. Recently, herbal teas have been huge players in my healing game.

These are the MVPs:
1. Peppermint: This tea never fails to put some ‘pepp’ in my step. Similar to one of my other favorite, fennel, peppermint is great for soothing an upset stomach. It’s one of my most-consumed during the colder months as it’s a natural decongestant, which helps clear out your sinuses. Added bonus: it’s refreshing and lowers stress and anxiety levels.
2. Fennel: I’ve struggled with digestive issues for a while (bloating, cramping, nausea) and fennel tea has helped significantly in alleviating those nasty feelings. It also has antispasmodic effects, which come in handy if you’re a menstrual cramp sufferer.
3. Chamomile: Relaxation mode kicks in immediately at sight of a steaming cup of chamomile tea. Herbal teas are naturally caffeine-free, so they’re perfect to enjoy around bedtime. Last week I had a cup of chamomile right after I applied lavender oil and right before I hit the hay and, I kid you not, I had the best night sleep I’ve had in years. Another fun fact about chamomile tea that many people don’t know is that it helps lower and regulate blood sugar levels.
4. Echinacea: Okay, so Echinacea tea isn’t in my rotation– yet. After doing some research, that’s going to change real quick. It has some impressive immune system-boosting qualities and has been proven to reduce cold and flu-like symptoms. On top of that, it’s known to relieve pain related to swollen joints and muscles. Sign me up.

IMG_1156
Chamomile tea being enjoyed from one my favorite mugs, courtesy of Goodwill ($2.99).

It’s officially tea time on the west coast.
That’s my cue. Cheers!

Your Gal, Shaye

this seasons diy: holiday in a jar

It’s tough to get into the holiday spirit when you’re surrounded by palm trees and wearing t-shirts in December. Not complaining, because I’m all for ‘dresses and light cardigan’ weather, but it does make me dream of a white Christmas more than I used to.

Back east, my house is merry and bright as soon as the countdown hits ’24’. Glittery wreaths made of evergreen shrubs decorate the doors, garland adorns the staircases and nine stockings (one for our rabbit, Skippy) hang from cast-iron stars over the fireplace.

It’s clear that the bar for holiday decor is set high. We aren’t a religious family, but the allure of the season was always something we loved. Now that I’m on my own, I wanted to bring that same feeling to my tiny studio. The only two (major) roadblocks between myself and that winter wonderland are: temperatures don’t dip below 70 degrees and money. The struggle is real as I’m sure it is for many of you out there.

So I’ve taken it upon myself to craft up a couple DIY projects that are wallet-friendly and on theme for the holidays. The main ingredient: an upcycled jar.


holiday project number 1.

Personally, I prefer flowers on-site at all times. Not only do they add a boost of organic energy, but they possess an undeniable charm.

Whilst perusing the aisles of Trader Joe’s, the lovely arrangement of mums and carnations below caught my eye. We don’t have enough table space for an orchid or poinsettias (le sigh), but this bouquet was the perfect size for two new jars I just cleaned. Score!

The process is essentially effortless and leaves you with seasonally apt arrangments.  It’s a three-step process: retrieve jar, put flowers in the jar, fill the jar up with clean water and you’re good to go. I put the smaller one on the window sill in our kitchen and the other on the toilet in our bathroom (glamorous, I know).

They might not scream “Christmas,” but they are subtle and delicate, which makes them the perfect addition to our humble abode.

IMG_1484

holiday project number 2.

I jumped on the infused water bandwagon a few years back for a handful of reasons. The first is obviously because of how delicious it is. There are countless different combinations you can experiment with depending on the season and personal preference. The second (and more important) reason is the number of health benefits that come with drinking the refreshing concoctions.  Infused waters are naturally low cal and contain no artificial ingredients.

To stay ‘on season’ I wanted to whip up a combo that was soothing with a heady aroma. After doing a (very small) lap around the kitchen, I ended up with cinnamon, one gala apple, Himalayan sea salt, and rosemary.

I washed the apple and rosemary with some veggie cleaner to rid it of any pesticides or other germs while the water heated on the stove (hot water expedites the flavor steeping process).  I added an extremely generous amount of cinnamon, threw in the sliced apple and herbs, then added some Himalayan sea salt to top it off. I slowly poured the water in, let it cool off for a bit, then went for it. It was a home run- I wasn’t sure what the outcome was going to be but the different flavors complemented each other very well. What made it even more delish was all of the benefits.

IMG_1481-1

  • Apples: Full of fiber, including pectin, which is a soluble fiber that helps promote good digestive health.
  • Rosemary: Alleviates muscle pain, boosts circulatory and immune system, improves memory, and promotes hair growth (yes, yes, yes, and yes).
  • Cinnamon: Helps speed up your metabolism while burning down calories.
  • Himalayan Sea Salt: Improves hydration, helps balance blood sugar, helps with sleep regulation.

After warming up with a cup of Christmas in a jar, I put in the fridge. The next day, I ditched the apple and rosemary as to avoid decomposition. It tasted just as good chilled, just had a different feel. If you’d prefer a cozier elixir, throw it in the mic (if you have one…we don’t) or put in on the stove and remove right before it reaches a boil.


I might be thousands of miles away from the holiday season I’m used to, but these two DIY projects gave me a little taste of home and didn’t break the bank. Win, win.

To eating, drinking, and being merry!

Your Gal, Shaye

 

my turn to give thanks

This year, like most people, I have plenty to be thankful for. First and foremost, my family and friends are healthy and happy. I was lucky enough to be born to two of the most amazing parents, who have consistently supported my decisions, rash or not, without hesitation. Additionally, I am the sister of five incredible characters, all of whom have evolved into fine [and very cool] young adults. My friends also keep me going, so here’s a shoutout to you five- keep shining and doing your damn thangs- I love you! Secondly, I am healthy and happy. Ah, genuinely happy.  It feels like a breath of crisp, fresh, fall-in-California air.

I’ve spent a large portion of my time here on Earth being harshly critical of myself. Way too judgemental. I’m so quick to condemn myself for what I haven’t accomplished rather than praising myself for the challenges I’ve faced and overcome.

My perfectionism (and borderline OCD) might be to blame, but regardless, it’s something I’ve always struggled with and for the first time in a looong time, I am learning to make peace with the devil on my shoulder.

I’ve heard it time and time again, but never chose to listen; it’s all about embracing your flaws. Focus on the things you can do rather than ridiculing yourself for the books on your list you haven’t read, the run you didn’t go on, or the 9-5 job you still don’t have.

IMG_0458

For me, I go back and forth because my current situation is far from the conventional “life-picture idea” I drew for myself. Finally, I am allowing myself to sit back and know that that. is. okay. Why am I giving myself such a hard time? This is my life and so long as I can put a roof over my head, food on my table, and a smile on my face, that is enough.

At the end of the day, all you have is you and your thoughts and if all the thoughts that ping-pong around in your head are negative, you will drown yourself in bad energy. That’s no way to live.

So, this year, I am grateful for this groundbreaking (and obvious) revelation. I have finally reached the point in my life where I am choosing happiness. I am choosing to be kind to myself and love all my quirks, my weird habits, terrible singing voice, and so on. It’s the most freeing feeling and I recommend it to anyone who remotely relates to anything I just wrote. Your life starts the day you become your biggest fan instead of your biggest critic.

Enough of all that personal chatter, it’s time to give some recognition to the tres amigos that I am fortunate enough to share this chapter with- Kyle, Vikki, and Matt. I’ve had a few lapses and a breakdown or two, but these three keep me grounded, love me for the emotional, now-and-then sassy, sometimes-too-much-to-handle self,  and for that, I am eternally thankful today and every other day.

IMG_1342

Oh, and we had a pretty kick-ass Turkey day (or Salmon day for me– first pescatarian Thanksgiving) spread, if I do say so myself. Me and Vikki’s apartment has a maximum capacity of 6 with close to no seating so we shot down to Kyle and Hunter’s spot for the feast of a lifetime. We made everything (except for the Gelson’s pumpkin pie) ourselves and did a damn good job.

Vikki took the reins for the stuffed artichokes and the turkey, Kyle jumped on board for the sweet potatoes (marshmallows with a touch of sweet potato) and stuffing, Matt was on roasted veggie duty, and I made some garlic lemon butter salmon and honey glazed carrots.

The prep started around 1:30 and by 6pm we were in a food-induced coma in the ultimate garage man-cave. We fell asleep to the sweet sounds of a Spotify Thanksgiving mix. Vikki and Kyle took the couch and Matt and I retreated to the twin mattress, which was appropriately right outside. Talk about luxury. It was the most pleasant (and unique) Thanksgiving day to date and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

IMG_1348

Life is about enjoying the simple things. Be different, be happy, be grateful for all that you have and above all, love! Especially yourself… it will make this whole ‘life’ much more enjoyable.

Cheers to that.

Your Gal, Shaye