Refreshing Mint Tea

Years ago, when I gleefully began using my mom’s garden for my own purposes I made the mistake of planting mint in it. Not only that, but so enamored with the different flavors available, I planted several varieties of it: chocolate mint, peppermint, spearmint and orange mint. I had started my own personal mint farm! I loved all the slight nuances of flavor in those little leaves, however in the end, I used very little of the flavored mint. Going through the garden, I loved pinching and rubbing the leaves between my fingers and smelling the wonderful scents that came off. Most of the mint that was used simply went to mojitos and when the season ended, we both assumed it would be the end of the mint.

Refreshing Mint Tea

Not knowing any better, next year we were both surprised to find, “Oh wow- the mint came back!”…and it had spread. Most of the mint varieties had combined to create a muddy, minty taste and in the end we pulled up most of it, with the exception of one or two plants that still had good flavor. Each year since, it has spread its little tendrils out further and pops up in unexpected places, and each year we have tried to prune it back. I was only officially told this year that it functions similarly to a weed and that it must all be pulled out otherwise it will keep spreading, but a part of me doesn’t want it to all go away. I like the little surprises of mint that pop up throughout.

Refreshing Mint Tea

This year however, the flavors have become less intense. With the help of Yotam Ottolenghi I’ve found many more ways of using mint. Because of that and also partially because I firmly disagree with the idea of paying for fresh herbs in the spring and summer, I found myself purchasing more mint this year (this time only in spearmint and peppermint, though as I talk about it more, I’m craving the wonderful depth of chocolate mint). I’ve learned my lesson though and this time around they have their own little pots to go into so no more spreading all around the garden!

Refreshing Mint Tea

Inspired by the cold mint tea I would see at the greenmarkets in NYC, this recipe is just a simple way to use mint to create a refreshing drink.

Refreshing Mint Tea

Serves 4

1 oz (2/3 Cup, packed) Fresh Mint Leaves
2 Cups Water
2 TBSP Turbinado Sugar
Club Soda, chilled
1 Lime, optional

In a small saucepan, mix together the mint, sugar and water. On medium heat, simmer for 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally so that the sugar doesn’t stick before melting. Turn off the stove and cover the pot, allowing it to cool completely (I often leave it overnight on the stove).

Strain the mint syrup and store in the fridge until ready to serve.

When you are ready to serve, divide equally amongst 4 glasses and top with chilled club soda, to taste.

If using, slice a lime into 4 wedges and serve with each drink.

Refreshing Mint Tea

Turning 26.

Last week I turned 26. I don’t feel any older, I don’t feel any more “adult-like” but I realized that somehow, I’m on the other side of 20 and getting closer to 30. Early and mid 20’s are gone. At this point, if we were looking strictly at numbers and rounding, I would most definitely be rounded up to 30.  Not quite sure how this happened. When I was in high school or college, visualizing where I would be in 5 to 10 years, I don’t suppose I imagined where I am now. I probably imagined that I would have found a fulfilling career that would somehow be enough to cover my bills. I probably thought I would be living in my own place- either renting or ideally looking into buying a small house with my partner. I believe I wanted something large and grandiose and I suspect I also thought I would be more outgoing- a bubbly socialite.

I would be an “adult”, living a big important “adult life”.

Instead, as an adult at 26, I find myself recently moved in with my mother, unemployed (with the exception of some part-time freelance work) and going to school part-time with the hopes of getting into a graduate school of choice in the next year.

Despite relatively minimal and inconsistent income however, I still find myself envisioning my dream home; now, much smaller, with a garden in the back and a kitchen with open shelves and large windows for plants. I’m still bubbly and outgoing, but certainly not a socialite. At some point, I became quite a bit of a homebody and would much rather spend an evening at home, than spend it out.

One thing that hasn’t changed however is my pursuit to find a job that I’m truly passionate about – one where I can also be my own boss. It’s probably one of the main reasons why I find myself where I currently am. Six months ago I was working, going to school and able to support myself but that was about it. I wasn’t working towards a future or the other goals I had dreamt of: saving for a house, having a garden, being my own boss with my own hours and I certainly didn’t feel fulfilled. I was catapulting myself in the wrong direction.

Hitting the stop button and taking a few steps back has been difficult, but I’m confident that with this time I’m repositioning myself down a different path towards the future I dreamed of.

My own happiness in the present- taking things slowly- has become a priority. While I try to organize myself each day and each week towards working on things for the future, I also make to take time to have moments each day that help relax and make me happy.

I’ve been purposefully spending more time each day away from computers and technology. Instead I see myself slowly turning into my mother, getting my hands dirty planting vegetables and other plants and digging up weeds. Sunday morning I went outside to check on the cats and found myself pulling weeds from the garden for 40 minutes. I’ve of course been doing lots of cooking and baking, but most things have been just been freehand, throwing together random veggies and ingredients into my skillet and making it into a meal- nothing recipe or post-worthy, I promise.

I’ve realized that no matter how hard you organize, plans change and life often goes in unexpected directions. It really is about the journey more than the endpoint. While I am still searching and still working towards a different future, all in all, I am happy in the present and I look forward to a year at being 26.

Veggie-Packed Recipe Round-Up

Last Friday I talked about the importance of eating non-starchy veggies and challenged everyone (myself included) to include more into every meal.

Veggie-Packed Recipe Round-Up

Admittedly, my biggest struggle in this challenge has been adding greens to breakfast. Green smoothies make things simple enough; as do eggs and omelets with sautéed spinach or kale but this past weekend my mom made sticky buns and I had no idea how to incorporate greens with it in a way that wasn’t complete blasphemy. I am (slightly) ashamed to admit that I ended up just grabbing a handful of spinach afterwards and eating it raw. Gotta do what you gotta do though, right?

Anyway, with that in mind, I wanted to share some recipes for breakfast, lunch dinner and snacks that incorporate lots of delicious veggies! I hope this will encourage more of you to join in my #HappyHealthyApril Challenge. This challenge means a lot to me because as we get closer to summer, I see more and more ads and challenges to get that “beach body” and products and companies stressing workouts and diets that “shred fat”. I want to encourage people to focus on self-care and being happier and healthier mentally, physically and nutritionally.

Breakfast:

Super Green Springtime Smoothie Bowl with Cilantro from A Little Rosemary and Time

Poached Eggs Over Avocado Smoked Salmon from Cookin’ Canuck

Poached Eggs and Rainbow Chard on Sourdough Toast from Brooklyn Supper

Breakfast BBQ Tacos from A Little Rosemary and Time

Lunch:

Glazed Beet + Carrot Salad from Sprouted Kitchen

Raw Massaged Kale Salad from A Little Rosemary and Time

Roasted Cauliflower, Beet and Farro Winter Salad from Joy the Baker

Fully Loaded Spring Samosas from My New Roots

Dinner:

Mini Ratatouille with Cherry Tomatoes and Fairytale Eggplant from A Little Rosemary and Time

Leek and Brussels Sprout Quiche from Mitzy at Home

Cauliflower Crust “Pizza” with Chickpea “Pepperoni” from Half Baked Harvest

Eggplant Rollatini from The Iron You

Broccoli, Beet and Kale Brown Rice Bowls with Pesto from The Roasted Root

Healthy Tempeh Tacos Made Easy from A Little Rosemary and Time

If you’ve already joined me in my #HappyHealthyApril Challenge, please tell me- what have you been doing to be happier and healthier this month? Have you been working towards new goals or making changes in your daily life? Have you found yourself struggling with anything? I want to hear from you!

Fit Fridays: Eat More Non-Starchy Veggies!

Hello and Happy Friday! I don’t pay attention to the weather reports so I genuinely had no clue what the weather would be like today. I wondered if it would be rainy again or cold and windy but so far, it looks like a lovely spring day!

This week I started sharing about my #HappyHealthyApril Challenge and if you are a part of my email list, you received an email just for subscribers, talking more frankly about the challenge and my purpose and goals for it. (This is where I point you to my “Subscribe for Emails” link and say you should sign up now so you don’t miss anything!)

In short, I’m really pushing the #HappyHealthyApril Challenge as a way to combat all the negative expectations we start to see as we get closer to summer, aka “bathing suit season”. I want to counter all the diets to get that “bikini body” and the workouts to shred fat and boost that booty. I believe in living a balanced lifestyle and that being healthy and happy is about a combination of mental, physical and nutritional health. We are so much more than a number- so much more than our size, shape and appearance.

EAT MORE NON-STARCHY VEGGIES

So with the idea of health in mind and a happy healthy April, I wanted to focus this Fit Fridays post on a healthy diet, specifically through eating more non-starchy vegetables.

Now, all veggies are inherently good, but non-starchy vegetables, such as leafy greens, asparagus, broccoli, peppers, eggplant and beets are basically one of the foods you can eat endlessly. Non-starchy vegetables are full of fiber but lower in carbohydrates than starchy vegetables (i.e. potatoes, sweet potatoes, corn and winter squash), and thus are lower in calories so they are essentially considered a “free food”. I personally enjoy that I can eat them in abundance. Being full of fiber, non-starchy vegetables are great for maintaining blood sugar levels, aiding in proper digestion and bowl movement as well as promoting good gut health by providing prebiotics, which serve as food for your gut bacteria.

By eating a variety of non-starchy vegetables daily, you are also consuming a variety of vitamins and minerals that are essential to proper health. I’d like to go into detail about the specifics with regards to which vegetables contain which vitamins and minerals and the benefits of each but I’d like to save that for another post.

I’m quite sure you’ve all heard that you should eat more vegetables but – and I know this from personal experience- there’s a difference between knowing and doing. That’s why I am challenging myself to incorporate vegetables into each and every meal (yes, I mean breakfast too!) this month and I’d like to challenge you to do so as well and join me.

To prepare for this, I’ll be heading out shortly to stock up on lots of veggies before I start prepping them by steaming, sautéing and roasting them in batches to make them easy to incorporate into meals during the week. I think my biggest challenge will be adding them into breakfast daily. It will take a little more forethought but I think it’s doable- more green smoothies, maybe adding more greens to scrambled eggs and omelets or maybe some chopped veggies on top of a piece of toast.

As I work through this, I’ll be sharing about it here and on Instagram using the hashtag #HappyHealthyAril- I hope you’ll join me and share what delicious meals you create or healthy habits you are working on mentally, physically and nutritionally.

#HappyHealthyApril Challenge

Yesterday morning, I went for a run outside. It’s been a very long time since I’ve run for any extended time, let alone outside. I generally despise running for any sort of distance or doing anything that might be considered “endurance”. Running is uncomfortable at best- it’s laborious and continuous; your legs start burning and muscles you didn’t even know you had start begging you to stop, your breathing starts coming out in gasping huffs with your chest heaving just to catch up- it’s just not an enjoyable experience. And yet, Sunday night, I made a decision and promised myself I would go for a run Monday morning.

#HappyHealthyApril

While I’ve been getting back into working out regularly and have been narcissistically taking pleasure in seeing my strength return and muscles start to show again (when it comes to short sleeves and tank top season, I’m a ‘Sun’s Out, Guns Out’ kind of gal), I’ve really been avoiding any cardio.

Now for some, running and cardio in general is all about burning calories and slimming down but endurance exercises, such as running, are fantastic for improving your cardiovascular abilities and thus strengthening your heart but also help to activate different muscle fibers (in this case, Type I Muscle Fibers). I want to start running more often to improve my cardiovascular abilities but also to use my muscles in a different way, which should ultimately help me to  strength train better. But enough about the details as to why I’m starting to run again- let’s get to the real point.

The point of all this is that I’ve slowly been making changes and trying to adjust what I do daily to live a happier, healthier life. Healthy lifestyles don’t come from big moments, they come from the little decisions you regularly make each day. So, this month, I’ve decided to dedicate each day and the posts I share to be about being happier and healthier mentally, physically and nutritionally.

I’m using the hashtag #HappyHealthyApril and posting about the journey daily on Instagram and Twitter and if you haven’t already, sign up for my email list where this month I will also be sending tips and tricks for a happy, healthier you!

Anyway, I hope you’ll join me using the hashtag #HappyHealthyApril and share what you are doing to live a happier, healthier life!