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Olive Oil Taste Testing

If you’re looking for a new way to season your vegetables, spice up your fish, marinate your meats, or just create a great dip, then olive oil and balsamic vinegar tastings might be for you.

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Olive oil is a staple in most Mediterranean diets and has become popular in Western cooking in the recent decades. Many may not know this, but there are over 20 different types of olive oils, infused with various herbs and spices. When paired with infused balsamic vinegars, the flavor combination possibilities are endless.

Generally when it comes to taste testings wine might come to mind, maybe even cheese or coffee, but never oil. The best way to taste test the quality of olive oil is to place a small amount in a glass, and take a sniff. It should smell fresh. If it smells slightly musty or like cardboard the oil is not pure or has gone bad. Don’t worry if you’re a newbie to all of this, the expert doing the tasting will guide you. And if guzzling a little oil by itself sounds unappetizing, you can always pair the oil with a balsamic vinegar or dip in some bread.

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There are several places that sell premium olive oils and balsamic vinegars, The Olive Pantry is one that is local to where I live and has become my summer favorite place to shop. They do walk-in taste testings and have a list of pairings that they recommend(which I plan to try out every single one as a part of my summer bucket list). Due to my soy allergy, I haven’t been able to eat any of my favorite Asian dishes., that is until they recommended I try the Honey Ginger Balsamic Vinegar which mimics the flavor I was going for in my orange chicken.

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They’re not just limited to Olive Oils

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They sell local jams, honey, and pickled goods too

Bring back your old bottles to recycle and reuse for refills

Bring back your old bottles to recycle and reuse for refills

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Not an expert cook? Don’t worry…they have pre-made rubs all ready and packaged to go. Cooking with their ingredients are virtually dummy proof. My favorite combination for chicken breasts on a summer salad is Dragon’s Breath Rub with Sicilian Lemon White Vinegar and Garlic Basil Olive Oil

If you are looking for any food events like this one or something new in your area you can try out Eventbrite. It is a platform that allows it’s users to find local events! They also have an event management page if you wanted to create/promote your own event as well.

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Setbacks and New Beginnings

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This announcement has been a long time coming and I’ve been putting it off like paying off a sad parking ticket, but I’ve decided to put Little Bliss Book on hiatus — or at least until I figure out how to be Superwoman(but I’m such a klutz so that’s unlikely). As of last month I’m finally back in school, pursuing my passion — food and holistic health! This is only a minor setback, but I’ll be back, and hopefully as a professional Registered Dietician.

The end goal seems miles away, but no matter how exhausting this process, the next few years will come and go whether I start or not.

When I started this blog about a year and a half ago, I was coming out of a transition place in my life. I had plans to pursue my graduate studies when I became extremely ill and had to stop. At first it was really hard watching my friends get ahead while I was taking a step backwards. But it’s a funny thing how things turn out. Getting sick lead me to seeking the help of a Dietician/Nutritionist, which lead me to sharing my experience and ideas on this blog, which now has lead me to changing my career plans to holistic health.

I have plans of where I’d like to take my writing and cooking on this blog, but until I figure out a way to juggle grad school, a full-time job, and my artistic endeavors on the side (creating and film-making will never leave my hippie soul, I’ve tried, but it just comes back to me like a boomerang, so I won’t fight it anymore. Universe you win okay!), — I’ll be posting short thingamajigs to my blog Facebook page. You can follow there or enter your email in the side bar to get notified when I return. Until then, thanks for all your support, and as always..

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Photography: Priyanka Chandra

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Zardozi Magazine Feature

This post is a little overdue, but with the hum drum of the holidays, and with recently being in rehearsals for the music video shoot of “Empire Vampire” for The Goodnight Darlings it didn’t dawn on me until now that the interview I did with Zardozi Magazine months ago was published. So here it is, better late than never, the Fall/Winter 2014 issue, pages 96-97. Check them out and support them. Thank you Zardozi Magazine for the feature and beautiful write-up. I hope to keep spreading the word of health, positivity, and happiness in 2015!

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Photography credits: Bottom left: Rakhi Roy; Top right: Priyanka Chandra; Middle right: Rakhi Roy; Bottom right: Priyanka Chandra

Featured posts: Valentine’s Gluten Free Dairy Free Heart Tarts ; Coconut Bliss Ice Cream New Flavors ReviewOat Flour Crepes Recipe

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Eating my way through D.C.

Ever want to just get up and go somewhere you’ve never been? Or maybe it’s a place you’ve already gone to but wanted to revisit? Instead of course, you do the more practical thing and brush that day dream under the rug because, well—life. For once I did that—I left work and my unfinished projects aside and just left.  Maybe I didn’t have quite the dramatic exit of throwing my papers and chair to the wall, because, well— I like having a job. After all, I didn’t need a start-over, I just needed a break. Mostly, I needed a season change–Florida heat can make anyone go a little crazy. So I asked Boss Lady for two weeks off, which she gladly gave me  because she’s an angel, called up my friend in Washington, DC, cousin in New York, and college roommate/bestie who had just moved to Brooklyn and told them I was coming up. My mission: to go anywhere and everywhere there was food.

Founding Farmer’s “Quality and natural ingredients”

Tip:

Make reservations the day before

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Why I Love It

Their ingredients come from sustainable American family farms, and taste incredibly fresh. It’s clear Founding Farmer’s takes their holistic approach very seriously. Plus the founder has an obvious sense of humor for puns; being in the capitol city, it only made sense to fashion the name of this establishment after  the nation’s Founding Father’s.

Something you might not know

As we sat down to eat our waiter told us the one time they had a tomato shortage in their kitchen, all they had to do was call up the local farmer who distributed them their tomatoes and have him bring in a new supply that day!

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Catch up on your farming and food know-how in the reading section while you waitIMG_2000

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To accommodate for my wheat allergy, the server substituted the biscuits that came with the platter for fruits

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Pitango Gelato

Their specialty

Gelato, sorbets, and coffee-espressos. They use organic grass-fed milk, cream, and free-range eggs. For you vegans or lactose-intolerants, their sorbets are dairy free.

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Why I love it

Pitango’s gelato and sorbets are free of artificial ingredients, colorings, flavorings and chemicals, and low on fat and sugar content.

There’s always something new to try

Aside from the classics, they have exotic flavors like mojito, rhubarb, and passion fruit.

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I tried the NEW flavor CAFFE ESPRESSO

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Oyamel Concina Mexicana

Vibe: Vibrant, ambient, modern, artsy

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Specialty

They’re a tapas style restaurant. Everything comes out in small plates and is meant to be shared. It becomes a little pricey as you add on more platters. Don’t expect to leave on a full stomach from their portions.

Why I like them

They have a diverse allergy-friendly menu that not too many restaurants have and it is color coded at the top. Gluten, vegetarian, vegan, shellfish, nuts, & dairy. Plus their GUACAMOLE IS BOMB.

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Why I won’t be going back

They still made their ingredients with Soy. Having a soy allergy is probably the number one reason it’s difficult for me to eat out at restaurants, but I just ended up being creative and picked the one item on the menu which was soy-free and added some salsa and guacamole on top. Did I mention how good their guacamole was?!

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Protein Bar

Vibe: Modern

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Why I LOVE them

Aside from the fresh, great taste, Protein Bar is considered a Fast Food restaurant AND healthy — huhwut?! You can go in and place your order at the counter just like any usual fast food restaurant and have a smoothie, green juice, salad, wrap, quinoa bowl, or chili ready for you in less than 5 minutes.

Why I think there should be more

Protein Bar is an expanding franchise but it is still very very new–you can count the number of stores they have on two hands. I’m pretty sure if there were more franchises like this available in every local community, it would be less tempting to eat poorly when looking for a quick bite to eat. If Chipotle could do it, I think Protein Bar can do it too.

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 So that was my food adventures around D.C. in a nutshell, give or take a few that weren’t worth mentioning. Stay tuned for the next post Eating my way through N.Y.C. & Puking

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Pumpkin Spice Ice Cream Sandwich

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It’s that Fall time of year when everyone gets that sudden craving for pumpkin — pumpkin pie, pumpkin bread, pumpkin spiced lattes, pumpkin everything. But ice cream, although some would say is strictly a summer treat, can be had year round. In this recipe you can marry the two seasons into a, brace yourselves — Pumpkin Spice Ice Cream Sandwich.

You’ll need:

For the Cookies

Makes ~ 10-12

  • 1 Cup Rolled Oats(blended into a fine flour) + 1/2 cup Rolled Oats (to add later)
  • 1/2 Cup Coconut Palm Sugar
  • 1/2 heaping Teaspoon Pumpkin Pie Spice 
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Baking Soda
  • 1 Egg
  • 2 Tablespoons Butter(or dairy substitute)
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Vanilla extract
  • 1/4 Cup Pumpkin puree
  • 1/3 Cup Chocolate Chip Cookies 
  • 1/4 Cup Cranberries

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit

2. Dry ingredients Blend 1 cup of rolled oats in a blender for 20 seconds until it is a fine flour consistency. Add the sugar, pumpkin pie spice, and baking soda.

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3. Wet ingredients Take the softened butter and whisk in the egg, vanilla extract and pumpkin puree.

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4. Mix the dry and wet ingredients along with the chocolate chips.

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5. Add in the 1/2 cup of rolled oats(unblended) and cranberries.

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6. Use a cookie scooper to proportion out the batter. I found it helps to flatten the dough a little so it spreads out wide enough to fit the ice cream disk. (Make some bigger and some smaller since, as you will see below the ice cream disks will come out in varying diameters due to the shape of the carton).

This was my first batch, I flattened them down a bit further in the second

This was my first batch, I flattened them down a bit further in the second

7. Bake for 20-25 minutes, let cool once done. These cookies will be a little more on the cake-like side, since a crisp cookie will fall apart once frozen.

For the Ice Cream

  • Pint-size – any flavor, I recommend Vanilla or for a Pumpkin Spice Latte twist — Cappuccino
  •  A bread knife

1. Starting at the bottom of the carton, grip the pint of ice cream firmly in your hand and begin to cut all the way through as if you were cutting loaf of bread. (As you move up the top of the carton the slices will get wider due to the shape of the carton. Use the bigger cuts for your bigger sized cookies, and the smaller cuts for your smaller sized cookies so they fit)

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2. Pop the disk out and sandwich into your cookies. For less mess, you can take a pair of kitchen scissors to cut the cardboard of the carton where the seams meet and peel the paper off the ice cream.

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3. Quickly roll the ice cream sandwich in some chocolate chips, wrap in wax paper and freeze until they are ready for eating.

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How to start a Detox : The Basics

So you want to start a detox.

Remember all those years ago when Cover of you were a teenager and all the grown ups said they envied you because you could eat whatever you wanted and not have it affect you? Well fast forward a couple years, the sand glass is running out and you’re probably starting to realize you can’t eat the way you used to anymore either. You’ve lost that spring in your step, you’re constantly tired, or sluggish, your allergies seem to be getting worse every season, bloating after a meal is a common nuisance, you’re not satisfied with your body as much as you’d like, and your skin is showing signs of gulp AGING! What is HAPPENING?! Years of bad eating habits is what is happening. For me, college happened. Late nights spent guzzling down energy drinks and cups of coffee, 4th meals at Taco Bell, eating out more than cooking in, tailgating every weekend during football season, and way too much ramen.

Continue reading

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Useful Holiday Giftset Idea

A girl can only have so many Bath & Body Works gift sets. Instead get her (or yourself) something that’s hydrating for the dry/cold winter months and is made from all-natural ingredients. No more dry patches and flakiness. You may be hesitant at first to cleanse and hydrate your skin with an oil, but Josie Maran products are nourishing and not greasy. All products apply well as a night treatment or even in the day under makeup–it won’t budge! For a full Josie Maran Argan oil product review comparison click here.

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Winter Dreams Argan Skincare Collection found at Sephora $39, $68 value

 Who this is great for: Dry, combination skin, sensitive skin Continue reading

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It can wait — No it can’t

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I wish I could tell you that I didn’t just finish half of this chocolate bar by myself, but I’d be lying, because I ate the emotional crap out of it.

I have about every burner on my kitchen stove going and I’m waiting for dinner to get done. Word to the wise — don’t wait until you’re starving to start making dinner because you’ll probably be reaching for anything in your pantry at that point to hold you over until you’re done cooking in desperation. Or on a bigger scope of things, don’t wait to start anything in life. Don’t wait for permission, don’t wait for “the right time”, don’t wait for when things “feel right” because you’ll be stuck in the waiting room forever.

“Good things come to those who wait” some say, but waiting around doesn’t bring about good things, that’s luck. When you break it down, luck really favors those who take more chances and create opportunities for themselves. I think the saying should be changed to “Good things come to those who persevere.” The difference between waiting and persevering is that one lends itself to passivity  while the other requires the act of pursuit. Perseverance teaches you to be resourceful with what you have while you’re working towards what you don’t have (yet). If you want something you’ve never had, you must do something you’ve never done. What do you have and what do you need? What will you need to do in order to get it? Write it down and have a clear vision. If you come to a fork in the road, that’s really just a growth spurt in disguise; it’s there to teach you something. Listen to it, and cross that bridge. Whatever you do though, don’t neglect the relationships in your life. Those can be the fastest bridges to burn if you lead with too much haste. In the end make your move and don’t wait too long or it’ll taste a lot like the bottom of this empty dark chocolate wrapper. You may wish and wait all you want for it to reappear but you’re better off looking for food elsewhere.

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By the way, don’t get this chocolate, it wasn’t sweet or bitter. It was the most confusing piece of chocolate I’ve ever had.

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