De-stress with Organic India Tea: Review and Giveaway

Disclosure: I received free samples of Organic India Tea in exchange for a review.

Stress. No matter how many downward dogs, deep breaths, or meditation chants I do, stress always finds a way back into my life. It’s kind of just the age we live in; life is chaotic. Cell phones buzzing, emails pinging… the constant connection, though delightful, can also add up. When you think about a de-stressing beverage, you probably think of beer or wine. Oh yes; a nice buzz can sometimes be a great way to de-stress. But! If you’re seeking a de-stressing beverage that is appropriate for the work day, or one you can consume while in a moving vehicle, I think I have a solution.  ORGANIC INDIA has over 18 different flavors of its signature organic Tulsi, Holy Basil herb, that helps reduce stress, aid in digestion, balance metabolism, support anti-aging and overall immune system.

I was sent three types of tea to try; Original Tulsi Teabags, Raspberry Peach Tulsi Loose-Leaf, and Moringa Tulsi Teabags. First of all, I love that these teas are organic, because I recently learned that some big-name tea companies cover their tea with all sorts of pesticides (that sucks – but Organic India doesn’t). Holy Basil itself has a slightly peppery taste to it with a sweetness I really like, and don’t worry — it doesn’t taste like the classic Italian pesto, so you’re not going to feel like you’re sipping a mug of pesto. The Raspberry Peach was my favorite out of this batch, tastewise, for its fruity undertones. However, Moringa takes the cake for the coolest attributes — “Tulsi (Holy Basil) and Moringa (Moringa oleifera) are two of the most unique herbs to come out of India, and together they offer a myriad of health benefits. Tulsi is well known in the west for its adaptogenic benefits and uses in combating stress. The antioxidant activity in Moringa is extremely high, and the easiest way for your body to assimilate them is in tea form. There is one antioxidant in particular that Moringa contains called epigallocatechin gallate, or EGCG, which is twice as powerful resveratrol, one of the most popular anti-aging antioxidant supplements on the market. EGCG has been shown to help maintain healthy LDL cholesterol levels and protect cardiovascular health.” I try and drink a cup of tea daily anyways; can you imagine if I replaced my daily breakfast tea with this one? Cashing in on the health benefits!

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The concept behind Tulsi that I love, besides the organic, non-GMO, sustainible farming side, is that you’re taking the very relaxing act of drinking a cup of tea and turning it into even more of a “chill” moment by using an herb that’s shown to be a mood lifter. Some people think that herbal remedies are hocus pocus, but having had my own garden for years and seeing how cats take to catnip and how aloe soothes burns and how peppermint can cure a gnarly stomach has proven to me that herbs are powerful forms of medicine. One note about Tulsi Looseleaf that’s just good to know: it is a smaller brew of leaf product, so you’ll end up with some sediment at the bottom of your mug (shown above). It won’t harm ya, and you’ll barely notice it, but if you’re a super picky tea drinker, you can brew through a coffee filter or use a french press.

Because I’d rather show you than tell you, let’s get to the good stuff! One lucky reader will win a nice starter pack of Tulsi Teas, in Pomegranate Green tea, Original Tulsi, and India Breakfast. Please use the rafflecopter to enter to win, and note all the extra ways you can score entries! This contest will run until Thursday, July 31 at 11:59 p.m. PST. Winner must be 18 years or older and live in the United States. GOOD LUCK!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

What’s up, Wednesday?

Hey guys! How is it Wednesday already? Time is just flying by over here lately. I had a really awesome busy weekend — saw Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds on Friday night, saw my two wonderful friends get married on Saturday, and then went and saw New Order and La Roux on Sunday night. I also get to see Tori Amos next Wednesday! I used to be a band nerd, did you guys know that? I played the flute, and then eventually learned how to play the guitar, bass guitar, keyboard, and dabbled in the french horn and cello. I really miss music in my life; I think I should get back into it — it was an awesome creative release!

We have a winner for the Sweet Leaf Cola Drops giveaway! Congratulations to Stephanie! If you didn’t win, don’t worry; we have a giveaway coming soon for some delicious Organic India stress relieving tea.

My California Avocado prizes arrived today! Once I have everything unpacked I’ll show you some photos and also share what I’m planning to purchase from Williams Sonoma. I’m so grateful to them and Fitbloggin for hosting the contest… it’s been such a bright spot this summer! Last week, my shipment of beautiful, ripe avocados arrived, and I’ve been eating a TON of avocado. Avocado caprese salad, avocado toast, guacamole, and my favorite — avocado egg sandwiches. Look at this beauty! (I know that to some people it may not look yummy, especially if you don’t like dippy eggs, but I think it’s darn good, so there.) I also made avocado fudgsicles with honey, coconut milk, vanilla, and avocado, and they’re SO good. I’ll share a picture next time I have my camera handy in the kitchen.

I’ve been feeling a little bit sluggish this week as my stomach has been acting up, so I haven’t been as active as I like, I’m hoping I start feeling better tomorrow so I can get back into my walk training schedule. This weekend I’ll be traveling up to Northern California and I’m hoping I might also be able to squeeze in a nice long walk while I’m up there. How are your weeks going so far?

Trying new foods!

Traditionally, I have never been great at trying new foods. I tend to be pretty plain in both the fruit and vegetable world and it wasn’t until my family moved to California, nineteen years ago this month (!) , that I even knew there were fruits like the dragon fruit, the star fruit, and the lychee.

This past week at Weight Watchers (where I was up .8) we were challenged to try something new this week that we didn’t think we would like… to try something new. Immediately I thought to myself that I was unlikely to actually do this challenge since I just suck at trying new fruits and vegetables. However, over the weekend an opportunity arose in the strangest fashion.

I was relaxing on this awesome futon when I noticed a kid coming to the door, probably about ten years old. After he knocked, I greeted him, unaware that I was in for a full on sales presentation. The kid spouted off a bunch of words the basically consisted of, “Do you want to try this here mango I hold in my hand?” Since I didn’t want to just say no to this mango master, I said yes and watched him as he skillfully sliced off a wedge of the mango like an Iron Chef with no cutting board.

It was amazing. His cutting skills and the mango wedge itself.

But not amazing enough for the $10 he then pitched to me for a box of them. Sure, that mango slice tasted great at the moment but I knew I just wasn’t ready for that kind of commitment to them.

The point is that I tried the mango. It may not seem like some crazy fruit but to me, it is. I’ve tried it in salsas and it was ok, but I think this attempt was enough to make me consider buying one.

The experience also inspired me to try papaya a few days later too, thanks to my buddy Melody leaving her fruit tray in my cooler.

What kinds of foods have you tried lately? How brave are you when it comes to trying new things? I know Alyssa is definitely brave with her bug eating experience! Have you guys seen that video? If not, you gotta check it out! (Click on this!)

Have an awesome Tuesday!

AprilSignatur

 

 

Fitbloggin’ news: I won the California Avocado Commission’s Avocado Recipe Contest!

You guys! YOU GUYS!!!! Remember my Avocado Cream Tarts recipe? Well, it won grand prize! I am over joyed, and so grateful to both the California Avocado Commission and Fitbloggin. During the session, we learned things like a new method for cutting avocados, called the Nick n’ Peel method, that helps you conserve the good stuff in the bright green fleshy part of the avocado nearest the skin, and how to use avocado as a substitute for butter or oil in recipes. For all of the details, check out the great live blog by Denise at Almasdays.

With the winners of the California Avocado Commission Fitbloggin Recipe Contest - Kia of Bodhi Bear and Kelly of No Thanks to Cake

With the winners of the California Avocado Commission Fitbloggin Recipe Contest – Kia of Bodhi Bear and Kelly of No Thanks to Cake

The session was lead by the wonderful chef and RD Michelle Dudash, and at the end of the session, they announced the winners of the contest! When I heard name, I had a moment of shock, and then in typical overwhelmed Alyssa fashion, put my hands over my head and was like “WHAAAAT!?” I stood up and said a little bit about my recipe, and shared that it was a good grief project for me as I dealt with feelings of loss after losing my mother-in-law in May. I feel so honored to have won this contest, because I did spend a lot of time on it, and really, found it a very fulfilling creative outlet to focus on in a time of despair. I then got to watch Chef Michelle make my recipe, and the feeling was so, so surreal to see a professional chef prepare something I conjured up in my mind. It was incredible (and far more graceful looking than if you’d had seen me try to bumble, stumble, and prepare a dish in front of an audience!)

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After Chef Michelle made my recipe, the doors burst open, all talk show style, and a table rolled in with a bunch of the cream tarts for everyone to try. I was still in disbelief at this moment, and felt like a movie star as people snapped pictures of me with the tarts!

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I was super excited that I also had chosen to wear my California necklace that day — talk about good timing, right? I may not be a native Californian, but after 19 years here, I think its safe to say California’s not getting rid of me.

You all need to check out the other two prize winning recipes! In second place, is my friend and Fitbloggin roomie, Kelly from No Thanks to Cake! How delicious does her recipe for Grilled Avocado Caprese look? I can’t wait to try it out this summer!

In first place, is my friend Kia’s Green Chile Avocado Gazpacho. This sounds so cool and refreshing!

Once again, I’m so grateful to the California Avocado Commission (Emily, Jan, Michelle, and Lori) and Fitbloggin’ for choosing my recipe. My prize includes a monthly shipment of avocados for the next three months (*drools*), a Kitchen-Aid Artisan Mixer (Movin’ on up, baby!), a $150 William Sonoma Gift Card, and a California Avocado Gift Pack. I’ll certainly share a photo of all of the goodies once they arrive. I also get to keep that kick-ass sign… it’s totally going to hang in my home office :)

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I have so many other things to tell you about Fitbloggin’, but it’s late, and I suspect I’m still a little bit on East Coast time. For now, I’ll head to bed and dream of avocados! I hope you have a wonderful day!

Going at full speed

Hello wonderful blog followers!

The month of June is nearing the end.  Can you believe 2014 is already going to be half over?   Time goes by way too quickly and lately I have been finding it hard to do anything that includes sitting down. Unless it is when I am sitting in traffic during my new rush hour commute.

Summer camp is in full swing at the humane society I am now working at and so far,  this job is incredible.  My first two weeks of training brought me all types of new experiences with animals and filled my head with dancing bunnies, barking dogs, and climbing kittens. It has been AWESOME. This week we have our campers, all fifth and sixth graders full of questions, enthusiasm and opinions.  Today I was introduced to the wonderful large group game called “Kelp Help” (a revised version of “Elbow Tag”). Since I’m an awesome camp teacher, I played with the kids and ended up getting a quick workout that even got me sweating!  I had to sprint around a circle playing the role of a shark-dodging seal, as one of  the campers would try to tag me before I latched on to the “kelp” to be released from my role. It was nuts. But the kids were impressed with my short bursts of swiftness.

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Last week marked the first week of the Susan G. Komen 24-week training guide.  I managed to walk eight miles last week and this week I have done five so far, thanks to the first official training walk I hosted on Monday. Another 3-day participant, her daughter, my mother, and my two friends joined me to walk through a five mile chunk of my town. I was grateful that the weather was gorgeous and not too hot as we spent our evening chatting about what fitness meant us, weight loss, the effects of cancer on the world, and other random conversation pieces. My feet were about ready to fall off by the end of it as I was still sore from three miles I had done the day before hiking around the Santa Cruz mountains.

All my mileage I have racked up so far has certainly been making me feel all sorts of soreness. However, I also have been quickly feeling much more in shape than even just a month ago. I was down another 3.6 pounds last Saturday at Weight Watchers and am (ideally) another weigh-in away from being down 10 pounds officially since I began the program. It has been a challenge to take off those ten pounds but some progress is better than none. I have a feeling with the walk training and my new lifestyle of change of working to eliminate all the foods I am allergic to, I have faith I’ll be able to continue to drop the pounds.

This week I have been surviving off of yogurt, quinoa mixed with salsa, lettuce, cheese sticks, and grapes.  Mmm, grapes.  ::moment of Napa Valley appreciation::  I am looking forward to finally getting my first pay check so I can grocery shop for more variety! I went to Whole Foods and was saddened by the lack of products that are gluten-free but not made with rice or oats instead.  I did see some corn bread mix that inspired me to research recipes so I have faith maybe I will be able to find some other variety of carbs. Coming up with quick breakfast foods has been my biggest challenge but after some facebook friends made some suggestions, I have some ideas I could do.

Do you have any breakfast ideas for me that don’t include wheat, oats, rice, apples, bananas or oranges?  Thank you :)

I hope everyone had a glorious  rest of their week and an even better weekend.  I’m aiming to walk another eight miles before next Monday, I’ll use this blog as a commitment to do it. ;)

Bye bye!

AprilSignatur

 

 

 

 

PS – I’m brewing up some great ideas for fundraising for my 3-day walk but once I hit 20% of my needed $2,300 – I’ll be working with my friend and stylist, Ashley Blanchard of Lauthr, to create a “pink hair color” fundraising meter - the more money I earn – the more pink my hair will become. So far I have 12% thanks to donations from lovely people (Tommy, my Mom, my sister, Shannon, Audra, and Linda!) and I am VERY EAGER to get that pink in my hair.  If you have it to spare, please consider even donating $5 to my fundraising!  Thank you so much!

 

Visit my personal page here:   http://www.the3day.org/goto/aprillofgren

 

 

 

Avocado Cream Tarts with Nectarines and Strawberries

~ This recipe took home the grand prize in the California Avocado Commission’s Cutting Edge Culinary Recipe Contest on June 27, 2014!

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Happy Monday! Do you guys remember how last year at Fitbloggin’ I must have found a million four leaf clovers, because I cleaned out with a whole Amana Kitchen Set AND a Tiffany necklace?! What the what?! Well, this year I’m hoping luck is on my side again because the California Avocado Commission has put a call out for creative avocado recipes featuring mostly fruits and veggies for the California Avocado Cutting-Edge Culinary Recipe Contest. I’ve been obsessing thinking about what I was going to make for three weeks, flip-flopping back and forth between a sweet recipe or a more “classic” avocado recipe, in which avocado plays the mellow counterpart to some strong flavor like cilantro, onion, or prosciutto. In the end I decided to take a risk, and make a dessert — a deliciously decadent dessert that tastes like a million calories but is actually cutely packed into portion controlled tarts. I present to you, Avocado Cream Tarts — a rich shortbread shell filled with a light, fluffy avocado mascarpone cream, sweetened with a touch of wildflower honey and given a clean, crisp accent with freshly squeezed lemon juice. The mascarpone pairs beautifully with the buttery notes of avocado, all the better topped with juicy, ripe, diced nectarines and strawberries. This sweet treat has a simple, just-picked, summery taste, and I hope you like it as much as I do.

Double Chin Diary Avocado Mascarpone Recipe

Ingredients

1 Package of Shortbread Tartlet Shells or  Phyllo Shells (bake as instructed), or miniature graham cracker shells (Or even a thin, sweet cookie if you can’t find anything else. I used shortbread tartlet shells found near the ready made pie shells in the baking section.)

1.5 Cups Mascarpone Cheese

1 Medium Ripe California Avocado, Mashed

1 Teaspoon Honey

1/2 Teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 Diced Nectarine (or more to taste)

Handful of strawberries (or more to taste)

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1) Mash the avocado with a fork until it’s guacamole consistency. A few small chunks are fine, but for the most part you want a smooth taste. Combine this with the mascarpone in a mixing bowl, and beat on medium for a minute until well mixed. If you don’t have a mixing bowl, you can use a whisk and your hands, but mix well. Slowly add in the honey and lemon juice. You can either increase or decrease the amounts of either of these, but I found 1 tsp honey to give just a very slight sweetness, and the lemon to add a very slight tartness to bring out the buttery avocado.

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2) Dice the nectarine and strawberries very finely. Either use a spoon or piping bag to carefully fill the shells. Don’t have a piping bag but want a pretty swirl? You can make an improv piping bag, using a ziploc bag filled with the cream, snipped in the corner with scissors.

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2) Dice your nectarines and strawberries and dab a few pieces of each on top. Pat yourself on the back, cuz you’re all done! See how easy that was?! There are a million different variations you could do on this; blueberries, banana, kiwi, apricots, mango… the possibilities are endless.

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When I was brainstorming this recipe, it was important to me that it be quick and no-bake. We’re up in the 90s here in Los Angeles, and turning on my oven for anything takes some doing. I also wanted to feature avocado in a non-traditional sense; as a dessert, with lots of complementary flavors, but still with the buttery, rich avocado taste being the main feature.

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Each avocado tarlet is about 130 calories, and well worth every bite. Avocados are packed with healthy fats, and are sodium and cholesterol free. It’s also sometimes called the Alligator Pear for its bumpy, green skin. For more fun avocado facts, visit this link from my friends at the California Avocado Commission.

What do you think about this dessert? Would you give an avocado dessert a try? What’s your favorite way to use avocados?