Blender Black Bean Brownies (V + GF)

black bean brownies

Black beans and chocolate.  Probably not the first combination that comes to mind.   But these decadent black bean brownies are the perfect vegan, gluten-free, and refined sugar-free dessert (and no one will ever guess that they’re packed with awesome, healthy ingredients… including beans)!  Plus, you can make them using simply a blender.  This is what I call a win-win-win situation 🙂

black bean brownies

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A Gastronomic Tour of Pozzallo, Sicily

pozzallo

Every summer since I was a toddler, my family travels to a small, fisherman village called Pozzallo in Sicily, where my mom’s side of the family originally comes from.  And each year, all my cousins, grandparents, aunts/uncles – each from different countries – come together under one roof.  With narrow streets and the beautiful Mediterranean sea, it’s difficult not to fall in love with this Italian gem.  Aside from it’s unique and lovable appearance, Pozzallo inhabits some quirky (but equally lovable) residents.  From the man who howls every day at 12 o’clock on the “corso” (the main street of a town) to the two friendly fishermen brothers who dream of America, Pozzallo almost resembles a story book; the town howler, the adventurers, and so on.  Everyone knows each other and each others’ issues, which is both amazing as the community really comes together, but at the same time a little uncomfortable :).  As my mom likes to say, “There’s no word for ‘privacy’ in Italian.”  Considering everyone knows each other, it’s no surprise that the “Pozzallese”‘s  – as they’re called – routines tend to be in sync.  In the streets, you hear the light clanking of forks from eating a big plate of spaghetti that nonna prepared for.  This, I miss.

I can go on and on about the town, but now it’s time for the food.  Let’s go!

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A Day in New York City: Chelsea + Downtown

a day in Chelsea and Downtown

New York City is my favorite city in the world.  From the cultural food to the amazing architecture, I constantly find myself in awe of New York.  Recently, I went on a trip to the Chelsea neighborhood with my friends, and had an amazing time.  Later, after going another time with my mom, I knew I had to share the one day trip to Chelsea (and a little bit of Downtown too) with you all.  I hope you enjoy it!

First up, Chelsea Market: 

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Minty Matcha Protein Smoothie

Minty Matcha Protein Smoothie

Summer is all about relaxation and restoration.  With constant pool and beach activities – not to mention the crazy heat – a delicious and healthy treat is well deserved.  That’s why I’ve created this minty matcha protein smoothie.  Refreshing with its minty flavor, energizing with matcha, and satisfying with protein, this is the ideal smoothie to get you back on your feet (or chez, whichever one you prefer 🙂 ).

Minty Matcha Protein Smoothie

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Vegan Rolled Eggplant with Quinoa Filling

Inspired by the classic ingredients of Sicily, I decided it was about time I made a real savory dish. Don’t get me wrong – I love to bake, but this time, I wanted to challenge myself by incorporating Sicily’s produce with an enjoyable, and healthy twist.  What did I come up with?  Rolled eggplant with quinoa filling.  It’s simple, healthy, and maybe more importantly, chilled.  Continue reading

Eating Guide to Vienna

Vienna

Vienna is full of wonderful delights in many ways.  Rich in exquisite art, music, and history, it’s not surprising that their foods fall on the same high level.  Going around the city, we stopped by some classic restaurants, and my family tried out some foods (with gluten and dairy), giving me the rating.  While a beautiful city, there aren’t necessarily that many gluten-free or vegan dedicated restaurants; their traditions (such as schnitzel) are deeply rooted in the city’s veins.  For this reason, I’ve drawn a list of classic Viennese restaurants and foods, as well as restaurants and foods that are gluten-free/vegan.

Before going into the restaurants, here are a couple of phrases you may find useful when ordering food:

  • Kann ich eine flasche wasser (mit gas) bitte? Can I have a bottle of water (with gas) please? 
  • Ich bin gluten-frei/milch-frei/vegan.  I am gluten-free/dairy-free-vegan.
  • Ich nehme ___ mit/ohne ___ bitte.  I’ll take ___  with/without ___ please.
  • Ein anderer, another
  • Danke, thank you

The Classics – Foods and Restaurants

Pretzels

In almost any bread bakery in Austria, you can grab a pretzel, or how it’s said in German, “brezel.” With sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, or just salt as my brother likes to take it, these pretzels are truly amazing.  Just imagine – crusty outside and fluffy inside.

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Van Leeuwen Artisan Ice Cream, NYC

Van Leeuwen Artisan Ice Cream Shop @ 48 E 7th St, NYC

When ice cream pops into your head, aside from Summer, you’re probably thinking cream.  While Van Leeuwen’s Artisan Ice Cream offers dairy-jul ice creams, they also have amazing, out-of-this-world vegan ice cream.  Even better, they have flavors that are typically made of dairy-like salted caramel 🙂  Interested yet?

Board of current flavors

Van Leeuwen really caters to all the different types of foodies – from classic ice cream flavor people to more adventurous ones like Turmeric Palm Sugar Cookie, non-vegan or vegan, and glutenful or gluten-free – this is the place to go to satisfy everyone’s ice cream wants (or more appropriately, needs).  Plus, with an awesome list of toppings like Cacao Nibs and Vegan Whipped Cream, it’s a fun place to mix and match modern flavors and toppings to create the perfect ice cream.  Not feeling ice cream?  They have a small glass display of delicious desserts like Carrot Apple Muffin (gf + vegan) and Sugar Cookies.  Oh, and they have milkshakes too, and you can always take home a pint of ice cream!

Vegan Matcha Green Tea and Salted Caramel

After negotiating with myself to narrow it down to 2 flavors, I came to the decision to order the Vegan Matcha Green Tea and Salted Caramel.  I was blown away, the green tea was fresh and the salted caramel tasted like real caramel (think Häagen Dazs’s Dulce de Leche).  My brother ordered the Vegan Mint Chip, and my dad ordered the Chocolate Caramel Cookie Crunch (with dairy), that was apparently really good as well.

I was happy to learn that not only did Van Leeuwen have delicious ice cream, but that they make their ice cream with simple ingredients.  For example, their normal ice cream has a base of fresh milk and cream, cane sugar, and egg yolks; their vegan ice cream has a base of housemade cashew milk, organic coconut milk, organic extra virgin coconut oil, organic cane sugar, pure cocoa butter, and organic carob bean.

Check out their shops (and trucks) all around NYC and Brooklyn!

P.S.  It’s definitely a splurge, but worth every penny 🙂

Project Fabricland: Diva Inspiration

My mom and I

In January, I participated for the fifth time in Project Fabricland, a sewing competition, similar to Project Runway.  Each week, students meet for three hours to sew garments based on a theme.  This year, the theme was Divas.  This included style icons such as Marylin Monroe, Audrey Hepburn, Cher, among others.  Sophia Loren has been my personal favorite icon in all aspects ever since I saw her in one of my favorite movies, Houseboat (1958).  In Houseboat, Loren plays a young Italian lady who helps a widower (Cary Grant) raise his three children; they end up forming a relationship after Grant sees Loren providing the care that his children so deeply craved, and being the charismatic person she is.  Like all Loren movies, she is feisty and an individual, and does not play a woman who falls at the needs of a man – she’s willing to through a slap here and there :).  After seeing her speak at an event, I was inspired by her honesty, boldness, humor, and dashing beauty, and therefore crafted a dress that I believe to capture who she is. Continue reading