Monday, October 29, 2018

My first Drops of Hemp Oil

Hemp oil and generally, hemp-based products, including for medical use, are a hype of the last years, both in the health- and the food-related realms. Despite the controversies, the trend is growing and more and more companies are offering various alternatives and products. 
The oils are usually obtained by pressing hemp seeds and are praised for their high contribution of essential fatty acids which are required for our bodies and are not produced by the body. A good concentration of such acids in the body is an important energy boost and may prevent both cancer and various genetic mutations. In addition, hemp oil also contains antioxidants, vitamins and is a good source of chlorophyll. 
Hemp oil, with a heavy nutty consistence, can be also used for salads and the preparation of various goods, including pasta (looking for some recipes that include hemp oil among the ingredients, by the way) and is also a recommended ingredient for many quality skincare products.

My experience with Simply Hemp

I personally wanted to try for a long time, and my choice was product made by Simply Hemp. For almost 30 EUR you get a small 500 mg. small bottle, with a pipette for spreading the small drops. According to the original description of the product, it is made of verified CO2, extracted hemp resin from selected organic fams in the subalpine EU region. With a very nutty and oily aspect and taste, it is administred in batches of 10 drops on the tongue, with maximum 30 drops recommended. It must be taken before eating. No artificial aromas, colours or preservatives. 
I personally taken it for a couple of days already and no contrary effects were noticed. No psychoactive effects either. Obviously, if you are allergic or have specific illnesses it is recommended to consult your physician prior to the administration. The bottle is very small and should be stored in a cool place.
Overall, it was a good investment, and as for now I was more than happy with the results. With the cold and dark season just around the corner, a couple of drops of wellness are more than welcomed. 

Disclaimer: The post contains affiliate links

Dating Advice - and Encouragement - for the Festive Season

Fill your life with beautiful things
When October is around the corner, you know that from now on, the air will start being filled with glitters, sparkles and invitations to celebrations, office parties and family gatherings. There is the Halloween, the holiday office parties, the various holiday celebrations typical for the winter like Xmas and Hanukka...Too many occasions to count, and so many opportunities to spend time with your loved ones, family and special someone. Time to share gifts and kisses unde the mistletoe. 
However, when you are single, you feel like it is the end of the world, and all what's up for you in the cards in the next 2 months, is a dark time spent on the couch surrounded by empty XXL pizza boxes and Netflix binge watching. Is this you? Do you think this is the only way you can spend those months full of hope and warmed hearts moments?
If yes, you are wrong, very wrong. To let your circumstances define you is not an act of self-love and self-awareness and keep complaining about your (single) situation will not help you move forward to a sunnier life experience.
In fact, this holiday season can be an opportunitiy to improve, challenge and eventually change your single statut. Feeding yourself and catching up your favorite series is a pleasant activity, but what about using this time for pampering yourself, going out to meet friends and potential dates. Book a flight and start discovering the world! You can, for instance, travel as far as Edinburgh, because there is always something new to see as for example the sparkling Hogmanay New Year's party, attended each year by thousand of people from all over the world. While there, take some time to check at least one Edinburgh dating site. Maybe on one of the many dating sites in edinburgh you will find someone to keep you company and, who knows, your New Year's Resolution might be to start a new chapter of your life in a completely new town? This can happen any time, regardless of your age. Many years ago, over 50s dating used to be completely underrated, but nowadays it is completely normal to not give up finding your other half at any age. 
Not too much in the mood for travel? Office parties can be a chance to meet new people or at least to connect with your work colleagues that you hardly had time to say 'hello' during the last 12 months. Family parties and gatherings are also a good opportunity to show to your family how much you care. You never know, maybe there are some single acquaintances around as well. 
In life, it is so important to dare and never give up your right to happiness. Life is short and not always pleasantly surprising, therefore, try to get the best of every moment. Smile more, be grateful and embrace life fully! The more you search the more you are getting closer to your real self and your dreams. After all, life is a beautiful adventure. 

Disclaimer: The post may contain affiliate links

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Couscous Salad with Ras-el-Hanout and 'Kofu'

When I don't travel in the Middle East, I am trying to bring the Middle East to my home - or to my plate, to be more precise. With my bag full of spices from Spice Kitchen UK, part of their Brand Ambassador Programme, I am bringing the rich world of flavour of the East to my West-Berlin kitchen. 
And there are many opportunities coming to my door, almost begging me to take them, prepare them and further share them with my readers. A couple of weeks ago, I've purchased from a local store Kofu, produced in Berlin, using the culinary wisdom of Israel. It is a special kind of tofu, using chickpeas flour. Available in different variants, including simple, mine was the falafel-one, which means that it has the usual spices used for the preparation of this special Oriental dish. I am generally very skeptical when it comes to the non-Asian attempts of producing tofu - I've tried way too much from the Bio sortiment and none was really satisfactory compared to the usual original results. Kofu seems to be a completely different story with an unique taste, not necessarily the usual soybean one, but healthy, smooth and adaptable enough to a variety of ingredients and dishes.
Another great discovery I had is that there is a before and after using Ras-el-Hanout in your couscous everything. This spice made of dozen of ingredients - among which cardamom, rose petals, paprika salt, ginger, coriander, cloves and turmeric, to mention only few of them - gives actually THE taste to the couscous. All the other occassions when you had this typical Moroccan dish are past and not a very glorious one. Ras-el-Hanout brings flavour, strength and unique memories to your plate. With every single bite of my couscous dish I felt like being back from a long - foodie - sleep. All the years when I only added salt, or only za'atar were a nightmare, as nothing compares to taste revelation of a couscous done right. Feel free to try by yourself and you will experience by yourself this unusual enthusiasm. 
The salad I prepared is easy, can be prepared in less than one hour and can be eaten both cold and warm, alone or in combination with meat - preferably chicken, in the summer as during the winter, as part of the lunch or the dinner menu. It suits the vegan or vegetarian, the healthy mother or child.

- 1 cup couscous
- 1/4 cup tablespoon cooking oil
- 2 medium-size eggs, beaten
- 10 small can champignons, halved
- 1/2 tablespoon Ras-el-Hanout spice
- 1 pinch salt
- 1/2 cup lemon zest
- 2 medium-size tomatoes, finelly cut
- 125 gr. Kofu Falafel-flavored tofu, cubed


In a medium-sized pan, add the oil, and let it fry, at least 10 minutes before starting to cook, at 250C. Add the couscous and eggs and 1 cup water and stir slowly. Add the Ras-el-Hanout and salt and lemon zest, and keep mixing every couple of minutes.
On another pan, slowly fry first the champignons and on another, the cubed Kofu. You can either fry them deep or just warm them a little bit. Once ready, add them to the bowl. 
In the bowl, add the couscous, the tomatoes and the other ingredients and mix them well.
Your healthy meal is ready!

Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking: 30 minutes

Serves: 3

Bon Appétit!

Nature Box Surprises - Your Hair Deserves More #BeautyPositivity

After the summer is gone and the cold time is coming, let's talk hair goals. Healthy, shining, perfectly beautiful hair goals. Did you even notice how better - or tired - you look when your hair shows it? I, personally, noticed the big difference between the two moments, which has to do with my own look and attitude. As I said more than once, this is why a woman wearing a good looking wig can win at least 10 years. Sometimes, more often than you think, your hair tells everything about you.
My hair look has ups and downs, especially after years of colouring and not too much awareness about the toxicity of some products included in the innocent bottle of shampoo. Stress, unhealthy lifestyle and eating habits, the city life pollution are other noticeable elements which harmed my hair and can harm yours too.
More love and care for my hear is my motto and I am trying to be true to my words as often as possible.
Therefore, when I was lucky enough to receive a full box of haircare products, part of the Rossmann Blogger programme, I realize that it is a good sign to focus more on the appearance and health of my hair. After a couple of weeks of intensive care, I can finally review the products generously offered.


The products included in the NATURE BOX by Henkel Beauty Care are available in the any store part of the Rossmann Drugstore network, but also in other chains throghout Germany, since the beginning of this October. They are sold in colourful bottles and also include a body care variant. 
The common features of all of them is that they are vegan, silicone- and parabene-free and based on cold pressed oil. You may ask - as I did once - what is the relevance of this technique as long as those products are - obviously - not edible? As you might know, during the heating process of the oil, not only the flavor, nutrivional value and colour of the oil is chaging, but also toxins are exposed. The cold oil method avoid such a risk, therefore your hair and body are not exposed to elements with a high risk of toxicity which may affect its original texture and health and eventually speed-up aging. 
The products are made of coconut, almond, apricot and avocado. The liquid is heavy, with a very discrete smell - my favorite kind of beauty and skincare products in general - which requires an intensive cleaning. A good occasion to intensively massage the skin of your head. It makes you really good, with a relaxing, soothing effect, especially after a very busy day. 
Each specific haircare product has different qualities: the avocado helps actively to repair and regenerate the splitted hair, apricot - a fruit whose advantages for the beauty industry I still have to discover - protects and nourishes the hair, giving it a shining appearance, the almond creates an elegant attractive volume, while the coconut brings an intensive, long-term fresh aspect.
All those results can be noticed after two consecutive use of the products. 
Applying them does not require a big amount of time. Often, 30 seconds of waiting for the conditioner to work are enough. Sometimes, you can apply them directly on the wet hair and wait for the hair to dry for the full effects.
The purchase prices in the drugstore are more than affordable, therefore, with an investment of 10-15 EUR. you can change your hair from your enemy to your main ally in courageously displaying your personality.
Verdict: The Nature Box products are becoming part of my regular hair care routine. After one week, my health recovered its original healthy aspect and volume. Although I complain often that I am mostly out of time, the high qualities and ingredients of both the shampoo and conditioner allow me to use them fast, with a minimal time investment for maximal results.

Disclaimer: The products were offered for free part of the Rossmann Blogger Programme, but the opinions are, as usual, my own.

What is Tamarind and How Can you Use it?

Pods of tamarind in my Berlin Asian store
The disadvantage of growing up not only in a house where food was the least priority - we had books, after all, lots of them - but also the traditional tastes were very simple - garlic was part of (almost) everything so it didn't count as a 'spice' and adding chilli or pepper to a dish was a great cooking achievement (did I say my mom actually never used salt in the kichen) - was that I had a very long way acknowledging basic spices and flavors. While some were debating about what kind of Oriental spices are suited for the lamb, I was slowly exploring various peppers and trying to understand how much salt I shall add to a soup to make it really tasty. 
As usual, I was able to use this relative disadvantage as an opportunity to better explore a flavor and therefore to set the basics for my own knowledge about foods and their hidden qualities that a good spice can perfectly outline. 
During my journey, besides the Middle Eastern flavors, I fell in love with Asian food. The combinations of exotic fruits, the freshness of vegetables and the sour-sweet variations are fascinating and probably correspond to by complex, curious personality. 
However, the more I am exploring the Asian stores, cookbooks and venues, the more I realize how much I still have to learn and test. Tamarind, is one of those products I am focused right now, that I am working hard to get to know.

Tamarind, the 'date' of India

A native fruit from Africa, particularly Sudan, but also growing in India, Pakistan or the tropical regions with a high popularity in South America and Mexico, tamarind has at the first sight the consistency of the date. The pulp inside the pod looks a bit like and biten raw it has a special sweet taste that justifies its name of 'date of India'. 
Unless you find them raw in their natural environment, it is usually found as pressed, the result of boiling the pulp, which has a nutty sweet taste. The young fruit has a completely different taste, sour, with a predominant acid note. It can be also dried and turned into a spice.
What you can do with tamarind: some hot chilli bonbons
The tamarind can be used in different cooking ways. Mostly for chutneys in India, in the Thai cuisine it is a constant ingredient for pad thai or seafood dishes, but also to add a sweet note to meats - especially lamb or duck which is so well suited for a variety of complex, complementary tastes. A very unusual discovery was a box full of bonbons made of a mixture of tamarind to which an explosive mixture of very hot chilli, salt and pepper was added. It simply exploded into your mouth and I strongly recommend to have it alone, at home, without sharing it with your kids. In my Asian store I also spotted a tamarind-based drink, which is a bit naturally sparkling. 
My challenge for the next weeks is to try at least one savory and one sweet dish using tamarind. As for now, I am looking for proper recipes and inspiration...A foodie story to be continued very soon.

Full in vitamins too

Tamarind has also a high concentration of nutrients, especially Magnesium and Potassium, Calcium, Phosphorus, Vitamin B1, B2 and B3. If consummed long term, it may have some positive effects on the immunity system, but such issues are normally determined by the individual's health/medical condition. It is also said to have a good effect on heart health and circulation, anti-inflammatory effects and help improve digestion. 

Something (more) unusual about tamarind

As you may know already, I am pretty interested in keeping my old silver family treasures in a good shape, therefore I was pleasantly surprised to discover that due to its relatively high level of acidity, it can be also used as a metal polish. It is a chemical-free solution, easy and does not affect the metal, as it might happen when you use vinegar or baking soda. Spread the tamarind on the surface of the cooper or bronze object and massage it throughouthly. The stains will be removed fast and your kitchen ware or decorative objects will regain their original healthy shining.

Thursday, October 18, 2018

#Chill: From a 'human doing' to a 'human being'

It is a trend nowadays I was not aware of for a long time, according to which working should be rather limited to the 9 to 5, as the rest of the day should be dedicated to your hobbies, family, or just to chill. I was not aware of it while I was non-stop working and enjoying it many autumns ago. I was also not aware how unhappy I was apparently when my various working assignments kept me awake late in the night. I was enjoying it and I was getting good money and I didn't - and will not - feel guilty about it. Should I feel guilty for loving my work, being dedicated to my projects and doing what I always wanted to be? For being surrounded by people passionate about what they were doing? Did I ever felt 'burned out', a term I was aware it is a diagnosed only a couple of years ago?
Having a job you love, a social position, a healthy bank account are no reasons to feel guilty or bad about it. Life is about choices, another school of new psychology will teach you. I may reckon though that for some, an intensive life and work schedule is exhausting, overwhelming and burns out a lot. For those looking for the right balance, #Chill. Turn Off Your Job and Turn On Your Life may offer a good start and content to the medium- and long-term change process. It doesn't advice you to leave your job, start backpacking or moving into the woods living on plants, but to start little by little to see something else than work around you.
What it really appeals is that it has a very simple, realistic 12-month plan, followed by a 365-day schedule of assigned topics. It helps you to be less than perfect, more relaxed into your everyday life, more careful with the emotional needs and expectations of your family and friends, more open to ask for help and to collaborate with others in finishing your tasks. It also advices a better focus on yourself as 'when you take care of yourself first, you have more energy to invest in business and personal pursuits later on'.  
After all, it is not so bad to take a look to your needs, relax and put on hold your working life, at least a couple of hours the day. Have a good meal with your dear ones, a good sleep and be ready for a new day. As you don't have to apologize for loving your work, you also don't have to feel guilty for enjoying your #Chill time. 
#Chill. Turn Off Your Job and Turn On Your Life is a good and realistic guidance to those keen to change a bit their daily habits and eliminate as much as possible the daily toxic lifestyle. If you love hard work and challenges, you may accept this one.

Disclaimer: Book offered by the publisher in exchange for an honest review

Saturday, October 6, 2018

Spicy Sweet Potatoes with Onions and Zucchini

It started as an experiment: I was trying to match my heavily spicy hamburgers. Although an easy tomatoes and cucumber salad would have been enough, I was ready for some more spices. This time, added to my plate of veggies.

- 3 big sweet potatoes, peeled
- 3 scallions, chopped
- 1 big zucchini, cut into rounds
- 1 medim-size white onion, finelly chopped
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon Ras el-Hanout from Spice Kitchen UK, part of their Brand Ambassador Program
- 2 tablespoon cooking oil

Preheat the oven at 250C, at least 10 minutes before starting the baking. Add the baking paper to the pan. Add one by one the veggies, and mix them well. Sprinkle the oil, the salt, pepper and the spices. Let it cook until ready, turning the veggies on all sides every 20 minutes or so.

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: 1h30

I've personally found this mix as a great addition to my meaty plate, but it can also be served as an individual dish. The eclectic Ras el-Hanout - the crown of North African Spices, which includes at least 30 ingredients as diverse as cardamom, anise, ginger, turmeric and nutmeg - adds a complex taste to the dish. It balances the sweetness of the potatoes and diminishes the strong flavor of onions, with a sweet, mild note. Especially recommended to spices' lovers, but also to anyone looking to experiment rich, new flavors. 

Bon Appétit!

Friday, October 5, 2018

Wine Review: Chateneuf Rouge 2015 - Herzog Selection

Autumn always reminds me of childhood, but in a very colourful and aromated way. As my parents used to make their own - red - wine, starting with September, the whole family was involved in various stages of preparing the grapes to become the delicious drink that we were not - yet - allowed to taste. Wine, as that drink so highly praised in our household, was surrounded by so much mystery. Given us to taste only the early stage of fermentation, it made the adults so expectant and excited while impatiently waiting to have the first sip of the new selection. 
Times have changed, we sold the house with the vineyard and abandoned the old country, but wine remains a constant of my life. Always curious to try new tastes and often judgmental about the quality, I rarely have a week without having my classical (preferably) red wine glass on a Friday evening. 
However, I never got into wine reviews. One of the reason might be that because, like in the case of water, wine represents such a big part of me that I got used with it and I rarely mention it, because it's so obvious it is and always was there. Until today, when the wine I had was so good that I couldn't stop sharing my impressions. Writing (hopefully more and regularly) wine reviews is also part of a better connection with my own family and personal memories. 
Let's the wine show begin!

My companion for the evening was Chateneuf Rouge, a 2015 sweet red kosher (produced under Jewish supervision) wine, part of the Herzog Selection. 
Sold in a 750 ml. bottle, it has a 13% alcohol and is both kosher for Pesach and mevushal (which means the wine was boiled). It is a Bordeaux, with grapes with a relatively high level of tannin and a dark fruits and berry flavor. According to the specifications from the bottle, it combines Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignong and Merlot from the French South Western vineyards which 'allows the youthful character of sweet red wine to develop the complexity of the wines from this well known area'. 
Although I usually love red wines served at the room temperature, in this case I had it chilly, and it surprisingly outlined the fruity flavors. A semi-dry wines it has a sweet fruity finish, with a complex bouquet which makes it an easy match for spicy chicken - as I had yesterday evening - lamb but also lavish chocolate desserts. Generally, it offers a good balance to heavy meals.
It might be light at the first sip, but actually is strong and with a very well defined personality. After so many sweet - way too sweet wined - during the last month of Jewish holidays, the moderate sweetness and the berry fruits flavors of the Chateneuf Rouge 2015 made a noteworthy positive difference. You can use it for the Friday evening kiddush - prayer over wine - but also as a regular wine during the week meals. It is elegant, yet strong and unforgettable. It lets you know little by little, but once you are coming to terms together, it's hard to abandon it and you would love to have it in your bar for a long time. For me, it will also be remembered as the subject of my first ever wine review. And hopefully not the last one.