Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Starting at the Source- Fair Trade Coffee

If you're a regular reader on this blog, you know that I talk about coffee a lot. I'm an iced coffee fanatic, and getting my Master's degree only compounded that. I think there was a point in time where my veins contained more coffee than blood. All my classmates tried to 'quit' or 'cut back' on caffeine at some point during our tenure, but I am NOT a quitter. Now that I'm done with grad school and navigating the real world, I've settled at around 3 cups or 2 iced coffees a day, which may still seem excessive, but makes me oh-so-happy.


I've become increasingly particular over the years about the coffee I purchase, paying special attention to sourcing and production practices. If you've not already seen the documentary Black Gold, give it a watch. It's been almost two years since I first saw it, and I've held up my oath to never, ever, ever purchase a bag of coffee that isn't either Fair Trade Certified, Rainforest Alliance Certified or a sponsor of Coffee Kids- a non-profit that works to improve the quality of life in coffee-growing communities, supporting healthcare, education, food security, capacity building and economic diversification programs. 

I strolled into my local organic food market recently to pick up some java, and walked out with BuyWell Fair Trade Coffee's Peru Cafe Hope- which directly supports women farmers. In addition to their Fair Trade and USDA Organic certifications, they're also Renewable Energy Certified. Talk about setting the bar high. Makes me wanna thank their mamas for raising them right!

I like to try new coffees black at first, even though my drink of choice is iced and sweetened with soy milk. 

Aroma: Earthy, Woody
Taste: Bitter, Chocolatey Notes
Mouthfeel: Medium - Heavy Body

Simply put- one solidly delicious cup of coffee that tastes as good as it's business practices feel.

I'm interviewing tomorrow for a coffee company with similar values here in NYC. Fingers crossed. I have some exciting ideas for their brand, and I'm IN LOVE with their products!

What do you look for when purchasing coffee?

Do you research sources? For what products? Are some more important to you than others?

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Zucchini Bowl- Or the day that my life changed forever.

I'm in an odd, transitional place, in terms of living and employment. The lack of structure (after spending 2 years in an INTENSE and comprehensive Master's program) is overwhelming. My theatre work has kept me sane. We were off from rehearsal last night, so I headed over to Qathra to get out of the house and spend some time working on my script. I love that they use local Battenkill Valley Creamery's products and brew Counter Culture's ethically sourced coffee!

They've got some delicious iced coffee and a sweet, peaceful back yard. 

It was warm, but the sun was setting and I was in the shade.

I worked all the way through my script, making notes of questions and thoughts. We'll be doing more table work at tonight's rehearsal, so I'll get to ask them then. When the mosquitoes came out, I headed home. 

And that's when it all began.

I had seen this on a few food blogs and observed my roomie enjoying it the other night and thought to myself, "Self, that seems like something you'd like."

My new roommates have the most amazing kitchen gadgets on earth. It's true. Everything. Everything. We've got a big (by Brooklyn standards) kitchen, and we USE it! 

I popped a raw, cold, rinsed yellow zucchini in the spinny-slicey thing. This is it's scientific term. 

I cooked up some of this bangin' chicken sausage.

Poured on some of my boy Paul Newman's Sockarooni pasta sauce.

And watched my wildest dreams come true!

 Topped with some pecorino romano. IT SATISFIED MY PASTA CRAVING. I'm not even joking. For serious realsies. I mean, yes, you're aware that you're eating raw zucchini, but I was not at all disappointed, nor did I feel unfulfilled. Admittedly I think my favorite part about pasta is eating a bunch of sauce, but with that in mind, I may never eat pasta again!* (*That's totally untrue. I have no desire to stop eating pasta. But this is a great substitute and I will eat zucchini like this ALL THE TIME now.)


I watched another food related documentary last night- Kings of Pastry, which follows 16 chefs as they prepare to receive the title of Meilleurs Ouvriers de France (Best Craftsmen in France)- an extremely prestigious honor. I'm pretty sure I've seen it before, but I enjoyed it still. I went to sleep feeling hungry and inspired. 


I hit the gym early this AM. I don't have my iced coffee system in place in my new apt, so I've been stopping to buy one on my walk to the gym, which is getting expensive. STOP IT, KEELIE. Ok. I feel better. 

Today's workout consisted of 45 mins of cardio (on the elliptical, again, for reasons I'll explain later), followed by some LEGS, BUTT and a serious stretch down. I mean, come on. If they turn the lights off in the aerobics studio, I'm GONNA dance. Let's be real.


I hopped home and heated up some leftover homefries with chicken sausage, tomatoes and avocado. And then I ate a spoonful of maple cream. And now I'm happy.

Have you experienced the zucchini pasta magic trick yet? Can you teach me something similarly amazing to make today even more mind blowing than yesterday??!?!?!?!

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Smoothies, Mint Limeade, and why you should always wear underwear while doing laundry.

I would have posted this hours ago, but I locked myself out of my apartment while doing laundry with no phone or wallet. Imagine: It'll be hours until my roommates are home, I'm new to the building so I know absolutely no one, I'm wearing an oversized T-shirt dress with NO form of underwear (because if I had ANY clean underwear left, let's be honest- I wouldn't have been doing laundry in the first place). I set about introducing myself to everyone who lives above or below me. I learned: 3B's fire escape is blocked by furniture, 5B's is locked and they can't find the key, 2B didn't trust me, and 6B (the only male who answered the door...) is my savior. I made a daring fire-escape break in, using my flip flop to pry my window open. Only me. Only me.

And now, back to our regularly scheduled programming:

This AM, I hopped over to the gym, planning to do 30 mins of some form of cardio followed by some serious strength training. This chiquita is spending the last week of August in Cape Cod, and wants to look gooooood in her swimmies. After a half hour of battling the Precor AMT- what IS this thing, and HOW do I use it?- I slipped into my first ZUMBA class by chance. It was fun, though admittedly it left me wishing I was in a real dance class, and every time we turned around there was a line of men drooling through the windows into the aerobics studio. Eesh. Does this happen EVERY Zumba class? I mean, I know there's a lot of booty shaking, but come on- don't you have a workout you should be doing?

I usually prefer fasted cardio in the AMs, but I think on strength days I'll need to pack a snack. Granted,  Zumba was unplanned, but I was running on fumes by the time I finished. Tomorrow will be weight-heavy. I have a 1 mile walk each way between my gym and the apartment, so tacking 2 miles onto each visit is a nice bonus!


I was STARVING after the gym. I stopped on my way home to haggle with a fruit vendor and I scored a pint of blueberries and a lb of GINORMOUS strawberries for $3. 

I like my bananas GREEN!

I tossed some blueberries, strawberries and a half a banana into our mini blender with a scoop of Vega's Choc-A-Lot smoothie powder. 1 scoop = 105 cal, 3g fat, 9g carbs, 1g sugar, 7g fiber and 11g protein.  

Blended with some ice and Soy Slender's Chocolate Soy Milk

I LOVE chocolate soy milk but hate that it's usually jam-packed with sugar. Less than 1g per serving!


I can rarely resist buying mint when I see it- though I only ever use it for one purpose, which is to make   mint limeade!

Keelie's Kewlest Mint Limeade
(I challenge you to use the word 'kewl' today, proudly.)

As goes everything in my life, plans or recipes are merely suggestive- improvisation is everything. 

Here's how it went down: 

-the juice from 6 fresh limes
-appx 2 tablespoons minced fresh spearmint leaves (give or take, because you obviously bought the mint days ago and never got around to using it so most of it got dry and crunchy and unusable- whatever is salvageable is the PERFECT amount, I swear)
-appx 25 drops of stevia- to taste- this may be way to much for some and nowhere near enough for others
-5 cups ices cold water
-a big fat handful of ice cubes

Mix 'em, baby, and enjoy. If you're feeling particularly rococo, blend yours for a slushie treat.


I. LOVE. WARBY. PARKER. I recently used their services to order my second pair of glasses EVER (my first pair were about to celebrate their 13th anniversary, so it was time.)

They've got a brilliant business model that allows anyone with an updated eyeglass prescription to order a set of SWEET spectacles (frames AND lenses included) for $95, and they donate a pair to someone in need for every pair you buy. They recently hit an impressive milestone- 500,000 donated pairs of glasses. Keep up the good work, Warby Parker. I'm impressed. 


Last night I watched most of Lutz Hachmeister's documentary Three Stars, which explores the Michelin system of chef/ restaurant rating. I have a great respect and appreciation for the dedication, study, discipline and craft employed by these master chefs, and I'm inspired to step up my own cooking game. I particularly enjoyed hearing the chef's perspectives on the Michelin stars, what the accreditation meant to them, and how it affected their businesses. Worth a watch if you're mildly (or majorly) obsessed with the ins and outs of food production and the restaurant industry.


I need to know:

What else do you put spearmint into aside from mint limeade?

Watched any good documentaries recently?

What do you put in your smoothies?

Monday, July 8, 2013

Eat Clean, Sweat Well, Sleep Naked

We have a small but varied Greenmarket in my new hood on Sundays. 

I grabbed a few fresh finds- CORN! YES!


I rejoined Bally's! I was a loyal member for years, then got rid of my membership to take advantage of my student benefits in grad school, but I'm back! I squeezed in a quick 30 mins of cardio and some plyometrics, and felt my mood increase in direct relation to sweat expenditure. It was beautiful. 


The NYC heat wave has been messing with my sleep in a major way, and it's been affecting my quality of life, bigtime. I was very interested to read 'Five Reasons to Sleep Naked' by Natasha Turner, initially because I love reading anything that validates my opinions, but noticed that all of the listed reasons relate to temperature. Give it a gander. 

Saturday, July 6, 2013

A Long Hot Week

The vintage hat that almost was. I talked myself out of buying it. But boy, was it cute.


 Some fire-escape escaping at my new apt. 


A concert in the rain! Ladysmith Black Mambazo! BRIC's Celebrate Brooklyn Concert Series in Prospect Park.


Dinner at Hope & Anchor and sunset in Red Hook.


Exploring my new neighborhood. I'm all about Qathra's iced coffee. 


Enjoying my new apt! A juicer!!! Which makes my breakfasts SUPER HAPPY. This juice contains swiss chard, carrots, apple and passionfruit.

 I've also been jamming on some new (to me) products that I snagged at my local natural markets.

Yves Meatless Breakfast Patties and Ezekiel 4:9 Sprouted Grain English Muffins. I'm usually out of the house for extended periods of time, so I need clean, hearty breakfasts. These fit the bill nicely. 


Rehearsing for The Four Seasons NYC, which opened yesterday. What a magical piece of theatre. This shot is from a rehearsal studio, but the space itself was majestic. Photo by Kristin Wessling. 


More new hood eats. The Farm on Adderly- always delicious. I've been a fan for years. 


New room crafts! My mom printed me coloring book versions of some awesome family photos for my birthday, so I'm matting them on pretty paper and making a wall of them! 


And of course, SWEAT. Kettlebells to the rescue. I'm also looking to rejoin Bally's (I was a member for years and then left to take advantage of my school's fitness facilities)- though I love at-home fitness, I miss the gym environment. 

What was your week like? Did anyone have any awesome 4th of July adventures? I completely miss holidays if I'm rehearsing for a show, it seems.