culture · food · international · life curation · luxury · relaxation · travel · wine

My Time in Spain Part 1 – My Time In Malaga

Hi friends! After spending a few days in Portugal (including taking in incredible sights around Lisboa, touring Sintra National Palace, time at Rock in Rio Lisboa, dinner at Hotel do Chiado’s rooftop bar, Entretanto, and an unexpected viewing of Sarah Ferreira’s art, I was off to my next stop. I flew TAP Air Portugal from Lisbon to Malaga, Spain, to embark on the next leg of my adventure.

I arrived in Malaga and was taken by private car to the town of Benalmadena, a beachy stretch a little less than two hours from Granada. I stayed at Hotel Best Siroco, a darling resort that offered all-inclusive packages as well as standard lodging. The hotel was beautiful, and the weather was divine!

My hotel was a short walk away from the beach and some fantastic local eateries. There was also some fantastic art and gorgeous flowers everywhere I went.

One beer, a good tan, some sangria, and many tapas later, I can confirm that Malaga is a must-see for people who love good food and lots of sun.

This one little town in Spain is such a jewel, and I can’t wait to return!

art · culture · food · international · life curation · luxury · travel · wine

My Time In Portugal, Part 4 – Hotel do Chiado and Entretanto

This is the penultimate post on Portugal, and I feel just as sad writing it as I did when I left Lisbon for the next stop on my trip!

The night before we left, we stopped by an elegant hotel and decided to dine there. The hotel we chose was Hotel do Chiado, and we dined at Entretanto, the hotel’s exquisite rooftop bar and restaurant. The meal options were just enough: there was a little something for everyone. I enjoyed my cocktail – the Pink Affair – and my entree, tortellini with cheese and spinach. We also tried some exquisite port and Madeira. We ended our meal with apple pie and a twirl around the rooftop. Here are some pics from my time at Entretanto:

I’m so glad we got to enjoy a meal at Entretanto. I would love to return and try the 5 o’clock tea meal next time.

The next – and final – Portugal post will have some incredible photos from within Hotel do Chiado, because, as it turns out, the corridor leading to the restaurant had an art collection from a Portuguese-based artist. I’m so excited to share those pictures soon! Until then, take care.

culture · international · life curation · style · travel

My Time in Portugal, Part 1

Admittedly, this probably be more pictures than words, but I had so much fun on my travels that I had to capture as much as I could via my camera!

I started the first leg of my journey in Lisbon, Portugal. A beautiful city with all of the charm of old Europe but an abundance of modern amenities, I found myself spellbound by the city “built on 7 hills”. I’d long held a fantasy of tooling around in Lisbon . . . And I got to live my dream.

While it was uncharacteristically cool in Lisbon during my time there, I still loved what I saw and experienced there. I can see why so many American expats have chosen Portugal as their forever homes.

While in Portugal, I went to Rock in Rio Lisboa 2022 (an incredible music festival), as well as the towns of Sintra, Cascais, and Estoril. I will share more about those experiences in future blog posts. But for today, here are some of my pictures from my time in Lisbon proper. Enjoy!

food · luxury · wine

More Low Cost Libations – Affordable Wine Review

As we embrace the upcoming holiday season, we may find ourselves in need of delicious wines to accompany our family dinners. One thing that I like to do is make sure that I have a mix of high/low cost wines to offer with meals. For those that choose to indulge, wine is a wonderful complement to a variety of meals, and can really enhance the flavor profile of all the foods that have been prepared.

The advantage to having wines in your home during the holidays is that you can use the wine in certain recipes, adding a rich and intensified flavor to certain dishes. I love cooking meat dishes with red wine, or crafting exquisite sauces or gravies with white wine. When cooking with wine, the alcohol cooks (or burns) off, leaving flavor with no traces of alcohol content left behind.

I realized that I’ve done several wine reviews over on my YouTube channel, but I hadn’t shared those reviews over here. So, here you go:

Also, if you want to keep track of the wines that you try, you can use what I use: the Wine Tasting Notes journal is perfect for capturing the details and your impressions of every wine that you taste. And for $5, it’s so affordable!

I’ll be adding more wine reviews in the months to come. Do you have a wine recommendation for me? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below!

**** This post contains affiliate links.

food · health

My Favorite Black Vegetarian and Vegan YouTubers

Last week, I shared that I thoroughly enjoyed Dr. Tumi Johnson’s work and her YouTube channel, Performing Healing. I purchased her book, Delicious Healing, to give me some ideas on how to improve my health by using self care, mindfulness, and a nourishing diet. Dr. Tumi is a medical doctor that has been living a raw vegan lifestyle for a decade, and her transformation from overworked and undernourished clinician to radiantly healthy performer and holistic healer inspired me tremendously.

Dr. Tumi’s page inspired me to peruse YouTube for other vegetarian and vegan YouTubers. While I’d followed a few of them before coming across Dr. Tumi, I thought it would be nice to compile a few of my favorites over here. As I explore more options with plant-based eating, I’m certain I will have to do a second part to this post, which works for me. I hope you all enjoy this list!

Performing Healing – As I mentioned previously, Dr. Tumi is a medical doctor and raw vegan. Her channel doesn’t focus solely on recipes but it does highlight what a fully vegan lifestyle entails. The recipes that she has provided are often simple to recreate, but it has to be noted that she is a raw vegan, so adjusting to this eating style may require a bit of effort. However, for those that are interested, she’s a wonderful resource. As a bonus, her videos are all lovely, with excerpts of dance and fantastic little wellness tidbits sprinkled throughout each of them. And naturally, she’s written a book about her wellness philosophies. You can learn more in her book, Delicious Healing.

SweetPotatoSoul – Jenne Claiborne, the lady behind the wildly popular SweetPotatoSoul YouTube channel, is truly one of the OGs of the vegan YT community. She has over 600,000 subscribers, and has also published her recipes in the cookbook, Sweet Potato Soul: 100 Easy Vegan Recipes for the Southern Flavors of Smoke, Sugar, Spice, and Soul. If you’re interested in beautiful videos with tasty recipes, you should definitely check out this channel.

Rachel Ama – Similar to SweetPotatoSoul, Rachel Ama also has over 600,000 subscribers and a longstanding commitment to the vegan lifestyle. On her channel, she focuses on flavorful dishes that borrow heavily from international cuisine, such as dishes from Africa, Asia and the Caribbean. I like that her recipes are great for transitioning vegans that may be concerned that they’ll have to compromise flavor for this lifestyle (nothing could be further from the truth!) Rachel has also published 2 books, titled Rachel Ama’s Vegan Eats: Tasty plant-based recipes for every day and One Pot: Three Ways: Save time with vibrant, versatile vegan recipes.

Black Forager – The creative behind this channel, Alexis Nikole Nelson, has an extremely strong presence on other social media (such as Instagram and TikTok). However, she also shares her recipes on her YouTube channel. I love her fun energy and the fact that she makes vegan dishes with foraged vegetation. This takes a special level of creativity and vision, and she absolutely knocks it out of the park each time. I’m waiting patiently for her book . . . She hasn’t announced that she’s writing one, I’m just putting that wish out into the Universe. Until then, I’ll console myself with the NPR interview that she did.

From the Comfort of my Bowl – I love that this channel features vegan comfort food. Despite the fact that I have loved experimenting with raw vegan meals, sometimes I want warm, cooked food that is both satisfying and still cruelty free. As a bonus, many of the meals featured on this channel are also gluten-free. The channel has a companion blog with all of the meal details.

This Infinite Life – This adorable family of 8 lives a vegan lifestyle down in the deep south (Atlanta, Georgia). On this channel, the family tries packaged vegan items, but they also indulge in varying eating challenges and share recipes. This channel is an especially good option for anyone that is experiencing difficulty with transitioning to a vegan lifestyle: the videos show how easy it is to replace your favorite animal-based products with vegan alternatives. There is a companion website which also features three ebooks written by the creative minds behind the YouTube channel.

Those are some of my favorite Black vegan and vegetarian vloggers. Do you have any recommendations? I’d love to hear all about them!

*** This post contains affiliate links.

health

Fibro Fridays – The Latest on My Health Journey

Happy Fibro Friday, friends! I hope you all have had a great, pain-free week. And, if you experienced any pain at all, I hope you were able to get relief quickly.

I’m taking another (mini) break from reviewing the various fibromyalgia protocols (the last one I reviewed was Dr. Wylde’s protocol) to talk about a different fibro topic; namely, I’ll be discussing what’s been happening with me and my health journey.

For starters, I’ve been feeling pretty good overall. I tend to experience a lot less pain during the warmer months, and that’s due to the temperature (I am more uncomfortable in cooler temps), the increased vitamin D (since I spend a lot more time in the sunshine), or some combination of the two. I’ve been taking advantage of those low-pain days and getting as much done as I can.

I have also been making changes to my diet and medication. I’m incorporating a lot more raw fruits and vegetables into my meals, usually opting for whole fruits for breakfast as opposed to eating a lot of grain or processed foods, salads for lunch, and protein and veggies for dinner. I have been tapering my medication in the hopes that I’ll be able to eventually fully transition off of them. So far, so good: I haven’t had any major pain or flares since I started the tapering process.

Another thing that has been helping with my health is doing yoga more frequently. I do it for the fitness aspect but one of the bonuses of yoga is being mindful of my breathing. I often forget to take deeper breaths, so it’s nice to have a reminder. Yoga is amazing for fibromyalgia, since it gently stretches the muscles while simultaneously encouraging the release of stress. It’s one of the most frequently recommended exercises for people dealing with fibro.

Part of the plan over the next few months involves experimenting with some plant-based eating plans, progress in my yoga practice, and find more natural pain relief options. I’ve been working on some products and supplements to help with fibro pain but it’s still early in my experimentation. Here’s hoping I’ll be able to create something amazing that I’ll be able to share with you all soon!

That’s my brief rundown of how I’ve been feeling lately, as well as where I am in my health journey. I’m looking forward to hearing from you all in the comments. Take care, and have a great weekend!

health

Fibro Friday – A Tentative Wellness Plan

Happy Fibro Friday! I’m feeling pretty good today, and I’m looking forward to a warmer weekend ahead. I think that most states in the US are anticipating some sunnier, warmer days, and I’m grateful for that. This is a happy Friday for sure!

I recently shared my experience with the Everlywell Food Sensitivity Test, as well as my thoughts about at-home tests and their effectiveness. I used the food sensitivity test as a way to gather intel on how my body works. I’m combining the information that I gathered from that test with the results from the myriad other tests I’ve had over the years. I’m thankful for historical data from LabCorp as well as my insurance company: there’s no way I could have kept physical copies of every single test or doctor’s appointment I’ve had over the past three years.

Regardless of where you are on your fibro journey, becoming an expert on your body is a fantastic place to start. I can’t recommend it enough: get to know your own body! It’s crucial for your journey.

Anyhoo, I have formulated a tentative approach to resolving my fibromyalgia pain for good. As evidenced by the food sensitivity test, I’m starting with a diet-based approach, since I believe that this will provide the most immediate relief (as well as other numerous health benefits). I’m starting small, so I don’t get overwhelmed by the process.

I consulted two other sources for information on how to design a “get well” plan. I watched a video from the American Herbalist Guild last year, and I’ve revisited it. This video features a lecture by herbalist K P Khalsa, who has a fantastic herbal/natural approach to treating fibromyalgia. The video also refers to Dr. Jacob Teitelbaum’s approach (one of his most popular books, explaining his program for eliminating fibro symptoms is here). This video is a ton of information to absorb, which is why I’m rewatching in small, 20-30 minute chunks of time.

Additionally, I’ll be implementing dietary changes in line with The Beauty Detox Solution by Kimberly Snyder, CN. Addressing nutritional deficiencies is key to any wellness program, so I’ll integrate some principles from this book and see how it goes. I’ll probably do a review on this book soon, so watch out for that.

I suspect I’ll feel major changes just by implementing the recommendations from the AHG video and the Beauty Detox book. I’m excited to embark on this journey! If you’re interested in seeing my YouTube video on this topic, you can view it here (I’ve also embedded it below).

That’s it for my Fibro Friday post! I hope you all have a wonderful and safe weekend, and I’ll talk to you all soon. Take care!

*This post contains affiliate links.

health

Fibro Fridays: My Everywell Experience

Happy Fibro Friday! I hope everyone is feeling well and having a great day or evening wherever you are.

As you all recall, one of my goals for 2021 is to minimize or completely eliminate my fibromyalgia symptoms. On this journey, I will do my best to learn as much as I can about my body so that I can formulate an approach that works for me over the long term.

On the quest to gather as much useful information about my body as possible, I purchased the Everlywell Food Sensitivity Test. This is not an allergy test: it’s a test that measures how much your body responds to certain foods by testing your body for antibody activity. The science for this is fascinating, which is why I encourage you to check out the website for an in-depth explanation.

When you first receive your test, you have to register it on the Everylywell website. After registration, you can commence with doing the test. My test involved pricking my finger and saturating a blood sample collection card. After saturating the card, I sent it back to the lab in a biohazard envelope.

After waiting a little over a week, the lab sent me an in-depth report, explaining my results. I was moderately sensitive to 3 foods, and minimally sensitive to 7 foods. I’ll be using this information as a starting point for an elimination diet. I will add more details about the elimination diet in a few weeks, but for now, at least I know what I should exclude first.

I filmed a video with a lot more details which I will embed below.

Have you all done a food sensitivity test? How did that go? Let me know all about it in the comments below!

food

International Goodies: Shopping at New Grand Mart

In my hometown, there is an international grocer named New Grand Mart. New Grand has a couple of locations, and, prior to me visiting one of the stores, I usually got my international foods from a different seller in town. However, that seller tended to focus solely on East Asian foods (specifically Chinese, Japanese and Vietnamese items). New Grand, however, is a truly international store, with foods hailing from East Asia, India, the Middle East and even Mexico and Central America!

My latest trip to the store resulted in me getting lots of tasty items, but these four were my favorites.

Vegetarian ramen noodles

I love ramen noodles, especially since it’s easy to add additional ingredients and make a a hearty meal. These noodles are the perfect base for my ramen creations.

Frozen sticky rice with mango

I have a review that I’m planning for this frozen sticky rice with mango, so stay tuned for that!

Vegetable mushroom buns (please ignore my nutrition supplements in the background!)

I am a HUGE fan of Chinese buns, and these are by far the tastiest that I’ve ever gotten from a grocery store. So yummy.

Strawberry KitKat candy

I love KitKat candy, especially the limited edition specialty flavors. Strawberry flavored KitKats were available stateside for a short time, but they are very difficult to find. Imagine my excitement when I saw that these are regularly offered at New Grand Mart! I’m delighted that I will always be able to get the strawberry flavored ones, so long as New Grand carries them.

Those are my favorite international goodies! Do you have any favorite items that you like to purchase from international grocers? Let me know all about it in the comments!

food

Fun New Recipes to Try

Happy Monday! This weekend, I found some great free food and drink workshops, as well as some creative, tasty menu ideas for when we are able to be social without the need to do much distancing. Here are the fun ideas I’ve found recently: enjoy!

Freedom Fruit Cocktail and Mocktail (presented by the US Botanic Garden)

Zuke Alors! Zucchini Salad (also presented by the US Botanic Garden)

Garden Tea Party Menu (TeaTime Magazine)

The Perfect Martini – Three Ways (Robb Report)

I hope you all have fun with these recipes! I plan to experiment with a few of them in the weeks to come. If you decide to give any of them a try, please let me know: I’m dying to see how it turns out for you!