Homemade Buckwheat Granola

If you’ve never had buckwheat before then you missed out on one of the most important power foods. Even though it looks like a grain, it’s actually a seed which is naturally high in protein and full of vital nutrients including zinc, copper and niacin. Another little fun fact about this seed is that it’s gluten free. Yes, you heard right; even though it shares the name, it is not related to wheat which makes it safe to eat for people with celiac disease.

Everyone loves granola, but it’s very expensive to buy in a store and usually it’s not gluten free. For that reason, I want to share with you this simple granola recipe consisting of only three ingredients:

  • 1 cup buckwheat groats
  • 1/4 cup maple or agave syrup
  • dash of cinnamon

How to make it:

  1. Soak buckwheat overnight or at least one hour.
  2. Rinse it thoroughly.
  3. Mix groats with syrup and cinnamon, until everything is coated.
  4. Spread it out on a baking tray lined with parchment paper.
  5. Make sure that you spread it out and there is space in-between the groats.
  6. Bake on 200F/90C for 1 1/2 hours.

Enjoy!

Spaghetti alla Carbonara

It’s been a while since I’ve arrived here in San Francisco and homesickness sometimes plays bad jokes on me, especially when it comes to food. I know, I know, us Italians are so fond of food that we spend a lot of time talking about it but only for a good reason: nothing compares to our variety and taste, you know better than me! I won’t say anything about how to make a REAL Italian coffee -nobody wants to play on broken strings. I’d like to share with you a real Italian recipe, instead: spaghetti alla carbonara.

Ingredients
-Spaghetti n.5
-Pancetta
-Pepper
-Pecorino
-4 yolks and 1 egg

Boil the water and add a pinch of salt.
In the meantime, cut the pancetta in small cubes or stripes and put it in a pan, till it gets a bit transparent and crunchy.
Beat the eggs in a small bowl together with Pecorino and freshly grounded pepper to obtain a dense creamy mixture.
When water is boiling, add spaghetti and wait for the cooking time showed on the box.
Drain the spaghetti and add the creamy mixture, on low heat. Serve at once, with an additional sprinkle of pepper.

Buon appetito!

5 Reasons to eat Blackstrap Molasses

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Blackstrap molasses is a byproduct of the refined sugar you can find in every grocery store. Unfortunately, all nutritional value gets lost during the refining process of sugar cane, leaving behind a product without any vitamins and minerals. Blackstrap molasses on the other hand contains a lot of vital vitamins and minerals.

Here are 5 reasons why you should include this superfood into your diet:

1. Diabetes-friendly sweetener
Since blackstrap molasses has a moderate glycemic index it metabolizes more slowly, and therefore a sharp rise in blood sugar can be avoided.

2. Perfect calcium-magnesium-ratio
Due to its great mineral profile of calcium and magnesium, blackstrap molasses supports superior absorption of those two minerals. Both calcium and magnesium play a significant role in bone health because they act as a safeguard against osteoporosis and other bone disease.

3. Iron-booster
Do you feel tired and weak? The cause for this could be a lack of iron in your diet. Luckily, blackstrap molasses is a good source of iron and you would benefit tremendously by adding 1-2 tablespoons a day into your diet.

4. Packed with potassium and other good stuff
Everyone knows that bananas are king when it comes to potassium, but don’t underestimate the power of blackstrap molasses. Besides potassium, this superfood contains vital vitamins and minerals, like manganese, vitamin B6 and selenium.

5. Good for your hair
Thanks to its high amount of copper, which is an important trace mineral, blackstrap molasses helps rebuild the skin structure and supports healthy hair.

There are various ways you can include this nutrition powerhouse into your diet. Add it to your oatmeal in the morning, include it when baking sweet treats, or simply add it to hot water and drink it warm or cold. The only bad thing about blackstrap molasses is the weird taste, and it might take you some time to get used to it…but it’s definitely worth it.

So, what are you waiting for? Go and get yourself some blackstrap molasses, but make sure it’s organic and unsulfured.

Incredible STONEHOUSE FARM in Chicago (3)

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There were tents and yurts throughout the farm.   Guests could rent the beds in the yurts or rent tents, or could bring their own tents to camp on the farm.

This was a native American style sweat lodge.  We needed to set it up whenever we wanted to have a sauna.  It was built by the branches covered with felt blanket and plastic cloth.

 

There were big round stones underneath the bonfire. It took about 2 hours to burn the stones to be red. Then the hot stones were rolled along the ditch leading to the sweat lodge. Water was poured to the hot stones creating vapor.  We wiped our body with sesame oil and sat on bath towels in the lodge. If we felt too hot, we could lie down to the ground. The earth would take away extra heat. That was how the earth worked as the mother of all creatures in the world. It always provided protection.

 

 

Celestial music was created from the glass bowls.

 

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The colorful metal folks were hitting each other surround people. That was amazing experience.

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Marshmallows was burnt and eaten with chocolate cookies.  We sang and danced around the bonfire. That was our life.

 

Jump!

Hey guys, long time no see!

I’ve just come back from an amazing roadtrip through California and a few bordering states which literally left me stunned: overwhelming natural landscapes, very enjoyable company, no internet connection and miles and miles and miles. But this is another story, first things first.

Where we at? If I’m not mistaken, I’ve promised to talk about my skydiving experience, am I right?

Since you know how comfortable I am in jumping out of my comfort zone, I guess I don’t need to tell you that I was…ahem..a bit…let’s say…TERRIFIED. To death, to be precise.
Despite this, as a feeeewww classmates and friends of mine may confirm, I’ve had complete control over my emotions, I’ve been the picture of serenity, above all I’ve never gotten cold feet about it. No, never. Oh my God, I couldn’t stop thinking I was going to die and I can’t count the times I said that!!! I do apologize now, everybody, and thank you for your limitless patience.
Let’s make it short, guys: after approximately two hours and half driving from San Francisco, we got to Sacramento –which, as I was given to understand, isn’t a particularly appealing city. Everything happened so fast that I could hardly realize what was going on: as we walked in that huge building, skydivers were all around us, giving instructions and placing the harness on us. “Hi, my name is Crash and I’ll jump with you. Whether we survive or not is yet to be determined. Here’s my buddy, Impact: he’s in charge for the pictures and the video. Hey, take a deep breathe: nothing can happen with the two of us, you’re such in good hands!” – said a voice behind my back, as I signed my last will – woops, the form. Crash and Impact?!?! Are you kidding me?! I’ll die, now I’m sure.

Before I could say a word, we were on the plane, reaching the needed height: 2.485 miles, 4 km – my heart still skips a beat as I’m writing this number. I can’t really remember what happened when the doors opened except for me closing my eyes in terror, but the magical duo told me that I kept on screaming “NO, NO, NO” till we jumped out of the plane. A fraction of a second and, after a few spins, I found myself floating in the air, enjoying that amazing boundless vertical view disclosed under my eyes. The perfect weather, the two guys doing their best to make me feel at ease in living such a crazy experience, my friends there to share it with me: these things definitely made my day. Extraordinary, nothing more to add.

Skydiving

Baked Oatmeal

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There is something special about baked oatmeal I just cannot describe. I have to admit, oatmeal is my favorite breakfast and I don’t think I will ever get tired of this dish. But when I tried baked oatmeal for the first time, my obsession was taken to another level. The consistency is so creamy and the baking process makes all the ingredients melt into one big bowl of deliciousness.

This healthy dish is not only delicious, but also super nutritous. Oats are rich in fiber which helps lower bad cholesterol levels. High in potassium and vitamin B-6, bananas are able to lower blood pressure and protect against heart attack and stroke. Because of their beautiful blue color, blueberries are considered to be a natural antioxidant. And last but not least…dates. Not only do they add sweetness to this dish, but they are also a good source of energy, sugar, fiber and various vitamins and minerals.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of oats
  • 1 sliced banana
  • 1 cup of blueberries (fresh or frozen, you can also use mixed berries)
  • 1/2 cup of chopped medjool dates
  • 1/3 cup of non-dairy milk
  • dash of cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon agave syrup (or sweetener of choice)

Preheat the oven to 190C/375F.
Place the oats in a baking dish and cover them with boiling water, soak them for about 10 minutes.
Once the water is absorbed, mix in the sliced banana, berries, dates, non-dairy milk, cinnamon and agave syrup. Stir to combine.
Bake for 20 minutes until the top is golden brown.

Enjoy!

San Francisco Bay´s Aquarium

Whenever I am in search of doing something fun but calming, I visit the Aquarium of the Bay. This Aquarium is located at Pier 39 and has only marine life of the Bay area. I really enjoy visiting this Aquarium, because it is amazing. One Ticket costs 22.95. This may seem a  lot, but given the fact that this is a non-profit organization it is understandable. I first went there in 2008 with my family. I knew that if I would come back to San Francisco one day this is a must to visit. Not only do you have the chance to walk through tunnels and experience these creatures from up close, but you also get to touch some rays, sea stars and sharks. This is a once in a lifetime experience and definitely worth your money. If you are about to visit San Francisco, check out the Aquarium! 😉

Vacation in Vancouver

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During spring break I went to Canada for the first time. As soon as I arrived at the airport, I noticed the beauty of the country.The trees had a bright green color and the flowers were about to bloom. Having arrived at the hotel I wanted to take a brief look at the city, but since my brother and my boyfriend arrived 4 hours later, I did not do anything special. I stayed at a Hotel in Downtown called Pinnacle Habourfront.  Throughout the following two weeks I realized that the Hotel was perfectly located. For those, who are on the search for a beautiful holiday destination, I strongly suggest Vancouver. On the second day we went to Robson Street, which is well-known for shopping. The weather was beautiful and the streets were astonishingly clean. At around 2 p.m. we started to get hungry, so we went on the hunt for a good restaurant, which isn´t too expensive. We found one called “Cannibal” and stated to have really good burgers. Of course, we had to try them. I am still gobsmacked at how friendly the employees and their boss were. The burgers were out of this world. We also visited the local aquarium, which was awesome. It was a sunny day and the aquarium was surrounded by a stunning park with exotic plants. The following day we went to the International Auto Show. We saw cars to be seldom seen. Every automobile brand had its car models presented. It was really impressive. Struck by the nature, we finally decided to rent a bike and made a cycling tour around the city. Despite the fact that I am not a passionate and motivated cyclist, I could not complain at all. Actually, quite the opposite! I have never seen anything like that before! It was the best tour I have ever had my whole entire life. It was just breathtaking to cycle around the coast seeing the sun go down. Vancouver, definitely worth a visit!

Free Yoga in San Francisco

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Yoga To The People, San Francisco

Let’s be honest. As an exchange student you’re on a budget and you certainly don’t have enough money to spend 100$ or more on a monthly yoga pass. But what if you cannot resist the urge to practice your downward facing dog? And what if you are just too unmotivated to practice on your own because the temptation of watching a movie on Netflix is just too big?

But there is a solution to your problem. There are two yoga spots in San Francisco where you can practice yoga practically for free. So there is no need to stress about money which keeps you feeling Zen and relaxed while practicing your tree pose.

Yoga To The People
This is definitely not a gentle yoga class, it’s a power vinyasa flow that will make you sweat and get you in shape. Nonetheless, the classes are open-level, so there is no need to worry if you are a beginner-yogi with a low level of flexibility and fitness.
Tip: Get there at least 5 minutes before the class starts, the door will be locked and late-comers are not allowed.
Price: The classes are donation based, there is a suggested donation of 10$, but if you are not in a position to donate that amount, contribute what you can. If you don’t have a yoga mat, you can rent one for 2$.
Location: 2973 16th St, 5th floor
Schedule: Various classes throughout the day, 7 days a week.

Yoga In A Church (Grace Cathedral)
This yoga class is completely different to the one mentioned above. It’s a gentle beginner-friendly yoga practice accompanied by live music. And there is definitely something special about practicing yoga in a beautiful church like the Grace Cathedral with hundreds of other yogis.
Tip: Get there early to reserve a good spot.
Price: Donate what you can (recommended donation of 10$). There is also the possibility to rent a mat, if you don’t have one.
Location: 1100 California St
Schedule: Tuesday Nights, 6:15 pm