Authentic Chai Tea Recipe – from scratch!

I’ve always had a hankering for chai tea, maybe it’s because I’m a girl, maybe it’s because it’s spicy and aromatic and, well, just different then your regular tea! It can be an amazing drink when properly prepared, giving your tastebuds more from tea then just a really sweet drink. Chai tea is fragrant, spicy, lightly bitter and lightly sweet, but my favorite kind is Spicy! Now this is not your typical 5 Alarm tangy spice, this is a sort of spicy heat like the spice of a black peppercorn, or a clove of garlic, it’s a spice that’s often missing from our diets and therefore, from our tastebud palette. In chai tea this comes mainly from the ginger, black pepper and cardamom.

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Here is my recipe for homemade chai tea from scratch, for one mug. If you’re making more then a mug, multiply the ingredients accordingly.


1 cup Organic Whole milk
1cup Cold filtered water
6 Fresh slices of ginger
6 whole black peppercorn
1/2 tsp fennel seeds
1 tsp green cardamom powder or 5 green cardamom pods
2 inch length cinnamon stick
2 tablespoons of organic loose black tea
Organic Honey for sweetener

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Heat the milk and water, and add all of the ingredients above except black tea and honey,
Stir and raise heat to high. Once the liquid starts boiling, add loose black tea, turn down to simmer and cover for 2 minutes so the ingredients steep. Pour brought a sieve into your cup, stir in honey and enjoy!

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Cherry Pie Recipe – Sugar-Free and Oh So Good!!

It’s my third month into a Sugar-Free cleanse – that means 3 more months to go!! Woo HOO!! This halfway mark deserves a treat! And what better, tastier treat than a cherry pie, homemade with all the goodness of my pantry! It will make the house smell amazing, and I’ll have a guilt free treat perfect for summer!!

Join me in making this sugar-free pie and usher in a new level of healthy deserts for yourself, your family and your friends!! Share this recipe and post your comments, alterations or tips you have below!!

3 cups whole wheat pastry flour
2 sticks cold, unsalted butter
1 tablespoon sea salt
5 tablespoons maple syrup
4-6 tablespoons cold water

1 lb Rainier cherries, or sour cherries of any kind, sliced in half and pitted (the deep red ones are the tastiest, make sure you wash them well with fruit and veggie wash before pitting them – un-organic fruit gets a heavy does of pesticides year round that you don’t want to partake of!)
2 tsp Lemon Juice
1 tbsp honey
1 1/2 tbsp flour

Extra honey on hand



Preheat oven for 425F.

Make crust the exact same way as you would my apple pie. (Refer to instructions here) Place dough in fridge for 30 min while you wash, pit, and mix up the cherries with flour, lemon juice and honey. Let the chery mixture stand for at least 5 min before using in the pie.

Take out the dough and roll half of it using a floured rolling pin into a large circle, pace gently on pie shell. Scoop out cherry mixture and place it all in the center, dribbling 1-2tbsp more honey in between handful of cherries. You should have used 3 tbsp honey by the time the mixture is in the pie. Any more might make the pie too sweet as honey has a powerful taste. Add 2 tbsp of butter (or coconut oil) cut up into tiny cubes over the top of the cherry pie filling.

Roll out the remaining dough into a circle and cut into thin ribbons with which to make a lattice for the pie. Braid lattice over the pie and seal the ends with any extra remaining dough. Brush egg white over the dough, or if you are vegan, brush coconut oil over the dough.

Bake for 40 min, checking the pie as early as 20 min in to ensure your oven is not cooking it too fast and the crust is burning too quickly. Lower heat if your oven is too intense and cook for a little longer, trying to reach at least 30-35min.







Fit Family Fun for Vacation Time

Fit Family Fun for Vacation Time


I was contacted by a lovely mother who wanted to do a joint write up about healthy ways to stay fit and have fun on vacation, and here is what we came up with! Share your favorite ways to stay fit below in the comments section!


I personally don’t have kids, yet, but there are a few tips that come to mind to stay fit and healthy on vacation:

Walking with them to places rather than driving. It helps them actually take in the scenery, absorb the differences in their new surroundings, and it creates conversation between family members, as opposed to whizzing by in a car, where their focus is short, and even shorter if they have a personal dvd player around or a smart phone. If that means even taking public transportation then so be it, it’s a fun and different experience for the kids, more like an adventure.

Food wise, I would bring lots of dried nuts and fruit (with no sugar added, no preservatives and preferably raw organic). It will keep sugar cravings at bay and actually give them something much better for their bodies and their minds in the long run.

Avoid bringing granola, which is highly processed and comes loaded with sugars. And definitely nothing chocolate dipped. Unless you are buying expensive snacks, most chocolate dipped candy bars are made of cheap denatured synthetic ingredients, likely to give the kids a massive headache and sugar rush in a few minutes.

If they crave chocolate, bring a good quality dark chocolate bar along, 80% would be ideal, and give out a piece here and there. That will save money when they crave something sugary as well. A good, dark chocolate organic bar is a whole lot healthier than a candy bar, ice cream or baked good. Explain the benefits of dark chocolate to them if they complain that it’s too bitter and get them to mix a bite of chocolate with some raisins and cranberries all at once; it’s a pretty yummy combo.


Kendra writes:

I make a point of keeping my family healthy. We eat good food, full of healthy nutrients. The kids participate in sports. We get exercise together as a family. When vacation time rolls around, our routines change, but we manage to keep healthy habits as a part of our family fun. Here are a few tips that I use to keep my family healthy on the road:

Drink Plenty of Water

Whether we’re taking a road trip, flying to our destination or enjoying fun together in the sun, I make sure my family has plenty of water to drink. Each family member has a personal water bottle. If the day’s activities involved spending time in the hot sun, I usually put the full bottles in the freezer for a while before we begin our adventure. Even if drinking more water means taking a couple extra potty breaks, it’s worth it to avoid dehydration or heat stroke.

Family Fun Runs

We like to incorporate family fitness into our vacations. Before heading to a destination, I often check to see if there is a local 5k or other running event that coincides with our visit. The entire family can participate in these events, and they are a great way to get to know people in the community where we are vacationing. Often, these events feature shorter races specifically for young children. We always have fun running together.

Eating Out

Restaurants offer all sorts of ways to be unhealthy while on vacation. However, you can make good, healthy choices when dining out. I like to reduce caloric intake by avoiding extra sauces or cheese on my entrée’s. I encourage my kids to choose healthy sides like veggies or fruit over fried foods. Drinking water instead of soda pop makes eating out healthier and less expensive.

Hotel Fitness

I always check fitness amenities before booking my family’s accommodations. By choosing a hotel with a well-equipped gym, I make sure that I can get a short workout in each morning before breakfast. The kids like to play in the water, so we also try to spend time as a family at the hotel pool. Some hotels also offer fitness or yoga classes. The workout options on vacation are different from those at home, but there are always options. This is one trick I always like to use and will be utilizing it on our upcoming trip to Orlando. With so many places to stay it can get a bit overwhelming. Sites like Gogobot make it easy to read user reviews so you can feel more comfortable about where you and your family book.

Staying healthy requires attention to details. With some advance planning, you can keep your family’s healthy routines when you travel. It will help everyone enjoy the trip more.

Kendra Thornton 

connect with Kendra via twitter @KendraThornton


Whatever you end up doing on vacation with the kids, save money by going out for food minimally and by bringing healthy snacks, and splurge on doing more activities and events. That’s where all the memories and bonding come from!


God bless you all!

Irina Thomason


 The Natural Ways

The Natural Ways

Home Made Apple Pie – Sugar-Free, Delicious, and Perfect for the Holidays!


This Memorial Day I decided to bake an all natural sugar-free apple pie! This is my second month of no-sugar (as an ingredient) and I’ve started really craving deserts. I’ve had to find other healthier ways to fulfill that craving and that’s what lifestyle changes are all about. If you’re trying to ditch the processed-sugar-denatured-high-carb-junk and you want a real treat for your body you will have to make this apple pie! You won’t regret it, and you won’t believe it’s sugar-free!!

Here’s the recipe followed by lots of step-by-step pics to keep u on track!


3 cups whole wheat pastry flour
2 sticks cold, unsalted butter
1 tablespoon sea salt
5 tablespoons maple syrup
4-6 tablespoons cold water

6 large granny smith apples
Juice from 1 lemon
1/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
3/4 cup maple syrup
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1 vanilla bean
1 tablespoon melted butter

Wash and peel then slice apples into even pieces and toss with lemon juice and flour. In a small pot, combine maple syrup, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. Split the vanilla bean in half and scrape out the vanilla into the pot as well. Heat over low until the warm and starting to bubble around the edges, whisking occasionally. Pour over apples and toss until apples are coated. Let sit for one hour (or overnight is better!)

To make crust, combine the flour and salt into a bowl and cut in butter with your fingers (or use a food processor) Once butter are broken down to the size of peas, add maple syrup and 1 tablespoon of water at a time to the mix, stir/kneading until the dough comes together, working dough as little as possible. Dump dough onto a flour covered surface and divide into two pieces. Form pieces into disc, wrap in plastic, and place in refrigerator for 20 minutes to chill.

Roll one piece of dough into a large circle, enough to cover a 9″ pie pan with crust hanging over.

Preheat oven to 375˚.

Pour filling into the pie pan. Roll out the second pie crust and cut into strips (if wanting) or place the crust on top whole. Add remaining dough to edges, crimp the edges and cut slits in the top if using the crust as a whole. Brush crust with melted butter, also egg whites work well.

Bake for 45-55 minutes or until the top has browned and the apple filling in bubbling out the sides. Let cool before serving.


































All things Golden Smoothie! – a delicious treat for a hot day!


It’s become really hot here in Los Angeles. Where I am in Marina del Rey it’s a little more bearable, but let’s just say that the fan hasn’t stopped working thins last week 😉

So to celebrate this massive heat wave and the golden sun I have created a new recipe I lovingly refer to as
All things Golden Smoothie 🙂

It doesn’t actually combine all yellow fruits and veggies under the sun (pardon the pun)
– (pardon the rhyme!)
It combines my favorite raw golden treats!


– First I start by brewing up some hot water for a large cup of Yerba Mate tea. I put about two tablespoons worth of loose leaf Yerba mate in a cup and pour the water over, letting it steep until it’s no longer hot.
– I add 1 tsp of raw organic local honey and stir until it’s dissolved
– I pour the sweetened tea into my bullet blender
– I add two cups worth of cubed pineapple, fresh. (It’s way more flavorful if you use fresh pineapple versus the frozen variety.)
– I add a whole ripe organic mango, cubed.
– finally I top it off with a heaping tbsp of organic local bee pollen
– and 4 deliciously refreshing ice cubes

Blend till everything is homogenized, and the texture should be creamy. This will ensure that the pollen has broken down to its tiniest form for easy absorption.

And then I kick back and enjoy! And I hope you will too!

To your health,
Irina 🙂


Smoothies to Swoon For! – Recipes inspired by Costa Rica flavors

I just came back from a recent backpacking trip to Costa Rica. It was amazing, the land is beautiful, the weather is perfect, and while it sounds like it could be an amazing cheap trip, it was not.  Let me tell you, two people in Costa Rica for 10 days can reach the triple digit mark real quick!  That’s because Costa Rica is one of the most highly visited countries in latin america, and they know it!  They have what my friend fondly refers to as ‘gringo prices’.  That’s a 4x mark up of regular prices for all foreigners.  So if you are traveling on a budget you have to find ways to cut corners!

One quick way to do so is order smoothies from your hotel, hostel, or food vendor. Sometimes you will see smoothie shacks on the side of the road.

Smoothies can save me money? you ask. Yes, smoothies do.

In Costa Rica they are called ‘bebidas’.  Smoothies are a cheap, hydrating, filling, vitamin and antioxidant rich source of nutrition, and they are available almost everywhere!  Probably has something to do with the fact that fruit is abundant and cheap in Costa Rica! Also, it’s really tasty too!

Now that I’m back home, having a smoothie makes me feel like I’m on vacation 🙂

Here are my favorite smoothie recipes that I came across, I hope they will inspire you and help your budget stretch a little more in surprising ways, even when you are at home!


Vista Serena Smoothie

Passionfruit, pineapple, banana, mango and mint! +1 cup-2cups of ice

I would do a whole passion fruit, 2 cups pineapple, 1 whole banana, half a mango, and a small handful of mint.

Blend thoroughly, then decide how much ice to add based on your own taste.


Casa Tranquilo Smoothie

Papaya, pineapple, cantaloupe, ginger and cayenne! +1-2 cups of ice

Half a papaya, 2 cups of pineapple, quarter cantaloupe, a tsp of ginger should do the trick and a 1/4 tsp of cayenne.

Blend thoroughly, then decide how much ice to add based on your own taste.


Coco Loco Smoothie

Cocoa, Coconut milk, Cinnamon, banana, dates! +1-2cups of ice

1tsp cacao, 2 cups coconut milk, 1/2 tsp cinnamon, 1 whole banana, 2-3 dates.

Blend thoroughly, then decide how much ice to add based on your own taste.


Rica Chica smoothie

Papaya, strawberries, raspberries, mango, passionfruit! +1-2cups ice

1/2 papaya, 2 cups strawberries, 2 cups raspberries, 1/2 mango, 1 whole passionfruit.

Blend thoroughly, then decide how much ice to add based on your own taste.


Bana Time smoothie

Guanabana, pineapple, strawberries! +1-2 cups ice

1 whole guanabana, 2 cups pineapple, 2 cups strawberries.

Blend thoroughly, then decide how much ice to add based on your own taste.


El Tipico smoothie

Pineapple, mango, banana and cantaloupe! +1-2 cups ice

!/4 pineapple, 1 whole mango, 1 whole banana, and 1/4 cantaloupe.

Blend thoroughly, then decide how much ice to add based on your own taste.


The most important part is to experiment with your fruit! Have no fear! There is very little that can go wrong when combining delicious fruits together! You will be an expert in no time if you fearlessly combine a variety of conventional and exotic fruits, and you will have your own surprising smoothie recipes to share!


God bless fruit everywhere!


To your health,

The Natural Ways


Golden Beet Salad

Golden Beet Salad


1 golden beet*
1 bunch spinach*
2 tablespoons of pomegranate*
2 tablespoons of goat cheese*
2 tablespoons shallot, minced*
1/4 cup olive oil*
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar*
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard*

*all organic ingredients


Wrap beet in parchment paper then foil and place in heated oven (425F) for about 50min.
Remove an wait for beet to cool completely before peeling skin off and cutting beet into 1/2inch cubes.
Wash spinach and place in bowl, toss with beets and Pomegranate seeds.
In a small bowl mix vinegar, shallots and mustard with a whisk.
Slowly stir in olive oil whisking to make sure it’s well blended. Pour dressing over salad, season with salt and pepper of you would like, garnish with goat cheese and enjoy!

You can also add avocado to this recipe, slivered almonds, blueberries, etc… and it would probably taste amazing too!

Don’t have balsamic vinegar? Use white vinegar or apple cider. Don’t want to use olive oil? Use flax oil, or coconut oil instead. Can’t find golden beets? Use red beets!

Get creative with your ingredients, that’s what it’s all about!

And most importantly,

Enjoy your salad!!


A little BEET nutritional information:

Beets are high in potassium, magnesium, fiber, phosphorus, iron; vitamins A, B & C; beta-carotene, beta-cyanine; folic acid. Pregnant women would benefit greatly from eating beets due to their high B vitamin and iron content.

They purify blood! They are a tonic for the body.

Beets are low in calories but have a good amount of natural sugar which slowly gets released into the body, as opposed to natural chocolate or conventional sweets. No blood sugar spikes here!

Beets are a natural aphrodisiac! They have plenty of boron in them which is directly related to the production of sex hormones! Saucy saucy beets 😉 They also contain tryptophan which makes you feel good!

Random fact: Beets were served in space when the astronauts of Apollo 18 met up with their brethren in Soyuz 19. They served borscht!! Borscht is a soup made from beets. How cool is that?!

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