Archive / Healthy Living

3 Things Edible Educated Eaters May Not know

asulia blog 3 things edible educated eaters may not know

I could feel the energy in the room at the New York Times building right when I walked into TEDxManhattan: “Changing the Way We Eat”. Conversations about food buzzed around me. Everyone I met cared deeply about food and the way that it impacts people and the planet.

By the time the event was over, I was overwhelmed with the excitement that our world is at a tipping point and that it’s not only food justice–the belief that everyone should have access to healthy and affordable food–but also social justice that’s at stake. If you eat, you have a say in the way our social systems are run. Food justice and social justice are two sides of the same coin. Consider exercising democracy and take action by choosing what products you support and letting your voice be heard in Washington, D.C.

Understanding the issues that are currently brewing will help you vote with your fork. 2015’s TedxManhattan’s line up of speakers helped me to dive deeper into my edible education by tackling core topics in the food industry and made me more aware of how my meal gets to my plate:

  1. Organic Food: The organic market has grown threefold since 1997 and demand is growing faster than supply. This is the real reason that organic cost more. The process farmers undertake to convert to organic can take up to 3 years and farmers can’t grow anything on their land during this transition period. Organic farming practices, however, are often more efficient and cheaper. For example, did you know that “sheep don’t like asparagus? Sheep can graze on asparagus farms by eating weeds and fertilize the soil at the same time, lowering overall costs without using harmful chemicals.” Ali Partovi
  1. Factory Farming: Since factory farming is so prevalent, it must mean that it’s cheaper and more efficient, right? Actually, no. Regardless of where you stand on eating meat, factory farms are hurting the land, water, and people in the communities that live near them.
  • Women who live near industrial farms are ⅔ as likely to have children born with autism as a result of heavy pesticide use and other airborne chemicals.
  • Animal excrement is so bad that residents in a town near a chicken factory farm couldn’t open their windows not only because of the smell, but also all the flies that swarmed the community.
  • “I quit my job at the EPA because I couldn’t do my job. Now I sue them. Even a loss in court can catalyze change.” said Michele Merkel of Food and Water Watch.
  1. Small changes can make big differences: I can’t wait and neither should you-start a personal campaign for responsible food now:
  • Use your edible education to share more responsible eating habits with family and friends.
  • When you dine out, ask if anything is local. Just keep asking.
  • Rethink ugly. Fruits and vegetables that don’t look like model specimens still taste good. France ran a brilliant campaign about the beauty of ugly produce.

Resources:  Below are some of my favorite websites and apps I discovered at TED and from my own research over the years that can help with your edible education:

  • Farmstand App — over 8,700 of the world’s farmers’ markets right at your fingertips. Find a market closest to you and share photos with the Farmstand community.
  • Food Policy Action — hold legislators accountable on votes that have an effect on food and farming.
  • Food Tank –spotlights environmentally, socially, and economically sustainable ways of alleviating hunger, obesity, and poverty and create networks of people, organizations, and content to push for food system change.
  • Food and Water Watch — a nonprofit that champions healthy food and clean water for all by standing up to corporations that put their bottom lines before the needs of the people.
  • Sustainable Table — your edible education starts here with invaluable articles about sustainable food and agriculture.
  • Milk Not Jails — a volunteer-run, grassroots campaign working on building a new urban-rural alliance in New York state by ending the dependency on the prison economy and revitalizing agriculture.
  • Socially Responsible Agricultural Project — a one-stop toolbox for concerned individuals organizing against factory farms and other industrialized agriculture.
  • Tree of 40 Fruits — exactly what it sounds like: hybridized fruit trees developed through grafting that grow over 40 types of stone fruit. They preserve heirloom stone fruit varieties that aren’t commercially produced or available.
  • Real Food Films — a center for collaborative media projects aimed at spreading stories of sustainable food and farming around the country.
  • Center for Science in Public Interest — an independent organization focused on sound science in order to counter Big Food’s influence on public opinion and public policies; CSPI advocates for nutrition and health, food safety, and alcohol policy.

Seeing and meeting so many like-minded people who are trying to better our food system gives me hope for our future. We are collectively healing people in our community and the environment. I’m excited about the ways we’ll continue to work together to change the way we eat.

From Foodie to Food Maker

asulia blog tedxmanhattan changing the way we eat

A few years ago, I considered myself the average food obsessed eater. I took excessive food photos, day dreamed about what to cook or bake next, stalked the latest restaurant openings, was an expert at securing reservations at the most coveted restaurants, devoured book, magazines, documentaries, TV shows on food, grocery stores and markets far and wide were staple must visit destinations during my travels. While I still do all these things, my story as an eater took a different path because my life changed and so Asulia was born.

I now see food from a different perspective because of Asulia. I went from foodie to food maker.  I’m more aware of where our food comes from and ultimately how food ends up on shelves and on our plates and forks. To say it’s complicated is an understatement to say the least. Soil and air quality, pollution, waste water, GMO, non-GMO, nutrients, plant based foods, super foods, humane animal practices, packaging, the case for plant based foods for our cardiovascular health, adult and childhood obesity, sourcing ingredients, food manufacturing, relationships with small farmers and big agriculture and food companies, USDA, FDA, food labeling, endangered seeds, food distribution and logistics. The list goes on. Although these are not the pretty words associated with drool worthy food photos, it effects all of us in ways we don’t necessarily see.

This week on March 7th, 2015 TEDxManhattan is hosting “Changing the Way We Eat“. I’ll be in the big apple ready to learn and talk with fellow attendees and speakers about food!  This event brings people together who care about food to take action year-round. I can’t wait to share my experience with you.

The full list of speakers is here. I believe like Brian Halweil, editor of Edible East End, and co-publisher of Edible Brooklyn and Edible Manhattan that “what we eat is not the problem; it is the solution.”   

This year, viewers can expect discussions on family farming, organic food, local food distribution, and ugly vegetables.” Danielle Nierenberg, President Food Tank

TEDxMANHATTAN will be broadcast live on Saturday, March 7, 2015 from LIVE from 10:30am – 6:00pm EST HERE or sign up for a reminder. Last year there were 150 viewing parties around the world. Host your own viewing party or find one to join on this map!


Banana Coconut Bread

asulia blog banana coconut bread

We’ve been living the snow globe life in New England. The Boston blizzards of 2015 dumped snow everywhere! I’ve been coping by catching up on my baking and cooking. It keeps the house smelling homey and warm.

I love banana bread. The depth and intensity of banana and coconut flavor in this quick bread is always comforting and feels like home. I especially love a piece of banana bread lightly grilled on a skillet with a spat of butter. Yum!

The key is having super ripe bananas and not over mixing the batter. I leave bananas out to ripen in my kitchen until they turn black and then hoard them in freeze until there’s enough to work with. Weigh out key ingredients. Use the right sized pan. If you don’t, the baking time will change. This is especially important when baking breads with yeast, which impacts the rise. Even without yeast, you can see in the photo above the difference in texture in using the right pan versus using a slightly bigger pan. 

You can use an egg substitute and margarine if you’re trying to avoid eggs and dairy. If you like nuts, add in 1 cup of toasted walnuts, macadamia, or your favorite in with the dry ingredients.

Banana coconut bread
Yields two 8-inch loaves

4 ¼ cups, 22.5 oz all-purpose flour
1/4 cup almond meal
1/4 cup ground flaxseed
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar in the raw
1/2 cup shredded zucchini
6 large ripe bananas, mashed (3 cups)
1/2 cup sweetened shredded coconut(toasted)
1/2 cup coconut milk with cream
4 large eggs at room temperature
1.5 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1.5 sticks, 12 tablespoons of unsalted butter
1 teaspoon coconut oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and adjust the oven rack to the lower-middle position. Grease two 8 ½ by 4 ½ inch loaf pans with coconut oil.

In a large bowl, combine flour, brown sugar, raw sugar, flaxseed, almond meal, shredded coconut, baking soda, and salt together. In another large bowl, whisk mashed bananas, zucchini, melted butter, eggs, coconut milk with cream, and vanilla together until well mixed. Carefully fold the banana mixture into the dry ingredients in the first large bowl until just combined.

Pour batter into pans. Bake for about 55 minutes until golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean with a few crumbs when inserted into the middle of each loaf. Cool before serving. Enjoy!

Beyond a new gym routine, resolutions for emotional health

asulia blog beyond a new gym routine, resolutions for emotional health

“This year I resolve to: exercise more, eat healthier, stop procrastinating, make more time for friends and loved ones, etc. etc.” Most of our New Year’s resolution lists have read like this at some point or another and there’s no shame in it, but after years of the same vague, sweeping declarations, it’s not hard to see why resolutions don’t have much staying power past the first few weeks of January.

Exercise more: will you take Fido out for a walk around the block one day more than usual or are we talking about marathon training? Eat healthier: will you invest time in planning out and writing down a weekly meal plan or will you just swing by the salad bar when the mood strikes you? Making successful resolutions is all about specificity: the more involved you are with the “how’s” of your goal, the easier it is to reach them.

While we’re all for the traditional resolutions that aim to improve your quality of life through healthier living and eating habits, emotional growth seems to be something that’s underappreciated. Developing an exercise regimen and celebrating Meatless Monday require persistence, but they’re very concrete ideas. Good interpersonal relationship habits also require persistence (probably the most persistence), but the results aren’t as easily measured as pounds shed or a decreased carbon footprint.

For 2015, we challenge everyone to look inside themselves. We challenge everyone to be a little bit more selfless and active in showing your appreciation for those you care about. Self-reflection is where it all starts and is worth the time. The entire process holds a magnifying glass to every tiny aspect of who you are and once you’ve started there’s no saying that you’re done with it–it’s a lifetime of asking yourself the hard questions, but if you don’t ask them, no one else will.

Once you’ve laid out all your personal dirty laundry–and whether or not you have immediate solutions for it all, having a great attitude, awareness, and authenticity will give room for your heart to lead you. It’s time to shift your focus to all the relationships in your life, from family and friends to significant others. Nurturing relationships and appreciating others starts with endings, and that’s where the difficult work begins:

  • Identify who you care about (really). End the toxic relationships in your life–the people who make you feel like less than a person, who make you feel like you’re competing against them for some nameless prize, who manipulate your friendship for their own gains. On the other end of the spectrum, it’s crucial to understand that some relationships run their course and neither party is at fault–be grateful for the time your roots grew together, even if they now grow apart. It’s painful to end relationships, but sorting out who really matters in your life will give you a stronger emotional foundation and concentrate your efforts moving forward.
  • Express your love, loudly and often. Many of us think about our loved ones on a daily basis and that’s wonderful, but it doesn’t really serve a relationship if the person you’re thinking about doesn’t know you’re thinking about them–not everyone has the luxury of mind reading! It might start with a small “thank you” or making a spontaneous phone call to catch up. Whatever it is, reach out and let that important someone know that they’re important–love and validation works wonders!
  • “Pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and start all over again”. Relationships are work! It might seem crude to put something so layered in such cut and dry terms, but there will be miscommunication and you will make mistakes–make a big enough one and there might be the threat of termination. But with someone who’s truly worth your while, there’s always a hope of a second chance, so be sincere in your apologies, build your bridges together, and continue forward on this weird and wonderful life.

Resolve to take an inward assessment. Stop yo-yo dieting and opt to find forgiveness, let go of bad relationships or whatever it is that you’ve been putting on the back burner. Here’s to a new year, new beginnings, and the pursuit of making more mistakes in order to move forward.

“… So that’s my wish for you, and all of us, and my wish for myself. Make New Mistakes. Make glorious, amazing mistakes. Make mistakes nobody’s ever made before. Don’t freeze, don’t stop, don’t worry that it isn’t good enough, or it isn’t perfect, whatever it is: art, or love, or work or family or life. Whatever it is you’re scared of doing, Do it. Make your mistakes, next year and forever.” Neil Gaiman



Happy holidays! Warm Wishes to You and Family.

asulia blog happy holidays! warm wishes to you and your family

Happy holidays! 2015 is just around the corner, which means New Year’s resolutions are coming. Get ahead by taking a few minutes to write down professional and personal goals. Think about the year ahead and also further out. What are your five and ten year aspirations? Little steps can help along the way: here are 5 startup secrets to help you get started.

Looking for tips to stay fit and get more healthy during the winter? Well, look no further. We’ve scoured the web for you: here’s a list of 10 tips to keep healthy and shed unwanted pounds. Our personal favorites are drinking lemon water, apple cider vinegar water, and incorporating turmeric in our daily routine to ease inflammation and for better sleep. In this season of hustle and bustle, take time to take care of yourself. Self care is not selfish, it’s considerate to those around you! It’s necessary in order for you to be who you really are and fully engage with the world around you.

The winter solstice tends to ease me into a time of reflection. As I look back at 2014, we’ve come a long way–from growing into more stores, finishing the 2014 MassChallenge Accelerator Program, and new packaging, to building a stronger foundation for the future.

I’m particularly excited about projects we’ve been working on and can’t wait to be able to share more soon. All of this would not be possible without you. Thank you for your continued support and belief in our work at Asulia.

With love and gratitude,


10 Tips to a Healthy and Happy Winter

asulia blog 10 Tips to a Healthy and Happy Winter Photo: © Suzanne Brendle 2014

Photo: © Suzanne Brendle 2014

Somewhere between the turning back our clocks in November and the tail end of January, the combination of cold weather and less sunshine can lead us off the healthy track. Below are ten practical steps you can take now to make the best of the winter season:

  • Wash your hands… properly! It might seem like common sense, but don’t make the mistake of a quick soap and rinse and call it a day (or forget the soap entirely!). Lather up your soap for 20 seconds before rinsing well and don’t forget the underside of your fingernails–germs love hiding there. Frequent hand washing is one of the easiest and most effective ways to avoid getting sick and spreading illness.
  • Have that Game Night! The hibernation thing works great for bears, but last we checked, people are not bears and staying hidden away at home all winter is not the way to go. Socializing is a powerful mood booster, so whether it’s a coffee date with a close friend or taking a group fitness class, engaging with others is a great way to destress and keep away the holiday blues. Shhh… we secretly love playing apples to apples.
  • Winterize your body, mentally and physically. For a season that comes around every year, we still find ourselves surprised by the onset of stuffy noses and sour moods. But there are ways to get a step ahead of Old Man Winter and have ourselves a happy and healthy season, from staying hydrated to being mindful about our mental health.
  • Stay on top of your fitness regimen. It’s all too easy to use winter weather as an excuse to stay indoors and curl up with Netflix, but staying active and consistent with your workouts is critical to boosting your immune system and combating the aftermath of holiday feasting. Whether you bundle up for a walk around the neighborhood or roll up your sleeves to give the house a good dusting, make sure to get on your feet.
  • Catch those Z’s. It’s true that not everyone needs a full eight hours of sleep to function healthily, but all the precautions you take against the cold or flu will be useless if your body is too tired to even use them. Try some turmeric milk at night if you have trouble sleeping.
  • Lighten up. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) affects millions of Americans and it’s important to seek treatment and not just brush it off as a case of the “winter blues”. If, however, you find yourself bogged down under a mild case of the blahs, getting more light in your life is an easy and effective solution.
  • Overcome holiday stress. The holiday season is a time for joyful family gatherings, but it’s important to acknowledge that this isn’t a universal truth. Family relationships are complicated and for those dreading the yearly get-together, there are concrete methods to identify what troubles you and ways to get through it. Watch a Ted talk about unconditional love.
  • Check your heating system and make sure it runs safely. Make updates if necessary and install a carbon monoxide detector to keep you and your family safe.
  • Travel smart. It’s difficult to stay healthy on a daily basis, but the holidays brings out stress and temptations in spades. Get prepared before you jump on a plane, train, or automobile. Here are tips to get the most out of your holiday season travels.

We hope you’ll make time by checking in on how you’re feeling and take steps toward a healthier you this winter. Let us know your favorite ways to stay healthy during the cold months! We’d love to hear from you.


5 Ways to Use Turmeric for Better Health

Photo credit: Guilt free food guide

Photo credit: Guilt free food guide

What looks like ginger, has a slightly citrusy smell and earthy taste, and gives Indian curries and our favorite bottled mustards their vibrant gold coloring? If you guessed turmeric, you are correct!

Often referred to as the “Golden Spice of Life” and “Poor Man’s Saffron”, turmeric is native to southeast India and has been used in the region for thousands of years for its culinary, medicinal, and coloring properties. The rhizomes (underground stems of a plant) of the turmeric plant look like the fresh knobs of ginger you’d find in the market. The ground turmeric we are used to finding in our spice racks is made by boiling, drying, then grinding the rhizomes into a powder, but turmeric is also available in its fresh root form and also as a whole dried root that you can grind yourself. Fresh turmeric has a more vibrant flavor than its dry counterpart, so it’s especially well-suited to sautés and smoothies, whereas dried turmeric is better for lending color and subtle flavor to roasted vegetables and dishes like rice pilaf.

If you only dig out your jar of turmeric for the occasional curry dish, you’re missing out. You have a jar of untapped potential languishing away among your cupboard’s odds-and-ends.

Alongside adding depth of flavor to your soups and braises, the spice has powerful medicinal qualities that have gained attention in recent years. Studies have shown that turmeric is a potent anti-inflammatory and its main active ingredient, curcumin, is a powerful antioxidant. Turmeric can aid digestion, boost memory, help you sleep, and even help treat (and possibly prevent) arthritis, heart disease, cancer, and Alzheimer’s.

While research is still being done on its medical potential, turmeric also has a variety of tasty and unexpected uses beyond adding a touch of color:

  1. Try including turmeric powder into your beauty regimen. Its antiseptic properties can be used to treat burns. You can also mix it with besan (gram flour) and water to create an exfoliator.
  2. Blend it into a smoothie — its slight bitterness will be masked by the other ingredients.
  3. Brew it! Simmer turmeric with milk (or your dairy substitute of choice) and honey for a comforting beverage when you’re feeling under the weather. We love making this turmeric milk at night.
  4. Pickle it for a unique side dish–preserved with lemon and salt, it’s crunchy, tangy, and has a bit of a kick to it.
  5. If you want to focus on curcumin’s full effects, invest in a bottle of turmeric extract. Curcumin is poorly absorbed into the bloodstream, but studies have shown that consuming it with black pepper enhances absorption.

The next time you restock your spice rack, consider giving that jar of turmeric an eye-level shelf upgrade. With its rich history in cooking and traditional medicine, it’s about time we put turmeric to good use.

Beyond Pumpkins: Meet its Cousins

photo credit: Suzie's Farm

photo credit: Suzie’s Farm

It doesn’t matter where you are this season–there’s no escaping them. They’re at every family gathering, spicing up your morning coffee run, taking over menus, and even lining office window sills! That’s right: winter squash. From the omnipresent pumpkin (and its trendy cousin, pumpkin spice) to striped and spotted decorative squashes, it’s almost impossible to imagine the autumn and winter months without these tough, colorful vegetables filling our plates and overflowing from market stalls. We put them in our pies, hollow them out and carve them up for spooky effect, roast them, mash them, and stick them in stews. When the leaves crunch underfoot and the air gets chilly, all other vegetables take a bow, because squashes run this town.

The seasonal obsession with pumpkin spice everything always brings in the media and disdainful critics. As we giggle over massive lists detailing gross acts of pumpkin spice abuse, it’s easy to forget that the real thing has star standing in the vegetable world for a reason. Winter squashes are nutrient powerhouses: one cup of baked butternut squash is filled with a vitamins (A, B6, C, and E), as well as magnesium, potassium, and manganese. Pumpkin, butternut, and acorn squashes are some of the most well-known varieties, but there’s a world of winter squashes out there just waiting for some extra love. Check our this list!