Tea Time and Relaxation

The Perfect Tea(Maker)

One of my very favorite things to do at night (or any time of day really) is make myself a nice big mug of tea. I’ve loved tea ever since I was in college. I got into loose leaf tea when Bobby brought me back some Lupicia loose leaf tea from Hawaii just a few weeks after we started dating. This was back in the winter of 2005-2006. Can’t believe that cute college boy turned into my husband! Things certainly do change over the course of 5 years.

A lot of my friends know about my love of tea too; my one friend that I talk about a lot (a bridesmaid) actually got me the Perfect TeaMaker from Teavana as part of our wedding present. It really does make the perfect mug of tea.

I have been loving the Earl Grey Creme flavor the most – it’s actually replaced my morning coffee. I sweeten it with a few drops of NuNaturals Stevia and drink it up as I do my morning routine. Here is the fresh loose leaf tea (you might recognize this from my header):

Going in…

Ready to pour the near-boiling water!


After it steeps you just set the Perfect TeaMaker on a mug (it fits with just about any size), which pushes up the bottom and lets the tea drain out. If you just have it sitting on the table (or its base) it does not leak. It’s very well designed! Then add your NuNaturals stevia (I only say NuNaturals because it is my favorite brand of stevia) and let it cool enough to drink. Speaking of NuNaturals, you have until Thursday to order and get 15% off! Click for coupon.

Tea & Yoga/Health

One reason I like drinking hot tea is that I can’t gulp it down quickly. I have to savor it. Something it’s hard to sit down and really savor meals/drinks/life. So tea makes me slow down and appreciate the moment. It’s almost like yoga or meditation. Savoring tea teaches you to savor the moments when you’re not drinking tea, if that makes sense. It’s the same principle in yoga – when you learn to hold a challenging pose you are practicing for how to face challenging situations in life. You breathe and you get through it. Tea helps you learn to appreciate moments of pleasure even when you’re not drinking tea.

Project Food Blog Entries That I Like (and that you should vote for too, if you like ’em)

Whew. Long post. Lots to say.

Do you drink tea? What’s your favorite flavor?

My favorite flavor is “cookie tea” from Lupicia. It tastes just like a cookie, especially with milk and a touch of honey.

Don’t forget to enter to win $65 from CSN Stores! Deadline is tomorrow night.

Yasai Yaki Soba Recipe {Project Food Blog}

Today’s post is my second Project Food Blog entry (see my first entry here). The challenge? “The Classics”. Each contestant must pick an ethnic classic that (s)he is unfamiliar with. We’re supposed to keep it as authentic as possible.

Ethnic food? Nothing new to me. Authentic ethnic meals? Okay, now you’re onto something. I make a lot of so-called “ethnic” dishes, but they are not usually true to the traditional recipe. I’m always modifying and Maggie-fying dishes, sometimes to the point that they are unrecognizable by the end. I always enjoy the outcome, but I will admit that I can’t follow a recipe to save my life. So this challenge is very… well, challenging for me (as it is supposed to be). The main reasons that I usually change a recipe are:

  • I don’t have all the ingredients and I make substitutions
  • I healthify recipes by reducing the amount of oil or adding extra vegetables
  • I simplify recipes to make them quick and easy

My Challenge: Yasai Yaki Soba

Japanese food is a definite favorite for me, but I rarely make traditional dishes. I use a lot of Japanese ingredients, but I don’t make a lot of Japanese dishes. I leave that up to Bobby’s mom (one of my two favorite cooks – my mom being the other one). In my googling I came across a few recipes for Yasai Yaki Soba. I had to pick it because Bobby and I have an inside joke about Yakisoba (it involves a hysterical commercial they used to play on California TV). Turns out that I had almost all the ingredients needed and I only had to run out for 2 things: the garnishes.

Yasai Yaki Soba: What does it mean?

I know there are linguists out there (Lauren and Amber Shea!) that share my passion for words, so let’s break down this recipe to see exactly what Yasai Yaki Soba is.

Yasai = vegetable. Yaki = from yaku, which means “to bake or to grill”. Yaki appears in a lot of Japanese dish names – teriyaki, sukiyaki, takoyaki, okonomiyaki. Soba = buckwheat noodles. I had a lot of trouble finding Japanese etymology resources online, so all I can offer are these definitions. (If you know of a good resource please let me know!) So this is a veggie noodle dish that is “grilled” in a wok (fried). This version happens to be macrobiotic (if organic eggs count) and vegetarian.

Yasai Yaki Soba: The Recipe & The Details

I set about setting up my ingredients.

The main source of panic for me for this recipe? The vegetable oil! I never use that much to stir-fry things. I got over it though; I had to follow the recipe to be authentic. That is the point of this challenge.

Yasai Yaki Soba Recipe (Serves 2)


  • 6 ounces soba noodles (dry weight)
  • 1 green pepper, sliced and chopped
  • 1 large thinly sliced carrot (I used a mandoline)
  • 1/2 cup sliced onion
  • 3 garlic cloves finely chopped
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil

Seasoning Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon rice wine (mirin)
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil

Yasai Sauce Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons rice wine (mirin)
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 2 teaspoons freshly grated ginger (or 1/2 teaspoon ginger powder)

Garnish Ingredients

  • pickled ginger
  • sesame seeds (black or regular or both)


  1. Cook the soba noodles according to the package (usually 4 minutes in boiling water). Immediately rinse with cool water to stop cooking. Set aside.
  2. Beat the 2 eggs and mix in the seasoning ingredients. Add the veggies (pepper, carrot, onion, garlic) and then add the noodles (gently so they don’t break).
  3. Heat a wok over high heat for 1-2 minutes until it’s very hot (almost smoking), then add the vegetable oil. Add the noodly veggie egg mixture and cook for 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Mix together the yasai sauce ingredients while the noodles are cooking.
  4. Remove from heat, add the yasai sauce (while still in the wok), and mix. Divide between 2 dishes and top with the garnishes – ginger and sesame seeds.
  5. Enjoy!

Yasai Yaki Soba: What was challenging?

I had a few difficulties with this…

  1. I followed the recipes to a T – I actually went out and bought the specific garnishes that the recipe called for. And those garnishes made this dish exactly the classic dish I was hoping for! I don’t usually do this, but maybe I am missing out. The little things really do make a difference.
  2. The oil content. When I stirfry I don’t usually use this much oil. I use enough, but I never take the risk of using too much and making it soggy with fat. I used the amount it called for, but it turns out I was probably right – Bobby and I both prefer it less oily.
  3. It didn’t have as many veggies as I usually use, and I was tempted to add more in. When I make noodle-veggie dishes, I always use at least half veggies (in terms of volume). This had more noodles than veggies, but it made me appreciate the simple flavor of the soba.

So this challenge was awesome in that it made me appreciate the fact that I am actually a very good cook (Bobby loved it), I don’t have to always make uber-healthy food, and it solidified my love for true Japanese cuisine. Thanks Project Food Blog!

I will remind you how to vote for me tomorrow. I will also be back either later today or early tomorrow with my weekly roundup – I was out all day yesterday and didn’t get to it.

What’s your favorite ethnic dish?

Mine is papaya salad, duh. I would have made that except I’ve already made that lots of times.

*Note: I combined elements of 2 recipes to get this recipe. See here and here for my inspirations.

My Favorite Food Blogger Entries & Thankfulness

Did you know that you get 400 votes for Project Food Blog? I did not. You can vote for me and all of my favorites too! Check out these lovely posts:

(If I missed you let me know and I will make sure to vote for you!)

I don’t have much to say today so I am going to steal Kim’s daily gratitude feature. Don’t forget to enter my book giveaway if you didn’t already. It ends tomorrow.


Things I am thankful for today:

  1. Beautiful fall weather. Walking to work today was peaceful (as peaceful as a New York City morning can be) and relaxing.
  2. Having a steady job and enjoying it.
  3. Choir practice tonight!
  4. Having a very understanding and supportive husband.
  5. 30 Days of Yoga 🙂
  6. My morning cup of tea. (It’s not morning anymore, but it makes me happy all day.)

Coconut Breakfast Cookies Recipe

Today is the day that voting opens for the Next Food Blog Star. Oh boy. I have been popping in at other blogs around the blogosphere reading their entries (see mine here) and I am so inspired to be the best food blogger I can be. I hope you will check out my profile (or others) and vote (please vote for me! but if you like someone else’s better, vote for them). I have discovered a lot of very cool bloggers thanks to this challenge.

Good luck to all! Go vote!

Now that I’m done being sappy, I will share with you the cool breakfast cookie recipe that I created last week – these little guys are fun to eat for breakfast. They’re coconutty, dense/moist, but not too heavy, and not too sweet. They’re not the ubiquitous “breakfast cookie” seen on nearly every single healthy living blog (yes I’ve made it); they are much different and do not involve oatmeal. (They do involve coconut; I am obsessed with coconut lately. Sorry Kim and Dad! I think it is delicious.)

These are also very cool because they use a method I like to call “stovetop baking“. I did this once before, and made soda biscuits – which reminds me – must make those again.

Maggie’s Coconut Quinoa Breakfast Cookie – Stovetop Baking!


  • 1 and 2/3 cups quinoa flakes (I am sure you can substitute with some other grain, but I had quinoa flakes and wanted to use them)
  • 2/3 cup grated coconut (unsweetened)
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon stevia (or more of a different sweetener – I used Trader Joe’s stevia here)
  • 1.5 cups almond milk (I used vanilla unsweetened)
  • 2 whole eggs


  1. Preheat your griddle over low heat. (My griddle is nonstick, so I don’t use oil/butter when I use it. You should use oil if yours is not nonstick.)
  2. Mix together the dry ingredients – flakes, coconut, salt, stevia. Add the oil and almond milk; stir. Beat the eggs together and then add them in and mix some more.
  3. Drop 1/2 cupfuls of batter onto the griddle. Cook on the first side for 5 minutes.
  4. Flip the cookies and cook on the other side for another 5 minutes.
  5. Makes 15 breakfast cookies.

You can have about 5-6 of these for a good breakfast (they’re not that big) – very filling, and definitely a yummy thing to wake up to. I like spreading them with a little bit of butter.


Why I Am A Food Blogger {Project Food Blog}

This fall one of my favorite organizations, Foodbuzz, is putting on a contest called Project Food Blog. Over the next 12 weeks a group of 2000 bloggers will be whittled down to one lucky winner based on different food blogging challenges. The first challenge:  to create a post that defines me as a food blogger and shows why I have what it takes to be the next food blog star. The post should come from the heart and be true to me and my blog.

Every single post I write comes from the heart. I am passionate about food, and about sharing food, and about creating new recipes. I’m also passionate about being healthy. For me, being healthy does not mean eating salads and tofu all day and running every morning. To me, being healthy means practicing moderation in all things. So when I am craving a cookie I have it, but if I have been eating cookies every day, I know when it’s time to take a break. I may use a lot of butter in my cooking, but you better believe that that butter is (usually) used for roasting veggies and making stir-frys. Intuitive eating is all about moderation.

Check out: Some Of My Favorite Stir Frys (each word is linked to a different recipe)

Roasted Veggies for Organic Bi Bim Bap

I haven’t always been good at moderation – it’s been a long journey. Now you won’t find fake stuff on my blog – I don’t do Splenda (anymore) and I am certainly not a fat-free yogurt kind of girl. I eat real food, and I share my real food adventures. I eat intuitively but I’m honest when that is hard for me. The most important person in my life taught me a lot about moderation and intuitive eating.

Marriage and Food Intuition

So why do I have what it takes? I think first I have to answer the question, “who am I?”

I am a food blogger. I am also a wife, a daughter, a sister, a mother to 2 fat cats (aptly named Couscous and Kabocha), a social media strategist, a marketer, a web developer, a singer, a yogi, a writer, a linguist, and a person. And other things.

My blog is a food blog, but it is so much more than that to me. I have always loved food. I will always love food. I love healthy food, but I also love things like butter and whipped cream. A day does not go by that I don’t enjoy dessert in some form or another. My blog records things that make me happy and things that I enjoy. My blog is about trying anything – which means eating everything from chunky natural peanut butter, to firm squeezed tofu, to rich and satisfying steak and bacon, to crispy fall apples, to fluffy pancakes, to fresh summer salads, and even some fast food (occasionally); and it means walking a lot, because that’s what our bodies were made to do; and it means working passionately; and it means living and loving passionately.

My Apple Picking Adventure

My blog is about practicing moderation in all things, whether that is moderation in chocolate, moderation in broccoli, moderation in exercise, or maybe just moderation in being moderate. Moderate eating = intuitive eating.

I blog out of passion, not to be successful (though that would be nice someday!). I love food and sharing food. I’m just me and I am happy if just one person finds a recipe of mine that they like, or if I inspire someone. Blogging is exciting for me. I work hard on the blog and I enjoy it. I hope you do too! Over time my blog has evolved (as have I), and I have learned so much – all of which I try to share with you, dear readers! Every time a comment pops into my inbox I smile; when I hear that you tried my recipe and liked it I get warm and fuzzy inside.

My blog is raw and honest at times, just like me. It’s about my life and my life through food, and life is not always perfect.

Nothing is perfect, nor should it be.

Tomorrow I will share a healthy recipe for coconut breakfast cookies in typical Monday fashion. Have a lovely Sunday. (I will remind you how to vote for me tomorrow too!)