The Culture of Kombucha with Fit Life Tea

My favorite health foodie trend is the resurgence of Kombucha, the probiotic beverage that is often referred to as the “elixir of life.” As a habitual “Booch” drinker, I can tell you I have noticed a boost in my immune system, reduced inflammation and improved digestion.

I’ve been brewing my own Kombucha since I discovered the fermented refreshment three years ago. The cost for making an entire gallon of homebrew is close to the cost of a single 12 ounce bottle, averaging about $4/bottle at the health food market.

Every time I introduce a friend to Booch Brewing with my homemade starter kit they usually make a contorted face asking “Is this jellyfish or something? It looks alive.” What they are referring to is the workhorse of brewing, the SCOBY.

The SCOBY ferments sweetened caffeinated tea into Kombucha. SCOBY is an acronym for “symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast,” indeed, it is alive! To break down it chemically, the SCOBY essentially “eats” the sugar, similar to how animals eat glucose for energy. It creates the biproducts of acetic acid (vinegar), carbon dioxide, and alcohol (generally <1%). The brew yields an effervescent drink, containing organic acids, probiotics, Vitamin C and B-vitamins that act as antioxidants.

Kombucha is an ancient brew dating back to 221 BC during the Qin Dynasty in China, not long after the Great Wall of China was built. It was brought to Japan by a physician named Kombu, which he used the tea widely in his practice for its medicinal properties. Kombucha was termed from a combination of this good doctor’s name and the word for tea, “cha.”

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I bought my first and only Kombucha starter kit in July 2014, and have used the same SCOBY since then. When I first purchased, the SCOBY was smaller than a stick of gum. Currently it has the same diameter as a volleyball! This is because the culture grows with every batch made in width and diameter, taking on the shape of its container. Throughout its lifespan, my SCOBY has been shared with a dozen friends, and saturated in various teas as I have worked to perfect my Booch recipe, and battled through a few exploding Booch bottles. Don’t worry, I worked out the kinks for you to prevent further kitchen combustions.

I have consistently selected high quality organic teas and cane sugar for brewing. I do not want to jeopardize the health of my SCOBY with a cheap ingredients coated in pesticides. The key to selecting a tea is that it must contain caffeine that drives the fermentation process. Fit Life Tea is a high quality brand that I confidently use, their product is reputable and manufactured in in the USA. The Energy Tea is a blend of USDA certified organic, naturally caffeinated green tea, yerbe mate, ginsing and stevia, giving a sophisticated flavor over other generic green teas.

Below is the instructions for brewing Fit Life Kombucha. You will find brewing your own Kombucha is creating the ultimate local product. It allows you to tailor the Booch to your tastes, select the best ingredients, and reduce waste in packaging and transportation. A win for your body and the Earth!

Brew Happy, my friends! And as always, live global and stay local.


Fit Life Kombucha

  • Servings: 16
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

An effervescent health drink loaded with probiotics, antioxidants, beneficial organic acids, Vitamins B and C. Brewed using USDA Organic Fit Life Energy Tea.


Handling your SCOBY: Do not allow metal or high heat to come into contact with your SCOBY. Beware of mold growing on your SCOBY, yeast that appears as brown strings is healthy for your Kombucha brew.

Ingredients

  • 6 bags of Fit Life Energy Tea
  • 1 gallon water
  • 1 cup organic sugar
  • Kombucha Starter Kit (Can be purchased at health food store or given by a friend): SCOBY + ½ cup starter liquid (distilled vinegar or Kombucha)
  • Optional: Juice or Flavored Tea (such as Fit Life TeaTox)

Equipment

  • 2 gallon glass jar
  • 2 quart measuring cup
  • Non-metal Mesh Strainer
  • Cheesecloth or breathable fabric
  • Rubberband or twine
  • Funnel for bottling
  • 6- 16 oz. glass flip top bottles (can be purchased at Marshalls or Home Goods)

First Batch Directions

  1. Heat water over stove top and dissolve sugar. Remove from heat.
  2. Steep Fit Life Energy Tea in water for 5-7 minutes, remove tea bags and cool to room temperature.
  3. Pour Fit Life Tea into jar, add SCOBY and starter liquid.
  4. Cover the jar with cloth, secured with a rubber band or twine
  5. Place Jar in warm, dry area to allow fermentation process to occur for 3-4 weeks.

Second Fermentation Directions

  1. Using a ladle, remove 3 quarts tea and pass through mesh strainer. Discard extra yeast and young SCOBY filtered out of tea.
  2. Carefully with a funnel, pour tea into glass flip top bottles, leaving ½ inch space from top. (Optional: If you choose to flavor your tea, fill bottle with ½ cup organic juice or flavored tea before adding Kombucha).
  3. Allow bottles to sit on counter for 3 days, opening tops once daily to release excess carbon dioxide. This prevents glass bottles from exploding.
  4. Store bottles in refrigerator to stop further fermentation. Serve chilled or over ice.

Continuous Brew Directions

  1. With remaining 1 quart of tea in jar, add another batch of 1 gallon sweetened Fit Life Energy Tea (ratio of 1 gallon water: 1 cup sugar: 6 bags of tea).
  2. Allow to ferment for 7 days.
  3. Repeat steps for second fermentation process, removing a full gallon of tea for bottling.
  4. Enjoy your continuous supply of Fit Life Kombucha every 7 days.


Special thanks to Fit Life Tea for the collaboration. Click Here to Buy.

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Fun with Frescobol

Being a lifelong beach bum, I am always fascinated by beach culture. I think it’s amazing how different regions enjoy where the sand meets the sea. Hawaii, California and our own Sunshine State all have been identified as areas of distinction with regard to beach culture.

I’ve noticed the onset of new beach trends is stemming from Brazil. Cheeky Brazilian bikinis have taken over social media and surf shops. What was once considered cool, then taboo, is now cool again and truly embraces the body confidence of Brazilian woman with a “suns out buns out” mantra. Acai bowls are found in the corner juice bars of most coastal towns hailing from none other than from Rio de Janiero.

So what’s the next Brazilian beach trend? I believe I found it: Frescobol! It’s a beach sport that could be described as a fusion of ping pong and beach volleyball. It is very similar to paddle ball or Pro Kadima (the Israeli name), but the brasilieros use a larger paddle and ball. I appreciate this, as it allows a larger margin of error.

Frescobol is intended to be a non-competitive sport to enjoy on the praia (transl: beach) with one of more amigos. The goal being to simply to keep the ball in the air in a collaborative but not competitive effort. The sport started in the 1950s when an architect from Copacabana that regularly played beach tennis was frustrated with his rusting racket. He networked with a carpenter, and developed the wooden paddles that are used today.

I was stoked to come across Vero Frescobol via Instagram. Their paddles are manufactured in their workshops located in Florida or Brazil, not in China like many cheap paddleball sets in beach souvenir shops. The owner Vincent makes sure their paddles are made out of either marine grade woods, premium fiber glass or aerospace carbon fiber. I got the American birch wood set, and the brand embraces the wood’s natural tones in production, giving each wooden its set unique character.

Vero Frescobol started in 2001, when the owner Vincent discovered the sport in Costa do Cacau Beach in Bahia Brazil. Since then, people have enjoyed the Brazilian fun and continue to send Vincent pictures of their paddles to him over a decade later, some being passed down to their young ones.

To play, stand about 10 feet from your partner in the sand, and work together to keep the ball in the air. The first time playing with my boyfriend, I feel like it was a true test of our relationship as I sent him chasing after the bola (transl: ball) many times. I have a lot of power, but not a lot of finesse. As a team, we started counting the amount of times we hit the ball, and we made it our goal of getting 40 hits without me sending the ball to the sandspur coated dunes. After running around and dive bombing for to hit the ball, we finally hit 40 volleys and were sweaty but smiling.

me 2

It’s an amazing workout, and I fully intend on wearing my FitBit and sharing my beach burn in the future once the rain subsides.

So put down your fidget spinners and paddle happy, my friends! And as always, live global and stay local.


To buy the best beach game visit their site at Frescobol.com or find them on Amazon.com. 

Win you very own Vero Frescobol set by clicking here! Ends June 8 at 11:59 EST.

Bikini by Leila Swimwear and Cowrie Shell Necklace by Keshia Del Mar.

The Science of Seadation

Life is often a wave: you can be riding the crest one day, then caught in the undertow the next. Several days into a bad week, my frustration hit its peak where not even a facetious serenade of the “Bad Day” song could pacify me. I decided that instead of sulking into my bedsheets, I would make the most of my evening. Thanks to daylight savings, a Pau Hana paddle had become a viable option.

I paddled out off of Palm Beach after work on a choppy, miserable day to paddle. Despite the rough conditions, I felt like a blithe spirit had rushed through me and felt content when my toes hit the Atlantic. In the middle of the magic, I spotted a manta ray followed its path. I fell off my board no less than three times, but found myself giggling alone as I fought to get back on. I was completely seadated.

So why does the ocean make us feel serene? It’s not just because the ocean is often used as a symbol of relaxation, and not because blue the most preferred color. There is truly a science to seadation.

Water and salt are both essential chemicals to drive biological processes in the human body. So when you approach the salty sea, your body goes through a series of neurological responses that tells your mind “You need this, you like this.”

Looking at the ocean is a very simple image for the brain to process. On a perfect day, a blue ocean meets a blue sky, split by a clean horizon. This uncomplicated beauty of a single color allows the brain can take a little vacation from the emails, traffic and other complex images it had to decode all day. The rhythm of the ocean is also primal for the brain to process, as it sounds similar to our autonomic breath. This soft stimulation from the ocean puts the mind into an alert yet meditative state.

Salt normally has a bad reputation, but it’s the necessary electrolyte that maintains a balance of hydration in the body, and controls fluid motion across cells. Sea salt is not just sodium chloride, but also contains the essential minerals magnesium, calcium and potassium. Salt in the ocean preserves tryptamine which drives the formation of serotonin and melatonin, the neurotransmitters that make you feel happy and relaxed. Tryptamine in excessive amounts, when consumed in a synthetic form such as LSD, has psychedelic effects which is why taking hallucinogens is referred to as “tripping.” So don’t do drugs kids, and go to the beach instead.

Being submerged in salt water increases circulation, and reduces inflammation. Mother Nature has created a giant Epsom salt bath to ease our aches. It’s also calmly invigorating to be floating freely in the water, as it provides a 360 degree interaction with our environment. What other feasible scenario can you be in full contact with a substance, and have the freedom to move up, down, and laterally without the restriction of gravity? This dynamic situation causes a rush of endorphins which can cause and “out of body” experience. Similar to “runner’s high”, a surfer’s or swimmer’s high is a reality.

By the principles of seadation it turns out the ocean is pretty psychedelic.  I find it not to be coincidence that images referred to as “trippy” tend to have waves and swirls that look like the patterns of the ocean.

So swim salty, my friends! And as always, live global and stay local.


Much credit due:

{For the Rad Surf Set} Nalu Tribe X Schatzi Brown in Painted Dessert Crop and Surf Legging. Use Code “GlobalLocal” for 15% off.

{For the Knowledge} Blue Mind by Wallace J. Nichols, Psychology Today, and Dr. Deby Cassill of the University of South Florida for giving me the gift of seeing the world in a deep way.

{For the Animation Below} My Dear InstaFriend, Maddy Washburn 

A Cup for Humanity

Your vibe attracts your tribe. In my case, my vibe lead me to a café that had me at Aloha: Rio Coco Café in Vero Beach

My story starts on a Tuesday afternoon in Vero Beach. I pulled off to a Starbucks Drive-Thru for an afternoon pick-me-up between sales calls. I normally refuse to go to Starbucks when I’m at home in West Palm Beach. They are overpriced, over-roasted, and over marketed. However, I was dozing off and did not know of a good local coffee shop, and Starbucks has one thing done right: visibility.

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I pulled up to the window and kindly asked my Barista if she could fill up my reusable water bottle. As I took off the lid, and handed it to her, she rolled her eyes and said “I can’t take that. It’s against Starbucks policy.”

What policy? The Maximize Single Use Plastics Policy? I kindly canceled the order and she said “I can give you a cup of water for free,” to appease me. I replied, “You’re missing the point here.”

I typed coffee shop into my Yelp! App in the Starbucks parking lot. If the App could talk it would have said “You’re kidding me, right? Starbucks is 0.0 miles away!” I scrolled down past 3 sponsored Panera and Starbucks listings and found a unique spot with 5 stars “Rio Coco Café.”

My GPS lead me to an industrial park adjacent to the Vero Beach Airport. I thought Yelp was really yanking my chain, as this building looked purely industrial. I meandered down the rows of garage doors, and finally saw lovely green tables with smiling patrons beside a window sign that said “Legal Highs.” I chuckled to myself, this place had a sense of humor.

Opening the door, I felt the Spirit of Aloha rush over me. Rio Coco was a tropical hideaway with vintage plant hangers strung from the ceiling, tropical decor and vintage mid-century Polynesian couches luring guests to loiter.  I must have appeared elated and awestruck, as the Barista called out to me “First time here, huh?”

As she crafted a triple espresso coconut mocha for me, she told me how Rio Coco is a nonprofit charity to raise money for a school in Nicaragua. As if this place wasn’t cute enough, it was above all humanic, and they had a water cooler to fill up my reusable water bottle!

My coffee cocktail slid across the counter as the owner Laura placed a tray of tasty treats next to me and offered one to me. The Barista said “It’s her first time here!” and Laura smiled big and said “Welcome!” with a bear hug impressive for her tiny stature. I felt so happy to find this place and I just said “Would it be weird if I just took a bunch of photos? I want to write a blog about you. Everyone needs to find this place!”

Laura took me for the grand tour, talking about their grassroots effort in establishing local education in Nicaragua (I encourage you to go to their site). The first Rio Coco is in a town called Utila, and the shop is adorned with pictures of their dive adventures there. Laura led me to the Roasting Room, where beans from around the world were roasted, packaged and stored. She also shared that she wants the shop to be a community which it truly is, with a piano welcoming musicians on Wednesday evenings, and community rooms hosting church youth groups.

In addition to roasting their own coffee in house, they have a full breakfast and lunch menu at very economical prices. I brought my boss for lunch there and when he ordered the flank steak salad for $7.50 he said “Did they put the right price?” If you want to take Rio Coco home with you, they have a retail space selling cold brew and bags of beans, or you can purchase their roasted beans online.

So I challenge you to refrain from the frappeccino, and find a rad local coffee shop to support instead.

Have a cup for humanity and caffeinate kindly, my friends! And as always, live global and stay local.

The Search for Sea Safe Sunscreen

The weather in South Florida has been delicious, and any moment that I haven’t been working I have been soaking up every bit of salt and sun. With my Slavic background, it is important that I wear sunscreen and I deeply regret my teenage days of slathering on baby oil and embracing melanoma. In my adult years, I have become much more responsible and fashionable with sunscreens, hats and protective clothing.

I have always hated sunscreen since I was a kid. I loathed the way it smelled, the white sheen it created on my skin, and mostly how it made my face burn and tingle. However in my opinion, the only thing worse than a sunburn is a hangover since both these ailments are inflicted on oneself by overindulgence of good times.

So I struggled with sunscreen brands, and my college education lead to the discovery that this burning feeling on my face was not uncommon. The culprit was oxybenzone, an endocrine disruptor and common allergen. In addition to it affecting hormone production, according to a study by the University of Central Florida, it is effecting our coral reefs. It’s estimated 14K tons of sunscreen is leached into coral reef systems annually.

To understand this, I’ll talk a little bit about the anatomy of a coral. First, a coral is a colony of tiny animals known as coral polyps. These critters are virtually colorless, but when they live in a colony they host colored photosynthetic algae called zooxanthellae. So corals are not plants, but tiny animals in a happy commune with plants to give them their bright beautiful colors, and serving as a habitat for many marine critters, fish and sea turtles.

Oxybenzone disrupts the DNA coral larvae, haulting their reproductive cycle, and also disrupts the DNA of adult coral colonies. It is suspected to extract nutrients from coral colonies, contributing to what is known as coral bleaching. This is because the oxybenzone harms the zooxanthellae, leaving corals with a loss of their bright hues.

Now here is a point where I throw some brands under the bus, or under the boat I should say. Watch out for the propeller!

I rounded up all of the sunscreens my boyfriend and I accumulated over the past year and skimmed their ingredients, and that big bad cyclohexane appeared to be in all major brands. Banana Boat, Australian Gold, Neutrogena, Hawaiian Tropic in fact ALL contain oxybenzone in addition to some other carcinogenic compounds.

With my activities including snorkeling, SUP and surfing on or in proximity to coral reefs. If I didn’t stop using bad block for preventing my own cancer, I sure would stop using to save corals. My priorities are oddly altruistic, but I am an ocean advocate!

I was making my own sunscreen using my former Chemistry teacher skills, since coconut oil has natural SPF and when combined with zinc oxide powder and shea butter, makes a water resistant sunblock. However, my work schedule has interfered with my homesteading time.

I started a quest for an ocean friendly sunscreen with a lovely aroma, and was elated to find Alba Botanica. I purchased their SPF 30 Hawaiian Sunscreen for myself, then their SPF 50 Emollient Fragrance Free spray for my boyfriend’s golf bag. The Hawaiian Sunscreen smelt like pineapples and good times, absorbs quickly and provided excellent protection.

 

I test ran the Emollient Spray, and I am wary of aerosol sunscreens after reading articles about people becoming horrifically burned using them. However, I wore this before paddling about two hours and did not have a trace of a burn.

So slather on the goodness my friends! And as always, live global, stay local!

Pluralism, Paradise and Palm Trees

PREFACE: I started writing about palm trees in relation to world religions. Which then spiraled into many other potential fun facts. To help streamline reading and the brevity of this post, I have used anecdotes to keep this post on its course. If you see an asterisk* scroll to bottom if you feel so inclined to be filled with knowledge.


When you think of Palm Trees, you likely think of coconuts, tropical drinks and turquoise waters. A reminder of a warm, happier place or what one could call paradise. Palm Trees might be in the background of your “skinny days” bikini pic, or in the vacation photo resting in your cubicle to help you escape the mundane tasks of adulthood.

Being lucky enough to live in West Palm Beach (1*), I see palm trees lining the roads along my drive to work, on my evening jog, and outside of my window as I watch the sunrise over Lake Worth. I guess my life is a little taste of a tropical vacation, especially on the weekends.

sunrise

My Instagram Feed is splattered with palms and hibiscus {although, I feel like plural should be hibisc}. Every time I walk by either florae, I feel compelled to snap a photo to share the character of each plant that I am lucky enough to meet. When I look at Palm Trees, I don’t think of vacation, Florida, nor the city I live… but I see the answers to the world’s problems, to be specific the concept of pluralism. I know it sounds crazy {and maybe it is} but stay with me here as you read along.

another palm

Pluralism is a concept that differing religions and cultures can coexist and enthusiastically explore one another’s differing viewpoints. So take the word “diversity,” add in some effort, compassion and curiosity and what results is a multicultural community that symbiotically operates to build a unified community, yet preserve one’s own culture and customs.

Pluralism is what started my quest for multicultural education, especially since I live in area of high ethnic diversity. When I started reading about the symbolism of palm trees, this concept was tattooed in my brain and now every time I look at a palm tree pluralism comes to mind.

So why palm trees? Palm Trees have a deep rooted symbolism associated with victory, peace, paradise and eternal life. This dates back to the days of Ancient Egypt, where Mesopotamian religions saw the palm tree (aka Phoenix) as a symbol of immortality. In Ancient Greece, Olympians were rewarded for their victories with a palm trophy. By no coincidence all of the big three religions: Judaism, Christianity and Islam, share similar symbolic themes of palms in its religious texts.

I explain further, starting with Christianity as I was raised Catholic. My first interaction with a frond was during Palm Sunday, the mass that takes place exactly one week before Easter. I can recall from a very young age, running my little fingers through its fringes to distract me from the homily. I loved watching the older women weave them into crosses and roses in the pews.

Palm Sunday reenacts when Jesus was returning to Jerusalem the Sunday prior to his crucifixion on Good Friday. He was welcomed with people cheering waving palm fronds, causing the “powers that be” to raise their eyebrows about this man causing such a ruckus.

I would like to just break down the significance of this event by comparing it to modern times. Today, the Kardashian Family puts out a Twitter blast that they will be at the local mall. Fans apply their Kylie Lip Kit, make a neon poster and race to their arrival in hopes to snap a selfie with one of the famous sisters. Back in 33 AD, Jesus did not have a Twitter account. Maybe Jesus just looked at Matthew and said “Hey you want to go to Jerusalem next week?” and Matthew was like “Yeah they have a nice market at the temple, I could use a new pair of sandals.” Then word spread like wildfire until it reached Jerusalem and people were like “Jesus is coming. Find some fronds! We have GOT TO be there when he pulls in on his donkey.”

Jesus’ entry so significant, that some texts say “the city was moved.” I imagine this magnitude of people jumping and waving around palm fronds similar to when the University of Wisconsin football fans shake the stadium during the 4th quarter ritual of dancing to “Jump Around”(2*). Jesus, was a rock star, and people were pumped to see him, so much that the disruption that this caused ultimately lead to his crucifixion.

In Judaism, the date palm stands as one of the Four Species on the festival of Sukkot, when it is unified with a citron, willow and myrtle. There are two schools of thought on the Four Species: 1) to unify the four types of Jews in service to God, or 2) to unify the four parts of the body identified as the spine, eye, mouth, and heart. Either meaning relate to the Jewish service to God. The date palm’s Hebrew name is lulav, representing the spine. The lulav is said to have a taste, but no scent which represents Jews that study the Torah but do not possess its good deeds.

In Islam, palm trees are highly associated with paradise and gifts from Allah. For example, palm trees occupy the perimeter of an oasis, which signifies that water is a gift from Allah. Mary is said to have given birth to Jesus under a date palm in the Qur’an (3*). There is also an Arabic saying “Fog El Nakhal” which translates to “above the palm trees” referring to paradise in the afterlife. It would make a great saying for tattoo {Although many Muslims do not believe it is within their faith to get a tattoo, so maybe that explains why I haven’t seen it tattooed on anybody quite yet}.

Palm Trees often offer individuals salvation in religious and even secular ways. This can be realized as you look at that pretty palm tree on your work screensaver to motivate you toward a family Caribbean vacation. That palm tree may take your mind of irritating coworkers. It can motivate you to find a paradise outside of your current reality. I know after an exhausting day, I go for a jog down Flagler Drive just to chase palm trees that are lined up like toy soldiers. It clears my mind, and it calms me.


So in my view, palm trees symbolize pluralism, paradise, victory, and unity. To me, it’s uplifting when I analyze how the three religions that have been at war since the Muhammad all value my favorite tree. It’s made me realize how much the big 3 faiths have in common, and wonder what else I could share with people that I perceive to be different from me.

So I challenge you, next time you feel irritated with somebody, just try to find a common ground. Start with “Hey, palm trees are pretty rad, right?” You may find that your personal antipode might be much more familiar.

Chase palm trees, my friends! And as always, live global and stay local.

australia


Anecdotes and Fun Facts

1. Palm Beach actually gets its name because it’s lined with these long legged trees, to be specific the Coconut Palm. Palm trees are not native to South Florida, but floated on over to Palm Beach in the late 1800s when a ship, “Providencia,” was transporting coconuts from Havana to Barcelona had washed ashore on Palm Beach. Palm Beach pioneers had taken the coconuts and planted them in an effort to create a commercial coconut industry. Instead of a coconut farm, what was created was a posh paradise made famous by Henry Flagler.

2. Fun Fact: The University of Wisconsin tried to stop this tradition because the “fanquake” was a concern for the structural integrity of the Camp Randall Stadium. So when people say “there’s no way scientific way that Jesus could make an earthquake,” then I challenge you to attend a college football game. People can indeed make the earth move, and for certain House of Pain did.

3. You may be thinking, “Whoa, wait! You’re talking about Mary and Jesus? You’re supposed to be talking about Islam in this paragraph.” Well as a matter of fact, Mary is mentioned more times in the Qur’an than in the New Testament. Mary is the only woman mentioned by name in the Qur’an, and described as “the greatest of all women,” for her pure conception of the prophet Jesus. I also learned that Jesus is mentioned more times in the Qur’an than Muhammad himself.

“On your left!” for Florida Bike Month

March is Florida Bike Month and Palm Beach has organized great events to celebrate it. Nationally, Bike Month is typically in May, but the wise cyclists of Florida banded together to make it March since the weather is delightful compared to the swampy afternoons of late May.

I’ve gotten in the saddle a lot recently (that is, a green saddle with a croc getting its teeth brushed by a plover) when my girlfriends got together for a bike and brunch a few months ago.  Since then, I feel like I rediscovered all the glories of biking. Minimal red lights, the path less taken, and free beach parking. I’m convinced my beach cruiser is a portal back in time to joyful childhood days.

A few weeks later my friend Ginger and I went for a sunset happy hour stroll, since we are both avoiding the bar scene (alcohol is harder to tolerate at 30 years old). Ginger works for Environmental Resources Department and is just a rad babe to show me all the nature to love, even on Palm Beach. She showed me THE Kapok Tree on Lake Trail, and secret gardens along Worth Avenue, reminiscent of the streets of Tuscany. Or so I hear, I have not made it to Europe quite yet. We didn’t feel quite as guilty devouring burgers post ride downtown after working up a healthy sweat.

Since it is now “The Season” in Palm Beach, biking has been my primary mode of transportation to the island. With Mr. President Trump invading the plush piece of paradise for what seems like his weekly vacation, the island has become less accessible with bridge shutdowns and Secret Service Agents (Ahem! While costing taxpayers quite a pretty penny). Biking to the beach has provided easy access to the quiet sanctuary along the shore away from the cacophony of protesters vs. supporters. (Let it be noted that Blacks for Trump did have DJ during one of the rallies along Southern Bridge and I was digging it as I sat in traffic for 45 minutes to go 3 miles).

Aside from it being more pleasurable than traffic, it’s ecofriendly and a lovely workout. I burned 800 calories on a cruise around the beach today, according to my FitBit. With driving a shameful amount of miles for my job, I’ve chosen other greener methods in my life to compensate for my guilt. I’m a huge advocate against ocean acidification, and every time I turn my ignition I think one coral polyp dies. So to reduce my carbon emissions, I’ll also reduce my waist size and pedal around my hometown.

Today I went for a nice cruise around Palm Beach and love how being on bike allows me to access the gardens and parks with ease. I stopped in Buccan Sandwich Shop for some grub, and had an impromptu picnic in a park off of County Line Road.

If your Bikeless in Seattle…or any city for that matter. Your community might have a bike share program. WPB has SkyBike and for $3 per 30 minutes you can get a ‘cycle all around town at multiple stations.

Biking etiquette is key to make this enjoyable. Use a bike lane if it’s available and safe. Do not ride 3 bikes abreast in the sidewalk. Nobody is going to like you. When you pass, shout “ON YOUR LEFT” as this is the American signal for “Move your ass to the right, I’m passing on your left!” Unfortunately some walkers are either stupid, uneducated on this practice, or don’t speak English which has caused some back-pedal braking on my part. I just decided to buy a bike bell and it’s made my life much easier. The sound travels farther, and a bell speaks all languages so you don’t have to keep screaming at people (unless you enjoy that type of thing).

A nice WPB local shop to get some bike gear or even a brand new set of wheels is at Jack The Bike Man in Flamingo Park. It is a nonprofit organization that sells used bikes to raise money to donate bikes for underprivileged children in the community. Being a former public school teacher, I know many kids (and even some of their parents) are dependent on cycling as their sole method of transportation. Jack The Bike Man has a small gear shop, a huge variety of used bikes, and also performs bike repairs. I went here to get a bell, cup holder, and bike light and walked out of the shop spending $27. I didn’t feel robbed like I’ve felt by specialty bike shops, and it also went to charity. I’m a sucker for Social Good operations.

Here is my challenge to you, Global Locals! If your two-wheeler is rusty, take it in for a tune up and out for a spin! Tell me what treasures you find in your hometown behind the handlebars. And whether is a fixie, roadie, tandem, or velocipede… I am positive your body and the Mother Earth will be grateful.

And as always, live global and stay local. Pedal Happy, my friends!

 

Black and Bluebird Days in Colorado

I am a Florida girl and absolutely hate being cold. This likely being the reason that I never attempted to ski before. Under the advisement of many friends that promised I would love skiing and comforting me with the phrase of “You will not even get cold,” I treated myself to a trip to the Rockies to ring in my 30th trip around the sun.

This was also my first time in CO, and I had only been out West once prior to Colorado. I am lucky to have Jessica, my childhood neighbor and best friend of 20+ years that just re-relocated to Denver after living in Sydney for a few years. (I visited her in Australia too, I’m happy she chooses to live in pretty rad places).

We spent the first few days enjoying the chill Patagonia clad coffee culture in Denver before heading out to the slopes at Beaver Creek. I signed up for a full day ski lesson, and to my surprise I was the Queen of the Bunny Slope. My rollerblading skills translated nicely to the slope as I was making turns and maneuvering around the kiddos in ski school.

I loved skiing right away, and my friends were right, I wasn’t cold at all. In fact, I was sweating through my 3 layers. At the end of my lesson I told Jessica I was a ski prodigy, and may have used the phrase, “I’m ready to ride giants, Koonu!”

At Arrowhead I prepared for my first real mountain ride on a “Bluebird Day,” (this is snow bunny speak for blue skies on the mountain). I went onto the green circle ski trail with Jess, as she motivated me though my 40 minute fall down the mountain.

Apparently the mountains have several degrees of a steeper incline than the bunny slope. I hit moments of having a blast where it felt like I was carving through the ice, followed by moments of distress as my skis popped off, displayed out in the snow like a yard sale. Jess kept me positive when I got into a panic and kept saying “It’s not that bad, you’re in the mountains. It’s a beautiful day.” If it weren’t for her motivation, I would have called the rescue tobogan at the conclusion of my 3rd fall, that was a gentle slide into a tree. The “Bluebird Day” left me very black and blue for a few weeks.


After one trip down the mountain, I determined I had a bit of “Ski Hubris” and I was more fit for the bunny slope my second day of skiing. Despite my injuries, I think I’m hooked on skiing. Well, as hooked as I can be living in a place that hasn’t seen snow in my entire lifetime.

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CO was breathtaking at every turn. Being in the mountains was a humbling experience, and driving through them with my lifelong friend blasting Arcade Fire’s “Reflektor” album is an unforgettable memory. For the next 30 years, I’m challenging myself to enjoy the world in other ways I never thought I would before and hoping more lifelong friends join the journey.

Spelunking the Shoreline

It’s been a hot minute since my last post, and the hiatus was largely due to a new chapter in my career which requires a lot of effort, enthusiasm, and studying. As the dust is settling around my new position, I decided I need to dust off my little blog and get her going again.

With the stress of starting a new job, I found myself making more time to be outside to help me wind down from the day. I have a short list of “secret spots” where I like to cool down from the work week. In this post I’ll share the location of my ultimate secret spot that fuels my love for rocks.

Yes, rocks. I love them. I am no stranger to scrolling #geologyrocks on Instagram and often ogle pictures of rock formations around the world that I want to visit in Utah, UP of Michigan, Greece, etc… I took an entire college course on limestone. Yep, that’s right, 3 state college credits on just one type of rock.

Blowing Rocks Preserve is composed of Anastasia Limestone and is located on the northern tip of Jupiter Island. When waves meet the jagged coast of this hidden beach the rocks turn into blowholes, shooting sea spray 20-50 feet in the air.

The foundation of Florida is a jigsaw map of different types of limestone categorized by composition, porosity, geologic dating. The Anastasia Formation starts in Jacksonville and descends down to Boca Raton, making Blowing Rocks the largest exposed formation of Anastasia. Anastasia Limestone is also known as coquina, which helped construct the walls of the fort that protected St. Augustine, El Castillo de San Marcos.

My first visit to Blowing Rocks was during low tide. I was astonished that a place this majestic could be so under celebrated. Blowing Rocks was the biggest secret in Palm Beach County. There was only a handful of sun worshippers, a couple of photographers, and a few fellow explorers. I was able to walk in the caverns, see the scallops carved into the stone from the waves, and layers of colors in the sediment formed over time. During low tide, however, Blowing Rocks Preserve isn’t exactly, well….blowing. It is still an amazing experience spelunking along the shoreline.

My next venture out to the rocks was a few weeks later during high tide. It was a moon tide, causing a very high water line and high winds brought the wave caps to spray over the rocks. I adored my secret spot, listening to the rhythm of the ocean, snapping pics on my iPhone while dodging sea foam to my dome.

The rocks are not only beautiful on land, but extend out into the ocean for an entire mile, making it a premier offshore snorkeling destination. The limestone creates wonderful crevices for sea critters and fish. The usual suspects occupy the area: parrotfish, sergeant majors, and French angelfish being the most prominent characters. Much of the area is covered by red algae, giving some variation in warm hues along the seafloor.

The Nature Conservancy maintains the property, with an entry fee of $2 on the honor system. If you get blown away by the sea spray, you can enjoy strolling along the lagoon walk, butterfly garden, and mangrove trail alongside the beach.

For my true Geology nerds, enjoy further reading of this USGS Field Trip Report from 1998.

Rio 2016 Acai Bowl

The Rio 2016 Olympic Games have commenced! To get into the spirit of the Olympics, I am sharing this açaí bowl recipe this week that will fuel you like an Olympic athlete! I must warn you that once I had my first açaí bowl, I was immediately hooked. I found myself running to 3 Natives Juice Bar next to my work almost everyday to get one. 3 Natives makes the most best açaí bowls out of all the SoFlo juice bars. My habit quickly started to hinder my bank account at the price of $9.50 per bowl of goodness.

I discovered that Publix and Whole Foods both carry organic Sambazon Açaí Packs, and started making my own superfood bowls. Making them myself was just as delicious and more economical. It also gave me the power to control the calorie count of my bowl, resulting in a gold medal for me!

The açaí berry is from the açaí palm grown along the northern region of South America. In Brazil it’s typically served in smoothies, juices or in a bowl called açaí na tigela (transl: açaí in the bowl… creative I know). In the bowl, the fruit is served as a frozen pulp sometimes infused with guarana syrup (the relative to the coffee bean that’s in Red Bull). The açaí is then topped with granola, tapioca, fruit, or all of the above.

Açaí bowls are most popularly served in kiosks and juice bars near the beaches of Brazil, catering to the surfer and health-nut crowd. They gained popularity in the United States via surfing hubs such as Hawaii and California. If you look up #acaibowl on Instagram, you will find there are individuals dedicated to crafting these delicious bowls beautifully.

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Rise and shine with a cacao infused bowl, this was my first homemade acai bowl.

The açaí berry’s deep purple color is indicative of its antioxidant properties. Due to this, it is frequently used in cosmetic products. These berries are high in iron, calcium, fiber and vitamin A although low in calories, which is why they are thought to aid in weight loss.

The legend behind the açaí berry is interesting, as “açaí ” means “the crying berry.” An Amazon legend states that there was once a tribe suffering from drought, and its leader, Cheif Itaki claimed that the tribe was too large and could not be fed because of famine. He stated that all newborn babies had to be sacrificed to control the size of the tribe. He discovered that his daughter, Iaca (açaí spelled backwards), was pregnant and ordered her baby to be sacrificed the same as the rest of the tribe. Iaca cried for days from heartache from her baby’s death. On the third day of tears, she heard the cry of her deceased baby in a hut. She went inside the hut to find an açaí palm. She clung to the palm’s trunk and cried herself to death. Chief Itaki came to find his daughter, lying dead under the palm tree. She was smiling and looking up into the tree, as followed her gaze he found purple berries hanging from the tree. He fed the berries to his tribe, curing their hunger and saving the tribe. Chief Itaki was celebrated for the rest of his life, as his daughter and granddaughter were sacrificed to benefit the rest of the tribe.

Let it be known, that this bowl recipe will not bring you tears but only bring smiles because it is so tasty. Enjoy after your daily workout, or while watching the Olympic games this week. (Take note that it’s topped with red, white and blue to show USA pride!)

 

Rio 2016 Açaí Bowl

  • Servings: 1
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

A superfood packed açaí breakfast bowl to experience the taste of Brazil with American pride.


Credit: This recipe is adapted from the Sambazon açaí bowl recipe.

Ingredients

  • 1 Sambazon unsweetened açaí packet, frozen
  • 1 apple banana (or 1/2 regular banana), frozen
  • 1 tsp. maca powder
  • 1/4 cup vanilla sweetened almond milk
  • 1 tbsp. smooth peanut butter
  • 1/8 cup blueberries
  • 2 strawberries, sliced
  • 1/4 cup granola
  • 1 tbsp. raw cacao nibs
  • 1 tbsp. shredded coconut

Directions

  1. Run frozen açaí packet under hot water for 10 minutes.
  2. Combine açaí , banana, maca powder and almond milk in NutriBullet and blend until thoroughly combined. (This should have the texture of soft serve yogurt)
  3. Spread peanut butter in the bottom of a bowl.
  4. Place frozen açaí mixture on top of peanut butter in bowl, then top with berries, granola, cacao nips and coconut. Have fun being decorative and enjoy!