Friday, April 21, 2017

The Gardens GreenMarket (Nik's Piks: Local Spotlight)


Nowadays, most areas, from small towns to big cities, have a farmer's market that promotes locally grown produce and agricultural products, along with local art, crafts, and food. With no exception, green markets are everywhere in South Florida, but my favorite is The Gardens GreenMarket. 

Now in its 15th year, the market, located at the City Hall Municipal Complex in beautiful Palm Beach Gardens, takes place every Sunday, rain or shine, from 8am to 1pm. But you must hurry up!! Beginning May 14, the market moves indoors until mid-September to avoid the Florida summer heat, and it isn't quite the same. 

You are sure to stumble upon new items every week, in addition to farm fresh staples. On my recent visit to The Gardens GreenMarket, I picked up a delicious vegan snack and a jar of homemade, cruelty-free lotion for my mother.   


Whether you come to buy your weekly produce and some fresh eggs, or do a little shopping for a new outfit or piece of handcrafted jewelry, The Gardens GreenMarket is a wonderful family-friendly way to spend a couple of hours browsing the array of local vendors and enjoying the live music. Plan on coming for breakfast or lunch AND discovering some true treasures.  Odds are, you will go home with a new plant, fresh guacamole, or even new artwork. 

Fresh flowers, plants, and herbs

Clothing and accessories 
Beautiful artwork and crafts


There are a couple of playgrounds nearby for the kiddos to choose from if they get restless, along with public restrooms. Parking is ample and free, but there is a full crowd every Sunday. Please note, pets are not allowed. 

See you back here soon. In the meantime, buy local and GO GREEN! 


Monday, April 10, 2017

Vegan Mango Smoothie (Nik's Piks)

I haven't posted in my Going Vegan series in quite some time, so figured I would today. And, what better way than to share one of my newest, favorite vegan recipes! 



Mango Smoothie
Don't like mangoes? Neither do I! Until, that is, I made this delicious vegan mango smoothie altered from a traditional recipe I found. It is my new addiction. With summer approaching, there is no better time than now to start perfecting some smooth and delicious cold treats that are also healthy and filling.






INGREDIENTS:  
(Servings: 1 or 2, if you're willing to share) 

  • 4 ice cubes 
  • 8 oz almond milk (original or vanilla unsweetened)
  • 1 1/2 cup of chopped frozen mango 
  • 5.3 oz (one container) vanilla yogurt made from coconut milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • Pure cane / Turbinado sugar to taste (~ 1-2 TBSP)

If you prefer, substitute the vegan ingredients for dairy ingredients. However, I promise you will love the vegan version.

PROCEDURE:  

Step 1:  Crush ice in blender

Step 2: Add all ingredients (You may wait until the end to add the sugar.)







Step 3: Blend completely until thick and smooth, (Add sugar, if desired, and blend in.) 






Step 4: Enjoy! 









How easy is that?  While I often eat this smoothie as a meal, I believe it is scrumptious enough to be dessert!  


Give it a try and let me know what you think! 



Read more of my Going Vegan series here



Tuesday, April 4, 2017

The Art of Crying


For decades, experts have delved deep into the science of crying - why we cry, and perhaps more importantly, the physiological result of shedding those tears. Studies show that crying is beneficial to the human body and mind. The chemical makeup of tears will vary depending on the cause of the tears: sadness, fear, pain, stress, happiness, or anger. In most of these instances, tears are the body's way of releasing unwanted toxins from the body, allowing the healing process to begin. Turns out there is an art of crying, that, when done correctly, will leave you feeling rejuvenated and stronger than ever.

Yet, many of us still don't want to cry, preferring to hold in our emotions - often times to the point where we break under the pressure at the worst moment.  Even children are told big boys and girls don't cry. But the truth is, we not only want to cry at certain points in our lives, we actually NEED to. 



A friend recently reminded me of all this as I cried to her on the phone after what was a very stressful few days. She asked me if I was really crying over traffic, or if that was the straw that broke the camel's back.....a back that has been carrying too much lately. She asked me if I had given myself permission to cry recently.  

As an emotional Italian who wears her heart on her sleeve (and born under the astrological sign of the very sensitive Cancer to boot), I never considered myself someone who held in tears and who needed to be reminded to allow herself to cry. In fact, I think I cry a lot. She quickly pointed out that I cry when it is too late, and my body and mind have been taken over by the negative chemicals produced by the body during emotional times. 

So what am I supposed to do? Make myself cry? 

Apparently, that is exactly what I am supposed to do. But how? 

While many will turn on a sad movie, I have always been inspired and moved by music. (My sons know to leave me be when the music is blasting.) I often find my tears hidden in the lyrics of a song or a melancholy melody that makes my eyes water from the opening note. There are probably a hundred songs that evoke strong emotions in me, some for nostalgic reasons, others because of the painful lyrics that hit home.  The song that gets me sobbing every time is "I Don't Want to Miss a Thing" which came on the night I stayed up holding my dying cat to my chest, afraid I would fall asleep and miss even one of his last minutes with me. 

Aerosmith, "I Don't Want to Miss a Thing"

As we saw Debra Barone in Everybody Loves Raymond do in the episode "Alone Time," putting on a sad song is a good place to start. Unbeknownst to Debra, Ray sees her and immediately jumps to terrible conclusions that she is unhappy with her life. Debra later explains to Ray that what he witnessed was her just simply needing some alone time to release the stress of daily life and recommends Ray give it a try. Since I wanted to end on a happier note, here is the clip of Ray's attempt at making himself cry because, if there is one thing we need to do even more than cry, is laugh. 

Everybody Loves Raymond, "Alone Time" 



For more musical inspiration, visit me at Nik's Piks: Music