Napa Bistro Don Giovanni

This weekend as I took a little trip up to Napa with my product to share with local restauranteurs and wineries, I had one of the loveliest meals in my life at Italian Bistro Don Giovanni.  Everything we had was just absolutely delicious and fresh, from the octopus salad, to olive oil focaccia, their infamous burger which took raw to the sushi level but perfectly done!  But what took the cake was this perfectly textured, flavored -GNOCCHETTI al RAGU d’AGNELLO served with a lamb sugo, truffle and pecorino.  Simple, beautiful, farm to table, freshly made.  I was in heaven so much that I brought home my leftovers and had to take a picture and share the wealth of this beautiful restaurant and dish.   A must try on your next Napa trip and I can’t wait to eat my leftovers!

My Green Veggie Power Toast

Hello Substantial Living!

As I’m coming off the weekend with new brunch ideas and having eating delicious lunch in Napa at Bistro Don Giovanni, my latest creation is a bombardment of green veggies on a fresh piece of bread.  Imagine a powered version of the always-loved (but often over-priced!) avocado toast with roasted asparagus, scallions, persian cucumbers, etc.  So here’s my latest healthy recipe!


Vegan-Friendly Version

  • 1 TBS of finely chopped scallions
  • 1/2 chopped avocado
  • 2-3 EVOO- roasted asparagus
  • 1 TBS finely chopped persian cucumbers
  • 2-3 finely sliced radishes
  • Drizzle 1/2 teaspoon of EVOO
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • 1 TBS of my SUBSTANTIAL Pickled Achar

If you wanted to add some extra protein that is not plant-based, I recommend a few different delicious additions:

  • Deviled egg side topped 1 tsp of my probiotic LONGEVITY Achar
  • Poached egg on top of toast
  • Fried egg on top of toast
  • Smoked trout on top of toast

All of these are really really yummy and SO good for our health honoring nature.  Here’s why:


  • Fermentation preserves the food, and creates beneficial enzymes, b-vitamins, Omega-3 fatty acids, and various strains of probiotics.
  • Probiotics are scientifically proven to be beneficial for a naturally good gut health as well as brain health.
  • Greens such as asparagus, scallions, cucumber, radishes, avocados are the REAL deal- filled with a variety of vitamins and nutrients powering a healthy mind and body.  I love eating minimally- processed foods because keeping  aligned with natural processes is the most authentic form of respect and connection we can have to our environment.

4 Substantial Tips about Love

As we approach the much-anticipated or much-dreaded Valentine’s Day, our Substantial advice to you is to take it as an opportunity to re-evalute your self; specifically love and respect for yourself.  Are you being kind to your body?  Your mind?  Your eyes?  What are ways you can start thinking more positively or eating healthier and with greater appreciation?

Here are our 4 top Love tips for Valentine’s Day 2017:

1.)  For the Body: Cutting or reducing your soda intake.   I personally gave up soda years ago, because it truly is toxic for your body.  Why?  The Sugar! – A single can of soda contains the equivalent of 10 teaspoons of sugar. This amount of sugar, especially in liquid form, skyrockets the blood sugar and causes an insulin reaction in the body. Over time, this can lead to diabetes or insulin resistance, not to mention weight gain and other health problems. Soft drink companies are the largest users of sugar in the country.  Diabetes and heart disease are the leading causes of death in the US.  SO people, if you really love yourself, your mind WILL get used to life without soda.  If you are addicted to it, put the effort and wean yourself off of it. Start with flavored sparkling juices and them switch over to sparkling flavored water until the sugar content doesn’t bother you.  Here’s my favorite substitute below, Found Sparkling water.

2.) For the Eyes:  Beautiful design is such an important factor for our brains!  Our visual brain area (called visual cortex) makes up a large portion of our brain.  We like pretty things-it’s hardwired into our brain makeup.  So…treat yourself to a pretty plate or a glass-something you use everyday that will make your eating experience better and more appreciative.  Your eyes and mind will thank you!  Our Substantial Living Shop has very pretty glasses and walnut cheese boards I highly recommend-and today is the last day for 20% discount for non-members, and 25% for members!

3.)  For the Mind:  “Eat your food as your medicines. Otherwise you have to eat medicines as your food”.-Ratan Tata  Eat whole foods and try to make your food yourself as much as you can.  The Mediterranean diet is really great for memory strengthening and the prevention of Alzheimer’s Disease and dementia.  Let’s start with a simple homemade hummus recipe here…Homemade hummus tastes a MILLION times better than store bought!

4.)  For the Heart:  “The One who loves you will never leave you because even if there are 100 reasons to give up he will find one reason to hold on.”  This is true for friends, lovers, and just people in general.  Surround yourself with people that bring good energy into your life and that share your values.  Life is too short to not honor your values and live by them.


My Substantial Protein Lentil Green Bowl as Medicine

Hello Substantial Living,

As we wrapped up a sold-out Rewire Your Brain:  Yoga + Food as Medicine event this weekend, I thought I would share a few snaps from the event on our take for clean eating, or as I call it, Eating with Meaning.  A gorgeous start with candlelight Sufi meditation and yoga with Aylin Guvenc ended with a super healthy, Substantially-designed simple dinner with just the right amount of nutrition for our brains and design from nature.

During the practice, we lit a Hawaiian soy candle from Malie-an organic beauty brand from Hawaii that my best friend’s from Hawaii had sent me for my birthday.  This candle captures the fresh, lush green scent of the native Maile vine in Hawaii’s oldest rainforest.  Such a beautiful scent, and rainforests have always been sacred for me.  I also loved that Aylin ended the practice with the singing bowl one of my other best friends had sent me from a temple in Vietnam.


  • Maile Koke’e Soy Hawaiian Rainforest Candle
  • Green Tea from my family’s tea plantation in India
  • Orange Lentils with Ayurvedic spices-Multi-Color Quinoa-Basmati rice with
  • Homemade bread crostini’s with avocado or Gloucester cheese and my LIFE Indian artisanal probiotic gourmet spread
  • Handwritten thank you notes with breathing stress tips and bread recipe


  • MicrogreensVitamin K, vitamin C, vitamin E, lutein, and beta-carotene good for eyes; All of these nutrients are extremely important for skin, eyes, and fighting cancer.
  • Orange Lentils-contain high levels of protein, including essential amino acids isoleucine and lysine and are an essential source of inexpensive protein diet. 2.It also contains fiber, folate, vitamin B1 and minerals.
  • QuinoaPotassium, Protein and Fiber
  • LIFE LONGEVITY Spicy Probiotic Vegetables with Ayurvedic Spices– Good for your GI health and brain health



Design Spoons from the Borneo Rainforest

Hello Substantial Living,

As we all know, tools are key in the kitchen and well just about anywhere else they are needed!  They matter a lot more than we give them credit for-and I think they can make or break an experience.  Last year I went on a trip to the island of Borneo, Malaysia and spent a week in one of the oldest rainforests in the world (yes, the kind of place that the National Geographic crew are spotted!)  While I was smitten by the beauty of nature and wildlife-detached from all sense of the modern-day world seeing the famous Pygmy elephants-my eye is always drawn towards beautiful design.

I found these small wooden spoons with birds on the handle (since Borneo has amazing bird-watching) that I thought would be perfect for scooping out spices.  I recently started using them to scoop out my LONGEVITY and LIFE Indian spicy spreads and people wanted to buy them as well!  Um…no!

So here’s a shout-out to Borneo and the nature there to inspire me to find these beautiful spoons.  The spoons always lead to conversations about nature, traveling, the ultimate experience of connecting with something bigger than us.  Specifically I would mention these spoons were made by indigenous people in the region of Sabah, Borneo.  Thank you Sabah, for connecting us with your beauty all the way to San Francisco, we love them!

Basil-Coriander Vinaigrette in Vegetable Green Lentils For Healthy Heart

Hello Substantial Living!

So for those of you who know me, I LOVE lentils.  I eat them Indian style, American style, ANY style.  They are literally one of my favorite foods of all time.  Luckily they are fairly easy to make, and are good for you, and really tasty as a curry, soup, or salad.  This recipe has evolved with me inspired by Smitten Kitchen whose inspiration came from the Polpo cookbook from London, and the Basil-Coriander Vinaigrette is DIVINE and so easy to make.  This can be served as a “salad” appetizer or it can be a main dish-either way, it will make everyone happy and healthy.

Since Valentine’s Day is on the horizon, and we can always use more heart-centered food, health and talk in our life…I thought this would be perfect! Let’s first quickly talk about why green lentils are good for our heart.


  • Brain Food:  Filled with folate, a B vitamin shown to help boost brain power.
  • Brain Food:  Folate also plays a role in decreasing levels of amino acids that can impair brain functioning.
  • Heart -Fiber Connection:  A study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine confirms that eating high fiber foods, such as lentils, helps prevent heart disease. Almost 10,000 American adults participated in this study and were followed for 19 years. People eating the most fiber, 21 grams per day, had 12% less coronary heart disease (CHD) and 11% less cardiovascular disease (CVD) compared to those eating the least, 5 grams daily.



    • 1 1/2 cups dried lentils de puy or other small green lentils
    • 1 tablespoon olive oil
    • 2 medium zucchinis,  diced
    • 1/2 medium eggplant, diced
    • 1 small or 1/2 medium yellow onion, diced
    • Leaves from 5 fresh sprigs thyme
    • 1 jalapeno chilli, diced
    • 3 large garlic cloves, minced
    • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
    • Few sprigs of fresh coriander leaves


  • 1 1/4 cups fresh basil leaves
  • 2 teaspoons whole grain French Dijon mustard, plus more to taste
  • 1 teaspoon of ground
  • 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons red or white wine vinegar
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Cook lentils: Pick over and rinse lentils. Place them in a medium saucepan and cover with 3 inches of cold water, seasoned well with salt. Simmer the lentils over medium heat for 25 to 30 minutes, until firm-tender. Drain and set aside.  Don’t over-cook them, make sure they are “al dente”

Meanwhile, make vinaigrette: Blend basil, ground coriander, mustard and vinegar together in a food processor. With machine running, drizzle in olive oil in a thin stream. Season well with salt and black pepper. You’ll need to scrape the machine down a few times to get all of the leaves minced. No food processor? Very finely mince leaves on a cutting board with a sharp knife. Place in medium bowl and whisk with mustard and vinegar. Drizzle in olive oil in a thin stream, whisking the whole time. Season well with salt and pepper.

In a large frying pan, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat. Add zucchini, eggplant, onion, thyme, jalapeño, salt and pepper and cooking, stirring frequently, until softened and just barely picking up color, about 9 minutes. Add garlic and cook 1 minute more. Add cooked lentils back to pan and stir to mix and re-warm; you can add a splash of water if they’re sticking. Adjust seasonings to taste.

Assemble: Transfer lentil-vegetable mixture to a large, wide serving bowl and stir in 2/3 of vinaigrette. Drizzle with a little extra vinaigrette, a few pinches of sea salt and a couple extra grinds of black pepper. Scatter basil leaves and coriander leave over and dig in.  This recipe itself is vegan.

If you would like,  adding half cut buretta cheese or 1 tablespoon of creme fraiche or even free  yogurt with give the recipe a creamier flavor.  Good both ways though!!  XO

A Spicy Anchovy Substantial Spaghetti Recipe for a Happy Heart + Brain

Hello Substantial Living!

I know the first thing most of you are thinking is “ way!”  Anchovies are small, salt water, foraging fish with more than 100 different species spread across the Pacific, Atlantic, and Indian Oceans.  While I understand that anchovies do have a characteristic strong flavor and smell, if you chop them up and make an olive oil infusion sauce with garlic and red chili flakes, the strong flavor dampens!  Yes this is true.

I tried this Sicilian recipe on my mom (who is the queen of having aversions to most food like tartare, sushi, etc), and it was a great success!  The anchovy flavor is nothing like the usual what you experience in most mainstream recipes AND anchovies are great for your skin, heart, with lots of protein-which motivates me!  Check out 3 science benefits that caught my eye below:


  • Heart Health: Anchovies have been found to contain large amounts of polyunsaturated fats, which can reduce the presence of “bad” cholesterol (LDL cholesterol) that build up in the arteries and increase your chances of artherosclerosis, heart attacks, and strokes.
  • Brain Food:  Anchovies also contain supercharged omega-3 fatty acids that bolster communication among brain cells and help regulate neurotransmitters responsible for mental focus. YES!!
  • Skin Health: As mentioned, anchovies are a great sources for essential fatty acids, like omega-3 fatty acid, which is also known as “good cholesterol”, as well as for vitamin-E and minerals like selenium.   All of these nutrients have been shown to promote  healthy skin, which means that adding anchovies as a regular part of your diet can help you maintain a smooth complexion, prevent breakouts, and even reduce the chances of developing the wrinkles associated with premature aging.  Another YES!

Here’s how to make this simple, and super healthy recipe-perfect treat for high protein, if you’re body is craving carbs on these chilly (I can never say cold in San Francisco! ) winter nights.



  • 1/3 cup Japanese Panko Bread Crumbs
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 garlic cloves—1 lightly crushed, 3 thinly sliced
  • Sea salt, to taste
  • 1 pound spaghetti
  • 12 oil-packed anchovy fillets, drained and chopped
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper, plus more to taste
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated pecorino romano cheese


  1. In a small skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Add the crushed garlic and cook over moderately low heat until the oil is infused with garlic flavor, about 
10 minutes. Add the bread crumbs and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden and crisp, 7 to 8 minutes. Season the bread crumbs with salt.
  2. Cook the spaghetti in a large pot of salted boiling water until almost al dente (you will cook it more later). Drain the spaghetti, reserving 1 cup of the cooking water.
  3. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat the remaining 1/2 cup of olive oil. Add the anchovies and the sliced garlic and cook over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until the anchovies have dissolved and the garlic has softened, about 5 minutes. 
Stir in the crushed red pepper.
  4. Add the pasta, pecorino, 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water and the parsley to the skillet and toss until the pasta is 
well coated in the sauce (add more pasta water if it seems dry). Season with salt and black pepper. Serve the pasta in bowls, sprinkled with the bread crumbs.

Enjoy enjoy enjoy! I love the texture that the breadcrumbs add, with the right amount of red chili pepper flakes and pecorino romano, this is a great dish for most salt-loving humans who care about their heart-mind connection 🙂

Breaking Bread Heals

Hi Substantial Living,

In the past few frustrating days, I bring myself back to the simplest thing that connects all people together-the reason I started Substantial Living-making and breaking bread literally and metaphorically.  In dealing with coming up with ways to make a dent in the world through the injustice, it makes me work and push harder than ever. Maybe if I was a billionaire my voice could make a difference. I never cared about money, but as of last night, I do.  I’m inspired by companies like AirBNB, Starbucks, and Lyft!

Substantial Living Oakland Loft ReDesign for the Mind

Hello Substantial Living,

We are excited to share a peak at our design team’s latest “before” the ReDesign project in Oakland, CA.  This gorgeous loft belongs to our client, woman co-founder of a San Francisco startup.   I believe that a home should be your temple-a place to feel relaxed, spiritual, loved and completely aligned with your values.  Too many people don’t love being home.  We are going to change that.

Our team works with identifying the clients values then designs a beautiful space based off of those values.  In this case, our client is living without a roommate for the first time in a while, and she wants a place that reflects all of her Colorado-NYC-half-Persian heritage, as well as honoring her feminine side.   A Substantial space rewires your brain towards greater happiness and we can’t wait to recreate this space into something visually stunning and Substantial reflecting her and everything she stands for…Stay tuned!

Find out how to work with Mahin and the Substantial Living Design Team here.

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Cara Cara Orange Morning Radical Detox

What better way to start off the morning on the right foot?  My Substantial morning seasonal detox is one cara cara orange and a glass of water…before my coffee and gym.  Not only are these oranges beautiful on the inside-which makes our brains happy, but there is more to it.


  • In addition to Vitamin A and C, these oranges contain lycopene which protect cells from free radicals which are damaging.

I can’t help but also notice how patterns in nature whether orchid or orange often have similarities. We are all connected in a beautiful way.

Substantial Living | Food, Neuroscience, Nature, Beauty