Category Archives: food styling

3 Ingredient Peach + Fig Summer Substantial Salad

Hello Substantial Living!

With my time going towards commercializing my pickled products soon to be sold in West Elm, I have missed writing about beautiful and Substantial food and design, so here I am back to the blogs!  With little cooking breaks and inspiration gained from people I meet,  here’s my new simple 3 ingrediant Substantial summer salad.  So simple, fragrant and healthy- perfect for warm summer days.



Mom’s Life Style Bowl

Here’s a yummy healthy bowl of rice, my basil-coriander green lentils recipe on my blog, and my mom’s yogurt chickpea flour curry called kadhi in Indian, topped with cilantro, radishes and cucumber. My mom sends me weekly food because she knows how busy life can get. Today I wanted to give her a shoutout. I am so grateful to have made the move to SF, to see her and eat her Substantial food regularly, to be inspired by her recipes and sense of style, and to just have her in my life. No amount of money or success can replace a mom, I am blessed.  Part of living a Substantial life style, is having small little moments of gratitude like this one… XO

Rustic Vegan Paella with Global Spices

Hello Substantial Living!

As we experience cold weather from coast to coast, what better way to warm our hearts than a rustic vegan paella?  Paella is a one pot dish and much easier than we often think of it, and always tasty.  Here’s my version of a vegan paella with the addition of Harissa and Turkish chili called Urfa Biber.


  • 6 TBS Olive oil
  • 1/2 cup diced onion
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 medium red bell pepper cut into 1/4 inch strips
  • 1 cup caned fire-roasted tomatoes or 1 medium tomato
  • 1 TBS Harissa powder
  • 1 can artichoke hearts
  • 6 cups of vegetable broth
  • 3 cups of Arborio rice
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp urfa biber
  • 1/4 tsp ground saffron
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas
  • 1/2 cup frozen corn
  • Garnish: fresh cilantro leaves, lemon wedges, red onion or scallion
  1. Preheat oven to 400F
  2. Heat 4 TBS of olive oil in paella pan over medium heat and add onion, tomatoes, garlic, harissa, bell pepper.  Cook and stir for about 10 minutes.  Lower the heat to medium and continue to cook until mixture turns into a think paste.
  3. In separate pan, heat vegetable broth to boil.
  4. Add to paella pan with tomato paste: paella rice, salt, paprika, urfa briber, and saffron; stir to mix.
  5. Add hot vegetable broth to rice vegetable mixture, and heat until broth is boiling.
  6. Place pan into oven for 15 minutes at 400F.  Do not stir
  7. Sprinkle peas, corn and artichoke heart on top and return to oven for 10 additional minutes; or until the liquid has been absorbed and the rice is no longer crunchy.
  8. Let sit for 5 minutes before serving; garnish with raw onion or chopped scallion, parsley, lemon wedges, and for an non-vegan option  I sometimes sprinkle some pecorino cheese on top!

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



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!

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.

Vegan Green Peanut and Sesame Bowl for Cancer

Hello Substantial Living!

Love mixing up different flavors. Today I sautéed cruciferous vegetables-which are known to be natural cancer-preventing agents( kale, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, green and red cabbage) in sesame oil with a teaspoon of peanut butter, raw peanuts, Turkish honey, and sea salt. You can buy the ready cut and washed bag of greens at Trader Joes which I am addicted to.  Topped with blistered shishito peppers. An awesome post workout hearty brain meal ready in minutes, great for your body and mind.  Let’s learn a little about the science of why this is so…


Cruciferous vegetables are unique because they are rich in sulfur containing compounds called glucosinolates which support detoxification and indole-3-carbinol which greatly reduces the risk of breast, colon and lung cancer.

Here is list of the cruciferous vegetables:

  • Arugula
  • Bok Choy
  • Broccoli
  • Brussel Sprouts
  • Cabbage
  • Cauliflower
  • Collard Greens
  • Kale
  • Mustard greens
  • Radish
  • Turnip
  • Watercress