Category Archives: Uncategorized

Simplicity Designed by Nature

Hello Substantial Living!

As a design freak, I have to say, that my life has gotten SO much easier once I stopped following standard cliches of beauty, and started noticing Mother Nature.  Of course, I have to thank my travels for that shift of insight, so here I share this insight to inspire those who may not have had the same experiences as me.  When inspiration arises through patterns we see in science, in the rainforest, through waves, it makes it so much more intuitive for us, then to figure out how to mix different linear patterns together.  For me, simplicity and textures is what brings the 3D of beauty and emotion to surface.


When we see the patterns like in the picture above, the contrast, angles, the subtle differences of little dried flowers on the top of the package, it connects us to something bigger than us, a deeper appreciation and connection.   The best part, is that it’s easier than we think, and simplicity doesn’t have to cost a lot of money.

Here’s a simple little gift I wrapped for a birthday present using brown paper, hemp string, and a dried spring branch, inspired by the elements mentioned above.



My favorite part is that simplicity designed by nature, is a step towards purity, internal and external-so here’s your design detox for today.

Toasted Argan Oil Breakfast Smoothie for Substantial Health

Hello Substantial Living!

As you all probably know, breakfast makes me happy!  I love mornings, and the delicious things that we can make.  Since we are ‘on-the-go’ most of the time, the smoothie has become a popular item!  While I must admit, that they are quite delicious, I just don’t have the time to make smoothies with many different ingredients.  I also don’t believe in mixing too many ingredients because it takes away from the Substantial experience of enjoy quality, rather than quantity.


Having said that, my new favorite, simple smoothie is this:

  • frozen banana
  • half avocado
  • non-fat milk
  • 1 teaspoon of toasted pure,  organic Argan oil

AMAZING!!  I love the flavors, texture and aromas.  Ok, let’s talk health now.  What are the benefits of consuming argan oil?

A few to say the least…

It contains healthier omega 3s than olive oil, more vitamin E than sweet almond oil, and myriad cancer-fighting antioxidants, as well.  Scientific research suggests that culinary Argan oil can help to…

      • Lower cholesterol
      • Improve circulation
      • Stabilize blood sugar
      • Ease pain from rheumatism and arthritis
      • Strengthen the body’s immune system
      • Prevent various types of cancer
      • Reducing the body’s resistance to insulin, helping treat diabetes
    • Protecting the body from cardiovascular and inflammatory diseases

Read more:

Try this at home! I’m a huge believer.  XO

Blue Hills at Stone Barns Sourdough Starter in my Kitchen

Hello Substantial Living!

After a nice week in Los Angeles filming little Substantial videos on the Pacific Coast Highway, I am finally back in San Francisco.  This week I am SUPER excited because I just got a live batch of sourdough yeast starter from my favorite chef, educator, and lifestyle enthusiast, Dan Berber’s, famous michelin restaurant, Blue Hills at Stone Barns! Everything about what this restaurant symbolizes and its experience reflects Substantial Living.  Dan Berber is one of my heroes.

I LOVE making bread, and now, I’m on a mission to make the BEST, I mean, the most Substantial San Francisco sourdough bread made on the planet… hoping to continue the circle of educating and create consciousness around the food, agriculture, and ultimately lifestyle industries.

If you don’t know who he is, learn more about him.  If you want to learn more about bread making, stay tuned for an upcoming Substantial Living bread and cheese supper club later this year!  XO


A Substantial Baby Shower in NYC

Hello World!

I recently curated a Substantial Living Baby Shower, themed, Baby’s Breath, which I designed with my cousin, for my little sister in the heart of the Upper West Side in NYC.   Babies are a form a new life, continuing the circle of nature, creation, science, and connection.  I wanted this to be a wintery, dreamy, and nature-inspired event for that reason.  It was a blast, to be able to bring a part of my business to life and to experience it close to home, with my family.  My events are about creating meaningful experiences using nature, neuroscience, and beauty-from the food to the decor to the entertainment.  In this case, I used most of the clients’ dishes and accessories, and styled and designed the rest.  We picked out a theme together, and then put our ideas on the table.  A few of the things were bought as part of our theme.   Most of the food was made from scratch, and the others were ordered from our favorite NYC food spots-everything natural, organic, and from the mother earth.   It was so much fun because I got to work with my cousin-who I normally don’t see (because she’s a hot shot NYC lawyer, professor and mama, writing articles for the Washington Post and so much more!).  But, that’s what I love about what I do.  No matter who you are, what you’ve achieved …we connect on a different experience.  A human experience over creating something we can all relate to.  The pictures will give you a taste of some our products, venders, and Substantial design. Enjoy!!

Isn’t my sister gorgeous??  



The most divine and my FAVORITE macaron cake on the planet.  The Laduree “isfahan” cake made with real rose petals, raspberries and lychee.  Thank you Laduree NYC.


French Triple Cream Brie with radishes, chives, and fennel.


Having some fun with my co-host cousin with our handmade baby’s breath fresh flower wreath.  After its decorative appearance, it became a portable photo booth for all the friends!


Homemade falafel and falafel-crab sliders with harissa aioli


Our favorite mini cupcakes from Baked by Melissa NYC.  YUM, and perfect to eat one or two and not feel guilty.  When Melissa was fired from her job in advertising in 2008, she decided from that moment on she would do what she loved, and in 2009 opened the first Baked by Melissa shop in New York City’s SoHo neighborhood. Big Substantial support for this story.


Homemade organic lamb meatballs made with burmese chili, coriander, kalamata olives,  mint, and feta braised in a tomato-onion sauce.


“Milk + Cookies” in chalkboard named mason jars + parchment wrapped cookies.  This was SO cute!!


No party can go without my raw color vegetable medley.   Earth must be involved in the rawest form!


Fresh homemade bread, avocado, EVOO, fleur de sel, and chipotle chili crostinis.


Our awesome drink bar.  Stocked with au natural lemon and elderflower infused sparkling water.  Thank you Found , I’m glad we found you.  I don’t drink juice (too much sugar), and soda is poison and torture for our stomach.  Yes, huge statement but it’s true, but this sparkling water was awesome.  Again, nature rules.


Our handmade little rabbit towel art favors.  My favorite washcloth for the gym 🙂  Cute, but practical.


My favorite design aspect was the helium balloons wrapped in tulle tied with babies breath hanging from the ceiling…A gorgeous room with great energy.

Full Room Pic

Love my sister.  Best of luck, love and wishes for the new Arastu addition…XO


Contact Mahin to plan your next Substantial Event-whether San Francisco, NYC or Boston!  Substantial Living is now bicoastal-YAY!!

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L’Atelier du Chocolate and My Sister

With flavors like rose, ylang ylang and Peruvian sea salt, the L’Atelier du Chocolates in NYC warmed my heart.  What’s more exciting was that my sister had them waiting for me as a welcome gift on my bed as we spend a couple of weeks together, preparing for her new baby.  My first Substantial Living bicoastal baby shower event.  How exciting!


As we get so caught up in our lives, we forget to spend some time with our loved ones.  My next couple of weeks are spending time with my sister.  I am usually so busy pursuing my business that when she asked me to throw her a Substantial Living baby shower, I though this might be the last time I get to spend time with her before our lives and relationship changes forever…a new Arastu is born.  I thought, why not take this opportunity to spend some quality time with my sister and see what her experience is like, and just to do simple things like cook, shop, and baby talk.

After all, our personal lives, careers, and all-that-jazz continues on, but as I get older, my definition of mitigating risk has changed.  Life is short.  Create memorable experiences and appreciate your siblings, after all, when all is said and done, money is money, fame is fame.  Tomorrow if your Fortune 100 company decides you’re not part of their new business plan, you go from being a valued employee to a number and let go.  Substantial experiences stay forever.  Make the effort.  XO

Love you NYC and feel free to contact me to create a special food experience in your home.

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Wanderlusting to the Easy Coast

Will miss this view,  but I am ready to wanderlust over to the East Coast and make my pilgrimage to my favorite fashion and food spots and of course see my favorite people and get some Substantial business done!  Hello Boston, NYC, LA!


Mushroom Scrambled Eggs Breakfast

Good morning Substantial Living!  As we slide right through the cozy winter months,  I’m all about rustic, homemade healthy meals and of course, mindful eating.  One of my favorite vegetables are mushrooms-there are so many different kinds, and their flavors and textures are so diverse.  My favorite meal is breakfast.  So here are a few scientific facts on the two that result in mindful eating.

The Neuroscience:  

There are studies (Society of Neuroscience Meeting 2012) that show that eating breakfast may be a good way to avoid subsequent over-eating and poor dietary choices.  Makes sense right?  You are breaking the fast from the night.

“In the MRIs of those who had not eaten breakfast, the scientists discovered a variation in the pattern of activity in the orbitofrontal cortex — the area right above the eyes that can affect decisions regarding the pleasantness and reward value of food. The scientists reported that when fasting participants were shown pictures of high-calorie food, this brain area was “activated,” a reaction less strong when they had eaten breakfast.” -Tony Goldstone, MD, PhD

Mushroom Science: 

There are approximately 140,000 species of mushroom-forming fungi in the world, but science is only familiar with about 10%, while only 100 species or so are being studied for their potential health benefits and medicinal applications.  Mushrooms are an ideal low-energy diet for diabetics. They have no fats, no cholesterol, very low levels of carbohydrates, high protein content, and a wealth of vitamins and minerals such as selenium, Vitamin D, Ergothioneine-which help in immunity, metabolism and bone strength.

The Experience:

One of the most tasty and organic way to experience mushrooms is with a ragout.  Make your own vegetable stalk (carrots, celery, onion, white wine, thyme) and sauté the mushrooms (I like bella, shitake, and porcini) with butter and mix the two and simmer to infuse the flavors into each other.  Sprinkle with simple fleur de sel, and fresh cracked pepper, parsley, and sour cream.  YUM.


I topped this with some simple scramble eggs and it was a fantastic Sunday brunch honoring all the myriad of flavors and textures that come from the mushroom family.


So make that extra effort to eat something Substantial in the morning.  Honor your body, brain and your mind will be in peace and balance.   XO

Saffron Sesame Ahi Tuna

Hello Substantial Living!

Another successful week begins in the land of California. This week I was inspired to work with Ahi Tuna.   2016 is all about more protein, simpler foods, and potent flavors.  Here’s my very simple ahi tuna dish which I LOVE!  A splash of sesame oil, dusted with saffron, chives, scallions, and a little sauce made of mayonnaise, sambal olek, and dark soy sauce.  Served with baked corn tortilla sprinkled with olive oil and fleur de sel.



Modernist Cuisine: Science + Food

Have you ever wondered what happens to molecules of food when different types of pressure, heat or cooking procedures are applied? Such as a pressure cooker?  It literally reminds me of when I was working in the lab!  Highly interesting and educational to learn about what really happens to food as we are cooking.

Mixing science, food and flavors, Nathan Myhrvold does an amazing job in one of my new favorite books.  A physicist by training, this leader of a fabulous company called Intellectual Ventures in Seattle has a liking for  food, photography, and using scientific principles to make the cooking process precise, interesting and creative.



I personally love the pressure cooker, now that I am comfortable with it.  From making Indian daals to braised lamb, I have found the pressure cooker a fabulous tool to make delicious foods.  Contact Mahin below to schedule a private cooking class mixing health, science and styling.

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A Heightened Appreciation for Sacrifice

Hello Substantial Living!

Today’s recipe is a simple roasted chicken with homemade bread.  I don’t eat much meat, but when I do, it’s all about the animal and its utter appreciation.  Where it came from, who it is, how was it  processed, was it happy?  Isn’t that what we all wonder about anyway, happiness?

What I love about cooking a chicken like this is you get to taste the simple flavor of the meat without much manipulation or spices.  It’s a spin-off of the famous Zuni Cafe chicken recipe.  Marinated in salt and pepper with a few herbs (sage, thyme and rosemary-or usually whatever is in my fridge) tucked under the skin for a good 24 hours.  The fresher and smaller the bird (you can get less than 3 pounds birds at the SF Bi-Rite Market), the tastier.  We got this one extremely fresh.  I used my homemade bread from Mark Bittman’s no-knead bread recipe, and tossed it with olive oil, currants, scallions, pine nuts, and sautéed spinach.   Amazing as always, and a great simple piece to share with a few others.  Styled in my new Morrocan tangines, it was perfect.

So look into throwing your next dinner party with simplicity and focusing on just one or two things that sacrificed themselves for you or the sake of an ecosystem.