Tag Archives: style

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.



3 Simple Foods to Host Your Friends

Hello Substantial Living!

Part of my job is to make sure people love their home through healthy food and design.  However, the most important part of my job is to make sure people share their space and connect authentically to other people.  You know, something a little more substantial.

Here’s a really simple appetizer platter containing spicy cashews and fresh black olives from Rainbow Grocery.  Dessert is one of my favorite- milk chocolate pretzels from Trader Joes.

All simple, tasty, mostly raw, and great paired with any types of beverages.  You don’t need a lot of bells and whistles to share simple foods with other people.  Go ahead, try it.  It will help you connect with all natural things and your friends in a deeper way.  XO

Susan Linss: The Mind Behind the Design

A few months ago, serendipitously I was introduced to NYC designer Susan Linss by my colleague and friend, Edreece Arghandiwal, CEO and Founder of an innovative video journaling app Jurni, who sent me a recent article in Hypebeast featuring Susan as Kanye West and Hype William’s Production Designer.

Needless to say, she is a creative force more than admirable, with a genuine down-to-earth personality.  Her Persian heritage and artist father brings a wealth of taste and talent to the table-from history, to architecture to culture.  She uses her background mixed with her art of human connection to create.   Her client list is impressive from artists such as Kanye, Rihanna, Mariah Carey to companies such as Neiman Marcus, La Perla, and Pfizer.  She also teaches as the School of Visual Arts in New York City.  What I love the most about her work is its diversity and ability to create experiences through multiple venues: from photography to production design to even custom designing a pair of sunglasses for Kanye West in collaboration with French designer Alain Mikli.  Now she spends time on her new venture, a design firm called Safa + Noor creating something meaningful for herself.

As Co-Founder of Substantial Living, I always find inspiration through seeing other peoples work, and then gaining an insight on what it is that motivates people to put that work out there in the world.   As I’ve been getting to know Susan over the past few months, I sat down with her and talked to her about her passions and thoughts-hoping to bring a little insight for all aspiring artists, entrepreneurs, women, creatives-anyone with a vision or dream…

Q: What gives you meaning to create?

I feel our culture is rampant with lack of self respect, negative use of social media, “reality tv”, obsession with body image and “beauty”, racism, classism, sexism and so on.

Substantial Design Thoughts from Susan

  1. Human contact is nurturing of relationships, self love, love for others.

Susan and her father pictured above are both artists, who are driven passionately by their love for their work and what it means to them.

2.  Appreciating what is beauty and what is not.

  1. Diversity, being open minded, being open hearted. Having depth.

  1. Soulfulness is looking beyond the surface of anyone/thing, seeing character, depth in a person, art form, tradition, a belief.

  1. Hope is about change for me. Positive change. To have the ability to take a challenge, obstacle and overcome and make a positive impact.

  1. Mystery and Magic come from my Persian heritage, which is filled with love, beauty, darkness, passion and strength  among other things. Example: A concept I have for a massive architectural installation, an experience is a large cathedral like tunnel that the viewer can experience and enter. The tunnel of hope. Hope is what lies within each of us..and there is no ceiling.

Susan’s father, Ali Dowlatshahi (whose painting is seen above), a fine art painter whose work has been displayed in places such as the United States White House to the American History of Natural History in New York has been a major contributor in Susan’s life and work.  His work ethic and incorporation of art, history and music has transcended into Susan’s DNA and career, as she creates her magic.

I love the idea of art as experience, that is essentially what I have done with the worlds I have created in my career.  Meaningful design has to come from a place of love and passion for me. You can feel it and see it.

 To me, my inspiration comes from travel, experience and open mindedness. Understanding humanity. Beauty is truth to me. Being vulnerable and almost weightless in our growth.

I look at everything. Fashion, fine art, history, photography, travel to different cultures. Architecture. Spirituality. Literature. I am constantly feeding my soul and searching for magic in everything. Inspiration is everywhere. That is what feeds me. I want to reeducate our youth about this.

My experience as a female entrepreneur… I have to be fearless..even when I am not. I do everything that makes me uncomfortable and take risks. It’s harder for me not to try than to try.  I push, I persevere.  I believe ANYTHING is possible. ANYTHING. If I can imagine it, I can create it.

I spoke of my inspiration. I  look everywhere for it. My next step is my new company  SAFA+NOOR which means Love and light.

We created this company to create art with meaning. To influence, to give hope, to talk about issues in our culture and country. To give a voice to those that may not have the opportunity. We will create a very diverse outlet. I will create my art installations, furniture designs, short film on social issues. TV series on social issues. My documentary “A Soul on Fire”, directed by Mike Rhodes is the story of my career. The film will have a soundtrack, art book, a line of jewelry.  So, from very high- end to raw, real and gritty.

I was created to create. The expression of my art is my lifeline. My breath. I want to create work that touches the soul. I also want to give back. We will have a division called “Taj” which means crown in Farsi. It is about a creative outlet for our youth and to pay it forward as they get it.

3 Best Things You’ve Done for Yourself:




Thank you Susan! You are a beautiful soul with inspiring words and work.  XO

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

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.


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!

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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3 Substantial Tips for 2017

Welcome to 2017!  Always a great time to reflect on how to make this year the best year ever.  On most years, I fall into the typical ‘more gym’,  healthier eating, etc, but this year, I’m planning on focusing on different things.

  1. Work-Life Balance:  

Accepting the fact that we can’t do everything, be everything, and it’s OKAY to eat those occasional french fries and aioli.  The New Year always brings a sense of hope and enthusiasm for change, but we have a tendency to go to the other end of the spectrum with trend diets and workouts and not pace ourselves…resulting in the predictable burn-out.  I for one, am an expert at being so hard on myself and pushing myself too fast, too soon.  So this year, I’m going to make an extra effort to live a more balanced life.  Being an entrepreneur, I work all the time, and because I love what I do, I forget to take breaks, until I hit complete exhaustion paralysis.  Moreover, I don’t allow myself the kind of breaks that I used to in my corporate job because I feel like I need to get to a certain place before I “deserve” that break or that massage or whatever.  As I’m getting older, I’m learning that life balance really means acceptance of life’s situations, yourself and others around you, acceptance with love and kindness to oneself.  Having the wisdom to know that there are some things we can change and some that we cannot.  All of this is a mental see-saw.  Moreover, the grass is always greener on the other side for EVERY human being.  That person who we admire for their perfect workout ethic-the one we beat ourselves up for-has something else that they struggle with.  Nothing is perfect.  Nothing is in conventional terms, that is.  But really it all is, if we start being easier on ourselves.  For example, it’s okay if I didn’t make it to the gym today.  It’s okay if I slept in a little.  It’s okay that I didn’t finish my “to-do” list and decided to spend the next couple of hours watching Netflix.  So 2017, I ask your guidance in finding more balance and acceptance.

2.  Make More Food from Scratch

Now you may say, “I don’t have time”.  I challenge that because I hear it ALL the time from people and they blame their careers, children, etc. and I say, make time because it will SAVE your LIFE.  I assure you I know what having little time means, but making your own food has too many positive health effects-mental and physical to ignore.  The current American health crisis of heart disease, diabetes, obesity, mental illness stems largely from our eating habits-which are controlled by the agriculture industry, which initially was formed because of the industrial revolution.  It is not our fault that we don’t know all these details, unless we research deeply and study history and politics.  There is almost no way to escape processed foods, except for making as much food from scratch as we can.  For example, the other day, I made simple oven fries with olive oil and aioli.  Let’s talk about how to make aioli (which is essentially fresh Mayonnaise).  1 cup olive oil blended into a raw egg and garlic.  It takes about 3 minutes to make it.  Now take a look at the back of your Mayonnaise bottle and see the ingredients. They are a lot more ingredients or chemicals than olive oil, eggs and garlic.  Coming from a decade’s worth of career in pharmaceuticals, I understand chemistry and what it does to your brain.  So I hope to inspire you to maybe watch one hour less of TV once or twice a week, and perhaps make a very simple meal, but make it yourself. Oh- and as for making the aioli, when you see 1 cup of olive oil (which is A  LOT) mixed in an egg, your brain automatically eats less.  Making food from scratch also raises our consciousness of ingredients and proportions.  I am going to do my  best and try to release as many healthy, delicious global recipes for everyone to try!  You can also sign up to cook with me one-on-one if you want to experience the EASINESS of making healthy global recipes here

Cook with Mahin

3.  Wellness Oils from Nature 

You’re probably wondering what this means.  In the past year or so, I have become so interested in natural oils and their healing benefits.  As the world offers more substitutes for nature to benefit business and economy at the cost of our health, I have a pushback for being completely reliant on artificial fixes.  In California, plastic surgery is the norm-and yes, Botox is still ‘plastic’-snake venom injected in our face because we are afraid of aging and looking different?  I can understand the use of Botox if it was a cure to cancer, but unfortunately it pops up as the first option for many people.  It so quickly becomes the norm and  a slippery slope from there-I’ve seen it!    I am a proponent of using pure oils instead, as well as in my diet.  Argan oil is still my everyday face oil, hair oil, and even in my food.  No more fancy $150 lotions and face creams.  Does argan oil erase the wrinkles fully? No.  But as a scientist, I know that nature designs the ultimate cure, the best systems, and is MUCH more advanced than us humans ever will be.  It also teaches us true, sustainable beauty on the inside and outside.  I use nature to guide my thinking, my values, my inspiration and my lifestyle.  While natural oil products may cultivate a healthy lifestyle, and aid in longevity, it also teaches me to accept my aging, the changes, and to really appreciate the moments more and worry less, and enjoy what is.  I find the people that have artificial beauty work done worry a lot more about what others think, the cars they drive, the house, the image.  None of which is sustainable for a Substantial life because all of that is external, not internal.  So try something new, and start using natural oils for beauty on the inside and outside…and substitute the changes we experience in aging for more internal beauty and realizing that everything changes, so we might as well do our best to appreciate every moment Substantially.


Peace + Blessings for a Substantial New Year from San Francisco!!!



Substantial Thanksgiving with Personalized Gratitude Cards

Hi Substantial Living!

I love Thanksgiving. It is my favorite holiday because it brings people together regardless of religion, ethnicity, status, for one simple reason…gratitude… through eating together. .


When I think about how to create the perfect experience, I keep in mind the word “gratitude” and how it can be incorporated into the whole experience from the actual food to style.  Healthy is a state of mind as much as anything else.


This year, instead of a menu card, I’m going to write personalized gratitude notes for each of my guests.  My whole family is in town and an intimate dinner is in order in Russian Hill.   So exciting!

It’s easy and simple, and is part of a Substantial meal as much as the food.  Often is hard to tell people how much they mean to us, so let’s use this opportunity to write a sentence or two to each person to say a simple, “Thank you for being in my life, you’re awesome”.  It’s part of grace and will give your thanksgiving a beautiful tone…


How we eat, reflects how we live.   Happy Thanksgiving from Substantial Living!  XO