Color Palette {56}

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Drink a Ginger Shot

A few years ago I went to whole foods and ordered a green juice. The nice lady who was taking care of me said “I just juiced ginger, so you might taste it in your juice, do you mind?”

I had never really tried ginger extract, so I asked for a taste before saying yes. I didn’t know what I was into, clearly! I gulped the thing down and my whole body started BURNING UP. My throat, my mouth, my head felt hot. I ran to the section where they sell nuts and seeds in bulk and stuffed down a bunch of those delicious sesame seed sticks, looking to ease the pain. I, naturally, avoided the juice stand that day.

Little would I have known that a few years later (that is, today), I would be drinking ginger shots regularly and actually enjoying them, now that I know how good it is for my body.

BENEFITS of GINGER

- Improves absorption of nutrients into the body
- Aids digestion
- Reduces nausea
- Is a great anti-inflammatory
- Antioxidant
- May help prevent/fight some types of cancer
- Boosts the immune system

It’s a strong little herb, that one.

I drink a ginger + lemon shot quite often – by itself or in my green juice, especially when the seasons are changing and I want to boost my immune system, or when I feel the flu coming at me. I try to stay away from medicines, so I’d rather do a few of these – it really helps.

Just juice the ginger and add the juice of a lemon — it’s that easy!

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Things to Do in Panama: Eat at the Mercado de Mariscos

I eat a lot of fish.

I love chicken – but it’s been a while since I decided not to eat it unless it’s organic. That stuff is full of hormones I do not intend to put in my body.

I love red meat – but I limit myself to eating it once every two weeks – at most.

I rarely eat shellfish.

I love lamb – but it’s not as available as I’d like it to be. As are the rest of the animals like rabbit, duck and such, which I don’t really intend to eat.

So, that leaves me with fish.

If you are like me, and are ever in Panama City (Panama), go eat at the “Mercado de Mariscos” or Seafood Market. It’s as local and as fresh as it gets (did you ever see Anthony Bourdain’s  episode on this place?) – you will see the fishermen’s boats literally right next to the market. Expect grungy, plastic tables on the side of the sidewalk, and dirty bathrooms. Do NOT go if you cannot stand to see dead fish and gag at the smell of it. You are NOT going to a restaurant – let alone an elegant one – but if you can live with that then expect excellent, fresh ceviche and amazing fish with a side of rice, beans + fried plantains – (OK, so every now and then, I actually cheat on my healthy eating regimen!)

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Casco Antiguo: Keeping it Real

Casco Antiguo, the old, historic disctrict in Panama City, is a great area to stay in when you visit. We stayed at this great B&B called Los Cuatro Tulipanes — very spacious, central, and right next to the best ice cream spot in town.

“El Casco”, also known as Casco Viejo or San Felipe, roughly reminded me of La Habana (although I have to say I visited Cuba about 15 years ago). Men play dominoes and children play out on the street; people sit at their doorstep or overlooking their balconies, watching the hours go by. They live live in old, worn-down buildings that are practically falling apart – but they seemed happy. Despite their materially “poor” conditions, these people don’t seem to have much to worry about.

The balconies and colorful, the chipped facades add a lot of character to “el Casco”, making the neighborhood feel “real” — but apparently some of these buildings are not the safest to live in. A few days ago I received a text and a photo from my friend saying “You know where you took the photo of those kids? Well, their house burnt down. It was all made out of wood, and the sockets were exposed. They can’t find 2 of the kids.” And this was one of those moments when your heart kind of stops and you feel how fragile life really is.

(Don’t worry, the newer buildings and hotels have been remodeled — so you’ll be safe!)

Despite these conditions, the area is up and coming. New apartment buildings have been remodeled, there’s a cool community of expats living in the area; it’s safe, you can walk everywhere, there’s great restaurants, bars and hotels.  I don’t think we could have chosen a better place to stay at.

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Mean Green Juice Recipe

If you follow me on Instagram, you’ve probably seen juicing and smoothies are part of my regular lifestyle – and I want start sharing my favorite recipes here with you.

Just so you know, I don’t have a fancy juice press, mainly because my NYC kitchen is close to the size of a matchbox. I don’t even have countertop space to put a cutting board on. The stove doubles as that. Oh, and my Kitchen Aid standing mixer sits on top of the fridge. Ha!

So in lack of a juicer, I use a cheesecloth or a nut milk bag . I blend everything, throw the stuff in it and then press the juice out, as if it were nut milk. Amazing, right? I’ll post something up on that soon. Before that, here is my my greenest (and meanest) green juice recipe.

On top of the benefits of all the greens in here, this juice is low in sugar, loaded with the benefits of ginger, has lime to alkalize your body, and parsley and cilantro are amazing chelators, which help remove heavy metals such as lead and mercury from the bloodstream.

Cheers to health!

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Color Palette {55}

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San Blas Islands: How to Get to Para Para Paradise

Would you live in paradise, or is paradise better left as that special place you go to  when you want to get away from it all? I sometimes wonder, given our human nature to take things for granted and to get used to our surroundings – how would it be to live in a place like this? Would I get tired of it? Used to it? Get spoiled and never really see the beauty in it anymore?

After my friend’s wedding in Panama City, another close friend of mine and I headed to San Blas – a group of raw, virgin, beautiful islands governed by the indigenous tribe, the Kuna Yala.

Don’t expect resorts. Don’t expect touristy. Expect raw, virgin and calm beaches, especially if you go on a weekday. You really can’t find much to buy, eat or drink. You’re better off taking your own food and drinks, and tents if you plan on camping out there, since you can’t really rely on finding anything there.

Shallow waters. No electricity. The water extending as far as your eyes may reach. A guy climbing a palm tree to fetch you a raw coconut.

This is really paradise.

How to get to the San Blas Islands (or San Blas Kuna Yala)

 

*Call Augusto at 678.429.04 and schedule a day and time for him to pick you up at your hotel in Panama City

*Price was $50/person both ways + $10 road tax, picked us up in a van with A/C, which we shared with other tourists

*Be prepared for a relatively rough highway for a couple of hours. You will be driving through mountains and these guys are not the most gentle drivers. If you get car sick, take your precautions!

*Once you arrive to the end of the road, you will hop on a boat; price will vary depending on which islands you visit. We visited Isla Iguana, Isla Perro and Isla Estrella. Please go to Isla Estrella – you will not regret looking at the beautiful starfish up close!

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My Best Friend’s Wedding

She got married.

My best friend, whom I met when we were 11, got married a couple of weeks ago in Panama. That friend who I used to compete with over who drew the best Mr. Happy back in 1995 (you remember that yellow cartoon-looking character?). That friend who knows every single guy I’ve liked, and cried over – maybe not in person, but in name at least. TheIt’s been close to 20 years of friendship (and no, we’re not that old), and I’d never seen her this happy. Ever. I am grateful that she found a great man whom she has built a beautiful relationship with, someone who helps her grow and want to be a better person every single day.

For the past 2 years, weddings have been emotional moments for me. Since my ex and I split, I’ve done a lot of personal growth and introspective work; my idea of marriage and being with someone has changed. Not that I don’t believe in it, but my view on what love is, how I’d like my next relationship to be, and I view marriage are quite different now (I hope, for the better).

A lot of my closest friends have gotten married within this time period, so their weddings have certainly been moments of bitter sweetness for me. A mix of sadness – losing someone who was important to you is always painful – with self-doubt, then reassurance, topped with extreme happiness for my friends. Quite the emotional roller coaster! It’s gotten way better though, and Paola’s wedding was a good “test” for me, because most of the time the only thing I could only think and feel was “I cannot believe how much we’ve grown, she’s grown, and how happy I am that she has never looked (and felt) as happy as she is today.”

(I am sorry, Pao, but that photo with the tea bags is just too good to leave out — I love you!)

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Panama Hats are From Ecuador

I love hats. Whether it’s a cool beanie in the winter, or a Panama hat in the summer, I could probably wear a one every single day. So of course when I arrived in Panama I immediately bought (yet another) Panama hat, original from Ecuador. Wait – what? Panama hats are from Ecuador? Yes!

I learned that out a few years ago when I visited one of my closest friends in Ecuador. However, I never stopped to research why they were given this name. Turns out, around the 19th century Ecuadorian artisans were weaving these really cool hats, but didn’t have many people to sell them to. So they began taking the hats to Panama, simply because very very few people visited Ecuador did not have a lot of foot traffic and Panama was a busier corner.

As read here, “before air travel, anyone on the East Coast of Canada or the U.S. who wanted to go to the West Coast (or vice versa) had three choices: (1) travel overland, (2) take a ship around the tip of South America, (3) take a ship to Panama, cut across the isthmus, and get another ship on the other side. Option number three was the fastest, and probably the least hazardous, of the choices.”

Hence, it makes sense that the hats later on became known as the Panama hat. There’s your tiny bit fashion history.

Happy Friday!

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Before Food + Jewelry, It Was People

I’ve been shooting for years. I got my first camera (plastic and red, looked like a toy) when I was around 6. Then at 14 I got my first “real” camera (FM2) and started developing my film and prints at 15. Then i did slides, now digital (it’s even my phone sometimes). Way back, I took photos of my dog. I put up a piece of paper and did “studio shots” of my dog. Around 2007 I grew a deep interest in shooting food, and have stuck to it since – but before that, after the dog phase, and even way before I grew an interest in jewelry, it was people that I loved.

There is something about the spontaneity – and capturing emotions in images, that makes shooting people such a beautiful thing.

I arrived to Panama yesterday. My best friend is getting married here on Saturday. I’m staying in Casco, the historical center/old city. Walking its colorful streets and observing its people brought me back to when I traveled along the coast in Venezuela and was able to interact with so many locals through my lens. They posed for photos. children played around and asked me to take theirs. This was new and magical for me; in Mexico people tend to shy away from the camera, or even curse at you if you direct your lens their way.

I had a conversation with the wedding photographers during lunch, and realized how much I missed shooting these moments. Here are a few from today.

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