Hot Mama Cocoa

imageThis week, I have not been feeling so hot.  We’ve battled and won our first round of seasonal sickness, hormones are fluctuating, and I’m just not feeling like myself.

Can you relate?

I know what my problem is: Chocolate.  I’m not eating enough of it.  I read an article on the internet that said chocolate is a superfood.  (So is champagne, but coffee and red wine are more my speed these days.) And since the internet is never wrong, I was able to self-diagnose my biggest issue and root cause. I ran out of my favorite dark chocolate bars and they’re too pricey to buy when they’re not on super sale. And here’s the reality of my life: It’s not worth living without that chocolate at the end of the day.  Or in the middle of my day.  Or to start my day.

I’ve also been needing a little pep in my step. I don’t know if it’s the weather, lack of chocolate, the pitch dark that sets in at 4:00pm sharp, or what, but I also need a little more help with energy and, uh, sex drive.  Yep, I’m going there. Sorry.

After working long days taking care of a toddler and working from home, cooking up a storm, and just doing life, getting busy is pretty much the last thing I have energy for, TBH. So, adding spices to actually spice up my life and boost my mojo?  Okay.  Let’s do that.

Maca is a natural hormone booster, and cayenne pepper is wonderful for digestion and circulation. Cinnamon is warming and curbs sugar cravings.  So, this is my cocoa cocktail to get my hot mama mojo back.  Plus, it’s damn delicious.


  • 2 cups milk of your choice (I use coconut milk)
  • 1 Tbsp honey or sweetener of your choice
  • 2 Tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp maca powder
  • a splash of vanilla extract
  • a pinch of cinnamon
  • a tiny dusting of cayenne pepper (a tiny bit goes a VERY LONG WAY)


  1. Combine all of your ingredients in a small sauce pan and heat on medium low.
  2. Whisk continuously until hot and well blended. (5 ish minutes)
  3. Pour into your favorite mug or thermos and sip.

So hot right now!


A few weeks ago, we were at the grocery store.  The checker looked at my round belly and said, “When’s your baby due?” I cut her off before she could even get the words out and replied with a dead-inside voice, “I’m not pregnant.”

“You’re not?  REALLY?!”

“Nope.  Not even a little.”

“Wow!  Well, I guess it’s harder for us older moms to lose the baby weight.”

Yep.  Old and fat.  That’s me!

Thanks, lady.

I silently took my groceries and my two-year old son and not-pregnant-but-certainly-looks-it belly and left the store without another word.  I didn’t trust myself to speak to her calmly or kindly.  All of the terrible insults I could hurl back at her were bubbling up and filling my mouth with their unsaid-ness.  Except that’s not entirely true.  My mouth filled up with the unmistakable taste of tears, and a Napoleon Dynamite-esque internal monologue of lame comebacks.

Then I got angry at myself for wanting to cry because crying means I care.  And I really don’t want to care.

This isn’t the first time my squishy belly has been mistaken for a baby belly.  Being frisked at the airport by the TSA agent a few months ago: “You have such a cute bump!” I waited a moment to respond before saying, “Thanks!  Due in September! Super excited” because it was easier than going through all of the embarrassment of denying and the apologies from the offending party, or even worse, the justification.

When I tell you that I have dozens of these not-pregnant-but-people-still-ask-anyway moments, I’m not exaggerating.  I’ve been asked while sipping beer during happy hour on a gorgeous day.  At a baby shower for my BFF from a licensed therapist as I arranged a tray of carrot sticks. Flagged down by a curious neighbor as I walked in from the garden, full of sunshine and good vibes, expecting a hello or request for zucchini and instead getting a “Girl, I had no idea you were pregnant! When are you due?”

I know I’m not alone, Women of the Interwebs.  I know you’ve experienced this, too.  The not-a-baby baby belly mistake also happened before I had my son, so I can’t blame pregnancy.  It’s just my body.  It’s where I carry any extra weight.  I know the babywatching world gets a faux oxytocin high at the mere thought of squishy baby flesh, the newborn head smell and frail Chewbacca cries from miniature, undeveloped lungs.  It’s almost too much for anyone to resist.

But seriously, Babywatchers.  STOP IT.  It’s none of your business.  Commenting on a woman’s body in general without any solicitation from the woman is not only unwanted, it’s inappropriate.  As humans, we’re nosy by nature.  We want to know all the things. I totally understand. However, some things are just none of our business.

So, I put together a little infographic. Here’s how to know when it’s appropriate to ask if a woman is pregnant.  Even if you’re like, 99.9999% certain there’s a baby in that belly, here’s a quick flow chart to help you.


Share this broadly, my friends.

Are you still unclear? No worries!  I went ahead and ate a big Indian food lunch, wore some leggings, a formfitting tank tank top, and skipped showering and make-up to create this little video with my iPhone.  It doesn’t get any more real than this. YOU ARE WELCOME.

Happy to be baby-free,

Crispy Quinoa with Chef Ricardo Zaraté

A couple of weeks ago, I met this fantastic chef.  His name is Ricardo Zarate.

Chef Zarate

He’s Peruvian, and is taking the culinary world by storm with his transformational, modern Peruvian fare. Jessica and I frequented his booth at the Natural Products Expo in Los Angeles embarrassingly often.  But we just couldn’t get enough of his exotic cuisine and mouth-watering cocktails.

It turns out, Chef Zarate has appeared on Knife Fight, has won numerous awards, and has been nominated for three James Beard Awards, which is kind of like an Oscar for chefs, but more prestigious.  Who knew?  He was such a down-to-earth guy and took time to talk to us about his food.

The common denominator in the deliciousness factor for my favorite bites was crispy quinoa. I loved the fish, I adored the ravioli. The cooked quinoa was wonderful on it’s own.  But there was something so satisfying about eating a slice of velvety sea bass sashimi with the satisfying, earthy crunch of quinoa. Chef Zarate was kind enough to give us a little tutorial in the middle of a trade show.  Here’s a quick tutorial on How To Make Crispy Quinoa:

In case you missed it, here’s the oven method.


  • 1/2 cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 Tbsp coconut oil
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt


  1. Rinse quinoa under running water until water runs clear.
  2. Put quinoa, water, coconut oil and a pinch of sea salt in a small pot.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and cook uncovered for about 15 min or until the water evaporates.
  3. On a parchment paper-lined baking sheet, spread a thin layer of cooked quinoa as evenly as possible.
  4. Bake in a 350 degree oven for about 20-30 minutes, stirring and redistributing the quinoa EVERY 5 MINUTES.  (This is super important!)
  5. When quinoa turns just a shade darker and is slightly crunchy, remove from oven and allow to cool.
  6. Store in an airtight container and sprinkle on everything for the next two weeks.


It never occurred to me to use quinoa as a garnish or to add crunchy texture.  Now, I eat it on EVERYTHING.  My toddler loves dipping his finger in the crispy quinoa and licking it off.  Kind of like a Lick-a-Made, but healthy.

If you are interested in more of his cuisine, check out his cookbook, set for release on in October.

Thank you, Chef Zarate, for taking the time to teach us how to make perfect, crispy quinoa.  Your cocktails weren’t too shabby, either.

Still Crispy,