Black Bean and Chipotle Bisque

Black Bean Soup 1You know what I’ve been craving for the past several days?  A black bean soup.


A warm bowl of delicious black bean soup.

That’s what I’ve been wanting.

I’m currently doing Dr. Junger’s 21-Day Clean Program cleanse, so finding a black bean soup with clean ingredients have been challenging.

What that means is, it’s not easy to swing by a restaurant or food chain and pick something up just to satisfy that at-the-very-moment craving because not all ingredients are cleanse-friendly.

Therefore, I had no choice but to find a recipe and make my own soup especially since after day three, the craving just wouldn’t go away.

A quick search on Google yielded a fantastic recipe for a clean version of a black bean soup. This one seemed simple enough.

I made my way to the store and purchased the ingredients.  I decided to give this one a shot. The results?

Words cannot describe how perfect this soup was!  The combination and blend of flavors resulted in such a deliciously satisfying soup with just the right amount of chipotle seasoning that I was in disbelief.  It totally hit the spot and I couldn’t believe this came out of my kitchen!

Let’s just say I was very happy and extremely grateful to come across this awesome recipe!  This one is so fantastic that I just had to share!  😛

This recipe will serve about four individuals (black beans are very filling so you will feel full before you know it).

Black Bean Soup 2


  • 2 cups “no salt added” organic black beans
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped roughly
  • 1 large carrot, chopped roughly
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1 bay leaf (dried or fresh)
  • ½ teaspoon chipotle powder
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 1/8 cup of apple cider vinegar
  • sea salt to taste
  • 2 scallions, minced (for garnish)
  • a small handful of cilantro, chopped (for garnish)


  1. In a soup pot, melt 2 tablespoons of coconut oil over medium-high heat.
  2. Saute the onions and carrots for about 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. Add the garlic and keep stirring frequently, until fragrant.
  4. Stir in the dried spices and beans, allowing everything to cook for a few more minutes, and continue to stir often.
  5. Before the beans start to dry out, add enough water to completely cover them and allow the water to come to a boil.
  6. Reduce the heat to medium, cover and allow beans to simmer for about 30 minutes. Stir every so often.
  7. After 30 minutes, check the beans to see if they are tender. If they’re not, continue to cook for another 10 minutes or so until the beans are more soft (I had a lot of water left in my soup, so I allowed it to cook uncovered for about an extra 10 minutes).Black Bean Soup 3
  8. When they’re done, remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.
  9. Add the lime juice and apple cider vinegar into the pot and stir well.
  10. Add the tender beans (and whatever water is left) into a blender and blend well.
  11. Pour into a soup bowl and garnish with green onions and cilantro leaves.



This recipe is a slight modification of the following,

Posted in Clean Program, Gluten-Free, Recipes, Soups, Vegan, Vegetarian | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Vegan Fiesta Chickun Salad

Vegan Fiesta Chickun Salad

This is an awesome salad, that’s all I have to say!  😛  Totally inspired by the “Fiesta Salad” from Ethos Vegan Kitchen in Winter Park, my kids and I decided we could totally make a similar version at home.

And so we did!  😀

We bought the ingredients, grilled up our vegan chickun strips with some olive oil, salt, black pepper and paprika and there we had it. A delicious blend of greens, veggies and cheese topped with juicy vegan “chickun” and zesty ranch that is fun, filling and beyond satisfying!

Now it’s your turn.

We promise you will love this one.  🙂

Vegan Fiesta Chickun Salad 3


  • 1 bag of mixed greens (we used Organic Girl 50/50 which is mixed greens and baby spinach)
  • 6 oz vegan “chickun” strips (we used Light Life Smart Strips Chick’n Style)
  • 1 can of organic black beans
  • 1 bag of Daiya Deliciously Dairy Free Pepper Jack Style Shreds
  • 1 organic red pepper cut into strips
  • 1 organic green pepper cut into strips
  • 1 organic tomato quartered
  • 1/2 organic red onion sliced into “rings”
  • 1/2 organic avocado quartered
  • 1 bottle of vegan ranch salad dressing (we used Follow Your Heart High Omega Vegan Ranch)
  • 1 bag of organic blue corn tortilla chips (we used Garden of Eatin’ Red Hot Blues Corn Tortilla Chips)

Vegan Fiesta Chickun Salad 2


Note:  You can make less or more of this salad depending on your serving needs.

  1. In a frying pan, cook the “chickun” strips in some olive oil lightly seasoned with black pepper, salt and paprika.
  2. In a serving platter, layer some of the mixed greens.  Use enough greens to cover the bottom of the platter.
  3. Next, sprinkle some of the green and red peppers on top of the mixed greens (you may not need to use all of the peppers).
  4. Layer the onion “rings” on top of the green and red peppers (again, you may not need to use all of the onions depending on the size of your serving platter).
  5. Layer a generous amount of Daiya shreds on top of the onions, covering all of the veggies.
  6. Layer a generous amount of black beans on top of the Daiya shreds.
  7. Sprinkle some more Daiya shreds on top of the black beans (just because 😉 )
  8. Arrange the 4 pieces of avocados at opposite ends of the serving platter.
  9. Arrange the 4 pieces of tomatoes in between the avocados.
  10. Scoop the grilled chickun strips into the center of the salad.
  11. Drizzle the vegan ranch dressing on top of the chicken strips.
  12. Decorate the sides of the platter with the blue corn tortilla chips.
  13. Clasp your hands and express your gratitude for this delicious healthy vegan salad.  😉
  14. Now you may dig in and enjoy!  😛
Posted in Recipes, Salads, Vegan, Vegetarian | Tagged , , , , | 5 Comments

Easy-Cheesy Kale Chips (Vegan)

Kale Chips

Got kale?

Okay, let me try this again…

Got kale chips?

How about cheesy kale chips?

Or better yet, vegan cheesy kale chips?

Yeh, I like that better!  ;-D

Kale chips are so easy to make!

Most people just bake them in their ovens which turns out crispy and delicious.

And some choose to dehydrate them.

I choose the latter because I love using my dehydrator not to mention, dehydrating preserves many of the nutrients and I don’t have to monitor the process which is always a plus.  😉

Kale chips are expensive in grocery stores, especially if they’re dehydrated.

Whole Foods recently had a sale on bunches of kale so I went ahead and purchased a big bunch for only $2.

A small container of dehydrated kale chips usually costs around $3.99.  Yup!

We got more than our share of kale chips out of this bunch!

My kids love it when I pack some of these chips with their school lunches.  🙂

Here’s a quick and easy recipe to make cheesy kale chips.

Now given this is vegan, I didn’t actually use cheese.

Instead, I used nutritional yeast which has a cheesy flavor to it.

You can purchase nutritional yeast at most grocery stores, health food stores or even online.


  • large bite-size pieces of kale
  • nutritional yeast



  • Place a handful of large bite-sized pieces of kale in a bowl.
  • Drizzle a little olive oil, then sprinkle about 1 to 2 tbs of nutritional yeast on top of the kale.
  • Mix well making sure to get the kale pieces covered in the nutritional yeast. You can use more or less nutritional yeast depending on how “cheesy” you would like them.


  • Next, place the seasoned kale pieces on the dehydrator tray.
  • Dehydrate at 125 degrees for 10 to 12 hours.
  • When finished, remove within an hour and store them tightly in a covered container. The sooner you remove them from the dehydrator, the crispier they will be.


If you’d like a little spicy kick to your kale chips, sprinkle some cayenne pepper or chipotle seasoning, in addition to the nutritional yeast, before dehydrating.

Now don’t forget, moderation!  Yeh right I hear you say!  😉

Posted in Clean Program, Gluten-Free, Paleo-Friendly, Recipes, Snacks, Vegan, Vegetarian | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Best Vegan Omelette

Vegan OmeletteHere it is! 😀

The best vegan omelette yet!

And if you disagree, let me know.

And if you think you’ve found a better recipe, let me know too.  😉

But I’m telling you, this one rocks!

I’m talking about in consistency, presentation, even flavor after it’s cooked.  😛

I’ve been browsing many blogs trying to find an omelette which comes close enough to the real thing, not just in presentation but also in taste.

Well… let’s be real here.  I am not really interested in the taste of real eggs (personal preference of course).  But if it’s close enough, I’m down!  The interesting thing is that when I was making this recipe, the kitchen did smell like boiled eggs (even my kids were spooked).

I think I found the one.

Yes.  The one!  😉

And I really think you’re going to like it.

I came across a few user comments online and people were impressed with this recipe. Here’s a pretty funny review (pardon their language but you’ll get the idea).

We’ve made this several times already and it’s really gooood!  And when you have two kids asking for more, that says something to me.  When your kids are asking when you’re going to make it again, that says even more.  😉

Now, this recipe uses soy as its main ingredient and I know soy has gotten a lot of bad rep. In my opinion, soy once in a while (depending on your own dietary needs of course) is perfectly fine but always opt for the organic non-GMO brand.  I used Mori-Nu’s Firm Organic Silken Tofu and it turned out beautifully!

This recipe will make about 4 omelettes.  Enough to share.  😉



  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 package of silken tofu, lightly drained (not the vacuum-packed kind) or soft tofu (I used a 12.3 oz package; 16 oz should work fine too)
  • 2 tbsp. nutritional yeast
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp. turmeric
  • 1 tsp. fine black salt, plus extra for sprinkling (you can find this at an Indian grocery store)
  • 1/2 cup chickpea flour (you can also find at an Indian store; also called “Besan” or “Channa Dal”)
  • 1 tbsp. arrowroot


  1. Chop up the garlic and add to a blender (or food processor if you prefer).
  2. Add the tofu, nutritional yeast, olive oil, turmeric, and black salt. Puree until smooth.
  3. Add the chickpea flour and arrowroot and puree again for about 10 seconds until combined. Make sure to scrape down the sides so that everything is well incorporated.
  4. Preheat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.
  5. Lightly grease the pan with cooking spray or butter (the less oil, the better for the nice brown speckles. We used butter).  Also, make sure to use a large skillet as you’ll need room to spread out the omelette and to get your spatula under there to flip.
  6. Using a spoon (or if pour-able), pour about 1/2 cup of the omelette batter into the skillet. Use the back of a spoon or a rubber spatula to spread the batter out into about 6-inch circles (we made ours a little thick).
  7. Let the batter cook for about 3 to 5 minutes before flipping. The top of the omelette will become dry and become a matte yellow when it’s ready to be flipped. If you try to flip and it seems like it might fall apart, give it a little more time.
  8. Flip the omelette and cook for about another minute on the other side.
  9. Fill omelette with any filling of your choice, then fold it. We used broccoli and cheese in the photos above.
  10. Once the omelette has been filled, sprinkle with a little extra black salt since some of its flavor disappears when cooked.
  11. Add some vegan bacon or vegan sausage as a side, and enjoy!

Source:  Tofu Omelet with Mushrooms, Spinach and Cheesy Sauce,

Posted in Breakfast, Gluten-Free, Recipes, Vegan, Vegetarian | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Almond Butter & Cacao Chip Cookies

Almond Butter and Cacao Chip CookiesDo you love chocolate chip cookies?

I think I have yet to meet someone who does not love those delicious traditional cookies, especially when they’re homemade or fresh right out of the oven.

Yes, there were times I found myself craving chocolate chip cookies until I found vegan chocolate chip cookies at the store.  Then I was hooked!  😛  But after I decided to refrain from consuming cookies with white refined sugar and eating more “clean” desserts and meals, I had to find something that would provide the same satisfaction and just hit that spot.

Not to mention, quick an easy to make is always a plus!  😀

Allow me to introduce to you yet another favorite recipe, compliments of the Clean Program by Dr. Junger.  Many individuals have created their own recipes while doing his recommended 21-Day Clean Program cleanse or just from eating clean as part of their healthier lifestyle and diets.

These cookies are very easy to make and are quite delicious.  I find that they fill me up pretty quickly because of all the wholesome ingredients and protein. I’ve had a few friends try these as well as my two kids.  My friends and kids of course loved them with the exception of one person who shared that although the cookies were delicious, they were not sweet enough.  Of course all palates are different but 9 out of 10 of us thought they were perfect in sweetness. 😛 Even my Paleo buddies enjoyed these (and yes, these are Paleo friendly).  They felt the sweetness was perfect and on point.  🙂

I’d say these are definitely the perfect replacement for the traditional chocolate chip cookies!


  • ½ cup coconut flour
  • 1 ½ cups almond meal/flour
  • ½ cup coconut nectar granules
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup raw cacao nibs (make sure nibs are in small pieces, just like chocolate chips)
  • ⅔ cup coconut oil
  • ¼ cup unsweetened almond milk (or any other type of milk at room temperature)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup almond butter (smooth or chunky if you’d like almond bits)
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, coconut nectar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cacao nibs.
  3. In a second bowl, combine the coconut oil, almond milk and vanilla.
  4. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients, add the almond butter (room temperature makes it easier to mix in) and then mix well until everything is well incorporated.
  5. Roll batter into roughly 16 balls, place on a greased (with coconut oil) and push them down into flat discs.
  6. Bake for 20-25 minutes. Let cookies completely cool on the pan before serving.

Make sure these are completely cool before attempting to move or eat, otherwise they’ll fall apart. I like my cookies a little on the brown side, almost crunchy but not quite there if you know what I mean.  Either way, they’ll still be delicious!  Enjoy!  😛

Source:  Almond Butter Chip Cookies,

Posted in Clean Program, Desserts, Gluten-Free, Paleo-Friendly, Recipes, Vegan, Vegetarian | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Raw Rose Pomegranate Dream Cake

DSC05308Here it is, the cake you’ve all been waiting for!  It’s another divine and delicious creation by the one and only Amy Lyons of Fragrant Vanilla Cake!

I love desserts and Amy has such a remarkable way of creating beautifully presentable desserts that are not only pleasing to the eyes but consists of ingredients I would never think twice about using in desserts to begin with! Beets and buckwheat, I know, who would’ve thought?  But don’t get discouraged with these ingredients, this cake is absolutely delicious!

DSC05313My daughter specifically requested this raw cake for her 13th birthday despite already receiving multiple cakes (from multiple family members) to celebrate the occasion.

She loves homemade desserts but lately she’s been enjoying the variety of raw dessert creations we’ve been experimenting with at home.  She actually enjoys raw desserts more than baked desserts and I can totally understand why.  😛

This particular cake was selected by her from Amy’s blog because she loves pomegranates. It was a lot of work to make this particular cake since I decided to use real young coconuts.  But it was totally worth using fresh coconut meat and fresh coconut water which I’m sure made a significant difference in regards to taste.


The end result?  A smooth, creamy, delightful flavor of rose and tangy pomegranates. You’re palate will absolutely love you for this one!  😛

Raw Rose Pomegranate Dream Cake
Makes one 6 inch cake


  • 1/2 cup raw sprouted buckwheat groats, dried in the dehydrator (see instructions below on how to do this)
  • 3/4 cup dried finely shredded coconut
  • 1/4 cup ground flaxseed
  • 1/8 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp cardamom
  • 2/3 cup soft medjool dates, pitted and chopped


  • 3 cups young coconut meat (I got 2 1/2 cups from 2 young coconuts. Use 3 coconuts if you can)
  • 1 cup chopped raw red beets
  • 1/2 cup coconut water (you can get this from the young coconut)
  • 1/2 cup raw agave nectar (or any other preferred sweetener)
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 Tbsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon of ground vanilla bean 
  • 1 1/2  tsp rosewater
  • 1/2 cup plus 3 Tbsp raw coconut butter (warmed to liquid)
  • 1 1/2 cups pomegranate seeds (divided)


First, you will need to sprout the raw buckwheat.  Do not use roasted buckwheat groats, these will not sprout!  It will take approximately two days to yield sprouted buckwheat groats as pictured below (for further instructions on how to sprout buckwheat, read How to Sprout and Use Buckwheat Groats).

sprouted buckwheat

Next, dehydrate the buckwheat groats for approximately 6 hours at 115 degrees or until completely dry.  Once this step is complete, you’re all set to go with your cake!  😀

Lightly coat a 6 inch spring form removable bottom pan with coconut oil.

To prepare the crust, process the buckwheat, coconut, flax seeds, cardamom, and sea salt in a food processor until it is fine like crumbs.

Add the dates and process again until the mixture holds together when squeezed between your fingers (if not holding together, add more dates).

Firmly press the crust into the bottom of the prepared pan and set aside.


To make the filling, in a food processor, combine the coconut meat, beets, coconut water, agave nectar, sea salt, vanilla extract, grounded vanilla, and rosewater and blend until the contents are smooth and creamy.

Add the coconut butter and process for another minute or so until well blended.

To assemble the cake, pour half the filling over the crust and then sprinkle with a cup of the pomegranate seeds.


Pour the remaining filling on top of the pomegranate seeds and then place the cake in the freezer to firm up for about 4 hours or until set.

Garnish the top of the cake with the remaining pomegranate seeds and enjoy!  Store any remaining cake (if you have any left that is) in the fridge.


Fragrant Vanilla Cake,

Posted in Clean Program, Desserts, Gluten-Free, Paleo-Friendly, Raw, Recipes, Vegan, Vegetarian | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments

Raw Raspberry Rose Cream Truffles

DSC05287 bI came across this delightfully “raw” truffle recipe by Amy Lyons from her blog, Fragrant Vanilla Cake.

I love desserts and Amy has a way of creating such beautifully decorated desserts that are not only very pleasing to the eyes, but consists of ingredients I would never think twice about using in desserts to begin with. And yes, these are pretty healthy which is just an added plus!  😀

I typically make my own raw “cacao” with nuts, coconut or cinnamon depending on my mood and sweeten it with agave nectar.  But this recipe seemed like a lot of fun not to mention very delicious!  😛

DSC05279 bI also needed a gift idea for a birthday, a special person who has a diet consisting of many allergies (she can’t consume soy, gluten, refined sugars, etc.). And I also needed a gift idea for another special person for Valentine’s Day but of course I wanted to give something sweet, delicious yet healthier than traditional store bought chocolate packed with refined sugars, artificial sweeteners and preservatives.

Now, as I prepared to make these truffles, I discovered that I did not have enough raspberries.  I only had 3/4 cups of raspberries where as the original recipe calls for 1 and 1/2 cups. I made some slight modifications from Amy’s original recipe while making these but nonetheless, these still came out amazing and tasted very delicious!  Both of the receivers as well as my two kids (and myself of course!), absolutely enjoyed these!

DSC05284 b

Raw Raspberry Rose Cream Truffles
Makes about 2 dozen

Raspberry Filling:

  • 1 1/2 cups raw cashew pieces (soaked for 3 to 4 hours)
  • 1/4 cup filtered water 
  • 1/4 cup agave nectar
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 tsp rosewater
  • 1/4 cup raw coconut oil (slightly warmed to liquid)
  • 1 1/2 cups organic raspberries (if using frozen, thaw and drain liquid very well)

Dipping Chocolate:

  • 1/2 cup raw cacao powder
  • 1/2 cup raw coconut oil (slightly warmed to liquid)
  • 1/4 cup agave nectar
  • a pinch of sea salt

DSC05295 b

  1. For the filling, in a food processor, combine the cashews, water, agave nectar, sea salt, vanilla, and rosewater and process until smooth.
  2. Add the coconut oil and process for another minute until well incorporated.
  3. Add the raspberries and process until smooth.
  4. Pour into a bowl and place in the freezer until firm but scoopable.
  5. Scoop some of the cream out of the bowl by the heaping Tbspful and form into balls. Place on foil.
  6. Once they are all rolled, place them back into the freezer to harden (I left mine in the freezer overnight and dipped them in chocolate the next day).
  7. To make the dipping chocolate, in a bowl, whisk together the cacao powder, coconut oil, agave nectar, and sea salt until smooth.
  8. Gently warm the mixture in a heat safe bowl over a stove top on very low heat.  I held my bowl over an electric stove which provided a very gentle temperature, warm enough to create smooth dipping chocolate.
  9. Using a fork, dip the filling balls into the chocolate, coat them well and place on the foil. You will discover that the warm chocolate makes it easy for dipping and for placing on the foil.
  10. Once they are all dipped, place them back into the freezer to set completely.
  11. You can store the truffles in the freezer or in the fridge prior to serving.  Enjoy!

DSC05288 bChocolate Raspberry Rose Truffles

Follow the recipe for the raspberry rose cream truffles but along with the raspberries, add 1/4 cup raw cacao powder and continue with the recipe.


Fragrant Vanilla Cake,

Posted in Clean Program, Desserts, Gluten-Free, Paleo-Friendly, Raw, Recipes, Vegan, Vegetarian | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Zucchini Pasta with Avocado and Herbs Pesto

DSC05224Boy do I love pasta, but since I discovered that pasta (due to gluten) can contribute to hypothyroidism, I’ve had to limit myself either to gluten-free pasta made with brown rice OR experiment with new raw pasta recipes.  And raw pasta recipes are definitely not an issue, especially since I love raw foods!  😛

Now, when I came across several raw pasta recipes, I was in disbelief!  With some quick research, I learned of this tool which can be used to create raw pasta!  Who would’ve thought! This tool is a spiral slicer which is used to make the raw pasta.  It’s super easy and takes only minutes!


Now the end result itself was just absolutely delicious!  We’re talking creamy, flavorful, delightful to the palate pasta!  The pasta was so satisfying, so delicious that even my 12 year old and 10 year old were in disbelief at how amazing this was!  They couldn’t even believe that this was raw, let alone made with zucchini!  Who says healthy food can’t taste good?  I urge you to give this recipe a shot and let me know what you think  Your body will absolutely love you for this! 😛



  • 2 to 3 zucchinis
  • 1 ripe avocado
  • 1 handful each of fresh basil, cilantro and parsley
  • 1/4 cup of truly sun dried tomatoes not in oil, chopped (optional)
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 lemon juiced
  • a pinch of sea salt, to taste
  1. Use a spiral slicer to make noodles out of the zucchini.
  2. Sprinkle with a pinch of sea salt and toss to coat.
  3. Place on some paper towels and allow the water to drain while you prepare the sauce.  This can be done for a few hours at room temperature (I did it for 1.5 hours but my house is very warm).
  4. Combine the avocado, herbs, garlic, lemon juice, and a pinch of sea salt in a food processor and process until smooth.
  5. Once the noodles are dry and soft, toss with the sauce.
  6. Add the sun dried tomatoes and toss once more.
  7. Topped with some fresh parsley, serve and enjoy!


Raw Guru,

Posted in Clean Program, Gluten-Free, Paleo-Friendly, Pasta, Raw, Recipes, Vegan, Vegetarian | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Would you still LOVE me if I looked like this?

8th Grade

This is a photo of me. Yup. 8th grade student who just moved to Orlando in 1989 from New York City.

Pretty hideous right?

I wore a dress that was a pass-me-down from one of my aunts. My glasses are ridiculously huge. My hair, well… as an Indian it was the norm to have long hair and to wear it braided. And of course, I didn’t wear make-up.

I was that kid. You know, that kid. That girl who was far from cool and far from beautiful.

Of all the years I spent as a student in good ol’ Orlando, I’d have to say this was the worse year being a kid. Being that 8th grader. Trying to fit in. Why?

Because kids were so mean to me. The popular and pretty girls constantly said to me at school, “Um… like, how about learning like, how to dress?” and then they’d giggle. In P.E (Physical Education) class, I even remember a gorgeous blonde making the comment, “Ewww, you don’t shave your legs?

What? Shave my legs? But why? Where I came from back in Queens, I don’t remember the girls shaving their legs. In fact, I don’t think anyone even cared.

Still, I had feelings. Of course I was hurt and of course I wish I could fit in more. I felt humiliated and embarrassed every time someone made a comment like that.

Back in Queens where I grew up, I was totally able to be myself. And that’s why I wanted to move back to New York City. Back home to where I felt like I actually belonged.

But here in Orlando, the ego thrived big time in 8th grade. It was all about being popular and looking pretty. Beauty was defined as” looking good”, being “physically attractive”, dressing “in style”, wearing “lots of make-up”. You know, the cute outfits that were actually coordinated (I didn’t match my clothes by the way). It was about the brand-name shoes and book bags, the extroverted personality (I was extremely shy), the magnetic cheerleader attitude.

Girl and the Safi SeaIt was about the hairspray, the higher the styled teased looks, the prettier you looked! Clothes were worn that were hip and savvy, definitely in style! Boys loved girls who were physically attractive, who looked beautiful! And if you didn’t have a boyfriend, well then you just weren’t cool enough!

Bottom line – if you looked like me, the way I did back then, you just weren’t pretty. Plain and simple.  And you didn’t get much love at school. You just had to keep wishing and hoping you’d be beautiful enough to be loved someday.

Love. Those were the ones who got love. The ones who were pretty, the ones who were beautiful.

Balloons-Bear12-MylarAfter years of watching many girls at school get showered with love on Valentine’s Day with balloons and flowers and teddy bears oh my, I pretty much grew up not caring much about it. I mean yes, of course I wished I had gifts from someone who loved me so that I can be that girl that everyone wished they could be.

But I was far from that.

Something in my heart just felt and believed that love was greater than looks (meaning appearance) or the gifts that kids got showered with at school.

I prayed to God many times asking him to make me beautiful. I wanted so desperately for God to give me that blonde hair with the blue eyes and that magnetic cheerleader personality. I wanted physical beauty so badly so that I can be loved, so that I can fit in at school like mostly everyone else.

But God didn’t give me that.

In fact, I think God was sitting back laughing hysterically at my crazy, yet sincere, request.

God-Love-and-Faith-god-29215343-500-375God did give me something though. It was love but the not the love I was seeking at the time.

God gave me real love.

Unconditional love.

Something most kids didn’t really know about or understand in 8th grade of course.

Something that took me way too many years to understand and truly appreciate but yet became one of the greatest gifts I’ve ever received.

Tell me something, which human being doesn’t desire to be loved? Doesn’t everyone want love? Doesn’t everyone wish they had, or have, someone to love?  Of course! We all seek love! We thrive off of it!  We want love from our partners, from our families, from our friends. In whatever way or form in comes, we hope for love, we desire to be loved and we want to be loved in return.

It took many years for me to finally get it, to get the lesson that God wanted me to learn, but regardless of time, it happened. I finally got it. Funny thing is, the answer was there all along. I just couldn’t see it because I was so caught up in the way others saw love.

So although I didn’t wake up one beautiful sunny morning looking in the mirror and seeing myself with that long gorgeous golden blonde hair and blue eyes, when I did look in the mirror, I saw someone else.

I saw Sunita.

That Indian girl with long black hair, dark brown eyes and tanned skin.

And then, there was something more.

love-is-the-beauty-of-the-soulI saw a girl who was capable of being love. Yes. A girl who wanted to instill love in other people’s hearts.

Inner beauty. The beauty of the soul.

I wanted others to see that beauty is truly defined by the essence of their own soul.

Love is who you are, as a person, as a being. It is your soul. It doesn’t matter if you’re underweight or overweight or in great physical shape or dress poorly or can’t match your clothes correctly or don’t shave your legs. 😉  It doesn’t matter if you drive that super hot camaro or whether you’re CEO or president of a successful company or not.  None of that defines you. None of that defines who you really truly are as a person.

1926782_704203929651316_373217023_nLove is about loving yourself and accepting yourself for who you are.

Love is about embracing your own physical beauty, just the way it is.

Love is about being you!

When it comes to your physical appearance, enhance it if you so desire but do it to make yourself happy, not to gain popularity or with the expectation to receive love in return. Do it because it makes YOU happy, because it adds to your love for yourself.

If you love and embrace yourself just as you are, your will attract the right people in your life who will love you and accept you as is. Why? Because love is acceptance.  And love is unconditional.


When you discover that inner beauty that you carry within yourself and foster that beauty, your soul will shine as brightly as ever emanating your true core being, a unique beauty that no one else has or owns but you!

That’s right, YOU!

So remember, love is not based purely on physical beauty. Love emanates from within yourself, from within your own inner being.

You are love!

And you deserve to be loved for exactly the person you are!  For your heart. For your soul!

Now, would you still love me if I was still that 8th grader?  For those of you who still wouldn’t, watch out, I’m coming after you with my bow and arrow.  Cupid style!  Start running!  😉


Happy Valentine’s Day!

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Living to Believe – Inspiration from a 7th Grader

Karina Headshot 1Can I believe, or will I never? Will my dreams be good, or will they haunt me forever? Will I ever be inspired, or will I stick to wondering what it’s like? What path do I take? Which way do I turn? What’s waiting around the corner? How do I overcome it all?

I feel like life is stopping me from believing. Like not believing is stopping me from following my dreams. Like not following my dreams is what’s stopping me from being inspired.

It’s like my body is caving in. Weakening at the very thought of having to live with life. But if living with life is the only thing that can help me believe, that can help me face my fears, then who am I to run from it?

But life is not only beautiful. It is not only pure. Because purity can only be found through hurt. But doesn’t the hurting have to end at some point? Doesn’t life turn into some sort of sweet bliss?

There’s a quote that I’ve learned to live by. A quote that has helped me in my darkest moments. When I needed to know that I wasn’t the only one. That I wasn’t the only one.

“You have to experience the bad, to appreciate the good.” You can tell that it’s true just from reading it. You can tell that it relates to everything life has to offer. Or maybe only some people can. Only people like me. People that worry about everything. People that see the glass as half full rather than half empty. The kind of person who, when you only had one candle burning instead of ten, says it’s better than being in the dark.

The quote kind of tells the story of my life. Experiencing something drastic to appreciate what you have. It feels like my soul is on fire. Like I’ll never be myself again. But that’s what I have to do. Forget the horror of the world, and be me in this ungrateful, selfish place we call the world. And the world revolves around that ball of molten called life. But that is what it takes to believe. To dream right. To be inspired. So I have to try.

But what if I’m tired of it? Tired of trying to be someone else? What if I don’t want to work harder to get there? What if I never do? How can life expect me to live with it?

The world is full of chaos. Nothing more, nothing less. There seems like there’s no other way to go, yet, there’s no way to get back. There might be one way. They say that life is only what you make it. In that case, how do I make it good? Is hiding from the world reflecting on me?

Maybe, just maybe, I could change it.

Not just my life, but everyone’s.

Maybe if I give life a chance instead of turning back and running into another wall, it might actually be okay. Could I possibly make the change before it’s too late?

But what if it already is too late? What if I can’t learn to live with it all?

No, it can’t be. And it won’t be. Because it’s my life. Because I have experienced the bad, so it is possible for me to find the good. Because I am already living with life, just from thinking all this.

So, can I keep on trying to believe? Can I follow my dreams without taking the wrong street? Can I be inspired?

The answer is yes. Yes to all my questions. I can keep trying to believe, even if I don’t ever get there. I can follow my dreams, because there is no wrong street. I can be inspired, because I’m an inspiration to myself.

But the one question I still have that will remain unanswered for years to come is, will anyone ever be inspired by me?

~ Written By Karina Sukhraj, 7th Grade Winner of Reflections Art Contest Literature ~

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