Author: Tehrene Firman

I'm Tehrene—a lil' green being who's striving every day to become a healthier, happier, + more confident version of myself.

Recipe: Strawberry-Beetroot Papaya Bowl

I love getting together with my bestie Hilary of The Greener Voyage and vegan food is always involved—but this time it was something we made ourselves! Which, to be honest, doesn’t happen often in tiny New York City apartment kitchens where there’s typically a one-person capacity. This time I headed out to her new place in Bushwick where there was plenty of space to whip up this delicious Strawberry-Beetroot Papaya Bowl recipe.

So, I’ve tried multiple different smoothie bowls in the past, but I’ve never found one I loved. Now don’t get me wrong: I’m a smoothie girl and love sipping on a fruit- and veggie-packed drink in the morning. Eating a smoothie out of a bowl with a spoon, though? It just feels… wrong. But something about putting it into a scooped-out papaya feels oh-so-right.

This smoothie bowl is jam-packed with good-for-you ingredients. Plus, it doesn’t feel soupy—it has a lot of oomph that will fuel you through your day thanks to some sneaky superfoods, including a gorgeous beetroot powder I’m a tiny bit obsessed with. So, what are you waiting for? Eat up!

Print Recipe
Strawberry-Beetroot Papaya Bowl
Devouring this sweet, protein-packed papaya bowl is the perfect way to kick off your day. You'll reap the benefits from beetroot powder, chia seeds, maca, and other good-for-you ingredients.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Prep Time 10 minutes
  1. Cut papaya in half and carve out the middle, tossing out the seeds and saving the fruit.
  2. Place everything in a blender and blend until smooth.
  3. Pour smoothie into empty papaya bowls and top with bananas, shredded coconut, chia seeds, and anything else you want.

February Finds: Vegan Products I’m Loving This Month

I always love snooping around to see what other people are into (tell me I’m not alone!), so I thought why not share some of my go-tos as well? Since this is my first blog post featuring my favorite things, most of these items have been in my life for quite a while—which is even better, because with ample testing time, you know they’re great. So, shall we get started?

Asha Patel Designs East West Prism Necklace

If you haven’t noticed, I’ve been super into labradorite lately… and it all kind of happened by accident. There’s been a handful of instances where the crystal has come into my life, quickly making it a favorite—and my go-to for meditation thanks to a woman at a crystal shop who told me I needed one for that very reason. It’s known for being an “ordinary stone that transforms to the extraordinary” and is said to be a useful companion for change, “imparting strength and perseverance.” I’m not too woo-woo, but it does feel nice wearing this necklace given to me by the lovely Asha, the girl boss behind Asha Patel Designs. (Spoiler: It’s one of *four* labradorite necklaces I have now… but you wouldn’t be able to tell. They’re hidden within the design!)

MIA Women’s Maylynn Winter Boot

I love the look of boots like these, but it’s really hard to find a non-leather version—trust me, I scoured the interwebs for months. After searching high and low for something cruelty-free, I finally came across these from the brand MIA at Nordstrom. Then I promptly ordered three sizes, just in case, and my regular size fit flawlessly. The quality is amazing, they look even better than leather, and are super cozy and warm. Plus—the best part for my klutz self!—they have really great traction, meaning I won’t be slipping around in the snow this year.

Matt & Nat Brave Backpack

I’ve been using this backpack for a few years now and after hauling around my laptop, water bottle, and everything else I constantly squeeze into it on the daily, it’s faux leather material is still holding up flawlessly. I not only love this brand because it’s vegan—it’s also super sustainable. The lining is made from recycled bottles, which has gotta be the coolest thing ever.

Earth Balance Vegan Aged White Cheddar Puffs

Sometimes you just need some cheese puffs in your life and that’s why I’m so happy I came across this vegan option from Earth Balance. Before going vegan, I used to chow down Cheetos like it was my job, so having a healthier junk food option around is definitely a plus. Another perk: You don’t end up being stuck with neon-orange fingers for days after eating them.

Fresh Tofu Inc. Lemon Pepper Baked Tofu

I’ve turned into a big tofu fan, which I never thought would happen. Ever. But when I’m too lazy to crisp it up myself (easy-to-follow guide coming soon!), I love picking up this option from Fresh Tofu Inc. It’s low in sodium, high in protein, tastes great, and can be thrown into everything from salad to stir-fry. I always have some stored in the freezer just so I have it on hand whenever I need it.

modelFIT Online

I don’t love a lot of workouts, but I really love modelFIT. Unlike other classes, they’re unique in that they help you tone and strengthen your physique with super-small (but seriously powerful!) movements. Whenever I think an exercise is going to be easy, it ends up burning the worst—and that burn lasts for days. Your abs and butt will be on fire, I can promise you that.

The classes at the New York City studio are great, but they can get pricey—and they’re also hard for me to get to with my schedule. That’s why when they launched their online classes, I was instantly hooked. I’ve been trying them out the past month and I’m so obsessed that I’m going to continue after my trial runs out. Especially because it’s only $19.99/month, which is pretty insane considering this is a boutique studio that trains everyone from Miranda Kerr and Karlie Kloss to Taylor Swift.

R+Co One Prep Spray

I’m so picky with what I use in my hair because my skin is ridiculously sensitive. If something has weird chemicals or a strong fragrance in it, it’ll break me out—guaranteed. I was cautious when I first tried this product from R+Co because it had been quite a while since I had used anything besides shampoo and conditioner, but it’s been about two years and I haven’t stopped using it since. Using ingredients like aloe leaf extract, coconut oil, and prickly pear fruit extract, it not only protects your hair from blowdryers and hot tools, but it also hydrates, repairs, and smooths everything out.

What vegan and cruelty-free products are you loving this month? Let me know in the comments or over on Instagram @tehrene!

8 Ways I Naturally Relieve Stress, Because #SelfCare

I’m going to be honest: I’m stressed out 95% of the time. I love being a full-time freelancer, but just like most jobs, it comes with its downfalls. My schedule can easily go from nice and calm to super overwhelming with a bunch of crazy deadlines and events, which means my top priority needs to be taking care of myself so the stress doesn’t affect me.

I can’t say I follow these methods all the time because I definitely don’t—as you know, life gets busy and sometimes the only stress relief I want is to order some take-out and binge-watch The Office. Whether I’m feeling it or not, I try to at least check off some of these boxes on a daily basis because I know in order to feel like myself, be a good partner, and be successful, I have to stay strong, both physically and mentally. Unfortunately, there’s only so much Dwight Schrute can do for my well-being.

The next time you’re feeling stressed out, use one—or all!—or these natural ways to get yourself back on track.

1. Drink Decaf Tea

One of the biggest mistakes people make when they’re stressed out is to load up on more caffeine. It might give you an energy boost to get through your to-do list, but it’s not going to do you any favors. Caffeine increases the levels of cortisol in your body—aka the stress hormone—and when your levels are high for a long period of time, it can really mess things up, increasing your risk of everything from anxiety and depression to sleep issues and weight gain. When you’re feeling overwhelmed, stick to something soothing that won’t impact your already-stressed-out body, like like peppermint, chamomile, or my favorite, echinacea—an immune-boosting herb that’s been used for hundreds of years.

2. Get a Diffuser

Getting a diffuser changed my life. OK, OK… maybe it didn’t change my life, but it definitely became an easy way to get some much-needed stress relief. Dropping in some soothing essential oils—especially those that are scientifically-proven to relieve stress, like lavender, bergamot, and jasmine—will drift the calming scents throughout your home, letting you quite literally breathe a sigh of relief as they naturally calm down your nervous system. I’ve been using the aromaOm Ultrasonic Diffuser diffuser from Saje Wellness and the quality is hard to beat. Plus—added bonus!—it’s super pretty and fits right in with home decor.

3. Add Ashwagandha Into Your Smoothie

If you haven’t heard of ashwagandha, it’s about to become your new stress-fighting BFF. The herb has been used since ancient times to do everything from combat stress to strengthen your immune system and boost your energy. And the best part? All you need to do to start reaping the benefits is add some into your morning smoothie, which flawlessly cancels out the somewhat bitter taste. I use Organic Traditions’ Ashwagandha Root Powder, but you can typically find a quality product at your local health food store. Or, if you don’t feel like sneaking it into your food, you can also take it in capsule-form.

4. Meditate Daily

I never realized how important meditation was until I started doing it. Now, I’m honestly mad at myself for how long I waited to start doing it regularly. It’s not some weird, hippie thing—it’s been proven by study after study to help with a wide-range of issues, whether that’s stress and anxiety or high blood pressure and sleep issues. The list goes on and on. All you need is 10 minutes a day of closing your eyes and focusing on your breath to start noticing a difference in the way you feel and even handle situations. (For instance, I don’t get nearly as annoyed about little things when I’m meditating regularly as I do when I’m not.) Don’t worry if you don’t know where to start: I love using the Headspace app or meditation teacher Kait Hurley‘s online program to give my mind a break. If you can’t totally relax, you’re not alone by any means. Your mind is going to wander, but the most important thing is bringing it back to the present—not trying to shut it off.

5. Spend Time in Nature

Getting a regular dose of nature in New York City isn’t easy—at all. As nice as it is walking through Central Park, you can still hear sirens and cars and a billion conversations going on. But even with the outside stressors, getting some greenery in my life always calms me down and makes me feel a billion times better. Studies have shown getting outside and surrounding yourself with plants and trees can lower your cortisol levels, so get away from the TV and get some fresh air—it’ll do more for your well-being than you even realize.

6. Get Regular Massages

Massages aren’t cheap, but they’ve become one of those things I’ll work into my budget just because I know how beneficial they are. Spending an hour getting my muscles rubbed out not only makes me function better physically—especially because I get super tight sitting in front of a computer all day, every day. It also leaves me feeling this renewed sense of energy. It’s like I instantly left all my problems behind me. Try to commit to one massage a month, even if that means having to shift other things you spend money on (like eating out, shopping, or Starbucks) to make room in your finances. It’s much more than a treat—it’s much-needed self-care that will positively impact your life.

7. Move Your Body

While daily exercise is one of the best ways to de-stress, it’s not always possible when your schedule gets super busy. Trust me, I know. The thing I try to remember, though, is there’s time for some sort of physical activity even on the busiest days. That might mean I just spend 20 minutes doing an online workout video or taking Trixie on a longer walk instead of going to the gym. Whatever it is, increasing your heart rate does a lot of good for lowering your stress levels and it’s important to make it a priority one way or another.

8. Get Away from Technology

Like many of you, my life literally revolves around technology. Because of that, I have a love-hate relationship with it. I know it’s important for my career and scrolling through Instagram is always fun, but digital burnout is real and technology can be incredibly destructive. Multiple studies have shown people who spend a lot of time using technology—especially social media in particular—can increase depression and anxiety, not to mention make you feel all sorts of stressed out. So instead of opening and closing your go-to apps all day long, turn off your notifications and limit your use. Also, turn off the phone and TV at a certain time every night to do something screen-free, like read a book. It will energize you like crazy.

What do you to do de-stress? I’d love your tips!

Recipe: 4-Ingredient Lazy-Day Vegan Mac and Cheese

Before going vegan, I was the queen of mac and cheese. And I’m still happy to say nearly a year after going cheese-free, I’m still the queen of mac and cheese—just minus the actual cheese.

There are plenty of ways to make dairy-free mac and cheese—whether you’re using nuts or veggies—but most methods take up more time than I typically want to spend when I need to satisfy a serious, on-the-spot craving. That’s why this recipe I created on a whim one day when I was hangry is such a gem: It only requires four ingredients, can be made in just minutes, and is super creamy. What more could you want?

To make this 4-ingredient mac and cheese, you’ll just need soy milk, organic corn starch, nutritional yeast (which is jam-packed with vitamin B12—aka an amazing mood- and energy-booster), and some pasta. You can use whatever type of noodle your heart desires to make the dish, whether that’s actual macaroni or something totally different—like protein-packed fusilli made from quinoa flour, which just so happens to be what I had on hand.

vegan cheesy pasta

After rounding up your ingredients, all you need to do is cook up the noodles and make the sauce. Believe it or not, everything can be made in 5 or 6 minutes. Seriously.

vegan cheesy pasta

The best thing about this quick dish is that it’s great whether you’re vegan or not. If you don’t eat dairy, you have an easy option for lazy days—and if you typically eat dairy, it’s the perfect way to healthify one of your favorite comfort foods. Even my cheese-loving fiancé loves this meal, so that’s saying something.

Ready to eat? Check out the instructions below. And if you try it out, tag me in your pictures on Instagram: @tehrene. I’d love to see what you think!

Print Recipe
4-Ingredient Lazy-Day Vegan Mac and Cheese
A simple dairy-free mac and cheese recipe to make on days you want a no-fuss meal.
vegan cheesy pasta
Cook Time 7 minutes
Cook Time 7 minutes
vegan cheesy pasta
  1. Start boiling water for pasta and cook according to directions.
  2. Mix nutritional yeast, soy milk, and corn starch together on medium to high heat, stirring constantly until sauce thickens, about 5 to 7 minutes.
  3. Drain pasta without rinsing. Put pasta in bowl and top with cheesy goodness, stirring everything together. Then eat up!