Carrot Ginger Dressing

Carrot Ginger Dressing via It's Jou Life blog - https://wp.me/p7RBMP-W9This Carrot Ginger Dressing is inspired by the Super Spinach Salad with Carrot Miso Ginger dressing that I used to buy at Trader Joes. This dressing is a game changer for salad fans, especially me. Not only is the color a vibrant orange, but it’s light, smooth, and a refreshing addition to any salad.

This dressing is so easy to make in a food processor. There are a few key ingredients and everything blends and emulsifies well together. I’ve made a few batches over the past days and been giving it away to family and friends! Next post I’ll show my favorite salad with this dressing.

This Carrot Ginger Dressing is adapted from Epicurious.

Carrot Ginger Dressing via It's Jou Life blog - https://wp.me/p7RBMP-W9

Print Recipe
Carrot Ginger Dressing
This Carrot Ginger Dressing is inspired by the Super Spinach Salad with Carrot Miso Ginger dressing that I used to buy at Trader Joes. This dressing is a game changer for salad fans, especially me. Not only is the color a vibrant orange, but it's light, smooth, and a refreshing addition to any salad.
Carrot Ginger Dressing via It's Jou Life blog - https://wp.me/p7RBMP-W9
Prep Time 15 minutes
Servings
cups
Ingredients
Prep Time 15 minutes
Servings
cups
Ingredients
Carrot Ginger Dressing via It's Jou Life blog - https://wp.me/p7RBMP-W9
Instructions
  1. Place carrots into the food processor and pulse until pureed.
  2. Add ginger, rice vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil, and salt. Pulse. Add vegetable oil, slowly.
  3. Add water. Pulse until smooth.

Daktoritang Korean Spicy Chicken Stew Recipe

Daktoritang Korean Spicy Chicken Stew - https://itsjoulife.com/recipe/korean-spicy-chicken-stew/

My most recent experience with making (and enjoying) Daktoritang Korean Spicy Chicken Stew.

You know that feeling when you’re stuffed, but want to keep eating because it’s just so dang delicious and not sure when you’re going to eat that dish again? Make this recipe, you’ll know what I mean. First time having this stew, my tongue was flaming up, but I relied on rice, milk, and tissues to help me through my second serving. I ended up making this twice in a week because I just couldn’t get enough. Second time around I eased on the green chilies.

Daktoritang Korean Spicy Chicken Stew - https://itsjoulife.com/recipe/korean-spicy-chicken-stew/

Daktoritang Korean Spicy Chicken Stew - https://itsjoulife.com/recipe/korean-spicy-chicken-stew/

Daktoritang Korean Spicy Chicken Stew - https://itsjoulife.com/recipe/korean-spicy-chicken-stew/

Daktoritang Korean Spicy Chicken Stew - https://itsjoulife.com/recipe/korean-spicy-chicken-stew/

Daktoritang Korean Spicy Chicken Stew - https://itsjoulife.com/recipe/korean-spicy-chicken-stew/

 

Print Recipe
Korean Spicy Chicken Stew Recipe
I didn't eat this spicy chicken stew growing up, but I wish I did! On cold winter nights like this, this stew hits the spot. This is a chicken dish that is braised in a spicy red sauce mixture along with potatoes and onions. It's the perfect comfort food to be scooped over rice. Warms my hands, belly, and heart.
Daktoritang Korean Spicy Chicken Stew - https://itsjoulife.com/recipe/korean-spicy-chicken-stew/
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Servings
people
Ingredients
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Servings
people
Ingredients
Daktoritang Korean Spicy Chicken Stew - https://itsjoulife.com/recipe/korean-spicy-chicken-stew/
Instructions
  1. In a small bowl make your sauce by mixing the hot pepper flakes, gochujang, soy sauce, minced garlic, brown sugar. Make sure it's thoroughly mixed, it should look like a paste.
  2. In a large pot, place your chicken drumsticks, sauce mixture, and water. Cover the pot and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a medium simmer for about 20 minutes.
  3. Place the chopped potatoes, chopped onions, sliced green chiles, half of chopped green onions into the pot for another 20 minutes, uncovered.
  4. Chicken should be tender, potatoes cooked, and liquid slightly thickened. Once finished, remove from heat, place in dish and top with remaining chopped green onions.
Recipe Notes

Tip: If you can't handle spice, it's a good idea to start with a few slices of the green chilies while cooking and then wait a bit before trying it again.

Easy healthy granola recipe

Easy, healthy granola recipe - itsjoulife.com

This is such an easy granola recipe that’s not only delicious and healthy, but you’ll never want to waste your hard earned money on store bought granola again. Did I mention it’s also vegan, dairy-free, and egg-free? It’s made with whole grain oats, unrefined coconut oil, and naturally sweetened with maple syrup. Oh yea, and it’s entirely guilt-free.

I usually top granola over plain greek yogurt, eat it by the handful, or package it in mason jars and gift to friends and family during the holidays. Continue reading

DIY / lifestyle blog got a makeover!

It’s Jou Life | a DIY / lifestyle blog—musing about natural, healthy, artisanal living, and everything in between.

Join our mailing list by entering your email (top right column section) and receive an email each time we post!

Friends of Ours.

Hello, and welcome to It’s Jou Life! We’re Wayne and Jennifer, a (relatively) newly wed couple who found love in the most unexpecting place. This is our DIY / lifestyle blog—musing about natural, healthy, artisanal living, and everything in between.

We started this blog because our family and friends always ask us how we grow our own organic vegetables, what is Wayne woodworking on now, to send over our miso black cod recipe, what snacks stock our pantry, a tutorial on that cute zippered pouch, tips for marathon running, where do we worship, what to bring for a camping trip, what’s Jennifer’s skincare regimen… you get the idea. This is our way to share life’s loves.

Continue reading

Magnolia Bakery Banana Pudding Recipe

Magnolia Bakery Banana Pudding Recipe // itsjoulife.com

The dessert that left a sweet handprint on my heart. After coming back from our New York trip, first on our list was to make that fluffy, yet ooey-gooey Banana Pudding dessert from Magnolia Bakery. Although this easy recipe doesn’t involve baking, this dessert does require some planning. One of the beginning steps involves at least 4 hours (or overnight) for the pudding to firm and 30 minutes as the last step to set the dish. Just make sure to read this recipe from beginning to end before inviting your guests over for dessert night.

Magnolia Bakery Banana Pudding

Makes 12 servings

INGREDIENTS

1 1/2 cups water

2/3 cup instant vanilla pudding mix

1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk

3 cups heavy cream

1 (12-ounce) box vanilla wafers

4 bananas, sliced

DIRECTIONS

Mix together the water, pudding mix, and sweetened condensed milk until smooth. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours, or overnight until it sets up.

Whip heavy cream until soft peaks form. Working in thirds, fold the whipped cream into the pudding mixture until well incorporated.

In a trifle bowl, layer vanilla wafers, sliced bananas, and pudding mixture; continue until you’ve used up all the pudding mixture. Refrigerate for at least another 30 minutes before serving.

Magnolia Bakery's Banana Pudding via It's Jou Life // https://itsjoulife.com/2016/07/25/magnolia-bakerys-delectable-banana-pudding-recipe/

The first layer of fluffy pudding goodness, sliced bananas and Nilla wafers

Magnolia Bakery's Banana Pudding via It's Jou Life // https://itsjoulife.com/2016/07/25/magnolia-bakerys-delectable-banana-pudding-recipe/Magnolia Bakery's Banana Pudding via It's Jou Life // https://itsjoulife.com/2016/07/25/magnolia-bakerys-delectable-banana-pudding-recipe/Magnolia Bakery's Banana Pudding via It's Jou Life // https://itsjoulife.com/2016/07/25/magnolia-bakerys-delectable-banana-pudding-recipe/

This recipe is exclusive from The Complete Magnolia Bakery Cookbook by Jennifer Appel and Allysa Torey. Photograph copyright © 2016 by Jennifer Jou.

How to become yelp elite + stay elite // tips

Yelp2

 

My Motto: Camera Eats First. I consistently stuff food photos in my honest Yelp reviews and on the growl for eclectic events and delectable dishes. I Yelp to give back, to try the hippest or hole-in-the wall establishment and to meet vibrant people.

When I started Yelping back in the end of 2010 it was to give back to the Yelp community since I always referenced the app for new discoveries. It wasn’t until my good friends became Yelp Elite and told me about this secret society (but totally accessible for influencers willing to put in the effort!). I continued to be diligent with my reviews and received my first Elite badge within three months.

Now going six years strong as an Elite (and Elite Gold), being Yelp Elite goes beyond fancy invitations to exclusive free events at restaurants and complimentary tickets to the hottest shows in town—it’s the sense of community and deeper love for the city I live in. I’ve met one of my good friends at an Elite event, discovered favorite dining establishments and opportunities to explore beautiful Los Angeles.

This is how I became Yelp Elite within three months and stayed Elite for six years.

Create a Yelp profile with accurate information. To qualify to become a Yelp Elite, you must post a clear face photo of yourself and use your real first and last name (it’ll display as your first name and last name initial). You’ll be asked fun questions about yourself, so be real and genuine.

Download the Yelp app to your smart phone. This is for convenience so you can browse easily, check-in at places, write tips and directly upload photos from your phone to the business. Convenience helps me interact and I even write reviews directly in the Yelp app! Check-in at places also has its perks. Some establishments offer discounts and free items when you check-in. Also you can become the Duke or Duchess when you’re the top person checked in at that place.

Write honest and candid reviews you’d want to read.

What do you look for when reading other people’s reviews? This will help structure and focus your review to be useful for others.

Be descriptive, but not lengthy. Choose your words wisely. I’m sometimes guilty of writing lengthy reviews (such a hassle to scroll down forever to read on the phone), but lately I’ve been more mindful to include the most important information in the first couple paragraphs and then go into detail. Readers can decide to read further if they want more information.

Build credibility with your readers. If you make a bold statement, be prepared to back it up. Take writing reviews seriously. Sometimes a 1 star review and description of “parking was hard to find” doesn’t validate the rating. If you give a low rating, provide a valid reason.

Take photos of your food and ambience of the business. I love taking photos. Camera eats first! Photos help people make better decisions that align with their expectations. I’m a visual person and prefer to know what I’m getting, especially if it’s something I haven’t tried or someplace I haven’t been before. (Eg. Taking photos of the buffet selection or inside of a gym and its equipment)

Avoid using a Yelp review to hide behind your complaining words. If you aren’t satisfied with service or food, take the time to talk to your server or the manager, in person. This is always the best way to resolve issues. It helps improve the business, and in turn, provide a better experience for others.

Quantity vs Quality. Contrary to popular belief, I don’t think it’s about how many reviews or how many friends you have on Yelp that makes you Elite. I became Yelp Elite with around 60 reviews, but I spent time and effort on each of them. I was descriptive and honest with my reviews, posted photos of what I ate, got creative with some of them (wrote a haiku about a favorite ramen shop) and added bonus tips like best places to park, whether the gym had towel service, etc.

Be active within the Yelp Community. Show some love to others! Whenever I enjoy reading a helpful or funny review, I always click the “Useful, Funny or Cool” buttons below the review and send a Compliment to the reviewer.

Keep in mind every year status is up for review, so no slacking! If you found this helpful, please comment below and add me as a friend on Yelp, referencing this post!

My Yelp page // http://msjennifer.yelp.com

Growing trends of the natural and organic products industry // Natural Products Expo West 2016

IMG_6632The US-market of natural and organic products is a $153 billion industry and showing no signs of a slow down. Mainly driven by the consistent growth of consumers demanding natural, healthy and eco-conscious products, it’s no surprise that this mega industry has a plethora of new companies emerging every year.

Last month I had the delightful opportunity to attend the 36th annual Natural Products Expo West, the the world’s largest natural, organic and healthy products event. It was like Charlie in the Chocolate Factory. As a healthy lifestyle enthusiast, I grasped all the natural product consumer trends, channeled my inner Augustus Gloop meets Michelle Phan–indulging in food samples while swatching beauty products. It was a weekend filled with tastings, education and meeting wonderful brands. I was among 77,000 attendees perusing more than 3,000 exhibitors at the Anaheim Convention Center. I didn’t have my Fitbit on me, but I’m sure I logged some serious miles that weekend.

NewHope

Photo courtesy of NewHope.com

Below is an overview of some consumer trends surrounding the healthy lifestyle products industry.

Back to Our Roots: Quinoa, chia, acai, Kombucha, raw, sprouted, coconut oil–superfood ingredients and preparation techniques that date back to the days of pre-industrialized foods. Brands are focusing on natural, whole and nutrient-dense ingredients. The skincare industry mirrors this trend with using pure ingredients like argan and coconut oil. I met a brand, Cocokind, an organic skincare line centered around using virgin coconut oil and superfoods. Consumers are conscientious with ingredients they eat and use on their body. They are staying away from genetically modified foods, artificial colors, preservatives, parabens and products tested on animals.

The Busy Individual: The always on-the-go individual lacks time, but craves smart and nutritious fuel in-between meals. Think hand-held snacks and drinks that are convenient, delicious and healthy. I like to kick-off my morning with drinking my greens with a Suja Juice cold-pressed juice. On a side note: I’m thinking of doing a juice cleanse to reset my body. Any advice or recommendations for which juice brand to try? A new product I’ve discovered are meat and veggie bars from Wild Zora and Wilde Snacks. It’s healthier than conventional jerkies because they are free from nitrites, nitrates, MSG, not too salty, contain vegetables, use grass-fed, free-range and hormone-free meats. I’m a big snacker and sometimes crave a meaty snack high in protein and low in sodium. Read my favorite snack discovery last year here.

The Socially Conscious Shopper: The today consumers have conscious living woven into the fabric of their lives and making informed decisions by keeping the environment and mission-backed products in mind. They choose purposeful brands with ethical practices and sustainable packaging over its conventional counterparts. I met a brand, This Bar Saves Lives, that donates a life-saving food packet with every snack bar purchased. It’s the “buy one, give one” philosophy, fair trade practices and donating proceeds to non-profits that allow consumers to make an impact with each purchase.

Over the next several weeks I’ll be sharing with you my tried and true favorite products from the expo.

Lion’s Head Meatballs, Chinese Food // recipe

Lion’s Head Meatball recipe // chinese food

Lion's Head Meatball Recipe // itsjoulife.com

Serves 4

The Lion’s Head Meatball is a favorite dish of mine from childhood, it’s perfect comfort food for a cold winter night and surprisingly easy to make. It’s traditionally made with fatty ground pork, but I opted for ground turkey. The dish is sort of a stew but lighter: The meatballs, greens, and a little broth are all spooned over rice noodles. It’s commonly known as lion’s head meatballs, because the wavy greens or noodles ringing the meatballs look like…a lion’s mane? In Chinese, they’re called shih tzu tou, so maybe they’re really supposed to look like little shih tzu lapdog heads. Even if they are taxonomically ambiguous, they are inarguably tasty and incredibly easy to make.

Ingredients

1 lb ground pork (I opted for ground turkey)

1 C chopped scallions

2 T soy sauce

1 T sugar

1 T Shaoxing wine

1 T minced garlic

1 T minced fresh ginger

1 t kosher salt

1/2 t sesame oil

1 egg

2 T cornstarch

Neutral oil

1 lb napa cabbage or bok choy, leaves separated, chopped if desired

2 C chicken broth

White pepper

Cooked rice noodles or rice, for serving

Directions

  1. Put the pork in a large bowl and break it up with your hands. Add the scallions, soy sauce, sugar, wine, garlic, ginger, salt, and sesame oil and work the mixture to combine. Add the egg and cornstarch and vigorously mix, picking up and slapping the mixture back into the bowl a few times to create a tacky texture. Roll the meat into eight 2-inch balls. (Note: Keep in mind if you opted for ground turkey, instead of pork, it doesn’t hold its shape as well. Be gentle when forming the 2-inch balls and searing them in the pan. Don’t worry, it’ll taste just as delicious)
  2. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a Dutch oven and add enough meatballs to fit comfortably in a single layer. Sear them until browned all over, about 2 minutes per side. Repeat with any remaining meatballs. Remove the pan from the heat and wipe out the pan.
  3. Line the pan with the cabbage or bok choy, arrange the meatballs in a snug single layer on top, and add broth to come within 1/4 inch of the tops of the meatballs. Cover the pot and set over medium heat. Gently simmer until the greens are tender and the meatballs are cooked through, 20 to 30 minutes. Serve over rice noodles or with steamed rice.

Lion's Head Meatball Recipe via It's Jou Life Blog // https://itsjoulife.com/2016/03/03/lions-head-meatballs-chinese-food-recipe/Lion's Head Meatball Recipe via It's Jou Life Blog // https://itsjoulife.com/2016/03/03/lions-head-meatballs-chinese-food-recipe/Lion's Head Meatball Recipe via It's Jou Life Blog // https://itsjoulife.com/2016/03/03/lions-head-meatballs-chinese-food-recipe/This recipe is exclusive from LUCKY PEACH PRESENTS 101 EASY ASIAN RECIPES. Copyright © 2015 by Peter Meehan. Photograph copyright © 2016 by Jennifer Jou

What I’m currently snacking on…

Snacks

I’m a snacker. It’s no secret once you open the doors of my pantry closet. I’m obsessed with discovering and trying new healthy, natural snacks.

Nature’s Bakery // Fig Bar

Last year I made the magical discovery of Nature’s Bakery Fig Bar. I’ve been in love ever since and buying it in bulk and sharing it with friends have been a favorite past time of mine. I got many hooked. My BFF describes it “as good as eating cake.” This is basically a glorified and healthy fig bar that made of stone ground whole wheat, non-GMO, no artificial flavors or colorings, vegan and Kosher Certified. Each pack comes with two bars and sometimes I have one pre and post workout. I always have a pack in my purse, office and work for when I’m hungry and on the go. The company, Nature’s Bakery, supports healthy conscious living and active lifestyles. They also make gluten-free bars. My favorite flavor is Apple Cinnamon.

Tip: You can buy Nature’s Bakery Fig Bars on Amazon (click on the link or the small thumbnail above) or buy it in bulk at Costco. It’s also sold at natural grocery markets like Whole Foods. With 110 calories per bar, this isn’t a low-calorie food. 

SnacksFig

SnacksFigBars

recipe // walnut and date cocoa energy balls

 

Healthy Walnut + Date Cocoa Energy Balls  // itsjoulife.com

Lately I find myself getting hungry between meals at work, rushing to workout classes and running errands. These healthy walnut and date cocoa balls have been a staple in my every day. It not only provides protein and energy to get me through my long days, but also hits my sweet tooth cravings–guilt-free. Best of all, it’s so easy to make.

Walnut and Date Cocoa Energy Balls

Prep: 15 minutes

Yields: Approx. 19, depending on size

Ingredients

1 cup raw walnuts (or ½ cup raw walnuts and ½ cup raw almonds)

1 cup firmly packed pitted dates (slightly softened)

2 T goji berries (optional)

¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder

Optional: dash of ground cinnamon, raw honey

Directions

  1. Place all ingredients in a food processor, and process until extremely fine. Tip: If the dates were in the fridge, let it soften in room-temperature for about 15 min. Not required though. I just find it blends and have a more favorable texture if slightly softened.
  2. Taste mixture. Tip: If the mixture isn’t sweet or on the dry/crumbly side, add a few drizzles of raw honey. Process again.
  3. Shape into 1” balls. Tip: I like to use a mini ice cream scooper and then roll between my palms.
  4. Store in an airtight container in the fridge. Good for about a week.

Healthy Walnut + Date Cocoa Energy Balls via It's Jou Life https://itsjoulife.wordpress.com/2015/11/22/recipe-walnut-and-date-cocoa-energy-ballsHealthy Walnut + Date Cocoa Energy Balls via It's Jou Life https://itsjoulife.wordpress.com/2015/11/22/recipe-walnut-and-date-cocoa-energy-ballsHealthy Walnut + Date Cocoa Energy Balls via It's Jou Life https://itsjoulife.wordpress.com/2015/11/22/recipe-walnut-and-date-cocoa-energy-ballsHealthy Walnut + Date Cocoa Energy Balls via It's Jou Life https://itsjoulife.wordpress.com/2015/11/22/recipe-walnut-and-date-cocoa-energy-ballsHealthy Walnut + Date Cocoa Energy Balls via It's Jou Life https://itsjoulife.wordpress.com/2015/11/22/recipe-walnut-and-date-cocoa-energy-ballsHealthy Walnut + Date Cocoa Energy Balls via It's Jou Life https://itsjoulife.wordpress.com/2015/11/22/recipe-walnut-and-date-cocoa-energy-ballsHealthy Walnut + Date Cocoa Energy Balls via It's Jou Life https://itsjoulife.wordpress.com/2015/11/22/recipe-walnut-and-date-cocoa-energy-balls