I’m Home!

After four months in New York (not counting my short trip home for Thanksgiving), it definitely feels good to be back in the city I grew up in. It’s nice to be around friends, family and my dogs, go back to my normal routine, favourite foods and my comfy bed. My decision to come back was not an easy one, but it was very necessary.

Zurich Sky

Zurich Sky

Before I left home, I always thought I had to get away from the sort of “narrow-minded thinking” the society here practices. Whatever you do has to have a reason – you don’t study for the sake of studying, you choose majors based on future possible professions, and university must become your life if you want to  to survive among thousands of other students. I wanted to break free from the norm and continue to dance while getting an education, something that is slightly frowned upon here … so I decided to go to the States – where anything is possible.

I found a school that practices the exact opposite of a Swiss school, concentrating on individualised education full of research papers or creative work you feel could be relevant to the course you interviewed for and selected, and not on how well you do on exams. The school wanted every student to do the best they could, and not be measured by an exam comparing them to others. Also, they followed a curriculum offering close contact with professors, where a student would attend a bi-weekly conference to discuss class work and the afore-mentioned research paper, formally known as conference work. The emphasis on the knowledge you attained at this school, in my case, was through independent study and research for your own work, not so much in class itself. There, we discussed the books we were reading and gathered knowledge from each other’s opinions expressed in the discussions loosely lead by the teachers.

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In addition to academic classes, you could choose creative ones as well. These were known as “thirds” and required more class time than any other class, but weren’t meant to have as much of a work load. I chose the dance third and spent an average of more than 3 hours a day in a dance themed class, like dance history, contemporary or improvisation. A lot of time got sucked up by being in a dance third, as I only had some odd slots in between to eat food before heading to my academic classes – it was stressful. The school wanted you to devote yourself completely to each and every class, and only then would you truly benefit from the education there. Go by things half-heartedly and you will be miserable and fall behind…

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Theoretically a great idea, in my case however not the best choice. I grew up in a system where you studied for tests as well; not only for your own acquisition of knowledge. If I wanted to know more, I would do that work independently, but the school would always offer me a general basis from what I could work off of. With the requirement of tests, I had short-term goals pushing me to study even when I didn’t really enjoy what we were doing, in every subject.

This was a major thing missing in my lit class for example, as while the discussions were based on the readings we should have done, it was easy to just weasel in a general statement that applied to the book as well when you didn’t really do the assignment, and no one would know because there would be no test to prove your lack of reading. This made it hard for me to justify going to class; why should I read something if a) it won’t really be discussed b) there is no test and c) my conference work counts for more than half of the grade, why can’t I use class time to do that instead? (same went for some of the dance classes I didn’t really enjoy.. why couldn’t I work on my homework instead?!)

Those were a few of the issues I noticed with the system, that over time would lead to me being more and more unhappy. I felt like since conference work was a bigger part of your grade, that was the only thing I was focusing on, while barely doing the work for class. I noticed I wasn’t using my education there to it’s full potential as I didn’t have enough interest in my classes to independently push myself – I thus felt like I was teaching myself through my research as I wasn’t benefitting from class time.. and this made me ask myself: why am I at a school if I am teaching myself?!

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My longing for the test-taking, stressful studying, lecture listening culture where you could “see a point in what you were doing even if you weren’t completely interested in the subject matter because you had tests” grew stronger every day, and I knew I had to return if I wanted to graduate successfully and move on to bigger and better things. I know within myself that a little bit of structure from a university helps me much more than a complete “motivate yourself to do the best you can do”-mentality. So is a bit of competition among fellow peers (I always wanted to know how well others did not their tests.. not proud, but it helped me push myself more!).

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I began to no longer enjoy my dance class, as it was required for credit and not for personal pleasure. Not wanting to dance is a major indicator of me being unhappy! I also noticed that I felt I couldn’t do what they expected of me, and that I simply didn’t want to do the work, and that too much was asked of a student, academically or creatively. This made me ask myself, is it the school or simply the studying I don’t want to do. I then realised that it was the school itself when I was personally spending more time researching information about nutrition, health and science instead of reading a book I was meant to, working on a choreography for myself, or writing down bits of paragraphs I would one day want to incorporate into a book. This showed me I can study for the sake of knowledge, but it has to be knowledge I wish to acquire…

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I guess you can take the girl out of Switzerland, but you can’t take the Swiss thinking out of the girl…

So now I will be planning my next steps. Stay tuned and get ready to see what I will do next! 😉

With attitude and nail polish, Anoushé xoxo

 

Thanksgiving – Swiss Style

For the past 14 years in Zürich, we have always celebrated Thanksgiving. My parents both have ties to the holiday, so it was always an important thing to celebrate. Whether we cooked, baked, went out or just spent the day together, we perfected a tradition for ourselves in Switzerland that isn’t exactly the true american way of cooking and eating with the whole family, but the thought is there and that’s all that counts.

One Thanksgiving, I made 4 different kinds of vegan pie to take with us to a dinner party.

377676_10150983377045245_919716013_nPumpkin Cheesecake

317735_10150983787115245_1547364201_nPumpkin Pie

388882_10150983788075245_1118537026_nSweet Potato Pie

390245_10150983788880245_1481068849_nAnd Apple Cream Raisin Pie

All the recipes were by my favourite author Isa Moskovitz and from her book Vegan Pie in the Sky

A year later, we were invited to the same dinner party. Again, I decided to venture out and bake outrageously healthy goodies.

574544_10152299133520245_1070698179_nRaw vegan pecan pie truffles

556309_10152299133905245_384485897_nand Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies

THE COOKIE (DOUGH) MONSTER! Enjoying vegan Peanut Butter Chocolate Oatmeal Cookie-Dough!

THE COOKIE (DOUGH) MONSTER! Enjoying vegan Peanut Butter Chocolate Oatmeal Cookie-Dough!

Thanksgiving baking definitely became a tradition of mine and sadly I was not able to continue it this year as I was flying home instead. The pumpkin pie was thus not homemade, but made by one of the most traditional Swiss restaurants that provide a special Turkey Dinner every year.

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This restaurant is the Kronenhalle in Zurich. I honestly don’t know why they started the tradition of making Thanksgiving dinner, but my parents and I have enjoyed our meal of thanks there nearly every year for as long as I can remember. We always went after my dance class on Thursdays; I would eat a vegetable plate and spätzli and we would complain about the pie having too many nuts, chunks of fresh pumpkin or not enough “American-ness”. Every year.

We would also extend an invite to anyone who was alone on Thanksgiving – in true American tradition.

IMG_0791I have always loved and appreciated our Thanksgiving Dinners here. Even just the celebration of Thanksgiving as a family makes it a special tradition, let alone the fact that they actually cook a Thanksgiving meal. Also, I always enjoy the surprise of not knowing who exactly is going to show up to dinner. My father is normally the person in charge of rounding up a “lonely” friend or inviting someone who wants to learn about the tradition, so our dinners are generally refreshing and never a repeat of the year before.

This year I knew everyone who was coming to dinner, but had never experienced them all together, so I was excited to see what the conversation was going to be like.

My outfit for the night was a beautiful white lace dress paired with some of my favourite leopard print shoes.

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Processed with VSCOcam with m5 presetI accessorised this outfit with lots and lots of mascara

IMG_0793Fun Fact: the next day I was only wearing a bit of eyeliner, but my lashes were still affected by the mascara and my father said I was overdoing it with the makeup. When I was actually wearing full on smokey eye makeup however, he said I looked nice?! Confusion… 🙂

Another fun fact: my mom found the term “Thanksgivukkuh” hilarious. I later sent my family this picture

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(source: bethenny’s (from the Real Housewives) page on Facebook

My father responded with this picture:

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🙂

It was a happy Thanksgiving!

With attitude and nail polish, Anoushé xoxo

Girls day Bronxville

 

 

This is sort of going to be a Manicure Monday/what I did on a Friday/favourite food post
1469812_10151834753795983_106676067_nWe spent an afternoon in Bronxville last week to do our nails and get a kick of caffeine in our system. I tried a Peppermint Mocha for the first time and also had a sip of a Salted Caramel Macchiato. I was definitely hyper after my little coffee break.

Coffee Date

Coffee Date

Before we enjoyed coffee, the three of us got our nails done.

IMG_0686We all went for OPI. 🙂

IMG_0687I chose a shade from the Miss Universe collection called It’s my Year. This name doesn’t just apply to winning the competition, but also to my new look on life. A double meaning, and a beautiful polish to match? I’d call that a win/win.

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I am still very much in love with this colour. Depending on where the light hits it, it sparkles with a golden shimmer. It’s a beautiful purple for the holiday season 🙂

Photo on 21-11-13 at 22.18 #2And getting my nails done instead of doing them myself made them last super long!

Photo on 21-11-13 at 22.19

Photo on 21-11-13 at 22.18I might or might not have ordered the polish for myself…

IMG_0690Coffee and nails – check!

Later that night I enjoyed some sushi:

IMG_0615Sweet potato and avocado sushi to be exact!

IMG_0616The restaurant – Haiku – is one of the best for sushi. The content to rice ratio is larger than at most places, so you get more of the good stuff for a reasonable price! Sushi in the States is so much cheaper than in Switzerland, so of course I frequent this restaurant on a regular basis.

1395317_690084707670736_522325108_nThis was at another girls night a few weeks before, same restaurant.

IMG_0709 IMG_0713I’ve also tried their vegetables. I’m a huge fan!

With attitude and nail polish, Anoushé xoxox

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yoga – Continued

I leave the studio after receiving Vasili’s business card. He recommended the practice as part of my training, as he definitely thought it could help not only my dance training but also my stress levels and self-perception. I however, was not planning on returning. I was frustrated by the intensity of the class and bored with holding a position for a long time, not knowing what exactly I was working on. My mind was not present and constantly drifting to the work I had left to do, or the dinner plans I had made. I was also at a point in my life where every kind of physical activity had to cause a sweat to be counted as a sport, which at the time was not what I saw in my practice of yoga – oh, how I was wrong.

Fast forward to my second semester of high school. My mom and I decide to spend more time together and immediately mother-daughter yoga classes became a thing. I really wanted to give Yoga another shot, but was still slightly confused by my first experience. I finally manage to muster up the courage when my mom bribes me with the promise to take me out to a restaurant after (or was it me using this to convince her?). We check the beginner classes online and head to the studio.

My second attempt at taking a yoga class was taught by Vasili’s wife, Maya. She first asked us of any injuries we may have and any sports we do. Then, during the class, she used this information to improve the exercises individually. I received help with all the forward bends for example, as I was always trying to pull myself down instead of letting my body tell me how far it can go.

Maya asked to speak with me after class, to which I obliged. She said she noticed the discipline I had and how this could either make or break me. She noticed it was hard for me to switch off during class, especially at the end  during Savasana. She realized my mom was also distracted during the relaxation, and learned that she and I are hyperactive overachievers, always thinking about the next thing we have to do. For yoga however, I had to learn to apply my scholarly discipline to find my inner chi…

To be continued!

With attitude and nail polish, Anoushé xoxo

 

Strawberry Cheesecake Smoothie

Vital information: July is National Ice Cream Month in the States. Whyyyyy didn’t I know this before? There’s nothing better than a whole entire month designated to the love of ice cream. What a great excuse to eat some (although who needs an excuse, am I right?!).

“Mouth beginning to water”
“Gulp”

Personally I don’t really dig ice cream. It’s the heavy cream that I kinda dislike. I do get my cravings from time to time, but more often when we go out for ice cream, I opt for sorbet or yoghurt based scoops (all hail Frozen Yoghurt!). I say this as if going out for ice cream were frequent..it’s not (although we have made dinner out of a trip for FroYo a couple of times occasionally due to the lack of visits (oh the shame)).

I love my Froyo

I love my Froyo

But now it’s Ice Cream Month. Eating ice cream just became an absolute must, especially in this Summer heat. But with our infrequent visits for a scoop of the good stuff and only one delicious FroYo place in town, it’s been tough to honor the creamy deliciousness. What’s more, we don’t have an ice cream maker at home (but that should soon change) and barely ever buy it at the store (we would eat the entire pint…)

As you can see, we haven’t given ice cream the attention it deserves during its dedicated month. So what do we do to praise it in the short time left of July?

…We eat it for breakfast! 😀

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More or less.

Photo on 7-13-13 at 8.37 AM

Probably less than more.

Eating ice cream for breakfast, even if it were just sorbet or FroYo, is sadly full of sugar 😦 and sometimes contains quite a few preservatives. Not a good way to start your day (tolerated only during the occasional holiday ;))
So how else can we celebrate this special month? Well, how about with an ice-cream like smoothie!

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I’ve been eating these Frozen Protein Smoothies for over 4 years now. What began as just a combination of Protein Powder and Frozen Fruit has now evolved into a divine combination of a few more, healthy ingredients, that really lend the perfect finishing touches. I tend to eat a smoothie more often on weekends and holidays because it is slightly more time-consuming than other breakfasts and not very portable. Also, before I started adding more than just fruit, I was often quite hungry only an hour after eating it and thus preferred oats as heartier breakfasts or pre-dance snacks, for example.

Now it has all changed.

I learned to read ingredients of things better as part of my clean eating lifestyle. Reading things carefully helps limit my consumption of artificial sweeteners and hydrolyzed isolated proteins (which seem to make up most of the ingredients in many of my favorite protein powders…:( )

My mom, being her awesome nutritionist self, has always surfed the web (i.e endless hours of research) for new and improved powders and supplements that we could incorporate into our lives. She was initially the one to eat the frozen berry/powder concoction for lunch during hot Summers; first by using a Patrick Holford powder supplement, and later switching to Spiru-tein. Back then the smoothie thing never appealed to me. My mom ate them so quickly that she either ended up with a major brain freeze or had to take a hot bath to warm up (or both) – not very tempting… One day however, she did get me to try it.

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I loved it.

But after reading weird ingredients, list after list, on most of the powders we were using, the benefits of using protein powder instead of eating real ice cream were slim. And so the search for the healthiest powders began!

We’ve tested many, falling in love with vegan and raw (preferably soy free) alternatives rather than continuing to use whey or soy-isolates (although I really did like those..). Going raw helps limit the amount of allergen type foods we are consuming.

Now we have finally found one we quite like in terms of flavor, and health benefits.

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The following recipe is a current favorite of mine, tasting just like strawberry cheesecake ice cream. Very fitting to this month and a great dedication to ice cream 😉

Strawberry Cheesecake Ice Cream

Ingredients

  • ½ frozen banana
  • 1 cup of frozen Strawberries
  • Up to 2 tablespoons of Quark or Greek Yoghurt (either plain or Vanilla)
  • 1/3 Cup of your choice of milk (I switch between Coconut milk and Vanilla Soy or Oat milk; Almond milk would work well as well)
  • 1 tablespoon linseed/flaxseed (ground)
  • 1 tablespoon Chia Seed (ground)
  • 1 tablespoon Hemp Seeds (ground)
  • 1 tablespoon Oat Bran/Rolled Oats (ground)
  • 1 scoop Vanilla Protein Powder (I used Sun Warrior)
  • 1 tablespoon yoghurt cream cheese (Philadelphia) (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract/vanilla powder (optional

Directions

  1. Add all ingredients in a blender and mix until processed. It should be very thick (like ice cream!)
  2. If it’s too unprocessable, add more milk.

The linseed meal gives the smoothie a cakey texture and the hemp seeds lend a buttery flavor. The seeds are not only great for a flavour boost, their health benefits also make them great additions to any meal; they are full of omega 3 fatty acids, fibre and protein.

Wishing a wonderful ice cream month, however you may enjoy it!

With attitude and nail polish, Anoushé xoxo

For more information on seeds and their benefits, check out the following links.

Alborz and Alps

Laughter, music and a whole lot of food laid out on an extravagant table surrounded by masses of people pushing, shoving, and even scratching in order to be the first to get their hands on the crispy, crunchy and oh-so-buttery crust of rice. This ‘Tahdig’ is a main element to Iranian dinners, and these dinners are social events where one must see and be seen and, of course, obtain that euphoric bit of rice. When, however, a fellow rice-grabber who also hopes to savor the ‘chosen crust’ gets there simultaneously, the battle transforms into the Iranian game of give-and-take, called ‘Tarof’, defined by certain rules of how much to offer and how much to accept.

Iranian Dinner with 2 Tahdigs, centre stage!

Iranian Dinner with 2 Tahdigs, centre stage!

This is an aspect of my life growing up as half-Iranian, exposed to fellow citizens outside the Fatherland.  This sort of direct connection to the country has kept me — despite never having lived there — aware of my roots, and made me the person I am today: an Iranian-American born in England, and raised in Switzerland by a half-American mother and half-Austrian father.  My outlandish background and cultural mix is my most remarkable attribute; it gives me that little something extra – that je ne sais quoi, as the French would say – and has supported me throughout my life by making me stronger and keeping me open to everything coming my way, regardless of ethnic background, schooling or way of life.

source: google

source: google

I would define myself as a wannabe Iranian with Swiss tendencies. Wannabe because I exhibit only a fraction of the hysteric mood-swings and compulsive crunch-loving behavior of Iranians, understand only some of the ways people act and, sadly, am unable to fully communicate or tell a joke in Farsi (though I can curse a Persian blue streak). The Swiss in me isn’t typically narrow-minded but I do display acts of correctness, follow rules to an inflexible extent, and adore chocolate champagne truffles.

source: keepcalm-o-matic.co.uk

source: keepcalm-o-matic.co.uk

This goes to the core of what has shaped me and my personality: the ebullient and exaggerated ways of the Middle East in contrast to the measured and reserved ways of the Swiss.

With that in mind, the Iranians are not the only people crazy about crunchy goodness. Imagine a Swiss clan surrounding a fondue pot, dipping into the gooey cheese, laughing when someone loses their bread or potato and fighting for that crust left on the bottom of the dish when the cheese has been devoured. I am sure I’ve seen – and brought about – a bounty of scratches in fights for that ‘burnt’ treasure quite like those battles over the crispy, crunchy and oh-so-buttery Tahdig.

source: keepcalm-o-matic.co.uk

source: keepcalm-o-matic.co.uk

With attitude and nail polish,

Anoushé xoxo