Style Destino: Vegan Fashion, Beauty and Lifestyle


Kale & Pineapple Smoothie | Delicious Green Smoothie Recipes

Kale and Pineapple Smoothie | Delicious Green Smoothie Recipes

A green smoothie doesn't have to taste .... like green. With the right ingredients you can actually get your daily dose of healthy veggies without compromising on the taste with a glass of delicious green smoothie.

You'd know by now that smoothies are my go-to health drink, which I make sure to have every morning. Not only are they packed with nutrients, with the right ingredients they taste delicious, are super easy to make, keeps me energized all-day long and make for the perfect breakfast that keeps me satiated until lunch.

With thousands of trials and errors, I've learnt the secret to making delicious smoothies - from green smoothies to tropical delights to berry and chocolate treats.

On most days my post-workout meal includes a glass of green smoothie and here's one of my favorite - Kale & Pineapple Smoothie. I play around with different combinations in the Kale & Pineapple Smoothie itself depending on my mood and weather.

I N G R E D I E N T S 
1 cup pineapple chunks 
5 long kale leaves stems
Juice freshly squeezed from 3 Valencia oranges (or 1 cup coconut water)
1 teaspoon grated ginger (optional, I prefer it during winter or to resolve digestion issues)
Pinch of sea salt

D I R E C T I O N S 
Wash kale leaves with warm water and make sure its clean. 
Throw in all the ingredients in a high speed blender whip it well and serve fresh

Cook time: 7 minutes

This green smoothie is packed with healthy ingredients - 
  • Kale that is known as a nutritional powerhouse and is great for detoxification and weight loss, helps strenghten immune system, is rich source of calcium beta carotene, vitamin K, vitamin C, helps in healthier skin, hair and nails and helps fights diseases as it is good source of vitamin K, folic acid and B6
  • Pineapple not only adds an amazing sweet taste to this smoothie but also has digestive and anti-inflammatory benefits, gives immune support and provides you a Vitamin C boost.
  • Ginger adds a nice spicy flavor to your green smoothie when you need it and must be added when you have any stomach issues, want help with morning sickness, muscular pain or soreness or want to fight cold or flu. Ginger has lots of medicinal properties to keep you healthy and strong
  • Orange juice is rich in Vitamin C and adds a nice flavor to the smoothie in addition to giving it a nutritional boost. You can choose to swap orange juice with coconut water (fat and cholesterol free and super rich in calcium and potassium) sometimes as it is also great for health and lends green smoothies a nice flavor.
For a creamy and delicious green smoothie, take off the ginger and sea salt and throw in a small avocado in the mix. It tastes super yummy! You can also add apple to make it extra creamy and sweet.

To keep things simple I sometimes use just kale, pineapple and orange juice and if need an extra green boost add spinach leaves in the mix. This green smoothie tastes delicious too and is packed with nutrients.

So what's the secret to making a delicious green smoothie?
Adding all the veggies in the mix may not appeal to everyone's taste buds so the best way to get yourself and your family to eat the kale, spinach and other greens is to mix them with sweet yet fibrous and nutritious fruits like apple, banana and pineapple and blend it with orange juice to add the nice combo to tangy and sweet and the great citrus flavor. Avocado is great way to make it creamy and if you need to change things up, then add cinnamon in the concoction. Not only is it super good for health, but also adds amazing flavor. Goes best with creamy smoothie. Avoid fruits like watermelon and papaya with your greens as they may not be great on your stomach when fixed with other things. Although pineapple and mint is an exception - it makes for a great juice combo. 


3-Minute Banana & Cinnamon Breakfast Smoothie Recipe

This deceptively simple yet nutrition packed smoothie is super delicious and is the perfect way to start your morning. Loaded with calcium, fiber, vitamins and healthy fats, this creamy vegan smoothie has just the right amount of sweetness (thanks to banana and dates) and the addition of cinnamon gives it a nice flavor and a spicy kick.

It takes only three minutes and literally four (even 3 if you want to skip vanilla) ingredients to have a delicious yet filling breakfast - banana, cinnamon, almond milk and vanilla. I always use home-made almond milk, it's really simple to make at home and healthier than most options available in the market. For almond milk, you just need to soak in almonds overnight, blend it with 2x water and strain it - there you have almond milk in no time!

You can play around with the ratios and ingredients of this smoothie as well. Add water to make it less creamy, replace banana with apple or just throw in an apple for extra nutrition and flavor, swap almond with hazelnut or coconut milk; the possibilities are endless. I've tried several combinations but my favorite is banana, cinnamon and almond milk, sometimes an apple. The best part is, you can have it all year round as cinnamon makes it work from summer through fall.

This delicious concoction has everything you need to maintain your energy throughout the afternoon. Plus the fact that cinnamon has a host of health benefits including controlling blood sugar, anti-infectious, packed with antioxidants, aids in weight loss, effective for menstrual pain (ladies this smoothie can be your PMS reliever) and has anti-aging properties.

BANANA CINNAMON SMOOTHIE -Banana Almond Milk Smoothie - Vegan Breakfasts - Vegan Breakfast Ideas

BANANA CINNAMON SMOOTHIE -Banana Almond Milk Smoothie - Vegan Breakfast Ideas - Vegan Breakfasts

BANANA and CINNAMON SMOOTHIE -Banana Almond Milk Smoothie - Vegan Breakfasts - Vegan Breakfast Ideas

I N G R E D I E N T S 
1 organic ripe banana
3/4 glass almond milk (preferably homemade with dates and cold)
3/4 teaspoon grounded cinnamon powder
Pods taken out from 1/4 vanilla stick (optional)

D I R E C T I O N S 
Throw in one banana, cinnamon powder and almond milk in a jar and add fresh vanilla pods in the mix (optional). Blend on medium of high for 30 seconds or until smooth. 
Pour the thick smoothie in a mason jar or glass and dust it with cinnamon powder on top. 

Cook time: 3 minutes

Serve cold!

To make this smoothie thicker you can use frozen banana.


Berry Smoothie Bowl - Easy Vegan Breakfast Recipe

A killer breakfast that tastes delicious, is packed with nutrients and looks like a culinary delight right out of a five-star kitchen is just what you need to pep up your breakfast or brunch affair.

How? With offering your good'ole smoothies a complete makeover - blending it thick, served in a bowl and creating an artistic topping to it. In fact they have been officially declared as the new Instagram star of the healthy world!

Smoothie bowls make for a filling breakfast that can keep you satiated until lunch time or a great choice even for a brunch when you want something healthy and super filling (have a larger portion in this case). The best thing about the smoothie bowls are they are your guilt-free treats and if made with the right ingredients it's a great healthy replacement of your nasty sundaes and sugary desserts.

The ingredients possibilities of creating a smoothie bowl is limitless - you have to run your imagination and make sure to create right combinations.

I love the berry smoothie bowl, it tastes delicious and is packed with antioxidants, anti-cancer nutrients, is great for digestion, works wonders for skin (anti-aging), contains Vitamin C and has a host of nutrients.

Vegan Berry breakfast Bowl Recipe 
I N G R E D I E N T S 
4 strawberries
Handful blueberries and blackberries (7-8)
1 apricot
1/2 banana
1/2 glass freshly squeezed orange juice 

For topping
5 toasted almonds, chopped
Handful goji berries
1 kiwi sliced
2 strawberries sliced

D I R E C T I O N S 
Add all ingredients into the blender + purée until smooth (barring topping). 
Pour the thick smoothie in a wide bowl and decorate it with the toppings

Serve cold!

Serves 1

While I used berries, toasted nuts, kiwi, and goji berries as add-ons to my smoothie bowl you can get creative and use your own delicious toppings like grated coconut, chia seeds, granola or whatever you think will complement well with your bowl and diet needs.


Online Shopping: How to get customized beauty product recommendation in India?

When it comes to beauty I've always been picky about what I put on my face and body. Somehow the likes of chemical loaded products never made the cut for me. Finding quality skincare and makeup that's devoid of harsh chemicals and is also cruelty free and vegan friendly is a bit of a challenge, especially if you are living in India (for that matter even Dubai).

For years I had to rely on my friends or family (or even their friends and family) travelling from US or UK to get my monthly beauty fix. Then came the era of online shopping, which means you could get a access to the best beauty products online, delivered right to your doorstep, which was otherwise hard to find in India.

But then there was another problem. While now I have access to some great products, I still wouldn't know which product is suitable for my skin, hair and body type. At good beauty stores like Space NK or Liberty of London you have access to experts who understand your beauty needs and recommend you products based on your needs. However, with online stores you are on your own, and sometimes that can be challenging as you may not know the best products for you.

So while I would still use the online beauty stores for replenishing my tried and tested products, I was always iffy about trying out new products - what if I make the wrong choice?

Now I have a fix for that to! India's first online beauty store, Aplava, that offers completely personalized shopping experience. They're like stylists for your beauty cabinet.

The personalized beauty service offered by Aplava first does an in-depth analysis of your skin and hair by asking you a set of questions that encompasses everything from skin and hair type to concerns and lifestyle (eg sun exposure).

Once you select the right options (like lack of glow, dark circles, hairloss), their automated skin expert selects the products suitable for your needs and fixing your concerns. This smart beauty platform has been built using help of professional dermatologists and skin experts who have carefully designed solutions for specific skin needs, so you can be sure you only buy products that are suited to you. Here's a snapshot of how it works:

Aplava Online Beauty Store - Best online beauty store in India - Vegan beauty India
Aplava Beauty profile - Best online beauty store in India - Customized beauty
 Aplava Beauty profile - Shopping preferences - Best online beauty store in India - Customized beauty
Aplava - Recommended Products  - Online beauty store in India

The product range offered by Aplava is also quite interesting with the best beauty brands sourced from all over the world. In fact they also have a good selection of vegan-friendly and cruelty-free beauty products from brands like Ren (watch out for beeswax, honey and milk in the ingredients, otherwise it's vegan), Skinyoga, Thalgo (stay away from their collagen products), Neom, Kronokare and Just Herbs. In fact if you are a vegan you know how hard it is to find non-toxic and vegan nail polish online. Fortunately they have the 3-free vegan friendly nail polishes from butter London!

I ordered a make-up remover from Ren and a lip smoothing treatment from Natio.

Aplava Online Beauty Store - best online beauty stores in India - Online beauty - vegan beauty

Here's a quick analysis of Aplava shopping experience:

  1. Personalized recommendation offered by experts
  2. Ingredients of each product in listed on the product page
  3. Good selection of Indian and international brands
  4. Prompt customer service
  5. Quick delivery (I ordered the package at my office and received the package in 2 working days)
  6. Free shipping over Rs 999 and for orders below this amount there is a nominal cost of Rs 50
  7. Clean website with user-friendly navigation

  1. It would help if they had a wider selection of brands and products
  2. They don't have filter for 'vegan' products and even when you search for the term vegan it turns no results (There are no products matching this selection). Although they do have a range of vegan products
  3. Refund is only for products that are defective or in case you receive the wrong product. No refunds if you change your mind 
  4. No exchanges offered
  5. The website does not have Brand filter on many sections
I'm glad that while it is still hard to good good beauty products in brick and mortar stores, the online beauty stores are changing that by offering great products and brands, which were otherwise not accessible in India. Overall I had a great shopping experience with Aplava. Setting up your beauty needs can be time consuming, but it is a one-time process and helps you get personalized product offering so it's worth it.

Have you done your skin analysis yet at Aplava?


Grandeur and Luxury: Emirates Palace, Abu Dhabi

My partner in crime

 Welcomed by fresh fruits and orange juice in the suite 
(and I did some nail art myself with my vegan nail polishes)

This beach side restaurant with its breathtaking views is perfect for sunset and after hours

Opulence and grandeur is synonymous with Middle East and considering Emirates Palace is the property of UAE's richest Emirate Abu Dhabi no expense was spared at making this 21st century Palace hotel. No wonder it is the most expensive hotel ever built (a whopping $3.8 billion - no kidding!) and the place is indeed pure luxury where you are treated like a royalty. The hotel was built to create the most lavish seven star experience conceivable and they for sure succeeded at it.

We decided to stay at the hotel for the weekend and it was indeed an amazing experience. The service and attention to details is remarkable and the staff is super courteous. The moment you arrive you are presented with a 3-rose bouquet and some refreshments. The staff takes you to your room and the endless domes, huge chandeliers and lots and lots of marble and carvings leave you with awe and wonder. The grandeur of this place is authentic and it shows with the attention to detail paid to every part of the hotel - from decor to service. 

We stayed at the three room Palace Pearl Suite, which was a nice mix of contemporary and royal style, features a dining and lounge area, a bedroom with barge balcony overlooking the sea, a dressing room and a huge bathroom. The suite had me at the bathroom which was a delight with its Jacuzzi, shower cabin and the incredible style with amazing chandeliers. 

With a 24-hours butler service, a range of dining options, luxe tasteful interiors, 2 huge swimming pools, private beaches, awesome cafes, huge lawns and a host of amazing entertainment options the hotel provides an experience of sheer luxury and absolute coddling that would make you want to stay here forever!

Ideal for: Special occasions, indulgence, family break and unwinding

What: The Emirates Palace, Abu Dhabi

Where: At the far end of the Corniche with a beautiful and grand facade surrounded by landscaped gardens, two swimming pools (East and West), its own beautiful white sand beach with breathtaking views of the sunsets and harbour.

Interiors: You can expect nothing but the best in terms of style, decor, luxury, grandeur and royalty when it comes to the Middle East and being the most expensive hotel ever built and a seven star property, Emirates Palace will floor anyone with just that. Think domes, gilded ceilings extravaganza, larger than life chandeliers, miles of marble, gorgeous dusky pink granite and rose colored marble facade.

The Rooms: They offer deluxe rooms and a range of suites, some of which are exclusively available only for royalties. We stayed at the opulent Palace Pearl Suite which was spacious at 1575 sq ft with a massive bedroom, a lounge and dining room, a dressing room and huge bathroom with Jacuzzi and shower. The suites are located in the dome area, where you are first taken inside through a door leading you to four clusters of suites leading to another area with large round table with a beautiful floral arrangement on top that finally takes you inside your suite through another door. Yes it took us also time to understand this arrangement, it's so easy to get lost - almost felt like a maze.

The tasteful decor is a nice mix of royal and contemporary with metallic and pearl effect furniture, beautiful chandeliers everywhere, including the bathroom, and the gorgeous pearl-effect entry door with beautiful carving all over it. The place is definitely less ostentatious than the Burl Al Arab suite that we stayed a few years ago.

The Bed: Comfortable and huge.They offer a selection of pillows and satin sheets that make for a pleasurable night's sleep.

Washroom: I think a room is only as good as its bathrooms, and the beautiful Italian marble clad massive bathroom with a Jacuzzi, a shower room and toilet was super impressive. 

The Breakfast: A huge breakfast spread. The staff was not aware of what a vegan diet means, but when I explained they quickly suggested options and also offered custom-made vegan meals. They had soy milk so I settled for cereals in soy milk and some fresh fruits.

Dress Code: There are some strict dress codes to be followed at the hotel, and the restaurants require formal dressing, which means no shorts, flip-flops, mini skirts or sloppy outfits. When you read the dress code provided, it may shock and scare you (it sure did to me as all I planned on a lot of summer dresses and shorts) but with a few changes in my wardrobe planning it wasn't too bad. Plus the pool and beach side was relaxed.


Kat Von D Lipstick Review | Vegan Lipstick

Kat Von D Lipstick - Vegan lipstick - kat von d vegan - best vegan lipstick - Cruelty Free Makeup

Finding the perfect lipstick is somewhat like dating. You have to kiss a few frogs before you find your prince.

No one can deny the power of a good lipstick. The perfect lipstick can immediately transform your look and boost your confidence. But just like a bad relationship the wrong lipstick can do havoc not only to your looks but your health as well. So when you got to spend your bucks on one, it better be good.

Did you know most lipsticks, including the big names, include harmful chemicals (like lead and parabens) and animal ingredients (carmine,lanolin and beeswax to name a few)? Fortunately after a lot of frog kissing episodes, I've finally found the perfect one {I mean the lipstick}!

The Tattoo queen turned Sephora best-seller makes one of the best vegan lipsticks that I have come across and there's a reason why her lipsticks are flying off the shelves - they're absolutely amazing. Yes I am talking about Kat Von D (sold exclusively at Sephora and her own online store).

The Everlasting Liquid Lipstick and Studded Kiss Lipstick from her range are all vegan and cruelty-free and boy I tell you they're super amazing. The Studded Kiss comes in a beautiful black packaging and is super-creamy and richly pigmented, an otherwise rare quality in most vegan lipsticks. Plus it smells amazing (a nice sweet powdery fragrance) and lasts long. The Bachelorette is one of my favorite colors from Kat Von D - a nice reddish fuchsia  - perfect for day-to-night look.

Kat Von D Lipstick - Vegan lipstick - kat von d vegan - best vegan lipstick

Everlasting liquid lipstick is equally amazing - its cool formula gives the opaque rich color of a lipstick yet glides on with the ease of a gloss. It turns matte on drying. In fact their best-selling Lolita (one of my fav colors too), which always runs out in Dubai, is perfect shade to break out from your nude lip territory but without going too far. It's a nice muted chestnut rose shade which is very versatile, you can wear it for any occasion and it complements nearly all skin tones.

Did you know The Studded Kiss Lipstick in Lolita was Sephora's number-one selling lipstick of 2015? Imagine a new brand competing with all the biggies and making it to the top-seller list at Sephora - while being vegan and cruelty-free. Plus they are paraben and phthalate-free. Now that's one heck of a lipstick we say.....

P.S.: I slather lip balm generously few minutes before applying the lipstick to ensure the lips don't dry or crack.

Also check out 5 Vegan Lipstick Must Haves


Fashion Forward Brings Ethical Fashion In Middle East Map

Despite the most unexpected pouring in the dessert and the inconvenient location (yes reaching Design District was really a task) the enthusiasm of the Fashion Week took the winning among the Dubai fashionistas as they showed up at the Dubai Design District braving the rains strutting in their stilettos, showing off their meticulously contoured face and layers of waterproof mascara. Nothing could stop the middle eastern divas from their most anticipated event - Fashion Forward Dubai!

It wasn't just the catwalks, but this season had some really interesting talks too - one particularly close to my heart {and also what my blog is about} ethical fashion. It was the first time I actually heard the term "Ethical fashion" echoed in the fashion circles of Dubai, as there aren't many brands here and those which are, are also not really marketed as "Ethical" (did you know Stella Jean is ethical?).

On day 2 of the fashion forward the rain Gods decided to bless the dessert with rains. The moment I entered the hall, and found a spot for myself I suddenly realised droplets falling on my carefully styled hair - the water was dripping from the tent. But that couldn't take my attention from the talk that was about to commence on "Why ethical fashion matters" {of course I adjusted my chair to avoid being drenched}.

Ethical fashion - sustainable fashion - vegan fashion - Fashion Forward Dubai

"Fashion can make a difference" said Sarah Beydoun, founder and designer of her eponymous label that makes vibrant handbags and accessories, which are all ethically produced by female prisoners and troubled women in Lebanon.  I couldn't agree more.

I've always loved Sarah's bag, which I often see in S*uce stores and also online. They're fun, quirky and have a personality. Unfortunately, Sarah has very few vegan friendly designs, as most of them have leather, but you wouldn't be absolutely disappointed as few of her bags are indeed leather-free.
"Fast fashion isn't free. Someone, somewhere is paying" (Lucy Siegle). 
The same voice was echoed by the second panelist in the discussion - Catherine Occhio, founder of Middle East's first (and currently the only) registered Fair Trade fashion brand SeeMe. Catherine quit her 15 years career after working with organisations like European Commission and SEED Foundation to start her jewelry label SeeMe with heart as its iconic symbol.

Ethical fashion - sustainable - vegan fashion - Fashion Forward Dubai

When asked about does being an "ethical brand" becomes a USP, both Sarah and Catherine unanimously agreed that just being an ethical brand is not enough. Quality and design of the product has to stand up to the same level as the mainstream non-ethical brands, otherwise people will not buy. "The ethical brands have to upgrade their product to a level that fashionable women would want to wear them", said Catherine. For Sarah having bags that stand-out, which are handcrafted using great attention to fine details and having a story behind it were the key reasons for success.

Behind all the glitz and glamour of the fashion industry there is really a dark side. From an environment perspective the waste and pollution generated by the fashion industry is creating irreparable damage to the environment and the cycle of consumption is churning faster than ever before, making things worse (imagine the waste permeating the planet with change of every season). On a humanitarian level, manufacturers are exploiting the workers; clothes are often produced in developing countries like Bangladesh, India and China under unsafe working conditions where the wages are far from fair, sometimes as low as $25 a month. Then there is also the problem of child labour.

Although there have been many incidences of factory fires and expose of exploitation of labour, it was only after the collapse of Rana Plaza in Bangladesh that the world had a wake up call about the dark side of fashion industry. People actually saw the dark side of fashion industry and the cost to human life.

It is no brainer that with consumers getting more aware about the how and where their clothes and accessories and this trend is only going to grow. It is only a matter of time that the brands and companies will have to adopt ethical practices in some way or the other to ensure they don't lose out on their customers.

As Catherine said, "producing ethically is a win-win situation - people are paid well, the companies can still get a good profit margin and the products are good - which means a happy customer". Despite producing ethically using fair wages, Catherine's line of ethical jewelry is competitively priced, which means ethical fashion need not always be expensive.

Another good thing about ethical way of doing business is the high you get from the difference you make in people's lives. Sarah's Bags gives female prisoners an opportunity to reintegrate with the society once they are freed fro the prison. There are many stories of such women who worked with her brand inside the prison and could build a life when they were out. Seeing the difference Sarah could make in their lives gives her a real thrill and content. Even SeeMe, Catherine's brand, works with women who are victim of violence, and getting an opportunity to earn a livelihood, and a decent one at that, makes a real difference in these women's lives.

About making ethical choices...

We vote once every couple of years, but when it comes to making the right choice about spending our money we fail terribly as we pay heed to only one aspect of the product - beauty but fail to see where it comes from. Like it or not consumption is a powerful act, and by making the right consumption choices we all can make a real difference - to the lives of people, to the environment and to the animals and other inhabitants living on it. This is what sustainable fashion and ethical fashion is all about - BEING HUMAN (no I am not endorsing Salman Khan here).

The best thing you can wear is a clean conscience. By buying from ethical brands like Sarah's Bag and SeeMe, you could look good and feel good about what you buy.

Kudos to Fashion Forward for waking up the Middle East on the ethical side of fashion. We need more platforms like these and more awareness not only among the local customers but also the local designers to adopt "ethical practices" in their fashion business.

Next time we'll also want to see topics on "buying less", "gluttonous consumer attitude" and how to make the existing pieces new again. Choosing the right product to spend on is important, but equally important is how well you use that product!

Here's a peak at my ethical fashion piece - my Stella McCartney bag

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