Style Destino: Vegan Fashion, Beauty and Lifestyle

18.9.16

Best Hair Salons in Mumbai

(Last updated: 25-Sep-2016)

Almost every day I fret over how to do my hair and more often than not, I end up tying it in a ponytail to keep it fuss free at the office. However when it comes to getting a haircut, I always look for the best.

We all know that how important a haircut is. Having my haircut done in some of the best salons in the world (Shunji Matsuo, Toni and Guy, Andrew Barton, etc) and after a lot of experimenting at myriad hair salons in Mumbai, here is a review of the best places in Mumbai to get a good haircut.


1. b:blunt
Mumbai's trendiest hair salon where you are sure to come across some or the other bollywood biggies. A chic salon, set up by Adhuna Akhtar, is one of the best places in town to get a great haircut. Transform dull hair into wow factor hair with the help of renowned hair stylists of b:blunt, stylist to actors such as Aamir Khan, Preity Zinta, Hrithik Roshan, Saif Ali Khan. Their friendly staff will suggest you the hair style best suited for your hair, but make sure you tell them if you have a specific need (like not going too short). And when you visit the salon, you might be getting your haircut next to a bollywwid biggy or a leggy model. They started their first salon at Peddar Road and now have branches across Mumbai including Juhu and Bandra.


Apart from their 'great haircuts', you can also indulge in one of the Kérastase hair treatments to relieve you from your stress and leave your locks visibly healthier, shinier and smooth. The range of hair extensions at b:Blunt is however limited so for hair extensions you could try some other hair salon.

Recommended Stylist: Avan Contractor, Osh (charges about Rs. 3,500) and Naz (charges about Rs 1,800).

Charges: From Rs 800-4000, for a hair wash, cut and blow dry, depending on the stylist you are choosing. They do hair straightening, manicures and whole lot of other treatments.


Note: review of hairstylist Kadamberi for men is  not good from the readers, so guys you may want to consider some other stylist.

b:blunt - South Mumbai
Kohinoor Building, 29 Hughes Road, Mumbai
022-65980301 (Peddar Road, South Mumbai)
b:blunt - Bandra
Ground Floor Shanti Niwas Bldg, 14 Road Lane, Opp Costa Coffee, Khar (w)
022-65343571
b:Blunt - Juhu
1st Flr Sundeep Building, Plot No.52, Road No. 10, JVPD Scheme, Juhu
022-26285082

2. Jean Claude Biguine
What can be better than getting a haircut from a French stylist in India? The 5,000 square feet slick and sophisticated Jean Claude Biguine (pronounced 'begeen') salon in Bandra (and now in Juhu too) has French stylists, trained in Paris, to work on your hair. This cult brand has hundreds of salons worldwide and is the right place for a quick hair fix. They use Kerastase products (upon request) and offer a variety of services including special hair treatments and nail care. In fact if time is in your hands then you must get a French manicure from here and you sure will forget all the manicures you ever got done.

Don't forget to your stylist the different hair styles you can create and take tips on blow drying that will save you from the last moment panic.

The perfect treat to transfer bland hair into serious glam! Definitely recommended (even for men).

Charges: Rs. 699-1,850

Contact: 022-65222211 (Bandra, West, near Leelavati Hospital). They also have hair salons at Juhu (next door to b:Blunt) (022-66995555), at Palladium Mall and at Lokhandwala (022-65653300).

3. Kromakay

Considering a colour update? Head to Kromakay (their Juhu salon near HSBC is the best of their 4 salons), one of the best places in town to colour your hair. Kromakay is a professional hair salon chain run by a famous hair stylist, Kanta Motwani, with 4 salons in Mumbai. The salon is a favourite with celebrities and chances are you're even going to be seated next to one of their A list celebrity clients (Priyanka Chopra, Hrithik Roshan, Sonali Bendre, Ameesha Patel are their regular clients) while getting your mane done.

If its the best haircut you're looking for? Book for the lady herself - Kanta Motwani. In addition to the great styling their staff is also very attentive, friendly and helpful making it a great experience. We'd recommend their Juhu salon.


Recommended Stylist: Zenobia Mody

Charges: Rs. 1,000-4,000 (by head stylist Kanta)

Contact: Amber Apartment, NS Road 10, Near HSBC Bank, JVPD Scheme, Juhu, Mumbai - 022-26133966, 022-65762004, JW Marriott - 022-66993000, 022-66933620, The Westin Hotel at Goregaon - 022-65102011, Apollo Bunder - 022-22852012 /2375

4. Juice
Established in 1998, JUICE is Mumbai's Über hair fix destination and is famous for its edgy and stylish haircuts. Have your hair washed, styled and blow dryed from experts, taking it from drab to fab in 45 minutes. If you are looking for super cool highlights or coloured hair then look no more, because your search ends here.

They are located at several locations throughout Mumbai (Kemps Corner, Colaba, Khar). They also have salons in Pune and Dubai.

Recommended Stylist: Sangeeta

Charges: Rs 500-1,800 for haircut, depending on the seniority of stylist.
Contact: 022-23805087 (Kemps Corner), 022-26045624 (Khar)


5. Christiaan Georgio

Transform dull hair into a wow factor hair in just 30 minutes with the help of renowned hair stylist. Situated at Grand Hyatt Mumbai (off Western Express Highway) this ultra chic hair salon is your answer to perfection in hair styling. If you are looking for a blow dry, let me tell you this is the best place in town for a blow dry.

The place spells of luxury and exemplifies the ambience of a plush lounge. And if you are thinking of a short bob then this is 'the place' for you.

Trained at Vidal Sassoon and Trevor Sorbie Hair Academy in London and Melbourne Hair Academy, Christiaan Georgio has tamed the trés chic tresses of stars like Eva Longoria, Angelina Jolie and Monica Bellucci. Georgio's clientele in India includes most of Bollywood, high-end corporate executives and socialites. He personally attends to all his clients from start to finish.

Recommended Stylist: Christian Georgio (of course) but if you want someone lighter on your wallet would recommend Renee (Rs. 1,685)

Charges: Rs. 1,685 -3,370 (including taxes)
Contact: 022-66761216


6. Mad O Wot by Sapna Bhavani
Another popular celebrity stylist salon in Mumbai is 'Mad O Wot' by Sapna Bhavani. A self-taught hairstylist, Sapna Bhavnani works the tresses of the limelight-prone — be it Bollywood celebrities like Bipasha Basu, Minisha Lamba, Priyanka Chopra, the Reddy sisters (Sushma, Sameera and Meghna) or the cricket brat-pack led by Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Yuvraj Singh.

They say, 'we don't follow trends, we create them'. So if you want something different, edgier or maybe funky this is the salon for you.

Mad O Wot Hair Salon:

Plot No 450, Ground Floor Hemkund Society, close to Bombay Blues Restaurant, 14th Road, Bandra (W) Mumbai - 400050

Contact: 022-65290288, 022-65290289


7. Toni and Guy
The famous Toni and Guy also opened its doors in Mumbai somewhere in 2008. It sure is a trendy salon (with white interiors) with their trendy hair stylists, but I wouldn't say much about the hair cut as was not good enough. But yes, finally, you can find the so-sought after GHD Hair Straighteners at Toni and Guy Mumbai at Bandra. They have two salons in town, one in the suburbs and the other in South Mumbai (don't know much about the Cuff Parade one).

Toni and Guy - Bandra
207/208, Allied Bungalow, Pali Naka, Near Golds Gym, St Johns Road, Bandra West, Mumbai - 400050
Contact: 022-26400164, 26400169

Toni and Guy - South Mumbai
Shop No. 1, Saideep Building, near Taj Residency, Cuffe Parade, Mumbai
Contact: 022-22154464

Source: Beautify
The famous British hair salon, Saks has opened up its first hair salon in India in our very own Mumbai. Other than hair they will also have manicures, pedicures and some state-of-the-air beauty treatments. It's a good option too - located in Bandra and Andheri.

Which are your favorite hair salons in Mumbai?

25.8.16

BEST MANICURES IN MUMBAI

Best Manicures in Mumbai and Best Pedicures in Mumbai - Style Destino

(Last Updated: 25-Sept-2016)

With a beauty salon and nail bar on almost every street corner it's hard to find a good place that offer better value and good service. With my obsession at finding nothing but the best place for my manicure and pedicure I've worked tirelessly to find Mumbai's best manicure joints. While Mumbai is still miles away from salons with highly-trained specialists in cities like London who offer customised nail solutions for your nail needs and know which digits to buff and which ones to hydrate more, these places will leave your hands and feet looking flawless regardless. 

Without any further ado, scroll down to see the best salons in Mumbai for a manicure and pedicure - from ultimate indulgence and next generation nail art to quick beauty treatments and affordable spots that won't make you fear a skin infection.

Dessange

Best Manicures in Mumbai - Dessange SalonBest Manicures in Mumbai - Dessange Salon

Best Manicures in Mumbai - Dessange SalonBest Manicures in Mumbai and Best Pedicures in Mumbai Style Destino

When you want your manicure to feel like an experience rather than just another errand this chic, stylish and sleek Parisian salon is your ultimate destination. With its white washed walls, wooden floorings and plush white furnishings this place will transport you right into Paris. Their immaculate service, extremely high standards in hygiene {every equipment used is sterilized and repackaged in plastics} and well-trained staff will not fail to impress making Dessange one of the best places in Mumbai for a pedicure and manicure. Providing a true nail overhaul the salon offers a range of services from a truly pampering royal manicure, anti-aging manicure and pedicure, classic manicure with lasting gel paint, Balinese warm candle pedicure to a quick fix with a mini express service.

The experienced therapists effectively file, buff and scrub away any dry skin to leave your feet and hands smooth, supple and ready to show off. The divine massage at the end will relieve you from your day's stress to get you ready in the mood for whatever the evening has in-store for you. I especially love their sofas, they're the most comfortable ones I've come across by far. Did I tell you that globally Dessange has a clientele list with names including JLo and Gwyneth Paltrow?

Talk plastic: Regular manicure starts from Rs 600 but you can add in extras like parrafin wax or pick their spa manicure at Rs 1700 (only manicure). Pressed with time and money? Pick the mini mani at Rs 300

Verdict: Despite being at the higher end of the price range, it's an indulgent, relaxing treat with chic surroundings that delivers immaculate hand and feet. All this comes with a five star service. For an effortlessly chic French mani this is the best Mumbai has to offer

Address Bandra: 107, Coral Apartments, Vidyanand Society, 24th Road, Bandra West. Tel. 022-26000170; South Mumbai: 162, Warden Road, Kemps Corner. Tel. 022-23630100
www.dessangemumbai.com


Jean Claude Biguine

Best Manicures in Mumbai and Best Pedicures in Mumbai - Best Salon Mumbai Jean Claude Biguine


I've been going to Biguine for my mani and pedi ever since the salon opened its door in 2008 in Bandra and it's still one of the best in town. Whether you are looking for a quick shape and polish, classy French manicure or something a little more hardcore like gel nails, 3D nail art and bio sculpture gel, Biguine has it all. Like Dessange, this Parisian place also has plush white interiors with a friendly and well-trained staff who'll transform the most scaliest of trotters into smooth, beautiful tootsies.

With their recent addition of vegan friendly Lauren B nail colours and manicure kit Biguine is getting my frequent visits. With the Lauren B botanical manicure products your weak and brittle nails and rough hands will be a thing of the past. What I love about this brand is that all its products including the nail polishes are free from harsh chemicals and toxins.Be prepared to pay a little extra for this brand.

Did I forget to tell you you'll always find Mumbai's cutest guys esp at their Kemps Corner and Juhu salon? Don't forget to get their loyalty card to get discounts and free treatment with every service.

Talk plastic: Rs 300 for mini service, classic starts from Rs 750 onwards (only manicure)

Verdict:A great  place for transforming your nails and feet. Vegans will love it for their Lauren B products (extra for this). With its presence in most of Mumbai's good malls its perfect for those who want a spot for pampering while shopping! Love the fact that their response on Twitter is prompt & effective {they found my sunglasses after I forgot at salon and Tweeted about it} - indicating great service!

Address: Multiple locations including Bandra (behind Leelavati Hospital}, Juhu, Palladium Mall, R City Mall,  Kemps Corner (just above Dessange), Colaba and Infiniti Mall Malad.


Nail Bar by Juice Salon

Best Manicures in Mumbai - Nail Bar - Best Salon Mumbai - Juice Mumbai

Nail Bar by the famous Juice hair salon was one of the first nail salons in the city and still reigns the clan. With their huge collection of nail colors displayed on the wall shelves behind the table, the interiors looked more like a cocktail bar than a nail salon. Choosing a color out of their library of hundreds of nail polish bottles is something you should budget some time for. They have replaced OPI with vegan nail polish LYN.

Unlike the other hair salons, Nail Bar has its own dedicated space only for its manicure and pedicure services offering everything your hands and feet need. The menu offers a full range of services  - from varnish to polish to UV lights and gels, with extras like intricate and artistic nail art and paraffin wax. Sink into one of their plush chairs while your nails are painted and feet buffed and cleansed while reading a fashion magazine or two and sipping green tea. Need a uber glamorous Swarovski encrusted nail art? You got it.

Talk Plastic: Basic manicure starts from Rs 500

Verdict: Cheery surroundings with good service that's value for money that'll leave you with a flawless manicure!

Address: Multiple locations including Colaba, Khar, Pali Hill, Thane and Vashi. 
Khar Tel. 022-26001726
http://nailbar.co.in



B:Blunt
b Blunt salon Mumbai - Best Manicures in Mumbai - Mumbai Salons
Already a destination for Mumbai's flawless hair, b:blunt also turns out a manicure and pedicure, if you can manage to find an appointment. With its mani pedi station set inside a cosy dark room in the salon, its a place to unwind and relax. Even if you are just opting for the manicure service, its done in the plushy pedicure chairs so that you can still take advantage of that back massager. The staff is friendly and attentive, service is good and you won't ever leave without a relaxing massage and flawless nails.

Talk Plastic: Classic manicure starts at Rs 658

Verdict: Good service and relaxing mani and pedi.

Address: Multiple locations including Juhu (022-226285082), Bandra and Kemps Corner (022-65980301)
http://bblunt.com


Nirmal Herbal

Best Manicures and Pedicures in Mumbai - Natural Beauty Salon in Mumbai

Naturopath Nirmala Shetty whose celebrity client list includes Sushmita Shetty runs a chain of beauty clinic and spa and they are a heaven for natural-junkies. All services at this salon use natural, organic and fresh made products including kitchen-made scrubs, ubtan (traditional paste made using Ayurvedic recipe) and juices for treatments that literally come out from Dr. Shetty's kitchen everyday. Since the beauty expert believes strictly believes in use of no chemicals you don't get the gel nail colours or extensions but if you are looking for well groomed nails and feet and a whole lot of pampering this is the place to be.

Nothing fancy and strictly quiet, this place is a heaven for relaxation and all thing earthy and fresh. The tools are clean (sterilised) and the manicure and pedicure thorough. My nails are always shaped and polished to perfection and the ubtan pack on the legs leave them super clean, soft and glowing. If you have time, try their divine hair treatment along with a pedi and mani. This place is so relaxing and de-stressing that a couple of times I even took a nap at their spa beds after my head massage.

Talk Plastic: Basic manicure starts from Rs 700 but you ought to try their royal pedicure service.

Verdict: Best place for those whose feet and mind needs perking up. If you want a classic or spa mani-pedi there's no better place than this with their freshly prepared cocoa butter and ubtans to treat your limbs.

Address: Multiple locations including Bandra (W), Vile Parle (E), Powai and Chembur. Bandra contact number 022-26518465
www.nirmalherbal.com



Silhouette at Trident Hotel 

One of the oldest salons frequented by Mumbai's elite this place is where you'll find all page 3 regulars and hoity-toity ladies of South Mumbai. Some of the loyal customers are visiting this place since decades and come here to unwind and chat with their trusted therapists. If you like a little gossip while getting your mani and pedi done this is the place for you. Prepared to be surrounded by botoxed ladies and travellers (hotel guests).

This luxury place offers everything from classic manicure to nail extensions and nail art. The indulgent spa mani-pedi with aromatic massage and soaks using Forest Essentials and Kama products is divine. The therapists know their job well, but don't expect a good service next time if you don't tip them a hefty bill {we're talking nothing less than Rs 500}. They have a separate section for men and women.

Talk plastic: Rs 800 onwards (only manicure)

Verdict:Experienced but pampered and snooty therapists who'll probably look down at you if they don't know you. But if you're a frequenter and tip well, and like to be pampered and showered with compliments for tips this is the place for you. Who knows you may cross Tatas and Mahindras of the world while paying your bill.

Address: Spa Level, Trident Hotel, Nariman Point. Tel. 022-38573399 or 022-22029963
www.silhouettehairandbeauty.co.in

Alive at Hyatt Regency

Best Pedicure in Mumbai - Best Manicure in Mumbai - Best Salon Mumbai - Alive Salon MumbaiBest Manicures in Mumbai  and Best Pedicures in Mumbai by Style Destino

Alive is my SOS manicure joint as its proximity to the international airport makes it convenient for my last minute mani and pedi call before a flight. With a full range of services from gel to acrylic, classic and indulgent and a dedicated nail station for nail art this is a good place for well-groomed nails every time. Plus they use LYN nail polishes, which are vegan!

A salon inside a five star hotel screams luxury, but other than a chandelier something about this place is not luxe enough. Nevertheless it delivers. The staff is a little laid back and not very efficient - the low walk-ins perhaps is the reason. But if you remind them you have to catch a flight it helps. Perhaps a more professional and efficient staff who focus more on the client than their personal talks can put this place up a notch.

Talk Plastic: Expensive from the rest, classic manicure starts at Rs 900

Verdict: I wouldn't go to this place unless I have a flight to catch and a manicure to be done right before it. Not that its not good, but there are better options at this price. Having said that, if you live or work in this area, its a good place to get your mani and pedi done.

Address: Hyatt Regency, Sahar Airport Road, Andheri East. Tel. 022-66961416


Enrich (Vile Parle)

The recently opened Enrich, bang opposite it's previous location, is spacious and classy with its industrial decor and white bricked walls that add a nice touch. A dedicated section for pedicure and manicure with views to the busy SV Road and a efficient well-trained staff makes Enrich one of best places in Mumbai for your nail needs. They also use LYN nail colors, which are vegan friendly.

Talk Plastic: Regular pedicure starts at Rs 550 and a manicure at Rs 450.

Address145, Arvind Villa, Next To Sony Mony Elec, S.V.Road, Vile Parle (W), Mumbai. Te;l. +91 96198 52603

Belita

Belita is Mumbai's best-kept secrets. Nothing beats Belitas' manicure and pedicure service offered by their mobile beauty therapists. Like Dominos pizza now a great mani-pedi is just a phone call away. Expect a range of services including an anti-tan mani and pedi which is a must in Mumbai's heat. The fact that they come to you means salon-beautiful feet without the schelp.

Talk Plastic: A spa pedicure or manicure costs just Rs 700 while the basic service starts from Rs 350

Verdict:  Great option for busy women who want budget friendly and efficient pedicure and manicure services at home {without compromising on quality or hygiene}. If you can't go to the salon, let it come to you.

Call to book an appointment: 9022155888, www.belitaindia.com 


There are many other salons for grooming your digits like Kromakay, Enrich, Lakme and Vous but the above made the cut in the list on following parameters: professional and friendly service, trained and well-groomed staff, hygiene, efficient service, good ambience and quality products. I've heard that Tip and Toe Nail Club (Bandra and Infitini Mall Malad), Kavi's Nail Care (Khar) and Nail Spa (Khar and Breach Candy) are also good, but I'm yet to make a visit.

For a super luxury treatment Spa la Vie by L'Occitane at Lower Parel offers ultimate indulgence with a manicure starting at Rs 1,800 and a pedicure Rs 2,200.
Things to remember when getting a manicure:

- Make sure the workstation is clean and all the equipments are clean and sterilised before starting the service. If you see anything amiss ask for it to be fixed or find another cleaner place to get your nails done
- The nails should always be filed first and then cut not the other way round
- if the salon is not using a dehydrater and Ph balancer ask them to. Your polish stays longer and doesn't chip with a dehydrater
- if your nails are too brittle then skip the buffing, it'll only make it worse. The therapist might insist you do for getting the shine {they're not trained enough}, but avoid
- Too much scalping of the feet to reach the softer part can be bad for your feet. Unless they're in real bad condition, ask the therapist to be easy with scalping
- If you're a vegan and don't like paint with harmful chemicals, carry your own nail color. I mostly do as except Biguine none of the salons have a 5-free polish yet in Mumbai {that I know of anyway}
- Never ever skip the base coat before polish. The nails stain and turn yellow over time if you don't use the base coat as the pigment seeps through the nails causing damage

Mumbai is still in dire need for a nail salon that would offer organic and 5-free nail products where the therapists understand that every person needs a different solution - the standard cut, file, buff and soak does not work for everyone. Until then I'll work my way around the best manicure that Mumbai has to offer.

Have you seen Best Hair Salons in Mumbai?

12.8.16

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. 


6.8.16

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.


27.7.16

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.


21.6.16

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:

Pros:
  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

Cons:
  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?

29.5.16

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.
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