Ayla Choudhery| Travel |Cooking

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Healthy Halloween Treats - Ayla Choudhery

Healthy Halloween Treat Recipes

Halloween is almost here! As excited as many of us might be for costumes and Halloween parties, there is what some would consider a downside -treats.

To some, Halloween might in fact be close to the top of their list of “least healthy holidays”. The reason why is because the day is filled with chocolate delight and a combination of every other treat one could possibly imagine. But it doesn’t have to be that way for you!

Here are some fun and healthy ideas and recipes for you to recreate for your next Halloween party or take to work to help put everyone in a festive mood.

Healthy Halloween Recipes:

Olive Snake

In order to make make this deliciously spooky treat you’ll need are a few cans of California Ripe Olives (depending on the quantity of olive snakes you wish to make), cheese slices, and carrots.

Directions: Place the olives in the shape of an “S”. Use the cheese to create eyes and the piece of the carrot for the tongue.

Serve your olive snakes to the side of a salad or place the snake on top of your favorite cream cheese or hummus dip and serve with veggie sticks or crackers.

Spooky Apple Bites

Spooky apple bites are comprised of green apples, sliced strawberries, sunflower seeds, sunflower butter, and 1-2 googly eyes per apple bite (googly eyes can be homemade).

Directions: First you’ll need to cut out the middle of each of the quarters of the apples to create the shape of a mouth. Spread the inside of the mouth gap with sunflower butter. Make teeth by placing 4 sunflower seeds on tip of the mouth. Next, put one sliced strawberry inside of the mouth to replicate a tongue and glue 1 -2  eyes above the mouth using the sunbutter.

Spooky Spider Deviled Eggs

These festive deviled eggs can easily be made using peeled, hard-cooked eggs, whole black olives, salad dressing or mayonnaise, ground mustard, pepper, and salt.

Directions: Cut the eggs in half (lengthwise), take the yolk out and mash the yolks with a fork. Next, stir in the mustard, mayonnaise, and salt and pepper. Fill the whites using the egg yolk mixture and and cover for refrigeration. Your spooky spider deviled eggs should be refrigerated no longer than 24 hours. After the eggs have been properly cooled, use the olives to decorate the deviled eggs to resemble a spider.


Travel Spotlight: European Cooking Classes

Whether you are traveling internationally or domestically, it is always important to sample the native cuisine as it can be a thorough insight into the culture of a region. One of the best ways to experience a foreign cuisine is through a cooking class. Many travelers often reap the benefits of eating out at restaurants while exploring, however cooking classes are becoming increasingly popular especially overseas in eastern and western Europe. So if you are traveling overseas, here are 4 cooking classes to keep an eye out for in some of the landmark cities.

Promenades Gourmandes With Paule Caillet
Paris, France
Taught in the personal kitchen of Paule Caillet is this world renowned cooking experience. The classes are taught in small groups of 9 or less, and are a full 6 hours. This class starts with a full tour of the french market, before settling into the kitchen to start the preparation. As one could assume, the cuisine is a French style known as bourgeoise, and is considered to be the soul of France. When booking a class here, be sure to allocate a full day, including room for a small nap after.

Tuscany Region, Italy
Tuscookany is a world renowned cooking vacation resort located in the heart of the famous Italian Tuscan Region. Tuscanooky offers cooking classes for participants of all ages making it a perfect experience for the entire family. The classes come in 3 day packages as well as two different one week packages, making this a significant commitment while on vacation. The Tuscanooky staff incorporates breathtaking tours and instructional activities, however they do allow for plenty of rest time in their luxurious villas.

Billingsgate Seafood School
London, England
If seafood is your thing, then Billingsgate is your place. The Billingsgate Seafood School is a nonprofit program that emphasizes the importance of responsible fishing and how it translates into gourmet cooking. The program offers many specialized programs ranging from knife skills to sushi preparation. Billingsgate has been in the seafood business since the late 1800s, so one can infer that they have mastered the art. Come to Billingsgate and experience the world famous seafood giant in the historic Docklands of London.

Cook and Taste: Spanish Cooking
Barcelona, Spain
Although Cook and Taste is a fairly new program, that doesn’t mean they are any less experienced. Cook and Taste offers half day sessions with market tours included for classes up to 15 participants of any age. Cook and Taste is famous for their incorporation of other cultures into their spanish dishes to make for an innovative and thorough experience. Be sure to pay attention in this class as the Chef’s are known to give tips on how to recreate the dishes in a personal kitchen at home.

Building A World of Art With Hotels

In one of my recent posts, I took a look at how hotel developers are starting to build galleries within the hotels themselves and utilizing the space not just as accommodations but as a place to showcase fine art as well.  To take this a step further, I recently came across an article in The Examiner, which discusses Santa Fe’s hotels and the resurgence of their use of gallery spaces. Many may not be aware of this, but Santa Fe, New Mexico is brimming with fine art.  For one looking to experience the rich cultural offerings in this city, they should head for Canyon Road, a main strip in the city which hosts upwards of 70 galleries that showcase art from across the globe. It is no wonder that with this surplus of art in the city, the nearby hotels are taking notice of its attraction and wanting to feature it in their own locations.

Santa Fe’s hotels are basically galleries in and of themselves. One of the city’s most famous hotels is the, “La Posada Santa Fe Resort & Spa”, which has always been referred to as the “Art Hotel of New Mexico,” now has its own onsite curator. Sara Eyestone is not the only curator in the world, but she is a rare and unique breed amongst many. The Examiner writes that, Eyestone, one of few hotel art curators, is a writer and an artist in her own right. She has been painting her happy, brightly colored works professionally for nearly 50 years and has had over 50 one-woman exhibitions in museums, galleries and libraries. For the past 15 years she has painted almost exclusively on commission for private collections and public spaces.

In 2008, Eyestone was responsible for helping La Posada chose 600 pieces of art by living American artists to grace its walls, and to decide where in the public spaces, including the spa, each piece would go. This curation was done with the help of the hotel engineers. Eyestone even installed each piece where she thought it would work to best to the aesthetic of the hotel. “Everybody has different ideas about what works and what does not work,” she explains. “My goal is to showcase excellent paintings in a creative way that enhances each space.” In an interview with The Examiner, Eyestone said “As an artist myself, I was born with an eye for this. I have seen the work of over 3,000 American artists. So much of it is terrific, and I often say there is much more talent everywhere than there is wall space.”

As more hotels reinvent their spaces to feature art, the travel experience morphs into one where the individual’s “escape” is not only limited to a different geographical location, but also a different mental space influenced by art from all over the world. Travel becomes a veering beyond the physical and mental scope of the individual.

To learn more about art and hotels, visit this post by Examiner


Hotel Branding : How Developers Are Creating Galleries Out of Hotel Spaces

Chris Hemmeter Jr is a an art curator and hotel developer. In 1988, Chris was given $5 million to go and collect art, with the aim of building a public art exhibit for a hotel . Chris, the son of a wealthy developer, was given this money to go forth and collect visual art in the form of photography, paintings, sculptures, all with the aim of filling the Hilton Waikoloa Village hotel. To fulfill this goal, Hemmeter travelled all over the world, making stops in China, Japan, Indonesia, Burma and other areas in the Southeast and pacific. Chris spent the year collecting this art and shipping them in barges to Hawaii. Hemmeter is part of a changing hospitality development culture, which seeks to look beyond what we know to be the luxury hotel experience, providing clients with an added value steeped in culture and art.

Hemmeter’s vision was to create and offer art to public, taking it away from the dividing culture of exclusivity, a common space where art usually finds itself. One of the best parts of this exhibits is it costs the public nothing to view the art.  An artist at the hotel named Ray, commented on the artwork, “ A lot of tourists from different hotels will come and walk around looking at the art.” She continued “ it’s a free cultural experience.”

The result of this collection of art, is the Hilton Waikoloa Village, a hotel unlike any other. Today, the hotel is filled with over 1800 pieces of art, valued at nearly $18 million.

Marcia Ray, the hotel’s art curator said “ I think the collection we have is very, very unusual and valuable, you won’t see this anywhere on the Hawaiian islands.”

In this article, the New York Times examines how the Hilton Waikoloa Village recently introduced a children’s turndown sleep service. The service offers a cultural dimension , where parents can read stories of Pele who is the goddess of the volcanoes and the creator of the Hawaiian islands. The story service offers flashcards, paintings and other visual collateral as complementary features of the service.

The Hilton Waikoloa Village hotel is one hotel making innovative strides to include culture and art into the hotel branding experience. Despite this innovative strategy which is a combination of consumer branding and art engagement, the Waikoloa Village Hotel is not the only giant in the hospitality space making these strides. The Windsor Court Hotel in New Orleans offers an $8 million collection of original works of British artists. The Hilton Anatole Hotel in Dallas, Texas also features a range of Berlin Wall art projects painted by Jurgen Grosse.


With more hotel development aligned with art and culture, we can expect to see more hotels with a strong cultural experience in the future.

To learn more about Hotels developing as art galleries, visit this article by The Street


BAKING- The Almond Croissant

If you have ever been to France whether it was Paris or a weekend in the French Riviera, there is one thing you can’t forget. That is the croissants, particularly the “Croissants aux Amandes” or almond croissants. Paired perfectly with the French-pressed coffee, the croissants melt in your mouth with just the right amount of flake. They’re incomparable. I’ve tried plenty of bakeries here in the states but nothing has impressed me so I’ve decided to take things into my own hands, literally. If you’re feeling the craving too now, below is a recipe from Natasha’s Kitchen to get you started:

Ingredients for the croissant:

8 (at least a day old) medium to large croissant (leaving it at room temperature overnight)

3 Tbsp sliced almonds

Powdered sugar just for dusting

Ingredients for the syrup:

2 Tbsp of sugar

4 Tbsp rum (this is your choice, but I highly recommended. Opt for Vanilla extract if you need an alternative)

1 Cup of water

Ingredients for the almond cream:

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1 cup almond flour

1/8 tsp of salt

1 stick (or 8 Tbsp) of unsalted butter. This should also be at room temperature.

2 large eggs




Using a mixer (on medium/high) or in a bowl, combine ½ cup of sugar, 1 cup of almond flour, and ⅛ tsp of salt. After mixing, add butter and then the eggs one at a time until your filling is creamy and light.

Combine 2 Tbsp of sugar, 1 cup of water, and 4 Tbsp of rum (or Vanilla extract) into a saucepan. Allow the ingredients to simmer and continue to stir until the sugar completely dissolves. Then, remove from the stove and allow to cool.

Preheat your oven to 350° F and line your cookie sheet with parchment paper. Slice your croissant horizontally as though you were cutting a bagel for the toaster or a slice of bread for a sandwich. Dip each slice into the syrup you’ve created, making sure both sides are coated. Don’t drench them in syrup. Remove and arrange on your cookie sheet.


After placing, spread the almond filling and place the tops of the croissants on the bottom halves. Spread the almond filling again along the top and sprinkle the sliced almonds.

Place the cookie sheet in oven and set the timer for 15 to 18 minutes. Remove when they appear as a golden brown color.

almond crossiant

To finish, give them a light dusting of the powdered sugar and you’re ready to take a taste of France!

Info courtesy of natashaskitchen


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