Many of us have been given the gift of a long weekend, a day off from work. But as we celebrate Martin Luther King Day we should pause for a moment and remember his crusade about social injustice and inequality. A man of many words and quoted often, his words continue to move and inspire so many of us. No matter what you're striving to reach - whether personally or professionally, career or fitness - we've got to keep moving forward, whether we fly, run, walk or crawl. Keep your eye on that prize!
As I prepared to pack for my trip to Palm Beach last spring I knew that getting everything into my carry on was an improbable situation. It wasn't so much for the fact that I had too much to pack -- I'm a pretty good packer despite the fact that I always to take more than I need. My issue with Palm Beach was nothing more than a bottle of sunscreen. My bottle of sunscreen was well more than the "safe" 3 oz. I didn't want to spend obscene amounts on bottle at the hotel only to have to leave half behind. I found the same issue with my favorite moisturizer. And by the time you've packed enough 3 oz bottles your carry on becomes heavy and bulky. And so surely there must be a better solution, I thought. And there was indeed, and it quite literally came to me one day while I was in the shower.
Lush's shampoo bar was, for me, life changing. Shaped like a smaller version of hockey puck, this bar lathered up deliciously, and I required just a small amount. The company also has a conditioning bar and I have been a longtime fan of their cocoa butter bar, a wonderful body moisturizer. I recently learned of a "safe" sunscreen in stick form. All of our necessary beauty products are available in a "dry" form. Not only are these FAA safe, but they're terrific products to begin with.
Below are some of my favorite dry beauty bars... The best part is that each product featured below is made by companies that don't use harsh ingredients, chemicals or unnecessary additives. They're environmentally and socially friendly so you can feel good about purchasing and using them. Now I've just saved you the hassle of checking your luggage, eliminated the need and hassles of the 3 oz bottles, and lightened up your load.
Now that I've got everything I need, where should I go to next?
3. Lush Body Butters I'm a huge LUSH fan and have been for years - ever since several slices of homemade soap were given to me nearly a decade ago as a gift from the UK. Their products are clever, fun and really fabulous. Environmental friendly, and vegan, this brand is no flash in the pan. I was turned on to these moisturizing bars about a year or so ago and have been using them ever since.
4. Honest Company 30 SPF Sunscreen stick Launched in 2012, the company's mission has been to create a safe, non-toxic, and beautiful products for skin and home.
5. Burt's Bees Lip Balm - My most favorite lip balm ever... and now they come in a huge array of flavors, as well as tints. Think of these as your favorite Lip Smackers all grown up!
A few weeks ago I was perambulating the aisles of Trader Joe's... I nearly wrote my local Trader Joe's but I have 2 within miles of my home. How lucky am I?! Those of you who are familiar with this brand know you can't walk in and out with just one item - without checking to see what's new, what's different, what's game-changing.
The company that re-branded generic, that made the word chic, that proved to us that fancy food labels mean nothing, strikes again! This time with its Cauliflower Pizza Crust. I vacillate from being the world's healthiest eater to the world's greatest cheater. (Ice cream has been my downfall as of late.)
Like most of you I get cravings. Over the years I have learned that I cannot ignore them, and when I do, I eat everything but that which I truly desire. This of course never works, and then I find myself going whole hog into whatever it is that's got its tight grip on me. I am pretty good at moderation - you'll never see me plow into an entire container of ice cream or box of cookies, which I suppose, if we were to look on the bright side of things, is a good thing or I'd be the size of a house. But nonetheless, I need to find healthy ways to satisfy those cravings. So when I saw this cauliflower pizza crust I knew I had to try it! For me and pizza, it's not always the crust I crave, but the flavor of pizza. Some have too much cheese for my liking while others have too much sauce or are too greasy. I actually like making my own and adding my own toppings. I had an unopened jar of marinara at home and plenty of items to use as toppings. One night when the kids were with their father I decided to give this a try.
When I removed the crust from the box in the freezer it looked like that pictured on the box, though whiter.
I followed the directions and put the crust in the oven. It got slightly brown. I then placed my ingredients on the crust: sauce, shredded Parmesan cheese, olives, thinly sliced shallots, and mushrooms. Nothing more, nothing less. I followed the instructions per the box and removed the pizza from the oven.
It certainly looked good. I took a pizza cutter and sliced through. The crust was definitely soft. Eating it without a fork was not possible. But still... the flavor was good... very good... The crust reminded me of polenta, I could taste the hint of corn from the corn flour. It wasn't bad at all. Because the whole crust was 480 calories (80 calories a serving) that even with the sauce and cheese that I used so sparingly, I could afford to eat the pizza in its entirety, without guilt.
(Notice their crust - top image - and my crust above and below. There's certainly a difference.)
It really was that good... in-spite of the polenta-like crust. I was so full after eating slightly more than half of it that I wrapped the remaining bit and had it for lunch another day. My only complaint was that the crust never got crispy... and yet, I would have it again. I thought it was that good. In the days and weeks since I gave this a try, Trader Joe's has updated their heating instructions.
COOKING INSTRUCTIONS: Preheat oven to 450°F. Remove all packaging from crust and place upside down on a sheet pan. Bake 10-12 minutes, flip crust over and bake another 10-12 minutes. For a crisper crust, broil an additional 4-5 minutes or until browned. Top crust with desired toppings and broil another 4-5 minutes until browned and sauce is bubbling.
ALTERNATE COOKING INSTRUCTIONS: Heat a large nonstick pan over medium-high heat. Place crust in pan and brown 5-6 minutes per side. Top as desired and broil in oven 4-5 minutes, until topping is bubbly and browned.
Another friend said she had luck with a non-stick, perforated pizza pan.
In a rating out of 5 pizza slices I give this 4 pizza slices!
I can't wait to give this another try!
For more information on the Trader Joe's Cauliflower Pizza Crust click here.
As a single mother to three, one of whom is off to college in the fall, I am always watching my pennies. I (almost) always think twice before I buy something and I make sure that I get the best bang for my buck. While it's true that the best things in life are free, there are a lot of great products out there that aren't expensive and really worth their weight in gold. Sometimes it's the small things that give us the greatest pleasure. On this list I have $5 flip-flops a $35 water bottle and everything in between. Each item gives me immense pleasure for a variety of different reasons. These 18 items are things that I cannot live without.
I have tried everything on the market. And I do mean everything. Trying to save a few bucks I tried every drugstore mascara on the market before reaching for an old favorite high end. However, before I headed to the checkout line, I asked one of the employees at Blue Mercury for the fattest mascara on the market. Without hesitation I was introduced to Better than Sex Mascara. I got home and immediately tried it on. This mascara is as close to a set of falsies you'll ever go. One coat or three, this one pumps up the volume! About $35 (less on Amazon Prime) And worth every penny!
2. Maybelline Master Strobing Stick
I will have to thank my teenager for this. I found it in her make up bag one afternoon when she had gone to her dad's. I put my makeup on, added some blush and rubbed this on the top part of my cheekbones, bridge of my nose and forehead. Blended in and I had this gorgeous, dewy highlighted look. I've tried several since but this one, even when stacked up against pricier brands, remains my all time favorites. Leave it to Maybelline! This will run you less than $8.
3. Sea Salt & Fig Eau de Cologne
Would you believe me if I said this little diddy came from Old Navy? A fresh clean scent, like clean linen and gentle ocean breezes, this little bottle is a big surprise. I decided to spray one of the tester bottles one day when I was on the checkout line and was amazed when I smelled my wrists. I picked up the bottle and a small tube of lotion for my hands that I keep in my straw bag. The top note is strong without overwhelming, but there's not much of a base note which means it will need more frequent re-applying. About $5.
Fringe and fringe style jewelry are all the range. These fun earrings will liven up any outfit and run about $10!
I fell in love with this fragrance after my trip to Palm Beach in April. This was the signature scent of the Eau Hotel and Spa where. They describe it as "As the warm midsummer day drew to a close, the familiar sea salt freshness awaited their return' but this time was different; a smoke infused woodsy essence rose in gentle swirls from the beachside bonfire beckoning them to enjoy." Candles are roughly $28 (Burns clean without harmful and black residue)
This was the first scent I fell in love with and still remains a favorite. I prefer crisp floral notes that are subtle. I want my home to smell clean and fresh not overly perfumed or sweet. $40. (If you don't want to burn candles all day you might want to consider a diffuser.)
7. Old Navy Flip Flops
Available in a rainbow of colors, you'll want to pick up an armful! My favorites are the red, white and navy ones. I stock up on the white ones and when they start to look dirty and worn I simply toss them. I live in my flip flops during the summertime - more so than any other shoe! $5 a pair but can run as low as $1 a pair if you can hit a sale!
These are TO DIE FOR! Available in a dozen flavors including passion fruit, grapefruit, coconut, lemon, lime and now tangerine, these effervescent beverages will help you fill your day's water quota without realizing it. My kids adore these as well. Prices vary - I can find them at my local grocery store for about $4 a case.
9. Honey Goat Cheese
Liven up your cheese and charcuterie platters, switch this out for your regular goat cheese with salads, cruditées, bruschetta, etc... A slight sweetness marries perfectly with the crisp tartness of this cheese. Use this to give old favorites a new twist. You will thank me for this! Prices vary.
10. Starbucks Shaken Teavana Teas
I try not to spend too much money on Starbucks but on a hot day or after a particularly grueling spin class there's nothing I like as much as a shaken tea or shaken tea and lemonade blend. My favorites are the peach green tea, lemonade blend and the white iced tea lemonade blend. They're not calorie-free so I don't indulge too often, but when I do it's an incredible refreshing treat!
This is hands-down my favorite rosé - I have a few that I turn to regularly, and at $22 a bottle, I do mix this up with others. This ships all away across the Long Island sound (about 10 miles or so away) from the Wolffer Estate Vineyard, a sustainable vineyard in the heart of the Hamptons. As Described by Wolffer: What distinguishes Summer in a Bottle is its fruit character. An homage to the glorious summer of 2013, Summer in a Bottle is a literal taste of the Hamptons high season. “We waited as long as possible to harvest the fruit for Summer in a Bottle. Choosing the perfect moment to pick was crucial to make this highly anticipated wine, bursting with the aromas and flavors of the seasonal fruits that reach their peak ripeness at the height of summer,” said Wölffer Winemaker/ Partner Roman Roth. It used to be hard to find, even in Connecticut, but the label is expanding and I saw this offered in Palm Beach in the springtime.
From Halo Top Creamery, available in the US and Australia, this low-calorie, high-protein, low-sugar, all-natural ingredients ice cream is to die for. You will have to try it to believe it! For those who prefer to eat the entire pint in one sitting, pints range from 230 - 340 calories... per pint! With amazing flavors such as peanut butter cup, lemon cake, cookies and cream, chocolate, vanilla, s'mores and more, you'll be able to indulge this summer without guilt! Roughly $5 per pint. Look at it this way, if you eat it for dinner it's a cheap and low calorie meal!
I never really got the hype until I tried one. They claim to keep beverages hot or cold for 24 hours and this never really meant anything to me until summertime. I accidentally left my bottle in the car for a couple of hours on a hot summer day. Normally my water would be undrinkable, not only was it cold, but the ice remained, from what I could tell, mostly unmelted. Now that summer has once again returned this is the only bottle I use. It's perfect for on the beach too! Available in a multitude of colors and designs, and in 9, 17 and 25 ounce sizes. Prices range from $25 - $45. Well worth the money. Environmentally friendly and Swell is socially and environmentally responsible.
Every girl needs a good beach read! I am currently reading this book by Jane Green. I was given a copy at a wonderfully catered book launch last weekend. I'm loving it so far!
About the book: Ronni Sunshine left London for Hollywood in the sixties to become a beautiful, charismatic star of the silver screen. But at home, she was a narcissistic, disinterested mother who alienated her three daughters. Still, when Ronni discovers she has a serious illness, she calls her now-adult girls home to fulfill her final wishes. Nell, Meredith, and Lizzy are all going through crises of their own. But as their mother’s illness draws them together to confront old jealousies and secret fears, they discover that blood might be thicker than water after all. Available in Hardcover $17.09 (Amazon Prime) or Kindle, $12.99
15. Dove Dry Shampoo
I've tried them all. And I do mean all. This, by far the least expensive, is my favorite. It mists a white powdery substance which also gives my hair lift and volume which I very much need on a hot summer day! About $4.
As one who has had skin cancer I try to be diligent about covering up. I was told by my doctor, a top skin cancer surgeon at Yale New Haven Hospital that 30 SPF is the only coverage I need. He did say that I need to be diligent about re-applying, and although I need to improve, the only time I got burned this year was when I was eating lunch outside one day on a particularly warm spring day, and took off my sweater. I hadn't anticipated the sun and therefore I hadn't applied sunscreen. This is one of those "healthy" sunscreens that won't break the bank. I LOVE the way this feels on my skin, living it moist and dewy. I use this facial one all over my body. I've been able to find it for well under $10.
Kids of ALL ages (my teenagers included!) will love these fun and whimsical plates by Cheeky for Target. Whether picnicking at the beach, poolside or inside for movie night, these plates will delight! $2.99 for each pack of 30.
Perfect for toting sunglasses, sunscreen, cell phone, lip gloss and car keys this fun raffia bag is the perfect bag to accompany you from Beach to Café or outside Bar. $35.90
The following are your wardrobe essentials for this spring and Summer of 2017
My selections for this summer's fashion sensibilities reflect my personal style and philosophies. I'm not a fan of trends. They tend to be a flash in the pan. They tend not to have staying power because of this they tend to be a waste of money. I look for styles that are not only flattering, but that are ageless and will stand the tests of time. Please don't confuse this to mean that I like clothes that are boring and bland. I prefer to start with the classics as a canvass then add my own personal touch in a fresh and modern manner. In the summertime I do seem to gravitate to a more boho feel which seems to perfectly reflect the lazy, hazy days attitude. I prefer loose, flowy and non-binding when the weather heats up. Then there's that chic New York side of me as well. And as opposite as those two may seem, each item listed below is suited to each of those styles and everything in between. My wardrobe essentials will complement a wide range of body shapes, and as appropriate for a woman in her 20s as well as one in her 50s and 60s. As I approach my own 50th I want to look youthful and yet age appropriate. You won't see short-shorts or short rompers on this list, and you certainly won't see them on me! I'm not sure how I feel about the exposed one shoulder look yet, I will get back to you on that...
1. A scarf
Scarves are being worn in lieu of necklaces, in ways that are classic yet modern and fresh. Change them up daily, they look great whether paired with a casual or dressier outfit. They can be worn loosely or choker length as seen above. Image via
2. A straw hat
There's no summer bag as iconic as the straw bag. Like the hat it travels well from the beach to the city... Whether it's used for toting a bathing suit and towel, a newspaper, some flowers and baguette, or as I have often done, a laptop, you'll not need to coordinate your outfits around it - it goes with everything. And yes, you can even pair it with a suit. Want to jazz up a plain bag, tie a scarf around the handles or add some fringe or pompoms do give it a more modern flair. Large or small, the straw bag is the IT bag of the season. Images above via
4. A white blouse
Nothing is as easy to wear or as versatile as a little white blouse. I have written about them here. There are a myriad of styles from which to choose from, from the more traditional button down to one that is breezier bohemian inspired. Every wardrobe needs a white blouse! Image via
5. A tunic
If you're a regular reader you will know that I am positively mad for tunics. (see here) Worn with jeans, leggings or as dresses, I find them to be perfection. They exude an ease that reflects summer's carefree lifestyle. Every wardrobe needs a tunic... or ten!
6. White jeans
Because white jeans. I am obsessed. Do I really need to say more? For more click here.
7. Black jeans
Because black never ever fades from style. Ever. Though this might not be my choice on a day that's 90 degrees with 70% humidity!
8. White tennis shoes
Comfortable and practical the white sneaker, in a myriad of styles, is enjoying continued popularity again this summer. Image via
9. Ballet flats
Because sometimes you want a comfortable shoe that's dressier than a sneaker and not a sandal. The lace-up versions which first became popular a couple of summers ago seem to have an even greater presence, carried by more designers and available in more colors. The hardest decision will be to stick with a neutral or dare to go go bold?! Image via
I think that nothing makes me happier than to see these shoes back in the summer spotlight, getting the recognition they deserve. Stylish and comfortable, in a wedge or a flat these traditional canvas top with a rope sole instill a feeling of nostalgia in me. As a child I wore then in a rainbow of colors with wide laces that wrapped around my ankles. They were a popular shoe in the south of France. When I was older, a young teenager and coming into my own in the 1980s, preppy fashion dominated, I felt so sophisticated in my navy Jacques Cohen wedge heeled espadrilles. Images via and via.
11. A halter style top/sundress
I am mad about this style top. The halter looks well on everyone and can be worn by everyone. I have several dresses in this style and even more tops. Image via.
Forever nauti... blue and white stripes will forever make me think of the water, the ocean, sailing... pairs well with the requisite white jean! Image via.
13. An off the shoulder blouse/dress
I am delighted that these easy breezy off the shoulder tops are back again this season. These figure flattering and age-friendly tops are proving to have staying power and definitely aren't a flash in the pan. I have a few and adore them. They can be worn during the day or dressed up for evening. If you're well endowed be sure to have a good supportive as well as comfortable strapless bra! Image via.
14. A blouse/dress with bell sleeves
My inner bohemian just adores the freedom of the bell sleeve. I'm delighted to be seeing this style on everything from coats and sweaters to blouses and dresses. I think the key here is ensure that they're not so long that they're getting in the way. An inch above the wrist, 3/4 length and even short sleeves are the way to go with this style. You won't want to wear these while doing the dishes! Image via. Furthermore white is always right in the summer!
15. Round sunglasses
My exception to the classics rule always lies within the accessories. Here is where you can play and have fun. A fun, fresh and modern accessory can really make and shape an outfit. The Aviators that we've seen so much of over the past couple of years are being traded up for round frames and square frames. Reminiscent of the 60s and 70s these shades are the perfect example of what goes around comes around. We are delighted to see the return of these stylish frames. Image via.
My love for the slightly outrageous and dramatic is met with the modern day ruffle. These aren't frilly or froufrou, but sophisticated yet fun. These oversized frills are everywhere from sun dresses to tank tops to pants and even on bathing suits. We love their whimsical vibe and look around you, you'll see them everywhere!
Thank goodness deep, dark savage tans are no longer en vogue. Thank goodness women are now favoring a slight, healthy glow over the look of over-roasting in the sun. Some may argue that no amount of sun is healthy. Some may argue that it is best to stay out of the sun altogether. But for many of us this isn't realistic and it doesn't have to be true. While it is indeed best to keep out of the sun's direct rays from about 11:00 - 2:00 PM, you can stay outside if well protected. Sunscreen is your friend. Your ally. Sunscreen can save your life. As long as you use it properly. I am a victim of skin cancer and had surgery to remove some from my collarbone just last year. I am overdue for a screening and it's on my list of things to tackle over the next couple of weeks. As I met with my surgeon last spring, a leading skin cancer researcher, I asked him if it was true that I would need to stay out of the sun. His answer shocked me, I did not have to. But I did need to shield my skin. I also asked about the strength of sunscreen I should be using. I needed nothing stronger than an SPF of 30 he assured me. However, I would need to reapply it frequently. Cover my body fully. Each application, on an average person, requires about a shot-glass worth. I asked him if there was a brand he prefered and his reply was Neutrogena. (It should be noted that one should stay away from sunscreen as coverage isn't as thorough and if using outside much of it can blow off into the wind.
I will be honest and tell you that I happen to like a little sunkissed glow. While I slather myself with 30 SPF I also slather on the self tanner. After testing and going through a wide variety of brands I have come to rely on the inexpensive Jergens as my favorite. (There are two that I prefer, both are foam instead of lotion-based, as I feel that sprays and foams cover better, more easily and are less prone to streaking.
Above image via Cosmopolitan. Click here to read the article about proper usage and coverage.
For more on Spring and Summer Styles that I have written about in the past, click here, here, here, here, and here.
I cannot take the credit here and must give praise where praise is due. This was my daughter's idea. I had made a fresh batch of chicken soup and I kept it free of rice and noodles so that it would be carb-free. I'm really trying to reign in my bread/pasta/carb intake. My body in't metabolizing it the way it used to and I find that when I do omit it from my diet that I feel better. I don't deprive myself and if I want a treat, a good pasta dish for example, I'll allow myself to enjoy such but it's no longer a part of my day to day diet. To do this successfully takes effort and panning. I'm the first person to run to the pantry, aka what I lovingly refer to as The Carb Closet. It's too easy to grab a handful of crackers as a snack, which ends up being two handfuls and then before you know it half the box is gone! At least this is how it works for me. So I make an effort to have healthy foods around that I can graze on. Chicken soup with carrots and celery and some chicken is so satisfying and so easy to make. I always have a roasted chicken from the store, carrots, celery and broth lying around anyhow. It doesn't take much to make this and you won't feel guilty eating it. Make this on a cold rainy or snowy day for an instant mood lift!
So I cheat, sorta... I can never get my chicken broth to be as strong as I like it, so I make a broth using the bones from the rotisserie chicken and good broth, and veg and seasoning... Bear with me. You'll be glad you did.
1 rotisserie chicken with some or all of the meat left on. (Discard excess skin and small bones such as wings)
3 large carrots (I trim ends off) PLUS 4 carrots peeled and sliced
3 stalks of celery PLUS 3 stalks trimmed and sliced
1 medium to large onion, peeled and quartered
2 cloves of garlic, peeled
2 bay leaves (I prefer fresh)
2 containers of good chicken broth such as College Inn or your favorite
1 1/2 cups of water
salt and pepper to taste
2 tsp Bell's seasoning, or poultry seasoning
Cauliflower rice as desired (See How To below)
In a large pot place your chicken carcass without the skin and wings and add the broth and water so that the chicken is fully covered.
Add the whole carrots, whole celery, onion, garlic, bay leaves and Bell's seasoning and bring to a rolling boil.
Once it reaches a boil turn it down to a simmer and let simmer 45 minutes to an hour.
After an hour, using a pair of tongs, remove the chicken meat from the broth and set aside.
Using a large sieve or colander, strain the liquid. (I usually do this into a smaller pot)
Discard vegetables and bones.
Place the smaller pot on top of the stove and add your SLICED carrots, celery and chicken. (if the chicken is in large pieces I'll shred it or cut it into bite sized pieces for the soup.) Cook on medium high for 20 minutes or so so that the vegetables are fully cooked and slightly soft.
But WAIT! Where's the rice?
It's not really rice... it's cauliflower rice! Hence why this soup is carb-free! You can take your raw cauliflower "rice" and add it at any time. Or you can add your already cooked and seasoned cauliflower rice and add it at any time. We actually added it to individual bowls and not to the stock in case someone wanted some without.
To quickly make cauliflower rice you'll take your pre-packaged "rice" or you can make your own by simply cutting a head of cauliflower into florets and feeding them into your food processor using the grating attachment. It makes a lot! Sometimes I take half and place it in a ziplock and toss it into the freezer for future use. But usually I make a massive batch. The kids adore it and I'll happily snack on it for lunch.
In a saute pan I'll add about 2 tbs of olive oil and salt and pepper and saute until the "rice" is soften and slightly golden. You can add diced onion and carrot to give it even more flavor if you wish.
I adore soup - I can eat it for lunch, dinner and I think it even makes the perfect afternoon snack. When I'm not eating out and writing restaurant reviews, or photographing and promoting my own clients' menus I've got to reel everything in... I try to be careful and mindful about what I eat on a daily basis. I try my best to keep the carbs at bay, minimizing my consumption of breads and pastas. To make up for this I need very conscientious about what I prepare and keep in the house. During the winter I live on soup. I love to make it as well. Most - and the ones I tend to gravitate towards - are super easy. This soup was born of a need of wanting something thicker than a broth but not as thick as a chowder. It's low in fat as I've used 1% milk and the soup is thickened with flour. I use a chicken-based broth so it is not a vegetarian soup although it is a vegetable soup. What we have is a soup that is hearty without being rich, that is satisfying without being heavy, and one which is deeply flavorful. Because the mushrooms lend so much to this soup, to remove them would completely change the flavor. Although the soup calls for 2 potatoes I personally don't eat the potatoes but I love the added earthiness, thickness and starchiness they contribute.
1 garlic clove, minced
1 small onion, diced
2 stalks of celery diced into small pieces
3 carrots cut into bite sized pieces
2 medium potatoes diced into cubes, skins left on
1/2 - 1 head of cauliflower, cut into bite-sized pieces
1½ cups corn, frozen, fresh or canned
1 small container of sliced mushrooms, washed
1/2 summer squash (yellow) cut into bite sized pieces
1/2 squash (green) cut into bite sized pieces
5 tbsp flour
2 cups low-fat milk
2 cups chicken stock
1 ½ cups water
1½ tsp sweet paprika
salt and pepper to taste (be generous here!)
2 tbs butter
2-3 bay leaves
Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat.
Add the onion, celery, and garlic and sauté for 5 minutes until translucent.
Add the flour and whisk until mixed through the butter. (This flour-butter mixture is called a roux)
Slowly pour the milk in and whisk until it starts to thicken - It will get quite thick.
Then add the chicken stock, and water. Mix well.
Increase heat to medium high and add the potatoes into the soup. Cook for 10 to 12 minutes. Stir frequently to ensure the soup doesn't stick to the bottom of the saucepan. The soup will thicken slightly as it cooks. If the soup gets too thick add more water.
Add the cauliflower, carrots, mushrooms and corn to the soup. Lower the heat.
Add salt, pepper and paprika to taste. The paprika will add a lovely pinkish hue.
The soup will be ready after an hour or so. The potato will be firm yet tender to the touch. You may remove the soup from the heat now or continue to keep it simmering on low. The potatoes will start to break down some, thickening the soup slightly.
I have the worst sweet tooth and there's nary a dessert I will turn down. I have a weakness for good cookies, ice cream and dark chocolate. Usually I'm pretty good at practicing the art of self-discipline, allowing myself a small treat, but the holiday season with all the baking and all the seasonal goodies caused all my good behaviour to self-destruct. And now I must pay the price and try to get back on the right track. I've spent years banning all sorts of bad things fro my diet. Deprivation is not the answer for me. As I inch nearer and neared to my 50th Birthday I'm about living my life to the fullest. Completely cutting out carbs and sugars will in no way, shape or form improve my life. Will I watch them? Yes, absolutely, but moderation is the answer, in diet and in life. The point is eat the cookie, but don't eat the whole batch of them!
I'm not really a breakfast person and I do tend to prefer savory over sweet in the morning, but there are times when an apple with peanut butter or a yogurt with granola are what I'm after, especially if it's later in the morning and I want to hit the gym at lunchtime. I find that the varieties you find at the grocery store to be either loaded with sugar or, the healthier versions cost an arm and a leg. I used to make granola all the time and I am not really sure why I stopped. It's super inexpensive and super easy - you can whip up a batch in under 20 minutes!
Basic Granola in 20 minutes or Less
2 cups of uncooked (not quick cook) raw oats
1/2 - 3/4 cups of sliced *almonds
1/4 cup raisins
1/4 dried cranberries
2 tablespoons Real Maple Syrup
2 tablespoons of *local honey
2 tablespoons canola, light olive or coconut oil
1 tsp almond extract
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
* almonds may be substituted for any kind of nut.
Vanilla can be used in lieu of the almond extract
Pieces or slices are better than whole.
Any dried fruit can be added or substituted.
Dried unsweetened coconut makes a great addition.
Add sesame seeds and wheat germ if desired - about 1/8 cup each.
Preheat oven to 325
In a large mixing bowl place oats, nuts and fruit and mix well
Add oil, honey, maple syrup and almond extract and mix well. (If you're using a raw or creamy honey you'll need a little muscle to mix the honey in well!)
Sprinkle with ground cinnamon, mix well.
Line a baking sheet with tinfoil or parchment paper and spread the mixture evenly onto the lined tin.
Place in oven and bake for 12 minutes
The granola will be ever so slightly brown.
Let cool and harden for at least 5 minutes.
Eat plain or sprinkled over yogurt - my favorite way!
Granola and Greek Vanilla Yogurt is my favorite and perfectly satisfies my sweet craving!
Those who know me well and those who've been following me for the past few years know that I have this thing for Champagne. I adore it. I adore the flavor, the bubbles and the ceremony of it all. There's something about this effervescent beverage that's wildly festive and just so grand. But the thing is, is that it doesn't have to be. I mean why must we save it for those special celebratory moments? I certainly don't! I drink champagne quite regularly. In fact, it's my go to beverage whether I'm home or out, the reasons are simple - I love the taste and it's a nice lower calorie, lower sugar alternative to both white and red wine. Furthermore ounce per ounce it contains fewer calories.
My favorite way to drink champagne is on its own - not doctored up or diluted with juices and what have you - in a tulipe glass, most often used for white wine - over ice. Yes, over ice! I love an ice cold bubbly drink and the ice, permitting that the weather isn't overly hot and humid, really won't dilute your beverage much. In fact, Marie Claire recently declared this beverage as last summer's "newest summer drink trend." Of course I would like to think that I started it!
Various brands have jumped on the ice bandwagon - Veuve Cliquot has their Riche label, Moet et Chandon has their Ice Imperial and their Ice Imperial Rose. These bottles average at just about $60 a pop and I'm here to say, there's no need whatsoever to drop that kind of change on an everyday glass of bubbly. In fact, I'd say save the good stuff for the flute or coupe and drink it straight, but to enjoy daily over ice and good prosecco, cava or sparkling wine will do. If you don't have your own favorite talk to an expert at your local liquor store.
For a daily sparkling wine I don't need to spend more than about $17 a bottle. Worried about preserving the bubbles after just a glass or two? The solution is simple, just take a piece of Saran Wrap and place it over the mouth of the bottle, then take a rubber band and wrap it around securely, as tightly as possible, over the plastic wrap. (As seen here) This will preserve your bubbles for up to 3 days.
Champagne is good for the soul!
We think F. Scott Fitzgerald was absolutely right when he claimed that “too much of anything is bad, but too much champagne is just right,”
Health Benefits of Champagne
Improves Spatial Memory
Information courtesy of LifeHack
Studies have shown that spatial memory can be improved after the consumption of champagne. Spatial memory is the ability to recognize one’s surroundings, as well as perform complex tasks and calculations. It is of particular importance to older people. Very early signs of dementia can occur when you’re in your 40s, therefore it can be beneficial to have a few glasses of champagne weekly to ward it off.
Champagne contains less calories than both red and white wine. Combining that with the fact that its bubbles make me super excited. A standard glass contains roughly 80 calories, as opposed to wine which is up around the 120 mark.
If you’re concerned about calorie and sugar content, champagne may be the drink for you. Not only does it contain less calories than wine and beer, a standard champagne glass is far smaller than most others. If you can control yourself this can be highly beneficial to your health, as well as your sobriety.
Bubbly drinks such as champagne have been known to make people drink slower, as well as feel full quicker. Once again, this can be good news for your waist line and the way you feel the next morning. Also, as I established earlier, bubbles are so much more fun!
A little known fact about champagne is that it’s just as healthy for your heart as a glass of red is. This is because it’s made from red, as well as white, grapes, and therefore contains most resveratrol. This is an important antioxidant that prevents damage to your blood vessels, reduces bad cholesterol, and prevents blood clots.
Champagne also contains polyphenol antioxidants, which further protects the heart in its own way. It does this by slowing down the removal of nitric acid from the blood which can result in lower blood pressure. This helps to reduce the risk of heart problems and strokes. In fact, a study published in the British Journal of Nutrition showed that when two groups were given either champagne or a different alcoholic control beverage, only the former experienced the slower removal of nitric acid. However, both groups experienced beneficial blood vessel dilation and increased blood flow.
Short Term Memory
Research has shown that certain proteins within champagne are beneficial for short term memory. It’s been hypothesized that within three years of imbibing champagne regularly, but not over indulging, a person could have an increase of 200% of the memory-boosting protein in their brain. This would significantly aid in other cognitive functions, as well.
Another the real reason I like to order it out, other than sugar and calories, is that I'll get an entire mini bottle/split to myself which can often be less expensive than a glass of the restaurant/bar's house wine and takes longer to sip.
Save water. Drink more Champagne!
Let's all vow to make a resolution that's not really a resolution per se.
It's not about accomplishments, goal-setting, weight-loss, exercise regimes, diets or dreams. It's so much more simple.
It's about mindset. It's about positivity.
It's the difference between happiness and sadness.
It's the difference between winning and losing.
It's the difference between success and failure.
It really is that simple.
If we all do just one thing this year, let's all vow to keep a positive attitude.
Even if you have a rotten day.
Even if the week has been horrible.
Because chances are not everything has been horrible.
Look to find at least one good thing every day, no matter how small or insignificant that may seem.
I need to work on this as well and I promise to do so.
Let's make sure that this upcoming year is an adventure and not an ordeal!
I wish you all a happy, vibrant, safe and healthy New Year!