Monday, July 29, 2013

Please Come to My Wedding but Cleanse First

I’d like to begin by admitting that I’ve sunk to a new low. While I’ve been known to read and sometimes post about stories from US Weekly and People, I’ve never been an In Touch reader. I have standards after all…that is I did until today. I was pedicuring and had already read the aforementioned titles. So I grabbed In Touch despite not knowing which Kardashian was on the cover and Vogue (only read the food articles). So judge away, I deserve it but I found a fun story. You’re going to have to tell me what you think.

It turns out there’s a “Hollywood health guru” named Rainbeau Mars. I generally think guru = no real title or degree to mention but Rainbeau looks nice and new agey enough, I read on. Rainbeau, 37, and her “business manager” Michael Karlin (they never list the men’s ages but let’s say over 47 ok let’s just say sugar daddy or sugar “beau”) got married in July. Instead of inviting guests to choose steak or fish, Rainbeau and Mike invited all 170 guests to join them in a three-week cleanse leading up to their wedding.

Since I know you care: week one was no meat or sugar, week two raw foods and week three liquids only. Some people seemed to think “Mars” was off base but she disagrees, it was about “rejuvenation”. Part of me is embarrassed for her, I envision my parent’s accountant being asked to cleanse and as In Touch eloquently put it some guests said “no f---ing way.” For the record, Ira the accountant would never say that (but would think it).  Plus, cleansing isn’t always good for the mood- I’m picturing a whole lot of cranky people not feeling much like celebrating. And then the less cynical part of me, that’s small but exists, thinks maybe this isn’t so bad, she didn’t demand guests juice she suggested it. While she does sell this cleanse on her website she offered it to guest gratis.

I was shocked to learn 73 of the 170 guests RSVP’d “yes I’ll cleanse”. Once cleansed the guests were offered “spiritually enriching activities” such as yoga and breath work when they arrived in Hawaii for the wedding. The wedding itself had a menu of organic lamb chops, local seafood and a vegan, gluten free chocolate cake. How many chops and pieces of cake do you think the 73, who had lived on liquids, consumed?

So here’s the question, is this absolutely insane or gracious? Where does one draw the healthy line? I love a cleanse as much as the next juice-loving person but I don’t know how I’d react to receive an invitation to “go raw” with a wedding invite. However, in counseling clients, I hear reports of how grateful they are when a festivity includes healthy choices. So while I don’t like to force habits on others (unless they come to my office) maybe Rainbeau is onto something.
What do you think of this? Inclusive or bridezilla? Would you accept if this was offered to you? Would you think it was weird? And is my name boring? Maybe Lau-wren Slate? 

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Sinless Margaritas, Giveaway and Recipe

Yesterday, I had that skin cancer procedure. For me, it was a huge relief to have that behind me but I’m not selfish enough to think that other things weren’t happening in the world. For example, while I was lamenting the band-aid on my face others were celebrating National Tequila Day. I’m sure I’ve made fun of National Donut Day or National Hot Dog Day but Tequila Day? Ole’.

I’m sorry to be a day late with this crucial cocktail information but trust me it’s ok to margarita anytime…especially when they’re healthy margaritas. You know me too well to think I’m going to tout “skinny” drinks but we looked high and low and found something better.  Enter Sinless Margaritas.

Sinless is all-natural and sugar free. It’s 5 calories per serving and sweetened with stevia. If you have margaritas once in a blue moon and want to use simple syrup…ok but if you like to margarita as much as I do (and I do) these are the way to go. They are in the refrigerated section (or available online) because they use real lime and real lemons. And if you want proof that some people have great jobs Zach, one of the Sinless owners, told us “my wife Cat still makes and tastes every batch in our Atlanta headquarters.” Zach- you let us know when Cat calls in sick, we're here to help taste test.

Sinless makes your life easy. You mix 2 parts of their mix with 1 part tequila. I had healthy skin on my mind yesterday and concocted this Sea Buckthorn (thank you to the reader who corrected my spelling of buckthorn) Sinless Margarita. I’ve mentioned sea buckthorn before as a key ingredient for healthy skin and hair; it also has a tart taste making it perfect with a limey margarita.

Sea Buckthorn Margarita
1.5 ounces Sinless Margarita Mix
1oz Sibu 100% Sea Buckthorn (or in NYC Juice Generation makes Sea Buckthorn shots)
Stir to combine and serve over ice
These margaritas come in just over 100 calories.

Zach and Cat didn’t want you to feel left out and so they’re giving away a bottle of their regular and a bottle of their strawberry margarita mix to one lucky reader.
To be eligible:
  1. Comment below telling us about the best margarita you’ve ever had OR why you want to try Sinless AND
  2. Tweet @Foodtrainers has a @sinlesscocktail #giveaway today.

You have until next Thursday 8/1 to enter.

One of these and band-aid, schmand aid. Cheers! 

Monday, July 22, 2013

Meet Harissa

I love condiments, particularly spicy condiments, so I’m wondering why it took so long for harissa and I to meet. Harissa is from North Africa and I’m from North America but since when, in 2013, does geography throw a wrench in our eating plans? While I’m all for local bounty, I also love coconut water, matcha and Himalayan salt. So it was probably just bad luck that harissa and I hadn’t crossed paths.
My first harissa spotting was at Le Pain Quotidien. I enjoyed what I tasted but their harissa is very thick, almost a paste. I was intrigued and ordered harissa from one of my favorite sites was the Mina brand harrissa and I have to say I fell in love. I've since learned this harissa is widely available even sold at West Elm (a desk and some condiments anyone? weird).

I dipped veggies in harissa, added it to scrambled eggs, folded some into my sardine/avocado combo and used it on grilled chicken breasts. For every ingredient I tested harissa on, it passed with flying colors. I want to try this recipe for salmon, kale and harissa next.

As much as I love to cook, I’m not someone who feels you have to DIY for everything if someone else can make it better. I’d cop to laziness but it’s really, without getting too deep, about insecurity. Can mine be as good? With Harissa, I didn’t think so but because of this blog post I decided to try. I used this recipe.

On a 100-degree day I cranked up my oven to 500
Roasted my peppers

Diced my chilies (not the Thai chilies the recipe called for but long green hot peppers). Remember the chili pepper/metabolism connection?  I also used ground coriander versus seeds (it’s all I had).
blurry, spicy chilies and garlic
 Combined everything in the Vitamix (recipe says to do in 2 stages but needed the volume for Vitamix to work).  I spooned the blended harissa into a weck jar,  refrigerated it as directed and you know what? Just as good as Mina’s.
Have you already met harissa? Do you make it yourself? What do you use it for? What's your current favorite condiment?

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Corn Doody

I swear, I didn’t invent the term Corn Doody but according to the highly reputable Urban Dictionary it’s “what you find in the bowl the morning after eating corn”. And to be clear, we’re not talking a bowl bowl. It’s corn season, clients ask the darndest things and lately I’m fielding numerous corn doody queries. I always chalked this occurrence up to insufficient chewing but is there more to it with corn? After all, not all foods come out whole.

The outer hull of corn is made of cellulose that is indigestible to humans; we do not have the necessary enzymes to break it down. Even when you chew a kernel (we can’t all be inhaling our corn) it’s mainly the inner portion that’s digested. The cellulosey outer layer remains, one website likened it to an empty sleeve.

I know what you’re thinking, I do. How come what’s in the “bowl” doesn’t look like an empty, flattened sleeve but a full or whole sleeve? It’s because WARNING GROSSNESS as corn makes its way from top to bottom, it is refilled (nasty I know). So there you have it.

And though corn doody may be a seasonal concern, don’t be alarmed by quinoa, beans or flax doody either. While odd this isn’t usually a problem unless accompanied by other GI symptoms that I’ll refrain from discussing today, enough is enough.
Have you, you can admit it, experienced corn doody? Have you wondered why? Are their other foods that seem to "pass through" whole? Are you wondering if I've lost it?

Monday, July 15, 2013

If you want to let food be they medicine, have to take "it" daily

We are bombarded by food claims. Some foods improve exercise recovery, others ease PMS, there are ingredients that help with metabolism and a few even actually help reduce belly fat. The first step is to sort through the research or consult an expert to find our which claims hold up. The second, often missed, step is to consume the foods regularly in order to ease symptoms or make a noticeable difference.  If a doctor prescribed a blood pressure pill, would you ever take it once or whenever you think about it and expect it to work? I hope not.

I recently talked about sun protective foods. If you're as concerned about sun damage as I am these days, put walnuts, wild salmon and cruciferous veggies on list each week and seek out recipes that utilize them. This is our new meatless monday dinner, in my opinion the perfect kale salad (with walnuts too). I love a cookbook from Melissa Clark Cook This Now because it's organized by month.  Green beans with walnuts and walnut oil (tarragon really makes this). green beans and walnuts
There was also a great article on wild salmon in the times last week (it is worth it to go wild) with this recipe I have on our menu for this week.
If you have GI issues or have been struggling with sub par immunity up your probiotic foods. Include at least one probiotic food daily. Have you seen Evolve's Greek Kefir? Kefir boasts 10x the probiotics of yogurt, I also adore my Siggis Coconut skyr and Bubbies' sauerkraut (no "dog" needed).

I am a believer in the power of linoleic fatty acids and belly fat but you'll need to snack on sunflower seeds daily, put hemp seeds or protein in your morning smoothie or add pine nuts to your salad.

Yes, there’s a value in eating a variety of healthy foods daily but if you are utilizing a food for a specific function, it needs to be consumed regularly for enough time. Start with 4-6 weeks. In some areas- GI pain or body fat you'll be able to see a difference. The bonus? Oftentimes when we're really getting what's called a therapeutic dose of a certain nutrient, there are other "side effects" such as better skin or digestion. Hippocrates was one smart guy.
Have you ever added a food into your diet for the sake of improving a condition or health issue? How long did it take to notice a difference? Do you take vitamins? Have you ever though of seeking out the same nutrients from food?

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Healthy Scavenger Hunt Wine Country & San Francisco

I always have a hard time with the hobby question. “What are your hobbies?” makes me feel inadequate wishing I collected something or was semi crafty. I usually answer with a sport such as tennis or skiing. Blogging, tweeting or organizing don’t feel like legit responses. But I do have a hobby that I forget about when I’m not doing it and that’s traveling. Few things make me more excited or, and I know this sounds so cliché’, feel as “alive” (as if we can feel dead…).

While out to dinner a couple of months ago, friends mentioned a trip to Calistoga and said “you guys should come.” I know they didn’t expect us to email the next day confirming, “we’re all set, can’t wait.” We hadn’t been to the Napa area in 15 years. As I did with New Orleans, I’ll fill you in on my favorite healthy finds:

I’ll admit, I was a little apprehensive when friends mentioned a Sip and Cycle tour. Wine tasting and cycling seemed like a dangerous combination but I also knew this was something I couldn’t pass up. I had to pinch myself as we rode with grapes lining the path on either side of us and the scent of lavender in the air. 

We visited 3 vineyards but my favorite was Lava Vine. They figured out how to remove all the pretentiousness of winemaking. It’s a charming, rustic set up. We left with a bottle of their port which they had us taste with chocolate drizzled with olive oil and sea salt.

Also loved this indoor/outdoor gym set up. And yes we like activities so tennis and golf happened too

Green Juice (of course)
When traveling, especially at hotels, ask and you shall receive (or in this case sip). They didn’t have a green juice on the menu but they had fresh squeezed juice.  A little conversation and minutes later…to our little cabin in Calistoga.
In San Francisco we stocked up at Pressed Juicery in the ferry building. I chose Greens 4, which includes watercress while Marc opted for Greens 6 with lemongrass, honeydew, and greens.

Commendable Cocktail
We tasted some delicious wine but truth be told I’m more of a cocktail girl. Normally, a spirit on the rocks does the trick but how I could I resist this?
Lavender, elderflower and lemon (trying to get complete recipe) from Brix made this my favorite drink of the trip (Range in SF deserves runner-up status). 

Veggie Action
Oftentimes, when away, despite eating well I feel a little veggie deprived. My favorite restaurant in the wine country was Farmstead. Farmstead is housed in a former nursery and as they say it’s “authentic farm to table” cuisine. I think this was my first grilled artichoke, we also had the kale salad. There was a special pepper described as “a lot like a shishito” that they ran out of before we ordered. Hate that.

Sensational Seafood
I loved the wild salmon at Farmstead but this crudo at Bottega was special. Served on a block of pink sea salt, it was a pretty fantastic starter.

Worthy Treat
When we visited Cowgirl Creamery at the Ferry building in SF I tweeted “I’ll give you all the sweets in the world if I can just have this” but my treat of the trip was definitely the Humboldt Fog cheese served at our picnic following the sipping and cycling.

Other Highlights
March and Heath Ceramics in San Francisco for tableware/décor.
Gotts and Meadowood two places we didn’t get to this time.

And then came the return trip complicated by the unfortunate plane crash in San Francisco. If you’re going to be stuck in an airport, that one isn’t so bad.

Any summer travel planned? Or have you already been away? Any workouts or healthy finds to report? Do you have hobbies? 

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Guest List

Before everyone who has ever stayed with or hosted us starts worrying, this post is not about you. We were with two other couples staying with our close friends (and I’ll add the most gracious, amazing hosts) when I broached the subject of houseguests. I asked the group what they think makes for an issue free guest stay. The conversation quickly shifted to worst case scenario experiences and within minutes I was laughing so hard tears were rolling down my face. Everyone has a nightmare guest story that becomes a great story later.

I'm no etiquette expert but a few considerate moves can relieve any potential guest stress. These are what I think are the pivotal issues in a host/guest relationship. Things are a little different with family but even there a little forethought helps.

Know where you are going
By this I mean know what type of host you are dealing with, there are only 2 types:
There’s the loosey goosey/anything goes (LGAG) or organized and anal (OAA). While the LGAG host is seemingly the way to go these hosts may leave you with the nasty sliver of soap and no coffee in the morning. OAA doesn’t sound like as much fun but you’ll get perfect directions, a well planned stay and your favorite cocktail waiting for you. In case there is any doubt, I am from this school of hosting (and living). And I’m not alone. I recently learned of a friend’s mother who has a spreadsheet of menus broken down by guest. She does this so as not to serve anyone the same thing twice. I worship her.

When would you like us?
Most hosts  (especially when OAA) want to greet their guests so whenever possible rather than saying “we should be there at …” ask your host what time is convenient. There’s a grace period and understanding for traffic but if you say you’re leaving at 8am, leave around 8 or give your hosts a heads up that plans changed. We’ve had friends we thought were buried in an avalanche only to hear “oh we stopped for lunch and skis”.
Same goes for departure, I felt terribly with our friends mentioned above. We were getting reading to leave and my friend said “you’re out of here already?” I hadn’t made this clear ahead of time. When you can, have the discussion and find out what works for everyone.

What “is there anything we can have in the house?” for you means
When a host asks this, it means are there one or two special requests you’d like to put in.  A list isn’t cool, neither are obscure asks. I had a client who sent a host out for chia seed and a friend who told me she had to search in upstate NY for spelt pasta a guest asked for. Same goes for any allergies/dislikes “I’m allergic to dairy” is legit but some of my happy tears I referred to came when a friend referred to a 1-page response to “is there anything we can pick up” complete with each family members food preferences, brands of choice and preparation suggestions. If you like chia (and you should) BYO, same goes for vitamins or any foods you’re really tied to or pertaining to a dietary restriction but don’t bring full on groceries to someone’s house and further don’t stick to only “your food”.

Timing may not be everything but it matters
I know, I know you’re going to stay with someone and it should be relaxing; however it’s a house not a hotel and guests need to be mindful of the schedule. “What time is everyone up?” Or, “what’s the plan for tomorrow?” It is a good way to gauge things. Nothing worse that cooking breakfast or making lunch only to have to clean kitchen a second time. Take cues, and especially if children are involved, encourage your kids do the same.

Great guests do these five things
Unload dishwasher
Put a load of laundry in
Help cook
Replenish things as they run out
Keep things neat (even if they don’t at home) I received a tweet from  @EdgyRD “great houseguests make their beds and close the door when the go to bathroom” no comment on the last part.

Great hosts do these five things
Make coffee (even if they don’t drink coffee)
Give you a bed with pillows they’d want to use
Don’t create a stressful environment even if hosting is stressful (this one a work in progress for me, trying for type “A minus” this coming winter)
Refresh the toiletries in the bathroom (no Pert Plus circa 1990)
Go the extra mile with food or activities really putting thought into your stay.

And finally, TY
Say thank you in person, via email or via phone. Nothing feels better than knowing your guests had fun and appreciated the effort.  Or if you’re an anal and organized guest (and you know who you are) send a hand written note.
What type of host are you? What do you think great guests/hosts do? And what is your houseguest or host pet peeve?

Monday, July 1, 2013

The one place I’m not healthy really hurt me

I try to be vigilant when it comes nutrition. I’m conscious of ingredients and sourcing when it comes to what I eat, what I suggest my client’s eat and of course what the boys and Marc eat. I love to cook and exercise most days. If you’re getting annoyed as I toot my own horn, I’m just trying to make myself feel better. You see there’s one place I’m not as careful and that’s with sun exposure.

Growing up, there was a fair amount of beach time. I swear, I don’t remember sunblock ever used. As a teenager, there were tanning beds (I know) and sunbathing and later runs in blazing heat without sun protection (justified by saying it gets in my eyes and burns). So, last summer when I noticed a mark on the side of my nose, I asked my dermatologist about it. He dismissed it saying, “that doesn’t look like anything dangerous”. It was close to where my sunglasses press on my nose so I chalked this little red circle up to tight glasses. However, even after I switched glassese it continued to get red.

Last month mid-treatment my facialist said, “I really don’t think it’s anything but this mark shouldn’t still be here.” She had me promise to see the doctor before my next visit. I thought about Erin who was initially dismissed by her doctor and booked my appointment.

My doctor looked at the mark, now larger, and said “I still don’t think it looks worrisome but I’m going to biopsy it to be sure.” He did and frankly I forgot about it. I felt responsible for having seen the doctor but I got caught up in getting the boys off to camp. I was sitting in the pediatrician’s office with my younger son when the phone rang. My doctor had the results and said “it’s skin cancer but it’s called basal cell and it’s not life threatening. You’re a very healthy person but this is from sun exposure 20 or more years ago. I’d like you to come in and discuss treatment options.” I hurried off the phone and did what any person in total denial would. I saw my son’s doctor, went off to lunch with a friend and her boys, business as usual.  It was only when we walked through Central Park, after lunch, and the sun hit my face (and felt good) that I remembered the news. My lifelong relationship with the sun had to change for good.

As we head into the July 4th holiday please give sun protection more thought. I asked Kathy from Beauty Palette and Joanna Vargas (who I am so indebted to) for their advice.

Kathy has one of my favorite blogs and I was relieved when she started her email with
“I've become pretty obsessive over sunscreen recently (I was very irresponsible with tanning beds in my youth and am trying to make up for lost time)” Kathy sorted out sunscreen labels below:

Most people are aware that they should be avoiding chemical sunscreens (with ingredients such as octinoxate, parabens and phthalates). However, what I've noticed is that people assume that as long as they are using zinc oxide and titanium dioxide they're safe. While they are definitely better than your typical chemical sunscreens, titanium dioxide particles are quite small and can be absorbed into the bloodstream. To be completely safe, opt for a sunscreen that ONLY uses non-nano zinc oxide as its sole active ingredient. 

The issue with using non-nano zinc is that they usually leave you white because of the larger particle size, so some crafty companies try and mask that issue by using silicones (any ingredient ending in "-cone"). While silicones haven't been proven to be toxic or anything, they tend to make my skin a little more breakout prone. Be EXTREMELY thorough with your nighttime cleansing. Silicones are quite difficult to wash off.

Kathy’s picks
MV Organics Face Screen having a tint definitely helps offset the white cast
Sun Integrity Face Sunscreen I am currently using this and yes it has silicones in it but this specific formulation hasn't given me any problems
Graydon Sun Cream this one is not tinted, but has gotten great reviews (Lauren here noting this one has sea buckthorn oil it, love that).
Honest Sunscreen this one is on the thicker side, rub in well, great for outdoor or sport use. 

Joanna’s picks
I like the Eminence Organics 30 SPF powders I sell because you can reapply throughout the day and they can go over makeup
Fallene makes a 58 SPF that's great for vacations. It's a little white, but not too bad. I use it on my body too.
Also a great line of SPF is Organic Pharmacy. They are sold at New London Pharmacy on 8th Avenue. Awesome place for trying European brands by the way. 

During the day I like to layer the sun protection. 
 I use my own Daily Hydrating Cream (has SPF 20), then tinted moisturizer, then the powder.

Joanna concluded by saying "also a must is a hat and sunglasses. They add another layer of protection."And Kathy added “I know the price point isn't exactly low for these, but it is hard to find a sunscreen that keeps you safe, does it job and doesn't make you look like Casper so in my very humble opinion, I think it's worth the extra money. And one last reminder, I literally don't know a single person who reapplies their sunscreen as much as they should - myself included.”

Sun protection isn’t only about creams and powders. Certain foods are helpful when it comes to sun exposure and protection (in addition to topical protection)
Walnuts, Salmon and other foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids are shown to have a role in preventing non-melanoma skin cancer. Green tea, specifically the polyphenols in green tea prevents skin cancer by enhancing DNA repair. Flavanols in dark chocolate are photo protective (I’m patting myself on the back for the cacao/bourbon popsicles we made this weekend). And cruciferous vegetables such as kale, broccoli, cabbage, arugula and radishes protect you from sun damage as well.
Just one more reason to eat a diet rich in these foods.

I opted for treatment that includes removal of the lesion (later this month) followed my 2 weeks of a cream that attacks the “foreign” cells. I should be red (and perhaps ugly) but I’ll have 80-90% cure rate. And I’m going to be better about the sun.
What is your sun protection routine like? Have you been to the dermatologist lately? How often do you reapply sunblock? What can you do to be safer when it comes to the sun?