Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Peel me another grape -- Dahlin'

While on the look out for new and healthier recipes I came across a wonderful collection of dishes created by the grape growers of California. The little brochure was packed with beautiful pictures and wonderful nutrition information about the tiny, sweet berries we all take for granted...the unassuming little grape. Did you know that a phytonutrient in grapes, resveratrol, is linked to improved brain health, is credited with the beneficial effects of red wine consumption, and has strong anticancer properties. Just 2 1/2 cups of fresh grapes provides enough resveratrol to cut the risk of certain cancers in half (specifically prostate cancer -- attention gentlemen!) Another powerful compound in the grape, flavonoids, are shown to play an important role in cancer prevention and prevention of heart disease. The flavinoids can help protect the heart and blood vessels against oxidative tissue damage. The best thing of all is that grapes are delicious, easy to snack on and easy to pack for lunch or as a pre-dinner indulgence. Audrey loves tasty tidbits that are healthy!! Pass me a grape... BTW, the benefits of grapes and grape seed extracts are found all over the cosmetic department at your fave department store. For example, a recent emergency trip to Nordstrom's beauty counters turned up a wonderful eye cream containing grape plant extract. I love this product. LancĂ´me even has a moisturizer (super, wondrous moisturizer) that contains the essence of my new favorite berry (and yes, grapes are berries, not fruit). What could be better, rub them on your face, slather them on as moisturizers, cook with them, drink them, eat them...its better than the incredible edible egg. We have the super, sumptuous and snackable grape. Check the recipe below for one twist on the super berry! Ciao!!

Black Fruits in Lavender Honey Glaze
Serves 12 (1 cup each)

Lavender Honey Glaze:
1-½ tsp. Dried lavender blossoms
½ cup honey, warmed
1 Tbsp. Orange zest
½ cup Orange Juice

Fruit Salad:
4 cups fresh blue-black seedless grapes
3 cups blackberries
3 cups dark, sweet cherries, pitted
2 cups black-skin plums, sliced

12 fresh lavender blossom sprigs, for garnish

In a small bowl, whisk together glaze ingredients until well combined. In a large bowl, combine fruits for salad. Pour glaze over fruits and toss gently to coat. Garnish with fresh lavender blossom sprigs. Enjoy!

Recipe found on freshCaliforniagrapes.com – check it out for other great grape dishes!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Feel the burn even when it's cold outside...

This time of year always seems to transform me into a fireside loving, book reading, late sleeping couch potato. I don't know if it is the short days and cool temps that naturally stir the hibernation instinct, but the 5 am workouts get harder and harder to do.

I think we all tend to eat a little more holiday fare, which is rarely low-cal, and if we are not out of doors chopping wood then the holiday pound(s) can creep on. Suddenly all my jeans have shrunk! The answer is to slip activity into the daily grind. For some examples, check out these easy and efficient ways to burn 100 calories:

  • 20 min power walk = 100 cals
  • set the table and prepare a meal = 100 cals
  • clean up the kitchen and wash dishes (35 min) = 100 cals
  • fold laundry (40 min) = 100 cals
  • step aerobics (10 min) = 100 cals
  • rake lawn and sack leaves (25 min) = 100 cals
  • weed the flower beds (20 min) = 100 cals
  • run up and down the steps for 15 min = 100 cals

It is easy to see that daily 'chores' and a little brisk movement can add up to significant caloric burn. Simple ways to fight the winter hibernation mode and holiday weight gain. Don't overlook the power of simple substitutions. As a good friend of mine reminded me this morning "Low-calorie and sugar-free products allow people to make simple substitutions. For example, by using a low-calorie product, anywhere from 50 to 150 calories can be saved. Over the course of a year, if used daily, that can translate to a 5 to 15 pound weight loss." Please pass the Splenda®!! Happy Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 17, 2006

Plain old Puritan fear...

"Bottom line: Sweeteners work if you use them to replace caloric treats and drinks; fear of sweeteners is probably plain old Puritan fear of unearned pleasure." http://www.psychologytoday.com/rss/pto-20060925-000006.html.

I have listed the link above as one of the best reviews on sweetener effectiveness in weight loss and insight as to why there is controversy surrounding anything with a sweet taste. It seems there are people who would oppose anything that is tasty regardless of its origins -- bees, beets, science...if it is sweet then it can't possibly be harmless...OK, relax, deep breath... In my view, we were meant to enjoy life and not be consumed with unnecessary worry. So the article, which appeared in Psychology Today, speaks to that point. I guess I am on hyper-drive since my return from FL. Need the weekend and some time with friends to unwind.

Speaking of FL, you can still wear white in November as long as you are in FL. Apparently that applies to any traditional summer color or style. Saw some of the most outrageously colorful outfits while in Naples. It was fun to watch the parade. I was glad I brought lighter colors with me once I left the plane and began walking through the airport...wow! My eyes! My eyes! I didn't know citron yellow and lime green were wardrobe staples for folks...I say, if you've got it then flaunt it (esp. in your lime green platforms!?!). Strange and full of fun. This is just a quick hello before I run out for the weekend. Later alligator...BTW they feed alligators in the Everglades marshmallows as part of the “swamp tour”...don't ask! --A.T.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

The case of the disappearing oatmeal cookies....

Ok, still reveling in this beautiful fall. It is out of this world, both in terms of tree color and temperatures. I have been spending evenings curled around a good book, in front of a roaring fire, sipping my fave herb tea (loving a blend of roobios, white tea, vanilla and jasmine, from a tiny, specialty tea house in Roswell, GA). The book I am reading is the second book by Mireille Guiliano, French Women for All Seasons: A Year of Secrets, Recipes, and Pleasure. YUM! If you haven't read the first book, French Women Don't Get Fat, I say RUN to the store and read it cover to cover. One of the best health/lifestyle books ever written. Anyway, love this fall weather and it inspires more culinary experimentation in the kitchen...I have created the ultimate oatmeal raisin cookie recipe. To be truthful, I started with the traditional Quaker Oats recipe, combined it with some common sense, and Voila -- Disappearing, Healthyish Oatmeal Raisin cookies.

Here's the recipe:
(2 sticks) margarine or butter, softened -- this is the splurge/indulgence a la French Women
1 1/2 cup firmly packed Splenda® brown sugar baking mix
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt (optional)
3 cups Quaker® Oats (quick or old fashioned, uncooked) -- can also try, Uncle Sam's Oatmeal with flax seeds
1 cup raisins (Organic preferably)

Mix above ingredients, spoon onto cookie sheets and bake 10-15 min in 350 degree oven...They truly do disappear because they are soooo fabu! Ladies, a Skinny Jeans reminder. For this and other delectable fall/holiday treats make sure you implement the Rule of ONE...take one cookie, savor it and leave the rest for your friends and family. This rule will help keep off pounds making the Skinny Jean possible, spread love and goodwill throughout your network, and allow you to indulge/enjoy the efforts of your labors. Love Ya! Savor the season, roast some pumpkin seeds, and look out for more...Off to Naples, Friday. Might need to send a FL report ;-).

Audrey T

More Splenda recipes here.