Friday, July 29, 2011

Pass me a slice of cheesecake!

Happy Friday!! It's amazing how much one's mood improves at 4:45 p.m. on a Friday. I assume I'm not alone in that sentiment?! Anyway, I have a few reasons to celebrate this weekend. First, my parents are flying in for a quick visit, which is always fun. Second, we're all driving to see a relative's band play at a charity event tomorrow, which should be a rocking good time. Third, tomorrow is National Cheesecake Day, which just happens to be one of my favorite desserts. Oh yeah, much like the Golden Girls, I love me a slice of cheesecake.

If you're looking to celebrate the food holiday tomorrow, here are three low-calorie, sucralose-sweetened dessert recipes. Now you can eat your cheesecake with less calorie-related guilt!

Marvelous Mocha Cheesecake

Mango Cheesecake

New York Style Cheesecake

And since it's Friday, and I'm in a damn good mood, here are some adorable animal videos to put a proper smile on your face. Enjoy the weekend!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Summer colds are far from fun

I was supposed to be putting on a swimsuit this afternoon and going on a friend's boat for an afternoon of sun, swimming and cold drinks. Instead, I'm sitting in bed with a mound of Kleenex next to me, watching a bad TV movie and battling a wicked cold and cough. That's right, folks. I have a summer cold. It started on Monday with a throat tickle that developed, over the course of the afternoon, into a sore throat. By Tuesday, I was sniffling and hacking up my lungs and by Wednesday, I had severe congestion, aches and chills. Needless to say, it's been a lousy week.

Anyway, to get over this nasty little bug, I've been downing quarts of OJ and bowls of chicken pho and vegetable soup the past five days, along with a ridiculous amount of tea, water, vitamins, cold meds and emergen-C. Good times. And yes, I've invested in a neti pot. So should any of you get waylaid by sickness in the coming weeks, here are some tips to aid in the recovery.

* Sleep is good. Get plenty of rest, especially while you have a fever. Rest helps your body fight infection.
* Hydration is key. To help loosen mucus and prevent dehydration, drink lots of fluids such as water, herbal tea, juice and Gatorade. And really try to avoid alcohol while you're sick.
* Clean yourself up. A fever and cold is no excuse to wear the same pair of sweatpants for three days. In addition to rinsing some of the germs off, a clean bath or shower and change of clothes can help ease body aches and congestion.
* Avoid dairy. In some people, dairy products increase mucus production. Dairy products may also make nausea and vomiting worse.
* Orange juice, especially with the pulp, is packed with vitamin C and folic acid, which help to boost immunity and speed recovery from illness. Some researchers suggest that vitamin C may even decrease the time you are sick with colds and flu.
* Chicken soup is a must with cold-like symptoms. In fact, in a study published in the journal Chest, researchers confirmed that chicken soup had a mild anti-inflammatory effect that reduced symptoms of upper respiratory tract infections.

Before I sign off, here are a few meals designed to ease a sore, tickling throat or stuffy head.

Cool Mint and Orange Tea

Fuzzy Orange Smoothie

Pho Ga

Garden Vegetable Soup

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Pass me that pancake, please!

I had the best intentions this morning. Really, I did! We woke up bright and early for a volunteer project that involved making repairs to houses in a low-income community. Even the gloomy skies didn't deter us. However, when we were five minutes away from our destination, we found out the project had been canceled due to the inclement weather. Sigh. No brownie points for me today! So instead of spending the morning armed with hammers, wrenches and nails, my volunteer crew headed to a local diner for some breakfast goodies. I typically stick with eggs and bacon, but today, I caved and ordered a short stack of pancakes with caramelized bananas and toasted pecans. How friggin' yummy does that sound??! It was delicious and, I'm sure, pretty high in fat and calories. Sigh. I'll have to do an extra zumba class later to work off the meal. Fortunately for all of my loyal followers, I just discovered a low-calorie, sucralose-sweetened recipe variation on Enjoy and have a wonderful, hopefully rain-free weekend!

Banana Walnut Pancakes

Sunday, July 10, 2011

A taste of France

I just had brunch at an adorable French restaurant. I love finding new favorite eateries - and this one will easily join my list of top breakfast spots in Atlanta. From the adorable outdoor patio and tasty mimosas to the basket of blueberry scones and muffins that literally melted in the mouth, it was an extremely enjoyable experience. And had there not been a crowd around us, I probably would have licked the plate clean that my spinach crepes sat on. Delicious!! Anyway, for all of you other French food fans, I found a few low-calorie recipe versions perfect for the next time you feel like whipping up a French-influenced meal at home. I particularly can't wait to make that sucralose-sweetened French toast. C'est magnifique!

Lemon Crepes

French Toast Strata

Caramelized Pear on Warm Brie

Low-carb Quiche Lorraine