Archive for August, 2013

Unrecipe of the Week: Tomato Tart

August 30, 2013

This delicious tart is a great way to feature the last tomatoes of the season. Served as a main dish with a salad, or as an appetizer, this savory tart features heirloom tomatoes, basil and soft goat cheese.

Tomato Tart with Basil and Goat Cheese:

Roll out pate brisee and place it in a tart pan with a removable bottom. Find our basic pastry recipe here.

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Make a basil puree out of fresh basil leaves, and clove of garlic. Pulse them in the food processor until they are finely diced. With the machine running, add olive oil until it makes a loose, spreadable paste. Spread this on the bottom of the tart crust.

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Place heirloom cherry tomatoes cut in half in concentric circles on top of the basil mixture. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, and brush lightly with olive oil.
Bake in a hot (425 degree) oven for about 40 minutes or so. At this point, the crust will start to turn golden, and the tomatoes will begin to shrivel a bit.

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Sprinkle soft goat cheese on the tart and continue to bake until the cheese melts and the crust reaches the desired shade of golden brown; about 10 more minutes.

Allow to cool slightly and cut into wedges. Serve with a side of mixed greens and enjoy!!

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Making Sense of Sensory Cues

August 29, 2013

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Can a scent help dieters resist sweets? Researcher Nicola Buckland seems to think so.

In a recent study, Buckland gave subjects a sniff of fresh oranges or chocolate.

Afterwards, she offered them the opportunity to help themselves to both foods.

Those that smelled the oranges indulged 60% less than those who smelled the chocolate. In this case, the scent of oranges reminded dieters to limit their intake of forbidden foods.

It has also been shown that amniotic fluids can transfer both flavors and aromas from mothers to their unborn fetuses.  This early exposure is thought to have an effect on children’s palettes.

It is still unknown what other sensory cues influence our food choices, but grocery stores have been tempting us with the smell of freshly baked bread for years.

Next time you have a craving, stop and try smelling something healthy, such as an orange and see if it helps it to dissipate.

photo: Glasshouse Images 

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Foods for Body and Brain

August 28, 2013

It’s back to school time, and young people across the country are settling into a new routine. For many college students, that means a steady diet of fast food, and it’s not just the dreaded “freshman 15″ that should cause culinary concern. We have all heard the adage ” You are what you eat,” but did you know that certain foods can improve your studying ability, help you sleep better, and beat stress?

Our friends at The Best Colleges, have shared this great info graphic with us, to show you the power foods that help you be at your best.

The average college student eats fast food a whopping 6-8 times per week! These calorie bombs not only expand your waistline, but they decrease your concentration as well.

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Planning a day of cramming for a big test? Try these nutritional powerhouses to enhance your studying:

Fish has been shown to enhance your memory. Get your omega-3’s in fresh fish or fish oil supplements to increase reaction time by 20%.

Caffeine not only wakes you up, but also improves your mental acuity.

Eggs provide choline, which is nicknamed the memory vitamin.

Start your day with scrambled eggs, smoked salmon and a hot cup of joe to get the most out of your study session.

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A good night’s sleep is key to performance. Cherries contain melatonin, which regulates sleep. Bananas are rich in tryptophan, which helps the body produce calming hormones. The magnesium in almonds also promotes muscle relaxation. Snack on cherries, bananas and nuts about an hour before bed to ensure a restful night.

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School can be stressful, and these stress busters will help you get through the difficult times. Dark chocolate lowers blood pressure and its caffeine content keeps you sharp for long study sessions. Avocado is just one of the fruits that help bolster your immune system, keeping you healthy throughout the school year. While eating garlic and onions is not the best recipe for a great social life, these antioxidant filled flavorings protect the immune system and increase blood flow. Add a little avocado to your salad or sandwich, as well as some garlic and onion rich foods like hummus, guacamole or salsa to stay healthy.

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The right nutrition can make a big difference in your health, as well as your grades. Fuel up properly to get the most out of your education.

info graphic courtesy of : the best collages.org

Kitchen Tips Tuesday: Home Scents

August 27, 2013

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No matter how clean you may be, sometimes the house smells a bit “off.”  Last night’s dinner may still be lingering, or perhaps it’s just a bit stuffy. We have a simple, natural trick that we use to scent the air.

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Take a small pot of water and add cinnamon, cloves, orange or lemon peels, and bring it to a simmer on the stove. The aroma will permeate the area, leaving the house smelling like fresh baked pie. Just be careful to watch it to make sure that the water doesn’t completely evaporate.

Warning: Could cause extreme baked goods cravings!

photos: Glasshouse Images

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She Can’t Stop ( but maybe she should)

August 26, 2013

Miley Cyrus was the talk of the VMA’s last night. Her pitchy singing was completely overshadowed by her cringe worthy performance. Tongue out, twerking with people dressed as teddy bears, and rubbing up against a large bottomed African American woman, the display was more in poor taste than ground breaking. Her choice of all black dancers was in essence as racist as Paula Deen wanting only black servers to work at her southern themed party.

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Stripping off her ill fitting fuzzy teddy, and continuing only in a nude colored bra and panties, she proceeded to “duet” with Robin Thicke, if you can count rubbing up against his crotch and pretending (?) to pleasure herself with a large foam finger a duet.

The Internet was instantly buzzing with negative reactions to her act, ranging from mortified moms to bored 30-somethings, and appalled people of all ages who were shocked by her misplaced sexuality, and tasteless behavior.

The following day brought even more discussion, with all of the websites and daytime talk shows going on and on about how inappropriate she was. For a young woman starving for attention, and trying to break out of a squeaky clean image, we would venture to say that her performance was extremely successful.

While she walked out of the awards show empty handed, she is getting more media attention than any of the winners. Isn’t that what she wanted in the first place?

What did you think of Miley’s raunchy performance last night?

 

Bag It

August 22, 2013

Plastic bag of shrimps

We are on a family vacation in Hilton Head, South Carolina this week. Although we are enjoying the local cuisine (lots of fresh seafood) and trying to avoid some of the local cuisine (hush puppies, cheese grits and fried seafood), we made a trip to the supermarket to stock up on a few basics to have around the house.

I was appalled as we left Harris Teeter yesterday with 4 plastic bags worth of groceries: 1 bag contained a small jug of laundry detergent and a container of yogurt, another had some ice cream and frozen fruit for smoothies, one was filled with a carton of orange juice, and the last contained a box of green tea.

Could that not fit into one bag? Did we really need to place a small item like teabags into it’s own private bag?

Us New Yorkers were appalled: the Floridians, not so much.

Relief came in the form of an article, outlining the proposed plastic bag laws back home.

New York legislators are proposing a 10-cent surcharge for each plastic bag used by consumers at retail establishments. A charge may also be levied for paper bags as well.

New Yorkers currently use about 5.2 million bags per year, at a cost of $10 million dollars for the city to transport them to landfills in other states.

Similar bills in other cities have been met with great success, including Washington D.C. whose use of plastic bags declined 60% and Los Angeles, who has seen a whopping 95% decline in the use of plastic bags.

Many of the stores where I shop at home incentivize customers to bring their own reusable cloth bags by offering bag credits, and weekly raffles. Some, such as Whole Foods Market do not even offer plastic bags, and use recycled paper bags for patrons who do not have their own.

Hopefully, plastic shopping bags will go the way of the cassette tape, and become something that our grandchildren will find unfathomable.

As one environmentalist summed it up so eloquently. “ Only vampires should be that thin, and last hundreds of years!”

photo: Glasshouse Images

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Unrecipe of the Week: Fish Tacos

August 21, 2013

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Here is a light, summery variation on tacos. They are simple and healthy, and rely on fresh, zesty flavors, rather than the heavy beans, sour cream and cheese often found in the meat variety. The fish is marinated, and they are served with a simple slaw and diced vegetables. A typical “unrecipe”, they are easily customizable to suit your tastes.

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For the fish:

Marinate any white fish (Cod, flounder or tilapia for example. I used tilapia ) in the juice of 2-3 limes, a tablespoon or two of oil, a clove of garlic finely chopped, and cumin, cayenne pepper, salt and black pepper to taste.  Coat the fish and allow it to marinate in the refrigerator for at least 15 minutes, or up to an hour or two. If you try to marinate it too long, the citrus may cause it fall apart.

Grill or broil the fish until cooked through. Set aside.

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For the slaw:

Finely shred 1 napa cabbage and chop a big handful of cilantro. Toss with a little lime juice and olive oil and season with salt and pepper.

You can add a bit of chopped red onion to the slaw, but I chose to serve them on the side, since I dislike raw onions so much!

Dice avocado, and fresh tomatoes for additional fillings, or use guacamole and salsa if you prefer.

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To serve:
Heat flour or soft corn tortillas and cover with a kitchen towel to keep warm.
Place a piece of the fish on the taco, add some slaw, and avocado, and tomatoes, sprinkle it with a little hot sauce, roll it up, and enjoy!!
If you are feeling ambitious, try our recipe for fresh flour tortillas here:

The highlight of our meal was someone seeing these shots on instagram, and running over to join us for dinner!

photos: indigo jones instagram

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Full Moon Rising

August 20, 2013

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While there are many myths surrounding a full moon, one thing is scientifically proven: the full moon has an effect on our sleep cycles.

Tonight’s  full moon will make it harder to fall asleep,and cause our sleep to be less deep. This is related to something scientists call our ” circalunar clock,” which governs our body’s reactions, based on the moon’s cycles.

It is thought that our ancestors slept lighter during a full moon so they could be more aware of predators hunting in the moonlight.

Prepare to take 5 extra minutes to fall asleep tonight, and plan to sleep about 20 minutes less than usual.

It is thought that circalunar phenomenon might effect animals as well as humans.

The full moon can also effect us in other ways, ranging from our fertility to our mental state. After all, the word “lunatic” is derived from the Latin word “luna’ meaning moon in English.

photo: Glasshouse Images

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Hot Tips Tuesday: Relieving Muscle Cramps

August 20, 2013

Everyone who does any type of physical activity has experienced leg cramps and side stitches. Today’s tips will help you beat them in no time.

New runners are often plagued by side stitches; those gripping cramps that form at the side of your waist. It happens when the overworked diaphragm begins to spasm.

To ease the pain, slow your pace, and exhale forcefully each time the foot opposite from the painful side strikes the ground. It can also help to massage the area until the pain subsides.

Avoid them by eating lightly at least 1 hour before running. A full stomach can trigger side stitches.

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Leg cramps and toe cramps are other painful side effects of working out, or even walking in high heels all day. They often hit in the middle of the night, and can be absolutely excruciating.

For a “Charley horse,” deeply massage the area until you can get up and walk it off.

For toe cramps, pull the toes towards you until the muscle starts to relax and the worst of the pain subsides.

Muscle cramps can often signal dehydration. Be sure to drink enough water when you work out to help prevent them.

You might also try keeping tonic water on hand. The quinine in the beverage has been known to relieve the spasm.

Doing dynamic stretches to warm up, and stagnant stretches to cool down will help prevent muscle cramps post workout.

photo: Glasshouse Images

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Looks Matter

August 15, 2013

We all know that eating well, exercising and getting enough sleep contributes to keeping us healthy. But did you know that there are physical characteristics that place us at a higher risk for certain cancers?

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A new research paper, published by Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention found that there is a correlation between tall women and several cancers, such as breast, colon, endometrial, thyroid, rectal, kidney and melanoma.

The researchers observed a 13% higher risk of developing for every 3.94 inches of height.

Young female with red hair and bare shoulders looking at camera

Redheads beware! Gingers have a much higher risk of skin cancer than their blonde and brunette counterparts. It is speculated that the red pigment in red hair, called pheomelanin may leave skin cells more susceptible to DNA damage. Slather on the sunscreen daily, if it’s raining!

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Protect your baby blues! Those with lighter eye colors, such as blue, green or hazel, are more likely to get intraocular melanoma, or cancer of the eye. Brown eyes have more pigment to protect them from harmful rays. Make sure to wear sunglasses when outdoors, to help filter those strong ultraviolet rays.

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Large breasted women have a greater risk of developing breast cancer than their less endowed sisters. Harvard researchers have found that thin women with a D cup bra size or larger have twice the cancer risk of those wearing an A cup or smaller.

Want to learn more? Check out the full story at Everyday Health.

photos: Glasshouse Images

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