Wednesday, February 23, 2011

A Vegetarian's Guide to Good Food: The Drinks!

There are numerous discussions these days about people watching their weight and decreasing their meat intake.  So much so that there seems to be this growing trend of people turning to the vegetarian diet, and with good reason.  The vegetarian diet if carefully monitored can lower you fat intact and help you lose weight leading to a longer life.  The misconceptions that some people have is that vegetarian food doesn’t always taste so great – but I have compiled a list of drinks, foods and even some great restaurants in the city that will please your taste buds and will do your body good. Because there is a long list of items, I thought it fair to myself and to the readers to post this in sections.

Part 1: The Drinks:

Synergy Kombucha
It’s the kombucha that powers your energy for the day.  It’s perfect if you want to detox for the day, as a morning pick-me-up or to re-energize after a workout.  Gingerberry is a mix of blueberry juice, ginger juice and kombucha; it helps increase energy, decrease appetite and improve digestion. Traditionally kombucha was a medicinal drink, a fermented tea, that has healing and detoxifying properties.  The glucaric acid activated during the fermentation process makes the liver more efficient in eliminating toxins from the body.  There has also been claim that kombucha is the miracle drink for fighting cancer but scientific support and research has still not been substantiated. 

Enlightened Synergy Organic & Raw Gingerberry tastes like a berry seltzer but is so much better for you than just the berry fruit.

Organic Raw Kombucha Gingerade is a mix of ginger juice and kombucha that kinda taste like a lemonade but more on the bitter side. 

Naked Juice
No sugar or preservatives in these drinks – they’ve got nothing to hide.

Green Machine
So good for you – just read the ingredients: over 2 servings of apples, ½ banana, 1/3 kiwi fruit, 1/3 mango, spirulina, chlorella, broccoli, spinach, blue green algae, garlic, barley grass, wheat grass, ginger and parsley.  Okay I know what you’re think – gross – so did I at first but then I tried it and it was really good, you taste the fruit and a bit of bitterness.  Just close your eyes and try it!

Orange Mango
I use this sweet drink for my morning smoothies.  It’s the same concoction they use in the Starbucks Orange Mango Vivanno.  I mix ½ a 15oz bottle of juice with a banana, whey protein, a teaspoon of matcha green powder and a cup of ice.  I great breakfast supplement when you’re on the go.

Tropical Smoothie
The perfect post workout drink if you want something sweet.  It has 35% fewer calories than the regular Naked juices with a blend of cherry, mango, passion fruit and coconut water.  It’s the coconut water that helps replenish your electrolytes after a workout.  

Almond Milk
Made from ground almonds, unlike cow’s milk, this drink contains no cholesterol or lactose with fewer calories (70 calories for 8oz.) and saturated fat.  Almond milk also contains a healthy amount of protein, magnesium, manganese, selenium and Vitamin E.  Vitamin E protects the cell membranes; selenium helps the immune system and manganese activates the enzymes in the body. It comes in a few flavors – plain, vanilla and chocolate – I recommend trying the vanilla.  It’s great with cereal and a nice sweetener to your coffee (though I would recommend using less sugar in your coffee, almond milk does contain a bit of sugar).


Matcha Green Tea Powder
Matcha is a potent concentration of Japanese green tea.  Traditionally, green match powder was used in a Japanese tea ceremony.  Matcha has many health benefits.  Researcher found that there is a high concentration of the antioxidant EGCG, 137 times greater than the average cup of green tea.  It also has been suggested that Matcha boosts your metabolism, high levels of antioxidants and helps reduce cholesterol levels. As mentioned before, I enjoy using the powder in my smoothies but it’s also great mixed with hot water.

Rooibos Chai Tea
Known as “red bush” in Africa is actually a member of the legume family grown in South Africa.  This tea contains no caffeine and low tannin levels.  It aids with nervous tension and digestive problems.  Rooibos has a nice sweet flavoring so there is no need for sugar and it makes a great pairing with dessert or as an after dinner drink. 

Iron Goddess of Mercy Oolong Tea
The complexity and the labor in making this tea make it the premium tea.  Oolong tea is harvested from the youngest of tea leaves and this particular tea is “monkey picked,” meaning that long ago Buddhist monks would train monkeys to pick the leaves.  There are over 8 steps to process this tea from plucking to rolling to drying, in a cave no less.  Like other green teas, Iron Goddess contains antioxidants but also helps with indigestion and lowering cholesterol.  

Water (pure and simple)
Water is pretty obvious of its health benefits.  Just make sure to drink enough water throughout the day.  It helps clear you complex, hydrate and detox the body.  There are many varieties of water but my favorites are Poland Spring, Fiji, Ethos and just plain filtered tap water.  Another one to try is Smart Water which is infused with electrolytes so it’s a great refreshment after a long workout.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Style Tips from the Ultimate Petit Bohemian, Rachel Zoe

1.Know your body and who you are, honestly.
There have been red carpet moment blunders that you have to wonder what were they thinking or what were their stylists thinking. It’s always important to know what your best features are and play them up! Also, don’t dress for someone else or just because it’s in style - fashion wears you, you don’t wear it.

I know for me, I love the way earth tones look on me but on occasional I will venture out and get bold colors but they usually end up being accessories. Obviously, I am truly careful about fashion trends when it comes to my height because I will rarely ever be seen in flats unless their sneakers and I don’t care for high-waisted pants or skirts because they cut up my short torso. Sorry high-waisted bell bottoms, not this year!

2.Who inspires you, who’s style do you love!

When it comes to honing your own style, look for inspirations in your life and look to celebrities or even peers to see what it is about their style or their persona that has you hooked. Rachel says to look for inspirations but don’t mimic.

Audrey Hepburn, Rachel Zoe and Nicole Richie

I love Audrey Hepburn, Nicole Richie and Rachel Zoe’s styles. I also adore my friend Shoshana’s fashion sense and her eye for the unusual and crafted pieces. I love Hepburn for her makeup styles and her cute playful clothing. Nicole Richie and Rachel Zoe have great fashion sense when it comes to pushing the envelope for the petites (not everyone is a Amazon model). So I have my casual attire, my maxi dresses and my new collection of fun accessories (floppy hat, tri-color ring, cat-eye sunglasses, etc.) but with my personal spin on them.

3. To be a FASHIONISTA doesn’t mean you have to have a lot of money.
Rachel writes “These days there are so many ways to find quality at accessible prices, from eBay to second-hand shops… You and your sister or a cousin or friend can share jewelry or a party dress.”

My favorite places to shop are ASOS, Topshop, H&M and Forever 21. They are usually on the cutting edge of what is in fashion, the quality is there and you don’t have to pay a fortune for them. H&M and Forever 21 are not the best quality but you don’t have to spend a lot for something that will be out of style next season.

When it comes to great unique finds, I love Etsy. I have found so many unique pieces of jewelry that would normally cost quite a penny but because they are handmade by artisan they cost a lot less. They also have vendors with everything from vintage clothing to stationary.

4. Excessories!

The essentials are:
Own a piece of LEOPARD, be it a belt, a bag or a pair of shoes – just make sure not to wear them all together.
DIAMOND STUDS – diamonds are a girl’s best friend, even if they are fake.
A statement COCKTAIL RING – this is a must; sometimes all you need to accessorize a dress is a giant cocktail ring.
PEARLS are the classic element that every woman needs to finish off a look.
A WOW factor NECKLACE just as the cocktail ring may be all you need and it makes a great conversation piece.
BRACELETS – gold, silver and rose gold or even resin
BELTS – belts can bring a boring billowy dress that can make a petite person look pregnant into a fabulous look that accentuates your assets.
Finish your evenings or office looks with BLACK PUMPS.
KNEE HIGH BOOTS are a great accessory for the winter/fall.
Everyone should own an “it” CLUTCH, a clutch can truly help personalize your look.

5. Make a List

List help plan out anything from an outfit to a vacation trip. They make you think about what’s missing that will help elevate an outfit or complete your essentials for a trip. They also make you think about what’s missing in your wardrobe and what pieces in your closet need repair or tailoring. Another good piece of Zoe advice is to keep the list in your purse so that when you shop you know what to look for and only focus on those items. “Otherwise it’s like going grocery shopping when you’re hungry.”

6. The CAMERA doesn’t lie.
Take a picture of yourself in your outfits to see how it truly looks on you. “Balance and proportion become more obvious when framed in a photograph.” It brings attention to what’s missing in your look, if something is too long, doesn’t fit, washes you out, needs accessories, etc.

I did this recently after reading the book and loved the idea. It helped me realize that I need to stand up straight more, stop wearing so much black and also was a great starter to catalog outfits so that when I get up in the morning for work I don’t really have to take that much time in thinking about putting an outfit together.

 Express Soft Suede Motorcycle Jacket, Topshop Mustard Floral Print Top, $50, Florence Midi Skirt in Grey, $104, Aldo Spiney $80

Topshop Boyfriend Cardigan, Victoria Secret's Sweater, Forever 21 Tulip Skirt, Topshop Platform Booties

H&M Paisley Printed Blouse, American Apparel belt, Vera Moda Maxi Skirt

7. How to WORK with the camera.
There is a reason why most women on the red carpet pose a certain way. If you want to look a little slimmer make sure to be angled from the side or a three-quarter point of view – it gives the appearance of smaller hips. Also you can pageant pose with one hand planted on the hip and the other straight down – it forces you to think about your posture. A chin angled slightly up stretches a double chin or angled downward to let the camera focus on your eyes.

8. Anything can look like a million bucks if it FITS.
The most inexpensive clothes can look expensive if they are tailored to your figure. For a few bucks, take clothing to your local dry cleaner.


Rachel’s suggestion: “Save anything that is too metallic, too sparkly, and too showy for after hours.”

Rachel makes a good point in saying that just because it’s your day off doesn’t mean that you fashion sense takes a day off. Here are her essentials for casual attire.
A great pair of JEANS
A jersey or cashmere TOP
A wrap or shift dress
A tote or HOBO BAG for all of your stuff
Nude or bare LIP GLOSS
Rose cheek tint for a natural glow
A wrap or CARDIGAN in case it gets cold
A head scarf (though some people just don’t look good in a head scarf, be ware)
Comfortable but stylish FOOTWEAR (flats, wedges, boots)

11. Jet-Setting

Getting excited about going away can really boost your mood, even if it’s months away. So for your sanity, make plans to take a vacation, even if it’s a staycation. The steps to a comfortable and easy flight are as follow:

Make a list of what essentials you need and not so essentials and stick to it. Rachel gives great pointers about packing for warm/cold weather or business/pleasure.

The Suitcase:
Start with your shoes. Try to pack them in sacks so as they don’t get scratched and stuff them with socks, T-shirts, etc (protects the shoes and optimizes space).
Next, layer with jeans, pants, sweaters, etc.
Lastly, leave the delicate items on top and place anything with beading or sequins inside out and in bags.

Airport Attire:
Layering is key. Since the airport can be a bit warm but the plane is usually not. And of course if you are going from cold weather to warm weather it’s always essential to layer up before you layer down. So I would recommend and so does Rachel to wear comfortable leggings, a cotton jersey top, a wrap or a cardigan and some great flats. ** I wouldn’t wear anything with laces since they are a pain and time effective when going through security.

Flight accessories:

Sunglasses to hide bloodshot eyes and keep other passengers from pestering you
A tote bag to hold your essentials: passport/ticket holder, your iPhone (holds important dates, scheduling, and great for entertainment), a digital camera, moisturizer and eye cream (under 3 oz.), toothbrush and toothpaste (or those throw away Wisps), gum, reading material (magazines, books, e-readers, etc.), your favorite scent (I like the solid pots of perfume, easier to carry), antibacterial spray (I love my CleanWell all natural hand sanitizer because it doesn’t dry out your hands.), Neosporin (to dab around your nostrils to keep them from getting dry), a small mirror and a bag of basic cosmetics (cheek tint, lip gloss, mascara and concealer)

You have arrived:

Unpack your bags as soon as you arrive. This gives your clothes and accessories time to air out and re-shape and reminds you of what you have.

12. Beautifying Habits
Edit like you would your clothes – if the lips are bold tame the eyes and vice versa
Groom your eyebrows
Rid yourself of lip hair
Keep nails manicured
Exfoliate skin
Drink water (your skin and body will thank you!)

13. Edit Your Closet

We all like to keep nostalgic pieces but if it doesn’t work don’t keep it. Rachel proposes you to ask yourself some serious questions.
1.When was the last time you wore this?
2. Why are you holding on to this?
3. Will you ever wear it again?
4. Do you love it?
5. Is it worth anything?
6. Can I replace it?
7. Do I want to replace it with an updated version?

Once you have answered these questions it’s time to let go and give old pieces a new home – either the trash if they are un-repairable or to good will. I do this twice a year and it either goes to family members abroad, growing family members or good will and it always makes me feel better to clear it out. Like your love relationships, if you no longer are in love with it, let it go.


“The miserable ones who tell you to stop daydreaming lead pretty sorry lives.”

“Buy something because you love it, you need it, and you will use it.”

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Add a Little Spice to Your Life!

A fairly new company, Prometheus Springs has come out with a new drink concoction that is suppose to increase your metabolism.  These elixirs each contain heat (the capsaicin) extracted from chili peppers, layered with a blend of refreshing gourmet flavors. There has been studies that capsaicin boosts your metabolism, that's why is always good to incorporate spices like tumeric, curry, cayenne pepper and even crushed red peppers into your meals. I like the drink because its an organic drink and each drink is about 160-180 calories (about the same as a snapple), not too bad.

I read about this product from VitalJuice (great site for healthy tips and ideas) and I felt I needed to give it a try since I love trying new things and the flavor blends peeked my interests.  I couldn't seem to find them anywhere except in NYC but I went to visit some family in Jersey and they happen to have a Wegman's (god I wish they had them by me) and they had all three flavors.  So I took the challenge to try all three and they were awesome.

There are currently three flavors Pomegranate Black Pepper, Lychee Wasabi and Lemon Ginger; coming soon there will be three more flavors...I can't wait to see what they will be.  You would think these flavors are a little crazy and that your inside couldn't bear the idea of drinking something with black pepper and wasabi.  But its the master blending of the super spicy and the sweet that makes it great.  I would have say that my least favorite was the Pomegranate Black Pepper and the most flavor combination was the Lychee Wasabi.  If you are apprehensive about trying this drink but you still feel you want to try at least one I would the Lemon Ginger a try, it is the least craziest of the flavors.  Each flavor starts out sweet and then you feel the heat tingling on your tongue.  They recommend trying it neat (maximum spice), on the rocks (tame the spice), chilled (refreshing kick),  or warm (to cure a cold), depending on how intense you want to taste the spice. If you go on the website there are even drink recipes to create masterful mixology creations with beer, rum and tequila.

What I would love for you to also do is contact your local health food stores, like I did when contacting Whole Foods and request that they carry this product.  Prometheus Springs does list local stores distributors, but as I said most are in NYC or California and they also offer the choice to order it directly from the source but you have to buy it by the case. 

I think the next time I purchase some more I will try to play around with  Pomegranate Black Pepper with some agave tequila, lime juice, agave syrup and rim the glass with some black pepper, kosher salt and cayenne pepper.  Make my own little version of a spicy margarita.  I will let you know how it goes!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Cocktails On Me!

So it's the weekend and the best thing about the weekend is the work week is over and it's time to relax with some friends and have some cocktails.

My favorite cocktail happens to be THE MARGARITA.  My taste buds salivate over anything salty and depending on the type of margarita you get it can also be sweet or even..dare we say...SPICY!

My favorite joint in the CITY to get the best margaritas, they are so good you can't just have one, is at Richard Sandoval's MAYA on First Avenue.  The food is really amazing but I fell in love with their signature cocktail, Margarita Maya, which is composed of el jimador blanco tequila, tamarind fruit (which is a fruit common in Mexico that has a musky flavor and is sweet and sour due to the sugar and acid contents), a sour-type mix on the rocks with this wonderful salty rim of chile piquin/rock salt bites the taste buds!

Okay so when you want a really good margarita you don't have to make and it's probably made by some gorgeous there's great eye candy involved.  But...when you just want to chill at home like I do this weekend, here are a couple of my favorite recipes.

Cucumber Margaritas

- from Coastal Living, September 2005

Reposado, one of four categories of tequila, is aged in wood barrels that lend a mellow character to the liquor. Some versions contain added flavorings and colorings.

Yield:  Makes 4 servings

12 slices fresh cucumber
1/2 cup fresh lime juice
4 ounces (1/2 cup) Cointreau
6 ounces (3/4 cup) tequila reposado
6 cups ice
1/4 cup Grand Marnier
Lime slices

Combine cucumber and next 4 ingredients in a blender; process until smooth.

Pour into glasses. Top each serving with a tablespoon of Grand Marnier, and garnish with lime.

Key Lime Margarita

- from Coastal Living, May 2010

For a spicy jalapeño version, add 1 1/2 teaspoons jalapeño chile sauce to the shaker.

Preparation Time: 8 minutes minutes
Yield:  Makes 1 serving

Lime wedge
Coarse salt
2 ounces (1/4 cup) fresh Key lime juice
1 ounce (2 tablespoons) agave nectar or simple syrup
1 1/2 ounces (3 tablespoons) tequila
1/2 ounce (1 tablespoon) premium orange liqueur

1. Rub rim of a rocks or margarita glass with lime wedge, then dip in coarse salt.

2. Combine Key lime juice and remaining ingredients in an ice-filled shaker. Shake vigorously, and pour into prepared glass.

Mango-Avocado Margarita

- from Cooking Light, May 2006

For extra zip, rub the rim of each empty glass with a lime wedge, then coat the rims with salt and chili powder.

Yield:  4 servings (serving size: 1 cup)

2 cups ice cubes
1 cup chopped peeled mango (about 1 large)
6 tablespoons chopped ripe peeled avocado
6 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1/4 cup tequila
1/4 cup orange juice
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons Triple Sec (orange-flavored liqueur)
4 lime wedges (optional)

Combine first 8 ingredients in a blender; process until smooth.

Divide the mixture evenly among 4 glasses. Serve drinks with lime wedges, if desired. Serve immediately.

CALORIES 162 (22% from fat); FAT 4g (sat 1.1g,mono 2.1g,poly 0.7g); IRON 0.1mg; CHOLESTEROL 0.0mg; CALCIUM 10mg; CARBOHYDRATE 23g; SODIUM 2mg; PROTEIN 1.1g; FIBER 1.7g  

As the most interesting may says "Stay thirty my friends!"

Enjoy the drinks!  

A good safety tip would be to rotate between a margarita and a glass of water! 

And let me know if you tried any of these awesome cocktails!

Young&Ng Jewelry Show

"I like to think that I create with unspoken intelligence to produce ethereal, philosophical, strong beautiful pieces."
- Michelle Ng, Young&ng

This passed Tuesday, I had the inside scoop to an up and coming jewelry designer, Michelle Ng's new collection of refined modern and organic pieces, Young&ng.

Blood Cuff, Antique Gold, $470
Blood Cuff, Antique Gold & Swarovski Crystals, $545
Layered Cuff, Gunmetal, $675

The show began at the BODIES The Exhibition in South Street Seaport.  I have been to this exhibit before and it truly is an in-your-face look into the normalities and abnormalities of the body.  After some champagne cocktails and fashion networking, we worked our way through the exhibit - with flashes of our skeletal, muscular and reproductive systems and ending at the circulatory system where the fashion show began.

Into the Red/Heart Chamber presentation room, the interior was dimly lit and a row of draped models loomed in the back as we awaited the anticipated beginning of the show.  As the music began, the models were unveiled one by one, walking a runway that surrounding the exhibition's pieces.  The models were adorned with the Young&ng cuffs and crowns and strips of cloth covering their precious elements all the while, the models were painted in a white MAC body paint and dark burgundy Ramy Cosmetics and smokey eyes.  They look like the chic walking dead.  In a good way because the focus of the jewelry was on the body as a form and living organ that will live in existence in the work of art that Michelle Ng has created.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Food for the Fit: Branzino in a Salt Crust with Fennel Grapefruit Salad

So I work for a magazine and I get to meet new people all the time.  Great! Love it!  Back in the summer I got the change to meet Serena Palumbo at the Atlantic City Food & Wine Festival.  What a petite doll and such a fashionista...I knew we would get along.  We recently started a column for The Boulevard magazine called Dishin' It Out with Serena Palumbo.  The first dish is an amazing starter especially for this petit bohemian that likes food but doesn't want a growing waistline.  The dish is gourmet and healthy and could even be the beginnings to a detox diet because of the components. 
Serena Palumbo, Rebecca Brooks and Aarti Sequeira at Sunny Anderson's Sunset n' Sliders

Here is the link to The Boulevard's website for Serena Palumbo's Branzino in Salt Crust with Fennel Grapefruit Salad.

I knew it was time to make this dish when my local Whole Foods had the fish on sale and my BF was out (he doesn't care for eating fish with bones). So last night I attempted to make this dish and surprisingly it came out pretty well.  I won't show images of my version because it's not a pretty as Serena's above.  But the flavors were the same and I felt really healthy after eating it.  I even saved some for today's lunch and the salad was even better today than yesterday, the marinating process heighten the flavors.

The Branzino,"European Seabass," is a light white fish baked thoroughly in kosher salt for 40 minutes.  Now the trick is to bake the whole fish, scales and all, and have the fishmonger clean the insides out.  Slice, very thin slices, of grapefruit, two slices are good if it's just for you. I didn't have the sage or the rosemary so I used dry bay leaves and then pour about 2 cups worth of Kosher salt on top of the fish. And Serena mentions in the article that the fish's eye will become white when it's done and it did. 

As the fish baked in the oven, I moved onto the salad.  Using my handy dandy mandolin (if you don't have one, get one they are indispensable especially for making salads), I sliced off the top of the fennel and again sliced very thin slices of fennel.  Then de-segmenting the grapefruit, okay I've never done this before so I actually found a YouTube video for the step-by-step process, with much success. These are the basic components of your salad.  Then the additional condiments: olive oil, S&P, capers and toasted pumpkin seeds. Make sure to properly drain the capers because those little suckers are salty, I thoroughly washed them a couple times with cold water.  Chop the capers into a mince consistency.  Now with the pumpkin seeds (pepitas) I had a hard time finding them de-shelled because I unfortunately forgot to get them at Whole Foods and had to rush to my local grocery store that I shall not even name because they never have anything I need.  So I had to de-shell the pumpkin seeds myself.  After a good 30 minutes of de-shelling I poured the seeds into a small ramekin and placed it in the oven in the last 10 minutes of cooking the fish.

Now the de-boning of the fish.  I would recommend letting the fish rest for a few minutes out of the oven, because that bad boy is hot!  The salty crust came off with ease and you are left with this beautiful flaky white meat inside.  Remove the skin, the slices and herbs and then with ease (this is why my fish broke up because I did not do it with ease) pull away the meat from the bone.  Once the top layer of meat is off, remove the bone and the same process with the bottom layer of meat.  And voila!

Compile the salad ingredients: fennel > grapefruit > pepitas > capers > drizzle the oil/s+p concoction
**Now to really bring a wow factor to the initial flavors I would recommend making this salad early before cooking the fish and letting it marinate for a good hour or even overnight.  The citrus from the grapefruit just enhances the dressing and cuts the bitterness of the fennel a bit. 

Fennel, as mentioned, has many healthy benefits, I'm going to get technical here. It contains phytonutrients like rutin that give it strong antioxidant activity.  The anethole, a primary component of the volatile oil in fennel, has been shown to reduce inflammation and to help prevent the occurrence of cancer. Fennel has an excellent source of vitamin C, fiber, folate and potassium. Now I consider fennel a great detox ingredient because of two reasons: fiber and potassium.  Fiber helps remove potentially carcinogenic toxins from the colon and reduce abdominal bloating. The potassium helps regulate the body's fluid levels and relieving the kidney of toxins.

Grapefruit is also another detox ingredient, it cleanses the liver and the kidney of toxins.  Grapefruits also contain vitamin C, A, B complex, E and K; it also contains Calcium, Phosphorous, Potassium and fiber (similar to the fennel).  The pectin fiber is beneficial to lowering a person's cholesterol level. 

Pumpkin seeds have their health benefits too!  They protect the prostate, improve bladder function, prevent osteoporosis (zinc), a natural anti-inflammatory, prevent kidney stones, lower cholesterol and is a mood-regulator (L-tryptophan).

So overall this dish was low in calories, tasted really good and brought my body and mind to a healthier level. So for the svelte fashionista, this is definitely an approved recipe!