Friday, August 29, 2014

Five-Minute All-Star Marinade

Did you have a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it summer like I did? It’s hard to believe that Labor Day weekend is already here, but I’m looking forward to spending the day with family and friends. I’ve already pulled out all of my favorite recipes so we can enjoy our summer stockpile of garden-fresh veggies.

And in case you’re wondering what I’ll be serving alongside our delicious tomatoes, asparagus, and peppers — it won’t be unhealthy hotdogs for us! Instead, I’ll be marinating chicken with a delicious marinade that not only enhances the flavor of the meat, but also delivers powerful health benefits.

Here’s the recipe:

½ cup of red-wine vinegar
2 tbsp. of chopped fresh oregano
2 tbsp. of chopped fresh rosemary
2 tbsp. of olive oil
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1 bay leaf
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Mix all of the ingredients in a shallow bowl, and pour over your meat or poultry. Let the meat sit, covered, in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to eight hours. Then carry on with your usual grilling routine.
(Yield: Enough for 1½ to 2 pounds of meat or poultry.)


Friday, August 22, 2014

It’s Apple-Picking Time!

I just heard through the grapevine that the cider mill in our town is getting ready to open its doors for the season. Their cider is delicious, of course. But my favorite part of going there is that I can fill a whole bushel with freshly picked apples.

According to the folks who study food consumption, the average American eats approximately 45 pounds of apples each year, which makes them number one on the list of our most consumed fruits. What’s not to love?
  • They’re sturdy and easily portable — just the ticket for tucking into a lunchbox or tote bag.
  • They provide satisfying bulk at a low calorie count (roughly 80 calories for a medium-size apple).
  • Their content is 85 to 95 percent water, so they quench your thirst as well as fill your tummy.
  • They’re versatile. Apples pack the same healthy wallop whether you eat them fresh, dried, frozen, or cooked — or drink them in the form of 100 percent apple juice or cider.

Whether you buy your apples in the supermarket or from a farm stand, these tips will help you find the best-tasting and longest-lasting fruit:

Think firm. Hold the fruit in your hand and give it a gentle squeeze with your fingers. If your digits make dents, it means the apple has passed its peak of freshness.

Think small. Some varieties of apples are naturally bigger than others, but within categories, the smaller the apple, the tastier it’ll be.

Think pretty. Choose apples that have nice color for their type, tight skins, and no cuts or bruises.

Store them right. As soon as you get your apples home, stash them in the fridge, where they’ll keep for up to six weeks. If you leave them out at room temperature, they’ll go downhill fast.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Treat Yourself to 5 Healthy Eats

Are you heading to the farmers’ market this weekend? Lucky you! Keep a lookout for these five feel-good finds that are at their peak of perfection right now:

Raspberries. You can take your pick of healthy benefits these bright red beauties provide. They battle allergies, high cholesterol, and even cancer! And their fruitful fiber wards off constipation. Bring ‘em home, rinse ‘em off, and pop ‘em in your mouth.

Tomatoes. Give these farmers’ market favorites top billing on your menu with this tomato-cucumber salad: 2/3 cup of chopped tomatoes with 1/3 cup of chopped cucumber tossed in Italian dressing. Tomatoes protect you from heart disease, and protect your skin from acne and sunburn.

Green beans. They’re loaded with fiber, potassium, folate, and vitamins A and C, and you can eat as many as you want — each 1/2-cup serving has only 22 calories. Swap greasy French fries for baked green beans that you’ve seasoned with salt, pepper, and Parmesan cheese.

Melon. This time of year, spoonfuls of melon practically melt in your mouth. And the vitamin A makes your skin glow. Make a melon kebab by using a large melon baller to form cantaloupe, honeydew, and watermelon balls. Thread the balls on bamboo skewers and serve them to your picnicking pals.

Pears. I wait all year for pears to be in season, and then I just can’t get enough of their juicy goodness! They’re delicious to the core, but almost all of their healthy plant compounds lie in their skin. So bite right in—no peeling required.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Bypass the Drive-Through Brain Drain

Fast food can bust your mood. And not just by eating it. It’s no secret that the crud in fast food is as bad for your brain as it is for your body. Well, researchers now tell us that just looking at a fast-food restaurant or its associated icons — like that grinning little girl with the pigtails, or the ubiquitous golden arches — can put a serious damper on your spirits.

How so? Think about it: The avowed mission of fast-food chains is to get you in the door and out again in a flash. So those big corporations spend millions of dollars quizzing focus groups and developing graphics, symbols, and architectural elements that convey a “Gotta hurry!” message to your subconscious mind. And boy, do they work!

Studies have found that living in an area that has a lot of fast-food restaurants can actually impair your ability to slow down and savor such simple joys as a beautiful sunset or a fragrant flower. That, in turn, can lead to unhappiness, stress, and anxiety — real fast.

So what’s the solution if you’re driving through a commercial zone that’s riddled with fast-food symbols? Turn your radio to an oldies station and belt out all the words to those old familiar songs. You’ll improve your mood, and before you know it, you’ll be out of brain-draining danger.

Then, when you get home, whip up this Marvelous Multi-Nutrient Smoothie. This tasty beverage delivers almost all of the vitamins and minerals that you need each day for tip-top health.

1 banana
1 cup of green grapes
1 cup of vanilla yogurt
½ apple, chopped (but not peeled)
1½ cups of fresh spinach
1 tbsp. of flaxseeds
1 cup of ice cubes

Add all of the ingredients to a blender in the order listed, and blend for 30 to 45 minutes, or until the contents are thoroughly liquefied and freely circulating. Then drink up, or pour the mixture into a travel cup and take it with you. 

Friday, August 1, 2014

Nail Down a Plan for Pretty Summer Hands

This summer has flown by so quickly, I can’t believe it’s already August. The bright, sunny days and warm breezy nights feel like they’re slipping through my hands. And speaking of my hands…yikes! I’ve been so busy this summer that I’ve completely neglected my fingernails, which are sorely in need of a little pampering. So I’m pulling out my favorite DIY tricks and giving myself a manicure.

Start by cleaning them…

And soften them at the same time. How? Just dip a moistened nailbrush into some baking soda, and scrub-a-dub!

Then condition cracked cuticles…

Try this trick: Mix 1 tablespoon of avocado oil and 5 drops of tea tree oil in a small bottle with a flip spout. Dampen your fingers, then apply a drop of the mixture to each cuticle, and massage the oil in thoroughly. Use a cuticle stick to gently push the cuticle back from the nail.

And give hangnails the heave-ho…

By soaking the offending finger for 10 minutes in a bowl of warm water with a few drops of olive oil added to it. Then cut the hangnail off at the base, using sharp, sterilized nail scissors (don’t pull the hangnail out!). Dab the base with alcohol, apply petroleum jelly to the site, and cover it loosely with a bandage to keep from staining your clothes or sheets.

Fortify weak nails…

And keep them from splitting or peeling with this remarkable remedy: Add a finely minced garlic clove to a bottle of nail polish. Let it sit for a few days, then paint it on your nails. Once the polish has dried completely, sink the garlicky stink by washing your hands with freshly squeezed lemon juice.

And make pretty polish linger longer…

Just adopt this simple prep routine: Soak your nails in vinegar (either white or apple cider) for about 60 seconds. Wait until they’ve dried thoroughly, and paint the surfaces as usual. The vinegar will remove the natural oils from the surface of your nails, so instead of quickly wearing off, your polish will hang on tight!

Friday, July 25, 2014

8 Odd Ways to Cure a Headache

Boy, oh boy, did I have a whopper of a headache the other day. It was one of those stop-you-in-your-tracks throbbers that (thankfully) only come around every now and then. I took some ibuprofen and laid down with a cool washcloth over my eyes, and as I felt the grip of pain loosen its hold on me, I thought about how there are as many crazy home remedies for headache pain as there are for curing hiccups!

Here’s an assortment of the oddest—and most effective:

1. Soak for 20 to 30 minutes in a steamy hot (but not burning!) bath while holding an ice pack on your head. The combination of heat and cold will ease your pain by drawing blood away from your head and narrowing the blood vessels in your scalp.

2. Tape a fresh mint leaf on the part of your head that hurts the most, and keep it on until you feel relief.

3. Stick your tongue out about ½ inch, and bite down on it as hard as possible without hurting yourself. Hold the position for 10 minutes—no less and no more.

4. Soak a large white cloth in vinegar, wring it out, and tie it tightly around your head. Keep it in place until the pain is gone.

5. Slice a fresh lime in half, and rub a cut side on the site of the ache. The pain should vanish pronto.

6. Stand up straight with your arms hanging loosely at your sides, then swing your arms back and forth in unison. The motion will direct blood flow away from your head to your hands, thus easing the pain.

7. Quickly drink two glasses of Gatorade®, one after the other. You’ll put your electrolytes back in balance and stop the throbbing in its tracks.

8. Stuff two tennis balls into a sock. Then lie on your back and wedge the sock behind your neck with one ball on each side. They’ll relax your back muscles, thereby chasing the pain-causing tension.

Friday, July 18, 2014

An Un-bee-lievable Arthritis Remedy

As outrageous as this may sound, many physicians are using bee venom to treat arthritis patients who do not respond well to conventional medications. The practice is called apitherapy. The results have been impressive, in both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis sufferers, and there are no serious side effects. The secret to success lies in two ingredients: mellitin, an anti-inflammatory agent that is said to be about 100 times stronger than cortisone, and adolapin, which also fights inflammation and pain.

But arthritis isn’t the only condition that apitherapy can relieve. It’s also being used across the country to treat lower back and shoulder pain, asthma, high blood pressure, multiple sclerosis, hearing loss, and even premenstrual syndrome!

Bee venom therapy is nothing new. The ancient Egyptians wrote about it in their medical texts, and Hippocrates, the Father of Medicine, routinely used it to treat joint pain and swelling in the fifth century B.C. But before you rush out for a dose of bee juice, keep these particulars in mind:

1. Relief is not a slam-dunk. Although the docs who use apitherapy report excellent results, some patients—and some conditions—respond better than others.

2. The injections or bee stings (which some doctors use) can be painful, and you may need more than a dozen of them before your condition improves.

3. This goes without saying (I hope!), but if you’re allergic to bee stings, this therapy could kill you!

You say bee therapy's not your buzz? Try this quirky coffee cure instead: First thing each morning, drink a cup of hot back coffee with the freshly squeezed juice of a large lime mixed into it. It may get rid of your aches for good!