Sunday, August 29, 2010

Body Basics/Healthy Food: Cooking With Wine

Ever wondered what to do with a bottle of wine that you knew you were not going to finish? I used to just pour it down the drain if I knew my hubby and I weren’t planning on drinking it within a day or two. It seemed that no matter what preservation technique we used, the wine just didn’t taste the same after several days.

Recently, I came up with a money-saving use for leftover wine. Freeze it! Not to drink but to use it cooking. The wine I drink is of much better quality than the cooking wines in the grocery store and maintains its flavor when frozen within a day or so of opening. When I am cooking a dish that calls for wine (like my pasta sauce) then I simply throw in a cube of frozen wine. Voila! Instant flavor. No waste!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Body Basics/Healthy Food: Avocado Smoothie

Up until a couple of years ago, the only ways I’d eaten avocados were in guacamole, sushi, or sliced on my turkey burger. However, my husband and I were in an Asian restaurant and noticed avocado smoothies on the menu. Honestly, an avocado smoothie did not sound too appealing. But our waiter gave us a sample and it was actually quite good. Traditional avocado smoothies are made with sweetened milk and crushed ice to give them an almost milkshake-like consistency. We now make them at home using fresh avocados, vanilla almond milk, and frozen mango. Don’t frown until you try it!

By the way, avocados are a great addition to your diet because they provide many health benefits including lowering cholesterol and regulating blood pressure. Don’t get scared away by the fat content – its monosaturated (oleic acid) – just don’t go overboard on your avocado consumption.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Cassia treatments

Florida sun can be brutal on skin and hair. Add twice a week swim team practices and weekly swim meets and you have a recipe for some pretty dry hair. My daughter swam (both in the pool and at the beach) all summer long and I was diligent about co-washing and moisturizing her hair. However, I still thought her hair needed a little extra loving care at the end of the summer so I applied a cassia treatment. I didn’t want to use henna because the ends of her hair are pretty light and I didn’t want to risk having them turn bright red.

Cassia is sometimes referred to as neutral henna (though that is actually a misnomer) and provides many of the same benefits as a henna treatment. It is a deep conditioner that strengthens the hair and adds shine.

I bought my cassia from Butters – N – Bars and mixed it with warm water to form a loose paste. I applied it to my daughter’s hair and left it on for about an hour. It rinsed out pretty easily with warm water and Hello Hydration conditioner.

Afterwards, her hair felt soft and the edges (which had been lightened by chlorine) have a slight golden glow that I tried to capture in a picture. It is not really pronounced on the photo but you can definitely see it in person, especially in the sun.

I plan to do monthly cassia treatments on her hair as a strengthening deep conditioner.

Body Basics/Healthy Food: Seafood Stew

Food Basics: Quick & Easy Seafood Stew

Living in Florida, my children have been exposed to all sorts of seafood. They’ve eaten everything from octopus to rock shrimp and many things in between. Not surprisingly, one of their favorite dishes is seafood stew. I make it at least once a month from a surprisingly easy recipe. This meal would also be great for company. They will think you spent hours on it when actually it takes about thirty minutes to make. I got the recipe from and old issue of Cooking Light but usually improvise it to include whatever seafood is readily available. Here it is:



1 (1-pound) loaf French bread baguette, cut into 16 slices

1 tablespoon olive oil


2 teaspoons olive oil

1/2 to 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper

4 garlic cloves, finely chopped

3 cups clam juice

1 cup water

1/2 cup finely chopped fresh parsley

1/2 teaspoon dried basil

1/4 teaspoon dried thyme

1 (26-ounce) bottle tomato-and-basil pasta sauce (such as Bertolli)

16 littleneck clams

16 small mussels, scrubbed and debearded

1/2 cup dry white wine

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1 pound cod or other lean whitefish fillets, cut into 1-inch pieces

1/2 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined

2 cups torn spinach


Preheat oven to 350°.

To prepare crostini, place bread slices on a large baking sheet; brush with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Bake at 350° for 15 minutes or until lightly browned.

To prepare cioppino, heat 2 teaspoons oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add crushed red pepper and garlic; sauté 30 seconds. Stir in clam juice and next 5 ingredients (clam juice through pasta sauce.) Add clams and mussels. Cover and cook 10 minutes or until shells open. (Discard any unopened shells.) Add wine and next 4 ingredients (wine through shrimp); simmer 5 minutes or until fish and shrimp are done. Stir in spinach. Serve with the crostini.