Monday, September 27, 2010

Meatless Monday! Angel Hair Pasta

It’s amazing to me that so many of our meals center around meat. I was a vegetarian for about a year and struggled to create meals that did not center around omelets or salads that left me hungry in a couple of hours. My family is very active so Meatless Mondays need to have enough substance to make them feel satisfied when dinner is over.

One of our favorite meatless meals is angel hair pasta w/tomatoes, basil, and garlic served with a big salad. The pasta is a simple recipe from an old school cookbook, In the Kitchen with Rosie, created by one of Oprah’s former personal chefs.

Here’s the super simple recipe:

1 teaspoon olive oil

2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced

½ cup dry white wine

¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 cup chopped tomato (1 medium tomato)

8 oz angel hair pasta

¼ cup chopped fresh basil

2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese

Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Bring a large pot of water to boil over high heat and maintain at a boil.

Put the olive oil and garlic in saute’ pan and cook over medium heat just until garlic begins to brown. Remove from heat and pour in wine. Return to heat. Cook another 1 to 2 minutes, until wine has been reduced by half. Stir in lemon juice and tomato. Remove pan from heat.

Place pasta in boiling water and cook to desired doneness. Drain the pasta and put it into warm serving bowl. Add the basil, Parmesan cheese, and black pepper, along with tomato mixture. Toss and serve immediately.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Homemade Hair Spritz

My hair loves spritz. Despite Florida’s humid climate, I feel that my fro benefits from a nice spritz of moisture in the middle of a hot day. However, I was getting pretty tired of spending $5 - $10 for bottles of water infused with herbs and oils that I already own. So I decided to add a few things to my collection (as only a true product junkie would) and make my own spritzes.

I did a bit of online research and found great resources such Anita Grant who provided information on how different herbs affect hair. I placed an order and was very excited to receive my packages of dried herbs. I have to admit that my dried herbs sat under my bathroom sink for about two months while I used up my store bought spritz.

I was excited about the idea of making my own spritz but dreaded the process of dealing with herbs. However the process I was dreading turned out be easy peasy. I decided to make two bottles of spritz. The first is supposed to prevent breakage of dry, coarse, naturally curly hair and consists of organic hibiscus and blue malva. The other consists of organic nettle, coltsfoot, and horsetail, a combo that promotes healthy natural hair growth and prevents split ends.

I infused herbs into my water using two types of Teavana tea infusers. Both worked well and were as easy as making a cup of tea. With each type, I placed the loose herbs into the container and poured boiling water over them. I then allowed them to steep until the water cooled. I poured the infused mixtures into spray bottles that I bought from Target.

I have only used my homemade mixes for about a week but so far I really love them. These two bottles barely put a dent into my herb supply. My $20 investment in dried herbs will probably make about 20 bottles of spritz! I added a bit of lemongrass essential oil to nettle/coltsfoot/horsetail combo and it smells great and makes my hair feel super soft. I have few other herbs that I have yet to use but will keep you posted as I channel my inner mixtress.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Cutting Expenses

Saving money does not always have to be the result of a detailed, time-consuming plan. Sometime, it can be as simple as picking up the phone.

During a peculiar incidence of late night insomnia, I was watching Suze Orman re-runs (for some reason I never watch the actual show). She was giving a caller advice about cutting all of her expenses by 20%. I thought to myself, “easier said than done”. However, sometimes it really is just that easy.

The next day, I called up my trusty cable company to discuss the ridiculous price of our cable, internet, and telephone package. I was totally prepared to leave the cable company and go back to the phone company for the same services.

It was surprisingly easy to get them give me a “special” which cut my bill by $41 – a little over 20% . Hmmmm…..who can I negotiate with next?

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Short on Time? Try Tabata!

Taba-what? That’s what I was thinking as my super fit girlfriend, A, told me about a new type of routine to add to my fitness arsenal. I had asked her to help me spice up my Fall routine because I knew she would have a great idea. The workout she told me to try is the Tabata workout. Created by Izumi Tabata, the Tabata protocol is based upon supra-aerobic cardio.

The workout goes something like this:

  • 5 minutes of warm-up
  • 8 intervals of 20 seconds all-out intensity exercise followed by 10 seconds of rest
  • 2 minutes cool-down

Short, huh? Short and intense! The key is to really go all out on the 20 second intervals. You’ll be praying for the clock to move faster.

I did my first Tabata workout yesterday. I was definitely skeptical because I am a long cardio session type of girl. I did a Tabata workout that, coincidentally enough, was in my latest issue of Oxygen magazine. I did it three times and burned 150 calories (according to my very accurate heart rate monitor). That’s 150 calories in under 15 minutes of hard work. I’ll take it!

Oh yeah, I also found a cool app for .99 to time my intervals so I wouldn’t be distracted trying to keep track of time. The Tabata protocol will definitely be my new go-to workout when I’m in a time crunch. Thanks A!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Meatless Monday!

In an effort to incorporate more veggies into our diets, my family tries to go meatless at least one night per week. Meatless Mondays are a great way to get kids involved in coming up with dinner ideas that do not involve meat. They love the theme and have actually tried to put a theme on every night of the week (Taco Tuesdays, Soup Sundays, etc). The weeklong themes are a bit much and I don’t even attempt them but Meatless Mondays are going strong.

Our last Meatless Monday meal was a grown-up twist on one of the kids’ favorites – smoked gouda mac and cheese which also has a little spinach in it. I served it with a beet salad. For some reason, my children really like beets. They don’t eat the blue cheese, and walnuts in the salad but they do eat a lot of beets.

This meal was quick and flavorful and made great leftovers.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Making Natural Hair Products

Over the past couple of years, I have really worked to simplify both my hair routine and the products that I use in my (and my daughter’s) hair. The more I learned about products, the more I realized that many of the brands I purchased were not contributing to the overall health of my hair. I threw out everything containing sulfates, mineral oil, and lists of chemicals that I could not identify.

As I transitioned to natural ingredients, I purchased from many companies - big and small – and probably spent more money than I care to think about. So, I was pretty excited to have the opportunity to learn how to create hair products for myself. Last weekend, my daughter and I attended a Natural Hair Lab (hosted by Karen of the Peace and Beauty Project) and made organic shampoo, hair butter, and hair oil. We had a great time learning about the benefits of natural products on our hair and skin.

It was great to be able to work with ingredients that we could pronounce like the castile soap, black cocoa butter, cocoa absolute and mint in the yummy shampoo.

And the jojoba, rosemary, and mint in the soothing scalp oil.

And also the almond butter, lemongrass oil, and coconut oil in the amazing lemongrass hair butter.

My daughter and I learned so much. Maybe too much – she came home and told her Dad that his chemical-laden shower gel was poison! LOL!

Good times…..