Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Upsides to the Down Economy/ Of Salt and Pepper

Remember the days when salt and pepper consisted of Morton's Iodized Salt (with the little girl with her galoshes and umbrella) and Black Pepper in a red and white can? Those days, thankfully, are gone but now the choices of salts and pepper can seem to be overwhelming. I never use pepper out of a can, now that I've discovered fresh ground pepper. The oils and peppery taste is released when you grind them, just like coffee. The stuff you buy in a can could have been ground a while ago, and to me, it's tasteless. I also enjoy crushed red pepper, especially on pasta and pizzas, to spice things up a bit. Salts can vary in size, color and taste depending on the body of water from which it was extracted;. they are like oysters in this regard. Good old table salt has its place, but I've come to really love Kosher salt, for its flaky texture and saltier taste, especially when cooking. Sea salt, now rather common, is more delicate and finer in texture. I find I need to use a lot to get enough salt. Super fine salt (Morton's) is perfect for popcorn, coating it more thoroughly than regular. We brought some coarse, red volcanic salt back from our honeymoon in Maui. It is supposed to be served with the Luau pig (but how often does that happen?) so I've put it my salt grinder for everyday use. My daughter A.J. brought some pond salt with goat pepper home from her trip to the Bahamas and it combines the best of both worlds- salt and pepper. It is a moist salt and needs to be kept covered, lest it dry out. A dash of it is the perfect addition for everything from scrambled eggs, to soups to grilled meats and veggies. The only problem is, we're going through it at an alarming rate! Salt, a rare commodity in ancient time, is a fun seasoning to experiment with, trying different varieties. It adds so much to any dish (as long as you don't overdo it) at negligible calories so- go crazy, and spice up your life!

My Collection of Salt and Pepper Shakers

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Upsides to the Down Economy/ BB Cream- Hype or Hope?

   I had been hearing buzz about BB Creams so plunked down $12.99 at my local CVS and tried Garnier BB Cream, which had been recommended by Oprah magazine. It was the cheapest of the bunch. BB Cream is a new idea in skin care- a hybrid product that provides sunscreen (SPF 15) with a moisturizer that remedies discoloration, dullness, blotchiness and dryness. Sometimes, before tennis matches, I would mix foundation in with my sunscreen, because the sunscreen alone was very white and made me look like a ghost. This is a similar idea, but in addition to sunscreen, there is Vitamin C and mineral pigments to brighten your skin. On the package, it claims to be a "Miracle Skin Perfector". Well, claiming anything other than something Jesus or one of the saints did to be a miracle is a tall order, but when I tried it I was pleasantly surprised at how much better my skin looked. I would use this every day for foundation, as it allows me to skip the step of putting Oil of Olay on first. I don't always use foundation during the day, but as I get older and my skin gets blotchier, with more sun and age spots, I feel I should do my fellow citizens a favor, and try to look presentable. I also found it brightened up my skin.

According to the back of the Garnier box
"90% had a more even complexion"
"93% saw a more healthy glow"
"96% saw smoother skin"
and, the best thing is, the results are immediate.

   So, my conclusion is, BB Cream, especially if you live somewhere where sun exposure is a concern (like Miami) is a great time-saving, life enhancing product. Not a Virgin Mary Grilled Cheese Sandwich Miracle, but pretty darned close.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Upsides to the Down Economy/ What TO Wear This Fall

   I love looking through magazines like In Style and getting ideas for outfits, preferably with items I already own in my closet. Putting outfits together has NEVER been my forte. My sister Kelley wanted to sign me up for the TV show What Not To Wear, if that gives you any idea of my fashion (or lack of) sense. My solution to fashion-challenged genes? I look through the magazines and when I find an outfit I like, I tear it out and save it for future reference. These are either outfits I would like to buy, or outfits I can put together with existing items in my closet. I take the picture of the outfit and attach it with a safety pin to the item that would make it work. Sometimes I need to add an item to complete the look, othertimes I have everything I need. This way, it's a no-brainer when it comes time to get dressed. Since I usually just reach for the same old outfits time after time, this is a great way to mix it up.

I'm good to go with this outfit, substituted a Blue Blazer for a Camp Shirt

I need to get some Pants to finish this outfit

I need a Top to go with this skirt

   Fall is the perfect time to go through your closet and get rid of stuff that is stained, faded, frayed or just has to go! You can do your own version of What Not To Wear, although it helps to have a merciless friend (thanks Kelley) to help you. Donate to your favorite charity and get a tax write off as well.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Upsides to the Down Economy/ On Nuclear Medicine, Spaghetti Squash and All That Jazz

   Just a quick post to tell you another great thing about Melba Toast. It's cheap! Two boxes at my local Publix are only $3! That's $1.50 each. I just found a box hidden in my step daughter's closet. The cellophane was open and a couple crackers had fallen out and the Melba Toast still tasted fine- I guess since they are hard in the first place, they don't really get stale. I have had the opposite effect, while storing them in a cooler. They will get soft and mushy.
   Also, I did use the leftover spaghetti squash with some leftover bar-b-que pulled pork. I heated them up, added hoisin (Asian Bar B Que sauce), chopped cilantro, chopped scallions and some salted peanuts and mixed the whole mess together and it was delicious! Really yummy. I will be buying more spaghetti squash this fall, but will steam it next time, instead of microwaving it. On HcG, they wouldn't let you microwave food since it supposedly changes the molecular structure of foods and when you microwave stuff in plastic, you have to worry about the plastic leaching out into your food. I don't know if I buy into that whole argument, but I do believe, the closer we can do things the way our ancestors did (with no processing or microwaving etc...) the better off we are. With the increase of cancer, you have to think it's something we are doing (or eating) in our modern lifestyles. Looking forward to eating squash, pumpkin this fall, plus the beginning of tennis, bunko and all that jazz.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Upsides to the Down Economy/ In Praise of the Humble Melba Toast

I have seen the future of my Dieting Days and it's name  is... Melba Toast! Well, maybe not really but after being on the HcG Diet, I was reintroduced to the joys of Melba Toast, the dieter's Best Friend. Sometimes you just need something crunchy and salty to eat and a carrot or celery stick just doesn't cut it. Enter the humble, and many flavored, Melba Toast. I like the Rye and Sesame varieties. At 20 to 25 calories a slice, it is a Dieter's Dream and it's relative blandness is a perfect blank slate upon which you can paint a variety of toppings. Since I like to eat a carb with a protein, I had gotten used to slicing hard boiled eggs and putting them on Melba toast for an easy(and portable) breakfast. Branching out to be more creative, I added Siracha (Asian garlic chili sauce) and some sliced scallions to kick it up a notch. The other day, I put a teaspoon of peanut butter on a rye Melba toast before I went on a run and, four miles later, I still had plenty of energy. I usually run on an empty stomach and tend to run out of gas. Other toppings I have tried on little Miss Melba- Laughing Cow Cheese wedge (50 calories), chopped tomatoes with garlic and basil and tuna salad. Other options: Hummus, Roasted Red Peppers or guacamole. 

   Along with the Melba Toast, I've been enjoying my egg slicer. It was one of those gadgets that lingered in the kitchen drawer for a long time, but now I've been using it like crazy!

     One more diet related note: a new article on Oprah says if you put healthy foods on the middle shelf of your fridge you're more likely to eat them. I like to cut up veggies for the week to have them accessible, so when I'm hungry, all I have to do is reach in and grab it. Happy Labor Day to All! and prayers to the unemployed and underemployed.