1.21.2015

Super-Duper Yummy Artichokes

Super-Duper Yummy Artichokes
Super-Duper Yummy Artichokes
Super-Duper Yummy Artichokes
Super-Duper Yummy Artichokes
Super-Duper Yummy Artichokes
Super-Duper Yummy Artichokes
Super-Duper Yummy Artichokes

If you’re simply steaming your artichokes, you are doing it wrong. I don't mean to get all judgy, but seriously, you're missing out on something really good. I say this because artichokes are one of the most delectable veggies out there, but when they aren’t prepared and cooked the right way, they can be tasteless and bland. They are one of those vegetables that need to be infused with flavor, and if you get it right, your tastebuds will rejoice.

Besides being delicious, artichokes are packed with nutrition. Rich in vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients, artichokes help protect against cancer, heart disease, high cholesterol and diabetes. They also promote liver and digestive health.

Just in case you’ve never eaten an artichoke, here's a little tip: it takes a little extra work, but it is well worth it. Once cooked, just peel off the leaves one by one and scrape off the “meaty” part of the leaf with your teeth. As you get closer to the center, the leaves will become smaller and more tender, with the very central leaves usually being completely soft and edible. It takes a little bit of patience, but you will be rewarded when you get to the heart of the artichoke: it packs a punch of flavor is the part that you can eat completely. That being said, don’t skip over eating the fleshy part of those leaves, because that is where the majority of the nutrients are.

Okay, so we know how healthy artichokes are and how to eat them, but how do we prepare them to make sure they are delicious too? My favorite way is the way my mom makes them…they are flavorful and juicy. I promise this recipe will not disappoint:

1.16.2015

Nourishing Bone Broth

Nourishing Bone Broth

So I finally made my first batch of bone broth this week. I’d been meaning to try it for quite some time, but it always seemed so intimidating. I procrastinated and put it off for as long as I could, but with its long list of health benefits, I knew it was time for me to get over it and just do it.

And I’m so glad I did. It actually was much easier than I thought. Yes, it does involve a little planning. But because I used a slow cooker, it was virtually stress-free.

If you haven’t already heard, bone broth is pretty amazing stuff. It’s a staple in the Paleo world and is considered one of the most nutrient-packed, healing foods in existence. Not that you need to be Paleo to appreciate its healing properties. New Yorkers are enjoying a convenient taste of it: a unique a store-front window in New York City has recently opened, serving up bone broth in to-go cups and allowing customers to sip and enjoy bone broth just like they would a cup of coffee. The funny thing is, although it seems like the hip, trendy thing to partake in right now, bone broth has been around for ages, and it’s the reason that good old fashioned chicken soup — the kind that’s made from scratch — is still one of the best things you can consume when your body is in need of a little TLC.

Among its many health benefits, bone broth:

• is rich in minerals that are easily absorbed
• reduces inflammation
• supports connective tissue and joint health
• promotes strong hair and nails
• aids in digestion and supports a healthy gut
• boosts immunity
• helps prevent bone loss
• supports a healthy nervous system
• is especially beneficial to those with inflammatory and autoimmune conditions

1.09.2015

Vintage Vacation: Road Trip to San Francisco

Vintage Vacation, Road Trip to San Francisco
Vintage Vacation, Road Trip to San Francisco, Golden Gate Bridge
Vintage Vacation, Road Trip to San Francisco
Vintage Vacation, Road Trip to San Francisco
Vintage Vacation, Road Trip to San Francisco
Vintage Vacation, Road Trip to San Francisco
Vintage Vacation, Road Trip to San Francisco

Although I’ve been to San Francisco many times, it was my first trip there that stands out as an extra special memory.

I was 18 years old and halfway through my first year of community college, when my friends (Deanne and Jenn) and I decided to take a road trip up the California coast to check out several college campuses. It was December 1992…the days when we dressed in oversized flannels, baggy jeans and clunky hiking boots (because apparently it was really cool to look like a lumberjack). It also explains the grainy, somewhat blurry photos. This was back in the day, when you had to wait to have your photos developed at the drugstore before you’d get to see what they actually looked like; you lived on pure faith, clicking away and hoping that somewhere in that reel of film, you’d get a decent shot or two.

Deanne, Jenn and I had grown up together on the same street and had been friends since we were about 5 years old. But now, as young adults, it was the first time we got to take a road trip on our own...no parents or chaperones, just the three of us. We borrowed Deanne’s mom’s minivan (thanks, Denise!) and headed up the California coastline in that maroon Ford Aerostar.

1.01.2015

It Was a Very Good Year

“2014:

“Strive for progress, not perfection.”

It’s a good little piece of advice, isn’t it? I find that I need to remind myself of it often, especially at this time of the year.

Ringing in the New Year is often bittersweet. It brings up that inevitable mix of emotions: on one hand, excitement and hope for a fresh start; on the other, disappointment and distress as we think to ourselves, “Another year has passed, and am I really where I thought I’d be by now?”

Perhaps things just didn’t go according to the plans we had. Perhaps we dealt with unexpected trials, challenges or heartbreak. Perhaps we set goals that we simply failed to accomplish. Or perhaps we just feel “stuck.” We think we’ve navigated through it all pretty well until, of course, December 31st rolls around: a shiny, loud and sometimes obnoxious reminder of all those things gone awry. We say “good riddance” to the year behind us and toast to the hopes of a much better year ahead.

It’s far too easy to get caught up in the disappointment and focus on everything that went wrong, instead of focusing on all the things that went right. I know I find myself doing it: frustrated that my health is still not where I want it to be, or that I didn’t quite meet my list of goals for this year, or that so many things on my “life checklist” are still left, well…unchecked.

12.29.2014

Best Health and Beauty Products of 2014

Best Health and Beauty Products of 2014

Looking back on 2014, there were a lot of great discoveries I made in the way of health and beauty products. It also happens to be the category that a number of my readers have told me they enjoy the most. So as we close out 2014, I thought I’d provide a little recap of some of my favorite health and beauty products from this past year.

I can’t wait to find out what next year will bring us. Here’s to a healthy 2015, and I wish all of you a very Happy New Year!

12.16.2014

Homemade Dog Treats for Christmas

Homemade Dog Treats for Christmas
Homemade Dog Treats for Christmas
Homemade Dog Treats for Christmas
Homemade Dog Treats for Christmas

Who says Christmas treats should only be for humans? If you’re like me, your dogs are not just your pets; they are your “furry babies,” and you want to make their holiday as special as you would for all your other loved ones.

Our dogs — Spencer and Luciano — tend to get spoiled at Christmas (come to think of it, they get spoiled every day of the year, but that’s another story). Of course, Santa usually brings them several new toys but last year, I decided to experiment with homemade dog biscuit treats as well. In the face of countless pet food recalls, trusting a commercial company to make your dog treats is sometimes a bit questionable. Christmas was the perfect time to bake some dog treats from scratch, ensuring our pups were getting the most wholesome, safe treats possible.

But we didn’t stop there: Spencer and Luciano wanted to share their treats with their doggy friends, so we decided to make them into gifts! We wrapped them up and attached festive, descriptive tags and handed them out to our fellow doggy mommies and daddies to share with their own furry babies.

12.09.2014

Paleo Shrimp Scampi

Paleo Shrimp Scampi
Paleo Shrimp Scampi
Paleo Shrimp Scampi

Every Christmas Eve, my family makes the most amazing seafood feast (a common tradition in Italian families). One of my favorite courses is my cousin Tina’s delicious shrimp scampi, and this recipe is inspired by hers.

While traditional scampi is often made with white wine, butter and sometimes wheat flour or bread crumbs, this Paleo version delivers the same punch of flavor and texture but with Paleo-approved ingredients. It’s the perfect dish to serve at one of your holiday celebrations...or any time of the year!