Saturday, March 30, 2013

Review: POND'S® Luminous Line


When I was selected to review the POND'S Luminous Line, I was quite hesitant simply because I'd not tried a drugstore brand of moisturizing/cleaning for a long while. I'd recently run out of my moisturizer, so I figured I would give it a try. My skin is very sensitive and anything with too much fragrance and it'll revolt. I've not had any issues with it since using the line. The entire line was a fraction of the cost of just my moisturizer.

For the past couple of weeks, I've been religiously using the moisturizer day lotion with SPF 15 (I always forget my SPF). Moisturizer is important folks! Yes, that includes you few male readers that I know lurk. The latest addition to the POND’S® Luminous Line,"POND’S® Luminous Moisture™ Day Lotion with SPF 15 is enriched with illuminating minerals. The weightless SPF 15 formula contains UVA and UVB sun protection against skin-damaging rays.
This month, Molly Sims* joins POND’S® to help women experience the “luminous effect” that comes with having great skin. Together, they are launching the “POND’S® 30-Day Luminous Photo Challenge,” a 30-day photo sweepstakes featuring daily challenges to inspire women to share photos of their happiest, most radiant moments. Thirty prizes will be awarded so women can live life more luminously. From March 4 through April 2, women can upload pictures to the POND’S® Facebook page or share via Twitter or Instagram by using the hashtag #LuminousEffect. Hurry and post your images! You only need a Smartphone and Twitter or Instagram to enter.

What makes you feel Luminous? 
Me, so very many things, but at the forefront of my mind, is that rush of endorphins I get after a good run. During my shower, while I'm exfoliating my face after all of that sweat, I'm confident in what I just accomplished! Even better when I slide on my dress and it is a bit loose. This was especially evident the hours after I completed the Dallas Rock and Roll Half Marathon!

Molly Sims' Tips for Looking Luminous:
  1. Picture Perfect:  My secret to feeling and looking camera ready starts with radiant skin. I rely on POND'S® Luminous Moisture™ Day Lotion with SPF 15 to brighten dull skin. The new moisturizer is enriched with illuminating minerals and contains SPF 15 that protects against skin-damaging rays.
  2. Nighttime Ritual:  I never go to bed without washing my face.  As a busy mom, I go for time savers wherever possible.  I like a cleanser that both cleanses and removes makeup in one step. POND’S® Luminous Clean™ Wet Cleansing Towelettes gently draws out trapped impurities and makeup to brighten dull skin.
  3. Feed the Glow: I start the day off with a green juice to kick start my morning.  It keeps me energized and does wonders for my complexion.
  4. Feel the Burn: Early morning exercise puts color on my cheeks and improves my whole body circulation.  A great workout also helps to enhance my skin color and complexion.
  5. Buff Your Way to Beautiful:  For great circulation and even tone skin, I recommend exfoliating your face, body and even your lips.  It can leave you looking good and feeling radiant in no time.
  6. Find Your Center: Taming stress is important to help you look your luminous best.  I use regular breathing exercises to help keep me calm and centered.
  7. Lights, Camera:  Every woman can look luminous from within – but great lighting can help, too.  One trick I’ve learned before snapping a photo is to step away from overhead lights to avoid shadows on the face.
  8. Glowing Touch:  A highlighter is one of my favorite beauty tricks to instantly look healthier and younger. I apply it anywhere that needs a little radiance:  under my eyes to minimize dark circles and on the brow bone to draw attention to my eyes.
  9. Lighten Up:  When posing for pictures, I make a point to smile big.  Your face will light up and you will instantly look and feel luminous.

I asked my girlfriends, of the items I had to review, which was the most interesting to them or the most valuable. Hands down, each of them mentioned the Wet Cleansing Towelette, a moisturizer and collection of cleansers that brighten dull skin. The Towelettes are enriched with moisturizing ingredients and soft white Kaolin clay known to act like a magnet, to gently draw out dirt, makeup and deep-dwelling impurities leaving skin bright and luminous. I used one of these and understand why they enjoyed using them. Convenient, they are moisturizing, without irritating. Additionally, they take off mascara with incredible ease! 


The complete Luminous Line is available at mass retailers, select drugstores and supermarkets nationwide for a suggested retail price of $4.99 - $5.79 for each item.

I participated in this campaign for One2One Network. By posting, I am eligible for incentive. I received product to facilitate my post, but all opinions stated are my own.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Recipe Monday: Pancakes!

Don’t you be rollin’ your eyes at me. I’m not gonna talk about pancakes from Bisquick. There’s nothing wrong with those pancakes, I suppose. I’m just going to tell you how I like to eat ‘em. Remember a couple of Monday’s ago when I mentioned the Homemade Paneer? Well, after the curds, you have leftover whey. This is one of the ways I use that whey. Not to mention, this recipe is easy enough for my girls to help me prepare. They really enjoy making the foods we eat. Orale whey!

Leftover Whey Pancakes

  • 1 cup of plain flour
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup of whey
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1-2 tbsp butter

Before…Preheat your frying pan to a nice medium heat. This is important! If you are like me, your first pancake is a throwaway pancake anyway, but it is also my most delicious!

Action…Whisk all of your ingredients in a bowl. I usually start with the flour, then add the egg, whisk. Add the baking soda/powder, whisk. Then add the whey. The consistency should be smooth, not thick. If it is too runny, you may want to add a bit more flour. Add only a quarter cup at a time until the batter is consistent.

Note: If you used a half gallon of milk to make the paneer, you will have waaay more than just 1 cup of whey to use. Don’t over use the whey just because you don’t want to waste it! You can find other uses! Maybe I’ll post my veggie soup recipe that I make with the whey. Are you interested?

Process…Add half of your tablespoon of butter to your pan. Let it get all bubbly and spread that melted goodness all over your pan. Now, ladle your batter into the pan. More batter will make a larger pancake. My girls like silver dollar sized pancakes, so I make a mixture of them. This will immediately start to bubble around the edges. Here is when I add blueberries to the batter. I like adding them in this step instead of the batter so I don’t accidentally mush them. Plus, the Sugarbean doesn’t like blueberries like the Sugarbaby and I do, so this just saves me a step from having to make separate batters. Once your pancake has enough bubbles (airpockets) in it, take your spatula and flip it. You will notice a nice brown look. That’s the goodness right there. The butter gives it a bit of a crispy flavor, but the inside is cake-y! YUM!

Enjoy…We might add a bit of Agave nectar as the syrup and don’t add any additional butter. This is our typical Saturday morning breakfast while we watch “cartoons” (more like a movie).

Thank you for reading!

Monday, March 18, 2013

Recipe Monday: Avocado Snack

Say whaaaaaa??? You mean to tell me you are going to give me a recipe for an avocado? Hello Bianca, that's like the easiest thing ever. That's like saying, here's a recipe for a slice of store bought bread. Um...sure.

I like a quick snack that packs a nutritious punch. This is my go-to happy snack/appetizer. Used to when I would eat avocados, I would get a tickle in my throat and I thought I was mildy allergic to them. But this way, I don't get that tickle. It is pure deliciousness! MMMmm

Avocado Snack

1 avocado
1 lime (will only use half of the lime)
pinch of salt

  1. Cut your avocado in half, lengthwise.




  2. Slice it up and lay it on your plate. Cut your lime in half and squeeze the juice from half the lime onto your slices.


  3. Add a pinch of kosher salt across the slices, then devour!


Do your best to not want to drink a margarita because the lime and salt will definitely have you wanting one. :) 

Happy Monday!

Monday, March 11, 2013

Recipe Monday: Homemade Paneer

I’m gonna try something new here. I’ve had some friends recently ask me for some recipes. I spouted off some nonsense, but in reality, very seldom do I actually use a bonafide recipe. When I meal plan, I have an idea of what to make by looking through my Everyday Food, but then I don’t revisit the recipe. I just use it as a base for ingredients. In any case, there are things that I make repeatedly because they are good and I figured, eh, I’ll share here. First one, homemade paneer.

Hello Bianca, I don’t really know what paneer is. Can you help?

Sure! Paneer is a South Asian type of cheese rich in milk protein. I find the texture amazing. There isn’t much flavor, per se, but it totally soaks up flavor in whatever dish you prepare, which makes it all the more delicious! You can buy it at the store, BUT if you don’t live near any Asian/Indian/Indo-Pak/Pakistani markets, then you wouldn’t find this stuff. Here’s how you can make your own paneer:

 

Homemade Paneer

1/2 gallon whole milk (remember Moo Mondays at Central Market, half off milk!)

1 to 3 tablespoons of white vinegar (you can use any type of acid like lemon juice)

cheesecloth over a strainer

container (like a pyrex dish) to mold your paneer

  1. Bring the milk temperature to just below boiling and turn off your heat. This is when those tiny bubbles start to form. It’s a short time from when that happens and when it is rolling to a boil. I usually add a pinch of salt. You can stir it as it cooks. You can also enlist the help of your 5 year old to stir and pretend you are witches over a boiling cauldron. This is great until your almost 2 year old wants to help and stir too, and then they will both start to fight over who gets to stir more, which will eventually lead them to bickering. In which case, you try to settle with an alternative food snack since you are in the kitchen, after all, and all is well until you maybe burn your milk a little bit. 

  2. Add your vinegar to the milk one tablespoon at a time, stirring after each time.  (This is where it gets all fun and science-y!) The curds will separate from the whey. (Those bits of brown in my pot are b/c I was multi-tasking and burnt my milk, but hey, bonus flavor! Remember from earlier??)

    Wait a bit to pour over because you could get quite a bit of steam and I don’t want you to burn yourself! In my case, my smallest one had to potty and big sister took her, so I raced off to make sure all was well with them. Once we had all of that done, enough time had passed for me to be able to strain it.

     

  3. Now pour the mixture into the cheesecloth covered strainer. (I don’t have a photo b/c I forgot to snap one during this step because the house was eerily quiet and I was rushing to strain my curds from whey because things are too quiet!! All was well. The 5 year old covered the nearly 2 year old with some lotion on her hair because “she needed a style, mommy” ‘eh, extra conditioning and a nice smelling head never hurt anyone.)

    Note: When you do this, have it over a bowl so you can save all of that whey*.

  4. Try to strain out as much of the whey from the curds as possible. Transfer the curds into your pyrex dish and spread to your mold. Set in the refrigerator overnight or up to a week from when you will use the curds. Again, the brown spots in mine were from where I burnt the milk. It’s ok, it won’t compromise the flavor, just the look. Mine isn’t in the cheesecloth just for the sake of the photo. I typically leave it wrapped and press it flatter with a pickle jar just to really get it into that rectangular shape.

You can eat the curds immediately. Collectively, it looks almost like ricotta. When it is warm, I’ve given it to my girls and they think it is a warm cheese treat. Also, they know when I pour the whey into mason jars we will be having pancakes and soup soon! whey pancake recipe coming soon!

*Whey is still highly nutritious and can be used in a variety of ways. Don’t waste your whey! My friend Dadthebaker taught me that!

Now go on out and make some paneer. You’ll feel like a scientist in the kitchen!

Friday, March 8, 2013

Dishcrawl DFW – Uptown March 2013

**Until I can get my other blog up and running (worstvegetarianever…darn internets with their picky DNS settings), I’m going to continue as usual here. **

 

Thanks to Twitter, I happened upon Dishcrawl DFW. They were having an event in Uptown, Dallas (near my office stomping grounds) and I figured it’d make for a great date night. I always love it when my Beloved takes the train in to town to meet up with me. It makes me feel all grown up!

But what is a Dishcrawl, I’ve never heard of it? A dishcrawl is like a pubcrawl, but with food. Think of it as a progressive dinner. If you love food (and y’all know, we do love food!) then this is for you! This dishcrawal, the plan was to go to four different restaurants in the Uptown area, walking to each one. The restaurants are a mystery, only being revealed to you as you are leaving the previous venue. 48 Hours before the event, we received an email telling us where to meet up. Cost was $45 a person (plus processing fees) and you pay for your drinks. There were 20 spots available, so inevitably, you were going to meet new people. Some of the places were able to accommodate for Don’s Gluten-Free diet.

Stop 1: Arcodoro Pomodoro

Drinks: $4 frozen grapparita, very sour and I didn't like it. I gave mine to Don.

Amuse bouche - Bruschetta, fried ravioli with wild boar, endive stuffed with tuna tartare, arancini

ap

This was convenient for me because this restaurant is located at the bottom of the building where I work! Super win! I was able to log in a few extra hours until Don’s train arrived. We had a lovely time at the bar making a new friend and chatting it up with the bartender about different places to eat/check out and share opinions on what we liked/disliked.

The endive was the best thing. The Wild Boar ravioli was intriguing and tasty enough that I'm willing to give them a 2nd look. Previously, I’d gone for lunch and left so unimpressed I didn’t want to return. I’ve heard great things about their dessert, also, so I’m wiling to give ‘em another try.

Stop 2: Nobu

Drinks: Sake for Don and a Lychee Elderberry Martini with St. Germain and Goose

Appetizer: Salmon, Cucumber, and Yellowtail rolls

nobu

The rolls were tiny, like the circumference was somewhere between a nickel and a quarter. Not a bad thing, but this plate was to be shared by 4 adults. Um…that’d be enough for just me (yes, I’m that person). Remember, the gluten-free thing? Well, Don can totally eat this, so this was his place to load up, since he was only able to enjoy the endive at Arcodoro Pomodoro.

While here, we connected with a couple who had recently moved here from Oregon. They were so awesome, easy to talk to, and so much fun. We happily gave them our favorites up and down Knox/Henderson area, near where they will be moving soon.

Stop 3: Sambuca

Drinks: House Chardonnay and Rum & Cokes for Don

Main: House Salad, Mediterranean Veggie Lasagna (filled with asparagus, mushrooms, spinach, roma tomatoes, and black olives) and Chicken breast over potato hash with a champagne sauce

sambuca

The chicken was dry, I loved the lasagna! Most importantly, I loved the live jazz band. We had great conversation with lots of laughter and on our way out, Don and I snuck a dance on their dance floor. :) Oh, but back to that lasagna. Don couldn’t eat it and since it was a veggie lasagna, I would have liked to have seen them make the lasagna layer out of a cucumber or a zucchini to really make it all the way vegetarian and gluten-free friendly. The flavors married so well, I would’ve traded my chicken for more lasagna. (didn’t finish my chicken, in fact. wasn’t worth finishing)

The dinner conversation at this place was a hoot! We were in stitches laughing about everything and nothing. Giving tips on other places around Dallas. We realized quickly how much we really like to eat and explore new places. Quite a contrast from what I had typically eaten before meeting Don. I like that we can celebrate this adventure together.

Stop 4: Dee Lincoln's

Drinks: Rum & Coke for Don...he likes rum...I didn't have anything since Id' be driving

Dessert: Bread pudding, pots de creme, and berries with cream

deelinc

The bread pudding was literally bite size. Like smaller than those tiny brownies they have here. The chocolate pots de creme were like a jello shot shooter. Not gonna lie, it was disappointing to see that was served in a plastic 1 oz solo container. Not cool for such a high-end place. I expected more. It had potential to be so much more. For the chocolate itself, it was ok. Not really quite what I’d expected. Oh, and the berries, 3 total. 1 blackberry, 1 raspberry, 1 blueberry with a tiny drizzle of cream.

All in all, the people we met were great. Good date night and I’d highly recommend it to anyone, single or coupled up. You will be around people who enjoy culinary adventures just like you. Or this would be a fun outing with friends, too!

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Clean Eating & Health

There is so much information out there, it seems pointless for me to write down my own thoughts, but I will tell my story and what I have done differently. Whew...this will take a lot of courage to be this honest.

This was me, January 1, 2010. I weighed about 185 pounds and wore a size 14. I was happy that was back down into the 180s because I'd been teetering in the 190s. I hadn't really done a whole lot of regular exercise. I'd gone into a funk of sorts. IF I ran a mile, it would've just been one or two and I would probably taken 12 minutes to do each one. Not a bad time, but not a time that I knew I could achieve. I became pregnant with Tesla later on this year.


This is me on February 16, 2013. I weigh 160 pounds and wear a size 10/12. I'm training for a half marathon. I'd like to finish it without injury with an average pace around 10 minutes each mile. I also want to be able to do 25 good unassisted pushups. I can do 6 really, really good ones right now.

I'm not a tiny person. I never have been. I am 5'7" (and 3/4 inches...those matter!). I have always been athletic. As far as clothing is concerned, I've worn at least a size 10 since I was a Freshman in high school. In high school, I also weighed 145 lbs. My ultimate (never thought I'd ever reach it) goal weight is 155. I can't believe I'm this close! Also, I'm not obsessed with weight. My biggest objective is to be healthy. On the surface, I measure my health by my legs and back. I carry a lot of my extra weight in my belly area. I had a lovely, squishy pansa! No doubt because of all of the heavy fat, sugar, and processed foods I'd consumed.

January of last year, I wanted a dramatic change. My friend started eating a vegetarian diet and I saw changes. For years I'd read stories of celebrities who had eaten only vegetables and their bodies were lean. I gave myself a challenge, to see if I could do it and also to see if there would be any dramatic changes. There were!

And then I watched Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead, Food Inc., and Forks Over Knives. My thinking shifted. I wasn't just going to limit myself to this 6 weeks of no animal eating diet. Because quite frankly, I was just eating salads and breakfast foods. I needed to make a dramatic lifestyle change and embrace what my husband had been telling me.

I was worried with how expensive it would be, but then I considered medical bills and the cost of clothes, my overall quality of life and unhappiness with how I felt about my image. I NEEDED to make this investment into my family. Immediately, anything with high fructose corn syrup or corn sugar was tossed in the trash. (That stuff is in EVERYTHING!) Also, no more white flour breads or pastas. Everything had to be whole wheat. No unbleached flour at all. No more foods with ingredients I couldn't pronounce. No more instant meals from the frozen food aisle. No more canned vegetables. Everything was fresh. I went back to basics. Regular sugar, real butter, organic milk, fresh (in-season) vegetables, and as much locally sourced foods as possible. We ate more diverse foods and the Asian markets, as well as, Bountiful Baskets, became our best friends. We saved quite a bit on our budget from eating animals, but similarly, we spent more because we were eating fresh foods. Likewise, in the weeks where I didn't meal plan, we spent money going out to eat because the issue with cooking foods is that you have to prepare it!

And then I started running again. I was regularly running 2-3 miles twice a week. I didn't take any supplements. I didn't drink any protein shakes. I ate a lot of peanut butter and jelly. I also still drank a glass of wine with my meals twice a week. Since we are being honest, I would drink a few shots of tequila or a couple vodka sodas once a week (on average) when socializing.

Then, we went to Costa Rica. I witnessed first hand what it meant to have fresh fruits and vegetables. I was also struck with the sheer volume of waste, we as humans produce. I saw it washed ashore onto those beautiful beaches. I went to the market and made some of our lunches while we were there and realized that I could continue to be creative and eat just as healthily. I didn't have to be so limiting, I just needed to continue to keep the processed junk out.

This is where it is tough. I grew up with processed foods. I grew up with convenient foods. I was well aware of frozen meals and how to fix them. I also knew the food offered in them was far tastier than the hamburger helper I would make. Hamburger Helper is pretty good in its own right, too, though! But it should be. When I read the ingredients on the back, I noticed that those that were all chemical-y sounding were engineered to get me to crave them and want more. The New York Times recently had an article on this Extraordinary Science. (long read, but well worth it) It is so difficult to make a change in your life when you have so much against you. You want to gather and socialize with friends, but at the same time, if you go out to eat, you don't know where they get their ingredients or what they put in the food. You don't want to have to second guess each mouthful, but you do. You don't know how it will affect you in the long run.

This isn't to say that we don't go out to eat. This also isn't to say we NEVER eat fast food. This also isn't to say I never eat animals, after all, I call myself the Worst Vegetarian Ever. I do make it a point that when I do eat them, I know it is of the highest quality ingredients and I've tried to know where they come from. I also only eat animals (or something with a face), once a week. I still use butter. I still use milk when I cook. I also use white sugar when I bake. I try to make better decisions. Instead of McDonald's, we choose Chipotle. In stead of fried chicken, we opt for baked or grilled. Steel cut oats instead of instant oatmeal. Small changes in the right direction that yield greater results. READ THE LABELS...see how many calories you are consuming and see the ingredients you are putting in your body. If you can't pronounce it or don't know how it'll affect you, you probably shouldn't put it in your body.

My face is cleaner and brighter. My allergies have subsided. In the year when they were at an all time high and everyone around me was affected by them, I was sneeze free. My lactose intolerance isn't as bad as it was, especially with Organic Whole Milk (Central Market offers Moo Mondays, where milk is half off, yes, even organic milk w/o antibiotics in it). I continue to have good blood pressure and an excellent resting heart rate. My energy levels are higher.

The down side? I still very much want a fast food hamburger. There are times where a Marie Callender's fettucine alfredo microwave meal and chocolate cake sound amazing. I also want to indulge in a Braum's Black Forest sundae. I crave these foods. Also, eating all of vegetables, you system becomes more regular. Yeah, I poop more than I used to. I'm not constipated, but I do go more. For the record, I don't like pooping. It isn't that I don't like going in public, I just don't like going to do that at all. My own issue, I own it. There are times where I go hungry. The right food may not be available for me to eat, so I just won't. I'll have water instead. Then I get grumpy.

All this to say, you find balance. You find what works for you, but you have to be willing to make a big change if you want a change. You can't expect to take a pill or drink a special drink and think that you will suddenly be healthy. Make real goals for yourself. Read labels and most of all, keep going! Keep trying. Forgive yourself if you slip up. It's ok. Just start again.

Good luck!

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