Monday, December 28, 2015

The Mediterranean Diet: Healthy and Delicious

Posted: Updated: 
May is International Mediterranean Diet Month. Over the last few years, the Mediterranean cuisine has gained a popular platform for healthy eating. It's fresh, light and tasty, and it encompasses food and recipes from a multitude of countries along the Mediterranean such as Greece, Italy, Malta, Spain and Turkey.
To me, the Mediterranean diet is home. My mother was from Sicily so while my childhood friends were eating canned asparagus and frozen tater-tots, I was feasting on baked cod, homemade bean soup, mussels fra diavolo and pasta with fresh vegetables. I thought everyone ate like that! Now it's all the rage since this type of diet has been known to fight heart disease, lower blood pressure and potentially helpreduce weight. We didn't have a lot of money growing up, but I always felt we ate like kings. That's probably because vegetables, beans and pasta were a lot cheaper than meat, which was always served as a second and smaller course after our grains and veggies.
Characterized by ingredients such as fresh seafood, olives, legumes, soft cheeses, fresh herbs, spices, tomatoes, and a glass of red wine with dinner, the Mediterranean diet will delight anyone's taste buds. All I need is some extra-virgin olive oil and garlic, and I can make anything. That's why I love this staple Italian dish below that's delicious and cooks in about 20 minutes -- pasta with garlic and olive oil.
I'd hardly call this a recipe since it's so simple and the quantities don't really matter much. It can be eaten as is or you can use it as a base for a more complete, robust meal. For example, you can add any kind of steamed vegetable and/or grilled fish, chicken or tofu. If you're not doing gluten or pasta, exchange the pasta for brown rice or quinoa. Of course, gluten-free or whole-grain pasta will also work.
Pasta With Garlic and Olive Oil
  1. Cook a pound of your favorite pasta as directed. Do not overcook the pasta -- it should be on the chewy side.
  2. While the water is boiling for the pasta, coat the bottom of a frying pan withextra-virgin olive oil. I prefer organic olive oil. Heat the oil slightly and add about one-half a head of chopped garlic and a couple dashes of salt. Remove it from the heat when the garlic is soft (not brown).
  3. When the pasta is done, reserve about one-quarter cup of the pasta water. Add the pasta to the garlic and oil mixture and stir it around. Then add the reserved water a little at a time. Return the mixture to the heat and cook and stir a couple of minutes.
  4. Top the dish with chopped fresh Italian parsley and grated Parmesan or Romano cheese. If you like it spicy, sprinkle in some dried red pepper flakes.
As you can see, the Mediterranean diet is not really a diet, but a delicious way to eat year-round. Buon apetito!
For more by Debbie Gisonni, click here.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

With a Grain of Salt -- 10 Skin-Loving Salt Tips and Tricks

Posted: Updated: 
People can be obsessed over anything from shoes to cars. Most of us have something we collect, treasure, research, admire or lust after. My obsession is with skin. I take pleasure in finding ingredients in nature that enhance, repair, heal and protect it. I get giddy over things we have in our cupboards that can transform skin. I love to find the latest "skin miracle" at my local grocery store. I love when there is easy access for everyone to be able to indulge and use. Fundamental as it may seem, one of my long-time obsessions is with salt. I have to admit there are very few people I can call and share my excitement with. Most of my friends do not understand being shaken with delight over something like salt. It seems basic, but salt is simply amazing.
Not all salt is the same and not all salt garnishes the same skin-loving results. Salt is generally produced one of three ways: deep-shaft mining, solution mining, or solar evaporation.
Real sea salts are produced by evaporating seawater. This process leaves different trace minerals and elements depending on where the seawater is from. There are a wide variety of sea salts available. These include everything from salt harvested off the coast of France, to Israel and Pacific sea salts. All sea salts offer a different mineral makeup and all have different properties that are good for skin.
Table salt mined from underground salt deposits is more heavily processed and also contains an additive to prevent clumping. The processing of table salt eliminates the minerals and elements that are beneficial for skin.
Salts from deep shaft mining or solution mining, such as Epsom or Himalayan salts, can also have a unique mineral component that is beneficial for skin and bath soaks.
All salts are not created equal when it comes to skin and bathing. For this reason, I only use salts that contain a mineral and trace element content that aide in the desired outcome I want to achieve when I teach "make your own" classes to both the public and professionals. When used correctly you can create effective products at home. One simple way I like to illustrate the difference between the makeup of salts is to have my students taste a grain of (pure with no additives) Dead Sea Salt (do not do this at home if it has scent or there are additives in it) and a grain of pure Pacific Sea Salt. The flavor speaks volumes on how different the mineral make up of salt can be!
There are so many beneficial uses for salt. When used as a bath soak, salt does everything from help heal psoriasis and eczema, to help in regulating the activity ofmore than 300 enzymes, flush toxins, relive stress and revive you. Bathing in Epsom salt helps raise sulfate levels in the body, which can get the detoxification pathway flowing again.
When used as a scrub salt gently cleanses pores and exfoliates (sloughs off dead skin cells to both promote skin renewal as well as reveal the softer, more youthful looking and healthier skin underneath). Exfoliating is imperative for healthy, youthful, glowing skin. Dead skin cells not only clog pores, they also make your skin look dull and lackluster and can make your appearance age. When you exfoliate, you remove the outer layers of dead epidermis (skin) cells, which also speeds up the skin renewal process, allowing smoother, healthier skin cells and reduced wrinkles.
Economical, powerful and readily available, salt is a perfect at-home spa treatment you can both afford and use to make potent products yourself. This cost-effective beauty wonder will not only save your skin and wallet but also eliminate waste from packaging and manufacturing when you buy in bulk and make your own.
Age defying facial scrub:
• 1 teaspoon honey
• ¼ teaspoon salt (Finely milled. If you cannot find fine-milled you can put it in a food processer for a few whirls)
• ½ teaspoon strongly brewed coffee, white, green, black or red tea
• ½ teaspoon soymilk or cream
Directions: Place all ingredients in a food processer or blender and pulse till combined.
Stress relieving bath soak:
• 1 ½ cups of Epsom salt
• 1/8 cup of well ground oatmeal (Try to get as close to a powder as you can with the tools you have at home)
• ¼ cup of milk (Fresh or powdered. Powdered is more concentrated)
• 2 drops of lavender essential oil
• 3 drops of carrot oil
• 2 drops of vitamin E
• 2 tablespoons of orange juice
Note: If you use powdered milk you can mix the main ingredients in advance and keep in a sealed container, and add the optional ingredients directly into bath.
Muscle relief soak:
• 2 cups Epson salts
• 2 cups dead sea salts
• 1/8 cup powdered mustard
• ¼ cup sea salt
• 2 drops eucalyptus essential oil
• 1/8 a teaspoon fresh ginger
• 2 tablespoons of strongly brewed tea of chamomile, licorice, valerian, devils claw or cramp bark
Note: You can mix the main ingredients in advance and keep in a sealed container, and add the optional ingredients directly into bath.
10 Salt Tips And Tricks
1. Removing dead skin cells -- In the shower or bath after soaping gently massage your entire body with salt. It both exfoliates and aids the circulation.
2. Reviving tired, swollen achy feet -- Soak feet in a bowl or basin with a combination of equal parts baking soda, Epsom salts, and sea salts.
3. Mouth wash -- Mix equal parts of salt and baking soda for a mouthwash that freshens breath. Add 1 teaspoon of salt mixture to ¼ cup water.
4. Mosquito bites, poison ivy -- Soak in salt water to relieve itch and irritation
5. Clean your shower or tub -- If you use any type of moisturizer when bathing it can make surfaces slippery. Sprinkle equal amounts of baking soda and fine milled salt on shower floor or bathtub after bathing, and scrub away when finished to prevent oil build up.
6. To detoxify -- Use a combination of 1 cup Epsom salt, ½ cup sea salt and 1 tablespoon of kaolin clay for a detoxifying bath soak.
7. Beach waves -- Mix sea salt, coconut oil and water and put in a spray bottle. Use on wet hair to create the beach wave look when dried. How much salt you use depends on the level of curl you want and coconut oil on dryness of hair.
8. Facial toner for acne prone skin -- Mix 1 teaspoon of sea salt with 2 cups of water and 1 teaspoon of apple cider vinegar and put in spray bottle. Spray on face (keep out of eyes). Make sure to moisturize your skin as well.
9. For dry calloused feet -- Mix equal parts sea salt with cornmeal and baking powder for a perfect feet treat. Soak feet first to soften, then scrub and moisturize.
10. Brighten your nails -- Forget the fancy pricy nail whiteners; make your own. Mix 1 teaspoon lemon juice, 1 teaspoon of baking soda, 1-teaspoon sea salt and soak nails for reduced yellowing and to remove dirt.
For more by Deborah Burnes, click here.
For more on health and beauty, click here.

Let's Say Our Goodbyes To These Terrible Beauty Trends Of 2015

Drop the glitter, people.

 12/23/2015 06:01 am ET | Updated 23 hours ago
  • Chanel ParksAssociate Style Editor, The Huffington Post
  • Dana OliverExecutive Fashion And Beauty Editor, The Huffington Post
Who doesn't love a good beauty trend? This year we celebrated a slew of looks, new and old. "Bronde" became a thing, platinum hair made a comeback and simple nail designs joined them to make waves on the runways.
That being said, there were some trends that came into our lives that we would rather not see in the new year. Sorry, not sorry, but frosted lipstick didn't really make a convincing comeback. Oh, and that Kylie Jenner Lip Challenge? Let's just say those horrifying results are just one reason to side-eye any Internet phenomenon. 
So, before we toast to 2016, let's say our goodbyes to the beauty trends and rid our souls of clip-on man buns. Take a look at the seven trends we're dropping in 2016, and don't forget to add your suggestions in the comments below. 
DROP: Frosted lipstick 
Yes, we tried it, but we've come to the conclusion that Mariah Carey is pretty much the only person who can really pull off a frosted lip look.
TRY: If you want a shiny look, just swipe a gloss over your lipstick. It's that simple.
DROP: Glitter roots 
Some trends aren't worth the mess, so glittery roots can take a backseat with its particles-gone-rogue.
TRY:  Anything but glitter! Touch up your roots, go for a different color or just let 'em grow out.
DROP: Coffin nails
1275468coffin nails - Yahoo Image Search Resultsfrom Juarez AraozMonserrat Juarez AraozNails
According to Pinterest, coffin nails was a popular pinned trend. Not only is the name sort of creepy, the shape isn’t actually that healthy.
TRY: A shorter, "squoval" shape that will protect your nails against breakage, tears and scratching someone's eyes out.
DROP: Clip-in man buns
It is virtually impossible to make these hair extensions look real. And what an embarrassment would it be to have your clip-in man bun fall out in the middle of an intense make-out session?
TRY: Growing out your hair to achieve the real thing. Yeah, it may take longer, but it's certainly worth the wait. Or you can simply sport your hair as is, no matter the length.
DROP: Kylie Jenner Lip Challenge
This tragic and dangerous beauty trend that uses a shot glass to "instantly" plump up lips illustrates just how far young girls are willing to go to emulate what they see on TV.
TRY: Faking a fuller pout by slightly overdrawing your lip line with pencils or wearing a high-shine lip gloss to help create the illusion.
DROP: Purposefully clumpy eyelashes
Ouch! While the beauty editors and writers saw models painstakingly wearingmascara-clumped lashes backstage during New York Fashion Week Spring 2016, we could only imagine how many actual lashes they had left after removing the thick makeup.
TRY: Intensifying your natural lashes with falsies. Whether applying a full strip of fake eyelashes or adding on few individuals, this is a way better method.
DROP: Excessive contouring and highlighting
Unless you're a celebrity with your own glam squad or posing for a magazine editorial, leave this makeup technique to the pros. If there was ever a thing as toomuch makeup, this is it.
TRY: Soaking up some sun safely… and enhancing your natural glow with a goodbronzer.
Also on HuffPost: 
Beauty Gifts For Your Kylie Jenner-Obsessed Friend