The 10 Easiest Ways to Celebrate Earth Day on April 22!

21 Apr
"Design Scavenger project herb garden"

Photo courtesy of Design Scavenger, http://www.designscavenger.com

FOR YOU TO LIVE A SUSTAINABLE LIFESTYLE, IT’S ALL ABOUT BEING PRACTICAL.  AFTER ALL, THROWING YOUR ENTIRE PAYCHECK INTO A HEMP WARDROBE MIGHT BE ECO-FRIENDLY, BUT NOT EXACTLY A TREND ANYONE WOULD WANT TO SUSTAIN.  CHECK OUT THIS LIST OF THE 10 EASIEST WAYS TO CELEBRATE EARTH DAY, MADE ESPECIALLY FOR THE FOODIE IN YOU.
1. Be a conscious eater.  Takeout King or Queen? Cook at home once a week to reap the therapeutic benefits of cooking while cutting back on the packaging that’s wasted on to-go meals.  Additionally, go meatless once per week to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 51%.  That’s emissions the animals and you produce.  I’m pretty sure people will be happier with that switch!
2. Start your own organic urban garden.  How great would it be to have fresh fruits, veggies & herbs in your backyard or on a patio or windowsill? You’ll be eating nutritious food free of pesticides and chemicals that do more harm to your body than good.  Check out the rolling herb garden that my fiance, Kris Kaufman, a.k.a. Design Scavenger, made for me out of an old trash can and wood off the side of the road.
3. Reuse your shopping bags.  Paper or plastic? How about neither. Bring reusable grocery bags to reduce your impact on landfills.
4. Abide by the Dirty Dozen.  Don’t throw good money away. Keep the Dirty Dozen cheat sheet by your side to remind you of what to organic fruits & veggies you should splurge on and what conventionally-grown items are OK to consume.
5. Plant a tree.  Did you know one tree might absorb as much as one ton of carbon over a 40-year lifespan.  That’s some staying power if you ask me.  Why not make it a Meyer lemon tree so you can make lemonade?
6. Save water. We’re such wasters of nature’s precious resources. Only use the dishwasher when it’s full and be mindful of over watering your garden because you might actually kill your plants.
7. Get physical. Physical fitness boosts your mood.  Get out of the big box gym and instead take a hike, ride a bike or practice yoga.  Outdoor fitness connects you with nature and allows you to create your own energy instead of wasting it at the gym.
8. Stay local.  Dinner date downtown? Cancel those plans for a restaurant within walking distance.  Support your local Farmers’ Market to beat the 15,000 miles produce can travel to get to your local grocery store. And, ask questions—there’s so much to learn from your local farmers!
9. Recycle.  Preventing unnecessary trash in our landfills is easy.  Donate unwanted kitchen accessories and trinkets.  Or, throw a “swap” party with your friends.  You might be surprised someone actually wants that old can opener of yours.  Use empty liquor and wine bottles or mason jars as candle holders or vases.  Clean out the fridge and recycle all those expired beer bottle, sauce containers and dressing jars.  After all, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.
10. Find a celebration in your neighborhood.  Get educated and find out how you can get involved at your Local Earth Day event.
SEE, THERE REALLY ARE EASY WAYS TO CELEBRATE EARTH DAY.  SO WHY NOT MAKE EARTH DAY HAPPEN EVERYDAY?

Shine A Bright Light on Autism | Monday, April 2

31 Mar

World Autism Awareness Day Monday, April 2, 2012

Autism affects tens of millions of people.  One out of every 88 babies is born with autism.  A new child is diagnosed every 20 minutes.  Those are some pretty staggering numbers.  And, its highly likely that someone you know and love needs your support to shine a bright light on this growing global health concern.

This Monday, April 2, is World Autism Awareness Day (WADD).  There are many ways to show your support.  Join Anova, Autism Speaks, Food, I Love You and millions of others to LIGHT IT UP BLUE  on WADD:

Although research has yet to prove it, there are a ton of ways to help combat symptoms of autism including communication and social discomfort through good food choices.  It is believed that there may be a link between autism and food allergies.  Gluten-free, casein-free diets may help improve speech, social and cognitive behaviors.  Some delicious options for weekdays or weekends include:

Get in the mood to wear your blue.  Do your part for World Autism Awareness Day this Monday, April 2, 2012.

Why I Love Cake Tasting

25 Mar
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Photo by Chris Arslain Photography

While it’s no secret, some of you may not know that I’ve been a blushing bride-in-training since December (my apologies for not disclosing any earlier).  My handsome and handy fiance, Kris Kaufman, and I set the date and venue, and are spending most of our free time carving out all the details.  Planning a wedding is so much fun–especially because I’ve come to find that being a bride-to-be comes with TONS of perks!

What I truly can’t wait for is the most chic Beverly Hills bridal event of the season UNVEILED: Bridal Style Revealed at the Beverly Canon Garden on Sunday, April 1.  Why?  Because trendsetting event planner, Tarin Wilson, of Plan A Events is producing the event.  And, with Tarin’s sense of style at the helm, it’s the fanciest wedding event I’ve attended, complete with knowledgeable vendors, a 2012 Vera Wang bridal collection runway show and a cake and champagne tasting room.  Let me say that again…CAKE & CHAMPAGNE TASTING ROOM.  Not to mention a few more fantastic plans:

  • Dozens of vendors and experts sharing their talents and tips in our beautiful garden of exhibitors
  • The State of the Union panel hosted by Darcy Miller, Editorial Director for Martha Stewart Weddings and some of her favorite wedding experts
  • Sweet and savory nibbles from some of the best local caterers
  • Outdoor lounges for hanging out, enjoying the day and relaxing with friends
  • The most talented wedding photographer and artist, Chris Arslain, capturing all the fun for the day

So, now that I’ve got you hooked, what if I also said you can get $10 off your ticket to Unveiled?  Join me and my beautiful mom, Gerry, next Sunday, April 1, by registering online at http://www.unveiledevent.com.  Just use AMB12 for a discount admission–you’ll only pay $20 per ticket. 

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And that’s why I love cake tasting.  xoxo

Sunday Funday Cooking Demo at Mar Vista Farmers’ Market

13 Mar
Food, I Love You! Mar Vista Farmers Market Cooking Demo

From L-R: The Food, I Love You! girls, Allie Zack, Cara Donnelly & Colleen Donnelly cooking up Strawberry & Asparagus Quinoa Salad at the Mar Vista Farmers' Market.

This past weekend was superb.  Because I had the chance to share my love of good-for-you food at the Mar Vista Farmers’ Market on Sunday!  I couldn’t have asked for a better community to celebrate my inaugural public appearance.  And, it gets better!  I will be conducting food demos once per month at MVFM, starting Sunday, May 20, 2012!

Every farmers’ market has a special personality.  But there’s something truly special about Mar Vista.  It’s quaint, local, hip and REALLY community-oriented.  The vendors are friendly and the visitors are eager to learn and support local farmers wholeheartedly.  I felt like the luckiest girl in the world on Sunday and because I loved the experience so much, I decided to blog about all the fun we had.

WHO: Me and my fabulous and beautiful sidekicks, Cara (amazing sister) & Allie (childhood BFF & post-college roomie).

WHAT: We prepared Strawberry & Asparagus Quinoa Salad for patrons to enjoy.  Some stopped by for a quick taste while others got cozy and watched us blanch asparagus (boil, drain & shock) and reduce balsamic vinegar down into a richer, oh-so-divine version of itself.  View more photos on the Food, I Love You! Facebook page.

WHEN: Sunday, March 11, 2012

WHERE: Mar Vista Farmers’ Market

WHY: To encourage people to make healthy food choices and enjoy the food that loves them back.  I also needed to get over my nerves and take care of business already!

PRINTER-FRIENDLY RECIPE: Strawberry & Asparagus Quinoa Salad

A special thanks to:

  • Helen, Diana and Karen from the market.  Your ability to organize the market and inspire those you meet is such a special gift.  I am truly looking forward to the months ahead!
  • MilkMan Cheese | That goat gouda was to-die-for.  Thank you, and I.O.U. a vat of quinoa salad that’s for sure!
  • J.R. Organics | Your organic strawberries are SUPER sweet right now! Yum!
  • Atkins Produce | You have the juiciest navel oranges!
  • Sun Coast Farms | I’ve never seen such beautiful asparagus! The tips were a gorgeous green/purple.  PERFECTION!
  • Mar Vista Mom for the shout out!

Truffle & Parmesan Popcorn

25 Feb

 

 

truffle and parmesan popcorn

Makes 16 Cups

Movies and popcorn.  You’re passionate about the pair.   You wouldn’t go to a movie and not get popcorn because the novelty of ordering a jumbo bag of the light and airy pops of joy is just delightful.  And so, every movie you see, you buy popcorn and eat it—all of it—doused in liquefied butter and salt.  And you think to yourself, “Yes, I just did that, and no, I’m not sure it was worth it.” Because you also know there’s nothing gourmet about movie popcorn.  Instead make Truffle & Parmesan Popcorn, packing on gourmet flavor without the extra butter and salt.

Ingredients:

½ C. organic popping corn kernels

2 Tbsp. vegetable oil

1 Tbsp. truffle oil

¼ C. grated Parmesan cheese

1 tsp. sea salt

Directions: 

Place vegetable oil in a 3-quart pot with three kernels.  Cover and heat on medium heat, shaking constantly until kernels pop.  Once they pop, add remaining kernels and continue to shake over medium heat until popping stops, about ten minutes.  Immediately transfer popcorn into a large mixing bowl.  With a spatula, mix in truffle oil, Parmesan and sea salt.  Add additional seasoning to suit your palette.  Serve warm.

FOOD THAT LOVES YOU, TOO:  Not only is popcorn fun to make the old-fashioned way, it is high in fiber and low in fat and sodium.  Any seasoning can make popcorn a new and exciting flavor, so season to your heart’s desire!

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Butternut Squash Mac & Cheese

17 Feb

Food I Love You Macaroni and Cheese

Serves 4-6

Ugh!  You’re homesick.  Which explains why your day has been anything but productive.  Aside from thumbing through your Facebook Timeline.  It’s a good thing you got that organized.  What will make you feel better?  Macaroni and cheese.  But you couldn’t—you wouldn’t.  Oh, yes you would.   When you make a healthier version like this Butternut Squash Mac & Cheese.

Ingredients: 

2 C. whole-wheat shell pasta

1 C. butternut squash, cubed

1 Tbsp. olive oil

¼ C. whole-wheat flour

¼ tsp. sea salt

2 Tbsp. butter

1 ½ C. low-fat milk

½ C. sharp cheddar cheese, shredded

1 tsp. olive oil

½ C. Italian breadcrumbs

1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper

1/8 tsp. dried oregano

Salt & pepper to taste

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Spray six ramekins with baking oil and place on cookie sheet.  Cook shells according to packaging.

Coat butternut squash with olive oil, season with salt and pepper.  Roast for 20 minutes.  Flip and cook for another ten minutes.  Remove squash, set aside.  Reduce oven heat to 350 degrees.

Place flour, salt, butter and milk in a 3-quart pot on medium heat.  Stir constantly until light bubbles form around the side of the pot.  Reduce heat to low until flour dissolves.  Remove from heat, transfer to blender and add squash.  Blend until fully combined.  Add cheese and blend again, until incorporated.  Season with salt and pepper.  Pour sauce over cooked shells and stir to coat.  Divide macaroni among ramekins.

In a small pan, heat olive oil on low heat.  Stir in breadcrumbs, cayenne pepper and oregano.  Remove from heat.  Evenly distribute breadcrumb mixture on top of macaroni.   Bake mac & cheese for 30 minutes.  Allow to cool for at least five minutes.  Serve warm.

FOOD THAT LOVES YOU, TOO: Low in fat, butternut squash makes an excellent side or meat replacement in vegetarian dishes.  That nice orange hue means it’s packed with beta-carotene, which combats breast cancer and supports the healthy lung development of fetuses and newborns.  So, eat up, moms!

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A Menu for Your Honey Bunny on Valentine’s Day

13 Feb

Uh-oh.  Cupid struck you.  And he struck you good.  Looks like this Valentine’s Day,  “Romance” is your middle name.  That’s why you’re cooking from the heart to show your honey bunny just how much love you have to give with the most romantic Valentine’s Day menu.

SET THE MOOD WITH MUSIC

Download the ultimate romance playlist.  Some great ideas from Martha Stewart, Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop, and these KCRW DJ’s love song selections.

WINE

First and foremost, you need some good wine on hand.  Just make sure it goes with what you’re serving–and more importantly, it’s what your Valentine loves to drink.  Keep in mind you don’t need to spend an arm and a leg.  Find great deals at:

  • Whole Foods | Aside from their excellent selection of bottles priced under $10, they also have a handy-dandy wine tutorial on their website.
  • BevMo | It’s 5 cent sale is going on now which means you can really splurge on a good bottle because the second one is only five cents!
  • Trader Joe’s | If you’ve never perused their wine aisles, you’ve been missing out.  The store stocks  a fabulous selection and prices start at $1.00 (although you may have to spend more money on Gatorade the next morning to cure your hangover)!

FOOD

Lean Mean Meatballs with Mushroom Marinara Sauce

SAY ‘AMORE’ WITH AN ITALIAN SPREAD…

START | Follow The Hip & Urban Girls’ Guide to Cheese & Meat Board.

MAIN COURSE | Lean Mean Meatballs with Homemade Mushroom Marinara.

SIDE | Flash Roasted Green Beans.

SEAL THE DEAL WITH CASUAL GASTRO PUB FARE…

START | Cranberry Goat Cheese & Herb Hot Pockets.

MAIN COURSE | Enlightened Shepard’s Pie.

SIDE | Spinach and Strawberry Salad via allrecipes.com

DESSERT | Milk & Oats, Orange & Oatmeal Cookies.

Cream of Mushroom & Eggplant Soup

IMPRESS WITH CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN CUISINE…

START | Cream of Mushroom & Eggplant Soup.

MAIN COURSE | Sunset Magazine’s Perfect Roasted Chicken.

SIDE | Sweet Mashed Potatoes with Sage Apple Butter.

DESSERT | Hubba Hubba Brownies.

Veggie Cassoulet

NO TIME TO SLAVE AWAY IN THE KITCHEN?  MAKE VEGGIE CASSOULET, A SIMPLE ONE-POT MEAL, READY IN MINUTES. 

So, what do you have on your Valentine’s Day menu?  Share your love spun food selections by leaving a comment below.

Hubba Hubba Brownies

10 Feb

Hubba Hubba Brownies RecipeMakes 12

You and chocolate.  It’s more than puppy love—it’s passion.  You know, like when a buxom female cartoon character passes by the boys club and suddenly one guy’s eyes pop out of his sockets and the “Awooga” horn blows.  That’s love at first sight right there.  And it’s just like you’ll feel when you bake Hubba Hubba Brownies and taste these smooth, rich, silky hunks of peanut and chocolate love.

Ingredients:

½ C. dates, pitted

1 C. water

1 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted

¾ C. sugar

2 large eggs

1 tsp. vanilla

1/3 C. unsweetened cocoa powder

½ C. whole wheat flour

¼ tsp. sea salt

¼ tsp. baking powder

1 C. semi-sweet chocolate chips

1 C. raw peanuts

Directions:

Soak pitted dates in 1 cup water for four hours.  Drain water.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Coat a 9” x 13” baking dish with butter, oil or non-stick spray.

Combine dry ingredients into a small mixing bowl.  Sift together lightly as the air will help to give the brownies a fluffy texture.  Set aside.

Place soaked and drained dates into food processor or blender and blend until smooth.  Transfer dates to a mixing bowl.  On medium speed, beat in butter, sugar, eggs and vanilla.  Slowly beat in dry mixture until fully combined.  Add chocolate and ½  C. peanuts.

Pour brownie mix into baking dish.  Sprinkle remaining ½ C. peanuts on top.  Bake  on middle rack for 30-35 minutes.  Allow to cool before cutting and serving.

FOOD THAT LOVES YOU, TOO: A moderate amount of at least 70% cocoa a day is good for your heart.  In fact, studies conducted by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition show that chocolate helped to improve blood flow through the arteries and improved insulin’s efficiency.  Unsweetened cocoa powder contains almost no fat and is high in fiber, too!  Between the cocoa and dates in this recipe, you’re good to go in the digestion department!

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Have A Heart Smoothie

7 Feb

Heart Healthy Smoothie with Beet Juice, Organic Cherries

Serves 1

The juice craze has turned you into a closet smoothie snob.  If it doesn’t taste like grass, dirt or chlorophyll, you snub your nose at it.  Who are you kidding!?  You’ve resorted to the old “Plug and Chug” method to drink it down without having to suffer through the taste of it.  Drop the act and try the Have a Heart Smoothie, bursting with antioxidants and heart-healthy fruits and veggies to protect that love machine of yours.  You can still have your juice and actually love to drink it, too.

Ingredients:

¾ C. unsweetened vanilla almond milk

¼ C. beet juice

½ banana

1 Tbsp. Nutella

¼ C. organic cherries, frozen

Directions:

Place all ingredients into a blender in the order listed.  Blend until smooth.  For a great post-workout shake, add 2 Tbsp. unflavored whey or soy protein powder.

FOOD THAT LOVES YOU, TOO: Beets, bananas and cherries protect your heart, lower blood pressure, boost your immune system and strengthen your bones.  Now that’s a trio of goodness!

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Super Bowl XLVI Recipe Roundup

4 Feb

You’re stressing because you’re throwing a Super Bowl Party for the friends and fam but you don’t know what to make.  Well, you’re in luck because of this delicious, All-American, Super Bowl-worthy recipe list. Now all you have to do is sit back, relax and enjoy the people around you!  Oh–and don’t forget to cook!

Set the Scene:

Do you have a favorite team?  Consider a Red, White & Blue theme (since the teams are pretty much representing the SAME exact colors anyway).  No offense to die-hard fans.  You’ll probably be able to borrow decor from 4th of July!  Easy!

CUTE ALERT!!!  Katie Brown turned lemons into mini footballs and created a fun Super Bowl centerpiece.

Drinks:

You won’t disappoint if you stock up on beer for the Super Bowl.  But put some thought into it…make it special by serving local beers, beers from Boston or New York, or an organic selection that pairs well with what you’re serving.

Starters:

Fresh & Easy Cantaloupe Salsa.  Cool, spicy and tangy.  Serve with your favorite healthy chips, like Garden of Eatin‘ Red Hot Blues.

Cranberry Goat Cheese & Herb “Hot Pockets.”  Like grown-up pizza rolls.  They’ll disappear in a flash!

Baked Kale Chips.  There’s nothing fried about ‘em.  For a big crew, buy a few heads and bake away.  You’ll be amazed how quickly they’ll go.  Even the kids will love!

Spiced Party Nuts.  I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again.  No party is a party without party nuts.  And your guests will certainly go nuts over these sassy little numbers!

Sides:

Super Bowl Sunday Salad.  Flavorful and colorful.  Just what you want in a salad.  A real crowd pleaser!

Flash Roasted Green Beans.  These green machines go faster than it takes to cook ‘em!

Spicy Sweet Potato Fries.  Because what’s better with an All-American meal than fries?

Not Your Grandma’s Potato Salad.  Leave the mayo in the fridge and try this slightly refined potato salad on for size.  Ol’ Grammie might not like the idea of it, but once she tastes, she’ll never go back!

Main Course:

Baked Rosemary Chicken Strips.  Kids will love ‘em and parents will feel like kids again!

Pulled Pork Sliders.  Might be the easiest part of the entire meal…thanks to the crock pot!

Black Bean Patties with Mole Glaze.  Add instant chic to your football party by throwing in a little vegetarian fare.  Plus, your friends with food restrictions will love you for it.

Garlic Ginger Chicken Wings.  View this step-by-step YouTube tutorial on how to create Foodwishes.com Garlic Ginger Chicken Wings.

Desserts:

Ice Cream Social Network.  What’s more all-American than an ice cream social?

Oats, Orange & Hazelnut Cookies.  Perfect for a standing-room-only dessert line.

Healthy Tasty Chow’s Nutella Puppy Chow.  Such a great dessert for a Super Bowl soiree!  Don’t you just want to dig in already?

Oh How She Glow’s Itty Bitty Carrot Cake Cookies.  You wouldn’t know these were vegan…or a healthy cookie!  YUM!

Phew!  Now, get to work STAT.  Super Bowl starts in 24 hours!

Have a favorite Super Bowl recipe that you want to share?  Leave a comment below.

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