Categories
Meals

Christmas Albums Worth Listening To

Christmas season has officially arrived and is in full swing, which means Christmas music can be played at all times of day! Listening to holiday tunes is such an easy way to get into the Christmas spirit and make any moment feel more festive and to remind ourselves that Christmas is a celebration, not a frenzy of consumerism. Everyone knows the classics like Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra, but what about the new songs out there? Here are a few albums that put a new spin on some favorite songs that you can listen to this Christmas season.db47b6b7c7f485499597393a5863cc40
1. Artist: Pentatonix. Album: PTXmas. The group Pentatonix released eight tracks this year of their favorite Christmas songs. Their version of “Little Drummer Boy” is all over the Internet right now, and you should watch it if you haven’t yet. The five member group is full of such talent that it gives me chills to listen to their album. I put this first because it is my number one album this year. If you only want to listen to a couple instead of the whole album, I suggest “Angels We Have Heard On High” and “This Christmas.Michael Buble - Christmas (inside1)
2. Artist: Michael Bublé. Album: Christmas. I know he released this album in 2011 but I love singing along to it or hearing it at Christmas parties. For a slower and more peaceful pace, “Silent Night” is a go-to. I love listening to it on Christmas Eve while in the car with my family. His rendition of “White Christmas,” accompanied by Shania Twain, is one that my little sister and I love dancing around too, and maybe you will too!
3. Artist: Kelly Clarkson. Album: Wrapped in Red. Kelly Clarkson possesses the ability to reach high notes with pristine ease, as well as soulful notes with power. This album reaffirms her talent and reasons why she was American Idol’s Season 1 winner. “Underneath the tree” and “Wrapped in Red” are two of the upbeat and popular songs on the album, but I think her talent is really showcased in “Winter Dreams.”
4. Artist: Mariah Carey. Album: Merry Christmas. Here’s another extremely talented female singer whose talent puts the rest of us to shame. Although she released this album in 1994, it consistently appears on the top 10 albums chart. Obvious choices are “All I Want For Christmas Is You,” and “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home).” If you really like the first song, you should go ahead and watch “Love Actually,” a British movie from 2003 that includes a preteen singing that song. It’s one of my favorite movies, especially at Christmas time.fda28efbf89aec4ec25780eccf08617a
5. Artist: The Piano Guys. Album: A Family Christmas. This group of musicians from Utah released their 12-track album with all the classics, like “We Three Kings,” “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel,” and “Carol of the Bells.” This group is instruments only, but it’s a beautiful soundtrack and their talent is unbelievable. A Youtube video accompanies each song, and I love watching them and seeing the joy these guys have as they make music!
Those are my top 5 picks for this year. What are your favorite Christmas songs or albums? Did I forget anything?

Categories
Meals

10 Foods with Hidden Health Benefits

We all hear about the importance of healthy eating, but why? What do we gain from eating more fruits and vegetables? Well, here’s a list of 10 “super foods” that can give you some serious health benefits when added to your diet. I listed just a few of the benefits found in them, because they are packed full of nutrients! Besides sharing what and why you should eat these foods, I also included potential snacks to make with them! All of these snacks are definitely worth a try in my opinion.
1. Chia seeds- Add to breakfast smoothies or in Greek yogurt. 2 tablespoons have double the antioxidants found in blueberries, 41% of your daily fiber, 100% more omega 3 fatty acids than salmon. Omega 3 lowers cholesterol levels, boosts brainpower, and improves blood vessel functions. Chia seeds are amazing!2d7b16370ae35ae88aa09f5ae52acdda
2. Blackberries- Blackberries make a delicious treat, especially when they are juicy and in season. Try a handful with cottage cheese, or with yogurt and granola or sliced almonds. Blackberries provide excellent source of iron and Vitamin K. Vitamin K prevents blood clotting and strengthens your bones.
3. Grapes- Have you tried frozen grapes? A healthy snack when you’re craving something cold. My roommate and I always eat these after we work out. Grapes are anti-inflammatory, stimulate your metabolism, and improve your vision. They also contain Vitamins A, B1, B2, B6, and C.
4. Tomatoes- Sprinkle a slice with mozzarella, garlic, basil, and olive oil. These contain beta-carotene that protects against sun damage. These colorful fruits also contain Vitamin A to improve vision and reduce risk of macular degeneration in your eyes.
5. Oatmeal- Add cinnamon, honey, and bananas to oatmeal for breakfast! (And always eat breakfast!) Oatmeal has high levels of soluble fiber, which makes you feel full longer, and controls blood sugar levels. Oatmeal also has 5 grams of protein for ½ cup, and it is low calorie! I used to really hate oatmeal, but over the years I’ve come to love it and now I have it for breakfast almost every morning.94822b42f68fbc4cefb80fce1661ff56
6. Avocadoes- I wish avocadoes were in season all year, they are one of my favorite snacks. Sprinkle half an avocado with garlic salt and olive oil for a quick and filling snack. They are rich in Vitamin E, which gives you healthier hair and skin- who doesn’t want that?! They also contain 35% more potassium than a banana. Avocadoes have more natural fiber than any other fruit- so you feel full longer. Natural fiber also aids in digestion and helps regulate blood sugar.
7. Kale-Sauté it first to bring out flavor, then add pine nuts, cranberries, and lemon-flavored dressing. Kale increases your metabolism and helps detoxify your liver and kidneys. It contains iron, Vitamins A and C, calcium, and is anti-inflammatory.
8. Sweet potatoes- Slice and drizzle with olive oil and bake at 375 for 30 minutes. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese after. Sweet potatoes possess high levels of fiber and beta carotene. Those nutrients promote a healthy digestive tract, they and contain Vitamin C. Vitamin C boosts your immune system and your skin because it produces collagen.

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9. Apples- Try with carob ships and peanut butter as a filling snack. Apples contain phyto-chemicals plus solid doses of flavonoids and carotenoids which lower disease risk and protect against cancer. They protect against osteoporosis, cataracts, and diabetes because of the antioxidants and high levels of soluble fiber.

10. Quinoa- Try it with black beans, corn, and salsa. It contains amino acids- the building blocks of protein (thank you high school biology for that fact). Quinoa is high in iron and calcium for strong bones. This grain also has riboflavin to improve your metabolism and energy production. It has twice as much fiber as other grains and carbs with a low glycemic index, so your body can convert it and use it without storing the carbs as fat.
Which of these are you going to try? Is there another super food that you love to snack on or cook in meals?

Categories
Food and Health Healthy Options Holidays Meals

6 Mental Tricks to Avoid Gaining Weight this Holiday Season

holiday-diet-tipsBoston, MA (November 2013)- The holiday season is upon us, which usually means that an extra 5-7 pounds are upon us as well. Delicious food, cold weather, less sunlight, and plenty of parties make it hard to say no to seconds during the holidays.  If there is food nearby, most of us can make an excuse as to why we should eat it.

Gary Marino, who produced and starred in the film Million Calorie March: The Movie, which chronicles his walk from Florida to Boston raise awareness about obesity says, “I used to be the master of holiday buffet excuses.” At his heaviest, he topped the scales at almost 400 pounds. “For me, the holidays provided a perfect excuse to wave the white flag and roll the dice on a successful New Year’s resolution—and that’s still the case for a lot of people.”

Although the New Year serves as a new start for many, Marino says, “we have a 95 percent failure rate on long-term weight loss in this country. The truth is, most of our resolutions will have shaved their heads and checked into rehab Britney Spears-style by the end of February.”

Why is it so hard to avoid falling into this holiday eating/gaining/New Year resoluting trap? Retired psychologist Dr. Howard Rankin says, “we can always find a reason for procrastinating and avoiding doing what we consider difficult or unpleasant.” For him, it boils down to a matter of basic human psychology. “Humans aren’t logical. Instead, we’re emotional, psychological beings…with an emphasis on the ‘psycho.’ Fortunately, when you know beforehand the pitfalls into which your pleasure-driven brain might cause you to fall, your odds of avoiding them improve.”

Dr. Rankin’s five-stage motivation model might further explain this behavior.

  1. 1.    Pre-Contemplation. The person does not acknowledge the need for change. This can also be called denial.
  2. 2.    Contemplation. The person recognizes the need to change, but makes no commitment to make it happen.
  3. 3.    Preparation. The person gets ready for change.
  4. 4.    Action. The person finally takes steps toward changing.
  5. 5.    Maintenance. The person continues the action steps to develop and preserve the changes.

Many people make it to stage 5 during the holidays, but if they start to allow excuses and rationalizations for unhealthy holiday behavior in, they are in danger of never succeeding with their resolutions.

Watch out for the following rationalizations to keep yourself and your resolutions on track this year:

  1. 1.    “I Can’t Be Rude or Unsociable.” Yes it is true that some people place high value on the food they make for the holidays. If you are going to hurt someone’s feelings by not sampling their cake, then you can make the decision to try it. Just be more cautious about eating other food. You can still be sociable even if you are not piling your plate with unhealthy food.
  2. 2.    “I Can Hide It.” Winter clothes are baggier than styles from other seasons. Just because you have more room inside your sweater, however, does not mean that you should use it with those extra pounds.
  3. 3.    “Winter is Coming.” A lot of people shy away from exercising during the winter because of the cold and dark days. Instead of talking yourself out of exercise, though, you should make an effort to find an alternative method to stay active. Maybe you can’t swim laps outside (unless the pool is heated), but you can pop in a fitness DVD and work out in your living room.
  4. 4.    I’ll Wait ‘til the New Year.” The year is almost over, right? Why not wait until 2013 changes to 2014 to start a new healthy eating regiment? As Marino explains, “food addiction doesn’t have a calendar. And the problem with a diet that starts on January 1st is January 2nd. Grab inspiration any time you can get it.” Instead of setting yourself up for failure, start incorporating healthy habits into your life now.
  5. 5.    “I’m Too Busy Right Now.” If you let it, it is easy to get overtaken by your holiday to-do list and make excuses for those things that you do not really want to do. If you make health a priority, however, you will always find time for it.
  6. 6.    “I’ll Be Cooking.” Being surrounding by unhealthy holiday food is not the best way to start eating better, but there are ways that you can still make smart food choices even as you bake sugar cookies for the kids. Only buy enough food for your needs and donate the rest. Marino says, “you have to stay aware and stay in the fight. You know what giving up is like. Many of us have lived it, and it’s no fun there. Fortunately, with mindfulness and motivation, you don’t ever have to go back.”
Categories
Food News Meals

Sriracha Factory Under Fire from City of Irwindale, California

If you love Sriracha, you’d better stock up on it while it is still hot.sriracha-sauce

Huy Fong Foods, the maker of this extra hot sauce, is facing trouble from residents in Irwindale, California, where the company has a factory. Due to complaints of an overpowering smell that causes itchy, burning eyes, dry throats, and headaches, the city has filed an official complaint against the company.

On Monday, Irwindale brought the complaint to the Los Angeles County Superior Court to ask that the company halt production of the product until they address and fix the problem of the smell, which has caused some residents to temporarily leave their homes.

The city allegedly met with the company earlier in the month to ask them to fix the problem and Huy Fong Foods said they would work on it. Months later, the smell is still causing problems and the company is suddenly changing their point of view on the matter. Now, they are not taking responsibility and insist that even their employees have no issues with the smell.

Since Sriracha is made from fresh chilies that need to be used just a few days after picking, any shutdown of production could be catastrophic for the company. Out of about 100 million pounds of chilies that they use each year, Huy Fong Foods harvests almost all of them during the fall. Which basically means that halting production right now could affect their supply for the whole year.

Frank Shyong, reporter for the Los Angeles Times tweeted today that a judge ruled the company can continue making Sriracha until November 22, which should give them enough leverage to maintain plenty of chilies for next year’s supply of hot sauce. There is no telling how long the company can continue to anger neighbors before they will be forced to take action, however.

The judge’s ruling should at least temporarily placate the hot sauce’s many loyal fans, who also took to Twitter to express their outrage at a potential shutdown. Apparently, American people are serious about their right to health, happiness, and hot sauce.

Categories
Featured Recipes Holidays Meals Recipes

Try this Greek Pumpkin Risotto Just in Time for the Holiday Season

This delicious fall-twist on risotto, courtesy of Priscilla Claman of Career Strategies, Inc., is the perfect seasonal meal for almost any occasion. In between helping job seekers update their career searches, Priscilla is on the hunt for recipes that are quick, simple, and utterly delicious. Check out the recipe she shared below to fill your table with plenty of fall flavors.

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Ingredients:

*2 leeks (the white part and 2.5 cm from the green part) well-washed and cut into thin slices

*1/3 cup. olive oil

*1-3 teaspoon Halep pepper or boukovo

*2 large garlic cloves, chopped

*750 gr. pumpkin red (or the pulp of a big green one), peeled and seeded, cut into cubes of 1 cm
½ cup.

*3 cups of dry white wine

*1 ½ cups chicken stock, without fat or water

*Arborio rice or Thrace ” Mylelia ”

*salt and freshly ground black pepper, as desired

*
2/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese

*2/3 cup fresh coriander, chopped

 

Procedure:

1. In a large pan or a wide pot, heat the oil and sauté the leeks for 6-8 minutes, until softened.

 

2. We add the pepper, the garlic and the pumpkin. We saute all the ingredients together for 10-15 minutes, until the liquid has evaporated.

 

3. Add the wine and stir a few times.

 

4. Add about ½ cup of water and reduce the heat. Allow the pumpkin to simmer for another 10-15 minutes, until tender.
(Up to this point the food can be prepared several hours earlier).

 

5. Twenty minutes before serving, put the broth in a pot to simmer on very low heat.

 

6. Heat the pumpkin mixture and as it starts to boil, then add the rice, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon to lubricate it.

 

7. Add about ½ cup of the hot broth and let it simmer, stirring constantly and adding per ½ cup broth as it is absorbed by the rice.

 

8. After about 15 minutes, taste the rice, which should be al dente.

 

9. Add salt and black pepper.

10. Remove the risotto from the heat and add the cheese, stirring well.
Serve the risotto into warmed soup dishes, sprinkled with cilantro.

 

Serve this dish on a cool, crisp fall evening to add some warmth to you table or while you try out some of Pricilla Claman’s advice about updating your job post. 

Categories
Alcoholic Drinks/Cocktails Meals

Belvedere Vodka Adds Some Flavor to Halloween Celebrations

Belvedere Vodka, one of the world’s favorite spirits, can enhance your Halloween parties with a selection of spookily-delicious cocktails that help you bring the fun and get into the mood for a memorable party.

Whether you are throwing a party, on the guest list at a friend’s soiree, or plan to head to the bars in costume, Belvedere Vodka offers the tastes you want to really get into the Halloween spirit and really make the most of your time out.

This vodka is distilled using ingredients of the highest quality to create an award-winning taste that can easily enhance a small Halloween bash or a huge costume party blowout. In just a few steps, you can enjoy a cocktail that tastes like the scary thrills of a great Halloween party. Keep reading for some cocktail recipes to include in all of your Halloween plans:

 

Hocus Pocus

Hocus Pocus Punch

 

1.5 oz Belvedere Vodka

1.5 oz Pomegranate Juice

1.5 oz Orange Juice

Dash Tabasco

 

Pour orange juice into a highball glass

Shake rest of ingredients and layer over the top of the orange juice

Garnish with a small orange disguised as a hallo-lantern and keep one in your hand as your scarily delicious accessory for the evening.

 

 

 

Trick or Treat-ini

 

1.5 oz Belvedere Vodka

1 oz Fresh lemon juice

1 oz Pineapple syrup

2 bar spoons Benedictine

2 dashes Peychaud Bitters

 

Shake and strain into a martini glass

Trick or Treat-ini JPG

Garnish with a lemon twist and enjoy the look and feel of this Halloween-inspired cocktail.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Spooky Swizzle

 

2 oz Belvedere Bloody Mary

Pulp from one passion fruit

Dash simple syrup

1 oz blood orange juice

Spooky Swizzle JPG

Mix the ingredients together over crushed ice into a rocks glass

Garnish with a slice of ruby red grapefruit and get ready for a taste explosion.

 

 

Play bartender to your party guests or bring your own cocktail to any party that you attend to increase the fun. You cant try these cocktails for Halloween but enjoy them throughout the year. With Belvedere Vodka, a great cocktail is only a few steps away.

Categories
Alcoholic Drinks/Cocktails Meals

Downton Abbey Wine Collection Available in Time for Season 4 Premiere

Downton Cast PBSThe hit show Downton Abbey® has inspired an entire collection of wine that reigns from the Entre-Deux-Mers region of Bordeaux, France. The Downtown Abbey Wine Collection is the newest creation from this vineyard that has been owned by the same family for more than 130 years and continues to produce some of the world’s best wines.

Now the 120 million Downton Abbey® fans can enjoy a crisp “Blanc” white wine or a medium-bodied “Claret” red while they tune into their favorite show and follow these beloved characters through their daily lives.

Winemaker Jean-Marc Dulong used his family’s traditions from the Grand Vins de Bordeaux winery and the show as inspiration for this balanced collection of drinkable wines. Of the experience, he says, “It is exciting for me to think about my Bordelaise ancestors crafting their clarets and blancs in the Downton Abbey® era. Their know-how, passed down to me through five generations, has inspired my own winemaking. With Downton Abbey Wines, I have strived to capture the essence of Bordeaux in this collection of delicious and approachable wines.”

William Zysblat, co-creator of these palate-pleasing wines says, “We are excited to launch the Downton Abbey Wine Collection, made in the finest Bordeaux winemaking tradition.“

The connection to the show is an important aspect of this collection. Zysblat says, “Our collaboration with the Dulong family made perfect sense, as we wanted the same vines, soil and region used to produce the wines from the Downton Era. Having Dulong as our winemaker allows us to create accessible wines that we truly believe the Crawley Family would have been proud to serve at their table.”DowntonAbbeyWine_DowntonAbbeyWineCollection13

Although the show does not come back to television until January 2014, fans can still integrate their favorite aspects of it into their daily lives with these wines. The “Blanc” and “Claret” are versatile enough to drink in a variety of occasions. The wine collection is now available online and will be available at specialty wine stores like Cost Plus Work Market starting November 1, 2013. Buy your favorite now to see how Downton Abbey® can enhance your wine-drinking experience.

Categories
Appetizers Boston Restaurants Italian

Piattini’s new Fig Jam preserves the last memories of warm Boston

This fall, Piattini, located on Newbury Street in Boston’s Back Bay, is bringing a taste of seasonal Italy to its menu with its new fig jam. Served as an accompaniment to its popular cheese plate featuring rotating imported cheeses ($14.95), Piattini’s fig jam is a sweet treat meant to preserve and celebrate the final tastes of summer. Created for sharing, guests can select a glass of red or white wine from Piattini’s extensive list, featuring over 30 selections of wines by-the-glass, while sampling selections of cheese and the complementing jam. For those looking to do a little preserving of their own, Piattini’s five-step recipe below is as simple as it is scrumptious.

Fig Jam

Ingredients

  • Ingredients:
  • 2 cups of fresh or dry figs- stems cut
  • 2 cups of water
  • ¼ cup honey
  • ¼ cup of lemon juice
  • 4-5 cups of sugar

Directions

  1. Wash figs, cut stem, and chop into small pieces
  2. Add figs to water and bring to boil
  3. Reduce heat, stir in sugar, honey, and lemon juice
  4. Simmer for 40 minutes, stirring constantly
  5. Let cool and place in mason jar
  6. If you want to use right away, there is not need to boil the jar, but if you choose to consume at a later date you must seal the jar by boiling it in water for 10 minutes.
  7. Optional: You may add white raisins to jam to add texture and flavor.
Categories
Asian Boston Restaurants Featured Recipes Poultry

Moksa’s insane Vindaloo Wings will melt your soul

Vindaloo Wings 1CAMBRIDGE — In the spirit of the 2013 football season, Moksa, an Asian fusion restaurant located in Central Square, has developed its own take on everyone’s favorite tailgate food with its new Vindaloo Wings ($6). Regarded as one of the hottest dishes available on Moksa’s menu, the vindaloo wings are an all-out blitz of jalapenos, green Thai bird chili and other Indian seasonings including Kashmiri chili powder, cayenne pepper and red chili peppers. Available during Moksa’s dinner service, the vindaloo wings bring the intensity of the game right into the dining room. For tailgating, heat things up using Moksa’s wing recipe below.

Vindaloo Wings

Ingredients

MARINADE

  • 1 cup potato starch
  • 1 cup corn starch
  • 1\2 tspn cayenne pepper
  • 1 tspn garlic powder
  • 1\2 tspn salt
  • 1\2 tspn chat masala

Moksa Dining RoomVINDALOO SAUCE

  • 10 dry, whole red chili
  • 4 green Thai bird chili’s
  • 4 jalapenos
  • 1\2 cup Kashmiri chili powder
  • 1\2 tspn black peppercorn
  • 1 tspn Garam masala
  • 5 pieces cardamom
  • 1 cup onion
  • 2 tbspn garlic
  • 2 tspn salt
  • 2 tbspn chat masala
  • 1\2 cup oil
  • 1\2 cup vinegar
  • 4 cups water
  • 1\4 cup melted butter

RAITA

  • 8 oz yogurt
  • 1\2 tspn roasted cumin seeds
  • 1 tspn chopped cilantro
  • 1\4 tspn salt
  • Pinch Kashmiri chili powder
  • 24 CHICKEN WINGS

Directions

Mix corn starch, potato starch and all the spices together. Coat wings with spiced flour mix. Spread wings on a roasting rack and keep it in refrigerator for 60 to 90 minutes.

Pre heat the oven to 350 C. Roast wings for about 20 minutes and deep fry them for 4 minutes on 350 C until they get crispy from outside.

For vindaloo sauce, put all the ingredients in a sauce pot except melted butter and bring it to boil for a couple of hours on a slow heat. Cool it down, add melted butter and make puree.

Toss crispy chicken wings with vindaloo sauce, serve with Raita (yogurt dipping sauce) and celery sticks.

Categories
Appetizers Featured Recipes Mexican

Bacon Pineapple Guacamole

National Guacamole Day (September 16) is almost upon us!

Today’s avocado-based recipe comes to us courtesy of Uncle Julio’s, a Mexican restaurant that focuses on taking traditional Mexican dishes and presenting them in new and delightful ways. (Just check out their signature Swirl – frozen margarita mixed with frozen sangria… delicious!)

Now, instead of your boring, typical guacamole, you can create your own version of Uncle Julio’s pineapple-bacon guacamole using the recipe below:

BaconPineappleGuacamole_FPO

Pineapple Bacon Guacamole

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup guacamole (check out some simple recipes here)
  • 2 tbsp pineapple (diced into ¼” x ¼” pieces)
  • 2 tbsp cooked bacon (chopped into ½” x ½” pieces)
  • 1/2 tsp diced red bell peppers

For Garnish:

  • 1 piece green leaf lettuce
  • 1 Tbsp cooked bacon (chopped into ½” x ½” pieces)
  • 2 tsp queo fresco
  • 1 tbsp pineapple (diced into ¼” x ¼” pieces)
  • 1 lemon wedge

Directions:

  1. Place guacamole in mixing bowl.
  2. Add pineapple, bacon, and red bell pepper to mixing bowl and fold into guacamole carefully.

Serving:

  1. Place a piece of Greenleaf on a small plate for decoration
  2. Place guacamole on center of plate.
  3. Sprinkle additional Tbsp of bacon and queso fresco on top of the guacamole
  4. Place additional Tbsp of diced pineapple on one side of guacamole for taste & aesthetics.
  5. Place lemon wedge on other side of guacamole.  Squeeze the lemon on guacamole before eating.
  6. Serve with tortilla chips.

And of course, if you’d rather have someone serve you your guacamole instead of making it yourself, stop by Uncle Julio’s anytime (list of locations) on September 16 for all-day food and drink specials in honor of the occasion.

  • $2 small guacamole, made in-house with fresh avocados (regular price: $5.39)
  • $4 Julio’s Gold Margarita (regular price: $8.29)
  • $4 Swirl, a frozen margarita layered with homemade frozen sangria (regular price: $7.99)
  • $4 house frozen margaritas (regular price: $7.79)