Thirsty Thursdays: The Moscow Mule Revival

15 May

You may or may not know this about me, but I’m really into all things vintage. I strongly believe I was born in the wrong decade, and I’ve been known to drive hours at a time to pick up vintage furniture from poor Craigslist sellers who have no idea what they’re getting rid of (by the way – when hunting for something cool on craigslist, make sure to look in counties outside of Los Angeles, where vintage furniture is more likely to be recognized as “grandma’s ugly old tray table on wheels, rather than a 1964 bar cart that would retail for $1300) . Anyway, this obsession also carries into the cocktail world – one of my favorites of all times is a classic Moscow Mule.

This take on the old standby is a much healthier version, complete with homemade ginger beer, lime juice, and coconut sugar.  The homemade ginger beer is a little bit time consuming, but I promise you that if you take this to your next dinner party, you’ll be talked about forever. In a good way, of course.

Ingredients

 

  • 1 cup sliced ginger root
  • 4 cups water
  • 
Pellegrino or other sodium free sparkling mineral water
  • Stevia or coconut sugar to tastes
  • lime juice (1/2 oz per drink)
  • vodka (2 oz per drink)

Instructions

Homemade ginger beer (from simply sugar and gluten free) :

  1. Put the sliced ginger into a 4-quart saucepan. Cover with water. Bring to a boil, remove from heat, cover, and let steep for 1 – 1.5 hours.
  2. Strain into a 1-quart mason jar, discarding ginger. Cover and chill.
  3. Combine 1 part ginger syrup and 3 parts Pellegrino and add ice. Sweeten to taste with stevia/ coconut sugar

Moscow Mule

Squeeze lime juice into a tall glass (or copper mug, if you’re traditional like that). Add ice, vodka and fill with the ginger beer. Stir and serve with lime wedges.

 

mule1

mule2

Thirsty Thursdays: Spicy Watermelon Mint Cooler

8 May

Today’s skinny cocktail is inspired by my favorite cold pressed juice of all time, which, devastatingly, was discontinued.  The first time I ever had Pressed Juicery’s Watermelon Mint was two summers ago, after a Bikram Yoga class.  It was like, August, and hot as you know what outside (<- insert your own expletive). I was standing in the parking lot after class, struggling really hard not to publically die from Bikram, as that was not the way I had ever planned on going.  So not only did that juice save my life (probably literally; I think I would have face planted on the asphalt and knocked myself out if someone hadn’t shoved it into my hands), it also sincerely won my affections. I was hooked, and to this day, watermelon juice brings back memories of summer.

When temps soared the 90’s last week at the beach, I was inspired  to create a version of my favorite summer juice, spiked with a little vodka and a dash of cayenne pepper, of course. This cocktail has the makings of a winner: refreshing, a little spicy, and hot pink.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 or more cup of cold-pressed watermelon juice
  • 2 lemons, squeezed
  • 1 lime, squeezed
  • Fresh mint
  • shake of cayenne pepper, optional
  • 1-1.5 shots vodka, although rum or even Silver Tequila would likely work as well
  • Splash of soda water, optional

Directions:

  • Muddle mint with citrus juices
  • Add ice
  • Add the vodka and soda water, if desired (<- this is a great recipe for spicy watermelon juice, if you’re not in the mood for a cocktail)
  • Give a shake of cayenne and stir well.  Garnish with mint and a watermelon wedge.

water setup1

watermelon1

So you Want to Make Some Changes.

7 May

I have to admit, I’m a big social media person. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest (<-duh).  You name it, I’ve probably got one…possibly two. And my #1 interest when it comes to social media  -aside from wasting hours looking at friend’s of friend’s of friend’s wedding photos in Bermuda- is to be actively involved in the health/fitness/food communities. I’ve followed and friended hundreds of people with these interests, and dude. There is so. much. stuff. out. there. Holy hell.

Capture

It recently occurred to me that because of this, taking the first step toward a healthy lifestyle might feel extremely daunting to someone just starting out.  Everywhere you look online there are professional-grade pictures of pomegranate buckwheat this and quinoa flour that; seeds for Omega 6 and that bacteria for gut rot and this rare-but-essential-to-a-long-life-superfruit that is only grown in a small shady portion of the Andes from May 3-16. I mean, really.  Personally, I would probably be pretty intimidated by the so-called “health world.”

So. I have a little secret for ya. Come close and listen up:  none of those photos or meals or inspiring quotes are the definition of “healthy.”  I mean, maybe you decide to get involved, and a few months/years/eons in, you find yourself cruising down the aisles of Whole Foods, effortlessly creating 16 ingredient recipes in your mind as you fill your cart with bottles of E3 Brain On and probiotic sauerkraut. That’s totally cool, and don’t forget to invite me over for dinner.

But forget all that for now.

Today, let’s start with what it really takes to start living a healthier life:  simplicity, people. Baby steps. Big, drastic, overwhelming changes almost never last – to create a permanent change, experts swear on a stack of Bibles-  you gotta start small.

Feeling ready for a healthier lifestyle, but have never made homemade quinoa pasta in your Vitamix?

Consider making little edits to your lifestyle here and there. You might begin by committing to add 2-3 produce items to each meal, and stick with that for a couple of weeks. Want a cookie? Have a cookie, enjoy it, and don’t let it derail your progress.  Just keep adding those veggies. Next, maybe try dialing down the processed foods. Toss a few boxes of Cheeze-Its and replace with some homemade trail mix, or a piece of fruit with some nuts. Add that change in for a couple of weeks. Maybe a few weeks later, once your changes start to feel like routine, hit up good ol’ Pinterest for a homemade energy bar recipe (those are really hot on Pinterest right now).

A healthy life DOES NOT HAVE TO BE COMPLICATED OR OVERTHOUGHT.  Neither do the choices you make,  the food you eat, the workouts you perform -you’re picking up what I’m putting down, right? My point is, don’t be intimidated by what you see out there in the cyber-world. Learning something new is like anything else – a progression. Start small, build slowly, and don’t expect to learn everything overnight.

It will come in time, and before you know it, you’ve got habits. And more new habits.  And before you know it, you’ll be serving that homemade raw vegan brunch you’ve been eyeing on Instagram to 20 of your closest friends.

Or not.

XO

M

 

The Skinny on Processed Food

5 May

I’m just about to launch into the Real Food Reset program that my friend Rachele from Fantastically Fresh and Fit and I have been working on for a couple of weeks now, and seriously, I couldn’t be more excited. We have our Facebook group up and running a few days early and I have already realized that we have the raddest group of people on board, like, ever.  I’m  blown away by the amount of participation and interest we have going on, and we haven’t even officially begun.

We’ve already had some seriously insightful, thought-provoking questions come up, but the one that really stumped me was  “so….how exactly does one know if food is processed?”

I know, right? Like, that shouldn’t have taken me so long to answer.  But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that “processed” is a rather broad term.  If you’re not picking up what I’m putting down, consider this: we process our own foods when we chop, cook, or do anything to chemically alter the original nature of a food.  There are also plenty of foods that have been processed for thousands of years – such as bread and cheese (although though both were considerably more nutritious before mass production), that aren’t necessarily the worst thing for you to eat, if done right.

Point is, plenty of healthy, nutritious foods are processed on some level, and I’m not sure how realistic it is to only eat completely non-“processed” foods, 100% of the time. So, for the sake of ease and realism, let’s talk about identifying the more highly processed foods- foods that have been altered, added to, and preserved to the point where they’re further from their original state than they are close to it.

Here’s a little bit of a 101 when it comes to ID’ing processed foods:

processed

1. It comes in a bag, can, or package. (example: food that comes in a bag, can, or package- I know, I’m brilliant, don’t be intimidated)

There are  exceptions to this rule – such as dry beans in a bag, flash-frozen produce without additives, or genuinely healthy/”whole” versions of such foods. To determine how processed a packaged food is, look for additives, preservatives, high sodium/sugar level,s and words you can’t identify or pronounce. Two good rules of thumb are 1. the fewer ingredients, the better and 2. if you can’t pronounce it, you might not want to eat it.

2. Food that has been altered so much that it no longer offers the same benefits as it would in it’s natural state.

For example: real yogurt is made of milk, cultures, and not much else.  However, Yoplait Light Black Cherry Yogurt – which sounds harmless enough and is marketed as a healthy snack, has an ingredient list that reads as follows: Cultered, pasteurized nonfat milk, modified corn starch, cherries, sugar, gelatin, citric acid, Malic acid, aspartame, Tricalcium phosphate, Sorbate, Acesulfame, Red #40, Blue #1, Vitamin D.

See where I’m going with this?

I know this is real life and you probably have a job, or a family, or whatever, so homemade yogurt might not be part of your reality. But, you can still look for brands that have few, but identifiable, ingredients.

3. It doesn’t go bad.

Food should have a quick(ish) expiration date. Processed food might outlive your goldfish. Creepy.

4. My personal favorite: a food that can’t be harvested, hunted, or picked (or baked/ created from that criteria with few additives). 

This is pretty much the hardcore, true definition of unprocessed food.  Is eating this way possible 100% of the time? Maybe, but I’m definitely not a “100% of the time” kinda girl. (+ I’m the first to admit, I love me some nachos, I dig cheese and crackers, and I am also quite certain that wine has been processed. I like to follow the 80/20 rule, so you better believe these things do make their way into my life on occasion)

So, if you’re on a mission to clean up your diet a bit, the simple act of increasing the whole foods (fruits, veggies, complex minimally processed carbs, eggs, free range meat, etc) in your life will almost automatically reduce the amount of processed food you consume. Start slowly and keep adding, and I’m willing to be that before you know it, the processed foods will make their way out of your pantry and back to the middle of the grocery store where they belong.

XO

M

 

Skinny Strawberry Basil Smash

1 May

Alcohol is topic a lot of us health nuts like to sweep under the rug, as it’s really not like, super wonderful for you. 

Sometimes though, a drink comes calling, and you do what you gotta do.

My opinion is generally pretty consistent about things that are enjoyable but not wonderful for us: enjoy in moderation. Because let’s be honest- never having a cupcake, a cheeseburger, or a glass of wine is kind of unfun.

Right?

So today I was at the market and saw this gorgeous basil spilling out of its little planter, and my first thought was “I want that in a cocktail.” Which I realize is probably a weird thing to pop into one’s thoughts after seeing an herb at Trader Joe’s, but it was a long day. Anyway, I bought the basil with full intentions of giving cocktail  hour a little makeover: basil is full of Vitamin K, and we’re going to add strawberries, lemon, and lime to get solid dose of Vitamin C. At very least, you can say you’re doing a little something good for yourself 😉

Basil and strawberry are sort of meant to be….they taste amazing paired together, plus. strawberries are just starting to come into season so the natural sweetness means you can opt of our sweetener altogether if you want.

Strawberry Basil Smash

Makes one cocktail

Ingreds:

3-4 Strawberries

2-3 medium basil leaves

1.5 shots of vodka

Homemade Sprite, compliments of The Skinny Confidential <-(I happened to stumble upon this one day and it made my life):  2 cups sparkling water. 1 packet of Stevia (feel free to sub a little coconut sugar if you don’t like Stevia), 1 lemon, juiced and 1 lime, juiced for , to taste. You’ll have leftover but you may want it the next day, because these go down easily!

Directions:

1. Make your homemade Sprite – which entails mixing the sparkling water, citrus juices, and stevia (or coconut sugar). Boom.

2. In a glass, muddle strawberries and basil.

3. Add vodka

4. Add Sprite to taste.

5. Garnish with basil/strawberries/lemon slices, or don’t.

6. Serve over ice.

basil - use

bowl use

smash use

 

 

 

WTH of the Week: Quick Fix Diets

29 Apr

If you haven’t figured this out by now, I spend a stupid amount of time on Pinterest. Why? Cause we’re BFF’s. Peas and carrots.  Like, I just adore that digital time suck.

Except for one little thing (well, two, because Pins captioned “Pin now, read later!” really bug me also. Not sure why).

But my real point of contention is with Pinterest is the abundance of health related misinformation out there that gets pinned and repinned thousands of times. Specifically, I am deeply and profoundly annoyed by pins with pictures of models with 6 Pack abs with captions that read crap like the following:

“Burn 600 calories in 20 minutes!”

“Workouts to Get Rid of Cellulite!”

“Melt your thigh fat!”

and my least favorite:…drumroll please…

“Lose 10+ lbs in 7 Days”

baddies

Ahhhhhh. You guys.

First of all. Burning 600 calories in 20 minutes…welp, good luck. Getting rid of cellulite? Even better luck (and furthermore, who decided that cellulite is a terrible thing? Get over it: everyone has cellulite and it’s not necessarily reflective of a poor lifestyle- it’s mostly genetic), Melt thigh fat? You can’t choose where fat melts from, sorry Charlie.

But losing 10 pounds in 7 days. Um, kill me, because I really just can’t think of a less healthy message to send out to the primary users of Pinterest (women age 18-34). Unfortunately, our quick-fix society is all about ideas like losing 10 pounds in 7 days, so those pins just spread like a damn wildfire.

This is sucko because first of all, studies show that not only is it unhealthy to lose over 2 lbs a week, but the chances of keeping it off declines sharply. If it was so easy to just lose 10 pounds in a week and keep it off, I kinda don’t think we’d have an obesity problem. On the contrary, quick fixes have helped propel an obesity epidemic by teaching us that a quick fix is favorable to actually developing a normal, healthy relationship with food. And oh, that’s because forming habits and changing a mindset takes time. Duh.

I’ve addressed this cycle before, but if you need a refresher course, here’s generally what happens on a crash diet:

1. Calories are reduced drastically for short periods of time.  This is typically accompanied by hunger and misery:  such a brutal slashing of calories will likely leave you craving all sorts of high calorie food. Because your mindset is in the short term, there’s a Big Mac at the end of the rainbow if you can just get through the next 10 days.

Part 2 is a choose-your-own-adventure kinda situation:

2A. You break, and after 3 days of eating iceberg salads with fat free ranch, you head straight to Pizza Hut and take one of those puppies down, solo. You feel guilty and deem yourself a failure.

2B. Diet ends and  X amount of pounds have been lost (mostly water weight).  You’re pleased with the scale (or not), but you head straight to McDonalds for a #2 and maybe some curly fries from J in the B because you have been eating fricken’ celery and grapefruit with fat free sour cream all week and you deserve it, damnit.

3. Begin binge and purge (I am not referring to throwing up) cycle of excessive calorie deficit, temporary weight loss, followed by excessive consumption because you went from 60 to 0 and your body is freaking out. Follow up with excessive guilt when (mostly water) weight is gained back.

4. Enter a vicious cycle…and a world of hurt.

I mean, this is clearly not the scientific version of what’s wrong with crash diets, but I think you get the gist, and I hope it pisses you off too. So please guys, do me a favor and trust me when I say it’s all BS: stop pinning this garbage! It’s something we could all do without.

End rant.

XO

Meg

 

 

Skinny Raspberry Jalapeno Margs

24 Apr

Here’s a fact about me that you may not know: once upon a time, I lived in London and was a bartender.  While the majority of what I made was pretty simple, I spent a lot of free time messing around behind the bar, creating cocktails. As a result, I’ve been the resident bartender among my friends ever since.

I’m not a huge drinker these days, but I must admit that it’s impossible extremely difficult for me to turn down anything in the margarita family. I suppose anyone even remotely health conscious is aware that your standard marg is full of sugar and calories (<- sometimes up to 600, seriously), so bless your heart Bethany Franklel, for providing mainstream access to the Skinny Girl margarita.

While I’m quite pleased with the fact that one can buy a bottle of SG at almost any old grocery store, I will forever be a proponent of homemade cocktails as a first choice.

Well, summer is right around the corner and now that it’s actually still light when I get home from work, I’ve been getting the itch to sit on my balcony and watch the sunset. Which of course, is to be done with a margarita in hand.

Obviously.

My favorite at the moment is a combination of a few of my favorite flavors: raspberry + jalapeno. Sweet and spicy, oh hay!

4

3

7

6

ingredients (makes 4):

  • i container raspberries
  • 4+ ounces tequila (I prefer Reposado, but whatever you’re into)
  • 1-2 lime (to taste), juiced
  • 6 ounces club soda (optional)
  • 1 tbsp sweetner of choice  (also optional – I usually skip but sometimes use coconut sugar)
  • I jalapeno, sliced lengthwise – I don’t seed mine because I like it spicy, but this is up to you
  • Ice

-Use a muddler or fork to mash raspberries and distribute evenly among 4 glasses

-Add ice, and evenly distribute lime juice, tequila, club soda, and jalapenos. Give a good stir, and enjoy.

 

 

 

 

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