Beautiful Beets

Beets are one of those divisive things.  Like politics.  No, but seriously, people seem to either love beets or hate them.  I am a proud lover.  And frankly, I tend to think that the people who claim to hate them have either never tried them or only eaten them out of the can.  Along with achieving world peace it is my goal to reintroduce people to beets.  And win them over, one palate at a time.

Okay, so maybe this is an exaggeration.  But seriously, beets are amazing.  And too often they don’t get enough love and support.  First off, they are insanely healthy- rich in vitamins & minerals, low calorie, they protect against heart disease and colon cancer and the entire vegetable can be eaten.  None of this matters, though- if they weren’t delicious.  Fortunately they are!

rainbow beets

Don’t believe me?  Check out some of these amazing recipes. Already a believer?  Share some of your favorites in the comment section!!

Beet, Citrus & Avocado Salad:  Alright, I admit it.  I live in Southern California and we add Avocado to EVERYTHING.  But rightfully so, because they are amazing.  But it is the beet that really shines in the salad of bright flavors.  Perfect to chase the winter blues away.

Golden Beets Soup with White Truffle Oil:  Typically when you think of a beet soup it is clunky, heavy Borscht.  And don’t get me wrong.  I love Borscht.  However, I want to remind people that beets can be elegant too!  With the soup consider using an immersion blender to get an extra silky texture.

Roasted Beets and Sautéed Beet Greens:  I love roasted beets because the flavor is really rustic.  I think it is a great way to introduce beets into your diet.  Best part?  It takes advantage of the whole beet- from the root to the stems- a great way to eliminate food waste!

Beet Chips:  Who doesn’t love chips?  These are baked, so no guilt!  Honest, simple beets.  This is an easy, healthy snack to serve- be it as a side to your sandwich or for a group on game day.  Use different types of beets for a beautiful colorful presentation.

Beet and Beet Green Risotto with Horseradish:  This is another dish where the whole beet is utilized.  I like it because it is a true vegetarian entrée. Beet is the star, but the horseradish gives it a nice kick.  It is a great balance between elegance and comfort.

Seasonal Salads

So you made a resolution to eat healthier this year.  Or at least you’ve decided to eat more veggies.  Great!  Of course the challenge is making veggie dishes that are just as hearty as they are healthy.  Suddenly this task seems daunting. Never Fear!  North On Harper is here with a gallery of fantastic winter salads.  These salads will fill you up while keeping your resolution in tact.  Also, because they are seasonal, the ingredients should be both accessible and affordable (in addition to being greener!).  So replace your standard meat & potatoes with one of these salads… your body will thank you!

Enough already!  You’re hungry.  Check out these salads and click on the image for recipe details:

A great use of winter citrus, the "Asian Spinach Salad with Orange and Avocado" is from Bon Appetit. Photo by Lisa Hubbard.

EatingWell's "Warm Winter Salad" is a complete meal even for the heartiest eater.

This "Cabbage Beet Coleslaw" originally shared on thekitchn.com is an unexpected but tasty dish. Photo by Faith Durand.

The "Warm White Bean and Roasted Winter Vegetable Salad" from Amy over at "Garlic and Sea Salt" is an unexpected answer to your average (boring!) salad. Rich with Sunchokes (aka Jerusalem Artichokes) and other roasted veggie there is nothing bland about it!

NotEatingOutInNY.com's "Tuscan Kale Salad with Pomegranate and Honey Mustard Vinaigrette" is a super simple, super cheap and super tasty. Great way to take advantage of the last of the pomegranates.

Prepping For The New Year

Yesterday, I promised to give you a blow by blow of today’s shopping extravaganza.  Alas, I was the least successful of our shopping troop, walking away with a measly pair of shoes (however, they only set me back $30 dollars!).  Lukus, on the contrary was the big winner, buying two pairs of shoes, two pairs of jeans and 2 sweaters!  Well done sir, well done.

However, as we braved the icy streets and the shopping masses I did think about some of my favorite ways to spend the days after Christmas and before NYE.

Shopping bags on store counter, close-up, sale sign in window

Shopping:  Alright, so along with returns, this one is a given.  But seriously, some of the best deals can be had during this time.  For instance, Banana Republic offers 50% off on all already reduced prices until noon on the 26th.  There are several other great deals to be had throughout the rest of the week at several merchants.  Most malls have websites that showcase individual store’s sales –check your local listings J.  And if you are snowed in, don’t forget to check out the deals online!

Brunch With Friends:  This should be a relaxed, no fuss event.  Have your friends show up in their pjs and pick up food from a bakery.  Brew coffee or offer tea.  Sit around and retell your favorite stories from the past year.  Dream about your plans for the next.  This is a time to enjoy your friends with out pressure and expectation (cause let’s be honest, NYE is characterized by pressure and expectation!).

Determine Resolutions:  Let’s be honest, after a night of celebrating on December 31st the idea of buckling down January 1st seems an unlikely goal.  Get started on your New Year’s resolutions now!  Make plans for 2011- clean your place, research gyms, order a few books- whatever is on your list!  This way you can start off the year with a bang and who knows, maybe even achieve some of your resolutions.

Write A Letter To Yourself:  So you don’t keep a journal.  Now is the time to take inventory of the past year.  Highs, lows, and everything in between.  By taking the time to truly assess where you’ve been it’s easier to determine where you are headed next.  It also gives you a chance to see how far you’ve come and what really mattered. Read the letter to yourself in a year from now… seeing how much you change/ grow is a special experience.

Get Outside:  If you are lucky enough to have snow, have a snowball fight!  If you are at the beach, take a walk.  Wherever you are, find a way to spend some time outside. With all the craziness of the season it is easy to get disconnected and forget there’s a great big world out there.  This is a great time to stop nesting and do something active.  Plus, if you ate a fraction of what I consumed, you can afford the exercise.

Fortifying Your Skin In Winter

Cold weather is the bane of my skins existence.  As soon as the weather drops below 50*F/ 10*C my flesh suffers.  Last month, practically the moment my plane touched down in New York my cuticles split and my nose started peeling.  Wildly attractive, I know.  But before you go judging me, don’t act like I am alone.  You have all suffered from the attack of winter skin.  The redness, the peeling, the chapped, eww…. It’s enough to make, well, my skin crawl!  Do not fear!  I have collected some sage advice on how to get your skin through these low mercury levels.

-Moisturizer with SPF:  Just because you aren’t lying out at the beach doesn’t mean your skin doesn’t need protected from the pesky UVA/ UVB rays.  This is especially true if there is snow on the ground.  The snow will reflect the light back into your face increasing exposure.  By using a moisturizer with a minimum SPF15 your skin is protected from harmful rays that can cause photo aging, lines or worse!

-Treat Your Hands:  Your skin on your hands is perhaps the most susceptible to the problems associated with the cold weather.  They are constantly exposed to the elements, especially when dexterity and small motor functions are essential.  Hands (and in my case cuticles!) end up chapped and red.  However, there is a way to avoid some of the damage caused by the weather conditions.  First, when you are out and about wear gloves, wool ones can cause irritation, so consider cotton or (if you’re feeling luxurious) cashmere.  Also, remember to use hand lotion before bed.  My favorite is Aveda Hand Relief.

-Use A Humidifier:  As soon as you turn on the heat (be it central or individual units) the air in your home and/or office begins to dry out.  This can leave your skin cracked; scratchy and just plain dry!  A humidifier can solve this problem by adding moisture into the air.  I know, dry air makes your frizzy hair behave!  So consider using the humidifier while asleep, when a perfectly styled coif isn’t completely necessary.

-Cool down your Shower or Bath:  I LOVE a steaming hot shower.  The kind of shower that is hot enough to scald your skin.  However, it may not be the best thing for my skin!  When water is hotter than your skin temperature your pores open up and release the moisture stored in them (this is the same reason we sweat in the summer).  As a result, our skin loses moisture needed to protect itself in the cold weather.  The key is to take slightly cooler showers, shorter shower and to apply a moisturizer after a shower.  Ideally, use products that seal in moisture.

-Don’t Lick Your Lips: No, it isn’t your addiction to lip balm that is making your lips chap.  Along with the wind, it’s the acid in your saliva that leave your lips dehydrated. Instead of smacking and/or licking your lips after applying balm (which leaves saliva on the lips) allow them to dry naturally.  Also, be careful not to by balms with menthol in them as it also has a drying effect.  Just like the rest of your skin, protecting your lips in winter is important to remember.

A Shapely Holiday Season

Confession: I ate too much.  WAY too much.  I think I may have rivaled not only Lukus, but his brother (who before yesterday outweighed me by 100 lbs) as well.  I feel ashamed.  So much so that I am getting my rear to the gym asap.  And because I have a sneaking suspicion that I am not the only epicurean (I am so diplomatic!), I am using this opportunity to share some advice to get you through the holiday season with your waistline intact.

    Hand holding water bottle

  1. Start With A Plan:  If you don’t have a fixed schedule for working out during this crazy time, the gym will end up falling to the bottom of the list.  However if you go ahead and create a schedule for yourself the working out will become a greater priority.
  2. Be Realistic:  Frankly, this time of year is crazy and expecting to work out for an hour fives days a week is probably not going to happen.  Cut yourself down to what you can do.  If that is three days a week for 20 minutes- great!  Something is better than nothing.
  3. Wear Something Sexy:  That’s right, pick at least one hot number a week to wear.  Okay, it doesn’t have to be sexy, but it should be fitted.  This will encourage you to keep working.  Not only will you want to be able to fit in the planned outfit, but you will also feel great about yourself when you do.
  4. Drink Water:  During the holidays we all tend to drink more alcohol.  Unfortunately this is the epitome of empty calories.  While I know cutting out alcohol may not be completely realistic (although I do recommend it!), try alternating adult beverages with glasses of water.  This way you will fill up faster, avoid dehydration and/or avoid the holiday bloat by flushing those high sodium meals.
  5. Create Active Traditions:  Instead of following a large meal with a seat on the couch in front of the television, plan a family hike or football game.  Or just take a walk around the neighborhood.  The more sedentary you are the harder it is to get motivated, so don’t let the lethargy take hold of yourself and loved ones!