Wednesday, July 18, 2012

What Makes a Great Mother or Father? The Little Things
By Taz, on June 21st, 2009

When I was in my twenties, my gaze was always focused on the big things—finding the “perfect” partner, the “to-die-for” job, the “huge” book deal, or getting into the “best” graduate school. Little things didn’t matter much; they were unnecessary distractions that I treated as rounding errors. I either ignored them or focused on what came before or after. Looking back, I can see that how deeply I was affected by films and operas. I was always waiting for the sweeping climax that would bring resolution, on a grand scale, to my life. I was young and eager to fit together the largest pieces of the puzzle of life, foolishly believing that the remaining bits didn’t matter.

But now that I’m well into my thirties, my view has switched. It’s as though someone pulled the telescope out of my hands and replaced it with a microscope. Now my life is all about the small things. My emotional landscape hinges on soft washes of color applied with the finest brushes. Faint details can render me feeling exalted or defeated. One stroke can make or break the image that I call my life.

This week was no different: The small things figured most prominently. My daughter Ayla learned to say “Up a tree,” her first three-word sentence used in the right context. She says it in our secret language—everyone else hears “Uh-tee” but I know she’s telling me that the chipmunk (“mah”) went up that tree. Ayla also learned how to wash her body in the bath. She waits for me to pour some baby wash into her hand and then scrubs her belly in large, rough circles. Tiny things, right? Nope. Only a parent knows that it’s northing short of a miracle when your child’s brain, muscles and synapses work in unison toward a common goal.

An even more infinitesimal highlight was when Ayla leaned over and kissed my entire face, articulating each kiss with a “mwa, mwa, mwa” sound. In that moment, my heart sung in sunny, optimistic chords. The joy of being kissed by your child, with such relish, brought to mind the beauty of the sun interacting with a cloud—and showering the earth with a spray of sunbeams—or the awe inspiring fan of mist that results when a thumb and water-hose meet at just the right angle.

The low points were just as microscopic. I’ve been struggling to organize a childcare coop with some local parents, and this week brought a few unexpected delays. In a year, I’ll look back and wonder why these events nearly crippled me. But right now, creating a childcare model that matches my aspirations for Ayla’s care means everything to me. The critical email I received from a prospective employee made me doubt my vision. A promise to participate in the coop that was nearly revoked filled me with despair—would I be able to find an adequate replacement? Or more importantly, did I have the will to keep trying until we finally got this Utopian model to work?

Ten years ago, I would have swatted away both setbacks like a fly that got through a hole in the windscreen. In my twenties I would have declared both individuals “crazy” for not wanting to participate and immediately replaced them. I would have stayed focused on the big picture, the grand payoff at the end.

But parenthood has turned everything upside down. The supposedly big news I received this week—that I finally found a publisher for a leadership book I’ve been writing with a friend for nearly four years—barely made an imprint on my emotional landscape. “I can’t deal with this now,” were my exact thoughts after receiving the great news. Most writers live and die for each book deal, and I was no different pre-Ayla. But now I know that I can’t tackle a book until I’ve got the small details worked out. Until I know that Ayla is well cared for in my absence, I won’t be able to write anything of value and offer it to the world.

Some days I wonder whether our perspective keeps shifting, from large to small and back again, or whether it grows more refined over time. Do the big things cease to matter at a certain stage in life? Is God really in the details? Objectively speaking, I know that I haven’t got any of the “big” things right. The perfect job, relationship and book continue to elude me. But in those small spaces of time in my day when I’ve got nothing to do, I feel a big happiness well up inside me, that reminds that I must be doing something—however small—just right.


Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The 10 Healthiest Foods on the Planet

These 10 superfoods are proven, expert-beloved disease fighters and energy boosters. Add them to your meals and get on the fast track to a super-healthy body.

1) Lemons

Why They're Healthy:
-- Just one lemon has more than 100 percent of your daily intake of vitamin C, which may help increase "good" HDL cholesterol levels and strengthen bones.

-- Citrus flavonoids found in lemons may help inhibit the growth of cancer cells and act as an anti-inflammatory.

Quick Tip:
Add a slice of lemon to your green tea. One study found that citrus increases your body's ability to absorb the antioxidants in the tea by about 80 percent.


2) Broccoli

Why It's Healthy:
-- One medium stalk of broccoli contains more than 100 percent of your daily vitamin K requirement and almost 200 percent of your recommended daily dose of vitamin C -- two essential bone-building nutrients.

-- The same serving also helps stave off numerous cancers.

Quick Tip:
Zap it! Preserve up to 90 percent of broccoli's vitamin C by microwaving. (Steaming or boiling holds on to just 66 percent of the nutrient.)

3) Dark Chocolate

Why It's Healthy:
-- Just one-fourth of an ounce daily can reduce blood pressure in otherwise healthy individuals.

-- Cocoa powder is rich in flavonoids, antioxidants shown to reduce "bad" LDL cholesterol and increase "good" HDL levels.

Quick Tip:
A dark chocolate bar contains about 53.5 milligrams of flavonoids; a milk chocolate bar has fewer than 14.

4) Potatoes

Why They're Healthy:
-- One red potato contains 66 micrograms of cell-building folate -- about the same amount found in one cup of spinach or broccoli.

-- One sweet potato has almost eight times the amount of cancer-fighting and immune-boosting vitamin A you need daily.

Quick Tip:

Let your potato cool before eating. Research shows that doing so can help you burn close to 25 percent more fat after a meal, thanks to a fat-resistant starch.

5) Salmon

Why It's Healthy:
-- A great source of omega-3 fatty acids, which have been linked to a reduced risk of depression, heart disease, and cancer.

-- A 3-ounce serving contains almost 50 percent of your daily dose of niacin, which may protect against Alzheimer's disease and memory loss.

Quick Tip:
Opt for wild over farm-raised, which contains 16 times as much toxic polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) as wild salmon.

6) Walnuts

Why They're Healthy:
-- Contain the most omega-3 fatty acids, which may help reduce cholesterol, of all nuts.

-- Omega-3s have been shown to improve mood and fight cancer; they may protect against sun damage, too (but don't skip the SPF!).

Quick Tip:
Eat a few for dessert: The antioxidant melatonin, found in walnuts, helps to regulate sleep.

7) Avocados

Why They're Healthy:
-- Rich in healthy, satisfying fats proven in one study to lower cholesterol by about 22 percent.

-- One has more than half the fiber and 40 percent of the folate you need daily, which may reduce your risk of heart disease.

Quick Tip:
Adding it to your salad can increase the absorption of key nutrients like beta-carotene by three to five times compared with salads without this superfood.

8) Garlic

Why It's Healthy:
-- Garlic is a powerful disease fighter that can inhibit the growth of bacteria, including E. coli.

-- Allicin, a compound found in garlic, works as a potent anti-inflammatory and has been shown to help lower cholesterol and blood-pressure levels.

Quick Tip:
Crushed fresh garlic releases the most allicin. Just don't overcook; garlic exposed to high heat for more than 10 minutes loses important nutrients.

9) Spinach

Why It's Healthy:
-- Spinach contains lutein and zeaxanthin, two immune-boosting antioxidants important for eye health.

-- Recent research found that among cancer-fighting fruits and veggies, spinach is one of the most effective.

Quick Tip:
Spinach is a healthy -- and flavorless -- addition to any smoothie. You won't taste it, we promise! Try blending 1 cup spinach, 1 cup grated carrots, 1 banana, 1 cup apple juice, and ice.

10) Beans

Why They're Healthy:
-- Eating a serving of legumes (beans, peas, and lentils) four times a week can lower your risk of heart disease by 22 percent.

-- That same habit may also reduce your risk of breast cancer.

Quick Tip:
The darker the bean, the more antioxidants it contains. One study found that black bean hulls contain 40 times the amount of antioxidants found in white bean hulls.

Originally published in FITNESS magazine, October 2008.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

35 Power Foods To Include in Your Diet

Power foods are items you should include in your diet that give you:
  • The richest amount of nutrients,
  • The least amount of calories,
  • And the most health benefits
  • To decrease your risk of heart disease

 1) Asparagus
 Rich in : B6, folate, fiber 

 Asparagus Recipe
  • Cook time: 10 minutes


  • 1 bunch of medium sized asparagus, about 1 lb
  • 2 Tbsp of the most exquisite extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest - freshly grated lemon rind
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper


1) Prepare the asparagus by rinsing them thoroughly, break off any tough, white bottoms and discard. Cut into 1 to 2 inch sections, slicing the asparagus at a slight diagonal.

2) Fill a medium sized saucepan half way with water, bring to a boil. Add the asparagus and reduce heat slightly to a simmer. Parboil the asparagus for exactly 2 minutes. Drain the hot water. While the asparagus are still hot, toss them in a bowl with the olive oil, Parmesan, and lemon rind. Salt and pepper to taste. Serve warm or room temperature.

Note that when you are working with so few ingredients, it's important to make sure they are of the highest quality.

Yield : Serves 4.

Recipe from

2) Bell Peppers

Rich in : B1, B2, B6, folate, C, fiber

Three Pepper Salad Recipe

Recipe Type: Salad, Sweet Bell Peppers, onion, Diet
Yields: 6 to 8 servings
Prep time: 15 min


1 red sweet pepper, cored and seeded

1 yellow sweet pepper, cored and seeded
1 orange sweet pepper, cored and seeded
1 small sweet
onion (Walla Walla, Vidalia, or Maui), peeled
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley or fresh
basil leaves
Coarse salt and freshly-ground black pepper
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1/4 cup (2 ounces) crumbled feta cheese


Slice sweet peppers into matchstick-size pieces and place in a large bowl.

Slice onion into matchstick-size pieces and add to the bowl. Add parsley or basil. Sprinkle with coarse salt and pepper. Add rice vinegar and sesame oil, stirring to mix well.

Cover and refrigerate approximately 1 hour before serving. To serve, toss salad again and sprinkle with crumbled feta cheese.
Makes 6 to 8 servings.

Recipe from

 3) Bok Choy

 Rich in : B6, C, K, Calcium, fiber

 Baby Bok Choy with Garlic and  Shrimp Recipe

4 oz. bok choy mui/baby bok choi (cleaned and rinsed)
1/8 teaspoon salt or to taste
1 tablespoon oil
1/4 cup peeled baby shrimps
3 cloves garlic (finely chopped)

Heat up a wok with the cooking oil and saute the chopped garlic until light brown or aromatic. Add the baby shrimps and stir-fry until the shrimps are half-cooked. Add in a pinch of salt to the shrimp, and then follow by the baby bok choy. Quickly stir-fry the vegetables, dish out and serve hot.

Cook’s Notes -
Do not overcook your vegetables. They should retain the vitality and crunchiness.

Recipe from

 4) Broccoli

 Rich in : B6, C, E, K, folate, fiber

 Beef and Broccoli Salad


4 (6-ounce) pieces of beef tenderloin steak, 1-inch thick

    Salt and pepper

    Vegetable oil cooking spray
    1 head broccoli, stem trimmed of fiberous skin, cut in florets and  

              stem cut into chunks
    1 sack mixed baby greens, 6 to 8 ounces
    1 red bell pepper, seeded and very thinly sliced
    4 scallions, sliced on an angle, 1-inch pieces
    1 cup pea pods, sliced on an angle
    1 cup shredded carrots
    8 hot cherry peppers or pepperoncini, chopped
    2 tablespoons chopped cilantro leaves, optional


    1/4 cup duck sauce or sweet and sour sauce
    1-inch ginger root, finely chopped
    1 lime, juiced
    2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar or white vinegar
    1/2 to 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
    1/4 cup vegetable oil


Preheat grill pan over high heat. Season steak with salt and pepper. Spray grill pan with cooking spray. Grill meat 3 to 5 minutes per side for medium rare to medium well doneness. Remove meat and let stand 10 minutes.

In a pan, bring 1-inch of water to a bubble. Add a pinch of salt and broccoli pieces and steam for 3 to 5 minutes, until cooked but still firm. In the sink, drain broccoli in colander and run cold water over it to cool.

Arrange greens on large platter or individual dinner plates. Arrange broccoli and veggies on greens. Combine duck or sweet and sour sauce with ginger, lime juice, vinegar, crushed pepper flakes. Whisk in oil. Slice steaks and arrange on salad and drizzle completed dish with dressing. Season with additional salt and pepper.

Recipe from

 5) Carrots

 Rich in : A, C, Fiber, carotenoids*

 *What's a carotenoid? A carotenoid is a type of phytochemical, which has strong anti-oxidant effect. You may be familiar with beta-carotene, one of the 600 known carotenoids. A diet, rich in carotenoids, helps to protect against cancer and heart disease and contribute to healthy eyes.

*What's a phytochemical? A phytochemical is a plant chemical that helps to keep plants healthy. These are now thought to help humans protect against disease and boost the immune system.

Glazed Carrots Recipe


3 cups carrots, diced bite size
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons brown sugar


You can scale this recipe up or down really easy. You don’t even need to
deal with fractions on the ingredients. I love that. Just peel as many
carrots as your family would eat, dice them, and measure how much you’ve
got. Then get one tablespoon each of butter and brown sugar for each cup
of carrots.

Melt the butter on high heat, add the carrots, salt to taste and stir to
coat all the carrots with butter, and then often enough to keep the butter
from scorching. As soon as the carrots start to change color (they’ll get
a little darker) add the sugar and stir until it’s dissolved.

Add enough water to just barely cover the carrots and reduce the heat to a
simmer. Stir occasionally as the water reduces, until there is almost no
syrup left in the pan, and it’s all on the carrots. Pour out into your
serving dish and pour over any remaining syrup.

Recipe from

6) Garlic, onions, leeks, shallots

Rich in : Phytochemicals (A phytochemical is a plant chemical that helps to keep plants healthy. These are now thought to help humans protect against disease and boost the immune system) and fiber

Baked Parmesan Garlic Chicken Wings Recipe

Ingredients :

1 teaspoon dried oregano1 teaspoon dried rosemary1/2 teaspoon ground cumin1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt (1/2 tsp table salt)2 1/2 pounds chicken wings2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (or melted butter)2 tablespoons minced fresh basil2 garlic cloves, finely minced1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese1/2 teaspoon seasoning salt (like Lawry's)1 cup blue cheese dressing1-2 teaspoons Dijon mustard (or to taste)

Directions :

1. Preheat oven to 425F. In a small bowl, mix together the oregano, rosemary, cumin and salt. Lay the chicken wings on a baking sheet and season the chicken wings with this mixture.

2. Bake the chicken wings for 20-25 minutes. While the chicken is baking, mix together the oil, fresh basil, garlic, parmesan cheese and seasoning salt.

3. In a separate bowl, mix together the blue cheese dressing with the mustard (this is your dipping sauce)

4. When the chicken is cooked through, toss the wings with the garlic/cheese/olive oil (or butter) sauce. Serve with the blue cheese/mustard dressing.
Recipe from

Fried Red Onions Recipe

Many recipes start with frying onions and then adding other ingredients, but if you really like sauteed onions, you can make it as a stand-alone side dish!   If you are always sneaking the onions from the frying pan, this recipe is for you :)

Ingredients For Fried Red Onions :
Red onions
Salt to taste

Directions For Fried Red Onions :
Slice red onions. Heat the oil in a non-stick frying pan over medium-high heat.  Add red onion slices and stir.  Reduce heat to medium, and fry the red onions, stirring periodically, for 10 minutes, or until desired doneness.  Add salt to taste.

Recipe from

Leeks served with a Kumquat Clementine Vinaigrette


Yields: 4
6 leeks
1 shallot
1/2 tsp brown sugar
3 Tbs Meyer lemon juice, freshly squeezed
3 clementines


1/2 tsp fleur de sel
2 tsp superfine sugar
1 Tbs white balsamic vinegar
1 Tbs coarse-grained Dijon mustard
1/3 cup olive oil
1/8 tsp white peppercorns, freshly ground
1 Tbs parsley, coarsely chopped

How to prepare the leeks :
Trim the hairy root but make sure not to cut so high that all the leaves separate. Cut about 4 inches off of the long dark green top part of the leek as well. It's very fibrous and not as tender. You can save it for a vegetable stock. Remove a layer or two if the leaves are wilted.

Fill a big bucket of water. Place all the leeks in. Try to open up the leaves and remove all the sand and dirt. Make sure the center portion is still intact so the vegetable still holds together. Wash the leeks again under cold running tap water, there might still be more sand.

Bring a pot filled with water to a boil. Add the steamer insert and place all the leeks in the steamer and steam for about 15 minutes (depending on how wide the leeks are).
How to pickle the shallot :
Peel and thinly slice the shallot. Mince the shallot finely. Place the minced shallot in a bowl, sprinkle some brown sugar and drizzle with the Meyer lemon juice. Set aside.

The vinaigrette :
In a bowl, dissolve the sugar in the white balsamic vinegar. Add the mustard. Set aside.

Peel the kumquat. Thinly slice the kumquat zest. Save a few slices for decoration. Finely chop the rest of the zest.

Juice the clementines. Be sure to remove the pulp using a strainer. Place the clementine juice in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, then immediately lower the heat to a gentle simmer for about less than 5 minutes. Add the chopped kumquat zest. The liquid should reduce to about a tablespoon of clementine juice. Remove from the heat. Add the fleur de sel and whisk in the olive oil immediately while the juice is still hot. Add the mustard / balsamic vinegar mixture. Add the pickled shallot without its lemony liquid. Finish with white pepper.

Assembly time :
Place the leeks. Drizzle with vinaigrette. Sprinkle with parsley.
You're all set. Dig in!

Tips :

If you don't have clementines, you can substitute with one orange or any other sweet citrus.

You don't have to use white balsamic vinegar but for the aesthetic of the dish, a white vinegar is advised.You can add more vinegar if your clementine reduction is very sweet.

I absolutely love kumquats. I've made some kumquat marmelade already, an agave blended homemade yogurt with kumquat preserves, some caramelized kumquats for a green salad and some baby zucchini-kumquat relish that I served with some fish. If you guys have any suggestions on recipes that use kumquats, I'm all ears. Do not hesitate to leave me a message.

Recipe from

to continue .....

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

11 Vitamin C - Rich Foods That Are Natural Fat Burners

By Lauren Gelman - Reader's Digest

As cold and flu season winds down and bathing suit season picks up, get to know the surprising fat burner qualities of immunity-boosting vitamin C

In addition to fighting colds, vitamin C helps create collagen (and plays a role in healthy skin), may protect the heart, and helps destroy free radicals associated with certain cancers. But the new research on vitamin C as a fat burner is so promising that we named it one of 13 fat releasing foods in our Digest Diet book. 

Most Americans consume too little vitamin C, and one study showed that adults deficient or depleted of vitamin C may be more resistant to losing fat. Conversely, people who had adequate vitamin C levels burned 30 percent more fat during a bout of exercise than those low in C! Munching on more of the following fruits and veggies can help you meet the daily recommended intake, which is 75 milligrams for women and 90 for men.

Vitamin C level: 188 mg
Serving: 1 fruit
Try it : Pineapple Papaya Slaw

Bell Peppers

Vitamin C level: 117 mg
Serving: 1 cup raw

Try it : Turkey-Stuffed Bell Peppers


Vitamin C level: 85 mg
Serving: 1 cup
Try it : Strawberry Mango Sorbet




Vitamin C level: 81 mg
Serving: 1 cup raw
Try it :
 Cajun Spiced Broccoli



Vitamin C level: 79 mg
Serving: 1 cup
Try it : Bean and Pineapple Soft Tacos



 Brussels Sprouts

Vitamin C level: 75 mg
Serving: 1 cup raw
Try it : Savory Brussels Sprouts




Vitamin C level: 72 mg
Serving: 1 fruit
Try it : Kiwi Lime Gelatin




Vitamin C level: 70 mg
Serving: 1 fruit
Try it : Citrus Cornmeal Cake




Vitamin C level: 53 mg
Serving: 1 cup cooked
Try it : Penne With Kale and Onion




Vitamin C level: 52 mg
Serving: 1 cup raw
Try it : Cauliflower au Gratin




Vitamin C level: 23 mg
Serving: 1 cup
Try it : Herb-Topped Stuffed Tomatoes


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