New York State of Mind

I was born and raised in New York City, The Bronx to be exact.  As an adult I lived in Brooklyn, Manhattan and the Catskill Mountains.  I moved to Maryland in 1987, but my heart is and will always be in New York.  There are reasons I have stayed in Maryland and perhaps I will discuss these in a future blog post.

This past weekend my husband and I went to visit my sister and brother-in-law in NY State.  I love spending time with my family.  My sister and I have always been close. They have a lovely home and are the excellent hosts.   It was an ideal weekend. Unlike the high humidity of Baltimore, Saturday was picture perfect, reminding me of summer days in the Catskill Mountains.  Until moving to Baltimore, summer was a favorite time for me.  While Sunday was a little more humid it was still lovely.

We went swimming, grilled dinner, and enjoyed the evening on the deck around the fire pit, listening to my husband play guitar. At first the sky was a little overcast but as the evening progressed the sky cleared and the stars twinkled with a beautiful half moon.

 

Sunday morning we went to the Farmers Market.  I don't know if it is just me, but boy everything I bought was the sweetest and the absolute best I had in years.  A repeat of Saturday left me feeling more relaxed and rejuvenated than I have felt in quite a while.

As I sit here, back home, I just finished eating some corn we brought back, putting me in the New York State of mind.


Memories

So many different things can trigger memories.  A song comes on the radio and brings you back to a certain day and time.  The same can be said for smells and tastes.

This past weekend my hubby and I celebrated our wedding anniversary.  My husband being an ex-chef decided he wanted to cook us a special meal instead of going out this year.  As he described some of his menu ideas I knew I was in for a treat.  I am the baker in the family but since we both love ice cream, and hardly ever have it any more, we decided instead of baking we would buy some good quality ice cream.   We chose a raspberry ice cream with chocolate chunks.

When I took my first bite I was transported back in time to my childhood days at day camp.  Every afternoon we would have a snack break.  One of my favorites was an ice cream pop of raspberry ice cream covered in chocolate.  As I sat there eating the ice cream I was that little kid again back at camp.

Oh and just in case you are interested the rest of the menu was:

  • Olive tapenade
  • Mushroom pate
  • French Bread
  • Shrimp with arugula pesto, capers and olives served over pasta

Here's to making new memories!


How The Right Foods Can Keep You Cool Pt 2. - Some recipes

To follow up last weeks post I thought I would share with you some of my favorite Pitta summer recipes.

VICHYSSOISE  (cold potato leek soup) makes 4 servings

While this is not generally found in classic Ayurvedic recipes, all the ingredients are and it is one of my personal favorites for a hot summer evening coupled with a salad.

  • 1 tbs butter or ghee
  • 2-3 leeks
  • 5 potatoes peeled and cut into chunks
  • 5 cups water or chicken broth
  • pinch of thyme
  • chives for garnish
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup organic grass fed half and half or whipping cream

In a large stock pot melt butter over low heat. Add leeks and cook for 10 minutes or until translucent . Add potatoes and season with salt and pepper. Add thyme and stir well and continue to cook for 12 minutes.

Add  water or chicken stock and bring to a boil, reduce heat and cook, partially covered for 30 minutes.

Puree soup in blender or food processor and cool.  When cooled add cream and sprinkle with chives.

COCONUT RICE  makes 4 servings

I like to make extra and eat it for breakfast. I then add some blueberries and almonds.

  •  2 cups  jasmine or basmati white rice, rinsed
  • 1 cup good-quality coconut milk (not "lite")
  •  2 cups water
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2-3 Tbsp. dry shredded coconut, unsweetened or sweetened

Place rice in rice cooker. Add the water, coconut milk, salt, and shredded coconut. Stir well (use a plastic or wooden utensil to avoid scraping off the non-stick surface). Cover and set to cook.

Once your rice cooker switches to "warm" mode, allow another 8-10 minutes for rice to finish "steaming". This will ensure your coconut rice is fully cooked and pleasantly sticky.  Gently fluff.

For breakfast heat with additional coconut milk or water and add blueberries and nuts  and pinch of cinammon and cardamom  may be served cold.

Hope you enjoy!  Please share your favorite recipes.




Summer Skin Care

Most of us stay pretty busy during the summer. Many people take their vacations during this time and we tend to be out and about more.  Because of our crazy, hectic, having fun schedules we are more prone to neglect our skin. Yes, more and more people are remembering to use sunscreen but summer skin care is more than just applying sun protection.

The first thing to consider is your home care regime.  Are you using the same products you did in the winter?  Some skin types are not effected by seasonal changes,  however,  many people need to switch their skin care products for lighter weight cleansers and moisturizers.  That creamy cleanser that was perfect in January may not be what you need in July. If you are feeling a bit more oily you may need a gel or foaming cleanser.  Renew Botanicals has a cleanser that is a little of both.  Our Herbal Cleanser has some of the ingredients and properties of a gel cleanser but with additional lightweight oils so that your skin does not feel dry.  The addition of activated charcoal helps to detoxify the skin.  Same idea holds true for your  moisturizer.  Your current moisturizer may still be perfect the rest of the year,  but just as with your cleanser, you may need a moisturizer that is a little lighter.  You still need to use your moisturizer twice a day.  If you are feeling too oily do not stop using a moisturizer, this is a mistake many make.  Your skin can still become dehydrated in the summer.  Just lighten it up.

Don't forget to take your skin care products with you on vacation.  It is also a great idea when you get back from vacation to see your Esthetician for a facial.  It is a great way to replenish your skin.  And please keep applying your sunscreen.  Check out my last blog post on sunscreens

Speaking of dehydration.  It is so important to drink lots of water during the summer.  Remember iced tea (unless it is herbal) and iced coffee will further dehydrate, you as will any alcoholic beverages.  If you are not fond of water, try adding watermelon chunks, slices of orange, lime or lemon, cucumbers or berries.

Happy Summer!

What you Need To Know About Sun Protection

Summer officially starts next week and many of you are once again facing the conundrum of what sunscreen should you use.  For years we heard how important sunscreen is but there has been some controversy lately regarding using sunscreen and other reports that many ingredients are not safe.  So before you hit the deck (pool, beach, boat) I will try to shed some light.

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To Wear Sunscreen or Not, That is The Question

We need to get some sun exposure. Sunshine on our bodies produces vitamin D.  Vitamin D is essential for healthy bones, immune function and blood cell formation. However, we don’t need very much sun exposure to meet our needs. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 5-15 minutes of unprotected sun exposure a few times a week is all that’s required to maintain healthy vitamin D levels. So, the answer is YES, after your initial recommended time of unprotected sun exposure, apply your sunscreen and apply it often.

Why Suncreen?

sunbathing.jpg

So as you just learned a little unprotected sun is a good thing, however, if you are trying to prevent aging (and who of us isn't?) or more importantly prevent skin cancer (which is on the rise) than you must wear sunscreen. The latest scientific studies tell us that we need a broad spectrum sunscreen.  Most sunscreens in the market protect you from UVB rays.  These rays are responsible for causing harmful sunburns and are most dangerous between 10 am and 4 pm.  However, most of the rays that reach the earth are UVA rays.  The UVA rays are present sunrise to sunset and penetrate the skin much deeper. UVA rays can cause free radical damage causing the breakdown of collagen which leads to wrinkles, hyperpigmentation and aging skin.  UVA rays can penetrate through light clothing, cloud cover and untinted glass.   That’s right folks, even on a cloudy day these rays can damage your skin.

SPF

It should be noted that manufacturers have mislead consumers by using words like waterproof/water resistant and of course SPF values.  Very often people mistakenly believe that using sunscreen with a higher SPF means that they can stay out in the sun longer and not have to reapply as often as lower SPFs.  Using between 20 and 35 SPF is all you need BUT you must apply 30 minutes before going out in the sun andreapply throughout the day.

Choosing Sunscreen

Although we must wear sunscreen, there are many scientists that believe that using chemical sunscreens may actually increase cancers by virtue of their free radical generating properties.  For instance, a study by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) revealed that 97% of Americans are contaminated with a widely used sunscreen ingredient called oxybenzone that has been linked to allergies, hormone disruption, and cell damage?  And according to the Holistic Health Library, “Organic chemists have long been aware of the dangers of compounds in chemical sunscreens, but this was ignored by the manufacturers of commercial sunscreens and most of the medical establishment”  The list of toxic chemicals in sunscreens does not stop at oxybenzone.  The list includes:  PABA and PABA esters, Cinnamates, Salicylates, Avobenzone, Fragrance, Parabens

So with all this “negative” information about sunscreens you are probably asking yourselves, what can I use?   The safest sunscreens are physical blocks made with zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide which work as a barrier against sun.  Lately titanium dioxide has come under some scrutiny but as long as you check to see they are not nano-particles you will be fine.  In addition to using physical block sunscreen, I recommend your sunscreen contain antioxidants such as green tea extract. 

Additionally you can wear a hat to keep the sun off your face and sunglasses to protect the thin, delicate skin around your eyes. Keep in mind that is important to get Vitamin D3, so spend a little time each day out in the sun without sunscreen.

As they say an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.