4 Good Reasons You Should be Drinking Tea…Every Day

Written by: on Tuesday, November 26th, 2013
Green tea in pot

Home-brewed green tea has more antioxidants than anything you’ll find in a bottle. For best results, steep for no more than 3 minutes.

You know when Starbucks—the king of coffee—buys a tea brand like Teavana, and opens the first Tea Bar in Manhattan, tea is going to be the next big thing. Or maybe it is already, if you look at the stats from the Tea Association of the U.S.A. which says that on any given day, more than 158 million Americans are drinking tea. But there are plenty of reasons you should be one of them; here are the four top ones:

1) Tea—particularly green tea—may help prevent cancer. The magic number: three to five cups a day, according to a 2009 review of 51 green tea studies conducted by the Center of Integrative Medicine at the University of Witten/Herdecke in Germany. Research has focused on the fact that tea is rich in disease-fighting polyphenols, specifically catechins that appear to have cancer-fighting and health-promoting properties. (Green tea is particularly rich in catechins.) What’s the big deal about these? Polyphenols are thought to rid the body of harmful molecules known as free radicals, which can damage a cell’s DNA and may trigger cancer and other diseases.

Teavana Bar in New York City

Teavana’s first tea bar is located at 1142 Madison Avenue at 85th Street. Next tea bar location: Seattle…of course!

Note: if you don’t like the bitter taste of green tea, try white tea. This tea is also high in antioxidants but has a more mellow, sweeter flavor than green teas. (Note that herbal brews, like chamomile and peppermint, are not technically considered tea; they’re infusions of plants. Tea is technically black, green, white, or oolong teas—all of which are made from the leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant.)

2) It may lower your risk of Parkinson’s 

Alice's Tea Cup in Manhattan

An Alice in Wonderland-inspired tea shop located in New York City.

Disease. Drinking up to four cups of green or black tea daily has been linked with a lower risk of Parkinson’s disease (a progressive disease of the nervous system), according to the National Institutes of Health.

3) It may reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease. Black and green tea have been linked to a reduced risk of heart attack and stroke. One Japanese study, in particular, found that adults who drank five or more cups of green tea daily had a 26 percent reduction in heart attack or stroke death when compared with those who had one cup or less. What’s more: the benefit seemed to be greater in women than in men.

4) It can reduce stress. That’s because the very ritual of sitting down for a cup of tea is relaxing. “If you look at different cultures, like Japan and China, they have a very elaborate ritual for the taking of tea,” says Nancy Baker, founder of AnaBeall’s tea room in Westfield, New Jersey. “We look at tea differently than coffee; you don’t hear about coffee rituals” [unless your idea of a ritual is grabbing a cup of joe to go!].

Alice's Tea Cup in Manhattan

You’ll find plenty of sweets, plus an amazing brunch, at Alice’s Tea Cup.

From Teavana’s newest Manhattan outpost to small tea rooms like AnaBeall’s or Alice’s Tea Cup (which has various locations throughout New York City), you’re sure to find a spot to relax and de-stress. We got a chance to visit Alice’s Tea Cup—which boasts over 100 exclusive teas—from black and green tea to red and white blends—from around the world (not to mention Alice in Wonderland effects), as well as an amazing brunch. (All food is served on a three-tiered silver platter, and tea, in a personal-sized, colorful teapot.) If you’re looking for a sweet savory brunch with a delicate, Victorian ambiance, Alice’s Tea

CupsofGreenTea

Tea —first said to be discovered in China in 2737 B.C.—was first considered a tonic, used for medicinal purposes only.

Cup will make you feel like you’ve stepped inside the page of a fairy-tale! (Kate Holmes—and Suri—are fans.)

Our favorite teas at Alice’s: Drink-Me-Detox Tea, which is white tea blend with Pai Mu Tan, Silver Needle, Jasmine, and white teas with organic Rooibos, mixed together for a subtle brew; Alice’s Birthday Tea, which is described as a classic blend of black teas with tropical fruits and flowers; and Tranquil Tummy Tea, which is a blend of red teas with organic ginger, and peppermint. Alice’s Tea Cup’s has three locations: 102 West 73rd St, 156 E. 64th st, and 220 East 81st St.

Wherever you decide to have your cup of tea—know that it’s good for your health (unless you eat too many scones along with it!).

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3 Skin-Care Products I Swear By (and Why I Love Them)

Written by: on Monday, November 18th, 2013
BeautifulFacialSkin

Skip harsh, drying toners with alcohol during the fall and winter months.

 

It’s that time of the year: when the weather gets cooler and my skin gets duller and drier. And it got me thinking: I wish I could hire a personal trainer for my skin like I can for my body. Then I could find out exactly how to switch up my skincare by the season—and ask all sorts of little nagging questions like why I always seem to get tiny blackheads around my nose.

I’ve got a dermatologist (a great one at that), but with my out-of-pocket costs rising, I have to save up my visits up for when

Woman'sNeck

I use the SkinAuthority products on my face, as well as on my neck and upper chest—also where you see the signs of aging.

I really need it (like my twice-yearly mole checks).

But then I found out about the free skin coaching at SkinAuthority, a skin-care line that has zero parabens, dyes, fragrances,

and does not test on animals (just a few reasons that I’ve fallen in love with the line; see my earlier post on the importance of vitamin D, which mentions their great vitamin D product). Sure, these skin-care experts—available to you 24/7—are hoping to get you to buy products, but there’s something different about getting skin-care advice from a trained skin aesthetician than from a department store beauty salesperson or from no one at all (as is the case in a drugstore beauty aisle).

SkinAuthority'sCelesteHilling

Celeste Hilling, CEO and founder of SkinAuthority

I got a chance to speak with Celeste Hilling, founder and CEO of SkinAuthority, about skin care and the brand—and here’s what she had to say: “We’re about education,” says Hilling. “The average phone call with consumers is 30 minutes, but at the end of the day, you make the choice about what’s right for you.” But skin coaches aren’t just on the phone; Skyping is one of the most common ways to speak with the skin coaches. “Last year, we did half a million Skype sessions,” says Hilling, adding that: “People want to show us their skin.”

SkinAuthorityCleanser

Contains glycolic acid and sugar-cane derived exfoliators to remove dead skin cells—and blackheads!

Here are the products that were recommended* for my skin—and that I’ve been loving:

SkinAuthority Exfoliating Cleanser: I used to have tiny (barely visible, except to my eye) little blackheads around my nose and on my chin. Just one week of using this cleanser and every single one is gone. My skin is smoother and more radiant. No joke. This cleanser is like a pore-extracting facial without the painful pore extractions. What I also love: the scent or lack of it. This smell of this product is just … clean. ($42; skinauthority.com)

SkinAuthority Super C Serum: I’m a big believer in what antioxidants can do for the skin (they can reduce the signs of aging, even out

SkinAuthorityVitaminCSerum

You need to use this within 4 months of opening for maximum benefit (not hard, since it’s so great!).

skin tone, and make skin brighter and more radiant), so when I tried this product, I was already a believer. But I loved the fact that this product was literally absorbed right into the skin—with no greasy feel (a must when you’re wearing under sunscreen to help boost UV protection). What I also love: the dropper comes with measurements on it so you know exactly how much to use—and don’t use too much, as I’ve always done in the past. ($99…pricey, but it lasts several months; skinauthority.com).

SkinAuthority Age Defying Moisturizer: Even though I’m in my 40s, I still have oily skin, so I’m always looking for a moisturizer that won’t leave a grease slick on

SkinAuthorityMoisturizer

This daily moisturizer is rich in antioxidants and vitamins.

my face. This moisturizer fits the bill—and does much more. It absorbs fast—and leaves skin feeling soft and supple, sans the grease. I also love that it has an SPF of 18. ($60.50; skinauthority.com)

So you’re probably thinking: if these products are so good, why haven’t I heard about them before. SkinAuthority doesn’t spend money on advertising; it’s all word of mouth and posts by people like me who have fallen in love with their products. Kerri Walsh Jennings, who has been a SkinAuthority consumer for years, just became the face of SkinAuthority….so you’ll be seeing her around more too! (Turns out Kerri—like me—loves the Super C serum, too!)

OlympicVolleyballPlayerKerriWalsh

Olympic volleyball champion Kerri Walsh Jennings is the new face of SkinAuthority. Love that they chose an athlete to be the face of their brand!

Bottom line: these are great products—and you get access to a skin-care expert to ask (and show, via Skype) all those little nagging problems—from blackheads and breakouts to rough skin and wrinkles—you’ve been dying to ask someone. You’ll definitely get results, whether you use one product or completely overall your regime and use only SkinAuthority products.

* SkinAuthority sent these products to me; I did not pay for them, but I also do not endorse any products that I don’t like. And I’ll be paying full price for my refills, as I’m just about out!

 

 

 

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Yummy Gluten- and Dairy-Free Cookies

Written by: on Wednesday, November 13th, 2013
ChunkieDunkieCarrotCakeCookies

These carrot cake cookies are my fave!

I know what you’re probably thinking: gluten- and dairy-free cookies…how good could these possibly taste? But I’m here to tell you these cookies are AMAZING (my favorite flavors: carrot cake, oatmeal raisin walnut, and chocolate chip). I’ve even recommended them to a U.S. Olympic snowboarder I was speaking with recently because she’s gluten- and dairy-free.

The story behind why I eat this way: My son is gluten- and dairy-free—so the rest of us in the family try to eat like him (well, except for his younger sister who likes to tell him, often, that she can eat anything she wants!). What I’ve found is that, by eating this way, I feel more energetic and less bloated and stay at a healthy weight without a lot of effort. But the challenge is finding good-for-you treats that are both gluten- and dairy-free.

Gluten-Dairy-FreeOatmealRaisinCookies

These oatmeal raisin cookies taste like scoops of homemade batter…yum!

So when I got sent the Chunkie Dunkie cookies to try*, I was game—and never expected to really LOVE them! These raw, vegan cookies have been created by raw vegan chef Dina Lauro out of Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. I had to put them in the freezer (they can be frozen for up to six months) because I was finding it hard to stop eating them! One here, then another, and then another…I had to put  a stop to it or I would become a Chunkie Dunkie! (Each cookie has 118 calories and 7 grams of fat—definitely not something you want to eat a lot of in one sitting.)

Gluten-Dairy-FreeChocolateChipCookies

A healthier chocolate chip cookie that tastes homemade.

Why they taste so good (and are pretty nutritious), according to Lauro: “Our special touch is the organic raw buckwheat groats! We soak, sprout and then dehydrated these power houses for the perfect crunch. After each one is individually scooped they are then dehydrated for  another 10 hours for a crispy outside and a moist flavorful inside.”

But the ingredient list is all stuff you can recognize and don’t mind feeding to your kids (unlike the processed treats available on store shelves these days): raw walnuts, gluten-free rolled oats, pure maple syrup, extra virgin coconut oil, etc.

ChunkieDunkieBrownies

Next up on my to-try list!

Next up to try: the chocolate chunk fudge brownies which sound truly yummy! (To order, go to chunkiedunkies.com; each five-pack of cookies is $6.49; the brownies are $7.99) And I can tell you: my kids love them (even my daughter!)—and I love feeding them to my kids!

* Full disclosure: I did not pay for these cookies, but I do not (and will not) endorse a product I don’t like. But I would happily re-order myself once these are finished, which won’t be too long at the rate I’m munching on them!

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A powerful video about appreciating every moment of life

Written by: on Monday, November 11th, 2013

I love this video; I cried during it (you may need a few tissues)—and thought how important it is to appreciate the gift of an ordinary day. A must watch.

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Eating Gluten-Free: Tips from an Iron Chef

Written by: on Tuesday, November 5th, 2013
Gluten-Free Red Kidney Beans

Beans are a great, protein-rich, gluten-free food.

It’s not hard these days to come across “gluten-free” labels—in your grocery store and in delis and restaurants around the country. And with the recent standardization of gluten-free labeling by the Food & Drug Administration, you’re sure to see even more products being labeled gluten-free moving forward.

Why it matters: almost 30 percent of Americans are avoiding or eliminating gluten from their diet—many because it just makes them feel better and many others for medical reasons.

An estimated three million Americans suffer from something called Celiac Disease—a genetic autoimmune disease that damages the small intestine, and interferes with the absorption of nutrients from food when gluten (the protein in wheat, barley, and rye) is eaten. (If you suspect you might have problems digesting gluten, ask your doctor to be tested.)

AliceBlastChefMehta

Alice Blast, of the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness, discusses gluten-free eating at Chef Mehta’s restaurant in Tribeca.

For those with Celiac Disease—just like those who have a nut allergy—flours, doughs, pastas, and any products containing gluten, can’t touch (or even mix with) gluten-free foods because it would cross contaminate them. Some people even suffer from airborne Celiac Disease, which can be particularly dangerous if food—particularly in a restaurant—isn’t prepared properly.

And therein lies the problem, says Alice Blast, founder of the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness. Many chefs and foodservice providers remain unprepared and uneducated on how to provide gluten-free food that’s safe, says Blast, who has Celiac Disease herself. (Blast did not find out she had Celiac Disease until she was trying to get pregnant—one reason she wrote the article, “Celiac Disease and Reproductive Health Issues.”)

That’s the reason Blast has spearheaded a Great Kitchens‘ 10-City Gluten-Free Chef’s Table Tour , which recently kicked off in NYC at Iron Chef finalist Jehangir Mehta’s restaurant, Mehtaphor, located in TriBeca. The aim of this tour: to educate people, the media, and restaurants about what exactly gluten free is—and the importance of having gluten-free options available to those with Celiac Disease.

We got a chance to catch up with Chef Mehta, who is passionate about the importance of having gluten-free options on the menu. Here are his tips on eating gluten free:

Gluten-FreeHamburger

Eating simply is often best: a beef burger and simple salad are gluten free.

1) Eat foods naturally gluten free. “One of my core beliefs as a chef is that your health and your diet are inextricably tied,” says Mehta, who adds that naturally gluten-free foods are a great option. Many ethnic dishes, he says, are naturally gluten free because places such as Mumbai, where he grew up, use a lot of rices, beans, and spices, in place of the more expensive wheat and flour.

Other foods naturally gluten free are those that are healthier for you than processed foods. These include fresh fruits (like apples, oranges, berries, and pomegranates) and vegetables (like broccoli, spinach, carrots, and cauliflower). Keep in mind that canned fruits and vegetables aren’t always gluten free; you have to check the labels. (The more ingredients, the greater risk one of them contains gluten.) Single-ingredient frozen fruits and vegetables (and simple mixes, sans sauces) are also gluten free.

Also, just because the lettuce you’re eating is gluten free doesn’t mean the dressing is, particularly if it’s bottled dressing. Be safe, and make your own with extra virgin olive oil and wine or rice vinegar (both are gluten free)—but skip distilled white vinegar and malt vinegar, which are not gluten free.

PurpleCauliflower

Fresh cauliflower (no matter what color), as well as other fresh fruits and veggies, is gluten free.

Fresh meat and fish are also typically gluten free, but be aware of meats and fish that are ready-to-cook or in ready-to-eat side dishes. These may not be safe to consume as the store may use sauces or even bread crumbs with gluten. Also be careful around processed meats like hot dogs. Many brands, like Applegate, carry the gluten-free label—but never assume if you don’t see the label.

2. Make your own. Can’t get what you want from your grocery store or local restaurant, make it. If you’re motivated to make your own gluten-free pasta, Meta recommends using chickpea flour, water, and grapeseed oil along with eggs (and an extra yolk to give taste and texture).

The best pre-made gluten-free mixed flours include Domata Living Flour, Bob’s Red Mill, and Jules Gluten Free  (which makes great cut-out cookies).

For a list of gluten-free recipes you can make at home, click here and check out this Holiday Pinterest Board, too. Also download the Gluten-Free Cooking and Baking Essentials Checklist. (Also, check out this great gluten-free website with recipes from author Elana Amsterdam.)

Mehtaphor in Tribeca

Mehta’s restaurant is located in the Duane St. Hotel in New York City’s TriBeca.

3. Become a label reader—and stay educated. Know which brands produce gluten-free (and even dairy- and nut-free) products. (Click here, for a list of manufacturers.)

4. Frequent restaurants that take gluten-free seriously. There are plenty of restaurants like Mehta’s Mehtaphor that offer plenty of gluten-free options. Click here to search for local restaurants with gluten-free menus.

For a sampling of what we tried at Mehta’s Mehtaphor, as part of the Chef’s Table Tour, scroll below (all recipes are gluten free—and delicious!).

Mustard Foie gras crostini with raspberry (using gluten-free bread)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Oysters with tapioca

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Grilled tofu with green chutney, topped with a chickpea-crusted onion ring

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sliced Duck served over portobello mushroom with spicy goat cheese and tomato with a mustard and onion chutney

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mehtaphor sundae, including vanilla rum ice cream with Kahlua, rum raisins and lentil chip

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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4 Yoga Poses Every Runner Should be Doing

Written by: on Sunday, November 3rd, 2013
WomanRunningOutdoors

About 40 percent of running injuries are knee injuries. Often the culprit: weak quads, hips, or glute muscles.

Whether you’re running the New York City Marathon or just love to run around your local park (or on the treadmill), add yoga to your workout mix to gain flexibility and help prevent back and knee injuries.

Sure, you probably feel great—and feel strong and healthy. But the truth is, you probably have muscular imbalances (this is common in even the fittest of athletes). What this means, your stronger muscles are overcompensating for weak muscles you may not be using when you run.

These muscular imbalances put the wrong kind of pressure on the joints, which can trigger injury, explains Brad Jones, a former U.S. Olympic physical therapist and strength conditioning coach (and founder of b Project), in Carlsbad, California.

Runners are also prone to injury, particularly in the knees, because running is a high-impact activity that gives your joints a pounding, says Manhattan-based physical medicine and rehab specialist Nadya Swedan, M.D., author of The Active Woman’s Health and Fitness Handbook. Runner’s muscles are also tight and short (and inflexible)—why yoga is the perfect balance to elongate and loosen the muscles.

We got a chance to talk to Kiley Holliday, a yoga instructor at Pure Yoga, in New York City, who recommends these four yoga poses for runners*. (She helps runners get ready for the New York City Marathon—and teaches a 6-week New York Road Runners (NYRR) Yoga for Runners series, in New York.) Something to keep in mind when it comes to yoga: never force yourself into a pose; stop when your body is telling you to stop. “Respect your body,” as my own yoga instructor, Elaine Coburn, tells our class.

YogaHalfSplits

Also called a Runner's Lunge, this pose stretches the thigh, hamstring, and groin muscles.

HALF SPLITS (WITH IT BAND STRETCH)
1. Start in a forward fold at the top of the mat, bending the knees enough so that the hands can comfortably touch the ground.
2. Step the left foot to the back of the mat, so that the right knee is in line over the right ankle. Allow the left knee to drop onto the mat and untuck the toes. Frame the right foot with the hands.
3. Begin to slowly walk the hands backwards while straightening the front leg. Stop when the left hip is directly in line over the left knee. Flex the right foot, and lean the torso forward while engaging the core.
4. Inch the right foot (while keeping the leg straight) towards the left side of the mat and roll onto the pinky toe edge of that foot. Walk the hands towards the right and look over the right shoulder.
5. If possible, bend the arms until the forearms are on the mat.
6. Repeat on the other leg.
Yoga'sLizardPose

Opens the hips, hamstrings, groins, and hip flexors—as well as the chest, shoulders, and neck.

LIZARD POSE (WITH QUAD STRETCH)

1. Start in a forward fold at the top of the mat, bending the knees enough so that the hands can comfortably touch the ground. Then, step the left foot to the back of the mat, so that the right knee is in line over the right ankle.

2. Drop the left knee onto the mat and untuck the toes. Then, inch the right foot towards the very edge of the mat, turn it out about 45 degrees and roll onto the pinky toe side of the foot.

3. Attempt to drop the forearms down on the ground inside the foot. If the forearms don’t reach, place a block underneath them. Try to get more of the top of the left thigh onto the mat.

4. Bend the left knee and reach for the outer edge of it with the right hand. It may be necessary to come off the forearms in order to reach the back foot.

YogaForRunnersLunge

To improve balance, rest the thigh of the forward leg (if necessary) on a chair seat.

BASIC CRESCENT LUNGE
1. Start in a forward fold at the top of the mat, bending the knees enough so that the hands can comfortably touch the ground.
2. Step the left foot to the back of the mat, so that the right knee is in line over the right ankle. Allow the left knee to drop onto the mat and untuck the toes.
3. Bend the right knee and lean forward, attempting to melt the top of the left thigh onto the mat. However, don’t let the right knee come beyond the toes. Keep the hands on the top of the right thigh for stability, or engage the core and lift the arms into the air with the palms facing each other. Squeeze the butt to take pressure out of the lower back.
4. Repeat with the left foot forward.
YogaForRunnersPyramidPose

Do this pose, and you'll stretch your spine, shoulders, hips, and hamstrings.

PYRAMID POSE
1. Begin in a low lunge with the right foot forward. The right knee should be directly in line over the ankle and the hands should frame the front foot.
2. Step the left foot in closer to the top of the mat, keep the hips square, and attempt to straighten the front leg. If the hamstring is too tight to straighten the leg completely with the hands on the ground, place yoga blocks under each hand. Pull the low belly in, allow the neck to relax, and imagine that the torso will begin to touch the right leg.
3. Repeat with the left foot forward.
* Always consult your doctor before starting any exercise program as you could get injured.

 

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