Tag Archives: Food

Living A Junk Food-Free Life

vine vera banner presents Living A Junk Food-Free Life

You walk into a movie theater. There it is, in shining lights, bright as day, the concession stand. The lure of the brightly popping corn, the larger than life boxes of Milk Duds, the smell of hot buttery kernels, the super-sized fountain drinks. You walk past. Halfway through the movie, you find yourself unable to concentrate; the smell, the sounds of happily munching neighbors reaching into the giant buckets for another buttery handful. You burst out of the theater, money in hand, “Give me the extra large.” You demand. If this is you, you may be having a hard time kicking junk food. After all, it’s so convenient, so cheap, so addictive, so delicious, so childlike, so seductive, so fattening. You need help. Here are some tips for living a junk free life.

Kicking Junk Food
We all know it’s hard to kick junk food. It’s set up that way. Junk food is big business and manufacturers are prepared to take full advantage. Manufacturers aim for the “bliss point’ in the product. This may think of as sort of a junk food orgasm, with the later experiencing the height of pleasure, the ultimate balance between the sweet, the salty, and the fatty. At this point, your brain reacts in a similar way to the way it would with cocaine addiction. This is the point at which temptation becomes hardest to resist, but there are ways:

Plan Ahead
A good way of handling cravings is to make sure you always have a healthy alternative prepared. This will reduce what researchers refer to as your “food cue activity”, or the time in which you are most susceptible to the influence of food advertisements, smells, and conversations pertaining to food. Aim to plan your weekly meals at the beginning of your work week. Go grocery shopping, stocking up on easy to prepare foods, like brown rice, beans, roasted and stir-fried vegetables, and cold salads. Store them in containers or foil to make them easy to grab before work in the morning. Fruit also travels well and can be an easy afternoon snack option.

vine vera banner presents Living A Junk Food-Free Life

Shop Around
….and by this, we mean around the edge of the store. The dairy, fish, produce, heart healthy and meat sections are typically located on the perimeter of a grocery store, while processed foods are kept in the aisle. By purchasing from these sections, you will begin to get used to eating whole grains, proteins, fruit, and vegetables, gradually weaning yourself off junk foods.

Healthy Fats
Not all fat makes you fat. Your body needs a little fat, as long as its heart healthy. While you should avoid the trans fats and saturated fats lurking in pro chart -healthy fats, like the kinds found in nuts and avocados will reduce cravings and help you to feel full.

Change Your Thinking
Ah, the power of negative thinking! A 2013 study demonstrated that when participants were trained to look at junk food in a negative way, their desire for it decreased. Junk food junkies were asked to view the objects of their cravings as if they: We’re already full; Just saw someone sneeze on the item Could save the food for later; We’re told that the food would have a negative impact on them (weight gain, stomachache)

Eat the Rainbow
Try bringing some new foods in your diet to keep it interesting. Eating diverse foods across the color spectrum keep you from boredom and reverting back to junk food. Plus, eating the rainbow can improve health and prevent disease. Try some purple grapes, red beets, orange mangoes, green spinach, and blueberries for some healthy psychedelia.

Let us know how your battle with junk food is going. What are your best tips for resisting the “bliss point?”

Leave a comment

Filed under Lifestyle

What Happens When You Go Gluten-Free

Woman eating a healthy salad

Going gluten-free.  Some need to do it, some prefer to do it, and some swear that they wouldn’t do it if gluten disappeared from every food product on this earth.  Late Night comedian Jimmy Fallon quipped, “It’s been discovered that 10% of the population is allergic to gluten and 90% of the population is sick of hearing about it.” Whatever your take on gluten, there is little doubt that its certainly controversial.  So let’s clear some of the dust out about the g-word.

Those who need to avoid gluten
Gluten is a protein found in grains such as wheat, rye and barley. Celiac is an intestinal disease that can be triggered by eating gluten. Wheat allergy is a negative immune reaction to  wheat proteins that can also be triggered by eating gluten. It affects the skin, respiratory or gastrointestinal tract.  Sufferers of celiac and wheat allergy are diagnosed as gluten sensitive along with anyone who may experience distress when eating gluten.  People with gluten sensitivity need to avoid gluten.

Those who prefer to avoid gluten
You may have heard of the gluten-free diet being tossed around.  Many of the followers are people who have self diagnosed a digestive problem as gluten sensitivity while others claim that cutting gluten out of their diet has made them feel less bloated and depressed and has even helped them lose weight.

What’s wrong with the gluten-free diet?
It seems that studies find that gluten-free diets can be very low in fiber, folate, thiamine, riboflavin, zinc, phosphorous and vitamin B12.  This is because unenriched starches and grains are used in “gluten-free'” products and tend to have lots of calories, but not many vitamins.  The result is that gluten-free diets can actually lead to weight gain.  Experts find that in the case many of those who report weight loss as a result of going gluten-free, the shedding of pounds is due more to cutting out excess calories found in flour based food. Registered dietitian Cynthia Sass says ditching carbs, like pasta and bagels, “automatically cuts excess carbs… ups fiber and nutrients and results in soaring energy.”  On the other hand, if you replace products with gluten in them with gluten-free versions, you will probably get more fat and sugar.

How to check if you need to go gluten-free?

  • Have your family physician perform a checkup.
  • Consult an allergist if you have a wheat allergy and a gastroenterologist for celiac and other gastrointestinal disease.
  • If you are not diagnosed with celiac disease or a wheat allergy, see a dietician to determine whether or not you are getting a balanced diet with nutrients, foods rich in fiber and are staying physically active.

If you need to go gluten-free
If you are diagnosed with gluten sensitivity, you are best advised to see a dietitian.  Sheila Crowe, of Celiac Disease’s Medical Advisory Board says, “The average doctor a) does not have the time and b) the knowledge to counsel them (the gluten sensitive) on the nutrients they’ll need, the addition of fiber and, what grains are naturally gluten-free.”  Make sure that you have substitutions for anything vital that may be lacking from your diet as a result of giving up gluten.

Feel free to let us know if you’ve gone the gluten-free route out of necessity or otherwise and what your take on it is.

Leave a comment

Filed under Lifestyle

Treat Yourself To A Luxury Purchase

Women on a shopping spree

In Milan, Victoria Beckham spent more than 1.5 million dollars on a shopping spree including a Rolex for husband Dave and 5 sofas.  Teresa Giudice spent over 60,000 on home decor.  Brad Pitt treated his daughter to the entire spring/ summer collection at Paris’ Bonpoint Children’s Boutique. Is this the stuff your dreams are made of?   Join the club.  Whether your celebrating a big promotion or just celebrating yourself, you don’t need an excuse to treat yourself to a luxury purchase.  In fact, here are some reasons why you should!

A New Purse
It’s no secret that cheap bags wear out quickly.  The material peels, the closures break, the studs fall off.  You’re better off buying a really well-made handbag that will last years! And think of the signals you’ll send off when you show up to work with that new bag.  People will say, “Wow, she really has her act together!” or, “Wow, what great taste.”  Besides, bags are only getting more expensive.  If you wait, it will only go up in price!

Designer Clothes
You may think you are paying for the name, but expensive clothing is made better!  The cut is better, the construction is better, the look is better.  You can wear designer clothes for years if you protect them correctly. Everyone deserves clothes that flatter them and make them feel great. You also pay for the workmanship.  Designer shoes are often more comfortable and last longer.

Woman buying jewelry

Jewelry
Are you waiting for our significant other to buy you that perfect piece of jewelry?  Well, stop waiting.  Henri Barguirdjian, leader of Graff diamond US operations says,  “We are seeing more and more women achieving careers on their own and they can afford to buy their own jewelry.  I would say about 25% of our customers are women buying fr themselves.  Jewelry is a great investment.Says Jerry Ehrenwald, president of the International Gamological Institute says, “Unlike a dress or car, jewelry doesn’t wear out….After 20 years, a fancy car needs to be replaced, whereas a diamond improves in value.”

Makeup
Performance is what counts when it comes to makeup.  If you want serums that really work (that is those that contain antioxidants and special properties) you need to shell out.  High-end makeup means more unique products, better pigmentation, better fragrance and usually comes with higher quality applicators. No one wants foundation or bronzer that doesn’t coordinate with your skin, and shouldn’t anything you put on your skin be high quality?

Food
So maybe possessions are not your thing. After all, we get used to possessions and once we do, we just look for a better one.  Thomas Gilovich, a psychology professor at Cornell University claims that experiences can be more rewarding.  “You can really like your material stuff….but…we are the sum total of out experiences.”  And what can be a better experience than a great meal? Try the Frrozen Haute Chocolate ice cream sundae at Serendipity 3 in New York or the Zillion Dollar Lobster Frittata at Norma’s with 10 oz of sevruga caviar or Le Burger Extravagant served on a gold dusted roll and held together with a diamond encrusted toothpick. You’ll leave with a full stomach and a story to tell.

So what are you waiting for?  Go out there and spend!  You’ll make yourself happy and contribute to the global economy!

Leave a comment

Filed under Lifestyle

Mother’s Day Brunch Spots

Mother and daughter

Mother’s day is an important day to show your mom just how much she means to you. This can be done a number of ways, of course, and what you end up going with should largely depend on your mother’s disposition, personality, and interests. One popular (and for good reason) option is brunch. The word “brunch” derives, of course, from a portmanteau of “lunch” and “breakfast,” owing to the fact that it’s a meal taking place about halfway between the traditional times for breakfast and lunch. Alternately, it’s an early lunch, or perhaps a late breakfast?

Either way, this late-morning time makes it ideal for a leisurely start to a day for mom; no rush to get out the door right away for breakfast, but at the same time, the first meal of the day isn’t so late as for anyone to go hungry. That said, you might consider having a small snack for mom (and everyone else) to munch on first thing in the morning. Something light, maybe a favorite coffee cake or other pastry.

At any rate, deciding to do brunch for mother’s’ day is all well and good, but you of course also need to know where to have it. Let’s talk about that.

Make a Restaurant Reservation
We say “reservation” because, well, mother’s day is a crowded time. You might need to make the reservation well in advance. As for what restaurant you go to specifically, well, that should depend almost entirely on mom’s tastes. Your mother, like everyone on the planet, is unique, after all, and an individual, so a one-size-fits-all approach isn’t the best. Our advice? Ask her. Well in advance, find out what her favorite restaurant is, if you don’t already know, and take her there when the day comes. The restaurant option is good for outgoing or extroverted moms.

Park Picnic Brunch
Another option, of course, is the classic park picnic. This allows you to prepare some of mom’s favorites and munch on them in a more scenic location. If the weather’s nice, this can be a great way to enjoy good food, the company of family, and a pretty park landscape. It also gives antsy kids something to do so that mom doesn’t have to get antsy herself when she’s supposed to be relaxing. Great for nature-loving moms.

Take-Out and Eat at Home
Alternatively, why not beat the lines? Who wants to deal with the horrific holiday crowds anyway? Order out, either from somewhere that delivers or by having a family member (other than mom, obviously, her job today is just to relax) go get it and bring it back. Have a delicious restaurant-quality meal in the comfort and safety of your own home. Especially good for introverted or socially anxious moms.

Leave a comment

Filed under Lifestyle

Preparing Your Home for Guests

Group of guests celebrating the holidays

 

Getting your home ready for the holidays and in top-top shape can be a nightmare for those who don’t really know where to begin. With a little guidance and a clear mind, it really isn’t too difficult to get your home ready to entertain. Vine Vera has a few tips to help you get your home ready to entertain and impress all of your holiday guests from family, to friends, to business associates and beyond.

 

Sprucing Up

Giving your house a quick once-over cleaning will ensure you have no dust bunnies lurking in the corners of the room, or particles of food or other unwanted items on the floor. One of the most important aspects of entertaining guests is to provide a clean, comfortable environment for them to relax in, and that’s why we chose this as the number one tip to provide you with. Be sure to thoroughly clean the areas where the guests will be spending most of their time, if necessary, by tackling the floors, windows, and mirrors, dust the fixtures in the room, and shine any metallic fixtures with polish. Vacuum if you have carpets, or wash the floor if you have hardwood or tile. You can also stick some dishes of potpourri out which pertain to the season – think cinnamon, bakery scents, or evergreen scents, depending on the month. A warm, clean, inviting home is of the greatest importance.

 

Choosing Decor

When preparing to entertain guests, choosing proper décor to place within each room is also important. Don’t spend precious time focusing on the rooms that nobody will be in such as bedrooms, unless you have guest bedrooms that guests will be staying in, and be sure to tie all of the décor into the same general theme.  For example, if you are decorating for Thanksgiving, tablescapes are beautiful; opt for leaves, pumpkins, berries, and turkey appliques. Also, choose the same general color scheme room to room. Don’t overdo the decorating, as more isn’t always the best course of action, but provide something visually pleasing to the eye that feels warm and inviting.

 

Have your Menu Prepared

When you have guests, food should always be at the front and center of your mind. Providing small finger foods and Hors D’oeurves is a great way to get the night started, as well as various wines and exclusive beer products. Perhaps ask those attending if they have any preferences for food or drink, and keep a running list. Try to provide appetizers that are pleasing to everyone. When it comes to the main course, you should have at least two – three options available for those who might not particularly care for a specific item. If you aren’t a top chef, opting for catering is another great option. Be sure to do your research on any catering company you choose to show interest in. You should always have the food and drink ready and available before the big day to avoid last minute stress and running around. Perhaps sending out note cards with the menu will allow feedback and input from those attending your dinner. It’s also commonplace to introduce the menu to guests ahead of time.

 

Don’t Stress – Or Try Not To

There is usually a lot to do when it comes time for the holiday gatherings to begin taking place. Keeping yourself calm is important, to avoid health problems and prevent disasters from happening. Stress never helps anything, and preventing it from occurring as best as you ensures everyone involved will have a great time. This should be a fun time for all – you being no exception. Make the most of the gathering by spending time conversing, laughing, and smiling – after all, you really do deserve it.

1 Comment

Filed under Lifestyle

Vine Vera’s Guide to Easy Fall Entertaining

Fall tablescape with candles and pumpkinIf you’re planning to throw a party this fall, throw a proper party. Don’t expect your guests to come and cook, work or help out. Make sure that you prepare everything beforehand and give yourself enough time to ensure that your party is a whopping success. With the right direction and guidance, you could end up boasting of throwing the best fall party in the neighborhood. This guide to easy fall entertaining helps you to understand what to do and what not to do to ensure that your fall party ranks among the very best this season.

 

Selecting the theme

Choosing a theme is one of the most important decisions for any fall party. The theme could be something as simple as selecting a color and using it all throughout. If you’re not sure on which theme to settle on, simply think of the fall season to shortlist a theme. Most people associate fall with golden brilliance, falling leaves, breathtaking sunsets and sheaves of wheat. Such themes can be easy to implement and they can also be used all through the year. Irrespective of what you choose, make sure that you thread the theme all through the event.

 

Doing the decor

Having a theme and creating the perfect tabletop is great, but don’t end up compromising on your decor. Personalize your dinnerware by painting small designs using edible paint on them. This helps you to add some flavor to the event and also give it a much needed personal touch. You can also add some color to your napkins and mix and match with alternating patterns.

Decor for fall entertaining - pumpkins and acorns

Finalizing the centerpiece

The centerpiece is one of the most important things for any fall party. While designing your centerpiece, you need to again look at the season for inspiration. Match your color palette with fall florals and add natural elements such as dried fall leaves, feathers and dried wheat. Candles and lanterns also add to the ambience of the area.

 

Focus on the food

You don’t need to spend a whole lot of time or money to get it right when it comes to food. Make sure that you keep it simple when it comes to the decors and the recipes so that you don’t have to spend too much of time in the kitchen and have time to entertain your guests. Plan for individual portion sizes while designing the menu. This makes things simple for you and your guests. There are a number of ways to display food items – you can  use sticks, serving spoons, towers and trays. Remember, the food item should come as one or two bites per item. Your main course should be simple and filling and some hearty sides are a must as well. Here is a small list of dishes that your guests would love to have at the ideal fall party.

  • Salad – Kale and Citrus Salad
  • Soup – Squash Soup
  • Appetizers – Fried Rice Balls with a Cheesy Center, Cheddar and Hard Cider Fondue, Rosemary Chips, Shrimp Puffs or Grilled Cheese Sandwich
  • Main Dishes – Beef Tenderloin or Pork Meatballs
  • Desserts – Apple Tart, Apple Crumble with Vanilla Ice Cream or Chocolade Fudge with Vanilla Ice Cream and Chocolate Sauce.

 Foods for fall entertaining

Selecting the Drinks

Instead of serving your guests with a signature beverage, try and stick to the basics. A “Make Your Own Cocktail” theme also does wonders when it comes to drinks. It adds that element of fun and increases the social element of your party. Pick your favorite spirit as the base and inspire your guests to create cocktails around the base by adding elements such as fresh fruits, herbs, fruit juices and sodas. This is also known to be a great conversation starter for your guests. If you’re looking to keep things simple, simply go for the Pear Brandy Cocktail. It matches the mood, the decor as well as the season.

 

Things to Remember

Here are a few tips that you must remember while deciding on the perfect fall party for your guests.

  • Setting – The fall weather can be unpredictable. An outdoor party might be an amazing idea to celebrate the great outdoors for one last time before the chilly winters, but make sure that you have an indoor back-up in case of sudden changes in the weather.
  • Theme – Creating a theme for your fall party is extremely exciting. Irrespective of what you create, make sure that you use it as a guide for all your decisions – right from inviting your guest invitations to the party favors.
  • Centerpiece – You don’t have to spend a bomb to create the perfect centerpiece. Things like dried wheat, candles, lanterns, bouquet of roses and feathers can be used to create the perfect centerpiece.
  • Appetizers – Make sure that you welcome your guests with rustic appetizers when they arrive. Having the right kind of appetizers helps you to set the mood for the party. Don’t forget to pair your cocktails along with the appetizers.
  • Party Favors – Your party favors should always be something cost effective, consumable as well as useful. One of the best ideas for party favors are caramel apples. They don’t look cheap and go a long way in creating an impression as well.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized