• “Only the Best” Gravy: A Thanksgiving Series

    It’ll require the “brown bits” you saved from the turkey pan.

    So you know how I just told you Sage Stuffing is my favorite part of the meal?  I’m now actually leaning more towards gravy because you can put it ON the stuffing and pretty much everything else!

    When flavored appropriately, gravy is smooth, decadent, and brings out the deep flavors that a roasted turkey creates after hours of browning and bubbling.

    This gravy recipe is unique in that the first part allows you to save some time on the day of and really expand your recipe to accommodate more guests.  The day before the big day, simply make a roux and add chicken stock, allowing it to boil and cool.  This will serve as your gravy base.  The day of, you’ll make a nice stock using the bones and giblets, and then deglaze the roasting pan itself to collect the brown bits from that pan.

    The most important part of the gravy making process?  Allowing those brown bits to form in the bottom of the turkey roasting pan as your Thanksgiving turkey cooks. When the turkey begins to roast, brown bits form from the juices falling off the bird as the temperature rises (a Mallard reaction).  Keep your fingers crossed for as many brown bits as possible as they add complexity and flavor to the gravy once the roasting pan is deglazed with a bit of wine.

    In general, this gravy recipe is a bit “out of the box” because there are a couple different processes, but the final result is a delicious and smooth gravy your guests won’t be able to get enough of!

    Happy Thanksgiving!

    gravyIf you do end up making some of the Bosworth family recipes, please share your creations with me and my family (I’m back in Laguna for the holiday!) using the hashtag #LoCooks . If you’ve enjoyed this series, please let me know if you’d like something similar for Christmas!

    x

    Lo

    6 tablespoons butter + more for other steps

    6 tablespoons flour

    Chicken Broth (about 8 cups)

    Turkey neck and giblets

    Half an onion, cut into 1/2 inch pieces

    1 carrot, cut into 1/2 inch pieces

    Half a celery stick, cut into 1/2 inch pieces

    2-3 bay leaves

    Parsley stems

    Kosher Salt

    Black Pepper

    Juice from Turkey Roasting Pan

    Brown Bits from Turkey Roasting Pan

    White Wine to deglaze

    1. The day before Thanksgiving, make the base for your gravy by making a roux then adding chicken stock until it boils and thickens.  To do this, melt butter completely in a sauce pan then add flour, whisking together into a paste and cooking for 3-4 minutes, stirring constantly over medium heat.  Add hot chicken stock (about 5-6 cups) to the pan, stirring constantly to avoid clumps.  Allow the gravy base to boil so the starch in the flour expands, thickening the gravy.  Boil for 5-10 minutes.  Allow gravy base to cool completely and refrigerate until Thanksgiving.

    2. On Thanksgiving, brown neck and giblets in butter in a large sauce pan.  Once browned remove from the pan, melt some additional butter and brown onion, carrot, and celery.  Add the bones and giblets back to the pan, add chicken stock (or turkey stock if you have it) to cover, bay leaves, parsley stems, and black pepper.  Bring to a boil then simmer for 1-2 hours.  Strain , cool the liquid and set aside.

    3. When the turkey is finished cooking, pour the juice from the pan into a bowl and allow the fat to come to the top.  Spoon the fat off of the turkey juice.  Over medium heat, deglaze the brown bits off of the pan using white wine and by scraping the bottom of the pan.  Add turkey juice, the turkey liquid from the bones, and the gravy base to the pan.  Allow the gravy to boil to let the different liquids come together.  Scrape any fat that comes to the top off of the gravy.  Season with salt and pepper until it tastes just right.  If your gravy needs to thicken, you can boil it down further (the saltiness will intensify so be careful) or add a bit of flour and butter paste (take soft room temp butter and mix it with equal parts flour) to the gravy, stirring to thicken (it must boil).

    Serves: 8-12 people

    Difficulty: Medium

    Time: 3 hours over the course of 2 days

     

  • Sage Stuffing: A Thanksgiving Series

    It’s called “stuffing” for a reason…

    The overwhelmingly tasty Sage Stuffing is probably my favorite part of my family’s Thanksgiving meal.  It’s full of butter, sausage, and sage.  No watching your waistline here!

    It’s SUPER important to note that I NEVER stuff the bird.  Never.

    It really messes with the time it takes to cook the turkey and causes it to cook unevenly.  More often than not, if you stuff your bird, the inside of the stuffing is so compact that it may never cook, leaving it bacteria-laden and susceptible to making your guests sick. Ew!

    The solution? Just do all the stuffing in a glass baking dish (or two), and add chicken stock!  You get a moist interior and crisp exterior, aka the perfect Thanksgiving Stuffing.  Best of all this dish is full of sage, my favorite herb.  Yum!

    stuffing

    If you do end up making some of the Bosworth family recipes, please share your creations with me and my family (I’m back in Laguna for the holiday!) using the hashtag #LoCooks . If you’ve enjoyed this series, please let me know if you’d like something similar for Christmas!

    x

    Lo

    1. 1 loaf of good sourdough bread cut into small cubes and dried out in the low-heat oven until stale

    2. 3/4 to 1 stick of butter

    3. 1 large onion, diced

    4. 4 celery sticks, diced

    5. 2 heaping tablespoons of dried sage

    6. 1 Jimmy Dean or Farmer John’s Sage Sausage

    7. 3 cups of good chicken broth (can add some Better Than Buillon flavoring to increase flavor)

    8. Salt and Pepper to season

    1. Cut bread into cubes and dry the cubes out on a cookie sheet in a 250F oven until dry, stale, and toasty.

    2. Melt butter in pan, add diced onion and celery until soft, add sage, salt, and pepper.

    3. Cook sausage in a separate pan until just about done, then add sausage and fat to softened onion and celery.  Check the seasonings – you’ll need quite a bit since you’ll be adding bread and chicken stock.

    4. In a large bowl mix veggies, sausage, and bread making sure to coat the bread with the fat.  Taste test.  Add more salt, pepper, and sage per your taste!

    5. Pour 3 cups of broth over stuffing and mix together well.  Each piece of bread should be coated with fat and stock.

    6. Put stuffing mixture into a buttered 12×16 (or is it 10×15?) glass dish.  Bake in convection oven at 375 for about 40 minutes (if it’s coming out of the fridge).  Stuffing will be bubbling at the base and crispy and yummy on top.

    Serves: 6-8 people

    Oven: 250F and 375F

    Time: 90 minutes

    Level: Easy

  • Tackling the Turkey: A Thanksgiving Series

    Hi, everyone!

    It’s been a minute.  I hope you’ve all been well!

    Launching Love Wellness has kept me quite busy, but I’m back and ready to share a couple Thanksgiving recipes with you!  Throughout today, starting at 9:00 a.m. and ending at 1:00 p.m., I’ll be releasing some Bosworth-family secrets—tricks I use to ensure my feast, everything from prepping to cooking, goes off without a hitch.

    First recipe I’m starting with? The turkey, of course!

    If you’ve thawed out the sucker (2-3 days in advance, depending on size) and are still debating the best way to cook him, here are three techniques I use to ensure a foolproof turnout:

    1. I like to dry brine my turkey with kosher salt for 2 days before cooking him on Thanksgiving. You can dry brine a frozen turkey but start to thaw 2-3 days before doing so because getting it to cooking temperature takes FOREVER.  The dry brine helps to trap moisture in and creates a really nice flavor.
    2. I cook the turkey at 500 F for 30 minutes at the top using canola oil on the bird to create a beautiful brown skin and to create a moisture seal around the meat.
    3. After lowering the heat, I like adding some beer and wine to the bottom of the pan to help add additional moisture to the turkey as the liquid steams.

    turkey

    If you do end up making some of the Bosworth family recipes, please share your creations with me and my family (I’m back in Laguna for the holiday!) using the hashtag #LoCooks . If you’ve enjoyed this series, please let me know if you’d like something similar for Christmas!

    x

    Lo

    1. 1 raw turkey (can be frozen, but you must start thawing it 2-3 days before Thanksgiving)

    2. A ton of kosher salt

    3. A ton of butter or duck fat

    4. Black pepper

    5. Canola Oil

    6. Cinnamon Stick

    7. 1 Apple, halved

    8. 1 Onion, halved

    9. Fresh Rosemary, thyme, sage

    10. Your best beer

    11. Your best white wine

    12. A very large plastic bag

    13. Large roasting pan

    14. Thermometer

    15. Twine

    1. Dry brine your turkey 2 days before Thanksgiving while allowing him to thaw out in the fridge.  Wash the turkey, removing the neck and organs (but save them for gravy), and dry the bird very well.  Next, turn your huge-ass plastic bag (must be air-tight once closed) inside out and set aside.  So as not to cross-contaminate your salt, put the salt you’ll be using for the brine in a bowl separate from the salt you always use.  Rub kosher salt all over the outside of the turkey and also underneath the skin on the breast.  Be very gentle when peeling the skin away from the breast meat as you don’t want it to tear.

    2. Wash your hands and grab the inside-out bag, wrapping it around the turkey so once the bird is in the bag, it’s right-side out again.  Tie the sucker shut (tight) and place the turkey breast side up in the fridge until Thanksgiving.

    3. On Thanksgiving preheat your oven to 500 F.  Take your turkey out of his bag and rinse all the salt off of him.  Dry him very, very, very well again and set aside.

    4. In a microwave-safe container (I just use a piece of tupperware), microwave your halved onion and apple along with your cinnamon stick together with some water for about 3 minutes until soft.

    5. Prepare to season the bird, butter and oil him up, and fill the cavity – aka have your butter and oil ready to go along with salt and pepper in specific bowls (so you don’t cross contaminate), and your onion, apple, cinny stick, and all your herbs.  Make sure your roasting pan is out and ready to go and your twine is on-hand to truss.

    6. Salt and pepper the turkey very generously (but be prepared to move fast after this with your butter as the salt brings out moisture which repels the fat from sticking) outside and inside the cavity as well.  Like at least 3 handfuls of salt.  Seriously.  Massage the salt and pepper into the turkey.

    7. Butter the entire turkey, massaging into the breast as best as you can without breaking the skin.  Insert onion, apple, cinnamon stick, and a bunch of fresh herbs into the cavity.  If you’re making my Sage Stuffing Recipe (it’s coming out at 10:00 a.m.) def use some sage!

    8. Tie the legs together using twine.  Watch this video on how to truss a turkey.

    9. Create a shield for the breast of your turkey using aluminum foil (this is Alton Brown’s genius idea) and set aside.

    10. Drizzle canola oil all over the outside of the bird so he is completely oiled up.  Leave no part oil-free.  Place your turkey breast side up in your roasting dish and into a 500 F oven for 30 minutes.

    11. After 30 minutes, reduce the heat to 350 and allow the bird to finish cooking for another 2 to 3 hours (depending on the size).  Add some beer and wine to the bottom of the pan.

    12. I wouldn’t recommend using the pop-out thermometer (generally included in most turkeys these days) to indicate total done-ness of the turkey.  If the pop-out thermometer is in the breast and it pops out, the breast meat is done but the legs will definitely NOT be (they always take longer, just like on a chicken).  If you’re super brave you can remove the turkey from the oven at this time and remove the legs from the rest of the body and put them back in the oven to continue cooking without over-doing the breast.  If you choose to do this, simply set the breast and carcass aside on a cooling rack (over a cookie) sheet and let rest.  Your thermometer should be in the deepest part of the thigh without touching bone, and should reach 160 before you determine your legs are done.  160 is basically the magic number.  Hit it and pull your bird out.  Go to 170/175 like the Health Department recommends and you’re going to have a dry turkey.

    12. Allow your turkey to rest for 20 minutes minimally no matter what.  If you’ve removed the legs or chosen to keep them on, still let all the parts rest to allow the moisture to be sucked back in.  Simply pop the bird back into the oven momentarily before serving to heat him right back up.

    13. SAVE THE BROWN BITS from your pan for gravy (recipe coming out at 11:00 a.m!).

    Time: 30 minutes to prepare the dry brine, about 4.5 hours start to finish for preparing and cooking the turkey

    Level: Medium

    Serves: Depends on how big your turkey is!

  • The Only Grocery List You’ll Ever Need

    Hey, hey!

    As New Yorkers, we are always hustling from place to place, fitting in as much work as we can into every day. Oftentimes, because other activities take precedent, grocery shopping becomes a dreaded chore, if not a burdensome task, better forgotten altogether.

    I get it. Why hold yourself to a taxing healthy standard when there are plenty of other “tastier” and time-efficient options out there?

    Well, we’re all in this together, and I want to help you, my client, commit to a healthy lifestyle.

    Without further ado, here’s a “Healthy Hustle”-approved grocery list you can pull up when you’re shopping for your week’s worth of nomz OR when you’re out at dinner trying to choose the healthiest option on the menu.

    unnamed

    FRUIT

    • Apples
    • Avocados
    • Bananas
    • Blackberries
    • Blueberries
    • Grapes
    • Mangos
    • Pineapples
    • Strawberries
    • Raspberries
    • Tomatoes
    VEGETABLE
    • Asparagus
    • Beets
    • Bell Peppers
    • Bok Choy
    • Broccoli
    • Brussel Sprouts
    • Carrots
    • Kale
    • Onions
    • Spinach
    • Squash
    • Zucchini

    PRO TIP: Load up on your veggies!

    HEALTHY FATS

    • Almonds
    • Cashews
    • Pecans
    • Walnuts
    • All natural almond butter
    • Chia or flax seeds
    DAIRY

    • Eggs
    • Greek yogurt
    • Goat cheeses
    • Hard cheese

    PRO TIP: Use cheese sparingly!

    PROTEIN

    • Extra lean chicken breast
    • Extra lean ground turkey
    • Extra lean beef
    • Salmon
    • Cod
    • Shrimp
    • Tilapia
    • Edamame
    • Black beans
    • Chickpeas
    GRAINS (GOOD CARBS)

    • Quinoa 
    • Brown Rice
    • Brown Rice Pasta
    • Raw Oats
    • Sweet Potatoes 
    Cooking Tips
    1. Eat your food raw, steamed, grilled, or baked
    2. Fill most of your plate up with fruits and vegetables
    3. Drink at least 8oz of water every hour
    4. Plan and prepare your meals ahead of time
    5. Keep a smile on your face and make at least one person smile before you go to bed!

    Now that you have the ingredients, it’s time to get cooking! I will be posting one “Healthy Hustle”-approved meal every week on my social media channels. Please feel free to share any recipes that you love that celebrate these ingredients. Let’s help others by sharing the things that make us feel healthier and happier!

    Happy (and healthy) Eating!

    Peace & Love,

    Emily Burkhardt

    @thehealthyhustle

     

    Cover photo: “Apple And Pear” by Benjamin Flouw

  • Let’s Talk About Food

    My budding Julia Child,

    If you hate cooking, don’t have time for it, can’t be bothered to embrace how “healthy” tastes—or, really—are unwilling to admit you’re just a tad rusty behind the stove, I, Emily Burkhardt, am here to cure your woes and save the day.

    Close your eyes. Take a deep breath.

    Now, imagine all those negative thoughts bursting into positive ones. POP! Yup, just like that. Believe it for not, with a little help and a lot of love from the folks at Mise en Place NYC, cooking can become incredibly stress-free.

    How, you ask? Well, keep reading.

    I get it. It’s one thing to shop for groceries but a complete other to peel, chop, and dice your ingredients. Mis en Place NYC gets rid of both hurdles by minimizing the time between deciding to cook and actually cooking!

    “We believe in cooking at home — but we don’t believe it should be difficult. Mise en Place NYC aims to enhance the way you interact with food from prepping and portioning each and every ingredient, to locally sourcing our produce where possible. We love gathering around the table, sharing moments and memories – and that’s what we want to share with you because at the end of the day, whether you’re whipping up a romantic dinner for two, a feast for friends and family, or simply treating yourself to something healthier than takeout, who doesn’t like good food?”

    I want all of you to feel like rockstars in every aspect of your life, including the kitchen. After all, eating is social and it never hurts to keep spreading the positive vibes. For this reason, I’ve partnered with Mis en Place NYC to create one “Heathy Hustle”-approved recipe a week that you can easily make at home.

    If you live in New York City, the Mis en Place team will be offering a home-delivery option for the recipe I’ll be sharing on my social media. Yes, this means they will deliver the recipe’s ingredients (all prepped and ready to go) to your door. Sautée a little here and drizzle sauce a little there and you’ll be ready to serve a fantastic dish to your friends.

    Recipes will launch on my social media this week so make sure to follow The Healthy Hustle on Instagram or check out my website!

    Peace, Love & Healthy Lifestyle,

    Emily Burkhardt

     

  • How to Make an OG Mojito

    Happy National Rum Day!

    Here’s a shoutout to all the random national “holidays” that give us an excuse to eat, drink, and be merry!

    Rum, the star of today’s show, and possibly my favorite alcohol ever, also happens to be the front player in my never disappointing and always delicious cocktail of choice–the mojito!

    Before I share with you my top-secret and super easy recipe, let’s all imagine we’re here:

    Paradise (at least according to Architectural Digest)

    Did I set the mood? Great!

    For a girl who’s had all sorts of crazy mojitos, I’d like to pay homage to the OG. Hang on to your pants, we’re going old school.

    HERE’S WHAT YOU’LL NEED:

    • 10 fresh mint leaves
    • 1/2 lime, cut in 4 wedges
    • 2 tablespoons white sugar
    • 1 cup of ice
    • 1 1/2 fluid ounces white rum
    • 1/2 cup club soda

     

    HERE’S HOW YOU DO IT:

    1. Put a couple mint leaves and a lime wedge at the bottom of your glass.
    2. Muddle the mint and lime to release its juices. This nice man will show you how its done. If you don’t have a muddler, you can also use a wooden spoon.
    3.  Add 2 more lime wedges and sugar to taste. Feel free to add less if of both if you don’t like your cocktails sweet.
    4. Muddle again.
    5. Fill your glass with ice.
    6. Pour your rum over the ice.
    7. Top the drink off with some club soda.
    8. Mix, sip, and repeat.

    DRINK UP!

     

  • Help Yourself to Some Watermelon Mint Salad!

    One in a Melon!

    We are smack dab in the middle summer and this heat wave is officially ridiculous! I don’t know about you, but for the past couple of days, my makeup has been running off my face faster than Usain Bolt’s reaction time out of the starting blocks.

    That said, there’s no better time than the present to be a Class A homebody–you know, with the weather relentless and all. I mean, very little beats lounging in front of the T.V. with the Rio Olympics playing and the air conditioner on full blast–very little except for maybe my watermelon mint salad!

    We can all agree that watermelon tastes just fine on it’s own, but when kicked up a couples flavor notches? OOF! That’s what I call the good good.

    This lime-infused treat is the ultimate snack especially if you love mojitos!

     

    HERE’S WHAT YOU’LL NEED:

    • 1/2 watermelon (cut into bite-sized chunks)
    • mint leaves (chopped)
    • 2-3 lime (juiced)
    • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
    • salt and pepper (to taste)

    Mix the extra virgin olive oil, lime juice, salt, and pepper in a small bowl to create the dressing. Start with the juice of 2 limes first. Then, add more if needed. Most of these ingredients are to taste so follow your taste buds! Combine watermelon chunks, chopped mint, and lime dressing together. Adjust the ingredients according personal preference.

    Voilà! That’s it. I like to add a slice or two of lime and a full mint leaf for garnish, because aesthetics, duh, but you do you.

    What is your go-to summer salad? I’d love to know. Actually, I’m wondering if this treat will taste even better with mangos mixed in…thoughts?

     

  • The Tea That Contains So Matcha Benefits

    Are you matcha-obsessed?

    Raise your plastic cups. You know, the ones dripping wet in condensation? The same ones that are cold to the touch? Clear plastic cups filled to the brim with ice cubes? Creamy caffeinated concoctions, bursting with flavor? Matcha. I’m talking matcha. So here, let’s cheers to that!

    As of late, New Yorkers have been riding a green tea latte wave. It’s super rad and super cool because your girl happens to be one of those New Yorkers. Not gonna lie, I used to think of matcha as the green, poorly stirred-powder at the bottom of my Starbucks drink. I wasn’t wrong, but I was basic.

    After doing a little more research, however, I’ve learned that matcha is processed green tea grounded into powder form. Rich in antioxidants and plenty of other health benefits, the powder also contains extended release caffeine and natural calming agents.

    Did you know that one cup of matcha tea is equivalent to 10 cups of green tea?

    Crazy, right? One cup of matcha contains 70 milligrams of caffeine as compared to the average 35 milligrams you get in a regular cup of green tea.

    Well, ANYWHOO, I discovered two must-visit matcha spots and you’re coming along for the adventure.

    MatchaBar Chelsea

    256 W 15th St, New York, NY 10011

    MatchaBar Chelsea is a cute little shop with an intimate ambiance. They serve a wide selection of drinks that range from Classic Matcha to Summer Matcha. Surprisingly the lack of seating space does not deter people from getting their caffeine fix! In fact, customers are usually in and out of here with a drink, if not two, in hand. Did I mention they give out free stickers?

    Behold, the Watermelon Basil in all of its shining glory. If you look closely, you can see the watermelon juice at the bottom. This was a particularly interesting drink. The combination wasn’t what I expected, but it definitely worked!

    I like my drinks on the sweeter side so I added a dash of simple syrup. Note: Most matcha drinks come unsweetened, but you can adjust them based on your taste buds. Not bad, not bad. I would definitely come back to try their Mint Lemonade before the summer ends.

    Cha Cha Matcha

    373 Broome St, New York, NY 10013

    Cha Cha Matcha is all things Cali in the heart of Chinatown. Their pink-and-green themed store goes hand-in-hand with their staff’s bubbly personalities. Customers usually come here for matcha drinks and soft serve.

    Don’t let my picture fool you! There’s actually more seating at the back of the café. Best of all, it’s totally insta-worthy. They’ve got a ton of natural lighting.

    I decided to try something completely different from my usual matcha latte so I went with their Matcha Lemonade. Best decision ever. It honestly was so good that I trekked back, a Queens girl and all, two days in a row, for their summer elixir. Made with the perfect amount of citrus and garnished with a lime and mint leaves, this virgin matcha mojito is truly godsend.

    Let me know if you’d like me to try creating a matcha drink of my own or if you ever visit one of these sweet spots!

  • The Healthiest Make-Ahead Breakfast Ever (+ Tasty, Too)

    What Do I Eat For Breakfast?

    With a new puppy, a blog, a podcast, a super secret business I’m building and launching in the fall (hint – it’s all about the vagina), a hungry boyfriend, and a big ass apartment to keep in order I don’t really have a lot of time to make an elaborate, healthy breakfast every morning.  Does anyone?  Raise your hand if ya do because let a sister in on the secret.

    I recently began thinking “ahead”…as in a few days ahead about how to keep my man and I fueled up in a healthy and tasty way with little to no effort.  What could I make once or twice a week that will keep for a few days, won’t require silverware, can be eaten on the run, and delicious?

    BAM.

    paleo egg muffins.

    Yep, the paleo egg muffin is the perfect breakfast specimen.  High in protein, low in fat, tons of veggie (flavor) options, easy to whip up, and can be taken to go in an instant.  Try them.  You won’t be disappointed.


    Egg muffins before hitting a hot oven...

    Egg muffins before hitting a hot oven…

    paleoeggmuffins

    …and after! Yum!

    1. 2 dozen eggs

    2. Any variety of vegetable you like

    3. 6 slices of turkey bacon or other protein (cooked) chopped up

    4. Black or white beans (1/2 tablespoon for each muffin)

    5. S&P to taste

    6. Cooking Spray

    1. Heat oven to 350 F.

    2. In a bowl, scramble 2 dozen eggs and season with a bit of salt and pepper (or no salt if you’re looking for a low-sodium option).

    3. Prepare any veggies and cut into small pieces (I like to use the food processor to speed things up here, like with garlic and onion).

    4. Add veggies and beans to eggs.

    5. Spray muffin tin (probably 2 muffin tins for this many eggs) so your muffieesss pop out easily when done. Sprinkle turkey bacon bits into bottom of each space in a muffin tin. Fill with egg mixture.

    6. Cook for about 20 minutes until firm.  Then, Enjoy!

    7. These should stay fresh for up to 5 days.

    About 24 egg muffins

  • Eat Your Way to Healthy Summer Skin

    Five Foods That Fight Sun Damage

    For a picker, I’ve always been incredibly blessed with forgiving skin. Regardless whether I poke, prod or pick at my pimples, I rarely often scar. Naturally, when the first batch of stress-induced cystic acne broke out across my face a little over a month ago, I attempted the impossible: relieving my clogged pores of what I believed to be dead skin cells.

    Boy, oh boy, was I wrong to squeeze.

    Not only did I cause the infection to spread, but I also failed miserably at removing the “heads” from my poor face. Cystic acne, as I soon learned, is an infection that lies much deeper under the skin. Unlike white head pimples or black head pimples, they manifest in the form of red, tender bumps. And, the cysts, full of pus, often never surface.

    Scared half to death by my stern dermatologist and officially taking my first round of Roaccutane, I am now incredibly weary of everything that comes near my face—including my good for nothing itchy fingers. Sunscreen, another dislike of mine, thanks to its thick, oily formula, is currently a no-no that’s only used under extreme circumstances when I really can’t be my vampire-y self and avoid sunlight.

    Thankfully, if you’re like me, suffering in a personal hell of abstinence from SPF because of sensitive skin, or if you really hate sunscreen in general, there’s another way to protect your skin from sun damage.

    Before I jump into why you should increase your tomato consumption, I think it’s necessary to first illustrate the dangers of excessive UV ray exposure. Too much sunlight, unfortunately, activates free radicals in our skin. The activation, in turn, accelerates the aging process of cells (hello, wrinkles!) by puncturing them and tearing them apart, and generates a wild chain reaction that makes us more susceptible to skin cancer. That said, when our skin “burns” our bodies are actually generating an immune response-inflammation to the free radicals.

    Sun protection is best achieved when consuming an antioxidant-rich diet and when using a non-chemical protective sunscreen on a daily basis. This is simply because the amount of antioxidants in your blood decreases when your skin is exposed to sunlight.

    Okay, now the tomatoes!

    Tomatoes contain lycopene, or, an important antioxidant to have in your diet. The rule of thumb is, the redder the tomato, the more lycopene it contains. If you’re not too keen on eating tomatoes, try your hand at some watermelon!

    Sweet potatoes are packed with beta-carotene and storage proteins called sporamins that have unique antioxidant properties. Once digested, beta-carotenes turn into Vitamin A which ultimately helps with skin cell regeneration.

    Crimini mushrooms, or the cute little things you find on kebabs, are packed with skin-protecting nutrients like selenium. In fact, crimini mushrooms have the highest selenium content in all the foods that we eat. This, of course, is important because our bodies use the vital mineral to create potent antioxidants that fight the free radicals that form in our skin during sunlight exposure. Best of all crimini mushrooms are packed with Vitamin B—the key to youthful-looking skin cells.

    Fatty fish contain carotenoid antioxidants that help keep the skin radiant. Omega 3 essential fatty acids, like those found in salmon, also act as powerful and protective anti-inflammatories.

    Like strawberries, blueberries, and blackberries, green tea is an antioxidant food high in catechins. The deeper and richer the color of your tea, the higher its catechin content. So, steep those leaves and drink up!

     

  • I Just Made This Chicken and White Bean Stew in 15 Minutes & It’s Delicious

    Really…15 Minutes

    So we’re welcoming wellness into our lives over here at TheLoDown (in fact, the entire focus of the site is changing to focus on health) and with that comes a delicious, easy, and quick weekday lunch recipe that I literally made in 15 minutes.

    I’m a huge fan of a tomato stew, especially with white beans, and some kind of protein.  Typically I like to roast a dish like this (imagine a whole chicken cut in half, browning nicely with delicious tomatoes and things all around slowly soaking up flavor) but I wanted to see just how quickly I could mimic one of my faves with the ingredients I had on hand.

    Here’s what you need: a protein (I chose thin chicken breasts for speedy cooking), crushed tomatoes, fresh basil and thyme, a bit of onion or shallot, and some beans.  Oh, and a little S&P (salt and PEPPA), obvs.

    Brown up your shallots, brown up your chicken quickly, add the rest of the stuff and simmer for 15 minutes.  That’s it.  Delicious, gluten-free, dairy-free, and QUICK.

    Here’s the full recipe:


    15 Minute Chicken, Tomato, and White Bean Stew

    1. 1 Shallot, sliced in thin rounds

    2. 1 tablespoon ghee

    3. 2 thinly sliced chicken breasts

    4. Salt and Pepper to season

    5. 1 can crushed tomatoes

    6. 1/2 can white beans

    7. 10-12 fresh basil leaves

    8. 10 sprigs of thyme leaves

    9. 4-5 cherry tomatoes

    1. In a medium sauce pan heat ghee and quickly brown shallots.

    2. In the same pan add your seasoned chicken breasts and brown on both sides quickly at a high heat.

    3. Lower heat and add crushed tomatoes, white beans, cherry tomatoes, basil leaves, thyme leaves, salt and pepper.

    4. Let simmer (don’t boil) for 15 minutes. Then enjoy!

  • I Cooked Ramen For The First Time Ever

    SLURRRRRRP.

    Long story short, I cooked ramen from scratch for this first time ever this week.  On top of that I also prepared this meal for a group of strangers I welcomed into my house.  Basically, the pressure was on.

    I like to come up with recipes from scratch and as a trained chef I’m pretty good at opening the fridge up and creating something tasty my friends and fam will enjoy. However….in the case of ramen I made the wise decision to seek out help in the form of a recipe to get me through this challenge.  It’s a 15 hour process to make this delicious meal properly from scratch – so if you’re going to make it, give yourself ample time (definitely the day before your event).

    I chose to follow this recipe from Chow Hound for Slow Cooker Pork Ramen.  Safe to say, it took so very long to make, but it was absolutely a hit.

    ramen

    P.S. The lipstick I’m wearing is Make Up For Ever Artist Rouge in Mat M102.


    Slow Cooker Pork Ramen

    3 pounds boneless pork shoulder, cut into 3 equal pieces

    Kosher salt

    2 tablespoons canola oil (if including the optional browning step)

    1 yellow onion, coarsely chopped

    6 garlic cloves, chopped

    1 (2-inch) piece fresh ginger, peeled and chopped

    8 cups low-sodium chicken broth

    1 leek, halved lengthwise and coarsely chopped (white and green parts)

    1/4 pound cremini or button mushrooms, brushed clean and coarsely chopped

    Low-sodium soy sauce for seasoning

    Sesame and/or chile oil for seasoning

    1 1/2 pounds fresh ramen noodles

    8 large eggs (optional)

    About 4 green onions, finely chopped (white and pale green parts)

    1. Season the pork with salt.
    2. This step and the next are optional: Put a flameproof slow cooker insert on the stovetop over medium-high heat, then add the oil and warm until hot. (Or, use a frying pan for this step). Working in batches if necessary to avoid crowding, add the pork pieces and sear them on the first side without moving them until well browned, 3 to 4 minutes. Turn the pieces and sear on the second side until well browned, 3 to 4 minutes longer. Transfer to a plate and set aside.
    3. Pour off all but 2 tablespoons of the fat from the insert and return the insert to medium-high heat. Add the yellow onion and sear, without stirring, until browned, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic, ginger, and 1 cup of the broth and deglaze the insert, stirring and scraping up any browned bits from the insert bottom, then let simmer for 1 minute.
    4. If you have included the browning step, transfer the insert to the slow cooker, add the leek, mushrooms, and the remaining 7 cups of broth, and stir to combine. If you are starting here, combine the pork, yellow onion, garlic, ginger, leek, mushrooms, and broth in the slow cooker. Cover and cook on the low-heat setting for 8 hours. The pork should be very tender and the broth should be fragrant.
    5. To assemble: Transfer the pork to a cutting board. Using 2 forks, break the pork into bite-size chunks, removing and discarding any large pieces of fat. Strain the broth through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl and discard the solids. Using a large spoon, skim off and discard any fat from the surface of the broth. Return the pork and broth to the slow cooker and season to taste with soy sauce and sesame and/or chile oil. Cover and cook on the low-heat setting for about 30 minutes to warm through. Cook the ramen noodles according to the package directions. If you want to top each bowl of ramen with an egg, put the eggs into boiling water and simmer for 5 to 6 minutes. Remove the eggs from the water, let cool until they can be handled, and peel them.
    6. To serve: Divide the noodles evenly among individual bowls. Ladle the broth and pork over the noodles, dividing them evenly, then sprinkle with the green onions. If desired, top each bowl with a halved soft-boiled egg and serve right away.
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  • The Kitchen Sink Gluten-Free Protein Muffins

    MUFFINS YOU CAN EAT & EAT & EAT

    Guilt-Free Snackin’

    My boyfriend is camping this weekend and while him and his pals have pledged to only eat what they catch, I’m making him some gluten-free muffins packed with protein to give him a head start each morning (just in case, of course).  I like calling these “the kitchen sink” because I throw in whatever I have in my cupboard that makes sense at the time, and because he’s on a high protein diet the kitchen sink consists of lots of seeds.

    Don’t be scared by the whole “gluten-free” aspect of these tasty treats.  They’re moist, delicious, and don’t taste like anything super healthy if you know what I mean.  But, they are!  My favorite way to enjoy them is piping hot, with a swipe of almond butter on top.

    Some baking tips for this recipe: make sure to squeeze as much moisture out of your grated apples as you can (twist ’em up in a kitchen towel and squeeze, squeeze, squeeze).  I generally don’t advocate for throwing in “handfuls” of ingredients in baked goods but I’ve found that the amount of seeds you can add really is negligible and based on personal preference.

    Fill your muffin tin just to the top of each space or else your muffins may grow too large!

    IMG_5719

    4 cups fine almond flower

    1 teaspoon baking soda

    1/4 teaspoon sea salt

    3 teaspoons cinnamon

    1/4 cup chia seeds

    Handful of golden flax seeds

    Handful of pepitas

    2 apples, grated and drained (squeeze the juice out)

    1 tablespoon lemon juice

    3/4 cup whole greek yogurt

    6 eggs

    2 tablespoons maple syrup

    1 cup blueberries (fresh or frozen)

    1. Preheat your oven to 325 F.
    2. Combine dry ingredients.
    3. Combine wet ingredients.  Stir wet into dry ingredients.  The consistency shouldn’t be too sticky/pasty, or too thin.
    4. Spray a muffin pan with a non-stick spray and scoop spoonfuls of batter into each hole (don’t overflow them or underfill).
    5. Bake for 25 minutes until brown and cooked through (insert a fork to test).
    6. Enjoy these for breakfast, on a camping trip, on a hike, or freeze to eat later!
  • Join the Manila Social Club

    Manila Social Club

    Filipino Brunch

    Hi, everyone! Courtney here. I’m hitting you up with another brunch spot that y’all should try. This one’s called Manila Social Club, and it’s based in Brooklyn, NYC. Manila Social Club is a Filipino restaurant that serves both brunch and dinner. In fact, you’ve probably seen their Spam Fries all over Instagram. If not, your heart probably skipped a beat when you learned that they also sell Golden Cristal Ube Donuts for 100 bucks a pop. That’s $1k for a dozen! Cray, cray, right?

    Don’t worry about breaking the bank because their brunch, unlike their donuts, is quite affordable and the portions are huge. The best part? They start you off with some bread and ube butter. Let’s be real: I’m drooling just reminiscing about it.

    Mango Souffle Pancake

    light as a cloud and served with ube ice cream

    If you like mangos and ube (similar to taro), then you’ll enjoy this soufflé pancake. There are solid chunks of mango in the clouded goodness and it’s topped with the most perfectly churned ube ice cream. The dish was so rich and decadent on its own that I actually forgot to add the syrup they provided on the side. Similar to a sponge cake, this dish is actually more filling than it looks!

    Meat & Eggs (Tocino)

    served with garlic fried rice, two eggs, pea shoot and radish salad

    You can never go wrong with some meat and eggs. The tocino was pretty good, but I would go for bacon next time. The garlic fried rice deserves it’s own medal. If you’re not ordering this, I suggest you order a side of their garlic fried rice.

    Spam Fries

    with pickled mango and banana ketchup sauces

    This was delicious, but I highly suggest sharing, and not eating them all on your own.

    Where will you be eating this weekend, LoDown fam? Let me know in the comments below!

  • Want to Really Enjoy A Moscow Mule? Make It With Less Sugar!

    Summer is officially in the air and I couldn’t be more excited. I’m spending a lot of my summer at my beach house, and I’m entertaining friends and family almost every weekend. A few days ago my friends came to the beach to spend the evening with me, and I decided to mix up some Moscow Mules for us to enjoy – they were a huge hit!

    The drink is so flavorful on its own, that I didn’t want to mask the fresh taste of lime and ginger by over doing it with sugar. So when making my Moscow Mules, I swapped sugar for SPLENDA Zero™ Liquid Sweetener to create the ginger reduction. The effect was delicious! I simply boiled the water and ginger, and then sweetened the reduction with the SPLENDA® Sweetener and added fresh mint leaves! So simple and refreshing. Just like any dish, the secret to a great cocktail is fresh ingredients – so using fresh ginger and lime juice really makes all the difference. For added effect, make sure to garnish with plenty of mint leaves and a lime wedge, and serve in copper mugs that will keep the drink cool!

    Check out my video below to see how I make my Moscow Mules and let me know how yours turn out! And check-out SweetSwaps.com for more tips and tricks for swapping sugar for SPLENDA® Sweetener Products.



    Moscow Mules 

    (makes about 7 servings) 

    Ingredients: 

    1 cup ginger, peeled and cut into thin slices

    4 cups water

    2 tsp. SPLENDA ZERO™ Liquid Sweetener

    15 Mint leaves

    Juice from 4 limes

    1 liter soda water

    8 fl. oz. vodka

    Ice cubes

    4 Lime wedges

    Directions: 

    1) Boil ginger in 4 cups of water for about 10 minutes, or until the liquid is reduced by half.

    2) Strain the ginger reduction into a bowl, and add SPLENDA® Liquid Sweetener and allow to cool.

    3) Add mint leaves and lime juice to the ginger reduction and muddle.

    4) In a pitcher, combine soda water and vodka. Add the ginger reduction with mint leaves and lime juice. Stir. Add ice cubes, additional mint or lime to taste.

    5) Serve in copper mugs and garnish with mint leaves and a lime wedge.


    Nutrition Facts Per Serving (8 fl. oz.): 

    – Calories: 82

    – Total Fat: 0g

    – Saturated Fat 0g

    – Cholesterol: 0mg

    – Sodium: 32mg

    – Total Carbs: 2g

    – Sugars: 1g

    – Protein: 0g

    #sponsored

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