• 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!

  • 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.
  •  

  • 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

  • Brunchin’ at Jack’s Wife Freda

    Jack’s Wife Freda

    To Brunch or to Booze is the Question

    I’ll bet good money Jack’s Wife Freda is on your list of places to brunch. Chances are, you’ve seen some quality avocado toast, courtesy of the restaurant, floating somewhere on Instagram. If, however, for some freak reason you haven’t heard of the American-Mediterranean grub hub, I, along with its many regular customers, will have to agree that you’re definitely absolutely unequivocally missing out. Like, seriously, hello! Their personalized sugar packets (with sayings like “Be Present” and “I Love You A Latte”) practically scream aesthetics.

    Regardless whether you’re more down for the boozin’ or the brunchin’ you can find their quality nomz in SoHo at 224 Lafayette Street or the West Village at 50 Carmine Street.

    Curious what I had? Here’s a sneak peak at their menu 😉

    Madame Freda

    Pressed sandwich with duck prosciutto, cheddar béchamel, gruyere and a sunny side up egg

    Perfect amount of crunch in the pressed sandwich!

    Jack’s Breakfast

    2 eggs (any style), grilled skirt steak, grilled tomato, pickled red onions and sourdough toast

    The green sauce was the most egg-cellent touch!

    A big thumbs up to both dishes! Oh, and the Cantaloupe Mimosa went amazingly well with both entrées. If you’re in town, don’t forget to stop by. They do dinner too!

    Tip: Go super early on weekends or be ready to wait around an hour to be seated.

    Happy Brunching, folks!

  • These Lemon Greek Yogurt Pops are the Perfect Summer Treat!

    Summer weather is here, and that means, I’m ready to get outside and enjoy the sunshine with my friends! I wanted a refreshing treat that would satisfy my guests and keep them cool while we hang out on the roof, so I came up with these Frozen Lemon Greek Yogurt Pops! These simple, homemade treats are made with 3 basic ingredients: Greek yogurt, lemon, and a sweet swap for sugar – SPLENDA® No Calorie Sweetener.

    I had a great time making these pops, and I encourage you to get creative with the different molds out there! I like this one but the design is up to you. Regardless of what you use, these pops are super easy to put together quickly for a party, your kiddos, or yourself as a late afternoon or after dinner snack. I used SPLENDA® Sweetener in mine, so that there is less added sugar. Add that to plain Greek Yogurt and lemon juice, and you’ve got yourself a sweet treat that gives you a little vitamin C, and packs a protein punch!

    Not only does the final product taste awesome, it’s also beautiful with the lovely pieces of lemon zest and thin lemon slices showing throughout the white pop. These pops are creamy, with just the right amount of sweet and tart flavor (not to mention they’re a healthy treat that you can feel great about!). Check out my video demo below! And check-out SweetSwaps.com for more tips and tricks for swapping sugar for SPLENDA® Sweetener Products.

     



    Lemon Greek Yogurt Pops 

    (Makes 6 Pops) 

    Ingredients: 

    Juice from 2 lemons

    Zest from 3 lemons

    2 cups plain whole Greek yogurt

    1 cup plain non-fat Greek yogurt

    1/2 cup SPLENDA® No Calorie Sweetener, Granulated

    6 thin slices of lemon

    6 pop sticks

    Directions: 

    1) In a bowl collect the zest and juice from the lemons. Stir in the yogurts.

    2) Add SPLENDA® Sweetener and stir well.

    3) Using a spoon, carefully transfer the yogurt mixture into each pop mold. Gently tap the molds onto a countertop to sufficiently fill them. Insert a thin slice of lemon into each mold so that it sits at the base. Add the pop sticks and freeze for a minimum of 3 hours.

    4) When ready, run the pop mold under warm water for about 20 seconds, and gently pull each pop out.


    Nutrition Facts Per Serving (1 pop): 

    – Calories: 100

    – Calories from Fat:

    – Total Fat: 3g

    – Saturated Fat 2g

    – Cholesterol: 10mg

    – Sodium: 40mg

    – Total Carbs: 8g

    – Dietary Fiber:

    – Sugars: 5g

    – Protein: 11g


    #Sponsored

  • Eat with Me at Ramen Okidoki

    R U Okidoki?

    Summer Food Series

    Happy Thursday, LoDown fam! Today, we’re starting a new feature called the “Summer Food Series” where I’ll be taking you on some of my nommiest adventures.

    To start, I’m kicking this first post off with a gracious nod to ramen—my all-time favorite comfort food. While not exactly the healthiest option on the menu, the noodle-soup combo has always hit the spot whenever I wanted to treat myself.

    Located in Astoria, Queens, Ramen Okidoki is not your average Ippudo or Totto. While small with limited seating, it boasts a grand company of friendly staff and complimentary spicy pickled radish that is to die for.

    Their noodle options range anywhere from ramen, to cold noodles, to even Tsukemen (cold noodles you dip in hot soup). If I remember correctly, there are eight different types of ramen bowls to choose from, each varying in broth and meat. I personally like to go with pork when choosing my ramen, but I’ve tried their super spicy “R U Okidoki” before, and that too hurt my tongue in the most sensational way.

    On a very recent visit, I ordered this:

    On left we have a “BBQ Butaniku” ramen and on the right, an “In Tokyo” ramen. Both, of course, were delicious! If you’re someone who likes a stronger brother, I’d recommend the “BBQ Butaniku,” otherwise “In Tokyo” is a nice light alternative. If you’re more of the simple, classic Shoyu ramen type, Okidoki has the regular unfusioned flavors as well.

    You can find Ramen Okidoki at 34-05 30th Ave in Astoria, NY.

    Let me know if you have a favorite ramen place! Be sure to check back next Thursday for more restaurant recommendations 🙂

  • Bathing Suits Perfect for Every Body Type

    Just Keep Swimming

    In the right suit 😉

    Happy almost summer, you guys! That said, what better a way to welcome the warmer weather than by discussing what I find to be the most intimidating item of clothing? Yup, you guessed it: bathing suits!

    Spending hours in a dressing room trying on bikinis and one-pieces can be downright annoying and stressful. What looks amazing on your best friend might not always look as flattering on you. Luckily though, with the many different designs and creative cuts swim brands are coming out with, there’s a bathing suit to fit all body types.

    For my five two petite body frame, I gravitate towards swimwear that helps me create the illusion of a bigger chest (i.e. ruffles or cut outs). And, I also look for bottoms that hug my waist. My favorite brand? L-Space by Monica Wise.

     

     

    Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset Processed with VSCOcam with t1 preset

    Here I am in a one-piece by La Blanca

    9ba6188a-d76b-48f2-b2d8-bfa4fda7ba01

    And here I am in a different one by L-Space

    If you’re the opposite of me and more top heavy, I recommend a suit with an underwire or thicker strap to give you that extra level of comfort and support. Long torso or athletic? Try a high-waisted suit! Not only are they the hottest trend on the market, but they also really flatter your curves.

    When purchasing a high-waisted bottom, pick one that rests slightly above the belly button to avoid any unnecessary pinching at the waist (a.k.a. love handles).

    Still unsure? Opt for a one-piece! They’re all over Instagram. Selena Gomez, Kendall Jenner, and Gigi Hadid have been known to sport one or two. With so many one-piece styles available—ones with deep v-necks, scooped backs, and mesh—I’m positive you’ll be able to find one that’s both tasteful and flattering on you!

    Feature image via Claudia Cox

  • Travel Guide: Eating My Way Through Los Angeles

    When East Meets West 

    (Half Of) What I Ate In LA

    It’s finally the freakin’ weekend, LoDown fam! If you’re reading this post at the office, the pictures here will probably make you salivate, so, beware!

    I recently took a trip out to Los Angeles and pretty much ate my way through the city. Back, alive, well, and nostalgic, I’m here to share with you some of my favorite spots. Make sure to take a mental note of them if you ever find yourself heading that way!

     

    Verve Coffee Roasters

    Location: 833 S Spring Street, Los Angeles, CA 90014
    *other locations available

    Look at this gorgeous platter of juice shots. I wasn’t feeling coffee at the time so I decided to start my trip off with something healthy, you know, to “cleanse my body.”
    Joke’s on me though–I’m pretty sure I need another cleanse now that I’m back and properly stuffed.

    Here’s “The Flight,” a sampler of 10 of Verve’s juices that you drink in order from green to white in a zig-zag pattern. The flavors range from greens to ginger to sweet fruits!

    In-N-Out Burger

    *many locations available

    Yes, I had to stuff my face with  this beautiful tray of fast food. Every time I go to California, I make sure to stop at an In-N-Out. They might not be as good as the burgers we have here, but I still go because it’s only available on the west coast. Animal-style burgers and fries with some pickles and chili peppers on the side? Yes, please!

    Coffee Commissary

    Location: 3121 W Olive Avenue, Burbank, CA 91505

    After a day’s worth of walking, I decided to hang out at Coffee Commissary, a hipster spot that’s not too crowded. Bonus: they have amazing baristas.

    My vanilla latte definitely hit the spot. I recommend coming here to catch up with a friend, do some work, or even read a book.

    Sugarfish

    Location: 101 S La Brea Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90036
    *other locations available

    Of course I had to check this place out when Lo mentioned them in two of her #LIVE streams! Since I wanted to take advantage of their nice weather, I decided to eat outside. I ordered hand-cut rolls: Cucumber, Toro (tuna), and Yellowtail. Guys, the hype is real! By far some of the best sushi I’ve ever had! A MUST!

    California Donuts

    Location: 3540 W 3rd Street, Los Angeles, CA 90020

    Isn’t that panda doughnut pictured above just the cutest? California Doughnuts have these delicious doughnuts that are unique in both flavor and presentation. Gram-worthy too (if you haven’t noticed)!

    Unfortunately, CD’s only a stand and there isn’t any seating available, so be ready to take your dough to go! They also make customized donuts with letters and numbers, which is perfect for a birthday or a loved one.

    Tsujita LA Artisan Noodle

    Location: 2057 Sawtelle Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90025

    If you know me, I’m the ramen queen. I’ve tried most (if not all) of the ramen places in NYC, so I couldn’t not hunt down a restaurant when out in LA. To be honest, I ended up eating ramen twice, but hey, who’s counting?

    Tsujita LA Artisan Noodle had a bit of a wait time, but the noodles were well worth the wait. Their menu is simple. I recommend their Tonkatsu ramen with hard noodles. Their broth is light and tasty and the flavors aren’t too overwhelming. I wish they delivered across the country…

    Other Places to Check Out

    STIR MARKET
    7475 Beverly Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90036
    *market-style restaurant that’s good for brunch

    DIN TAI FUNG
    177 Caruso Avenue, Glendale, CA 91210
    *well-known for their soup dumplings

    Thank you for joining me here on this mini food adventure! Let me know if you have any favorite LA (or NYC) eats in the comments down below. I would love to try out your recommendations. In the meantime, I’ll be eating cleaner?

  • This Dairy-Free Pasta Dish is Perfect for Spring

    #P A S S I O N F O R P A S T A

    There’s no denying that pasta is absolutely delicious.  But did you know that it’s also a good, complex carbohydrate that provides steady energy?  I’m certainly passionate about pasta, especially before a run and the the variety of ways you can whip it up is truly endless and it’s a perfect foundation for a healthy meal –   comforting, tasty, and nutritious all at once.

    If you read the blog often you may know that I’m not a huge fan of dairy, and am constantly searching for alternatives.  I love cheese and cream, but not the way it makes my insides feel, if you know what I mean.  More often than not however, pasta and cheese go hand and hand.  The flavor combination is undeniably gangbusters.  So how to indulge in a little spaghetti or ravioli that tastes satisfying without compromising the flavor?  Turn to citrus, ta da!

    Apart from a straight tomato sauce, citrus is a great element to incorporate into a pasta dish without the need for cheese or a creamy sauce.  Want citrus and a creamy element?  Pick up an avocado, also in season along with a fresh zucchini (a Farmer’s Market favorite of mine) for some of the tastiest, creamiest, brightest pasta you will ever eat.

    I picked up this Spaghetti with Zucchini and Avocado Sauce recipe from PassionforPasta.com and it checks all of my nutritional and taste requirements: has a creamy sauce that’s dairy-free, utilizes fresh vegetables, incorporates citrus (one of my fave flavors), and is a good source of energy before hitting the gym.  You can check out my video tutorial below that takes you through the recipe step by step and also reference the recipe below.  Enjoy!


     

    Spaghetti with Zucchini and Avocado Sauce

    INGREDIENTS

    1 box Barilla spaghetti

    1 large leek, sliced

    4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

    1 ½ cups vegetable broth

    2 medium ripe avocados, peeled and pit removed

    1 tablespoon lemon juice

    1 large zucchini, skin only, julienned

    1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped

    salt and black pepper, to taste

     

    DIRECTIONS

    1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil; season with salt

    2. Cook Barilla pasta according to package directions

    3. Sauté leek with 3 tablespoons oil over medium heat in a medium skillet for 3 minutes.

    4. Add broth, turn heat to high and bring broth to a boil

    5. Cook until reduced to half; remove from heat and let cool

    6. Blend cooled broth, avocado, lemon juice, salt and pepper in a food processor until smooth; set aside

    7. Sauté remaining oil and zucchini skins over medium heat for 1 minute in the same skillet used for the leek mixture

    8. Toss pasta with avocado mixture and zucchini in a large serving bowl

    9. Garnish with parsley

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

  • These Lemon Bars are Perfect for Mother’s Day

    I Got It From My Momma


    Mother’s Day is around the corner, guys (Sunday, May 8) so it’s time to head into the kitchen and whip up a sweet treat just for her.  Lemon Bars are an absolute favorite of my Mother.  We had them all the time, so today’s new cooking video is really an ode to her.  I hope you enjoy the tutorial and these sweet and tart treats!!!  Recipe is below!



     

    Luscious Lemon Bars Recipe

    CRUST

    Crisco® Original No-Stick Cooking Spray

    1 1/4 cups Pillsbury BEST™ All Purpose Flour

    1/4 cup powdered sugar

    1/4 teaspoon salt

    1/2 cup Crisco® Butter Flavor All-Vegetable Shortening (well-chilled)

     

    FILLING

    2 large eggs

    1 cup sugar

    2 tablespoons Pillsbury BEST™ All Purpose Flour

    1/4 teaspoon baking powder

    1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

    2 teaspoons grated lemon peel

     

    GLAZE

    1/2 cup powdered sugar

    1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

    1/2 teaspoon grated lemon peel

    Powdered sugar

     

     

    PREPARATION DIRECTIONS:

    1.
HEAT oven to 350ºF. Line 8-inch square pan with foil. Coat with no-stick cooking spray.

     

    2.
FOR CRUST: COMBINE flour, powdered sugar and salt in medium bowl. Cut in well-chilled shortening with pastry blender until evenly moistened. Press into bottom of prepared pan. Bake at 350ºF for 15 minutes.

     

    3.
FOR FILLING: WHISK eggs until blended. Whisk in sugar, flour, baking powder, lemon juice and lemon peel. Pour over partially baked crust. Bake 22 to 25 minutes or until light golden brown.

     

    4.
FOR GLAZE: STIR together powdered sugar, lemon juice and lemon peel. Spread on hot lemon filling. Cool on wire rack. Chill until firm – about 2-3 hours. Remove from pan using edges of foil. Sprinkle with powdered sugar. Cut into bars.

     

  • TheLoDown