One Pot Chicken with White Beans and Chorizo

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Healthy comfort food IS a thing, y'all. In fact, it's my thing X 23957484. If you watch my cooking stories on Instagram and YT I'm always trying to whip up something that soothes the soul while keeping the body in primo shape. Why? Because I'm an individual that loves delicious food and eating, but I'm also a top-level narcissist that isn't super eager to expand my waistline. Quite a conundrum, until I went to culinary school and figured out how to make food I love to eat with healthy ingredients.

And with that being said, may I present to you One Pot Chicken with White Beans and Chorizo - a healthy, comfort-food triumph. There is nary a dairy or bread within 50 miles of this dish - just a high fiber, high protein, good carb masterpiece of flavor.

Here's what you need and how to make it (and you can catch the video pinned to my Instagram page for a visual on the step-by-step):

INGREDIENTS:

  • olive oil
  • 1/2 white onion, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 chorizo sausage, casing removed, sliced thin (or about 1/2 -3/4 cup)
  • handful of basil, chopped
  • 2 cups cherry or grape tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1 1/2 cups white beans
  • 4 chicken legs/thighs (if you use breasts make sure they're skin on and cook for less time)
  • salt and pepper to season

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Pre-heat your oven to 425F.
  2. In a large, oven-friendly pan (I use a le creuset), heat 2-3 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat and then add your diced onion to the pan. Add just a touch of salt to open up the onions and speed up the cooking process, cooking for 2-3 minutes. Don't let the onions brown - if they start to do so, turn your heat down.
  3. Add your minced garlic and cook for about a minute before adding your thinly sliced chorizo. You want these thinnnn because we want to get them crunchy before going in the oven! Keep stirring this on medium heat until everything is well combined. Feel free to add some basil during this part of the process also.
  4. Once your chorizo is on the way to crunch-town, add your tomatoes to the pan. After another few minutes, gently press down on them to release some of the juice and to open them up. Then, deglaze your pan with white wine, allowing it to come to a boil, then reducing the liquid in half.
  5. Remove the pan from the heat and add your white beans (drain them first). Then season this mix with salt and pepper and taste test it!
  6. Next, wash and dry your chicken legs. Salt and pepper both sides, then place them on top of everything in the pan, skin side up. Coat with a bit of olive oil and get the whole pan into 425F oven for about 25 minutes or until the juices run clear on the chicken.
  7. When the chicken is done, if it's not quite as brown as you want it, turn on your broiler and brown them up quickly in the oven. Watch them the whole time. Do not walk away from the oven with that hot broiler on, unless you want burned One Pot Chicken.
  8. Pull from the oven, snap a pic and tag me on the GRAM and enjoy hot! Feel free to garnish with more basil.

How To Hydrate 2-3x Faster with This Tasty, Hot Beverage

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Y'all know I'm no stranger to Liquid I.V. - my favorite way to maximize hydration when I first wake up, after a workout, when I'm sick, or after a late night out (who me? never). I first wrote about their non-GMO, electrolyte drink mix last year when I discovered it, but I've gotten a bit more creative since then about how I mix it up, especially with the cooler weather!

If you're not familiar, Liquid I.V. is a hydration maximizer delivered as a powder drink mix in individual packets. The technology behind Liquid I.V. utilizes Cellular Transport Technology to deliver hydration to your bloodstream faster and more efficiently than water alone. So, if you mix up 1 Liquid I.V. pack into 16 oz of water, it's like drinking 2-3 bottles of water! Pretty cool, right?

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I'm a fan first and foremost because I feel like this is a product that actually works. After a particularly wild night out the other weekend, I drank a Liquid I.V. before I went to bed, and one when I woke up and seriously, I felt a-okay the next morning. Normally, I have to peel myself off the floor because #OLD.

Along with the obvious night-out benefits, the hydrating effects of the product really help keep my skin moisturized nicely, especially throughout this past winter. Like I mentioned above as well, I've been drinking Liquid I.V. as a hot beverage in the morning to get those max hydrating benefits.

I love a hot lemon water in the a.m. and it dawned on me that I could really maximize the benefits of that clarifying tonic by adding 1 pack of Liquid I.V. to it. All you do is combine 16 ounces of warm/hot water with the juice of 1 small lemon, and then mix in your packet of Liquid I.V.  The result is a tangy, hot, ultra-healthy morning beverage that's perfect for your to-go cup!  It's a hydration/detox double whammy. Plus, if you want 15% off your Liquid I.V., my pals over there have provided a code for just that: LOBOS15. Shop the goods here.

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I'd love to hear about creative ways you drink Liquid I.V. since I love to try new kitchen experiments. Leave your comments below with your best idea!


Why Colombia Is My Next Travel Destination

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Oh how I love Colombia. The romantic, colorful streets of Cartagena, the warm Caribbean sun, the friendly vibes, and the delicious arepas and empanadas (I LOVE CARBS) simply cannot be beat. Cartagena is a hidden gem of a city, and I'm so excited to go back in 2018.

This time around I'll be heading down with Noken, the dope travel company I went to Iceland with last year. That trip to Reykjavik and beyond was one of the best vacations I've ever been on because of the neat Noken app that gets you into the stuff you really want to do and see on a trip. You essentially pick your destination with them and the rest is taken care of. Once you arrive you follow your app like you'd follow a guidebook, except for the fact that Noken is an extremely hip, in-the-know master of ceremonies. ALSO, IF YOU WANT A BANGIN' DEAL and to get $250 off your trip with my Noken peeps, they've graciously provided us all with code VIPLo that's good when you book now through April 15th.

So, back to Colombia, the colorful girlfriend of my dreams. There's so much to see and do in this beautiful country and because it hasn't been totally exposed by travelers yet, your time there will feel authentic and special. Some of my favorite MUST-SEE things you should add to your list (or Noken will do it for you):

 

ISLAND HOPPING/GETTIN' THAT CARIBBEAN SUN

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YAS, glamazons....Cartagena is a coastal city on the Caribbean Sea. Lots of people don't know that, but surprise, it's gorgeous. My favorite day on any trip is always boat day, and I loooove boat day in Cartagena. Sail through the Rosario Islands and to Baru Beach. Spend the day hopping on and off the boat into the warm, clear sea, and you can also stop at a beach club to have lunch and lay around. I'd spend multiple days on the water if I could.

 

WALK THE WALLED CITY

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If you really want to turn your Instagram game up a notch and get gorgeous photos in front of colorful homes, head inside the walled city of Cartagena. It's def busier here, but totally worth it (I like to stay inside the walled city, too...the Sofitel is top-notch). The streets are so charming with tons of shopping and restaurants here for you to browse and pop into. I like Casa Chiqui and St. Dom for shopping.

This part of the city is full of rich, Colombian history. A walking tour of this area with your Noken app will certainly be a highlight of your trip.

 

GET ON A ROOF

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Cartagena has absolutely no shortage of swanky rooftop bars and pools. When the sun is setting, head over to Townhouse or Alquimico for a delish local cocktail with your pals or lover. You'll get that gorgeous view of the seaside city you've been dying to see.

 

GET LOST

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I'm also a big proponent of spending a day getting totally lost wherever you are and discovering places on your own as you wind through new city streets. It's in these moments that you find yourself when you travel. As I mentioned in another travel post, my 2018 is all about rediscovering travel for myself, by myself (or with a couple friends). Exploring a new destination enriches your soul unlike anything else. Dive in headfirst into Cartagena like I have, and you'll certainly discover a charming city that's not over commercialized or overrun with tourists. It's a beautiful city with rich history in a warm, tropical setting. It doesn't get much better than that.


Get Your Own! The New Line from Frédéric Fekkai Is Just That Good...

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If you're like me, you'll remember that Frédéric Fekkai was the first fancy, salon line of haircare that girls our age really got our hands on. Those pretty bottles were mesmerizing, the scent above and beyond anything I had used before, and the results from actually using the products: life-changing! Fekkai products were like the gateway drug to everything luxury in the beauty world. Gives a product lover like me the warm and fuzzies inside. Nostalgia is so powerful!

So, when Frédéric Fekkai asked to partner with me (ME!!!) to help bring the story of The One, the new line of luxury, salon perfected, and science supported products to my readers you betta believe I jumped at the opportunity. It's so fun to work with a brand that holds a special place in your heart!

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So here's what's new with The One: as I mentioned, it's Frédéric Fekkai's new luxury line of salon haircare products with different collections for different haircare needs.  The full collection harnesses the transformative power of the sea with proprietary Norwegian Sea Extract to protect the hair from the inside out. I'm obsessed with The Brilliant One for color-treated hair as I'm a dedicated lover of bleach requiring the right shampoo, conditioner, and styling products to keep my blonde as bright as it can be. There are also other collections for a variety of needs: anti-frizzing potions (The Tamed One) , volumizing lotions (One and Then Some), dry shampoo miracles (One More Day Dry Shampoo), and deep conditioning masks (The Ultimate One). I'm also especially fond of The Gifted One Multitasker Creme for styling protection and glossy shine (you glow, girl). The products are exclusive to Ulta Beauty so get in your car and go there (now).

Plus, have I even mentioned how insanely beautiful the new packaging is for The One? Each bottle in the line looks like an art-deco work of art, in colors every interior designer is going ga-ga over in 2018. It's so fun to get into the shower everyday and see these beautiful babies juxtaposed to my white marble and tile shower. It makes the whole experience feel very glam. Oh, and the scents of The One products? They'll blow your mind AND make whomever has a crush on you tell you that your hair smells so, so good. 

So let's get back to The Brilliant One for a minute, my current line of choice for color-treated hair. I've always been a California blonde; there is just a je ne sais quoi about that buttery color and how effortless it comes across. With the dye-jobs though comes the immediate need to rescue my strands from the processing, and The Brilliant One does just that. Better yet, it keeps the color in my hair looking as fresh as it did on Day 1, rather than stripping it of the brightness and turning it a dull, brassy yellow. Using a product specifically made for color-treated hair truly makes a difference in how long your color lasts - it's all about the ingredients and how they interact with whatever you have going on. I really recommend The Brilliant One - smells great, beautiful packaging, brilliant blonde hair. What's not to love?

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So, chickas and dudes alike - stay posted with me for the next few months as I test out all the new products from Frédéric Fekkai's The One! My shower is looking seriously glorious right now. Also, I'd love to hear about your own Frédéric Fekkai nostalgia moment in the comments (and which product from The One is your fave).


Why Traveling is at the Top of my Wellness List in 2018

Eat, Pray, Love was a hit not because Julia Roberts is the cutest; it was a hit because of the recognition in all of us of our basic human needs for loving affection, rest, adventure, delight, independence, and ya, delicious pasta. Deny it if you want to, call it an extravagance, but the reality is that packing your bags and hitting the road is a practice in wellness that no spin class can match. 

Think about it: when you go, what drives you? We may not spell it out often enough, but the reality is that to travel is an attempt to fill a hole, or enrich your soul, or overcome a fear.  

For me, at least, in 2018 that’s what I’m attempting to do, and often. I set the resolution in January to get out of town once a month, whether the journey takes me 2 hours away to Palm Springs or around the world to the Maldives.  

For me, I traveled often in a previous relationship and haven't done a ton of it since. Why? Fear, maybe? Not totally sure, but I know that I want to reclaim traveling for myself as something that can be fulfilling for me on a personal level and not just an indicator of #relationshipgoals. Being well in the brain is equally important as being well in your physical body.

My first trip of the year? Costa Rica! I just got back, and will be doing a full guide on where to stay, what to do, and where to eat. Stay posted!

Next month? Colombia. April? Tulum. Beyond that - I'm open to suggestions so leave your comments below, BBs!

XO

LB


Make Them This Beautiful Roasted Chicken Dinner This Valentine’s Day

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Honey bunnies, it’s upon us! Cupid’s arrow has struck and you’re legit celebrating Valentine’s Day (or maybe Galentine’s Day). Either way, your love for you sweetie or your girls has got that domestic feeling brewing inside ya, and what better way to explore it than by mastering the art of the roasted chicken?

Trust me, it’s easy. Very little effort with a big pay-off. The secret to perfectly roasted chicken is being willing to take the breast apart from the legs when the bird is almost finished roasting because those two pieces cook at different temperatures and the breast is always done first. If you do it this way, you minimize the risk of rubbery, dry chicken breast. You can still plate the chicken beautifully, with the thigh and leg resting tastefully under a lovely breast with skin-on. 

You can get way more complicated and truss your chicken, brown it in a pan and THEN roast it (the classic French way) but it’s just too much work for someone trying to get an easy and beautiful meal on the table for the holiday. 

Here, presented with the basics, is the last roasted chicken recipe you’ll ever need. Feel free to add variations of flavor with spices and herbs, but the underlying method will work for everyone.  

Lo’s Roasted Chicken

Ingredients  

  • 1 organic chicken
  • olive oil
  • chopped herbs like rosemary, sage, and thyme
  • salt and pepper

Procedure

  1. Heat your oven to 450 degrees. Rinse and dry your chicken completely. Truss your chicken so that the wings are close to the body and the backs of the leg bones are close together.  
  2. I like to combine a mixture of kosher salt, pepper, and my chopped herbs for easy seasoning into a small bowl so i dont contaminate everything in my kitchen with chicken hands. From there season all over your birds (and inside too). You’re going to want to get your olive oil (canola is good too for browning) all over your bird quickly because the salt application will start to form beads of water on the skin which prevents good browning.  
  3. Place your chicken into a low pan and get it into the oven at 450 for 30 minutes.  
  4. After 30 minutes reduce the heat to 350 F for an hour. You’re going to want to use a meat thermometer if you don’t cook chicken a lot. I pull my breast at 145-150 degrees for perfect doneness (this will happen before the hour is up - very important). If your breast can hold that 145 temp for 10 mins you’re in the clear.
  5. Here’s where it can get w tiny bit tricky because the chicken will be hot. It’s time to remove the legs from the rest of the body. Grab a sharp carving knife and cut around the base of th brrwast, then essentially crack the legs backwards until the come off the body. Then, get the legs back in the pan and back into the oven for the remainder of the time.  
  6. If all goes to plan you should have a beautifully roasted chicken that’s cooked well, seasoned nicely, and brown! 

*tips: let your breast rest on the rest of the body until you’re ready to serve (it will stay much hotter).  

Happy Valentines Day!!! 

 


Practice Self-Love in February with This Healing Vegetable Soup

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February is for lovers, right? Ha. No. While I've practiced and enjoyed a Valentine's Day in my life, and will certainly do so again, I find that February is actually one of the best months out of the year to practice self-love rather than consume yourself with romance.

It's an even better month to do it than January frankly, because too many of us make resolutions too lofty to keep. February is when reality sets in again, the snow is blowing, and the time to self-reflect, heal yourself, and fall in love with who you are all over again is happening.

I practice self-love through cooking, which I try to do many days a week. I find that feeding myself a meal cooked from scratch brings a fulfillment that ordering in simply cannot match, even in the most hungover of moments. I like to make big batches of food - whether it's chicken meatballs or a delicious soup, so I can feed myself for days.

Today I'm sharing my recipe for Seasonal Vegetable Soup, a hearty and filling soup that's packed full of nutrients to keep your personal engine running smoothly. I say "Seasonal" because the same cooking method can be applied with any vegetables you choose. 

I went with Romanesco, Broccolini, Yellow Squash, and the classic onion, celery, and carrot. My chicken broth is flavored deeply by adding a chicken carcass from a roasted chicken made earlier in the week - doing so adds flavor because it's pulled from the bones, along with vitamins and minerals to enrich the stock even more for good health. You can make this soup in about an hour, but it always tastes better the next day.

Seasonal Vegetable Soup

(serves 4)

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 white onion, chopped
  • 2 carrots, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 2 celery sticks, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1 small head of Romanesco, chopped
  • 2 yellow squash, halved and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1 small head of broccolini, with most of the stems removed
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 10 cups chicken stock
  • chicken carcass (optional)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • handful of parsley stems
  • 6 sprigs of thyme
  • salt and pepper

Procedure:

  1. In a large pan, melt butter over medium heat and cook onions until they start to become translucent. Adding a tiny bit of salt at this point helps to open them up and speed up the cooking process.
  2. Add carrots and celery and cook veggies, stirring occasionally until brown. Add the rest of your vegetables and cook for 5-10 minutes, browning a bit and adding flavor to the pan.
  3. Deglaze your pan with white white and let reduce for a minute or so.
  4. Add your chicken stock, and your optional chicken carcass, along with your bay leaves, thyme, and parsley stems. Boil for about an hour.
  5. Remove the carcass, season with salt and pepper and enjoy!

Here’s The Last Guacamole Recipe You’ll Ever Need

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When it comes to guacamole, forget any ingredient that isn’t REAL. Like, no mayo (we used to put this in as a kid but my Mom is Dutch and couldn’t help herself). Nothing weird. 

Just fresh, fresh, fresh organic produce. That’s it. Follow my lead and you’ll have the tangiest, richest guacamole ever and you’ll never deviate from this basic recipe.  

If you want to hit your guac with a touch of spice, I’d recommend jalapeño. If you gotta have tomato in yours, make sure to remove all the seeds before you add to the mix.  

The correct way to combine everything is with a fork, after meticulously chopping the onion, garlic, and cilantro. If you are lazy however, and in a rush, like moi, I’d highly recommend dumping everything into your food processor and pulsing until you get the consistency you want.  

Guacamole is all about keeping it real, party people. Final tip - save the pit and place into your bowl to keep it from going brown. A squeeze of lemon or lime on top will help also.   This recipe should feed at least 6 people.

Ingredients: 

  • 5 avocados
  • 1/2 white onion
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • handful of cilantro leaves
  • 2 limes (peel these and put in the entire fruit) 
  • black pepper 
  • salt

Procedure: 

  1. Peel your limes and place everything into the food processor. Pulse until your desired consistency is reached.  
  2. Taste for seasoning and serve immediately or place pit into the guacamole so it doesnt get brown.  

These Big Game Veggie Chips Are Insanely Delicious (and so is the Cucumber Dill Sauce)

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I love chips. Any kind of chip. Put it in front of me and I will eat it. For the Big Game this year I'm making a homemade variety of baked vegetable chips because 1) they are delicious and 2) it means I can eat some junk food too because these are so low calorie.

A vegetable chip can come in many varieties: beet, sweet potato, potato, zucchini, you name it. I like baking up sweet potatoes and beets personally, because they don't require breading and the delicious cucumber and dill dip I made to go with them makes them extra tasty. These are certainly a crowd-pleaser, and if you're like me and you like to cook, any excuse to use a mandolin is like, super fun.

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When you're baking veggie chips the point is to essentially dry them out in the oven while adding flavor, so a low heat (250F) along with some spices and just a touch of olive oil will get the job done. I can't wait to bring these to my pal's Super Bowl party this weekend!

 before the oven...

before the oven...

It will take you about 90 minutes from start to finish to get this snack going, and you can make them the day before so hit the store and get cooking with me.

Baked Vegetable Chips

Ingredients:

  • sweet potato
  • beets (any variety)
  • olive oil
  • salt, pepper
  • garlic salt
  • paprika

Procedure:

  1. Pre-heat your oven to 250F. Wash and peel your vegetables of choice. Set your mandolin to a thin setting (you want the chips to get nice a crunchy) and slice away.
  2. On parchment paper on a baking sheet, lay out your chips so they don't overlap each other. Season, get a bit of olive oil on them (I like using a squeeze bottle for this) and get into your oven. Cook for about 50 minutes until they're crunchy.
  3. Flip them at about 30 minutes, and then again right before they are done. Let cool and enjoy!

 

Cucumber and Dill Yogurt Sauce

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Ingredients:

  • 2ish cups of whole greek yogurt
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cucumber, peeled
  • 1 lemon, peeled
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • handful of fresh dill
  • salt and pepper to taste

Procedure:

  1. In a blender or Vitamix combine your cucumber, lemon, garlic cloves, dill, salt, and pepper until sorta smooth.
  2. In a bowl, fold your veggie mixture into your greek yogurt. Taste for seasoning and adjust. Enjoy with your chips or any other snack.

Why My New House Plants Are Good For The Soul (And Why I Said "No" To a Fiddle Leaf Fig)

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Ahoy from Los Angeles! Yes, I made the move west (I'll write the blog post on why at some point as I know many of you have asked me to fill ya in) and I hate to break it to my New York besties, but...it's pretty nice here. 

Alas, that's not the point of today's diary entry. Nope, today it's all about that GREEN. No, not the money, honey - I'm talking plant life, cuties. I started bringing plants galore into my homes back east just for a taste of some nature and the result was a happier home in many aspects.

Now that I'm settling in here in Los Angeles, the same mindset applies. Though I have a beautiful garden (that I'm writing this piece in now actually) it's still remarkably soothing to the eye to have greenery from Mother Nature surrounding you at all times. What hits the eye then transfers to the soul, and when you're feeling good from the inside out, you're probably looking good too. Let's not count out the actual oxygen being released from these beauties as well; your skin may actually benefit from having an abundance of plants in your home!

My strategy this time around was simple yet specific, as it's the third or fourth time I've gone down this road by now. I wanted plants that were

  • reasonably priced (no $300 trees this time around),
  • unique enough that my neighbor and best friend won't also have them,
  • easy to keep alive,
  • and looked nice with really interesting pot holders (I mostly went with affordable baskets).

With that in mind I headed over to Rolling Green in Culver City - definitely not the cheapest joint in town, but a place with truly beautiful plants, deals to be found, and a fabulous selection (they deliver too which is nice).

A quick note about fiddle-leaf figs before you meet my new plants - if you're heading out the door to make a purchase right now I'd pass on this lovely tree. Yes, they're nice to look at, if you can keep it alive. If you can't, you've dropped $250 minimum on a super trendy tree that's on it's 14th minute of fame. Pick something unique that you love, and skip this fussy green. Just my humble opinion as the previous owner of a fiddle leaf I left back in New York City.

Now, it's time for introductions...

The Clusia

 Clusia, 14 inches, $215

Clusia, 14 inches, $215

Hello, gorgeous! What a special plant this clusia is, no? The leaves feel rubbery, the color is a miraculous green, and it fills space so nicely. It's also unexpected - there were only a few and I was happy to snag one. To keep your clusia happy, it wants a lot of direct light, regular watering, and warm indoor temperatures. It may even flower!

The Ficus Benghalensis

 Ficus Benghalensis, 14 inch, $165

Ficus Benghalensis, 14 inch, $165

At $165, this beautiful, big ficus tree is my favorite for my new home. It's living in my bedroom in a sunny corner, just waiting to be loved every morning. I love how spread out this tree is; it feels sexy, like you want to gaze at it for a few minutes every once in a while. The leaves are a wonderfully elegant pale green color, and it's a fig tree that's not very well known (exactly what I wanted). It likes bright, indirect sunlight or bright shade, regular water and misting, and average to warm temperatures. If the leaves start to fall off, you're probably overwatering it!

The Festuca

 Festuca, $12.50 / Basket, $8.50

Festuca, $12.50 / Basket, $8.50

Is Festuca gorgina or WHAT!? I picked up two festuca plants, not just because of the price, but because of how fun and deliberately different they are. They run a cool bluish shade of green gray (does that even make sense?) and are essentially a grassy shrub. It's typically an outdoor plant, but I've heard this one can make the leap indoors with enough care so I've giving it a try. They want sunlight and water. If they die, I'll pick something else and keep you updated. For now, I'm obsessed with them.

Assorted Succulents

 Cactus, $14.50 / Basket $25

Cactus, $14.50 / Basket $25

I planted this little baby myself in this fun black and neutral basket with a bit of light colored reindeer moss. I think it came out rather nice, and I keep getting compliments on it from friends that come through. It needs sunlight and a bit of watering now and then. That's it!

 Succulent, $14.50 / Basket, $8.50

Succulent, $14.50 / Basket, $8.50

Last but not least, I picked up this fun succulent to sit on my kitchen counter and keep me entertained while I deep-fry doughnuts or whatever else I may be whipping up. Succulents are hard to kill, people. They mostly just need sunlight and some water every once in a while. If you travel a lot or forget to water your plants, this one is right up your alley.

Now that I've gotten most of my indoor plants taken care of, I can't wait to tackle my garden. There is already a fab tangerine tree that's fully matured and gives off the tastiest fruit (it also comes with my new pet squirrel, Pam, that hovers over it all day long) along with beautiful flowering plants and shrubs. I absolutely see a herb and veggie garden in my future out there. Getting in touch with nature is perhaps the best way to truly feel like a human, connected to the earth, disconnected from our devices. Give it a try - you'll love the way you look and feel after you spend some QT with some greenery!


Gluten-Free Lamb Meatballs, Sweet Potato Noodles, and Lemon Yogurt Sauce

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There's really something to be said for the spiralizer - the device that helps turn everyday vegetables into twirls and strands of noodles that delight the culinary senses. Especially loved by celiacs around the world, being able to enjoy a veggie noodle in place of a white-flour number is a welcome treat. If you haven't tried a naturally gluten-free noodle yet, what ya waitin' for?!

I personally adore sweet potato noodles - they're creamy and sweet, and make a perfect pairing with a savory protein like lamb. The combo, especially with a touch of lemon, is quite nice and feels like comfort food without being too comforting to your waistline.

Per usual, I loosely came up with the recipe while wandering the aisles of the grocery. I don't plan meals ahead a ton and am often inspired by what looks best when I see it, piece-mealing together what I plan to make as I make my way through the produce section and by the butcher. That's what happened with this gluten-free Lamb Meatballs, Sweet Potato Noodles, and Lemon Yogurt Sauce dish. Felt inspired and took a chance - and it paid off! I also made a bowl without the meatballs for a quick vegetarian version for a friend.

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This recipe is perfect for anyone on a diet, those who need to avoid gluten, and generally for people that like their delicious food to be healthy as well. It provides a good serving of protein and good carbohydrates and is totally satisfying.

Let's get to the recipe!

INGREDIENTS

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Lamb Meatballs

  • 1 lb. freshly ground lamb
  • 1/2 red onion
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • juice from 1 lemon
  • 3/4 cup whole greek yogurt (you can use whatever fat content you want)
  • 3 tablespoons cumin
  • 2 tablespoons coriander
  • 2 tablespoons dried cilantro
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground cinnamon 
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • ghee for cooking

Sweet Potato Noodles

  • 4 cups peeled sweet potato noodles (raw)
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 red onion, minced
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • micro arugula for some green color at the end

Lemon Yogurt Sauce

  • 1/2 cup whole greek yogurt
  • juice from 1/2 a lemon (or more)
  • 1 tablespoon cilantro
  • 1 teaspoon coriander
  • pinch salt
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PROCEDURE

Some notes on procedure before starting. First, prepare all your ingredients before you start cooking this meal. It can come together fairly quickly and I find that when you're juggling 3 things at once it's easy to get messed up. Measure, chop, and be prepared.

Next, DON'T BOIL your sweet potato noodles. Only sauté or roast them. They'll disintegrate into nothing if you boil them and your dinner will be a sad puddle of watery goo. I made my meatballs first, noodles second, and the yogurt sauce while my meatballs finished cooking.

Lamb Meatballs

  1. In a food processor, combine red onion, lemon, and onion and pulse into fine. Mix that into a bowl with your lamb and the rest of your ingredients (except for the ghee). Don't combine everything together to death - you want light, fluffy meatballs so try not to make everything too compact.
  2. Before you form your mixture into balls, do a taste-tester in a pan to check for seasoning. Over medium heat, add a bit of ghee and just a tiny meat of meat and cook through (it should only take a minute, so don't skip this step). If they taste great, you're good to shape your balls. If not, season and taste again.
  3. Shape your balls and place them on a sheet of parchment paper or alum foil. Once you get your ghee going into a pan over medium-high heat you'll want to get them in quickly for even cooking so having them shaped before is important.
  4. Cook the balls on all sides, flipping once each side gets brown. They should take about 10 minutes and don't be afraid to reduce the heat to avoid burning.
  5. When done, let some fat drain off by placing them on a cooling rack over a piece of fresh parchment paper. If you're great at getting things timed, your meatballs may be done when your noodles finish and in that case serve immediately. If not, turn on your oven to 450 so you can re-heat your meatballs quickly when your noodles are ready.
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Yogurt Sauce

  1. In a bowl combine all your ingredients and taste. You'll add a scoop or 2 of this to your dish when complete and it will melt into your noodles.

Sweet Potato Noodles

  1. In a large sauce pan, quickly sauté your minced onion and garlic in olive oil. These will brown quickly so be very careful with the heat. Add your noodles and additional olive oil if necessary, and season with salt and pepper.
  2. Using tongs, sauté the noodles. They'll cook through in about 5-7 minutes depending on how thick they are. They should be fairly tender when done, but still feel a little al dente like a real noodle. You want them to have some body.

To serve, add noodles to a bowl, add a dollop of yogurt sauce and the meatballs, and then finish with a sprinkling of micro-greens like arugula for a bit of color and flavor.

I hope you enjoy this gluten-free meal as much as my friends and I did! Satisfied taste-buds and tummies for sure. Leave me your comments below on what you'd like to see me make for dinner next!


Why These 3 Incredible Herbs Should Be a Part of Your Daily Routine

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In the New Year, like everyone, I like to re-assess my life. Am I seeing friends enough? Am I doing enough squats? You get the picture.  

And like many of you I've taken a keen interest in my own health and wellness over the past few years as we make the shift towards natural products, holistic remedies, and generally cleaner and more thoughtful ways to look and feel our best.

You may be aware of my vitamin obsession if you're a regular reader of TheLoDown but if not, you are now!  I had a pretty serious health scare in 2016 over what was discovered to be severe vitamin deficiencies due to a genetic issue (though I eat a primo, healthy, varied diet) that resulted in some unexpected depression, anxiety, and general malaise. There are many opinions out there regarding the need for supplements, but in my case, I'm an advocate as taking vitamins may have saved my life once I discovered I had such a severe deficiency. There are tons of brands to choose from when it comes to vitamins and supplements, and I can tell you through personal research and experience that they are not all made equal when it comes to quality and brand values. My favorite affordable and accessible brand? Nature's Way. They make high-quality formulations for a reasonable price and always have what I'm looking for. Even cooler? They're the first herbal brand that's Non-GMO Project verified and Tru-ID certified (meaning you know the herbs listed on the labels are actually found in the bottles).

Since going down the vitamin rabbit hole, I've moved beyond my weekly B12 injections (that I require for the rest of my life) and Vitamin D with K12 (another one I need) and have had my eyes opened to just how much other formulations can help maintain a healthy body. I've moved as far away as I can from drugstore remedies, prescriptions, and over the counter painkillers, trying to find holistic alternative to support overall health.

I used to pop ibuprofen like candy, take an antibiotic for acne, and regularly reached for drugstore diuretics when I felt bloated - but no more, and it's all because of a bit of personal research and development that I was able to give those goodies up...for good.

It's important when taking turmeric to find a formulation with a high percentage of curcuminoids. This is the active part of the ingredient. Avoid a product with a bunch of fillers, and it's a good idea to take it with a meal as black pepper helps it to be absorbed better into the body.  

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Turmeric is now my go-to for overall health support. When I forgot to take them for a week or so, I really noticed the difference.  

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Next, let's move onto Fenugreek, one of the world's best kept secrets at helping soothe stomachs everywhere.* I discovered this herb through my friend Hannah who swears by it when she eats dairy to help aid in the reduction of bloating.* I incorporated it into my routine, and agreed that it really helps!

One note - it can make your urine smell kind of funny. BUT, it's worth it. I take them almost daily when I eat.  

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Ashwaganda, known as Indian ginseng, is an herbal supplement that has become a part of my daily regimen that supports my Instagram-ready lifestyle.  It can help even out your cycle (hello, Vitality Tonic) so when Aunt Flo comes a'knockin' you're ready for her. If you want natural beauty, I suggest a natural herb! It smells funny, but whatever! It's the price you gotta pay so you can delete FaceTune from your phone.

Now that I've shared three of my favorite herbs with you, I'd love to know some of your favorites and how they support your overall health and wellness journey! You can get all three herbs I mentioned (plus the loose turmeric powder and Curica Turmeric Drops) from Nature's Way.

Why These Affordable Wellness Finds Will Change Your Life in 2018

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Starting to take your wellness resolutions seriously yet? It's almost mid-January so the time is def upon is. I even included this gorgeous picture of a soothing beach resort to remind you that travel is a huge component of being healthy and well, and with President's Day Weekend coming up in February you have a perfect opportunity to get out of dodge on the cheap for a few days, do some yoga, and clear your head.

If you're like me and need some motivation to help push you back into the swing of things, allow me to introduce you to some of the best wellness finds you can buy that are actually affordable too. From gear to books and retreats, there's no time like the present to get moving on this new year!

 

TRAVEL SOMEWHERE MEANINGFUL ON THE CHEAP

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Get to Holbox, about 2 hours outside of Cancun, before everyone else does. It's the new new Tulum, and still relatively affordable, while being insanely gorgeous and perfect for some downward dog and cucumber bevvies. My very cool New York friends Jilly, Elise, and Marissa were just there and they loved it. Trust them.

If you want to attend an actual yoga retreat, check out Omm Retreat (the next one is in May) at the Villa Flamingo's hotel in Holbox for 5 nights (plus 2 yoga classes a day, daily breakfast and a farewell dinner) for $900. YEA. $900. Book it now.

 

READ THIS BOOK BY KELLY LEVEQUE

At only $17 on Amazon, nutritionist to women you love in Hollywood, Kelly LeVeque hands over the keys to healthy, lean bodies in her book Body Love: Live in Balance, Weigh What You Want, and Free Yourself from Food Drama ForeverKelly is a master at approaching the kitchen with a sane sensibility, plus her recipe suggestions come from nutritionally-sound science which I'm a big fan of. Her food is delicious, creative, and easy to make (I know first hand because I've tried it) - like great comfort food made with healthy ingredients.

Also, pretty great client list she has going...just check out her Instagram to see some of the famous bods she gets into shape (hello, Jessica Alba and Molly Sims).

 

DOWNLOAD THIS APP

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Tone It Up girls, you know who you are! I'm starting the Tone It Up program in early February once I get another steroid injection in my back for a herniated disk (fun) and I can't wait to get my body moving. The app has like, a billion 5-star reviews from women just like you who want to get after it at the gym, Karena and Katrina (the co-founders) are fellow Southern California goddesses, and they really like pink (like me). At $12.99 a month, it certainly is a more affordable choice than a personal trainer and having looked over the incredible content, definitely looks to be worth the spend.

 

GET THE KINKS OUT WITH THESE YOGA BALLS

I discovered Yoga Tune-Up balls through my ex-boyfriend's ex-girlfriend (that's a mouthful). I never met this nice gal, but the introduction to the Yoga Tune Up ball was like a gift sent from heaven. These round, rubber balls can be placed under the body at various pressure points, or where you have aches and pains and used to essentially massage the discomfort away. I LOVE THESE things, and at $18 on Amazon you'll want to buy a set for everyone you know.

 

GET HEALTHY FOOD ONLINE

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It's probably sick-in-the-head for how often most of us shop online, but if we gotta do it, at least there are businesses out there that cater to our better nature. Enter Thrive Market, a newish online grocery that brings niche and upcoming wellness brands across food and wellness to the masses. In essence, they cut out the middleman to bring you great food at affordable prices. 

I even like their own brand of products - you gotta check out the Coconut Aminos. Yum!


So - that's my list of affordable wellness finds that will certainly change your life in 2018. What are some your faves? I'm always on the hunt and would love to see your lists below in the comments!

XOXO

LB


Try This Diet-Friendly Dessert: Frozen Chocolate Banana Bites

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It's diet season, y'all. I know, January is the worst. It's also like a full-on SNOWPOCALYPSE on the east coast right now, and I know that if you're locked inside you'd like something fun to do, ideally something fun that's also delicious. You prob have chocolate and bananas lying around your house allowing for the perfect, diet dessert alternative to left-over holiday treats, cookies, and pies (you really should ditch those by now, come on). One little bite of a frozen chocolate banana isn't going to kill you, but 2 week old pie could do some damage in more ways than one.

A frozen banana bite is satisfying, sweet, filling, and won't totally break the bank if you're on that dreaded New Year's diet (even though my recipe is a bit more indulgent than others you may find on the internet). I'm skipping coconut oil in favor of butter and cream for these bites because they turn out about 1935784 times more delicious, and also, I didn't have any coconut oil (shocking, I know).  I eyeballed the cream until it thinned out the chocolate enough to make it appropriate for dipping and then decided butter was also a great idea for some additional richness because, yum. If I'm going to convince you to skip cake in favor of these, they should at least taste heavenly, one tiny little bite at a time. Don't go overboard and shove them all into your mouth at once and you'll have successfully conquered the sugar monster by feeding it a little, but not a lot.

On to the recipe!

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INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 1/2 cups chocolate chips
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 cup cream
  • 3 bananas, cut into thin slices

PROCEDURE:

1. Find a metal bowl that will fit inside one of your sauce pans so that the bottom of the bowl could touch water inside of it, but so that the rim of the bowl fits outside of the sauce pan. Or use a double boiler. Point is - you want the bowl to sit in water in the sauce pan. Fill the pan with some water.

2. Add your chocolate chips to the bowl and get the heat going to medium high. Stir the chocolate as it begins to melt. Add the butter and cream to help the chocolate thin out a bit. It will start to get shiny and when it does, you're ready to start dipping your banana slices. Keep the heat on low during this part so that your chocolate sauce stays thin.

3. Have a piece of parchment paper ready to go on a sheet pan. Using 2 forks, dip a slice of banana into the chocolate mixture with one fork, shake off a bit of the excess chocolate, then slide the slice off the fork with the other fork so that it lays flat on to the parchment paper. This will keep as many sides of the banana slice looking pretty and covered in chocolate.

4. Dip all the slices, then wrap the sheet pan in plastic wrap and get into the freezer for at least an hour. Enjoy these little treats whenever you have a craving for something sweet!


How to Detox This New Year and Not Lose Your Mind

 Bring it on, 2018. Gently.

Bring it on, 2018. Gently.

Okay. It's January 2nd. I'm still feeling a little bit mushy, and you may also wish that your legs were wrapped in Juicy Couture faux-velvet pants. I've seen the memes on Instagram - everyone has been eating and drinking their faces off since about December 20th and fat-cow syndrome is upon us. 

It's really not about the weight for me, and it shouldn't be for you either. Weight comes and goes and a few pounds melts off rather easily when you eat veggies for a week or so. It's really about the sluggishness that sets in, the desire to crawl into bed at like 6pm and watch episode after episode of Parks and Rec or The Crown. Your skin looks tired and unless you jump right into the gym for GYM 2018 on the morn of January 1st, it can be daunting to get back into a routine.

Let me make it easy for you. Let's get back at it, feel better, look smokin', and allow ourselves to be focused on work and our loved ones without completely depriving yourself of the good things in life. I find that crazy detoxes simply don't work, because after a few days of losing your mind, you're over it.

With that in mind, here are my 5 tips for how to detox into the New Year and not go bananas. I'm calling it the "Totally Tame Detox for Sane People." Here we go!

Breakfast: Go For Greens and Fiber

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It's really easy after the holidays to want to reach for the last Rice Crispy treat when you wake up. When you're eating sweets day after day you start to crave them like an addict, so I GET IT. Starting your day off in the right way however is the hardest yet most important part of the detox to get through, so here's how to make it easy.

Choose a breakfast of vegetables, fibers, an avocado, and an egg if you so choose (I'm trying to avoid eggs bc of a food sensitivity). The combo of the healthy fat from an avocado, with the protein of clean veggies, and the fiber in a GG Cracker will leave you full and satisfied. Making the right food choice for breakfast isn't just about keeping your waistline trim - it's about getting the right nutritional elements into your body so you don't LOSE YOUR MIND. Put good things in and you won't feel deprived. When I eat a robust breakfast of this nature I don't get hungry again until 2, and I really don't get cravings for snacks either.

Drink Water All Day

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If you're still drinking soda, like, get out of here. Or stop drinking soda. It's fucking killing you. That is the absolute truth. If you MUST drink a flavored liquid, make it alkaline water that's been flavored with fresh organic fruit, veggies, or herbs. Lemon water is nice, especially hot, first thing in the morning before breakfast, and a cool cucumber water is a great afternoon pick-me-up.

Point is, drink water, not other crap. Water is our lifeblood, and drinking tons of it not only keeps you hydrated but also moves all the shit you put into your body along until it's excreted in your pee or your sweat. Get an enormous BPA-free bottle you can re-use and fill that baby up again and again throughout the day.

If you're doing Sober January, dats cool. If you want a glass of wine at the end of the day, dats cool. But water > booze.

Eat a Carb

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This one may feel counter-intuitive for a detox, but trust me - the body's preferred source of energy are carbohydrates, so eliminating them completely from your diet is just whack. Don't go eating bowls of white flour pasta or smash pizza into your face, but good lord, a sandwich on whole wheat bread will do your body some good. Make smart choices = feel good.

If you can't eat gluten, then eat an apple. They're surprisingly high in carbs. Feel that energy boost coming on!

Go To Bed 1 Hour Earlier Than Usual

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Ya the holidays were just here and you probably got plenty of sleep, but turns out that if you sleep more you will live longer. It's a fact. Plus, sleep is delicious so this is part of the detox that you'll be really digging. Why not hit the hay an hour earlier than you usually do all of 2018? You'll be less stressed, have better skin, more energy, and most likely be nicer to your friends because you're well-rested.

If you're not sure where to get that extra hour, here's a tip: your devices are stealing it from you. Put your phone away and on night-time mode and don't look at it again until the next day. Instagram can wait, and that guy that's crushing on you can DEF wait. Happy Snoozing!

Read a Book

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Along the same lines of going to sleep an hour earlier so your body can get the rest it deserves, it's time to put your phone down (see above) so that your brain can get a little rest too. I find that doing this old-school thing that lotsa people don't do anymore really has this magnificent way of quieting the chatter that seems to be ever-present these days. I'm currently reading Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari and The Food Lab by J. Kenji López-Alt.

You could even go for an oldie but goodie and re-read all the Harry Potter books. Just read something besides the news on your phone once a day, everyday.


SOOOO - my "Totally Tame Detox for Sane People" sounds pretty OK, right? It's not about food deprivation - it's about good nutritional choices so that you can come off your sugar and salt-binge relatively unscathed. It's about quieting your body and mind with rest and reading. It's about clearing your body of all the toxins it encountered on NYE with crazy amounts of H20. And mostly, it's about getting back on track in a reasonable way that doesn't make the New Year feel like the biggest moment of suffering all year long. Good luck! X


Tried and True Gifts for the Beauty Lover in Your Life

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THE PERFECT PICKS

for the beauty obsessed...

I'm the ultimate product queen. I have so many potions and lotions in my bathroom I guy I once dated told me he almost broke up with me early on because of it. He thought it was SPOOKY. Well...fuck him! I'm beautiful!

With today's Gift Guide I present to you my selects for the beauty lover in your life - personally tested and loved not just by moi, but by many a beauty lover out there. The lady or guy in your life who loves a product as much as me will get down on their knees and thank you for your keen generosity. To the list!


Drunk Elephant T.L.C. Sukari Babyfacial

This is my absolute favorite facial right now. It's a mini-peel and can only be left on for 15-20 minutes, but when washed off, your skin really is soft and smooth like a baby.

Byredo ROSE OF NO MAN'S LAND

Those in the know go to Byredo for their scentsational spritzes, candles, and room sprays. One of my new favorites is the sexy, subtle "Rose of No Man's Land". I imagine every bougie Burner in the world would like it too.

OUAI Smooth Spray by Jen Atkin

One of my fave PR companies sent me some OUAI goodies recently so I could finally sample all the goodness that is Jen Atkin. My thoughts on the Smooth Spray? It's a must-have, kick-ass addition to my hair routine that leaves my hair smooth and touchable after it's been blow-dryed. It's a MUST now, not just a WANT.

Urban Decay NAKED SKIN Concealer

I thought I had concealer all figured out until Urban Decay's NAKED SKIN Concealer came along. Holy fucking shit, y'all. This is the best thing I've ever put on my face to hide what ails me. Whenever I wear it everyone comments on how fab I'm looking "without make-up" and trust me, I don't correct them.

Girl Undiscovered Stumbled Across Paradise Face Mask

A nice addition to my line-up, I'm a fan of this newish brand's "Stumbled Across Paradise" Face Mask. After my family's Thanksgiving dinner I offered up a face mask party to my relatives and at least 8 of us walked around with this hydrating, skin-smoothing, yellow mask on our faces. Good times.

OUAI Memory Mist

Another newbie that I love from Jen Atkin! Her Memory Mist is sprayed onto dry hair and does magical things like give it shine, make it feel smooth in your hands, and keep your style in place. It smells great too. I always cough up for expensive hair products because really - they just work better.

SkinMedica Total Defense + Repair Sunscreen

This is the only sunscreen I use on my face. Why? Because it's one of the ONLY ones on the market that also protects from infrared rays in addition to the usual UVA/UVB protection. Get this for everyone you love.

Joanna Vargas Daily Serum

This daily serum, along with JV's Vitamin C serum, rank high on my list of skincare loves. It smells like a green grass salad, y'all. It's hydrating, brightening, and I don't leave home without putting it on in the morning.

H2O+ Beauty Lip Stain

It may look orange in the tube, but it comes out light pink and super shiny on the lips! This stuff is dope! It just kind of melts onto your mouth in the prettiest shade. Hyper-moisturizing too. Love.

Oribe Gold Lust Pre Shampoo Treatment

OHMAGODDDD do I love this product. It's essentially a mask for your hair and leaves it so smooth, soft, and shiny. You apply when your hair is dry, before you shampoo. I like to mask my hair and face simultaneously (with a different product of course) for a bit, then step into a spa-like shower for the ultimate pampering treatment. Your friend's hair will thank you.

Mason Pearson Boar Bristle Brush in White

For the guy or girl with everything, get them a Mason Pearson in white. This is one of the best hairbrushes EVER and leaves hair looking smooth and soft. 


How To Perfectly Time Your Thanksgiving Dinner

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I'm a French Culinary School grad, so Thanksgiving is like my Super Bowl. Getting everything timed perfectly for dinner can be a bit of an art and I don't like to take chances, so I really think through my process and write out a list to help me get dinner on the table HOT for my family.

If you're cooking this year, give my list a once-over and see if it will lend a hand. I focus on the mains: turkey, gravy, stuffing, green beans - so add extra time if you make more dishes and if you do everything the day of. I start my prep the day before, and I recommend you do as well.

The Day Before

9am: Prep Turkey; wash, dry, remove wings for confit, dry brine and get into fridge overnight.

10: Confit wings; cook at 250 for 5 hours, remove from heat and let come to room temp, then fridge over night.

6pm: Prepare stuffing; cut bread into cubes and dry out in a 250 oven for an hour.

6:30pm: Gravy Base; make a roux and add stock, boil, then bring to room temp and fridge overnight.


Thanksgiving Day

8am: Make turkey stock; take turkey bones and brown along with onion, carrot, celery, add water and herbs and cook for 2.5 hours.

9am: Create stuffing base; cook onion and celery and sausage, mix with bread and get into the fridge.

11am: Add turkey stock to gravy base for traditional gravy, and gluten-free/dairy-free gravy.

12pm: Cook the turkey in parts; breast at 450 then 300F, and legs at 500F. 

1pm: Remove stuffing from fridge so it can come to room temp and prepare the green beans.

2pm: Cook the stuffing, and pull turkey from the oven. Finish the gravy with brown bits from turkey pan.

3pm: Cook rolls. Then re-heat the rest of of the meal in this order:

  • green beans
  • stuffing
  • turkey

3:15pm: Brown confit wings

3:30pm: EAT UP, TURKEYS.


This Old Fashioned Stuffing Is the Absolute Best Stuffing EVER

OLD FASHIONED STUFFING

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Get outta here with your nuts and berries, like seriously. I only want butter, sage sausage, more butter, and other tasty stuff in my stuffing. Let's get straight to Mona's (my great-grandmother) recipe!


INGREDIENTS

  • 1 loaf of good sourdough bread cut into cubes, and dried in oven
  • 3/4 to 1 stick of butter
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 4 celery sticks, diced
  • 1 heaping tsp. of dried sage
  • 1 pound Jimmy Dean or Farmer John's Sage Sausage
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 3 cups of good chicken broth

PROCEDURE

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

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

3. Cook sausage in a separate pan until just done, then add the sausage and fat to the softened celery and onion. Check the seasoning here - it needs quite a bit since you'll be adding this to the bread.

4. Mix sausage, veggie mix with the bread in a large bowl.

5. Pour the broth over the stuffing and mix together gently.

6. Put the stuffing mixture in a buttered 12x16 or 10x15 dish (whatever you have is fine).

7. Bake in a convection oven at 375 for about 40 minutes (if it's coming out of the fridge) or until it's bubbling at the base and crispy and brown on top.


Gravy 3 Ways: Traditional, Gluten/Dairy-Free, and Vegetarian

GRAVY FOR EVERYONE

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The things you do for your family, amiright? This year, due to dietary restrictions and for the health of my loved ones, I'm making 3 different varieties of gravy - a traditional gravy, a gluten and dairy free gravy, and a vegetarian gravy. Le sigh. I'm starting the day before to make it easier on myself, but in reality, making gravy is pretty easy when you make a gravy starter like I do.

Yes, the secret is a gravy starter! You can make this the day before in a flash. In essence, it's just a roux combined with stock. Simple to re-heat, or keep low on the stove if you make it the day of Thanksgiving. When you're ready to turn it into the real deal, you simply add turkey stock and the brown bits from your turkey pan and flavor til it's perfecto. Or, if you go the vegetarian route, you can add brown bits from whatever veggie main you've maid (prob mushrooms, or something).

Let's get started first with my personal favorite: traditional gravy, made with butter, flour, homemade turkey stock, chicken stock, and a whole lotta love.

TRADITIONAL GRAVY

INGREDIENTS

  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • 6 tablespoons flour
  • 4 cups turkey or chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • Brown bits from turkey pan
  • Black pepper and salt
  • Squeeze of lemon juice
  • Dash of Worcestershire sauce

PROCEDURE

1. The base for your gravy is a roux - a combo of butter and flour that thickens up stock. Melt 6 tablespoons of butter in a pan over medium-low heat. Once melted, quickly stir your flour into it with a whisk and stir continuously for about 5 minutes to cook the flour. You'll want to get a roux a nice light, golden brown color. It should kind of expand and look like a science project in your pan. It should smell nice. If you burn it, start over.

2. Once your roux is cooked, add chicken stock in a steady stream while stirring. Turn up the heat and bring the mixture to a boil then a simmer. Your gravy base will start to resemble gravy as it thickens over the heat. You can season a bit here but I always hold off until my turkey stock is done and I add the liquid and brown bits from my turkey pan. Let this cool and put in the fridge if you're making it ahead, or keep it warm if it's close to dinner time.

3. To make turkey stock (I highly recommend doing this in addition to using chicken stock in the base) brown your turkey bones in butter, then brown  onion, carrot, celery in the same pan. Put everything back in the pan, along with black pepper and parsley stems, then add water to cover and cook for about 2 hours. Strain and ta-da: turkey stock!

4. When it's dinner time, get your gravy base back on the stove and to a simmer. You'll want to add some turkey stock to make it taste like turkey gravy, and you can deglaze your turkey pan (only if the bits aren't burned) with some white wine. The brown bits may be so flavorful that you'll want to add them to your gravy just a bit at a time until your gravy is the right flavor. You may not even need to season with salt, but I do add black pepper generally. I also add a hit of fresh lemon juice, and a dash of Worcestershire. Then, it's gravy time.

 

GLUTEN-FREE / DAIRY-FREE GRAVY

INGREDIENTS

  • 6 tablespoons Earth Balance (to replace the butter)
  • 6 tablespoons gluten-free flour 
  • 4 cups turkey or chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • Brown bits from turkey pan
  • Black pepper and salt
  • Squeeze of lemon juice

PROCEDURE

In this gluten-free and dairy-free gravy, simply follow the directions for the traditional gravy but use Earth Balance instead of butter, and gluten-free flour instead of flour. The roux on this one may require a bit of management on the proportions since we aren't using traditional ingredients. You'll want the consistency to be like a thick paste before you add stock. ALSO - CUT OUT THE Worcestershire sauce in this one - most are NOT gluten-free.

I'll assume if you're eating a dairy-free gravy, you won't be adding butter to your turkey pan for brown bits, so feel free to add these to your gravy for flavor.

 

VEGETARIAN GRAVY

INGREDIENTS

  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • 6 tablespoons flour
  • 4 cups veggie stock
  • Squeeze of fresh lemon juice
  • Small amount of white wine
  • Black pepper and salt
  • Brown bits from your main veggie dish

PROCEDURE

For a vegetarian gravy, follow the recipe for traditional gravy, but use vegetable stock in place of chicken/turkey stock. When it's dinner time, deglaze the pan used to make your veggie main to get any brown bits off the bottom, and add to your stock a bit at a time until it's really tasty. Season and you'll be ready to go!

-side note, a keen reader just told me Worcestershire sauce also contains fish sauce so it isn't vegetarian so don't add to your gravy. Who knew?!