Thursday, March 31, 2011

It's all about the presentation!

That’s one thing my mother, the queen of the flawless presentation, has taught me; food tastes better when it looks better. (She also says food tastes better when someone else fixes it, but I digress....)

I went over to my parents’ house the other day for a casual Sunday dinner … As I walk in the door I am greeted by an impeccable cheese tray (appe-teaser!) and a dining room table that looked like something from a magazine.

Just my parents and I, but the setting made an atmosphere and the atmosphere made dinner an occasion and the food, well it was delicious!

So here’s what you need to throw together a gorgeous cheese tray, no cooking required, and have your Sunday dinner guests talking about your mad hostess skills…

• Variety of cheeses. I like Smoked Gouda, Brie and Goat Cheese (or simply Cream Cheese if you prefer). It is nice to go ahead and slice the harder cheeses (Gouda) but the others you can simply toss on a decorative knife (less work, very chique).

• Fruit. Dried Figs (Sun-maid sells them in a red bag), sliced Apples (great with the Smoked Gouda), and/or Grapes.

• Nuts. Almonds I have found are pretty universally liked and a safe bet. Walnuts, cashews, etc. Really anything except peanuts (unless you’re at a ballpark).

• Meat. Prosciutto is lovely but hard to find and pricey. Hard Salami is a nice flavor but difficult to chew so be sure to make it into thin slices.

• Crackers. A water cracker with minimal flavor is ideal. Stay away from the sweet (Club or Wheat thins) and the salty (Saltines and Triscuits) that could take away from your other flavors. You can also substitute crackers for thinly sliced French bread (more work).

You can add, delete or change these items to suit your taste. I wouldn’t recommend anything that needs to be heated or cooked and nothing that creates juice (olives, etc.) or waste (i.e. strawberries unless you remove the leaves first).

Once you’ve got everything you need, find a nice tray or even a wooden cutting board to display it on. Step back and make sure you can see a little bit of everything. It’s okay to save some in the fridge to refill later because I’ll tell you if it looks good, it will be eaten!!!

More on how to set a gorgeous table later… perhaps I’ll let the queen-bee blog that one herself…

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

From the inside out...

I've been doing a little acne research for my summer internship and before I tell you what the experts say I want to tell you about my experience.

If you’ve known me for a while you know that skin problems are the BANE OF MY EXISTANCE! Since puberty struck me it’s been acne city!

Through years of treatment with antibiotics, retinoic acid, proactive, Oxy10, salicylic acid… I finally had my acne situation under control, livable, no longer embarrassing.

Then I started medical school last fall and HELLO, PIZZAH FACE! I’m not kidding. I was feeding my stress with Diet Coke, lots and lots of Diet Coke, and candy, lots and lots of candy. But the zits kept coming and I was MORTIFIED!

So I tagged along with my mom to her “Women’s Health Doctor” who said she could help.Apparently, the artificial sweeteners (aspartame) in Diet Coke and the corn syrup & partial hydrogenated oils in the Laffy Taffy were feeding the normal flora in my intestine. The bad bacteria/yeasts were overgrowing the good bacteria in my gut and being absorbed into my blood stream… Well, who knows if that is true? It is still a theory of debate in the medical world because the organism of focus (Candida) is a yeast that typically only manifests symptoms in people would are severely immunocompromised (AIDS, cancer, & transplant patients). That being said, the following suggestions are not based on research (more to come on that) but rather my own personal experience.

I was desperate. I followed the doctors orders, got rid of the candy, chips, and diet coke (completely). I moved on to tea and water, lost the candy and a few lbs. She also told me to take 2 probiotic pills a day. Two weeks later I noticed a difference in my skin. After four weeks it was completely cleared up. Six weeks later I tapered myself off the probiotics and could have a diet coke every once in a while without any problem.

This past year I went back to drinking Diet Coke a lot more frequently and noticed the acne coming back (not as bad, Thank goodness!). Once again, I took probiotics and went back to drinking water… And my face is clear again!

Let me break it down for you…


2. Stop Drinking Diet Drinks or anything with an artificial sweetener (including Splenda, Sweet’n’low, Equal, etc.)

3. Real Sugar is okay. (Sucrose, Dextrose, & Fructose in fruits)

4. No highly processed foods (chips, crackers, sugary-cereals, cookies, etc.)

5. No candy. Especially the fruity/sticky/gummy ones.

6. Dark chocolate is okay in moderation.

7. Choose the organic, natural and/or whole grain varieties of your breads, snacks, and cereals

8. If you think you might have a yeast allergy, consider cutting bread and beer out of your diet for a few weeks.

9. And probiotics, a couple capsules a day will keep the acne away!

So if you’ve tried everything and still can’t figure out your acne situation, try this. But you have to be serious to see results! Good Luck!