Oh, Memorial Day Weekend. It really is a harbinger of great summery things to come, no? Which always gets me thinking about all the things I want to do this summer. Like make a blueberry crisp. Martha Stewart was on the Today show yesterday whipping one up. I haven’t made it yet, but it looked delish:

Blueberry crisp

Recipe courtesy of “Martha’s American Food” cookbook

Ingredients

For the filling:

  • 6 cups (3 pints) fresh blueberries
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt

For the topping:

  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup old-fashioned rolled oats (not instant or quick-cooking)
  • 1/2 cup chopped nuts, such as almonds (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/3 cup sugar

Preparation

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Make the filling: Mix blueberries, sugar, cornstarch, lemon juice and salt in a bowl. Transfer to an 8-inch square baking dish.

2. Make the topping: In a medium bowl, stir together flour, oats, nuts, baking powder, and salt. With an electric mixer on medium speed, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Stir flour mixture into butter. Using your hands, squeeze topping pieces together to form clumps.

3. Sprinkle topping evenly over filling. Bake until filling is bubbling in center and topping is golden brown, about 1 hour. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool 30 minutes before serving.

You know what else I want to serve for dessert this summer? Big, ripe strawberries and a bowl of freshly whipped cream. It’s light, it’s sweet — just right for after a summer barbecue. We went out to Sparks steak house last week and a third of the desserts on their menu were different berries with their homemade whipped cream. After a big meal, it sounded divine.

Membership Rewards

We’ve joined many museums over the years because we feel it’s nice to support them, and if we go a lot, it can save money on entrance fees. More and more, I feel the museums are offering nice amenities that make it even more worthwhile to join. At the Metropolitan, they recently opened up on a Monday, typically their day that they are closed to the pubic, for a members-only day. As a member, you got to tour some of their most in-demand exhibitions (The Stein Collection; Prada and Schiaparelli at the Costume Institute) without the crowds, and in the foyer they offered cocktail tables and cookies and drinks. Plus 20% off in the store. Very civilized! MoMA offers family mornings on Saturdays where kids do art scavenger hunts and have a continental breakfast before the museum opens to non-members. And if your husband watches the kids, you can sneak off and go through some of their recent exhibits in peace. So the next time you visit your local museum, wherever you are, take a look at what a membership gets you. Chances are it’s much more than free admission, you can feel great about supporting the institution, and that you’ve enriched your family’s life that much more!

Etc.

Um, maybe it could stop raining right about now?! I can’t believe we have to fly to London to escape the downpours! It’s darkening everyone’s mood. Hopefully the long weekend will cheer them up!

Have a good one!

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In Kind

May 16, 2012

I was talking to a nutritionist recently about what snacks were good to keep at work. One thing that I tend to do is eat lunch and then not have time to eat until I get home around 7pm or so, and then I am starving and grab whatever is quickest, not necessarily whatever is best nutritionally. She was adamant that it’s important to have a snack mid-afternoon. And having protein as a part of the snack is a good idea.

So what did she recommend? A string cheese or a light Babybel with five or so whole wheat crackers. (She liked Triscuits more than Wheat Thins. I actually really like a multigrain cracker from Trader Joe’s.) Almonds or trail mix, in a prepackaged serving size so as not to over indulge. Trader Joe’s sells 10 individually wrapped packets of trail mix and it’s tasty. As for bars, she recommended Kind bars, which have few additives. I really like the cranberry almond bar, which is a little sweet and a whole lot satisfying. She also recommended Pure Organic bars. I’ve tried the chocolate brownie bar and it is tasty. I would classify this as a treat rather than just a snack, as it’s a little more like a candy bar. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that!)

Everyone runs from carbs, and maybe with good reason, but she assured me that the trick is mixing protein in with the carbs. So if you have an apple, put a little almond butter on it. As I mentioned above, have a few crackers with some cheese. Peanut butter and banana on a slice of light toast fills you up.

The moral of the story here is that you can snack, be satisfied, and stay healthy.

Rolling, Rolling, Rolling

Foam rolling, that is. If you’ve got any sort of pain from tight calf muscles, IT band, or really anywhere, try foam rolling it out. It really does work. Most gyms have them tucked in a corner, and you might want to ask one of the staff for a few tips on using it, but here’s a quick tutorial: place the foam roller under where the pain is. Roll it out in small sections, applying as much pressure as you can stand. So, you don’t want to do big long rolls, and you want to do short ones and work your way down the leg. If you’re doing the back of your calf, for example, you may want to cross your other leg over the top to give you a little more leverage and pressure. It’s a bigger stretch.

I also really like lying on the foam roller long-ways, and having it support your head down to your lover back. (You should feel well-supported.) Bend your knees, feet flat on the floor, arms by your side. Breathe in and out. This in itself is relaxing and really lets my shoulders fall away and release. You can do some rocking side to side and take your hands up over head for a bigger stretch. Once you’re done, roll off the roller and let your back lay flat on the ground. Feel the benefits. Roll up and return to standing, with a little less pain!

Etc.

Another rainy week. I feel like the weekend was so nice that we really can’t complain…too much. I wore all black today in anticipation of the weather making me feel a little crummy. I recommend that — dressing for your mood. It broadcasts to the world what to expect from you, in a perfectly relaxed and easy way!

Hope you’re feeling great! (And that would mean wearing a bright color…)

So Joe Fresh

May 8, 2012

ImageA new clothing store opened in my neighborhood a few months ago. I have been a few times and I think I am ready to give it the Family Favs stamp of approval. Joe Fresh has clothing for men and women, all at pretty low prices. The closest thing I can compare it to is the Gap, but it doesn’t try to be all things to all people. It embraces bold colors – in fact, once it picks a color, a whole section of the store can be in that color.

First, the cons: Low prices means the clothes can be at times, well, let’s call a spade a spade, cheap. Some of the t-shirts are very thin, some of the sweaters’ buttons seem like they could come off at a moment’s notice, the sizing is not always uniform. (Definitely try things on, as I have had things look much different on than they looked on the hanger, frankly for better or worse.) I would skip the shoes.

But on the upside, the colors really feel fresh (go figure) and bold, and frankly if you’re buying a bright green top that you may only wear a few times, $14 seems like the right price. The styles are simple and chic. There are sweet tote bags that add punch to any outfit. There’s even makeup, which is fun to experiment with without breaking the bank. This is a great place for summer tees, cover ups for the beach, and even workout wear and hoodies.

The collection changes often so it’s the kind of place to just pop your head in when you’re in the neighborhood, take a look and maybe find a few things to punch up your wardrobe. There are currently 5 stores in the NYC, Long Island, NJ area. I am sure more will open across the country.

You can check it out online here.

More fun with NickMom

Here’s what I’ll be looking for this Mother’s Day!

Etc.

RIP to Maurice Sendak. I was glad he was on The Colbert Report recently — showing himself to a new legion of fans. He will be missed.

And Adam Yauch of the Beastie Boys…too, too young with so much more to say.

We’ll always have their respective incredible bodies of work to remember them by.

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No additives…making life easier!

During lunchtime last week I actually took the time and went to an hour-long cooking class, which also talked a little about nutrition too. As you know, I am always looking for tips about healthy and quick meals, and this was interesting. The nutritionist who led the class talked about replacing white rice with brown rice (which I do), or, even better, using quinoa, farro, spelt or wheatberries. (Which if you remember I recently tried and recommended!) She said you can buy some of these grains fully cooked in the frozen food aisle, and you just need to microwave them for 90 seconds or so and serve. She also suggested ditching white pasta for whole wheat, and said if your family is resistant, try substituting half at first to get them used to it. (Mine didn’t really have an adverse reaction when I switched.) And for cereal, she said if it has more than 6 grams of sugar and less than 2 grams of fiber per serving, forget it. You have to read labels because some cereal that you think might be healthy actually falls out of these parameters.

I haven’t used them yet but she also recommended Bird’s Eye Steamfresh frozen vegetables. There’s nothing added, it’s microwaveable (i.e. fast) and a great way to add vegetables to a meal. For a tasty salad, slice some strawberries in with baby spinach leaves. Make a favorite balsamic vinaigrette or just use a little balsamic vinegar and canola oil over it. The balsamic vinegar really brings out the flavor of the strawberries.

If your kids (or you!) crave something sweet at the end of a meal, you can whip up an easy mango smoothie with Greek yogurt. Greek yogurt, in addition to being thicker than regular yogurt, actually has more protein, so it’s a great choice for snacking (as long as you choose the lowfat option, without a lot of sugar added). Put 1 cup of plain Greek yogurt and 1 cup of frozen mango chunks in a blender. Puree til smooth and serve. Delish!

Everyone is always so down on frozen or canned foods, but if you can find ones with no additives, it really does make life easier during the week, when there is precious little time for anything let along slaving over the stove. Plus frozen vegetables are frozen at their peak, and just may be more flavorful than that veggie that was trucked across the country to your store.

Etc.

If you didn’t catch the 30 Rock live episode last week I am still laughing about it.

Rainy week here. I guess rain during the week is ok as long as the weekends are sunny and bright!

Hope all is well with you!