Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Seabourne says and new stuff to try
I don’t know how reader Seabourne Stokes got his scoop, but he predicts a cranberry shortfall and suggests stocking up for the holidays. Cranberries are good for women’s health especially, and it’s on the condiment bar at Luby’s, he says.

New from Duncan Hines
A pouch of real apples comes in the new 100 percent whole grain Apple Cinnamon box mix. A crunchy oatmeal granola topping seals the deal. Triple Chocolate Chunk Premium Muffin Mix also gets the whole grain treatment and the real chocolate makes it a winner. My daughter made the confetti cupcakes into a one whole cake for her own birthday party and we topped it with another new product, Cool Whip Whipped Dip, in chocolate or strawberry. I even tried that dip frozen and it’s smooth like ice cream.

Stawberry puffs
Frutzi’O freeze dried fruit snacks aren’t for astronauts. They’re for folks who like yummy snacks for 100 calories a bag. That having been said, crisps of crunchy puffs of, say strawberry, like the nibbles you get in breakfast cereal, aren’t for everyone, but my samplers found them like the bag touts: “natural, healthy & irresistible.” Take what you will from that. Although beautifully red and crisp, we thought they’d be pretty nice floating in a clear drink.

Tips abound for people who want to drink water at a party while encouraging pushy “have another drink” types to leave them alone. Me is a “personality-paired” sparkling water that would make everyone at the party want a slim, colorful can. I’m most keen on Uninhibited, a pink grapefruit blend for someone who is “not constrained by societal norms or peer pressure. They are free spirited, open-minded, and eager to experience the unknown. The uninhibited person carves their own path in life.” That’s me, right?
I can also be Curious, in blueberry lime or Vivacious in tangerine pineapple. Unavailable, in dragon fruit blackberry, is someone else. Descriptions on cans are kind of like fortune cookies and a party game unto itself.
Purista, all-natural premium cocktail mixers, come in attractive bottles, and that alone hooks me. Organic sugar cane and natural juices are the selling points in mojito, margarita and blackberry mixes, but makers also accentuate the ease with which you can blend. Now you don’t take time away from your guests with squeezing, measuring and muddling. I like muddling. But, I also liked the mojito blend better than any other I have ever tried. Try Purista in punch mixes or, I’m thinking, over ice cream.
Fever is a drink you may want to catch. I tried the “stimulation beverage” in Kiwi + Strawberry and liked the herbal infusion straight up, though you can mix this with other beverages. The big news is that GNC is adding this and the Mango + Banana varieties to shelves. It’s sold as a “sexy” aphrodisiac. People kept asking if it’s an energy drink. No, the company reports. It is a “stimulation beverage that produces feelings of pleasure and euphoria, as well as being rich in antioxidants, a body detoxifier, libido enhancer, etc.
Zen Green Tea Liqueur makes not, as they say, your mother’s iced tea. I could somehow see my grandmother enjoying it very much. It’s got the tall, green cool-bottle points and a partnering with Skyy infusions for recipes such as these:
ZEN, White & Blue
11/2 parts ZEN Green Tea Liqueur
3 parts prepared Silver Needle White Tea
11/2 parts Sky Infusions Raspberry
3 parts fresh blueberries, muddled or pure├ęd
Combine and serve on the rocks. Garnish with fresh mint. 

Monday, August 24, 2009

Health, beauty and confidence hit shelves this season
Tax-free weekend is about back-to-school bounty, but there’s also a time for grown-up pampering.
From purse hardware and fresh breath to a perfume I’m anxious to see in action, this edition of Sounds Good offers ideas for glamming it up.

Purse perks
Every woman ought to have a little leopard in her life. Je Marie sister inventors have given us the FUMI: It’s a bracelet and/or purse decoration and/or purse hook so you can hang your bag from the restaurant table. You can also add inspirational charms, but I’ve always found classic leopard to be enough. I’ve had lots of compliments on the gadget, made from recycled metals, and I love to tell admirers what else this PurseHook item does. A super-soft bit of leopard print cloth on a hook can also snap onto your purse for attractive hardware. The cloth cleans your glasses and buffs up your cell phone. Double-action activity. This Scarlett cloth comes in other patterns, if leopard is too much for you.

Anti-aging perfume
It may sound like a movie plot, but Ageless is called the first anti-aging perfume. When applied, women are apparently believed to be 8 to 12 years younger. “No joke,” say the makers at How do you test that?
I loved the light, invigorating essence of pink grapefruit, anti-oxidant rich pomegranate, jasmine, mango and soft musk that’s supposed to interact with the skin. It smells authentic and fresh.
This must be a fun business, because Harvey Prince’s even newer follow-up is Eau Flirt, which is called the “world’s first perfume clinically proven to make men flirt with women.”

Let’s do lunch
Lunch time was always a highlight of my school days. I still have my plaid metal lunch kit plastered with stickers. Nowadays kids are going green with goodies such as Ecobags Reusable Lunch Bag, made from recycled cotton fibers. It’s reusable and machine washable and, in my mind, encourages a healthy meal. Shaped like a paper bag, the flat-bottomed cotton sack has a closure and a map of the earth with the message Think Global, Act Local. This bag wants a pear and yogurt, not processed, fatty foods.

A scalloped lid and bottom-heavy base make the new Scope Outlast mouthwash bottles look like a genie is ready to pop out. The bottle will look good in the bathroom and the product is designed to make breath feel fresh up to five times longer. Crest has added Outlast to an extra white long lasting mint blend of toothpaste that sparkles and Oral-B put it in those pirate-looking floss picks with textureslide technology. I’m finding these products to have superior flavor and I want to share the picks with someone I know who has quit smoking. He’s already a floss pick fan and may fancy a change from the cinnamon sticks he’s been carrying. Crest sent an Outlast promotional batch. Look for them on shelves in September.

Career savvy
The Complete Idiot’s Guide series third edition of “The Perfect Job Interview” has pages of winning-edge tactics. Here are a few:
To get a handle on nerves:
• Instead of deep breaths, try taking in a shallow breath and then exhaling deeply, letting out more than you took in. Repeat a few times. This tends to reduce or prevent panic.
• Grab the sides of the seat of your chair and pull up while silently counting to five. Repeat as often as you like.
Body language that signals fear: leg swinging, lip licking, nail biting.
Getting a mentor is just one helpful suggestion in the series’ guide to Career Advancement.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Eat the rainbow for good health
If you can’t imagine what it means to eat the rainbow, just think about color. Serve yourself a plate full of purple onion, green spinach and red tomato, then finish it off with an orange for dessert.
The American Dietetic Association reports research indicates foods rich in color and flavor have more phytochemicals, which are believed to aid in disease prevention and maintenance of a healthy body. Again, the executive chef of Spigola Ristorante in New Jersey has colorful health tips:
• Red foods are high in the antioxidant lycopene, which helps protect from some cancers, and helps prevent sun damage. Red foods include tomatoes, cherries, red bell pepper, watermelon, strawberries, pomegranates and red potatoes.
• Orange foods are high in vitamin C, provide anti-inflammatory properties, and help prevent cancer. Good sources include carrots, sweet potatoes, pumpkins, cantaloupe and orange bell pepper.
• Yellow foods are high in caratenoids, which help to decrease inflammation in the joints, as well as prevent cancer and aid in good vision. Try yellow bell pepper, corn, pineapple, yellow squash and apricots.
• Green foods offer an abundance of vitamins and antioxidants. Taste avocado, broccoli, asparagus, spinach, zucchini, romaine lettuce, green peas and grapes.
• Blue and purple foods are high in antioxidants and are good for memory and cardiovascular health. Go for eggplant, blueberries, prunes, plums, beets and blackberries.
• White foods can help prevent cancer and heart disease, and include onions, mushrooms, garlic and cauliflower.

Ice balls cool Yamazaki
In my fantasy trips to Japan, I’ve never been sipping single malt whiskey, but Yamazaki has made me a believer. It seems the ultra-pure waters cherished in Japanese tea ceremonies make a fine import, if you’re willing to wait 12 to 18 years of aging time. I am, now that I’ve tasted it.
Yamazaki has educated me on spherical ice balls, now made in molds after the fashion of apprentice bartenders’ hand-carved balls. Not only do they look as cool as all get out, they melt slowly to keep that whiskey pure. I turned my kitchen gadget drawer upside down looking for my tiny flask funnel to top off water in the ice ball mold. It was difficult to fill but easy to release and crazy as a conversation topic. Don’t wait for a fantasy to try these to products together. Ice trays are at

Some beer is all cool label and no brew. He’Brew: The Chosen Beer’s “Rejewvenator” is a limited release ale celebrating the year of the date with “delicious shtick.” Jewbilation Bar Mitzvah is their 13th Chosen Beer in 13 years of Shmaltz. It’s brewed with 13 malts and 13 hops for great taste and great fun. I just want to go to a covered dish with the people who came up with this stuff.
The national launch will be at the Great American Beer Festival in Denver, Colo. from Sept. 24-26.

Garlic boss
The Garlic Boss will be a blessing to many because it allows a cook to get a hint of flavor onto food and no scent on the hands. It looks like a stainless steel chess pawn with tiny pricks to spear a clove. You then rub the garlic onto foods to get a little flavor or rub more aggressively to get more.
As a Cajun married to a Mexican American, I can enjoy a whole head of roasted garlic in one setting, but I know there are plenty of people with more delicate digestive systems who would love a Garlic Boss.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Don’t be afraid of fiber facts, eating healthy

Health Food
I understand that carrot cake is not a health food just because it has a bite of vegetable in it. But I’m all into the cacao nibs that Navitas Naturals puts in its Trail Mix and Trail Power. They’re calling this a back-to-school super food made with exotic raw organic berries and nuts full of antioxidants, protein, fiber, vitamins and minerals.  
Nibs are crunchy power bites of chocolate that are like biting into the cacao bean. The “power” has goji and cashws while three berry mix features mulberries and goldenberriesin with the goji and cashew.
Embrace the goji, which look like long, red raisins when dried for this blend. I feel really good about this snack. The company reports: Goji Berries from China are one of the highest known sources of antioxidants; Goldenberries from Columbia are a remarkable source of protein and bioflavonoids; Mulberries from Turkey contain the antioxidant resveratrol, protein, Vitamin C and iron; Cacao Nibs from Peru are a raw form of chocolate that does not melt, is a rich source of vitamins, minerals, beta-carotene, zinc, chromium, magnesium and antioxidant flavonoids.
Amazing Grass Amazing Meal goes a step further into the health food realm, though an unsuspecting smoothie drinker may not guess the new Berry Green SuperFood Drink Powder has so much nutrition hidden in the packet. I’ve already enjoyed chocolate, original and pomegranate mango. A buzz of the blender is all it takes to get all kinds of superfoods from your glass to your body. If you prefer chewing, try their whole food energy bar for a dense, filling treat reminiscent of a fig bar.

Fiber facts
John Kuropatwa, executive chef of Spigola Ristorante in Hamilton Township, N.J. is promting benefits of fiber in the diet. He’s sending out info reminding that the American Dietetic Association suggests adult women should aim for 25 grams of fiber a day, while adult men should try to get 38 grams a day. Benefits include helping to lower your cholesterol, control blood sugar levels, preventing constipation, protecting from cardiovascular disease, maintaining a healthy weight and warding off other chronic diseases. Tips on adding fiber to your diet are:
•  Eat plant foods. Fiber is only found in plant foods. So it is important to get plenty of fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains and whole grain products into your diet each day.
• Avoid processed food such as white breads, pastas and fruit juices.
• Take it slow. To increase your fiber intake add a little gradually, rather than consuming the number you need overnight. This will give your body a chance to adjust and you won’t feel any discomfort.
•  Make changes. Simple changes, like opting for whole wheat pasta, rice or bread, can have a big impact over time. Choose high fiber breakfast cereals, bran muffins, steel cut oats, add beans to your casseroles, soups and sauces, and even eat high fiber snacks such as low-fat popcorn, nuts, seeds, or fruits and veggies.
•  Think add-ons. Keeping something like ground flax seed meal on hand is a good way to get some extra fiber with little effort. Taking just two tablespoons and sprinkling it in your yogurt, salad, or soup can give you a quick boost of four grams of fiber. Plus, it provides you with essential omega-3 fatty acids.
• Check labels. When you are shopping, keep the fiber content in mind and take a look at the package label to see how many grams of fiber it is per serving. Fruits and vegetables will likely not have a label, but they are great sources. For example, a cup of raspberries has eight grams of fiber and an apple has four grams.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Love not fear: Inspiration books and how to mark them
Andy Andrews has written “The Noticer,” a simple inspirational book about a character simply called Jones, who comes into town and sets everybody on the right path. All he really does is make them think about their choices, then they can make better ones that affect others. Talk about paying it forward. It seemed every chapter was about me or someone I know. I’d make this required summer reading for everybody I know. One simple tip from the book: deciding to do something and actually doing it are two different things.
Andrews has written a library of inspirational books and already has lots of fans. If readers pick up “The Noticer,” he’ll have a new batch.

“The Love Response”
Dr. Eva Selhub knows fear will eat you up, so she turns to love in response to everything. In “The Love Response” she uses Positive Physiology to SHEILD people with better ways of looking at things. There are pages and pages of exercises in this book, but don’t worry … they’re visualizations for the mind.

Living the Law of Attraction
It helps to have read “The Secret” before reading “Living the Law of Attraction,” by Rich German and Robin Hoch. It’s a collection of stories from people who have attracted all kinds of success into their lives to advance careers, improve their health, live the life of their dreams and even lose weight.
I’m not done, because I’m enjoying just one chapter a day. I believe thinking positive thoughts works. To you skeptics: It couldn’t hurt.

“My Diabetes Organizer”
A diagnosis of diabetes puts your world into a spin. This Hatherleigh Press binder can help put some control back into one’s life. The planner for those with Type 2 helps people plan and progress with trackers, plastic folders for medical info and ideas for “sick days.” I passed this to someone with this condition and got good reports. It’s important to keep up with that stuff.

Mark my page
I’ve got a bowl full of beautiful, collectible bookmarks that I love to view, but hate to use. They mar the page and slip out. When I read a tip for using Post-its to mark not only the page, but even the paragraph. Now Post-its has new designer page markers that — be still my beating heart — come with cute bird and nature designs and with messages such as “on the test” and “where I left off.”
And now, for my beating heart, there are heart and star shaped note pads with background designs. Love notes? Lists? I’m on it. Bold stripes, flowers and birds that put me in mind of “The Partridge Family” make up designs on pads of magnet-backed notes. Organized divas will love a big, leafy note marked with days of the week. It’s a new-age to-do list. Hard-backed portable note holders may be what you need to keep mileage in the car.
Don’t think it’s all girlie. A smooth gel pen with a black flag and ink looks like you could take notes for cars needing work at a pit stop. Look for more new Post-It fare in the school supply aisle.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Pantry pasta creates an entertaining blend

I begged my friend “B.” to let me organize her pantry. For months I was turned down, then I got a Saturday invite.
I told her she could regroup any way she liked, but I just wanted lunch out of anything about to go south. We ended up with a pasta topping including tomato paste and sauce, most of a can of spinach and sundry spices. But the sides were even more impressive.
A great cook in her own right, I was flattered to the point of embarrassment when she kept saying how she would never have thought of combining the cans of chipotle peppers and corn. We made another bold leap with a bowl full of cranberry sauce, mandarin oranges and vanilla. She rounded it out with her own jar of okra, pickled to perfection.
Her daughter helped us empty shelves then regroup them so the most healthy products are up front and the tempting baking goodies are a stretch or bend out of sight.
Dessert was going to be sopapillas from a mix, but she read the directions and found them too complicated. Daughter made a white cake and B. poked holes in it so a can of coconut syrup could soak in.
This was a fun way to spend my Saturday, plus she sent me packing with various goodies I will cook the rest of the month.
Next job: Her spice cabinet.

My citrus salsa
My Magic Bullet has helped me create a fabulous variety of summer salsas very quickly. I’ve combined an orange with pineapple sage and mint and it came out a beautiful green. Then I plopped in an orange with chipotle peppers, corn and garlic for something more potent. The fruit helped cool off the heat, a little.
The first time I took time to dice the orange, then I discovered the Bullet can take the peeled orange, seeds and all, and pulse up a great blend.
I used peppers from B’s pantry (see above) and served in a CaliBowl (see below).

SimpleWave could have called CaliBowl the TexiBowl, because scooping up salsa with chips is one of its promoted uses. Pretty bowls with an inward curve are also good for shaky folks prone to spills. This covers a wide range of cereal, soup and salsa lovers, regardless of age. Makers describe the inward-curving lip like a “the tide of a wave, that guarantees the food, dip, or condiment will be scooped onto the utensil, chip, food item, or back into the bowl preventing messy spillage.”
Choose from BPA-free plastic and ceramic bowls in different colors. I have cheery yellow, lightweight plastic that is great for a picnic. I want to try Chinese noodles in there, too. I love the look and concept. But wait — there’s more. The company has a Zero Landfill Policy to decrease landfill contribution wherever possible. The “Recycle-A-Bowl” Program offers the option to return a CaliBowl at the end of its product life so it may be recycled. Consumers then get a discount on further orders.

All-American rum
Tommy Bahama, a rum that’s been around since 2007, has been studying the drink’s history and reports it is said that Paul Revere had a swallow of the stuff to stiffen his resolve partway through his famous midnight ride; Benjamin Franklin penned a small ode to it; Ernest Hemingway mixed it in tall cocktails; and that on election night in 1960, John F. Kennedy sipped it over dinner at his house in Hyannis Port, Mass., before watching the election returns.
What’s more, in 1778, General George Washington marked July 4th with a double ration of it for his soldiers and an artillery salute.
I’ve recently been soaking bananas and dousing cakes with Tommy Bahama White Sand and Golden Sun varieties, with results that go to 11. The company has suggestions of its own:
Bahama Basil Smash
2 1/2 parts Tommy Bahama White Sand Rum
2 parts sour mix
3 fresh blackberries
4 basil leaves
4 slices of ginger
1/4 part lemon-lime soda
Muddle blackberries, basil and ginger in a mixing glass. Add remaining ingredients, shake well and strain into a mixing glass. Top with a splash of lemon-lime soda. Garnish with an orchid.
Tommy Bahama’s Coconut Cloud Martini (white)
1 1/2 parts Tommy Bahama White Sand Rum
1 1/2 parts vanilla vodka
1 1/2 parts coconut rum
1/2 part cream of coconut
Shake in a cocktail shaker and strain. Garnish with toasted coconut.