Friday, February 26, 2010

Creative eaters unite!

Don’t say June Lay is on a diet. Just try her book for inspiration, recipes and motivation. “It’s Not a Diet, It’s Creative Eating!”
Trust me, Lay can make healthy eating an adventure, and that’s just how I think about it already. Her salad-a-day section includes enough variation to make me want every one, including Tuna Avacado, Lobster Mango, Heart of Palm Red and:
Shrimp and Bean Salad
1/2 cup diagonally sliced green beans
6 large shrimp, cooked and peeled, chilled
1/2 cups cubed seeded cucumber
1/4 cup chopped tomato
1/2 tablespoon thinly choped fresh basil
1/3 teaspoon vinegar to taste
1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon sugar
Dash of salt
Dash of fresh black pepper
Dash of hot sauce
1/2 garlic clove, minced
1 cup gourmet mixed salad greens
Steam the beans, covered, until crisp-tender. Drain and rinse with cold water; drain well. Combine beans, shrimp, tomatoes and cucumber with all spices/herbs/condiments. Place shrimp, beans, etc., on a plate on top of salad greens and add dressing. Enjoy and of course, add your own variation. This recipe can be made with lobster meat instead of shrimp, which is lower in cholesterol despite rumor to the contrary.

Turning to wine and chocolate
There doesn’t seem to by any way for a wine and chocolate pairing to meet with anything but blissfull success, yet Turning Leaf Winemaker’s, Nicole Hitchcock has sweet ideas for matchy-matchy fullfillment. I loved the rich red and dark chocolate combination so much I could hardly speak. While experts may not consider white chocolate a true chocolate, please consider it fine with this wine: Turning Leaf Chardonnay is a true find.
Get your glasses and friends and try these suggestions from the company:
Dark Chocolate, paired with Turning Leaf’s 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon
• The richest of all the reds, this wine boasts notes of vanilla and brown that perfectly complement the bitterness in darker chocolates.
Milk Chocolate, paired with Turning Leaf’s 2008 Merlot
• The fruitier character in this Merlot brings out the natural, bright flavors in classic milk chocolate.
White Chocolate, paired with Turning Leaf’s 2008 Chardonnay
• A twist on the common red wine and chocolate pairing, the acidity level in drier whites, such as Chardonnay, cuts through the sweetness of white chocolate making for a more balanced bite.

Whee! Tea!
I didn’t realize hibiscus is the new superflower, but I do love to pluck them off bushes and stick them in my hair.
Republic of Tea is blooming with five new versions of caffeine-free herbal bouquets of premium African hibiscus, which makers call a “Superflower that brews a rich, full-bodied cup and features remarkable health benefits,” and is said to lower blood pressure. It makes a beautiful ruby red tea with layers of cranberry/citrus and gentle hints of rhubarb and raspberry. I’m enjoying the pineapple lychee variety as I write this. Lovely canisters also hold a natural, unflavored pure hibiscus, anther with blueberry, a vinilla apple and … get ready … a hibiscus key lime.
If you missed the baby tiger at Mardi Gras of Southeast Texas, check out the adorable one on the tin of Year of the Tiger Tea, a limited edition chocolate orange rooibos Republic of Tea offering. The oranges are a traditional Chinese symbol of wealth, and you may feel pretty rich enjoying this filling blend. For every tin sold, the company will contribute $1 to Room to Read (, a group that benefits children of the developing world.

Persian Superfood
Pomegranates whole are sexy. Luscious, tempting red fruits are even a table decor. The powdered stuff may seem less glamorous, but it sure is practical. Navitas Naturals has released a version that’s designed for pinking and perking up your smoothes, yogurt and desserts with potassium, polyphenols and iron. I’m mixing it into tap water and will soon experiment with a more potent liquid to see if I can get a pomegranate cocktail mixing. I blended some powder with banana and froze it in a bowl for a fabulous evening treat. A table spoon of fancy coffe creamer topped it off.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Taste of the Triangle draws food lovers to sample specialties

BEAUMONT — Taste of the Triangle has moved to Ford Park in Beaumont, and the venue is still packed with food lovers lined up for what area restaurants are dishing out. Fans of gumbo, bread pudding and wine were in luck. There was abundant flow of each of these.
As for our Mid-County contributions, Sanderson’s delivered chicken Pontchartrain as promised and Geo Burrito made countless mini versions of their giant wraps and Stingray employees asked “pecan or raisin” as they moved hundreds through their line.
The Sabine Area Restaurant Association raises scholarship funds at this event and this year, honored the Young Men’s Business League.
The Grill won best restaurant with Goodfellows second runner-up and best decorated and Moncla’s first runner-up.
Savor of Ford Park won best associate with Lamar Institute of Technology as second runner up.
The next chance to feast like that:
The Rotary Club of Port Arthur will present the 23rd annual Taste of Gumbo, Etc. from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, March 13, at the Robert A. “Bob” Bowers Civic Center, along Texas 73.
Restaurants and other groups will provided tastes of their specialties. There will be a silent auction. Tickets will be $8.

Poor, healthy potato
Mourn the poor potato, forced to carry all that extra fat, dietitian Susan Burke March tells readers.
“Oh, the poor potato — never did any harm, just sitting there, waiting to be eaten for its delicious flavor, in its own lovely bare skin, without all that added fat,” she laments in “Making Weight Control Second Nature: Living Thin Naturally.”
I hear her. I used to think a baked potato was my healthy option, without realizing I was piling on several servings of cheese, sour cream and butter. Now I pretty much enjoy the flavor of the actual potato, like she does, by splitting baked potatoes, brushing them with olive oil and broiling them until toasty.
Fitness and diet charts help readers track their progress as they read through this thick book and learn about portion control and alternative food picks and healthy habits. The author used to weigh a whole lot more than she does now, and takes a bit of offense when folks give her the old “You don’t have to worry, you’re naturally thin” bit. She wants everyone to know fitness is a commitment you have to work at, and it can be a fun and healthy deal for you and your loved ones.

Open It
Statistics are, you have someone in your life who could use Open It!, if not now, then soon. My mother was thrilled to try out a set of three red tools that have all you need to open tricky medicine bottles. OPENRX1 is bulbous, for pushing and turning, and has a slide-out magnifier for reading labels. OPENRXFT slides over push and turn bottles and has a blade for opening foil packets. OPENRXST is like a thick band for squeeze and turn lids. I was amazed by them all and she called them invaluable. Look for them at CVS or at

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Pickle peppers, pig’s ears or blue berries

Pickled peppers, pig’s ears, blueberries, flowers, mangoes and more await those who like to spice it up. I have succumbed to “The Joy of Pickling: 250 Flavor-Packed Recipes for Vegetables and More from Garden or Market,” Linda Ziedrich’s revised edition of a very resourceful, readable book. I am usually on the receiving end of such goodies. Armed with little more than sugar, vinegar and pickling salt, I can create such wonders as pickled peaches, pickled plums with red wine, honeyed jalapeno rings, and zydeco beans. The author likes to experiment, so novice though I am, I played around with seasonings to make spiced oranges and kumquats. It was a winner. This one’s next on my list:

Thai Pickled Carrots
1/2 pound carrots, thinly sliced, diagonally, then slivered
2 teaspoons pickling salt
1 cup rice vinegar
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
1 to 2 small fresh hot peppers, such as serrano, seeded, if you like, and minced
In a bowl, mix the carrots with the salt. Let the carrots stand for 1 hour.
Meanwhile, bring the remaining ingredients to a boil in a saucepan, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Let the liquid cool
Drain the carrots. Return them to the bowl, pour the pickling liquid over them and toss them. Let them rest at room temperature for 1 hour. If you don’t eat them right away, store them tightly covered in the refrigerator. They will keep at least a week but are best eaten sooner. Drain them just before serving.

Small plate club
I love and faithfully use a Fiber One health tip: use smaller plates and your healthy portions won’t look so small. I have faithfully enjoyed the new Fiber One blueberry muffins you keep in the fridge. With a sweet flavor and 28 percent of daily fiber value, they fill me up until lunch time, where I meet my small plate again.

It’s the tops
Bottle Top is the answer to a question you may not have been asking. These colored plastic lids convert beverage cans into a reclosable “bottle” to prevent spillage, keep your drink fresh and identify which drink is yours. Bottle Top allows you to snap your can of drink closed so a bee won’t sneak in and sting your mouth when you drink it.
How often does that happen? I just received a Christmas newsletter announcing the dad of the family suffered just such a sting. OUCH! Talk about an ounce of prevention. Look for these at Walgreens; Wal-Mart; Bed, Bath & Beyond; Target; and CVS.

Maybe you’re vain and only interested in Mavea’s sleek design. Maybe you’re vain and hoping that drinking better filtered water will improve your looks as well as your health. No matter, this pitcher with a “Smart Meter,” and one-of-a-kind recycling program is designed to empowers consumers to send back used filters at Mavea’s expense, where they reuse each component in commercial grade products.
If you like movies where parched travelers squeeze the last drops from their canteen into their dry throats, you may feel particularly hydrated after learning about Mavea’s micro-screen that eliminates black particles from ending up in the water the European design with a pour-through and neoprene handle and feet to prevent sliding and scratching and the reduction in chlorine taste, odor, and other unwanted elements. I love the feature of a “silverized” filter to inhibit the risk of bacteria growth. Drink up: Mavea looks great on the counter and it’s all BPA-free.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Bourbon renewal: books looks at rousing recipes in time for Mardi Gras
The stories, the recipes, the photos and the anticipation make Fred Thompson’s book a treasure. “Bourbon: 50 Rousing Recipes for a Classic American Spirit” puts a light spin on the spirit Americans take so seriously.
Enjoy the elixir in concoctions such as hot chocolate nog and beach punch or in a mint julep sorbet or turkey brine. Here are two that seem designed for Mardi Gras/Valentine’s Day:

Southern Love
Ice Cubes
1 ounce bourbon
1 ounce amaretto
6 ounces cola
Fill an oversized cocktail or old-fashioned glass with ice cubes. Let it sit for 2 or 3 minutes to chill the glass.
Holding the e ice so it doesn’t fall out, discard any melted water. Pour in the bourbon and amaretto and top with the cola. Stir and serve immediately.

Cajun Comfort
Ice cubes
1 1/2 ounces bourbon
1 ounce Southern Comfort
2 tablespoons honey
4 or 5 dashes hot sauce
Fill a cocktail shaker halfway with ice cubes. Add the bourbon, Southern Comfort, honey and hot sauce. Shake slowly, allowing the honey to incorporate, until the shaker is frosted.
Pour the mixture, ice and all, into an old-fashioned glass. Serve immediately.

Honey, come here
Just saying the name Bärenjäger Honey Liqueur, or seeing it in print, puts me in a by-the-fire mood. An Eastern Prussian bear trap company introduced “bear hunter” in the 15th century as sweet stuff to lure bears from their dwellings. Remember this Valentine’s Day that honey is considered an aphrodisiacs, derived from the Greek goddess of sensuality, Aphrodite. Sidney Frank Importing Co., Inc. is doing the reminding that many medicines in Egyptian times were based on honey, including cures for sterility and impotence. Medieval seducers plied their partners with mead, a fermented drink made from honey.  Lovers on their "Honeymoon" drank mead and it was thought to "sweeten" the marriage. I have tried and enjoyed this honey liquor and the silver topped Jacques Cardin Cognac VSOP in Jasmine (my daughter’s name). It’s enough to make me want to try their regular and apple cognacs. Watch out bottle collectors: You’ll love the woven basket wrap and hive lid on the honey liqueur. I fancy the following would be warm drinks for cheering your Olympic favorites in snowy Vancouver:
Hot Honey Crisp
1 Packet Apple Cider Mix
2 1/2 Cups Hot Water
3 ounces Bärenjäger Honey Liqueur
2 ounces Jacques Cardin Apple Cognac
Garnish w/ Cinnamon Stick and Whipped Cream
Makes 2
Frisky Whisky
1 part Michael Collins
1 part Bärenjäger Honey Liqueur  
1 part fresh orange juice
1/4 part simple syrup
2 Dashes angostura bitters
Between The Sheets
2 parts JC Jasmin VSOP
1/2 part Cointreau
1/2 part Tommy Bamaha White Sand Rum
Freshly squeezed lemon Juice
Garnish with an orange twist in a chilled martini glass

Hire a CADDi
Beverage CADDi is a holster collar with strings designed for people like me, who lug purses, cases, bags, coats and books to the car, with a steaming, hot cup cradled in the recesses of spare elbow room. These necks, adorned with black beans, quotes, stripes, gumdrops or a deco pattern that makes me long for the ‘80s, allow coffee lovers to manhandle all their gear and swing that coffee from a pinkie while opening doors, texting, etc. It’s so cool, you’ll wish you’d thought of it, but you have to go to for yours.

Snuggling old school style
For centuries, robes have warmed young and old, rich and modestly-meaned people. You slip them on, close them in front and don’t have to wear a backwards blanket with sleeves, Cypress reminds these creatures of comfort. The brand supplies spas and hotels and has an affordable line of plush pastel and shawl robes and poolside cover ups. I plenty snug in a lightweight short robe in a bright Mardi Gras/lime/green color. My mother jokes this is a morning robe, because that color sure perks up the spirits. It’s as bright as the orange juice and sunny-side-up eggs. Check out Cypress online or at Belk department stores. I’ve been to one Belk in my life, during Hurricane Ike evacuation to Sherman.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

My bubbly Valentine: Try Kiss from a Rose

Sunday is a Mardi Gras date, Chinese New Year and Valentine’s Day. I’ll have to spread jambalaya, noodles and chocolate throughout the day.
I’ve already tried one of the best casual champaigns I’ve ever experienced, the playful Barefoot Bubbly Rosé Cuvée, a slightly sweet sparkling wine, with hints of strawberry and citrus, designed to pair with sweet treats and such. At $10, it could cost less than a box of chocolates. I inhaled the bubbles while viewing actors whip up French cuisine dreams in “Julie & Julia.” Try the drink alone, or like this:
Barefoot Bubbly's Kiss from a Rosé
1/2 oz raspberry liqueur
1/2 oz créme de cassis
4 oz Barefoot Bubbly Rosé Cuvée
1 raspberry, 1 blackberry
Combine the raspberry liqueur, crème de cassis and berries in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake vigorously and strain into champagne flute. Top of with Barefoot Rosé Cuvée. Or, simply add the liqueurs in a champagne flute and top with Barefoot.

Chinese long bean
To celebrate the Year of the Tiger, you could eat long, uncut noodles to symbolize longevity. Frieda’s produce company can help you go one better. I tried their long beans, measuring 12- to 20-inches each, over chow mein noodles. They overflowed the bowl, resembling writhing, geen snakes. Sooooo good.
Eat up: The 15-day celebration begins on the first day of the first lunar month according to the Chinese calendar – Feb. 14, and ends on Feb. 28.
Southeast Texas is full of kumquat trees, and the little golden fruits symbolize wealth as “kum” means “gold” in Cantonese. If you can’t find a stash, Frieda’s sells them for recipes like this:
Duck Salad with Kumquat Dressing
1/2 cup red or white wine vinegar
1/2 cup Frieda’s Kumquats, chopped
1/3 cup salad oil
2 tablespoons honey
Romaine lettuce leaves
1 head Frieda’s Belgian Endive
1 1/2 cups cooked, chilled julienne slices of duck breast meat or chicken breast
2/3 cup green or red seedless grapes
3 tablespoons chopped walnuts or slivered almonds
Frieda’s Alfalfa Sprouts as garnish 
For dressing, in blender or food processor bowl with blade, place the vinegar, kumquats, oil, and honey. Cover and process until nearly smooth. Chill. To assemble salad, line a large serving platter or individual plates with romaine leaves. Arrange Belgian endive, duck or chicken pieces, grapes, and nuts on leaves. Garnish with alfalfa sprouts if desired. Pass dressing with salads. Makes 2 servings.

Brewing goodness
We’re enjoying Good Earth Black Tea Tropical Peach here in the office and someone wanted milk, which normally don’t do. Then I started imagining a heavy dose of cream in a warm teacup and imagined it measuring up to a serving of peach cobbler. I can’t wait to get home and try it.
Through Feb. 28, the Good Earth Cares project will donate half of its after-tax profit to charity. Voters can visit the website to cast their vote once a day Some of the options include: Wildlife Forever; Scholarship America; Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation; Cancer Research Inst.; and American Forests.
That feels as good as it tastes. I think I’ll plan for some hot tea on Chinese New Year.

Chia, now in chocolate
I’m of the opinion that chocolate makes everything taste better. I’m sure there’s not enough chocolate in the world to get some people to try Chia Goodness, a gluten-free raw blend of chia seeds, buckwheat, shelled hemp seed, organic cocoa, cocoa nibs, dates, almonds, cane juice and Celtic sea salt.
I say, try it. It sure is a conversation piece. Cody on the copy desk did, but he’ll try almost anything. A tiny, nutrient-dense spoonful expands with hot or cold water, or you can mix it in oatmeal, yogurt, etc. That having been said, I can’t imaging craving a bowl full, but I really love this stuff baked into bread. It’s one of those things you can haul out at a party and guests think they’ve had an experience.

Pick me
I love the idea of being prepared for a life of parties and intimate get-togethers that just spring up. Visit for really colorful pretty little gift tags ready to adorn a hostess gift. String images like a starfish, scooter or flamingo up with your own ribbon in seasonal colors. Keep them in the pantry and you’ll smile ever time they catch your eye.

Zero is delicious
Tricky waters sneak in calories. Zero is good, Ayala’s Herbal Water says. Take zero calories and preservatives and add flavors such as lavender mint, ginger lemon peel and cinnamon orange peel and you get a tall drink of refreshing. I’d never have thought to spice up water with clovs, cardamon and cinnamon. Love it.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Troika: prepare for tri-celebration next Sunday
Mark your calendars for … everything … on Feb. 14.
We used to look forward to this day for little paper hearts in our mailboxes at school. This year, we can also take our Valentine to Mardi Gras, and celebrate Chinese New Year.
My mother says the Russian word Troika, for three of a kind, sums up the situation. In this column, I’ll begin with a guy’s version of Valentine treatment, and also share something purple, green and gold.

“Sweeping Her Off Her Feet With Food: The Ultimate Guide to Romance & Seduction in the Kitchen”
By Eric S. Lee
Lee used to own restaurants. Once you read his book, he could own your heart. He gives guys simple, valuable advice on what makes a woman feel special. It doesn’t cost much to dress nice, send some sweet messages about the date. Try a scavenger hunt, and lead her right back to your house for a home-cooked meal, like this:
Salmon with Fresh Mango Salsa 
2 Six – eight ounce Salmon filets (do not get steaks!)
1 Fresh mango peeled and cut into 1/2inch cubes (some grocers carry fresh
Mango already skinned in jars—produce dept)
1 Jalapeño seeded and diced (1/8 inch)
1/2 Red bell pepper diced (1/4 inch)(save the rest for roasting)
1/4 cup diced red onion (1/4 inch)
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1/3 cup oil (preferably olive oil)
salt & pepper
Mango Salsa 
Cut lime in half and squeeze the juice from both halves into a midsized mixing bowl whisk in half of the oil. Add the rest of the ingredients except salmon, remaining oil, salt and pepper in a midsized bowl and gently toss until well mixed. Be sure and stir using a large (wooden if possible) serving spoon, from bottom using your spoon in an upward, over and down folding motion to get all of the juice from the bottom mixed in with the rest of the ingredients. Add a dash of salt and pepper and gently mix again. Cover and refrigerate. Can be made one-day ahead.
Grilled Salmon
Turn outside grill on to medium high to heat up the grates. Place the salmon filets on a platter skin side down and rub remaining oil onto the meat until completely covered. Try and get some of the oil onto the skin. Feel free to use a bar-b-que sauce brush for this. Sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper. 
When grill is hot place filets on the grill, flesh side down and let cook for 5-7 minutes. Turn over and let cook another 3-4 minutes until salmon is just cooked through. Some like their salmon medium rare. If this is you cook a little less. If you need to check for doneness, though I try to avoid this, take a knife and gently slice into the top of the fish to ensure it is cooked to your preference. If it “flakes” all the way through but is still moist it is done. Since you will be topping it with the beautiful salsa you’ve made it won’t matter if you have “butchered” it a little. 
Optionally, when salmon is done, take a metal spatula and insert it into the crease between the skin and the flesh and slide it all the way through until the skin is removed. Place each filet on top of a bed of sautéed spinach (page 39) on a beautiful plate. 
Top with Mango Salsa and serve.
Suggested Wine - Chardonnay / Pinot Noir

Purple mat is really green
I’d have never guessed a yoga mat could bring me such peace, since I don’t practice yoga. But, I’ve been rolling up this new purple Manduka mat and tucking it under the coffee table after I’m done with various floor exercise. I used to spread a towel out and wonder what all the mat fuss was about. Now I love the padding and the way this environmentally-friendly mat made with “closed-cell rubber and comfortable sea grass texture” keeps me and the stability ball in place, so I can watch TV and exercise. It doesn’t move around like the towel, so I believe I do stay centered. Imagine what a real yoga fan could do with it. So here’s the cool part. You can mail your tired, old eKO and eKO Lite natural Manduka mats back and they’ll become shoes, rubber flooring and even new yoga products for others, instead of muck in a landfill. Look for the company’s organic mat wash, recycled mat slings and bolsters.

Gold Bond
Years ago, when hand sanitizer was still novel, I was talking to a friend in health care about loving that clean feeling in emergencies. She scrunched up her face and said she had a love-hate relationship with the stuff, because repeated use mader her hands dry.
Times have changed. The product is now common, not something you hide for fear of looking like a germ freak, and now Gold Bond Ultimate Hand Santizer Moisturizer offers a tube that kills 99.9 percent of germs in a non-drying formula that actually feels good going on. More stats: it has seven hydrating moisturizers and five essential vitamins. Take yours to Mardi Gras. You never know where all those beads have been.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Make uber crunch, salty-sweet part of your Super Bowl snacking
Doctor Kracker (didn’t he used to play with that Muppet band?) reports that studies show the average American consumes more than 1,200 calories during the Super Bowl — a full days worth.
Doctor Kracker is a brand of “artisan baked nutritious, satisfying and organic flatbreads and crackers.” My tasters have been crazy for the flavors in these beautiful, thick, seed-dusted crackers: Apple Crisps, Cherry Semolina, Fire Roasted Crisps, Hummus Maximus, Klassic 3 Seed, Pumpkin Cheddar, Seeded Spelt, Seedlander and Sunflower Cheddar. Billed as “home of the uber crunch,” they urge you to “ Stick that in your dip and eat it.”

Sweeeet and more
“Salty Sweets: Delectable Desserts and Tempting Treats with a Sublime Kiss of Salt”
By Christie Matheson
Salt — fine or course sea salt, sel gris, fleur de sel or Hawaiian pink — can seriously amp up your sweets, the author recounts in this fun-to-read book. Her treats include salted caramels, perfectly imperfect pecan pralines, dark chocolate and sea salt crostini, coconut rice pudding and cornmeal peach crisp.
I know we’re supposed to watch our sugar and salt intake, but the author points out that a little bit of the good stuff goes a long way and keeps you from mindlessly munching flavorless cookies. Makes sense to me. Now you tell me if these two selections don’t sound fantastic for Mardi Gras hedonism:

Drunken Sauce
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
2 tablespoons dark rum
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the brown sugar and salt and stir until the sugar is completely dissolved and the sauce is smooth, about 5 minutes.
Remove the sauce from the heat and stir in the rum and vanilla. Serve immediately.

Toffee Sauce
This is for sticky toffee pudding, vanilla or almond ice cream. The author might also add, anything that begs for toffee.
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
2 cups packed dark brown sugar
2/3 cup water
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
Melt the butter in a medium-size saucepan over medium-low heat. Stir in the brown sugar, water and salt. Turn the heat up to medium-high and bring to a boil; stir occasionally, cooking until the sauce is thickened slightly and reduce to about 2 1/2 cups. Keep the sauce warm over very low heat until ready to use it.

Fiber fan
Here’s an endorsed-by-Darragh snack: Fiber One is introducing Fiber One® 90 Calorie Chewy Bars in chocolate and chocolate peanut butter. It’s a little bit crispy, a little bit sweet, and the chewey-gooey sensation of it all helps keep you satisfied. Love ‘em.

I’m so proud of my husband, who used to shun most things healthy. I nearly wept when he mentioned he hadn’t had brown rice in almost a week. RiceSelect’s new Texmati offerings in the boxy jars have him spoiled. Six newbys are: Vegetable Medley, Pilaf Medley, Mushroom Medley, Original Pearl Couscous, Tri-color Pearl Couscous and Whole Wheat Pearl Couscous. Pearls are fun and take 10 minutes to prepare. Try it with kids in the kitchen.
You will be full; you will feel healthy.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Texas savvy and Valentine finds
I recently shared an exciting glow-in-the-dark Texas star guide from Waterford Press. Other water-repellent pocket Texas guides help you find a funeral duskywing butterfly, beardtongue flower, yellow-rumped warbler and bark scorpion. Wildflowers, moths and butterflies, wildlife, seashore life and birds are the categories. Maybe now visitors and residents can realize those long-legged pink birds in our skies are not flamingos, they’re roseate spoonbills.
Armed with these guides I can tell you I’d rather run into a botta’s pocket gopher than a Norway rat. Next time I go to the beach I can enjoy the now-obvious distinctions between the Southern quahong and turkey wing shells. Boy, do I feel smarter.

Valentine finds
Ladies, my lips are feelin’ fine with Mint Glaze FX and I think I could be snacking less because of it. Cover FX Fortifying Lip Treat Mint Primer SPF 15 will keep your lips fit for the Mardi Gras seawall. The minty flavor of peppermint oil makes me think I just had a candy, and there’s no way I’m going to ruin the look with chip crumbs. The liquid is clear and paints on with a velvety tip promising to smooth, soften and provide time-relese hydration and the look of fuller, smoother lips. That’s a big promise, but Mint Glaze can handle it. You get to shop at one of those amazing Sephora stores in Houston, or Nordstroms, to pick up a tube.
It’s probably no accident the shiny lid on Relastin Ultra Emollient makes it look like a pot of gold. Revance Therapeutics Inc. of Mountain View, Calif., distributes this cream with zinc firming complex to promote elastin formation. I’m not sure how to measure improvements, but I can tell you that after smoothing on this stuff, I’m done with winter blahs.

Romantic hair
When is it okay to appear “loose” on Valentine’s Day?
Loose curls sweeping waves and long-flowing hair are perfect for this holiday’s hairstyles, says Philip Pelusi, celebrity hairstylist, product expert/developer and owner of Tela Design Studio in New York City’s Meatpacking District.
Pelusi’s step-by-step tips for achieving the look involve his own products. I just had a birthday, so I was already feeling old when I tried Longevity. Now my curls are more spry. Here’s the artist’s tips:
• Shampoo and condition - Use a strengthening and weightless moisturizing formula to leave hair in top condition but full of body. Try P2 Longevity Shampoo and Longevity Conditioner to strengthen, detangle and condition hair.
• Apply a volume and curl boosting product (like P2® by Philip Pelusi Recurl) - Comb through with a wide tooth comb. If you have natural waves and curls, gently push them into place and either air dry or blow dry with a diffuser. If hair is straight, follow the same instructions but gently scrunch hair with your fingers while diffusing.
• Curl - The trick to keeping this look sexy and romantic is to curl the hair in opposite directions. Roll some curls going forward and others going back, and tousle the curls with fingers using a product that gives that “just from the beach sexy hair texture.” The line’s BeachComber does it with a citrus scent.

Put Grandma in your nightlight
Seriously…Light Affection takes you photographs then “sculpts” it into an amazing 3D work of lighting art. If you’re an even semi-decent photographer, and you have even the most average-looking of relatives, you will still get an amazing piece of art that inspires memories and double takes. I’m imagining a child enjoying having his photo or a grandparents’ photo in the light. Visit for details.