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3 Painless Ways to Eat Less Meat

red lentils
Aarti’s Easy and Delicious Red Lentils
Besides the health benefits of eating less meat – according to Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, eating less red meat reduces your risk of cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and obesity – and the financial ones – meat is pretty pricey! – you also help reduce your carbon footprint: According to Oxfam America, meat production uses 8% of the world’s water supply!

What other reason do you need to go meatless, even just once a week?

I love the whole Meatless Monday trend, not just because I’m one of those freaks who loves her a big plate of vegetables, but also because I love the challenge of finding ways to satisfy my meat-loving husband. And I have! So here are some of my tricks to making a meatless meal a delicious one.

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Aarti Sequeira’s Healthy New Year’s Resolutions

Aarti Sequeira's Healthy New Year's Resolutions

“Good” vs. “Bad”
This is possibly the biggest lesson I learned this season on Drop 5 Lbs with Good Housekeeping, and one that might be the toughest one to break because I, like so many people, do this without thinking. When recounting what you may have eaten the previous day, how many of you say, “well, then I was bad and had a cookie,” or, “I’ve been really good the past couple days!” Good and bad are weighty words, and in some cases can be insidious. For example, I definitely have some food addiction issues and when I label myself as bad for having eaten or not eaten something, a tape starts playing in my head that goes something like this: “You stupid fat kid.  Couldn’t control yourself for even a second, huh?”  That leads to a rapid shame spiral, which makes me feel helpless and worthless, which leads to multiple trips to the freezer where the ice cream lays. I eat my feelings, then feel bad about myself for doing so, inevitably leading to yet another slump over to the freezer. It’s a viscous cycle. Our morality is not determined by what we eat; that is a lie and a distraction!  Don’t waste your energy on that. Go do something “good” for someone else when you feel guilt over something you ate coming on, and stop using those words. I’m going to start saying things like, “I indulged” or “I have been very disciplined this week.” I’ve already started actually, and I’ve found that it’s caused me to a bit more mindful about the times I’ve jumped off course in the direction of the pastry shelf at the local coffee shop! 

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Spice Up Your Holidays

If there’s one time of year when your spice cabinet gets a workout, it’s the holidays. Between mulled wine, gingerbread cookies and pumpkin pie, I imagine olfactory glands across the country lighting up as they sniff on cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and ginger. Ah, joy! Joy smells like spices, don’t you think?

Joy to the world!

Well, if you’re looking for some ways to sneak some of the inhabitants of your spice cabinet into your Christmas dinner, here are some ideas for you:

1)     Mango-Glazed Ham

Pick up a jar of mango chutney from your grocery store, and use that to make a glaze for your cooked ham. Sizzle some crushed cumin and coriander seeds in a little warm oil, add some crushed garlic, then add a healthy dollop of mango chutney along with some mustard and some kind of acid (red wine vinegar, orange juice, lime juice, etc).

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Baby, It’s Cold Outside: Cocktails to Warm You Up

The weather has well and truly turned here in Los Angeles. Sure, the sun is shining and the fronds on the sky-high palm trees still tickle the invisible ivories as the sea-breeze wisps past them. But it’s cold for us, ok? Heck, all those hipsters on Melrose sporting the military boots, short shorts and flannel-fleece hats can’t be wrong, can they?

In any case, I’m cold. I’m wearing my little fake-fur lined booties even as I speak, and I know it won’t be long now before I have to shut my windows because the breezes cause me to shiver in my yoga pants (yes, you can roll your eyes at me now). But here’s something you might be able to relate to: today, I couldn’t get enough warm drinks. Another telltale sign that winter is on LA’s doorstep.

By 2 o’clock, I’d already made my way through a cup of hot pour-over coffee (oh dear, I am a hopeless coffee snob) and two cups of green tea. As we sat down to a lunch of tiny pupusas at Tinga, I looked longingly at their coffee list, hoping for a decaffeinated version to warm up my internal organs without giving them such a jolt that I’d be unable to sleep tonight. A couple of hours later, I ran across the street to grab a hot cocoa from Sycamore Kitchen. A plain glass of water no longer appeals to me; rather, its potential to make my teeth to chatter causes me to give it a wide berth. I have a feeling I’m going to be very dehydrated this season!

For me, one of the tricky things about this time of year is trying to figure out how to have my cocktails and my warmth, too. The notion of a shot or two of my favourite spirits, spun around chunks of ice until the glass itself shivers and frosts up… well, it doesn’t sound all that enticing. But what’s a girl to do at the myriad winter gatherings ahead of her between now and the New Year?  Sip on her hot green tea, the reluctant teetotaler?  Heavens forbid.

Here are some ideas for cocktails that will warm up you and your guests in one way or another.  You’re welcome.  Now take that flannel hat off.  You look ridiculous.

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The Gift of Giving

This post was going to be your run-of-the-mill gift guide.  All week, I’d been thinking of things you could get your food-iac friends and family.

And then, I sat down to write it.  I started and erased it three times.

Why was I having such a hard time writing such a simple post?

It might have something to do with a video I watched the other day of people waiting to get into a Victoria’s Secret once it opened on Black Friday.  The crowd brayed and yelled, pushing and elbowing their neighbours even though there was nowhere to go. Their nostrils flared, their eyes wide with a combination of fear and delight; it looked like a mosh pit, or dare I say it: a herd of cattle.  But that wasn’t what got me.

It was the look on the employees’ faces.

They were scared.  And I think it is no exaggeration to say that I think they were actually scared for their lives, because once the doors opened, they knew that flood of people would knock them over, stomp on them, hurt them, yell at them — all in the name of saving a few dollars for a present for someone they ostensibly really care about.

Have we possibly gotten away from the importance of this season, y’all?

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Rethink Traditional Hostess Gifts

Hostess GiftsTrade in bottles of wine for bottles of uniquely-flavored bitters as your go-to hostess gifts this year.

We’re barreling towards the end of the year now and are firmly in the midst of party season. From the awkward office mixer (are you the one that always brings the light-up reindeer ears?) to the elegant cocktail party your interior-designer friend always throws that you’re never quite sure how to dress for, your dance card is full.

I don’t know about you, but I’d never really considered the “hostess gift” until, frankly, I was asked to write a post about it. It’s not that I show up empty-handed, but that bottle of wine or grapefruit-flavoured Perrier (my drink of choice at the moment!) in my mitts is usually destined for both the hostess’ glass… and mine.

But, last week, I actually thought it out a bit and tried it. My friend Heide hosted Thanksgiving at her house – no small feat – and so I brought along a little present. Not only did it light her face up, it also made me feel good – a little something to say thank you for getting up extra early so that the table would look good, and a thank you in advance for the hours spent cleaning up after we’re gone.

Here’s the thing with hostess gifts, though; I need them to be practical. Space is at a premium in most houses, and the last thing I want to do is hand over another kitchen gadget that clogs up the catch-all drawer. So here are my suggestions for inexpensive-but-useful little presents that not only show your host or your hostess your appreciation, but make you look good, too!

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The Great Digestion: How Not to Overeat on Thanksgiving

You’ve ordered your organic heritage turkey.

You’ve Sandra Lee’d your table-scapes.

You’ve even figured out your signature cocktail using the cocoa-chile d’arbol bitters you’ve been brewing.

But have you figured out your digestion plan?

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