Cultivate a Life of Vitality, Pleasure, Passion and Purpose

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Easy Outdoor Entertaining

Seating themselves on the greensward, they eat while the corks fly and there is talk, laughter and merriment, and perfect freedom, for the universe is their drawing room and the sun their lamp. Besides, they have appetite, Nature’s special gift, which lends to such a meal a vivacity unknown indoors, however beautiful the surroundings.”
-Jean-Anthelme Brillat-Savarin

It’s that time of year when longer days and warmer temperatures make dining “al fresco” possible, and what a joy that is! I absolutely love preparing a meal (usually on the grill), then sitting down to enjoy it outdoors, among the breeze, sights and sounds of summer. It seems to be an instant stress reliever and a beautiful opportunity to be present and enjoy the many gifts of this incredible season.

The best part is, outdoor entertaining can be surprisingly fuss-free. And we all know that the simpler things are, the more likely we are to do them. Here are some tips for hosting an intimate outdoor dinner party:

  1. Keep the menu simple: a salad, protein and a couple of sides are all that’s needed for a lovely dinner. Dessert can be as simple as some cut berries and ice cream/gelato.

  2. Build your menu around whatever is seasonal. Summer’s bounty gives us LOTS of healthy and delicious options.

  3. Include side dishes that can be served cold or at room temperature. Less time spent cooking means more time spent with your guests.

  4. Prep most of the meal ahead of time. Even grilled vegetables can be done in advance and served at room temperature (I love to add a drizzle of balsamic reduction right before serving to “fancy” them up!).

  5. Serve at least one course that you can purchase, rather than prepare yourself. This might be a cheese/charcuterie board, fois gras with crackers, cocktail shrimp, a hummus platter, etc. Certainly, a wonderful dessert may be purchased from the pastry shop. The point is…don’t feel that you need to make everything yourself. Choose how and where to invest your (limited) time and energy, so that you can have fun preparing for the party and not feel overextended and drained.

  6. If using the grill, make sure that it’s in working order and that you have enough gas/charcoal.

  7. Limit beverage choices; a fully stocked bar is not necessary. Still or sparkling water with slices of citrus fruit and a nice wine will satisfy most guests.

  8. Create a cozy outdoor space (click here for some inspiration).

  9. Use real china, stemware and cutlery (as opposed to paper/plastic) to create a more elegant meal. And if you want to add an extra elegant touch, bring your linens out (napkins and/or tablecloth).

  10. Include a couple of small bouquets of flowers, rather than one larger arrangement. If you’re lucky enough to have a flower garden, a few cut flowers and a few sprigs of greens will be perfect.

  11. Make sure to bring outside all of the the kitchen tools/equipment that you need (like tongs, spatula, etc.) ahead of time.

  12. Linger over the meal. Summer seems to beckon us to slow down and savor what’s going on around us. Savor the meal, the setting, the company, the warm weather, the night sky, etc. Enjoy every moment of your very Wellegant gathering!

I hope that these ideas have inspired to partake of this simple summer pleasure. In the words of Savarin, may you enjoy “laughter and merriment and perfect freedom.”



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Wellegant™ Mind, Body, Life: Nourish Your Body and Feed Your Soul

It contains my best healthy living tips, recipes and other resources to help you live your most Wellegant life. Enjoy!




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Weekly Wellegant Find: NARS Copacabana Illuminator

One of the things that characterizes youthful skin is a dewy glow. Yet, we all have those days when, despite our best efforts to eat well, drink lots of water and moisturize our skin, it remains a bit lackluster. That’s when a highlighter or illuminator comes in very handy.

They generally come is liquid or powder form, however, I find that powder tends to settle in fine lines and dry out my skin, so I prefer the liquid variety. I recently found this Copacabana Illuminator by NARS and it’s quickly become one of my favorite beauty products.

A little goes a long way and I use it as follows: I put a tiny dab on my forefinger then rub my fingers together. I then pat my fingers over the tops of my cheekbones, the bridge of my nose and the center of my forehead. I even press a bit into the inner corner of my eyelids (very eye-opening!). Then, I take a big fluffy brush and go over my entire face to blend it in and voila…that youthful, dewy glow!

Have a lovely week, my Wellegant ladies!




Wellegant™ Mind, Body, Life: Nourish Your Body and Feed Your Soul

It contains my best healthy living tips, recipes and other resources to help you live your most Wellegant life. Enjoy!



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Recipe: Strawberry Clafoutis

Clafoutis (pronounced kläfo͞oˈtē) is a tart made of fruit that’s baked in a batter. It isn’t quite a cake and it isn’t quite a custard, but something in between the two. And it’s fabulous!

Since strawberries are in season and super delicious right now, I decided to make a Strawberry Clafoutis. Because the berries are so sweet, very little sugar is needed and, as the juicy, red berries bubbled over in the oven, I couldn’t help but think that this dish looks just as wonderful and decadent as it tastes.

Give it a try, while the berries are in season. You will not be disappointed!


Strawberry Clafoutis

Clafoutis (pronounced kläfo͞oˈtē) is a tart made of fruit that’s baked in a batter. It isn’t quite a cake and it isn’t quite a custard, but something in between the two. And it’s fabulous, especially when made with ripe and juicy strawberries!


  • 2 cups strawberries, sliced
  • 4 Tbsp. granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour (gluten-free flour may be used)
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 2 Tbsp. butter, melted
  • 1 tsp. orange zest
  • 3 eggs


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

  2. Place 4 individual baking dishes (1-2 inches deep) on a large baking sheet and spray the dishes with cooking spray to prevent sticking.

  3. In a medium bowl, toss strawberries with 1 tsp. sugar and set aside.

  4. In another bowl, whisk the remaining sugar, flour and salt. Add eggs and whisk to combine. Add sour cream, melted butter and orange zest and continue to whisk.

  5. Divide the berries among the 4 baking dishes. Top with equal portions of the batter.

  6. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until puffed and just starting to brown.

  7. Let cool for about 10 minutes and serve warm.

Recipe Notes

Serves 4.


Wellegant™ Mind, Body, Life: Nourish Your Body and Feed Your Soul

It contains my best healthy living tips, recipes and other resources to help you live your most Wellegant life. Enjoy!



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Recipe: Chicken Tortilla Soup (GF)

So, you might be wondering why I’m posting a recipe for soup at the beginning of June. Yes, it’s a bit unseasonal, but if you live on Long Island you’ll understand exactly why, as the weather has been cold, rainy and altogether dreary for the last couple of weeks.

I know that summer is on its way. Occasionally, we’ve had a tiny glimpse of it (very occasionally and a very tiny glimpse!?), but the truth is…the weather has been more conducive to soups than to salads, grilling and dining outside.

So, that’s exactly what I made this past week…soup. Chicken Tortilla Soup to be exact. It was a new dish in which I tried to replicate the flavors of a chicken enchilada (minus all of the heavy sauce and cheeses). I was inspired by a recipe in the cookbook, The New Slow Cooker by Brigit Binns.The broth is made with tomatoes, onions, garlic and various Tex-mex spices. The chicken thighs are so tender they practically fall apart and the whole, hearty bowl is topped with diced avocado, fresh cilantro and a squeeze of lime.

My kids also topped their soup with a dollop of sour cream and a sprinkling of broken up tortilla chips. We all absolutely loved it and the best part is, this soup is cooked in the slow cooker. Which means that when you come home at the end of the day, it’s ready and waiting for you!

Here’s the recipe in case you, too, feel the need to cozy up with something warm and comforting these days.

Buon Appetit,


Chicken Tortilla Soup

1 (15 oz.) can of crushed tomatoes

1 yellow onion, rough chopped

3 cloves of garlic, smashed

1 jalapeño, seeded and chopped (OPTIONAL)

5 ½ cups of chicken stock (homemade or store bought) LINK

2 lbs skinless, boneless chicken thighs (approximately 8 thighs)

2 limes

1 tsp. Red wine vinegar

1 tsp. Ground cumin

3 bay leaves

Salt and freshly ground pepper

2 c. Frozen corn kernels

2 small avocados, diced

2 Tbsp. Cilantro, coarsely chopped

Sour cream (OPTIONAL, for garnish)

Tortilla chips (OPTIONAL, for garnish)

In the blender or food processor, combine the tomatoes, onion, garlic and one cup of chicken broth and process until smooth.Then, pour into the slow cooker.

Add the chicken thighs, the remaining chicken broth, the juice of 1 lime, the vinegar, cumin, bay leaves, ¾ tsp. Salt and several grinds of fresh pepper. Cover and cook on the low setting for at least 5 hours.

Thirty minutes before serving, remove the chicken and shred the meat. Skim any fat from the soup (there shouldn’t be much, as the chicken thighs are skinless). Return the chicken to the pot and add the corn. Cover and continue to cook for 30 minutes.

Remove the bay leaves and discard. Cut the remaining lime into wedges. Ladle the soup into bowls, squeeze a wedge of lime over top and garnish each bowl with some chopped avocados, cilantro, sour cream and/or tortilla chips.

Serves 6-8.


Wellegant™ Mind, Body, Life: Nourish Your Body and Feed Your Soul

It contains my best healthy living tips, recipes and other resources to help you live your most Wellegant life. Enjoy!




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Tips to Develop a Journaling Practice

I’ve always loved the idea of a journal – the trusty companion who will allow me to celebrate my succcesses, vent my frustrations, organize my jumbled thoughts and serve as a safe place to ramble on about all of the nonsensical, obsessive and embarrassing things that nobody else would have the patience to listen to. I imagined myself sitting down each day with a cup of tea, writing my heart out (literally!). And with that fantasy in mind, I’ve purchased many beautiful journals over the years, enthusiastic about becoming one of those creative types who totes around her journal, full of emotion and inspiration, at all times.

The reality…My beautiful journals contain about 1-2 weeks worth of entries, mostly consisting of rants and complaints, before the pages go back to blank. There’s no sitting calmly with a cup of tea; writing time is 10 minutes, if I’m lucky, which I usually have to jam into a packed schedule. The process and the product never feel very good because the journal invariably becomes a receptacle for all of my various frustrations and anxieties. So much so, that I eventually toss the damn thing in the trash. A failed project.

You’d think, after all this time that I’d have given up on my journal writing goal, but as someone who loves to write and who sees the incredible value in this type of reflection (I AM an English teacher, after all!?), I’ve kept at it. I’ve read a bit about journaling, I’ve experimented with various techniques and approaches and, alas, I seem to have found one that works for me.

It doesn’t exactly resemble my fantasy but that’s ok. The practice has offered me a safe place to feel my feelings (both the positive and the negative ones), process the events of my life, acknowledge big and small victories, dream, plan, draw inspiration and find gratitude.

As is usually the case with these types of endeavors, I had to let go of the “rules” and figure out what works for me, given my unique preferences and lifestyle. If journaling appeals to you, I encourage you to do the same type of experimentation to find the journaling style that feels most comfortable. As you do, here are some things to consider:

Let go of the idea that you MUST write every day. Write whenever you feel called to, no matter how frequently or infrequently that is. The fewer rules you impose on yourself, the more comfortable the practice will be; the more comfortable the practice is, the more you’re likely to want to do it. And if you only look for your journal every once in a while and that’s what feels comfortable for you, so be it. This is all about finding what best supports you.

Suspend all judgement (of yourself and your writing). Resist the urge to edit and to make moral judgments about what you’re writing. This is for your eyes only and should be a place of total freedom.

Express yourself. This is a safe place to express emotions without fear of hurting/offending someone. It’s healthy and appropriate to let your full range of emotions out on the page.

Don’t hesitate to brag about yourself and celebrate your accomplishments (both big and little ones). Allow your journal to be a place where you can reflect on ALL of your emotions and experiences, not just the negative ones!

Ask questions. Sometimes it’s helpful to record questions, without feeling obligated to provide answers. Often we don’t have the answers, but the simple act of recording the questions might help us to sort through the tangle of thoughts and emotions. And this might move us closer to finding the answers we seek.

Respond to your own thoughts and questions. Occasionally, while writing, I find myself speaking TO myself (saying “you” and “your”) and, sometimes, offering advice/counsel. When this happens, I often feel as if my “higher consciousness” is speaking to me and offering insights. Whatever the reason, it’s an interesting technique that is likely to give you food for thought.

Record things that you find beautiful, things that inspire you and things you’re grateful for. When you do this regularly, it actually causes the brain to actively seek these things throughout the day. And our journal becomes a nice reminder of what’s going right and what we’d like to move toward.

Capture ideas. Before you forget them.

Set goals/intentions and make plans. This is where the journal becomes a sort of planner, allowing you to become clear about the direction you’re heading and the path you wish to take to get there. It’s also a wonderful way to track progress.

Lists are ok (even to-do lists!). I have lists of books I’d like to read, films I’d like to see, recipes to try, even things to remember when i go to the grocery store.

Record quotes that you love.

Reflect on patterns in your thoughts and behaviors. Both the act of writing in a journal and the act of reading past journal entries give us the opportunity to identify patterns in our lives, something that’s hard to do when we’re enmeshed in the day to day. By broadening our perspective in this way, we’re better able to examine our patterns and habits, enabling us to determine which ones are serving us and which ones are not.

Letting go/transitions. The journal can become a wonderful vehicle for sorting through the tangle of emotions and finding closure during endings and transitions. It allows you to be present with whatever comes up and to deepen your relationship with yourself.

Look for lessons and opportunities for growth. When we can find meaning in our life experiences, we are better able to appreciate the positive ones and to reframe the negative ones so that we may heal and grow. The journal can assist us in doing that, as it gives us a place to process things, tease out the lessons and “silver linings” and consider how we wish to proceed. Rather than feeling swept up in our circumstances, this kind of reflection allows us to take our power back and make more conscious choices, as we move forward.

Feel free to draw or paste images into your journal. Sometimes a picture captures things that can be hard to express. Or your journal can serve as a place to keep images of fashion, garden, home decor and other inspirations.

As you can see, the practice of journaling offers many benefits. If you have the desire to explore it, my best advice is to do so with a sense of play – try several of the above techniques (and there are many others) to see what feels right. This kind of self-reflections almost always yields interesting insights, but when we can take pleasure in the process and the journey to those insights, that’s where the real magic happens.

Enjoy your journaling journey and have a wonderful, Wellegant weekend!



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Wellegant™ Mind, Body, Life: Nourish Your Body and Feed Your Soul

It contains my best healthy living tips, recipes and other resources to help you live your most Wellegant life. Enjoy!

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Weekly Wellegant Find: “Paris Can Wait” (Movie)

From the moment I heard about this movie, I knew that it was my kind of film – an escape into the beautiful scenery of Provence, France along with gastronomic delights, romance and themes of being present, making pleasure a priority and living in the moment. Many critics compare it to one of my favorite films, “Under the Tuscan Sun” (also starring Diane Lane) and so I felt pretty confident that this film would be right up my Wellegant alley!

As the film summary states, “Anne (Diane Lane) is at a crossroads in her life. Married to a successful but inattentive movie producer (Alec Baldwin), she unexpectedly finds herself taking a car trip from Cannes to Paris with her husband’s business associate (Arnaud Viard). What should be a seven-hour drive turns into a carefree two-day adventure replete with diversions involving picturesque sights, fine food and wine, humor, wisdom and romance, reawakening Anne’s senses and giving her a new lust for life.”

I had the opportunity to check it out this past weekend and, while I think it was a bit light on plot development (it seemed more travelogue than story, as the characters move from one town and meal to the next), it was a feast for the senses and a light, enjoyable movie experience, especially for foodies and Francophiles like me.

If you’re looking for a fun little excursion in the French countryside without leaving your hometown, “Paris Can Wait” is just such an adventure. Check out the trailer, below:

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Recipe: Frutti di Mare on the Grill

In my family, this dish is absolutely synonymous with summer! It’s a recipe that a friend shared with me years ago and I make it almost every time I entertain a crowd during the summer months. For one thing, it’s outrageously delicious and for another, it’s something that you can prep ahead of time, making it the perfect, no-fuss party food.

Mussels, clams, shrimp, garlic, shallots, grape tomatoes, lemon and fresh herbs – it’s a seafood lovers’ dream! Put all of the ingredients in a large aluminum roasting pan, cover it with foil and let the entire thing steam on the grill. In minutes, you’ve got a wonderful hot seafood appetizer OR an incredible seafood sauce that can be served over linguini. Take your pick – both are show stoppers!

My preference is to serve it as a hot appetizer with loaves of crusty bread for dipping in the tasty broth that develops when the seafood and veggies steam down. It makes a huge amount, but don’t expect to have any leftovers. I’ve been making this for years and guests always devour every last morsel. And they almost always leave with the recipe, determined to make it themselves.

Enjoy this little bit of summer on a plate! And please remember to post photos and tag me on Instagram. I love to see your creations!



Frutti di Mare on the Grill

2 lbs. mussels, cleaned
2 lbs. clams, cleaned
16-24 jumbo shrimp, shelled and deveined
1/3 c. olive oil
1/2 cup dry white wine
3 shallots, sliced thinly
1 pint grape tomatoes
2 lemons, sliced
1 Tbsp. salt
ground black pepper, to taste
1/2 cup chopped parsley
1/2 cup chopped basil

Preheat the grill until hot.

Place seafood in a large, aluminum pan and set aside. In a medium bowl, combine the olive oil, white wine, shallots, salt and pepper. Pour over the seafood. Top seafood with the grape tomatoes, lemon slices and fresh herbs, then cover with aluminum foil. Place the pan onto the grill and allow to cook for approximately 15-20 minutes (or until the mussels and clams open and the shrimp turn pink), stirring occasionally. Remove pan from grill and serve.

Serves 10-12.


Wellegant™ Mind, Body, Life: Nourish Your Body and Feed Your Soul

It contains my best healthy living tips, recipes and other resources to help you live your most Wellegant life. Enjoy!