Wellegance

Cultivate a Life of Vitality, Pleasure, Passion and Purpose


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Weekly Wellegant Find: Wool Dryer Balls

Who doesn’t want extra soft, fresh smelling, static-free free clothing? Many of us use fabric softener sheets in the dryer to achieve this result. I used fabric softener sheets for years until, fairly recently, I became aware of just how toxic the chemicals in dryer sheets are!?

Whenever I want to research products and determine their “rating” (how safe, non-toxic and environmentally safe they are), I consult the Environmental Working Group. Their website is a wealth of information and evaluates the safety of just about every product on the market. It’s an amazing resource!

So, when I got wind of the dangers of using dryer sheets, I consulted the EWG immediately and here’s the article that finally convinced me to give up dryer sheets forever and find a safer alternative.

One of the alternatives the EWG suggests is the wool dryer ball, which is simply a ball of felted wool wrapped around a fiber core (wool and its natural lanolin soften fabric and reduce static cling), so off I, dutifully, went in search of one. I didn’t have to look far, as Amazon sells a number of them.

This one by Pure Homemaker is the one that I settled on and I couldn’t be happier. For one thing, it works! Clothing comes out of the dryer fresh, soft and static free. Furthermore, I know that I’m not putting harsh chemicals, fragrance and preservatives on my (and my family’s) skin. Using wool dryer balls is quite a bit cheaper than using dryer sheets and they’re far more environmentally friendly. The wool balls last for several years and can be easily “freshened up”, if necessary, by simply running them through the washer and dryer (of course, you’ll want to make sure that the laundry detergent you’re using is also free of chemicals, fragrance, etc.).

This is an effective and inexpensive way to keep your clothing soft and static-free, while keeping your body and the environment safe and healthy.

Have a wonderful, Wellegant week,

Karen

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Recipe: Grilled Pork Tenderloin and Scallion Skewers

Although, technically, last week marked the beginning of fall, the weather on Long Island hasn’t yet caught up! Temperatures reached 90 degrees this week and I’ve taken the opportunity to enjoy the grill for a bit longer.

Grilled pork tenderloin is fabulous and I make it often in the summer, but I’ve always grilled the tenderloin whole; I never thought to slice it and skewer it until now. It cooked in no time (although I did marinate it for a bit) and turned out great! The scallions were a lovely flavor complement and also a nice way to separate the pork slices.

I served it with this bok choy recipe (which is fabulous!) and a cucumber and feta cheese salad, and the whole meal felt like the perfect way to bid summer (and the grill) adieu!

I hope that you, too, have enjoyed the last weeks of summertime and look forward, with excitement, to the pleasures of autumn!

xo,

Karen

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Grilled pork tenderloin is fabulous and I make it often in the summer, but I’ve always grilled the tenderloin whole; I never thought to slice it and skewer it until now. It cooked in no time (although I did marinate it for a bit) and turned out great! The scallions were a lovely flavor complement and a nice way to separate the pork slices.

Ingredients

  • 1 lemon
  • 2 cloves of garlic minced
  • 2 Tbsp. Extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ tsp. Salt
  • ½ tsp. Ground black pepper
  • 1 1 pound pork tenderloin
  • 5 scallions cut into 1-2 inch pieces

Instructions

  1. Preheat the grill to medium-high heat.
  2. Zest the lemon into a medium bowl and squeeze in the juice (it should yield approximately 3 Tbsp of juice). Add the garlic, oil, salt and pepper. Mix to combine.
  3. Thinly slice the pork tenderloin on a diagonal and add the pork and the scallions to the marinade. Allow to marinate for 15-30 minutes.
  4. Thread the pork and scallions onto skewers and grill until just cooked through, approximately 2-3 minutes per side.

Recipe Notes

Serves 4.

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Stocking a Healthy Pantry

Whenever anybody asks me how to improve their diet, my advice is always the same: you MUST begin to cook your own meals. The ONLY way to know exactly what and how much you’re consuming is to prepare your food yourself.  Period. There is simply no other way to control the intake of salt, sugar, unhealthy fats, dyes, preservatives, etc. And once we commit to cooking, we can improve our chances of success tremendously by making sure that we have a well stocked kitchen.

Having a healthy diet and being able to cook healthy meals begins with having the right things at your fingertips – the essential tools, equipment and appliances as well as a “healthy pantry.” In other words, a kitchen that’s stocked with the healthy and flavorful ingredients you need to make meals that are nutritious and delicious. After all, who wants to eat food that isn’t pleasurable and satisfying?

An added benefit of having a well stocked kitchen is that it makes the entire process of cooking much more enjoyable. I happen to love the time I spend in the kitchen. Not only do I find cooking to be creative and meditative (for me, it’s highly therapeutic!), but being able to prepare healthy and tasty meals for myself and my family is extremely gratifying. And I know that a big part of the reason I enjoy the process so much is that I can keep it fairly simple. I don’t have to go hunting around for the equipment, utensils and ingredients I need. They’re readily available and easy to grab. As long as I’ve got some basic tools, quality ingredients and a willingness to try new things, I can make my time in the kitchen (and the food that’s produced there) pretty magical.

To that end, I’ve created a list of items that comprise a healthy pantry. These are the things I always have on hand and they pretty much ensure that I can whip up a nourishing and great-tasting meal anytime. Of course, this list can (and should) be tailored to your individual tastes and preferences, but I believe that it’s a great starting point. So here goes…

Items to be Included in a Healthy Pantry:

  1. Oils: Extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil and canola oil are ‘must-have’s’ in my kitchen. I prefer to also keep sesame oil on hand for stir fry’s, marinades and asian dishes.
  2. Nonstick cooking spray (for baking)
  3. Vinegars: Balsamic, apple cider vinegar, red wine vinegar and rice vinegar
  4. Kalamata olives (pitted)
  5. Capers
  6. Dijon mustard
  7. Soy sauce or coconut aminos
  8. Sun -dried tomatoes
  9. Ground Black Pepper/Peppercorns (for a grinder)/Red pepper flakes
  10. Mayonnaise (I prefer mayo that is soy-free so I usually opt for olive oil mayo, canola oil mayo or avocado oil mayo)
  11. Salt: finely ground sea salt for cooking and a finishing salt (for example, fleur du sel)
  12. Broth: low sodium chicken, beef, vegetable
  13. Beans: no-salt-added cannellini, kidney, garbanzo, black beans, lentils, etc.
  14. Tomatoes: no-salt-added diced, whole, tomato sauce, tomato paste
  15. Tuna: chunk light or the imported Italian tuna packed in olive oil (my fave!)
  16. Roasted red peppers, packed in water
  17. Sugars: granulated sugar and brown sugar for baking
  18. Honey
  19. Maple syrup
  20. Cocoa/cacao powder
  21. Dark chocolate (at least 70% cacao)
  22. Natural peanut butter (creamy is called for in most recipes)
  23. Almond butter
  24. Low sugar jam/fruit spread
  25. An assortment of shelled, unsalted nuts – almonds, cashews, walnuts, pecans, etc.
  26. An assortment of dried fruit – apricots, figs, cranberries, cherries, dates, raisins
  27. All purpose flour (gluten free flour, if preferred)
  28. Oats: old fashioned rolled oats (I also like steel cut oats)
  29. Plain or seasoned breadcrumbs (gluten free, if preferred)
  30. Pasta (regular or gluten free) in a variety of shapes
  31. Rice: brown and basmati are my favorites
  32. Quinoa
  33. Couscous, barley and/or farro
  34. Dried spices: garlic powder, onion powder, parsley flakes, italian seasoning, cumin, turmeric, cayenne pepper, cinnamon, nutmeg, paprika, herbes du provence
  35. Pure vanilla extract
  36. Tea/Coffee
  37. A high quality hard cheese, grated (such as Parmigiano-Reggiano or Locatelli)
  38. Butter (unsalted)
  39. Lemon(s)
  40. Wine: red and white (and please make sure that you only cook with wine that you would drink. None of those supermarket “cooking wines”, please!)

Now, this is a long list (and please note that, although I refer to this as a “healthy pantry,” some of these items are actually refrigerator items). Chances are, you won’t compile everything all at once but the goal is to, over time, create a well-stocked kitchen. Trust me when I tell you that it will add immeasurably to both your ability to prepare beautiful, nutritious meals, and also to your enjoyment of the cooking process.

I wish you many happy hours spent in the kitchen and many healthy and satisfying meals.

Buon Appetit!

Karen

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Weekly Wellegant Find: Kuhn Rikon Stay Clean Silicone Scrubber

I fully admit to being a bit of a germaphobe, especially in the kitchen. And while I make it a point to frequently disinfect cutting boards, appliances, etc., I’m always trying to find non-toxic and environmentally safe ways to do it. This Kuhn Rikon Stay Clean Silicone Scrubber has been a great, sanitary and eco-friendly addition to my kitchen.

Unlike traditionally sponges, which can trap moisture and become breeding grounds for bacteria, this sponge dries quickly and thoroughly. It is also dishwasher safe, so if it gets very greasy or dirty, a run through the dishwasher cleans it right up.

While it may not be abrasive enough for extremely dirty pots and pans, I’ve found it useful for just about everything else – dishes utensils, platters, cutting boards, counters, etc. – and I love knowing that I’m not spreading germs around my kitchen (something that most sponges do!)

I hope that this tip serves and that this item might be a useful addition to your kitchen, as well.

Have a wonderful, Wellegant week,

Karen

DID YOU GET YOUR GIFT YET ?  CLICK HERE to Grab your (FREE) guide –

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Recipe: Cold Roasted Pepper and Carrot Soup (GF)

This soup has been my go-to soup all summer. Any time I was asked to bring a dish somewhere or anytime I entertained at home, I prepared this and it was met with great reviews. I’ve given the recipe out to so many people that I thought it only fitting that I post the recipe on the blog.

Cold soups have come a long way since the days when gazpacho was the only soup eaten cold. Now there are all kinds of veggie and even fruit soups enjoyed, mostly during the summer months.

This soup marries the sweet flavors of carrots, peppers and onion. The soup is blended up with a small amount of cannelini beans, which gives the soup a creamy texture (without any cream!). It’s perfect for a summer picnic or barbecue, as it can be made in advance and served straight from the fridge.

I usually drizzle a bit of olive oil over top, however, a dollop of yogurt is also nice (it gives the soup a slight bit of tang and makes it even creamier). I hope you make and enjoy it as much as I have.

Buon Appetit!

Karen

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Cold Roasted Pepper and Carrot Soup

This soup marries the sweet flavors of carrots, peppers and onion. The soup is blended up with a small amount of cannelini beans, which gives the soup a creamy texture (without any cream!). It’s perfect for a summer picnic or barbecue, as it can be made in advance and served straight from the fridge.

Ingredients

  • 2 Tbsp. Extra virgin olive oil plus more for drizzling
  • 1 small sweet onion thinly sliced
  • 4-6 large carrots peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic finely chopped
  • 4 cups of chicken stock or water, if you’d prefer to keep it vegetarian
  • cup of cannellini beans drained and rinsed
  • 1 12 ounce jar of roasted red peppers, drained
  • 1 Tbsp. Apple cider vinegar
  • ¾ tsp. Salt

Instructions

  1. In a large pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until the onion is translucent and soft, about 5 minutes.

  2. Add the carrots and garlic. Cook, stirring often until the carrots are lightly golden, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add the stock, beans, red peppers, vinegar and salt. Simmer for approximately 20 minutes, until the carrots are tender and the beans break down.
  4. Purée the soup in the blender (or using an immersion blender) and then refrigerate until cold.
  5. Season with salt and pepper, to taste, and drizzle with olive oil just before serving.

Recipe Notes

Serves 6.

DID YOU GET YOUR GIFT YET ?  CLICK HERE to Grab your (FREE) guide –

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

 


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Slow Down and Maintain Your Summer “Mellow”

One of the things that I love the most about summer is that time seems to slow down. Perhaps it’s the heat that drives people to move slower, perhaps it’s the longer days, maybe it’s because there’s generally less to do…whatever the reason, it’s a feeling that I’m always loath to give up when summer winds to a close and September rolls around.

It seems that, as soon as the calendar page turns to August, my mind begins to fast forward, thinking ahead to ‘back to school’ and beginning to compile the lists (many lists!) of things to do, to make, to buy, etc. Most years, I feel as if I cheat myself out of several weeks of summer because of my inability to stay present and to keep myself in “summer mode” for the full duration of the month. Well, this year, I made a vow to do things differently.

I’ve thought long and hard about this and I believe that it is possible to slow down during these last couple of weeks, despite the fact that the media, technology, advertisements and seemingly everyone/everything else is trying to speed up and jump ahead. Here are the strategies that I believe will help us to maintain a sense of calm and ease at this busy time. And while I’ve been speaking specifically about summertime in this post, these practices are helpful at any time, during any season.

Because it’s really all about our thoughts. As we all know, nothing that we do is ever TRULY going to slow the passage of time. However, we most definitely can change our perception of time so that, rather than feeling rushed, stressed, anxious and harried in these last few weeks, we can continue to feel present, relaxed and joyful.

How to Slow Down and Maintain Your Summer “Mellow”

  1. Limit the items on your daily ‘To Do’ list. Do less and make the things you decide to do really count! I like to identify 3 things each day that I will get done. These are the things I deem most important. By limiting it to 3, I rarely have a day where I feel non-productive. While I may not complete everything I’d like to do, I almost always complete the 3 things that I’ve identified, and because I’m not spreading myself too thin, I do a better job on those 3 things. As with most things, it comes down to quality over quantity.
  2. Give up multi-tasking (if not long term, at least for the next few weeks). There is no greater myth than the one that tells us that we’ll get more done if we work on multiple things at one time. Our brains are simply not designed to concentrate on more than one thing at a time and, for this reason, multitasking (a) rarely produces as good a result as single-tasking and (b) is exhausting, as it requires quite a lot of mental energy. Stop doing it and you’ll likely be amazed at how much more productive you are and how much better you feel.
  3. Set limits/parameters around technology use. Technology (and, particularly, social media) can easily become a time-eater and create feelings of inadequacy. In an effort to slow down, seek to control what you feed your mind. The result will be more space and clarity rather than the feeling that we must hurry up and/or do more.
  4. Get your daily “nature fix.” Nature is a great metaphor for life. Whatever happens in nature happens on its own time and can not be rushed. Furthermore, being in nature encourages us to be present and experience what’s around us with our senses, rather than our intellect. This kind of presence and connection is a great way to slow down and savor our time.
  5. Truly listen to others. Often, conversations happen so fast and we’re so focused on getting things done that we fail to truly listen to the people we interact with. I’ve been frustrated by others who aren’t great listeners, yet I’ve also been guilty of doing this (many of us are, from time to time). One important way to slow down is to take our time when we’re in conversation. It not only shows the person with whom you’re speaking that you’re interested, attentive and considerate, but you’ll get more out of the conversation, as well.
  6. Pause throughout the day to take a breather. Literally! Stopping periodically to take a few deep, cleansing breaths will help to relieve stress/anxiety. Those pauses are also helpful when we find ourselves getting swept up in the momentum of what’s going on around us. Just a moment or two to close our eyes, breathe and refocus helps to slow our thoughts and maintain a sense of calm.
  7. Eat mindfully, sitting down. No wolfing the food down. No eating at the kitchen counter or, worse, on the run. In other words, slow down and savor your food. Consider mealtime as an opportunity to nourish yourself and allow it to be a moment of pleasure. After all, nothing seems to expand time more than the experience of pleasure.
  8. Make healthy food choices. Limit stimulants like caffeine and sugar. As we all know, what we put into our bodies makes a difference in how we feel. If we’re on a caffeine or sugar high, it stands to reason that we’ll be moving more quickly, probably jumping from task to task and, generally, feeling less of a sense of ease. And besides, with such wonderful, fresh fruits and vegetables, it’s not hard to satisfy ourselves with healthier alternatives.
  9. Incorporate simple pleasures into each day. Take a moment to buy yourself flowers or indulge in a piece of dark chocolate or make a call to that friend you’ve been thinking about. It may only take 5-10 minutes, but it will make the day seem a little longer (and so much sweeter!).

I hope that these strategies help you hang onto that summer vibe a bit longer and enjoy these last few weeks more fully. Summer is a gift that we’re blessed to receive – a beautiful, bountiful time of year when the rush of life subsides, if only for a while, inviting us to slow down and savor it. Let’s not to miss this golden opportunity!

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DID YOU GET YOUR GIFT YET ?  CLICK HERE to Grab your (FREE) guide –

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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: The French Chef in America (Book)

As a longtime fan of Julia Child, you can imagine how excited I was recently when I opened up my local newspaper and learned that Paul Prudhomme (nephew of Paul Child and co-author of Julia Child’s memoir, My Life in France) was going to be speaking and signing his most recent book, The French Chef in America, at my local library.

You see, I had just read My Life in France a couple of months prior and loved it. My Life in France is the memoir of Julia Child, which she insisted on writing with her nephew, Alex Prudhomme, as she was getting on in years and preferred to dictate the stories to Alex and have him do the writing. I absolutely loved it! Not only did he maintain her unique voice, but the book revolves around two great loves of mine – food and France.

Now, Prudhomme was at it again with The French Chef in America. This follow-up book is the story of Julia Child’s career, after she moved back to America and embarked on her career as a cookbook author and one of  America’s first TV chefs. By the time Prudhomme wrote it, both Paul and Julia Child had passed away. He authored the book himself, relying, once again, on the stories recounted to him by Julia in the year or so preceding her death.

I wanted to hear Prudhomme speak and learn more about this incredible woman, so I immediately marked the date on my calendar and contacted my foodie friend, Jen (you might remember her from this interview!). We made a date to go together.

Alex Prudhomme’s talk was fascinating and the book did not disappoint. Once again, he managed to capture Julia’s voice and weave together her many interesting and entertaining stories. The book reveals the opportunities and the challenges Julia Child faced as she revolutionized both the American approach to food and made cooking a form of entertainment. It’s a fun and inspiring read and I highly recommend it.

As summer winds down, there are precious few days to linger over a good book. This one, however, is worth the time. If you’re anything like me, you’ll be truly inspired by this authentic, passionate and really funny lady.

(If you’ve read it, I’d love for you to share your comments below.)

Enjoy,

Karen

DID YOU GET YOUR GIFT YET ?  CLICK HERE to Grab your (FREE) guide –

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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