Monday, August 27, 2012

Favorite Yellow Nail Polish - NARS Amchoor!

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NARS Amchoor from the Thakoon Collection

I thought we needed a little break from the serious sunscreen discussion, so let's talk about something a bit more fun: yellow nail polish! ;-) 

Sunny yellow is one of my favorite nail polish colors, but it is so difficult to find a good yellow polish. Most of them look very streaky and uneven when applied and become thick and goopy. I don't know why yellow is so hard to formulate, but I've had these problems with Sally Hansen, OPI, China Glaze, and Zoya, among others. I've looked for yellows from other brands, but never found a shade I liked - the yellow must be bright and cheerful, but not neon or too gold.

Finally, after three years of searching for a yellow nail polish I found the perfect one - NARS Amchoor from the summer Thakoon Collection. I usually do not purchase NARS products due to the raunchy and inappropriate names of many of the products, but I made an exception in this case since I've been looking for a yellow polish for so long.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Grilled Peach and Prosciutto Salad with Basil Olive Oil Dressing

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Grilled Peach and Prosciutto Salad with Basil Olive Oil Dressing

Peaches won't be in season much longer, so grab a few and make this salad for dinner one night! Peaches, prosciutto and mozzerella cheese may become your new favorite food combination....I am frequently craving it after eating this. Add a little basil, olive oil and walnuts, and it's magic!

While you can use baby spinach, I think the peppery flavor of arugula goes very well with the prosciutto and peaches. I did not include measurements in the ingredient list because everyone likes their salad ingredients in different proportions - some may like more greens, less toppings, others may like a lot of nuts, or extra peaches, etc. So I've left it to you to decide how much of each topping you'd like to put.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Are Chemical or Physical Sunscreens Better? (Part 2 of What You Should Know About Sunscreens)

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In my last sunscreen post, I explained why it’s important to use a sunscreen that protects against UVA and which sunscreen ingredients protect against UVA radiation (so head over to that blog post first if you haven't read it).

Today I'll dive into the debate on whether physical or chemical sunscreens are better (it's a real standoff!). This issue is very complicated, so forgive me that this post is long and detailed. I'll give the summary up front, and then if you are interested in more details, you can read on. :)

My personal belief is that it is better to use a physical sunscreen on a daily basis so there is no risk of chemicals absorbing into the body, accumulating in tissues, and disrupting hormones. The truth is, we just don't know what the long term effects are of using these chemicals frequently on our bodies. We DO know that some percentage of chemical sunscreen filters DO absorb into the body, and we DO know that they can disrupt hormones by mimicking estrogen. While physical sunscreens don't provide super high levels of UVA protection, they can provide stable, quite decent level of protection great for everyday wear.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Red Lentils (Dal) with Swiss Chard and Ginger

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Red Lentils (Dal) with Swish Chard & Ginger

The tiny lentil is mighty in (nutritional) power! Regular consumption of lentils can lower cholesterol, promote heart health and stabilize blood sugar. Lentils are also packed with a myriad of vitamins and minerals, including iron, folate and vitamin B1. Since a cup of lentils provides 35% of your daily protein, 62% of your daily fiber, and only 230 calories, it is a superb alternative to meat! In fact, lentils (called "dal" in India) are frequently eaten throughout South Asia as an inexpensive, healthy and filling protein source.

This dal (lentil) recipe is extra healthy because it is cooked with Swiss chard, another nutritional wonder-food that is brimming with anti-oxidants! The fresh ginger adds a cancer-fighting (particularly for colon and ovarian cancer) boost.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

What You Should Know About Sunscreen (Part 1)

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Before you slather on the sunscreen this summer, there’s some crucial things you should know.  I was outraged when I learned many sunscreens are not stable in sunlight, do not protect against UVA, or contain potentially dangerous chemicals that are absorbed into the body. I’m really passionate about this topic and want to help people choose an effective, safe sunscreen! Here are a few facts that are pretty shocking:

·        Did you know that many sunscreens sold in the U.S. barely protect against UVA, even if they claim they are “broad spectrum”?

·        Did you know many sunscreens are not photostable, meaning they break down in sunlight (are ineffective) and produce free radicals that can damage skin?

·        Did you know the SPF number only rates how well the sunscreen protects against UVB rays, not UVA (which are just as, if not more important!)

·        Did you know some of the common chemical sunscreen filters absorb into the body, are stored up in body tissues and disrupt hormones?

I’m not trying to scare you away from using sunscreen – it’s important to wear a sunscreen daily that protects against UVA radiation. UVA rays penetrate the skin deeper than UVB, causing DNA damage to the cells; as a result skin is more prone to develop skin cancer, blotchy hyperpigmentation and wrinkles. It’s the daily incidental exposure to UVA radiation that results in most damage, and UVA rays penetrate windows too – so don’t think you aren’t getting sun damage  when you’re in the car or sitting inside. UVA rays are around in greater intensity than UVB all year round (even in winter) so it’s a necessity to find a good sunscreen and wear it!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Chock Full of Veggies Chow Mein (Hakka Noodles!)

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Chock Full of Veggies Chow Mein - aka Ashley's take on Calcutta Hakka Noodles!

My husband grew up eating a lot of stir fried chow mein noodles (called Hakka noodles) in Calcutta. As I mentioned in my Chili Chicken post, there is a large Chinese immigrant population in Calcutta, and as a result a local cuisine developed that fused Indian and Chinese cooking. Indo-Chinese food has become a regional delicacy in Calcutta!

This noodle recipe is inspired by Hakka noodles, but it is much healthier, full of vegetables, and made with ingredients easily accessible in the U.S.  It is easy to make this recipe vegetarian as well - just substitute fake (veggie protein) ground "meat" for the ground turkey!

Monday, June 4, 2012

Why You Should Avoid Silicones in Your Hair Care Products

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Image from here

Until a few years ago I always felt I had dull, lifeless hair. It just never looked healthy. I must have spent a small fortune constantly buying new hair products in hopes one of them would transform my thin, dull mop into luscious healthy tresses. Ok, that's an exaggeration, I didn't really think I could ever have "luscious tresses" because I don't have the right hair type for that (my hair is fine textured), but at least I hoped to have healthy-looking, shiny hair!

When my hair was at its worst point ever, I started researching hair product ingredients and made a few major discoveries. Most hair care products use various forms of silicones to make hair easier to comb out and to provide shine. That sounds good...until you realize these silicones coat the hair shaft and seriously build up in the hair over time. As they coat the hair shaft, they seal out moisture, so any conditioning treatments you may be using are never penetrating the hair. Using silicones will make your hair look good for a while, but eventually the result of silicone buildup is flat, dull, dry (and sometimes frizzy) hair.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Top 10 Things To Do In Provence (Part 2)

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Finally, here is part two of my top things to do in Provence series (you can see part one here). I apologize for taking so long to post; I started a new contract job and my parents were visiting, leaving little time for writing. Here are the other five things I highly recommend in Provence!

6. Take a drive along the French Riviera (Côte d'Azur)

View of Monaco from Roquebrune-Cap-Martin

The Côte d'Azur is the southern coast of France that stretches from Italy to Cassis (near Marseille). The coastal road winds through St. Tropez, Cannes, Nice and Monaco, and the views are worth every twist and turn! Deep blue and turquoise water, red cliffs, beaches, beautiful villas...need I say more? :)
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