Its Fashion Flash Monday!

This week  Kari of Fab Over 40 is the host of Fashion Flash and   she has an info packed post on  the European Waxing Centers.  One has opened in my hood, but  past scary waxing experiences has  made me  keep my distance.  Her explanation of   their waxing  techniques convinced me to make an appointment.  Beach season is right around the corner  and   hair removal is no longer an option.  Kari also  introduced me to an exquisite new  line of products   called  Naked Princess that  are perfect for Mother’s Day. Beautifully designed and packaged  they are designed  to celebrate being a women.  Nice.

And I am so proud of two  Fashion Flash  friends– Jojami Tyler of Fab After 40 is featured in a full page  ad in More magazine.  She is an Aveeno Brand Ambassador for their new Active Naturals campaign to award eight, $10,000  grants to  people in the community who are making a beautiful difference in the lives of their friends and neighbors.  For  more information on this program,  visit  Aveeno on Facebook.

And  before you  spend a day in the sun, be sure to  pick up the May issue of Redbook and read about Dr Ellen Marmur’s  own experience  with skin cancer.  She shares her before and after pix of skin cancer surgery and it is a vivid reminder to wear sunscreen each and every day.   Dr Marmur is not only a dermatologist, she is vice chair of cosmetic and dermatologic surgery  at Mount Sinai Medical Center where she is THE expert on skin cancer surgery.  Her story has a happy ending and  her scar is now virtually invisible. But her message is clear and strong– WEAR SUNSCREEN every day throughout the year.   Dr Marmur and her whole family  also wears  hats and sun protective clothing   to  lower  skin skin cancer risk.  Reading her story,  I think  you will be inspired to   crank up your  sun protection strategies.

Oatmeal– The REAL Beauty Grain

If there was ever a grain that could make beauty claims, it would be oatmeal.   Inside or out, oatmeal  has true skin care creds. Oatmeal is a good source of protein, iron, copper, folacin, vitamin E and zinc, but it is the fiber content  that makes oatmeal a nutritional rock star.  This low  cost, gluten-free, salt- free grain has not one but two types of fiber:  #1 is soluable fiber in the form of beta glucan, a powerful cholesterol lowering tool.  Fiber #2  is oat bran, an insoluable beauty fiber with additional  heart healthy benefits.

But wait there’s more.  Oatmeal contains phenol compounds that inhibit  production of inflammatory compounds  called cytokines that tend to break sdown collagen.  If the collagen  is not under attack, the  skin is firmer and  less lined.   Even better, the compounds in oatmeal work as well on the skin as they do in our food.

Oatmeal contains both saponins which are gentle, through cleansers and anti-oxidants  that offer  UV protection.  The cholesterol lowering beta glucans in a bowl of hot  oatmeal  also  help  the skin lock in moisture when used in cleansers and moisturizers. 

Oatmeal is just about the most effective and affordable  anti-aging ingredient  you can buy.  Aveeno  has a wonderful selection of oatmeal based skin care products and a package of Quaker oatmeal  can be used in side and out.  Most oatmeal in the US  is consumed as a  hot cereal, but it can also be added to ground  meat dishes ( eg meatballs and burgers) and  baked goods.  I love a bowl of oatmeal with dried cranberries and  walnuts, but  on the weekends  I take a few extra minutes to  serve up oatmeal and yogurt panckes.  These are so healthy its almost silly.

Weekend Oatmeal Pancakes

(Adapted from the back of the box of McCann’s Oatmeal)

Ingredients:  1 1/2 cups  uncooked oatmeal, 1 cup plai low fat yogurt, 1 cup skin milk, 1/2 cup flour, 1 packet of Equal or i teaspoon of honey, 1 teaspoon baking soda, 2 large beaten eggs, 1/4 cup chopped  walnuts or pecans.

Directions:

Mix together yogurt, milk, oats and honey or Equal.  Stir in flour and baking soda and mix well.  Then add chopped walnuts.  Batter will be thick and lumpy.   Spray  Pam on a non-stick griddle and heat for a few minutes.  Ladle out 1/4 cup of batter for each pancake.  Cook until  you see bubbles on top and the bottoms are browned. FLip and cook another  2 minutes.  This  makes 10-12 pancakes.   I love to top these with  a dollop of  Greek yogurt  and finish with a teaspoon of sugar-free apricot jam.

Anti-Aging LED Light at Home

When I first heard about LED lights I thought it sounded like a plot line from the Sci-Fi Chanel.  Turns out that red and blue LED (Light Emiting Diode) lights can actually produce physicial changes in the skin. Studies have shown that the wavelengths of red  LED lights apparently activate fibroblasts in the skin,  This is  very good news because fibroblasts  stimulate the growth of collagen and elastin which are essential for smooth firm skin.

Anti-aging LED treatments are offered in spas and doctors offices and need to be used  in a series of appointments.  This can run into quite a bit of money, so I was delighted when the FDA approved  a handheld home LED device.   This week I went to the International Beauty Show and stopped at the LightStim  booth  which was offering a 50% off show special on their well known  LED devices.  I was in.

The LightStim red/amber LED anti-aging device promises to produce  real results in 6-8 weeks.  It needs to be used  3 minutes a day in each area  at least 5X a week.  It can  reduce  fine lines and wrinkles including crow’s feet around the eyes smiles lines  that run from the nose to the chin  and worry lines on the forehead.

During the 6-8 week treatment period, the skin should be washed with a mild cleanser.  At  night, a moisturizer with hyaluronic acid is recommended.  During the day the skin should be protected with zinc or titanium oxide sunscreen.   To prevent irritation, I will need to avoid  using Retin A, vitamin C  serums, and any retinol products.  However I can continue to use  my beloved Clarisonic and in fact the ultrasonic cleanser  is reported to  work beautifully with the red LightStim LED.

Its a big  leap of faith  for me to give up  my tried and true Retin A for another anti-aging tool-  even for a few weeks.  But before I can start, I need to do a test for light sensitivity.  Following  package directions I will position the device at my forearm  close enought to feel the warmth, but not  touching the skin.  If the skin turns red and and redness lasts more than 2 hours I’m light sensitive– and I  can return the device for a refund.  If problems don’t develop, then I’m good to go.

The before and after  photos of LightStim  are impressive.  If you have tried red  anti-aging LED  lights I would love to hear about  your experience.  Did it help?  Were you light sensitive?

Its Fashion Flash Monday!

I’m so delighted to be hosting  Fashion Flash this week.  Our bloggers have been very busy and are sharing  where they’ve been and what they learned:

Deja Pseu of Une Femme d’un Certain Age has created an amazing 12 piece Travel Capsule for a 10 day trip to Paris and Provence.  Since I take  12 pieces for a weekend  in the country, I was  inspired to change my packing ways.

Jackie of Aging Backwards  has come down  with Olympic Fever (its less than 100 days away) and she tells you how to participate in the events.

Kari at Fab Over Forty  has discovered a keratin hair treatment that actually works  and is nice to the pocketbook as well.

Kari of Black Cat Plus wants plus size women  to incorporate color into their Spring wardrobes.

Shawna of Female Fat Loss Over Forty  believes that a good weight loss strategy can be just like talking to a teenager.

The Glam Gals at Fabulous  After 40 will help you find the perfect trench coat that will take you from work to play.

Geri at Fab Over Fifty has an important article  if you are considering  cosmetic surgery.

This week  I found a fashion book that meets my two  key criteria.  It puts together great outfits  for specific occasions and  does so with affordable , available clothing. Before You Put That On by Lloyd Boston is a hefty book with a year’s worth of  fashion advice.   A Today Show contributor, Boston   shares his approach to style with  a calendar of 365  style tips.  For example on January 2 he describes  attractive yet functional  work-outs clothes– so timely since the #1 New Year’s Resolution is to  exercise/lose weight. Throughout the  book,   he folds in   top tips from  world class Fashionistas, a fashion quiz and 10 minute style countdown to  look great  despite a hectic schedule.   You will also love the way  Before You Put That On explains  how to use the same items to create  looks for different occasions.

What is a ” Green Cosmetic”? Should I Care?

April 22 is Earth Day  which is a yearly reminder that this is the only world we have and need to take care of it.  Online or IRL there is a heavy buzz for green or environmentally concious products.  There is no shortage of opinions about the definition of “green” but the one that works for  me is simple– it should be as beneficial  for the planet as it is for you.

There are green options for practically every  product we use daily.  Recently I was sent  a new brand of skin skin products called Previse.  I usually don’t try out product lines but Dr Marmur ( my Dr Marmur,  is the medical advisor),  so I was in–  and its everything a green treatment line should be.

The green creds start with the packaging.  The bottles were protected with cornstarch peanuts  that decompose in water. ( By contrast, the half-life of the traditional styrofoam packaging material is more than 50 years.)  The tissue paper and the box were made from recycled materials and themselves recyclable. Even the  little sticker which closes the package is made from sustainable grasses and fibers.

Inside the box was a three step set of products  All  were free of phalates, parabens, harsh detergents,  petroleum by-products and pore- clogging silicones.   In short,  it excludes everything you really want to avoid. In thir place  are  botanicals like emolliant sunflower seed oil, anti-inflammatory green tea and water- holding honey.   Formulated with natural antioxidants they felt light and soothing  on my skin.

I usually avoid    fragrance in skin care, so I was very surprised how much I liked the super light  scent of Previse products.  Turns out that  they  are formulated  with aromatherapy principles using naturals like lavendar and YlangYlang to reduce anxietry and high blood pressure.  If you want to “green”  your beauty routinue Previse will show you how its done.

Arm Exercises– Its Harder Than I Thought

My baseline measurement  for  my upper arm was 10 1/2 inches.  And more than a month later  I clock in at — wait for it–   10 1/2 inches.  Not because the exercise program failed to work, but I failed to keep  it up.  While working out alone at home is certainly convenient, its also  way too easy to skip and forget.  There are no triggers  like a class to  attend  to remind me to exercise.  And when I do exercise I’m pretty certain that  I’m not really doing the movements properly.  I still keep clunking myself on the head with  the weights, especially when I lift  them backwards over my head.  After most  workouts my back is burning and I feel achey  for several days.  I’ve had disk problems before and I’m always wary of exercise moves that are followed by back pain.

It became clear that I needed  some help to get me on track and keep me there. Over the years  I’ve signed up for exercise classes, but I couldn’t keep up.  They were too fast and  there  were too many repetitions.  I  can pace myself better with  home videos but  they  could  be too easy to skip.  This time, to be successful I decided to hire a personal trainer for a few sessions.  The bulletin board at the gym in my building was covered with business cards from trainers.  But who should I call?   What  qualifications should I look for?

For honest and accurate advice I turned to  my good friend  fitness guru Mirabai Holland.  For  more than a decade  Mirabai served as the Director of Fitness  and Wellness Program at the 92nd st Y.  Then  she took her skills  public and if you watch QVC  you have probably seen Mirabai and her amazing exercise videos.  Her credentials are impressive and include GOLD certification by the American Council on Exercise (ACE), The American College of Sports Medicine ( the top organization), Medical Exercise Specialist certification form the American Academy of Health Fitness Professionals.  Next week I’ll share   the roadmap she  gave me to find the best trainers  for my needs.  And here’s a hint- it involves Skype.

Its Fashion Flash Monday!

This week Shawna of Female Fat Loss Over Forty is hosting Fashion Flash. If there  ever is a time of year to think about fitness it  is right now.  Blue skies and  warmer weather  inspire me to go outisde and  shed   winter weight gain.  If you haven’t yet  tred out Shawna’s fit camp routines this  is definately the moment.  I know that  swimsuit weather is right around the corner.   

And along with a fitness program, spring makes me think about upping  my nutrional profile. I’m always struggling  to get in those 5-7 servings of vegetables and fruits a day.   The farmer’s markets are brimming with  piles of veggies and I  found a new cookbook to turn these beauties into a meal.   The Inspired Vegan by Bryant Terry is a vibrant  celebration of  life, family and  good food. The first section provides cooking techniques and simple  recipes that are basic in a home kitchen.  For example, there are simple recipes for oven dried tomatoes ( super easy), quinoa( the high protein grain) and  how to prep nutrition- rich greens. 

In the second half, Terry provides  menus and recipes, complete with music recommendations for serving them.  I loved  the South Asian supper with music by Ravi Shankar.  It featured  chai tea, asparagus and sweet potato curry and yellow basmati rice.  I’ve found that  a few vegan meals a week  make it easy to  increase the amount of fiber and antioxidants that I’m getting– and I make up  protein needs at other meals.  

I especially  loved the Inspired Vegan’s ode to New Orleans with music  from Wynton Marsalis.  True cajun cooking   while undeniably delicious  is definately on the nutritional darkside.  High in fat, salt and sugar, Louisiana has been consistantly ranked with some of the highest levels of obesity and diabetes in the US.  Terry somehow  captures the flavor  of the  cuisine with a cajun vegetable  gumbo and roasted vegetable jambalaya so  you don’t even miss the meats  of the traditional versions.   Its that good.

The Magic of Mushrooms

Mushrooms are one of my favorite  veggies– except that they’re really not a vegetable at all.  Mushrooms are a fungus- a plant that has no leaves, no roots, and no seeds.   Mushrooms don’t have chlorophyll, vitamin A or vitamin C.  But its not what they aren’t or don’t have that make mushrooms  so important for a healthy diet. 

Mushrooms have this wonderful meaty texture yet clock in at only 20 calories per cup which delivers a few grams of protein as well as healthy amounts of B vitamins and iron. Keep in mind that dried mushrooms lose a good deal of  this nutrition.  Fresh cooked mushrooms have 3X the niacin, 2X the iron and 15X the riboflavin of serving of canned mushrooms.  This is not such a hardship since canned mushrooms are pretty slimy and unappealing, but dried mushrooms add great flavor.  Use them for that  and  mix them into fresh mushrooms to get those B vitamins and minerals. 

But mushrooms are more than  just a low calorie source of vitamins and minerals.  Reaserchers have identified  anti-viral, anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory substances in mushrooms.  In Asia, mushrooms  have been used therapeutically for a wide range of of health problems including high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, and arthritis.  Some mushroom extracts are now being used  as adjunctive therapy  during cancer  treatment.  The extracts are thought  to improve immunity rather than directly kill viruses, bacteria and cancer cells.

Vegetable  shelves  were once limited  to a single type of small white button mushrooms.  Now  options  have exploded to include the  big portobello, aromatic shitake, skinny white enoki  and super expensive wrinkled morels.  They have distictly  different tastes but the nutritional  profiles are pretty much the same. 

One note of caution:  Wild mushrooms can be poisonous.  Don’t let an over-confident foodie convince  you to go mushroom hunting in a field or forest.  Get your mushrooms safely  in a store.

Mushrooms are used in both Eastern and Western kitchens.   I love mushrooms stuffed with super nutritious spinach and calcium- packed feta cheese.  They are often served as an  hors d’ouvres  but I like to eat  a plate of them  with a big salad for  healthy vegetarian meal.   This recipe is adapted from  my new go-to cookbook  “5 Easy Steps to Healthy Cooking” by Camilla Saulsbury.

Ingredients: 2 teasp of olive oil, 1 lb of white or cremini mushrooms , 1 1/4 cup chopped onions, grating of black pepper, 1 package of frozen spinach ( thawed with excess of water squeezed out), 4 oz of feta  or  goat cheese ( which has lower sodium)

Directions:  Remove  and chop  the stems of the mushrooms.  Heat oil in a non-stick skillet and saute  the mushrooms and onions for about 10 minutes.  While they are cooking, season with freshly ground pepper. When they are nicely cooked transfer to a large bowl to cool.  Add spinach and  cheese ( feta or goat cheese)  to onion  mixture.  Arrange mushroom caps on rimmed baking sheet, lined with parchment.   Divide   spinach mixture evenly  among mushrooms.  Bake in preheated 350F oven for about 20 minutes.