April 17, 2019

Simple Ways to Make Easter Brunch More Special!


Easter is a special time and if you're celebrating with a gathering of family or friends, I have some simple ways to make your occasion more special!

From food to drinks, to setting a lovely table, make your Easter celebration truly memorable with these simple, and easy additions.

Something to Nibble Before the Main Meal 


There's nothing more annoying to a cook than having your guests camp out in the kitchen and try to sneak bites of food before you are ready to serve them. 



I remedy this by always having something for guests to nibble before the main meal. This way, if people arrive at your house absolutely starving, and things happen to be running a bit behind (hey, it happens to all of us), then they are placated with snacks. 

Charcuterie and cheeses, nuts, olives and other salty snacks make a great option for nibbling. Pickles and popcorn are also good to incorporate. Having a mix of different things means there's something for everybody. 

I try to avoid sweet options since this has a tendency to ruin the meal. 

Simple & Delicious Peach Bellini



Nothing says brunch like a Bellini, and you can make this one with spirits or as a nonalcoholic version, which is friendly for all ages! 

For the nonalcoholic version, all you need is peach nectar and ginger ale. To give it more of a spirited twist, sub the ginger ale for Prosecco or champagne. Simple, light and sweet....perfect for spring!

Semi-Homemade Goodness 


Finally, take some of the pressure off your Easter meal prep by opting to serve some items not made from scratch. Store-bought isn't always my go-to, but when what I can buy is better than what I can make, I always go for store-bought. 


Unless you love to bake homemade bread and have a foolproof recipe, I recommend picking up some Callie's Charleston Biscuits to serve at your Easter meal. Callie's proprietor Carrie Morey is a pal of mine and her biscuits are beloved the world over. Knoxville folks can find them at The Fresh Market, or click here for a store locator in your neck of the woods. 

And if you bury the package in the bottom of the trash, I won't even tell that you didn't make them yourself! Carrie won't either, I'm sure ;) 

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Easter is more than a time for pastel candy and dresses, Peeps and deviled eggs. It's about hope, and love. And new life. So no matter what's on your table, or who is seated around it, I hope you hold the most important things in your heart this season. 

April 3, 2019

Easy Ways to Beat Stress

Did you know April is National Stress Awareness Month? Stress is such a loaded topic these days....we all have it and say we wish we didn't. Some of us wear it like a badge of honor. Some of us legitimately have it from external sources and others of us create it in our daily thoughts, behaviors and actions. I'm not pointing any fingers here....except maybe at myself.

Want to decrease the stress in your life? Here are three fun & simple ways!

Eat to Beat Stress 


I found this recipe on The Dinner Shift, a great blog with all sorts of tasty recipes. Sort of a riff on the traditional loaded cheese fries, it incorporates several ingredients that are supposed to help you beat stress and anxiety: sweet potatoes, black beans and avocados. 

I love sweet potatoes and try to eat them as much as possible. What I didn't know was that they are a mood booster because of the antioxidant beta-carotene, which helps reduce free radical damage to brain cells. Sweet potatoes can also prevent oxidative stress which is common in emotional conditions like anxiety and depression. The carbs in sweet potatoes help with serotonin production. 

Black beans are another stress fighting food because they are rich in magnesium, which has a relaxing effect on the body and brain. Some experts say magnesium deficiency can lead to stress. 

Finally, there is research that shows low levels of Vitamin B can contribute to feelings of anxiety, which can also lead to stress. Avocados are a great source of B Vitamins, so slap on some avocado or guac to give this dish more flavor. 

So, combine these stress fighting ingredients and whip up your own loaded sweet potato fries, with black beans and avocado! Add cheese, black olives, jalapenos, or whatever other toppings you like! Yum. 

Drink to Beat Stress 


I'm not talking about that type of drinking. In fact, I have found that alcohol does very little to help with stress....it just takes your mind off things for awhile and then eventually you have to deal with the it again. The drink I recommend to beat stress is a turmeric latte. 


It may be too early to say, but some researchers are suggesting that the anti-inflammatory properties of turmeric may help combat anxiety. 

I've been making a drink called a Turmeric Golden Milk Latte and it's delicious! Simply combine the ingredients below in a saucepan, and bring to a boil. Simmer for 8-10 minutes and pour into a mug. Enjoy! 

1/2 cup (120ml) of an unsweetened milk of your choice (I like almond or flax) 
1 tsp of turmeric
1 small piece of grated fresh ginger or 1/2 tsp of ginger powder
1/2 tsp of cinnamon powder
1 pinch of ground black pepper
1 tsp of honey or maple syrup (optional)

I can't say for sure if it's scientific, but drinking a cup of this in the evening, after a stressful day doesn't hurt. 

Make a Stress-Free Self-Care Kit


A final way that I like to deal with stress is with self-care. I know, I know....self-care seems like a buzzword these days. But it comes in many forms and can be a great (cheap & easy) option for dealing with stress. 


Maybe create a self-care kit or basket so that all your stuff is one spot. Fill it with your favorite things so that when you start feeling stress coming on, you can treat yourself to something from the basket.

Mine includes face mask sheets, body scrubs, dark chocolate, a great smelling candle, and essential oils. Also a few magazines or a book that I'm waiting for a chance to read.

Stress isn't always bad. It can alert us to danger, push us to achieve our goals and help us accomplish tasks more efficiently. But chronic stress, the kind that feels like a frenzied wave just pushing us along and sometimes crashing over us, is terrible. The good news is we don't have to live with it. I'm trying to be more aware of stress for National Stress Awareness Month and beyond. Hopefully you can too!