Cucumber-Cilantro Smoothie with Kefir and Ginger

I first made this smoothie on St. Patrick’s Day and dubbed it my Shamrock Shake. Since then, this tangy, salty drink has become part of the regular rotation, especially when I’m too hot to eat. The cucumber, ginger and cilantro along with the tang from kefir make it taste so refreshing. It’s also a great smoothie option for when you’re feeling salty, not sweet. continue reading

What five ounces of wine looks like in three different wine glasses.

What five ounces of wine looks like in three different wine glasses.

No surprise here: I drink wine almost every day. Dinner without it almost seems incomplete. It always adds another dimension to a meal, and, let’s be honest, I love the way it relaxes me and tells me, You worked hard today. You earned this.

What I don’t love is that sometimes, the alcohol interferes with my sleep, so I feel sluggish the next day. In worse cases, I even have a headache. Ok, it’s a small hangover, really. In my mind, I never drink that much, at least by my 20-something standards. The sad truth, however, is that I’m no longer 20-something.

While I was in France, I read most of Gretchen Rubin’s latest book all about developing good habits called, Better Than Before. A paragraph in the book stuck with me. Calling moderation “a dangerous concept,” she writes:

“While the word ‘moderation’ implies reasonableness and restraint, it’s actually a relative term. Moderate in comparison to what? Two hundred years ago, Americans ate less than a fifth of the sugar that we eat today. So a ‘moderate’ amount of sugar by today’s standards could be considered excessive by historical standards.”

I like to think that moderation is basically my approach to life. I can eat a cupcake one day and not eat sweets for the rest of the week. But I realized, when it came to wine, I had lost track of what moderation looked like.

You see, when my husband and I sit down to dinner, we tend to pour ourselves tiny glasses of wine over and over again. The benefit is that we can give the wine a lot of space when we swirl it in the glass and we can see how it evolves as it sits in the open bottle. (I know, super geeky).

The problem with this method is that it’s easy for me to lose track of how much I drink. (Anyone who has cut up doughnuts into small pieces and then eaten who-knows-how-many understands this kind of danger.)

The US Dietary Guidelines say that one drink for women is considered moderate drinking. And they define one drink as five ounces of wine. I don’t know the alcohol level of the wine they used for this calculation, but still, it’s a place to start.

Soon after returning from France, I started measuring out five ounces of wine so I know what it looks like. (You can see five ounces of wine in three different glasses, above!) I now try to sip it slowly with dinner, holding on to those last few sips, until all of my food is gone.

Occasionally, if the wine is really good, I might cheat and have a little more. Unless the wine is exceptionally low alcohol (11% or less), I often regret my cheating the next day.

All of this is fine and good when it’s just the two of us, but what about more social situations? I’m going to try to stick to the five-ounce rule as much as I can. As long as I have an alarm clock in the form of a three-year-old, it’s worth it to me. When we have impromptu happy hours with our neighbors, I now give half the beer to my husband and use the other half to make a shandy so I can still have a half glass of wine at dinner. I’ll admit that the smaller pour of vino feels a little sad, but the lack of brain fog the next day makes my oh-so-tough sacrifice worth it.

I love this story behind a one-pan, nine-minute pasta recipe that almost broke the internet a couple of years ago.

Some fun weeknight dinner tips from cookbook author Katie Workman.

I’m intrigued by this vegan tuna salad.

I swear I’m not becoming vegan but I want to try this cashew cream. 

I could get down with these Moscow Mule Jell-o shots.

Kate Winslet cooks for her own dinner parties and is proud of her developing wrinkles. And you thought you couldn’t love her anymore.

And a couple of good reminders from the wise Seth Godin. 

 

View of Collioure

Without a great stroller, hiking these hills outside Collioure was a challenge.

As I mentioned in my last post, we made a lot of great decisions during our trip to France with our three-year-old daughter. But, there were a few areas for improvement, as the corporate types would say. Here is what I wish we did differently.

1. Brought the all-terrain stroller. Instead of the roll-over-everything City Mini stroller, I bought a contraption known as the Lilly Gold Zoomer, which turns your car seat into a stroller. Pretty cool, right? It is cool but only when your trip involves smooth floors and newly paved sidewalks. The Zoomer wheels were a challenge when we hiked the gravelly paths along the Mediterranean (see Collioure, above) and wandered those cute French cobblestone streets. I wish we had rented a car seat from the rental car company, checked the stroller and not brought one more extraneous thing into my life.

2. Did a bit more research. Normally, I plan every detail of a trip, including exactly where we’ll eat each day. With a kid in tow, I didn’t want to make plans, but a few times on our trip, I felt a little panicky because I was spending so much time figuring out what to do. I wish I had read up in advance and made a list of possibilities so we could just pick something and go.

3. Never drove more than 3 hours a day. We flew into Paris and headed straight for Collioure; you essentially drive about 8 hours south until you hit the Mediterranean. After a week there, we drove up to Burgundy, about 6 hours north. Because we traveled during peak French vacation time, we hit tons and tons of traffic so both drives lasted longer than the GoogleMaps estimate. Never again! Next time, we’ll either take the train (we considered this for a long time but opted for the car so we could more easily contain our little one) or plan the trip with shorter drives in mind.