Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Amaranth, A Tasty Source for Energy

Early last year I was complaining to a friend of mine about how lethargic I had become and how although I wanted to be active in all areas of my life, I seemed to have low energy and wasn't accomplishing all the tasks I had set out to achieve on a daily basis.

I felt I was slowly sliding into a middle age stupor and all would soon go to pot. That is when she recommended I try to enhance my diet with more high protein foods that would fuel my energy. I was up to her suggestions especially since I am a vegetarian and really need to watch my protein intake. My friend recommended I try a grain called Amaranth.

Now Amaranth has an usual history. It is a very attractive plant with a beautiful flower that blossoms from it's stems. It was believed to have supernatural powers by the Aztecs who used the plant in religious ceremonies. Before the Spanish Conquest amaranth was associated with human sacrifice as the Aztec women made a mixture of ground amaranth seed, honey or human blood then shaped this mixture into idols that were eaten ceremoniously. Because of this tradition the horrified Spanish forbade use of the plant which caused it to drop in popularity and become obscure for hundreds of years. Small pockets of communities in the Andes and Mexico continued to use Amaranth otherwise it might have not been known to us.

Today in South and Central America Amaranth is mixed with a sugar solution to make a confection called "alegria" (happiness), and milled and roasted amaranth seed is used to create a traditional Mexican drink called "atole." Peruvians use fermented amaranth seed to make "chicha" or beer. In the Cusco area the flowers are used to treat toothache and fevers and as a food colorant for maize and quinoa (another high energy grain).

In both Mexico and Peru the amaranth leaves are gathered then used as a vegetable either boiled or fried. In India amaranth is known as "rajeera" (the King’s grain) and is popped then used in confections called "laddoos," which are similar to Mexican "alegria." In Nepal, amaranth seeds are eaten as gruel called "sattoo" or milled into flour to make chappatis. In Ecuador, the flowers are boiled then the colored boiling water is added to "aquardeinte" rum to create a drink that "purifies the blood," and is also reputed to help regulate the menstrual cycle.

Since the mid-seventies amaranth has started to become popular as a grain and is grown in the Midwest. The grain and it's flour can be found in most natural food stores. It can also be found in cereal form which is the primary way I eat my amaranth.

Amaranth seed is high in protein (15-18%) and contains respectable amounts of lysine and methionine, two essential amino acids that are not frequently found in grains. It is high in fiber and contains calcium, iron, potassium, phosphorus, and vitamins A and C.The fiber content of amaranth is three times that of wheat and its iron content, five times more than wheat. It contains two times more calcium than milk. Using amaranth in combination with wheat, corn or brown rice results in a complete protein as high in food value as fish, red meat or poultry.

Amaranth also contains tocotrienols (a form of vitamin E) which have cholesterol-lowering activity in humans. Cooked amaranth is 90% digestible and because of this ease of digestion, it has traditionally been given to those recovering from an illness or ending a fasting period. Amaranth consists of 6-10% oil, which is found mostly within the germ. The oil is predominantly unsaturated and is high in linoleic acid, which is important in human nutrition.

Amaranth has been a much welcomed addition to my diet and I recommend it highly to anyone who has been feeling sluggish and suffers from low energy. Actually amaranth and quinoa have both been great additions to my diet as it helps me stay alert during the day and active enough in the evening to do my yoga and workouts. I find myself not trying to talk myself out of exercising especially after work.

Here is a amaranth recipe that has proven to be quite delicious:

Amaranth with Spinach Tomato Mushroom Sauce
1 cup amaranth seed
2-12 cups water
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 bunch spinach (or young amaranth leaves if available)
2 ripe tomatoes, skinned and coarsely chopped
1/2 pound mushrooms, sliced
1-1/2 teaspoons basil
1-1/2 teaspoons oregano
1 clove of garlic minced
1 Tablespoon onion, minced
Sea salt and pepper to taste (or use a salt substitute)

Add amaranth to boiling water, bring back to boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 18-20 minutes. 

While amaranth is cooking, stem and wash spinach, then simmer until tender. Dip tomatoes into boiling water to loosen skin, then peel and chop. Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat and add garlic an onion. Saut̩ approximately 2 minutes. Add tomato, mushrooms, basil, oregano, salt, pepper and 1 Tablespoon of water. Drain and chop spinach and add to tomato mixture. Cook an addition 10 Р15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Lightly mash tomato as it is cooking.

Stir the sauce into the amaranth or spoon it on top.

For more amaranth recipes click onto this link

More energy means being able to accomplish what we want in life and be able to take care of ourselves and our loved ones in the process.


Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Adding Primer to Your Make Up Routine

  Wow! Last week I felt like I was at death's door with a viral throat infection that left me feeling the worst I have ever felt since childhood. I am wondering if this Pulling Oil had anything to do with it? I took a little break from Pulling Oil to recover and I am now going to start again and report to you my experience at the beginning of September but now I am fine and ready to blog again on the "Wisdom of Beauty".

A few years ago I was at a Laura Mercier event in Henri Bendel's and I let the makeup artist give me a very expensive cosmetic makeover. Whenever I let a makeup artist work on my face I either feel like I am wearing a mask or I end up looking like a hooker. That day I looked like a high class hooker but nevertheless a hooker. One thing the makeup artist introduced me to at that event was makeup primer. She explained to me that before I was to put any cosmetic on my face I was to smooth primer all over it the same way you would prime a wall before you were to paint it. 

I thought she was giving me the hard sell as I did buy the primer but it when I arrived home it immediately went to my makeup draw where expensive makeup goes to die and rarely be seen again.

Lately in the name of research for this blog and to save a little money, I have been doing makeovers on myself at Sephora before every event I attended this summer. I am actually a little shameless as I have hit just about every Sephora in this city multiple times (I am in danger of being put on Sephora's '10 Most Wanted List') to experiment with makeup from every brand they supply. It has been a very glamorous summer for me.

What I noticed with just about every brand was that there were cosmetic primers now featured in the displays and Sephora even has a "Sephora Favorites" display exhibiting mutliple brands of primer.

Even though I felt it was just one more useless product the cosmetic industry was pushing me to buy I decided to experiment and use the primer before I started my mad dash around the store sampling their wares. In the process I have discovered the primers of today are definitely a much more superior product that I had tried years ago. 

After applying the primer on the surface of my skin, my face felt so smooth and moisturized but yet not too dewy. When I placed some foundation on my skin it went on much more evenly than it usually does. I also noticed that I had less creases in my skin. I was very impressed!

Primer is encouraged to be put on right after moisturizing and before foundation. Because of the smooth surface your makeup stays on longer, it helps control shiny skin from oil and nourishes dry skin. 

Some of the benefits of adding primer to your makeup routine are:
  • Creates a perfect surface for your makeup
  • Smooths the skins surface
  • Evens out skin tone
  • Moisturizes your skin and keep it hydrated all day long
  • Stops oil and shine
  • Makeup primers fill in fine lines and wrinkles
  • Makes enlarged pores appear smaller and less visible
  • The makeup glides on smoothly and blends easily
  • Allows your skin to breathe normally as they don’t clog the pores and won't let makeup clog pores
  • Protect your skin from the harmful UV rays’ some primers have a sunscreen and SPF 15 or more

I am so impressed with primers that I might actually buy a tube instead of tricking the girls at Sephora for free samples. I highly recommend you trying a primer out at Sephora or your local department store makeup counter. You will definitely see a difference in the application of your makeup, the longevity of the application and a smoothness and evenness that gives you a photofinish. As a matter of fact, Smashbox named their primer Photofinish and it was one of my favorite primers. However I felt the best for me was Lancome's as they always seem to be the best brand for my skin type. Just click onto this link to research some of the most highly talked about primers and see if there is one for your skin type.

I know what you are thinking, "Thanks Natalie! Just what I need, another product to buy." Trust me I don't make money off of recommending products on this blog and I wouldn't recommend a product if it didn't give me that happiness of feeling as lovely and pretty on the outside as you feel on the inside. As a very old wise man said to me yesterday at the bar at Baltazar, "We should try to do the best with what we have". I am positive he was not talking about makeup primer but I am sure he would encourage feeling and looking our best.