My Thoughts

Valentine’s Day … Don’t Succumb to the “Norm”

With tomorrow being Valentine’s Day I was thinking about how much I enjoy this holiday, but also how mundane and generic it can be for so many. First off, let me say that any reason to celebrate love is always a good idea, no matter how you do it. Yet, the commercialization of this holiday building expectations to buy (or receive) a dozen red roses, a box of chocolates, a gift (most likely jewelry) and a fancy dinner to me is not all that special. Now don’t get me wrong, who doesn’t love all those things, but I have never been one who wants, nor expects “popular” gifts. This holiday allows your significant other to make you feel special, and by knowing you, can make this a fantastic day, or weekend, to just block out the rest of the world and celebrate each other.

If your plans include doing the expected for Valentine’s Day, let me suggest a few alternatives that will not only impress, but make that someone special feel well… extra special.

Ideas to make your Valentine’s Day one to remember

Switch up the florals

Flowers are always a lovely sentiment, but most likely the vast majority of people will be receiving red roses on this day. Instead, find out what your significant other’s favorite flower is and have the florist help create a custom bouquet that will be sure to have “I love you” written all over it. Another great idea is to give them something that can be planted in the ground or in a pot, that way they won’t have to throw away what was once a beautiful flower but have something that you can appreciate for time to come. I received a potted heart-shaped wreath of orchids one year which I enjoyed for 3 years. To this day – that’s the florist I call whenever I want to surprise someone with a beautiful seasonal bouquet.

Skip dining out and make dinner at home

In Napa Valley there are a lot of wonderful restaurants and you find yourself dining out often, so a dinner date on Valentine’s Day can become as common as a typical Tuesday. If you do not dine out a lot then this can be a great treat, however, diner be warned: Valentine’s Day is a time for a lot of restaurants to capitalize on a fancy pre-fixed menu that may not be worthy of the price tag or the calories. My suggestion would be to go to the store, pick up some beautiful fresh ingredients and cook dinner together with your loved one at home. The time and effort to create a meal will earn you points in creativity and you can enjoy whatever you want paired with a memorable glass of wine – instead of being restricted to expensive menu selections.

Be a tourist in your own town

This is a great way to do something new without having to travel, yet feel like you are on a mini vacation. It might be fun to check into a hotel, book a couples spa package, order room service or even book a fun touristy activity; i.e: wine tasting, a balloon ride, or even tour that art museum you’ve been meaning to visit. You will feel a million miles away right in your own hometown.

Celebrate with all your loved ones

Since this day is all about love, your Valentine does not have to be the person you are in a relationship with. If you are single, there is no reason you should be excluded on this day and if you are in a relationship there is no reason why you can’t celebrate this day with all the important people in your life. So go out in a group or host a dinner party at home. There is nothing better than to surround yourself with all the cherished people in your life. Valentine’s Day should not be exclusive, but inclusive of all your loved ones!

Make plans to enjoy this day and celebrate love. Refuse to let it be anything other than special. Be excited about being able to see each other, enjoy the gift of time. Also, don’t forget the Champagne, cheers!

Mardi Gras in New Orleans: How to Indulge Wisely

A trip to New Orleans during Carnival Season is always a great get together for my family and friends. One thing I wanted to share with you is how I maintain my lifestyle while visiting the Crescent City. I am sure you are wondering “How do you visit New Orleans during Mardi Gras and experience the rich food, the iconic cocktails, the renowned jazz clubs (into the wee hours of the morning) and the amazing southern culture that is NOLA, without setbacks?” Mardi Gras is all about indulgence. Mardi Gras actually means Fat Tuesday. It’s the last day of Carnival before the Christian holiday Lent begins and fasting begins. Please know,  you don’t have to decline drink and dinner invitations, but you do need to be mindful and not lose yourself in the moment… and there will be plenty.

Here are some tips to share with you on how I survive my annual Mardi Gras pilgrimage:

Workout in the morning!

I don’t care if you are tired, drank too much the night before, or ate heavy food that is weighing you down; these are all the more reasons why you should hit the gym! Yes, even on vacation you should be working out and I recommend fitting it into your morning routine. New Orleans is a bustling town, and the moment you step out of your hotel you will be inundated with parades, restaurants, bars, etc.  Even if you promise yourself to take it easy in the morning, and then workout before hitting the town at night… most will find this challenging to do. Working out in the AM will also help set a precedent for the rest of your day. Chances are if you skip your workout, you will be more inclined to pick those not so healthy choices and chalk it up as a lost day. Don’t do this! Remind yourself – as you are rolling out of bed and heading to the hotel gym, you’ll never regret a workout – it looks good on you!

Ditch the Hurricanes for a Sazerac

Cocktails and Carnival Season go hand in hand, but there are some better choices when it comes to which drink you will be consuming. Hurricanes, a New Orleans classic, will be offered anywhere you go. Keep in mind the average calorie count for a 9 oz. Hurricane is roughly 340 and the sugar content is incredibly high, thus promising a hangover the next morning. When I decide to indulge in a NOLA cocktail, I prefer the classic Sazerac. The Sazerac is as traditional as a Hurricane to New Orleans culture, yet you are only consuming about 180 calories, it’s made with higher quality spirits and designed to be sipped. And do not, under any circumstances, drink a Grenade. You will see green beverages all over Bourbon Street; I promise you it is not worth the calories!

SOS (Sauce on the Side)

SOS, you will learn this acronym quick once you realize how beneficial it will be to you and your diet. Dining out in New Orleans is a treat, and you will most likely be at restaurants more than you would be in your normal day-to-day life. Be smart about your decisions. One trick I use when I go out to eat is to ask the server to put the sauce on the side “SOS” on any dish I order. The sauce is usually where most of your less healthy ingredients live: butter, creams, oils, etc. When you ask your server for SOS you can have the option of adding a small amount to your plate, or preferably not even adding it at all. You might surprise yourself how great something can taste without the sauce – especially in NOLA, where Cajun spices reign supreme. It might even give you a whole new appreciation for a dish!

Dance on Frenchman Street

Frenchman Street is where most of the live Jazz clubs are located. I recommend heading this way to escape the craze of Bourbon Street and to experience another side of Mardi Gras! This is also a very good time to get off your chair and on your feet to the dance floor, where you might need to burn off some of those extra calories you indulged in during the day.

Drink Water

Water will be your best friend while celebrating Mardi Gras. New Orleans is humid causing you to sweat more and require more water to keep your body hydrated. It will also help ward off hangovers, a good rule to go by is that for every alcoholic drink, you should have one glass of water. Trust me on this, you and your body will thank me.

Remember, we work hard all year round, so when a fun trip to New Orleans or any other destination crosses your path, you can enjoy the culture and indulge a bit. This is not permission to fall off the wagon (or should I say parade float). You shouldn’t deprive yourself of beignets at Cafe Du Monde, but maybe consider going with a friend and sharing a plate instead of eating them all yourself. If you follow these tips, you will thank me when you return home and jump back into your daily routine!

Laissez les bon temps roulez, Cheers!


The Alkaline Diet, Does Your Acidity Matter?

The Alkaline Diet, Does Your Acidity Matter?

Many diet trends have popped up over the last 10-15 years. I'm thinking of the Atkins Diet, the South Beach Diet, and the Keto Diet, among others. The most important part of any diet plan is getting all of your nutrients and moving toward your goals. I personally believe a Paleo lifestyle is the healthiest way to achieve optimal health and fitness, but I know many people like to explore their options. The buzz is now around the Alkaline Diet… here’s the lowdown for those wanting to learn more!

Collagen, the Unsung Hero

Collagen, the Unsung Hero

The benefits of collagen have been in the spotlight a lot lately. Good Morning America even featured it in a special interview with dermatologists! I’ve seen everything from collagen infused shampoo to collagen facial treatments offered at medispas. It got me wondering, what is collagen? Why is collagen good for us?

Fall is Finally Here!

Fall is Finally Here!

The brisk breeze in the mornings with the leaves falling, a Pumpkin Spiced Latté warm in my hand, homemade pumpkin bread baking in the oven, beautiful pumpkins ready to be picked from my garden, decorative holiday pumpkins lining my doorstep, the quilt of warm colored trees cascading down Napa Valley and grape picking in our vineyard. Yes, Autumn Harvest season is here, and it is my favorite time of year.

Basics of the Bulletproof Coffee Trend

Basics of the Bulletproof Coffee Trend

What’s the first thing you do in the morning after you’ve turned off the alarm? For a large majority of Americans, it’s sleepwalking to the kitchen to make a cup of coffee.  The caffeine buzz is what you’re looking for, but research suggests that there are several health benefits associated with drinking a cup of joe. We drink over 400 billion cups every year, so it’s no surprise that it’s one of the world’s most widely consumed beverage. Our options for the morning jolt seem endless; cappuccino, latte, americano, cold brew, frappuccino, iced, french press, espresso, and the list goes on and on. One of the more recent additions to this list is Bulletproof coffee, a high performance drink that combines coffee, grass-fed butter and medium-chain triglycerides (MCT) oil.