Food & Drink

Food & Drink
Food & Drink




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Is A Juice Cleanse Right For You?

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Vacations are meant to be indulgent. Whether it's food, cocktails, activities, and fun, what you do on vacation is intended to be excessive. You get to take a vacation from your everyday life and that includes your usual eating habits. For many of us, vacations mean we can indulge our sweet tooth on ice cream, chocolate, pastas, and more.

I know this all to well since we've just returned yesterday from a vacation in Arizona. Think all the Mexican food and margaritas!

So with summer bearing down on us and a few extra pounds you’d rather see the back of, it probably won’t be long until you find yourself thinking…is a juice cleanse right for me? I've certainly considered doing one, especially after an indulgent vacation. So, I set out to do some research on the benefits and risks of a juice cleanse.

The Popularity Of Juice Cleanses
Over the past decade, if any one concept has gripped the healthy eating crowd, it’s the idea of juice cleanses. It’s been adopted, satirized, joked about - all the things that suggest an idea has entered into the public consciousness on a deep level. Think about it: you read the above and didn’t even need to ask what a juice cleanse was. Could you have said the same thing 10 years ago? Probably not.

The reason this is all the more shocking is because, generally you most likely don’t need a juice cleanse.

Juicing Is Good For You
Nothing against juicing! As the likes of make clear, it’s perfectly possible to grab yourself a juicer and be on your way to drinking and consuming more fruit and vegetables. That’s always a good thing, especially if your veggie intake doesn't meet daily requirements.

But...You Need More Nutrients Than Just Juicing Can Provide
We need a variety of nutrients from a variety of sources. Remember the idea of a balanced plate, complete with proteins , carbohydrates, healthy fats? That’s good science, based around what we actually need. 

And pretty much none of that is contained in a juice cleanse.

In fact, a juice cleanse is going to contain a high amount of sugar if you use fruits. (And everyone uses fruits, otherwise juice simply doesn’t taste so great!) That means you’re throwing sugar onto an empty stomach - and that’s not only going to skyrocket your blood sugar, but it’s going to cause digestive discomfort too.

I love grabbing a healthy, refreshing juice every once in a while, but juices can't stand as meal replacements. By all means swap out the occasional meal for a juice on your way to losing weight, but juices are supplementary - they’re not a replacement. It might seem like a tempting short-term fix to your momentary weight woes, but the consequences on your longterm health could be very real.

It’s worth mentioning that there’s no such thing as “detoxing”, which is often paired with the idea of a juice cleanse. The likes of provide a great overview of this, but in essence: your liver and kidneys keep you “detoxed” all the time, no need to restrict your food intake to do it!

Friday Fresh Picks: Cacti Fever!

We are currently enjoying a much needed getaway to Arizona. We flew into Phoenix yesterday and will be headed to Tucson a little later today. In honor of our our desert vacation, I'm sharing a few of my favorite cactus-inspired items in this week's Friday Fresh Picks.
I mean, come on! Is there a cuter way to greet your guests? No possible way ever.

I love this hook for hanging odds and ends near the front door. Hang your purse or a jacket for easy retrieval before heading out the door.

Add a southwestern spin to your table with this adorable napkin holder and coordinating napkins.

I can't think of a better way to have morning coffee than drinking it from this mug.

Accessorize a cute outfit with cute cactus earrings that are inspired by Joshua Tree National Park.

Make a fashion statement in this desert-inspired soft cotton tee.

This pouch is great for holding all your essentials. It would also make the cutest Mother's Day gift (hint, hint).

Thanks for checking out this week's Friday Fresh Picks. Swing by the rest of the FFP gals to see what they are loving this week.
Friday Fresh Picks are hand-picked favorite items, reviews and highlights from the amazing women you see above.

Visit their websites to learn about other amazing picks from this week!

Best Online Reads

The ten stories from around the web that I am loving this week:

1. The one trip everyone in their 40s should take via Condé Nast Traveler.

2. The hardest college to get into in every state via Business Insider.

3. Twenty questions every woman should ask herself via Oprah.

4. How to request a TV show on Netflix via Real Simple.

5. The trick to getting fit via The Cut.

6. How to organize a junk drawer via Redbook.

7. How to get rid of a hangover in 60 seconds via Coveteur.

8. What to spend your tax refund on via New York Magazine.

9. Everything you've ever wanted to know about exfoliation via Into The Gloss

10. Where to eat at MLB stadiums this baseball season via Eater.

How To Accessorize Your Favorite Dress

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If you’ve fallen in love with a dress that you bought to impress, you might be wary about wearing it time and again. However, if you love it, you're definitely wanting to wear it over and over again. The art of accessorizing makes any outfit look completely fresh and new every time you wear it. No need to worry about getting bored with your look, and chances are nobody will notice it’s the same dress you wore last week!

Hats create a focus away from your body. They are certainly the best and easiest distractions for the eye if you’re worried about repeat-wear. So how can you wear two or three different styles of hat with the same dress? Choose two very different hats. One can work to offer a more casual, fun look, like a fedora. The other can offer a softer, more feminine look. Something wide-brimmed would offer a different overall structure to your outfit.

What We're Reading

Tomorrow we leave for a long weekend in Arizona. We will be splitting our time between Phoenix and Tucson. And I can tell you that there will be no shortage of relaxing by spectacular pools while we soak up the desert sun and heat. Between the five hours we'll spend on our flight and the time relaxing poolside, we'll need good books to keep us entertained and occupied.

Here are the books that will be safely tucked in our carry-ons:

What I'm Reading: It's Always The Husband by Michele Campbell
I was sent this book as part of a campaign I am working on. It arrived just in time for our vacation, and I can't wait to get lost in it on the plane ride. It is the story of friendship between three women that goes bad. A murder is involved. Who dies? Who did it? You'll have to hang tight until my full review hits the blog. In the meantime, you can pre-order the book here. It will be released to the general public on May 16th.

What Emma's Reading: The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
Emma seems to be the last one of her peers to read this cult-favorite, coming-of-age story about high school in all its guts and glory. It includes heartbreak and hysterics and all the feels of a good young adult work of fiction.

What Harper's Reading: Scat by Carl Hiassen
Carl Hiassen's books are favorite in our house. This one follows the adventures of two kids on a mission to find their missing teacher in the Florida Everglades when they encounter a motley crew.

What are you currently reading? Leave a comment to let me know your recommendations.

Easy At-Home Ice Cream Treats

The official countdown to summer has begun here at the Jersey shore. We take our summers seriously. From the beaches to the boardwalks to the summer eats, we don't mess around. There's no denying it. Ice cream is a serious business here at the Jersey shore.

People brave enormous crowds and wait in long lines to get their favorite warm weather fix: ice cream. But after spending a long day at the beach or pool with the family, it can be difficult to muster the energy and the patience to wait for ice cream, especially with eager children.

Skip the lines and the crowds and make you own treats at home. It's easy, and more importantly, it's fun!

How To Make Ice Cream Treats At Home

1. Buy Ice Cream
A good, decadent ice cream is your best option. Häagen-Dazs is my favorite store-bought ice cream brand. Häagen-Dazs has a knack for taking an ordinary ice cream experience and elevating it with indulgent, velvety, and oh so creamy ice cream. When I eat a cone of Häagen-Dazs, I am immediately transported back to my childhood days when the simplest joys such as an ice cream cone brought the biggest pleasures.

The latest addition to the Häagen-Dazs line is the TRIO Ice Cream Collection. Inside every TRIO ice cream carton is an extraordinary combination of tastes and textures. TRIO is three layers of decadent combinations including both ice cream and crispy layers of Belgian chocolate. TRIO is available in four delicious flavors.

I picked up 3 containers at my local Stop & Shop where it was currently specially priced at 2 for $6. Grab this $1 coupon to save on your next purchase at Stop & Shop.

2. Make Ice Cream Sandwiches
If you want mushy ice cream sandwiches, go buy one. If you want ice cream sandwiches with crispy, crunchy cookies, make them yourself! These are so fun to make and even more fun to eat. Bake or buy your favorite cookie, place ice cream on one cookie, top with the other cookie, and you are good to go. For even more fun flavor, roll the side of the sandwich in sprinkles, decorative nonpareil candies, or sanding sugar.

3. Decorate Your Own Cones
A simple sugar cone is good on its own merit. But if you want to add a little zing to it, decorate it with sprinkles or other candies. I love the way nonpareil candies add color to an otherwise boring brown cone. We took the easy way out and dipped the cones in peanut butter and then into the candies. But if you have a peanut allergy or to be on the safe side for guests, dip the cone into melted milk or white chocolate and then dip into your desired decoration. This is a super fun idea for a birthday party too.

Don't forget to grab a $1 coupon to save on your next purchase at Stop & Shop.

And I can't forget the best part. FREE CONE DAY!

To stay in the loop of all the Häagen-Dazs happenings, be sure to follow along on Facebook and check out all the mouth-watering pictures on Instagram.

Freshen Up Your Cinco de Mayo with Old El Paso

Cinco de Mayo is one of those no-pressure holidays where you're all about the food and the fun. It's kind of like Thanksgiving. You kick back and enjoy the native food and festivities. More often than not, our celebration includes tacos of some sort. Tacos are easy and crowd-pleasing which makes them the ideal choice for Cinco de Mayo.

We love to load up our tacos with all the fixings. We pile on lots of shredded lettuce, shredded cheese, diced tomatoes, sliced green olives, cilantro, avocado, and a heaping dollop of scour cream. But those overloaded tacos can be troublesome for little hands. And since Cinco de Mayo is a family celebration in our house, we want everyone to enjoy it, even the smallest members of our tribe.

For this year's festivities, we are giving Old El Paso's flour tortilla taco boats a try as an alternative to conventional flour tortilla shells. The taco boats will ensure that all the good stuff stays in the bowl and doesn't fall out of the shells and land on the plate.

Although many may think Cinco de Mayo is Mexican Independence Day, it is actually the day that celebrates Mexico’s unexpected victory over the French at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862. It's celebrated more so in American than it is in Mexico. In any event, it's a fun way to celebrate Mexican food and culture.

Prepping and planning our Cinco de Mayo celebration in advance is a must. I make a checklist of all the meal essentials as well as some fun decorations and props such as maracas, etc. Walmart has one of the best selections of Old El Paso products, so of course, that's where we went to stock up on all the goodies for our family celebration.

I was able to buy all the items for the meal portion of our celebration for under $25. We'd never be able to go out to a restaurant for Cinco de Mayo and spend less than $50 for a family of four. Plus, being at home gives up the freedom to customize our celebration.

Here are a few ideas to make your Cinco de Mayo celebration memorable:

  • Serve either an old favorite or a try a new recipe.
  • Make slight variations to your go-to recipes. For example, if you always use ground beef, try ground turkey instead. If soft flour tortilla shells are your go-to shells, mix it up by using Old El Paso's flour taco boats.
  • End the celebration on a high note by taking a few whacks at a piñata.
We made traditional ground beef tacos with Old El Paso Taco Boats. Loaded with all the fixings and topped with lots of cilantro, sliced avocado (my fave!) and sour cream. These taco boats are everything!

Old El Paso Taco Boats are a big hit in our house. No more messy plates with half of the taco filling spilled out. It stays neatly put and is much easier to eat and enjoy.

Thanks to Old El Paso for making this year's Cinco de Mayo celebration a less messy one but just as tasty.

Turn your ordinary Cinco de Mayo celebration into an extraordinary one, with the full line of products available at Walmart. Unbeatable selection. Unbeatable prices.

Best Online Reads

The ten stories from around the web that I am loving this week:

1. Ever wondered if your pharmacist judges you based on your prescriptions via Science of Us.

2. How to naturally wake up earlier via Well and Good.

3. Eleven weird celebrity parenting tips via Redbook.

4. How to cuff jeans like a style pro via Real Simple.

5. 10 things I want my daughter to know as she grows up via Scary Mommy.

6. Fifty spring break ideas for kids in New Jersey via NJ Mom.

7. Thirteen things you should consider spray painting via Apartment Therapy.

8. Etiquette tips to keep in mind the next time you visit your hair stylist via Violet Grey.

9. Ten ways to pamper yourself without going on vacation via Verily.

10. I need these shoes in my life this summer via Jack Rogers.

Spring Cleaning To-Dos

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Spring cleaning, in some way, shape or form, comes with the territory for most people. It’s the time of year to do the deep cleaning jobs that we often ignore on a daily basis, such as scrubbing the floor boards and cleaning on top of the kitchen cabinets. Beating the rugs outdoors is only worth doing in the warmer weather so that you don’t end up in a rain or snow storm while you do it!

I like to make a spring cleaning task list and check things off diligently. Making a to-do list for spring cleaning can be lengthy and overwhelming. With so many action items, where do you start? I've put together a list of the chores that rank high on my list and are non-negotiables. The last thing you need is to get through the year and realize you’ve double the work to do, so don’t miss out on these:

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Everyone loves a good list. Make an inventory of everything in your food pantry and cleaning cabinets. Also, make a list of the pots, pans, bakeware, and kitchenware and a list of the garden tools you own. These lists will enable you to clearly see if you have any duplicates and if you can cull any of your belongings and have a garage sale to make some space.

Making a note of each of your appliances and your pipes in the home is a good way to check if you need to make any repairs. Clearing out the lint from the dryer also comes under this heading as you’ll need to reduce the risk of fire, not to mention the fact that excess lint can make your dryer break down.

Everyone knows that pests love to move indoors when it’s cold outside. Check your attic for rodent nests and check the beams for ants and termites, which like to move in after a period of rain. Calling in companies like Terminix to get your termite issue squared away before it becomes an irreversible problem.

It’s the time of year to check your smoke and house alarms. This includes carbon monoxide alarms. Regular checks on these each year can mean the difference between life and death, so don’t be lax on this one.

All the nooks and crannies in your house that you usually miss out need a scrub. Ceiling fans, for example, are rarely properly dusted. Dust will settle on them and as they spin, they dispense more dust through your home. This is the same with lightbulbs; they get dirty believe it or not! Clean them and change them over if they need it – fresh bulbs reduce the risk of the electrics blowing out on you. And don't forget to clean blinds and wash curtains and drapes.

Wash the washer. It may seem like a silly thing to say, but your washing machine doesn’t actually clean itself whenever it does a load of clothing. Empty it of clothes and run a normal cycle with detergent to clean the drum.
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These jobs are tedious, and no one likes to do them. Once they’re done, however, you 'll know that your home is truly clean and ready for those warmer months once again. Grab that feather duster, you’ve work to do!

Raspberry Peach Prosecco Punch

Whenever we entertain for a large group, I like to serve a signature cocktail or drink. It keeps people from being overwhelmed with choices of wine, beer, and cocktails, and it makes it much easier on me as the hostess.

On Sunday, we will be hosting Easter dinner, and I plan to make this tasty punch.


12 oz. frozen raspberries
2 cups peach nectar, chilled
1 bottle of Santa Margherita Prosecco Superiore DOCG, chilled

1. Place frozen raspberries in a large glass pitcher or bowl. 
2. Top with the peach nectar and Santa Margherita Prosecco Superiore DOCG.
3. Fill remainder of the pitcher with ice cubes. Stir and serve cold.

NOTE: I like to use frozen peach slices as ice cubes. They keep the drink cold, and they look so pretty.