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Archive for January, 2013

  FF1  Its Fashion Flash Monday and this week Kari of Fab Over Forty is hosting. True story: Less than five years ago I went to meeting with a dermatologist and a branding team to discuss launching a new line of skin care products. Estimated cost was almost $1,000,000. The bulk of the costs were for marketing, advertising and fees to get products onto shelves. Today all a good new brand needs to launch is a web site to directly reach the consumer. This has led to an explosion of brands– and its a good thing we have Kari to sort out the best ones for every situation.  She has  has helped me find new favorite   fragrances, mascaras and  liners, saving me  both time and money. 

I love  fashion history and  this week I  went to  an exhibit on Fortuny with Mary Lou Floyd, co-fortuny (2)founder of Second Lives Club,  an addicting site on  life  in  our second fifty years.  In the early 1900’s Fortuny developed a line of clothing and fabrics that reflected  the new modern sensibility of the time.  His  flowing dresses made of  finely  pleated silk  liberated women  from corsets  and bustles.   His Delphos dress ( see photo on right) was inspired by  Greek design and emphasized  movement and a woman’s natural shape.     Isasora Duncan  LOVED his clothing and wore it both on stage  and in daily  life.   Fashionistas  including Gloria Vanderbilt and  Lauren Hutton  collected vintage examples of his clothing and  would be certain that no one would be wearing the same dress at any event.  His technique  for pleating silk was a trade secret and he took it with  him to his grave.   Many  have tried, but no one has  been able to  duplicate his technique.

The exhibit it at the Spanish Institue in NYC  which is itself  is  so striking, its worth a visit just  to see the black and white  floors and  red carpeted stairs.

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bok choyI love to buy fruits and vegetables at Farmer’s Markets.  I think the food  is fresher, tastes better  and I can pick up  new varieties   not found in supermarkets.  Last week I  scored   what I thought was a gorgeous head of sparkling fresh spinach.   It was 15″ inches across, weighed about 3 pounds and was only $3.  What a buy!  But when I got  home and nibbled on a leaf, I discovered it was bok choy not spinach.  Bok choy is a popular form of  chinese cabbage that is used in soups, stir fried combo’s and  as  side vegetable dish. But from a nutitional  stand point, how does it compare to  the nutrient packed spinach?

Turns out, not too bad.  Bok choy clocks in at just 13 calories in a four ounce serving.  And those 13 calories also deliver 30% of RDA vitamin A and 50% of RDA of Vitamin C.  Since vitamin C is the vitamin  most closely linked to youthful skin, bok choy  can genuinely be considered a beauty food.   Add that to some fiber, iron, and calcium and bok choy  earns  its spot on healthy eating plans.  I love  to serve a double portion of sauteed bok choy with an order of steamed  chicken dumplings– a low fat dinner  plate of flavor and nutrition.

Stir-Fried Bok Choy ( adapted form Foodnetwork.com)

Ingredients:  one  tablespoon corn oil, 2 cloves of garlic, slivered, 1 tablespoon of  chopped  fresh ginger, 8 cups of chopped bok choy ( cut into one inch pieces), 2 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce 

Directions:  Heat the oil in a  large non-stick saute pan.  Toss in garlic and ginger and cook about a minute.  Add bok choy and soy sauce and cook  over medium heat for  5 minutes until leaves are wilted and stalks are crisp but tender. 

You can also serve these over rice  or in a soup.

One last word:  Raw bok choy  can  be difficult to digest and  cause   cramps and bloating– so make certain that the vegetables  are throughly cooked  before serving.

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FF1This  week the host of Fashion Flash  is Staness of Menopause Makeover. In addition to timely medical  advice and a great  health calculator and record keeper,   IMO Staness has some of the best low calorie recipes on the web.  This week I was looking for something to bring to a Super Bowl Party on Feb  3 that would not lower  the life expectancy of  the assembled sports fans.  Standard Super Bowl buffets  usually feature buffalo wings with blue cheese dressing, nachos with cheese and meat and every kind of chip on the planet.   I road tested the turkey chili recipe  from Staness and  it was perfect.  According to Staness, the  heat from  the  chili peppers increase   metabolism so that I actually burn calories as I eat it.  This chili is also  high in iron ( from the turkey) and in vitamin C ( from the tomatoes, peppers and chili).  Now I have to decide if  I’m even going to even  mention that  it  was low fat, low  salt  and  just all around wonderful for the body.

This week I am also  so excited to introduce our  newest  Fashion Flash blogger– Barbara Hannah Gufferman, author of  The Best of Everything  After 50:  The Experts GuideGUFFERMAN to Style, Sex, Health, Money and More.   She interviewed top experts including  Diane Furstenberg ( fashion), Frederic Fekkai ( hair) and Dr Patricia Wexler ( skin) to come up with ideas  of the best and the brightest to deal with issues that affect  50 plus women.  

In addition she   has  a weekly front page column on Huffington Post, is the Chief Pundit  for Fabulous Over Fifty and is a regular contributor to AARP.   Barbara has appeared on The Today Show, and Good Morning  America and is a regular on NPR, Dr Oz Sirius Radio and the Oprah Channel.  Last  year the National Osteoporosis Foundation  honored her for her outspoken support  of  women’s health.

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     golden globe (2)Watching the red carpet parade of beautiful women at the Golden Globes, I was mesmerized by the flawless chests above the strapless or plunging gowns. While we usually focus on signs of aging around the face and eyes, the skin on chest is often more lined and sun damaged and in need of some TLC. These women who professional lives depend on their beauty clearly knew this and they take great care to create a smooth polished and sexy decollete.

     After trying  out  a wide range of anti-aging tools for my face, I realized that   there was now quite a difference between the skin on my face and the skin on my chest.  Last year  I had most of the freckles  and age spots  on my chest removed by  laser, but one big oddly shaped splotch resisted treatment.   Normally one spot ( even though it was shaped like a medieval serpent)  would  hardly be worth mentioning. But I get so many  questions about the best way to even out chest skin tone, I decided  to explore other tools for this area. 

       I asked Dr Marmur to use  a Fraxel laser  but she pointed out  that  the brown  mark scan0257was  slightly raised and textured ( photo on right).  For this type of  spot she need to zap it with an electro cautery needle.    After  numbing the area  with a tiny shot of lidocaine, Dr Marmur  touched the  raised area with the heated  wired needle.   The skin actually sizzled  as the tip bNEXT DAY (2)urned off the raised  brown  splotch.   It took less than a minute.  The area was quite red and as directed, I dabbed on a bit of Aquaphor and covered it with a bandaid.   When the lidocaine wore off, my chest felt  just a bit sore.

    The next day the area was still red and raw, but not painful ( see photo on left).  Dr Marmur warned  me that the chest skin will stay red for  up to several months.     Since  body skin tends to heal more slowly than on the face, winter time is an HEALINGexcellent time to have  laser work on  body parts hidden by pants and sweaters.  One week later the area  has healed to a slightly  dry,  faint brownish pink splotch ( photo to right).    In a month I’ll post a follow-up pix. If ever find myself walking  on  the red carpet,  at least my decolette  will be ready.

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FF_1This week Shawna of Female Fat Loss Over Forty is hosting Fashion Flash–  a super timely host  to deal with post-holiday party pounds.  In addition to effective  exercise plans, Shawna shares inspiring stories of her clients  who lost weight and got back their youthful  curves.

The flu  has hit most of the US and hit it hard.  To stay healthy, Mount Sinai pulmonologist Dr Neil Schachter  and author of the author of  The  Good Doctor’s Guide to Colds and Flu ( HarperCollins)  offers  his top ten tips for a healthy winter:

TOP TEN TIPS FOR WINTER HEALTH

1. Get a flu shot– Its not perfect, but its the single most effective step you can take to stay GOOD DOCTORhealthy.  Because your natural  immunity declines after age 50,  urge your family and grandchildren to  get a flu shot.

2. If you have an underlying health problem such as asthma, diabetes,  are pregnant, suffer from arthritis and/or are over age 50,  ask  you doctor for vaccine that protects against pneumonia.

3. At the peak of the flu outbreak avoid crowds like movie theaters or conserts

4. Alcohol lowers  your natural immunity so limit intake to less than 4 drinks a week

5. Lack of sleep also lowers immunity.  Make a point of getting 7-8 hours/ night.   Catching  up  on the weekend won’t help  your immunity that much.

6. Be aware of the germs that linger on elevator buttons,  bathroom fixtures, door knobs, and star rails.  Rather than becoming a winter hermit, don’t leave the house without a  hand sanitizer  in your purse or pocket.

7. Carry  your own pen and use it to sign credit card receits  in stores and restaurants.  Can you imagine how many germs are on the pen  a waiter  hands you at then end of the day.

8. Commit to 30 minutes of exercise 5x/week.  Its a tried and true way to raise  immunity.

9. Don’t smoke and don’t let others smoke around you.  Tobacco smoke paralyzes the tiny fibers in the lungs that sweep out mucus in the lungs before it can become infected with bacteria.  Not only are respiratory infections more frequent in smokers, they tend to be more severe and last longer

10.  Its still not too late to get a flu shot.  Its that important.

For more info about colds and flu you can check out Dr Schachter’s website, http://www.thegooddoctor1.com. He is a wonderful doctor, really cute, and FYI my husband.

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Q&A2Question: My hair  salon is now selling  argan oil shampoo.  Is is a good choice for dry hair?  And is it worth  the higher price?

Answer:  Argan oil  is arguably the oil of the year.  It comes from the nut of the argan tree which  is found  primarily in Morocco.  In North Africa argan oil is used  as a dip for bread, in salads as well as in skin and hair care products.     Argan seeds destined for eating are toasted to bring out the nutty flavor.   When seeds are used for  cosmetics, they  skip the  toasting step. 

Argan seeds are a tough nut to crack ( pun not really intended)  They have to cracked by hand and the entire  extraction process is long and labor intensive.   This, plus  the  fact that  the argan tree is now on the endangered list, make argan oil one of the rarest  ( and thus most expensive) oils on the market.

Health Benefits of Argan Oil

Argan oil is packed with  omega six fatty acids.  It is actually almost 40% linoleic acid– theArgan oil and fruit most effective anti-wrinkling oil  according to the NHANES study.  Pure argan oil is also  rich in a range of anti-oxidants including vitamin E, carotenes, and phenols.  Studies done with volunteers found that adding argan oil to  the diet lowered both cholesterol and triglyceride levels.    Other studies suggested that argan oil  could be as heart healthy as olive oil– but at  a much higher price tag.

Beauty Benefits of Argan Oil

Moroccan women have a long tradition of using argan oil to soften  sun dried skin and hair.  Linoleic  acid is  known for its anti-inflammatory properties maknig it an excellent choice for  irritated or sensitive skin.   Argan oil mixes well with other cosmetic ingredients  and softens without excessive oiliness.  In a shampoo and or conditioner this means it can  add shine and flexibility  without making the hair flat or greasy.

The challenge is to find genuine  Argan oil products.   You can find 100% Argan oil in health food stores   while other products have only a drop or two of  this unique oil.    Be  cautious of products labeled Moroccan oil which is often a mixture of some  Argan oil and  who knows what else.

Bottom line:  Argan oil has a lot going for it.  It makes  elegant products and is a welcome addition to your healthy foods list.  Just be sure  you’re getting the real thing.

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Its Fashion Flash Monday!

FF1This week Jodell of Black Cat Plus is hosting Fashion Flash.  This always interesting site features  both fashion and social issues  of interest to plus size women. 

This year instead of  making the usual blanket  New Year’s Resolution to “exercise more” I decided to  pick a new  promise that I could actually  accomplish.   So for 2013  my top New Year’s Resolution  is to decrease  use of toxic   chemicals in my  home.   I have already been looking  at ways to reduce chemicals in skin care products and I was inspired by a  new book by a  father and son team of experts to extend my reach.  The Healthy Home ( Vanguard)  is the brainchild of   Dr Myron Wentz, a noted  microbiologist and  his son Dave Wentz who is  trained in bioengineering.  In clear, easy to understand language, The Healthy Home describes potential problems in our homes  and provides simple and affordable  solutions.

The book is divided into different areas in the house.  From the bedroom thru the kitchen to theHEALTHY HOME 1 garage and yard,  the authors identify  common toxins and explain their impact on our health.  For example  in the bedroom, The Healthy Home explains the dangers of the electromagnetic fields (EMF) from devices that are clustered around the bed including phones, clocks and lamps.  In the bathroom, the authors  highlight the problems with aerosols, parabens, phalates and preservatives that are often used in prsonal care products.   

In  the bathroom, this book raises concerns about chemicals in  tub and tile cleansers  that contain toluene, lead and thimerosol– substances linked to endocrine disruption.

The information is disturbing but the book points you  in the direction of better choices.  For example to avoid chemicals in the bedroom, it suggests using all cotton or  organic fabrics for bedding  and nightclothes.  I wish the authors had provided  brand names of healthier  choices as well as resources to find them.   These are disturbing issues and we need all the help we can get to reduce  our chemical load.  However  The Healthy Home certainly  identifies the problems.  I plan to start by changing my cleaning products to healthier formulations.  Has anyone  recommendations for effective “green” cleaning tools?

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