LaVie Organique Skincare Blog

All posts in category "balanced lifestyle"

How to Ramp Up Nutrition While Kicking Back This Summer

When my Romanian grandmother went away for the summer, she brought her commitment to anti-aging nutrition along with her. Thanks to her deep roots in Romania’s traditional wellness culture, she  knew exactly how to fit that disciplined attitude into a restful, pleasure-filled vacation. As this excerpt from my new book, Timeless Woman, explains, the secret of balancing good nutrition with easy summer living is to embrace the foods that Mother Nature intended us to eat at this time of year.

Satisfying Seasonal Appetites and Lifestyle Needs
Summer menus that center on salads and other vegetable dishes are in keeping with the Romanian tradition of living in harmony with the seasons. Cold dishes and foods that are less filling are particularly appealing in hot weather. These easy-to-prepare foods also fit summertime’s relaxed schedules. Salads are a wonderful alternative to convenience foods and takeout meals when you’re on vacation. All you need is a medley of fresh summer vegetables from local produce stands. Then you can put together a nutritious homemade meal without spending a lot of time standing in line in a crowded supermarket or sweating over a hot stove.

This cooling Romanian summer salad is a snap to make and a delicious way to increase your intake of anti-aging nutrients. The antioxidants and anti-inflammatories in the cucumbers and peppers help prevent and repair the damaging effects of intense summertime sun on our skin.

Romanian Summer Salad

2 garden cucumbers, peeled
1 bell pepper (red, yellow, or orange)
2 tomatoes
1 young onion
2 tablespoons sunflower seed oil or
extra virgin olive oil or canola oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Cut all vegetables. Mix with oil. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.

Summer produce supplies and abundance of anti-aging nutrients, while providing a fest for the senses. KEKO64

Summer produce supplies an abundance of anti-aging nutrients, while providing a feast for the senses. KEKO64

Even the most casual meal should be elegantly presented. Romanian cooks take as much pride in their presentation of the food as they do in their treasured family recipes. This Old World approach to serving meals can be easily integrated into laidback summer lifestyles by taking advantage of the beautiful qualities of whole foods. In summer, nature provides us with a bounty of brightly hued produce that can be shown to its best advantage with a minimum of fuss. For instance, you can create a minor work of art simply by arranging a rainbow assortment of vegetables or fruits on a plate, with an eye to how the different colors, sizes, shapes, and textures work together. Easier still, you can add visual excitement to a plain dish of sliced tomatoes or grilled summer squash with a garnish of summer herbs.

Visually appealing food stimulates the digestive juices that enable our body to extract dietary nutrients. Food that’s pleasing to the eye is also an expression of caring that helps make the meal an emotionally satisfying experience. Other thoughtful touches like a properly set table with fresh flowers and cloth napkins add a special shine to the meal, transforming the simplest lunch or dinner into a celebration of summer.

As Good As It Gets: Antioxidants for Dessert

Summer Apricots: A Sweet Source of Anti-aging Nutrients

Summer fruits are a delicious way to add antioxidant vitamins, flavonoids, and other revitalizing phytonutrients to your diet. As rich in anti-aging nutrients including vitamin C and beta-carotene as they are in flavor, apricots epitomize the spirit of Mediterranean-style cuisines. In Turkey, this delectable relative of the peach is so prized that the Turkish equivalent of the English idiom “it doesn’t get any better than this” (bundan iyisi  Şam’da kayısı) is “the only thing better than this is an apricot in Damascus.”

The featured role of apricots in my native Romania’s famously luscious pastries, jams, and other desserts reflects the enduring cultural influence of early Greco-Roman and Turkish settlers on our diverse and vibrant cuisine. One of my personal favorites is a distinctly Romanian variant of Italy’s albicocche cotte al vino (“apricots cooked in wine”).

Fresh Apricots Cooked in Wine

Unlike the Italian version, my grandmother’s recipe – which appears below - doesn’t require making a syrup of dry white wine, sugar, and vanilla. The use of a sweet dessert wine and cinnamon instead reduces the preparation time and calorie count, while maximizing the fresh, natural taste of the fruit.You can also adjust the taste of this dessert to suit your palate. If you desire a honey-like sweetness and complex flavor, choose a true dessert wine, such as Romanian Grasa de Cotnari, Hungarian Tokay, or an imported or domestic Muscat. If you have less of a sweet tooth, your might prefer the taste of lighter white wines like a sauvignon blanc or German Riesling.

Delicious summer apricots are loaded with anti-aging nutrients.

INGREDIENTS

Fresh apricots, 1-1/2 lb (fruit should be ripe but not mushy)

White dessert wine*

Cinnamon, a pinch

Vanilla ice cream (optional)

Cut apricots in half and remove the stones. Place facedown in a large skillet. Pour in wine. Cook the fruit approximately 3 minutes on each side. Serve alone or with a small scoop of vanilla ice cream for special treat!

 

Romanian Holiday: A State of Health, Happiness, and Mediterranean Desserts

Moderate portions of simple yet elegant fruit-based desserts like this one are a great way to integrate sensual pleasure into a naturally healthy lifestyle. Even in the wintertime, one bite of this refreshing treat recalls the extended hours of sunlight during my summer holidays on the shores of the Black Sea. Regardless of whether you summer in Portofino, Martha’s Vineyard, or your own backyard, my grandmother’s summer dessert recipe is guaranteed put you in a vacation state of mind.

Add regular doses of summer's natural pleasures to your European-style anti-aging regime. Image: Idea go / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Traditional Mediterranean Food for Thought

From Rome to Romanian: Mediterranean Culture Meets Eastern European Health Practices

For centuries, the traditional diet and lifestyle in countries around the Mediterranean Sea – parts of Italy, Greece, France, Spain, Portugal, and northern Africa – have helped the beneficiaries of this naturally healthy way of life to stave off obesity, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and other degenerative diseases and symptoms of aging.

Many people are surprised to learn that an equally old and wonderfully complex Mediterranean tradition exists in my native Romania. The long intermingling of indigenous peoples with settlers from the Greco-Roman and Ottoman Empires has enriched Romania’s national identity and culture with its own unique version of the Mediterranean spirit.

Romania's historical ties to the Mediterranean World trace back to the ancient Greco-Roman civilization. Image: Idea go / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Romanian Holiday: The Original Club Med on the Shores of the Black Sea

Perhaps the most famous legacy of early Roman colonists is Romania’s enduring reputation as the Mediterranean World’s original vacation hotspot. Ever since Roman colonists first capitalized on the local custom of bathing in the mineral-rich waters by building the country’s first health resorts, Romanian spa hotels have been famous as fashionable retreats for Europe’s ailing, tired, and bored elite.

What made these summer getaways so popular with sophisticated Europeans was the Old World elegance of the Romanian spa experience. Instead of submitting to a rigorously ascetic health regime, the rich and pampered could restore their physical, mental, and emotional equilibrium while also indulging their taste for luxury and sensual pleasure. Even today, Romania’s sultry summer weather, lush vineyards, and long stretches of fine white sand continue to draw favorable comparisons to the French and Italian Riviera.

The world's first luxury spa vacations were on the shore's of the Black Sea. Image: photostock / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Classic Food for Thought: 5 Tips for Nurturing Slim, Youthful Looks

The long, hot month of August is the perfect time to cultivate the health and beauty benefits of a traditional Romanian spa vacation. The following Old World health and dietary practices will provide you with the fundamental building blocks for healthier relationship with food and a more elegant and relaxed way of life.

1. Add more plant-derived foods to your diet. Fresh fruits and vegetables, grains, beans and other legumes, and nuts are the primary food sources in traditional European diets. Rich in antioxidants including vitamins A, C, and E vitamins, phytonutrients, and omega-3 oils, these cuisines are great for your waistline, your heart and circulatory system, as well as your complexion.

2. Avoid processed foods and takeout. Make yourself a nutritious meal from fresh ingredients instead. Of course, we all have days that broiling a chicken breast or even cooking a simple omelet can seem overwhelming.  That’s why it’s smart to keep the fridge stocked with a mix of healthful foods that can be combined in a balanced meal. Here are some options:

a. Hummus or yogurt (the real fermented kind!) with raw vegetables/whole grain pita bread

b. Dark greens, fresh or leftover cooked vegetables with some nuts or cheese for protein

c. An inventive sandwich like this Greek salad on a bun.

3. Take time to savor your food. Multitasking at mealtimes not only diminishes the pleasure of eating but also encourages rapid, mindless consumption of too many calories. Do your digestion, your figure, and your senses a favor. Stop eating on the run or out of a carton standing in front of the refrigerator – and turn off the TV. Set the table as you would for an honored guest. Arrange your food nicely on a plate, down at the table, and pay attention to the interplay of tastes, aromas, and textures that make a meal delightful sensory experience. After you’ve finished eating, contemplate a vase of flowers or listen to soothing Classical music as you sip a glass of wine or a cup of tea. In Romania, this is our version of meditation!

A small portion of a beautifully presented dish can be more satisfying than a carton of greasy take-out.Image: nuchylee / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

4. Stick with high-quality foods. This rule applies to splurges as well as dietary staples. Cheap store brand desserts and snacks that are full of trans fat and chemicals are not only unhealthy, but also pretty unappetizing compared to treats made with real ingredients. Low-fat foods can be equally deadly. Most diet desserts and snack foods are overloaded with sugar to compensate for the lack of fat, which makes them both unsatisfying and addictive.

5. Maintain a healthy lifestyle, but give yourself a break now and then. Eat moderate portions of nutrient-dense foods and exercise regularly. But keep in mind that an ice cream cone on a hot day or skipping the gym to have coffee with a friend isn’t going to make you fat and flabby overnight.

A Balanced Anti-Aging Prescription for Extreme Times

Over the past 30 years, economic and social changes in many European countries have brought not only the advantages of modern life but also the health problems associated with America’s high-stress fast food culture. That is not to say we all should throw away our modern conveniences and move to a cabin in the woods. Instead of going to extremes, find a comfortable middle ground. Choose the traditional health practices and 21st scientific principles that fit your lifestyle, physical condition, and personal goals to create a disciplined but flexible plan for living a long and beautiful life.

Spring Turnaround: How Changing Your Mindset Can Change Your Life

What if I told you there’s one no-risk, foolproof, and absolutely free way of ensuring that you look and feel younger than your age for the rest of life? And that millions of people who already know about this anti-aging method haven’t put it to work yet?  Sounds unbelievable, doesn’t it?

A fresh attitude the first step to a lifestyle makeover.

But that’s exactly the case with the healthy lifestyle practices of traditional cultures around the globe. Unfortunately, in the United States, as well as in a growing number of increasingly “Americanized” cities overseas, this alternative anti-aging approach continues to present hard-charging people-on-the-go with one virtually insurmountable obstacle. It requires them to relax their impossibly high standards and live a little—without the guilt and self-loathing that drives their ceaseless pursuit of total self-control and unattainable physical perfection.

Trade Costly Serial Makeovers for a Sustainable Anti-aging Plan

If you’re trapped in a self-defeating cycle of deprivation and overindulgence, do something nice for your body this spring. Don’t let thoughts of bathing suit weather bring out your inner Puritan. Whether it’s a highly restrictive diet, Botox injections, or liposuction, one radical tactic inevitably leads to another in an endless round of increasingly extreme measures. Before you make this kind of high-risk investment, consider the latest research on the long-term price of quick fixes:

Botox – Repeated Botox injections gradually weaken facial muscles over time. Known as “disuse atrophy,” this decrease in muscle mass and resilience is a major contributor to the droopy eyelids, jowls, and sagging jaw lines that develop as we age. The claim of Botox advocates that this effect is a “benefit” doesn’t change the facts of muscle physiology and facial anatomy that underlie the most visible signs of aging and environmental damage.

Starvation Diets – Within 2 years, 80% of dieters regain all of the weight they’ve lost—or more. And the greater the weight loss and frequency of dieting, the bigger the risk of metabolic overcompensation and other physiological changes that eventually doom these fast and furious weigh loss efforts to failure.

Liposuction – A new University of Colorado study shows that liposuction patients who had fat removed from their thighs regained that lost weight in their arms or bellies within a year.

The Old World Paradox: Living Well to Grow Younger

Instead of re-engaging in this costly and ultimately futile battle against nature, give these three time-tested Old World wellness prescriptions a try.
1. Accept your appetite for the good things in life as normal and natural.

2. Discard your belief in the one-size-fits-all ideal of youthful beauty perpetuated by Hollywood and the fashion media.

3. Reject the extreme path of unnatural deprivation and self-denial in favor of the gradual cultivation of healthful moderation and long-term discipline.

This attitude adjustment may strike you as foreign and even downright dangerous. But to the traditional Europeans who continue to live and breathe this balanced philosophy, the idea of giving up their joie de vivre or la dolce vita to look younger and more attractive seems equally counterintuitive.

In the coming weeks, I’ll not only explain more about the natural wisdom behind the European mindset and the specific strategies that make it effective, but also provide additional evidence for a paradoxical truth:  You can have your health, stop and smell the roses, and eat cake, too.