Top 14 Foods You Should Buy Organic

•07/18/2012 • 1 Comment


Apple picking season is September through November and yet they’re available year-round. How? They’re sprayed with a fungicide to prevent spoilage and then coated with a food-grade wax before being put into cold storage, says Christopher Campbell, EWG’s Vice President for Information Technology. “They only pick them one time a year, so that apple you eat in August was picked the previous year,” says Campbell.

This grants them the top spot in the Dirty Dozen list.



Like apples, you can’t peel or wash your way out of this one. Because pesticides need to be diluted before being added to crops, they’re water soluble, says Campbell. Since celery has a high water content, the toxins are sucked directly into the stalk, making it virtually impossible to get around ingesting the pesticides unless you buy organic.








Sweet bell peppers

Similar to apples, bell peppers are also coated in food-grade wax, which seals in pesticides and toxins.








Peaches, strawberries, imported nectarines and domestic blueberries

Because these fruits are sweet, bugs (just like us) love to feast on them, which means they get a heavy dose of pesticides that can’t be easily removed by washing or scrubbing. Case in point: Every single nectarine USDA tested had measurable pesticide residues, according to EWG.





As a category, grapes have more types of pesticides than any other fruit, with 64 different chemicals, according to EWG.





Spinach and lettuce

Seventy-eight different pesticides were found on lettuce samples, according to EWG.Since they’re grown close to the ground, one might think that they experience a higher degree of pesticides to keep pests away, but the reality is that ground proximity does not make these foods significantly more vulnerable to insects and animals, according to Chuck Benbrook of the Organic Center.




Cucumbers are coated in food-grade wax to keep them fresh. Like apples and red peppers, the wax encases any pesticides,making them difficult to remove.









To prevent potatoes from sprouting “eyes” or roots, farmers spray them with toxic compounds, such as lectins, and growth inhibitors, which slow down the growing process and keep potatoesfrom needing to be refrigerated during storage.




Green Beans and Kale

Green beans and the latest “it” food kale, are new additions to this year’s Dirty Dozen. The pesticides used on these crops are toxic to the nervous system. Even though they have been largely removed from agriculture over the past decade, according to EWG, they aren’t banned.





Global Food Disparity: A Photo Diary

•07/17/2012 • Leave a Comment

In an increasingly globalized world, it’s still sometimes shocking to see just how disparate our lives are compared with other human beings around the world. A book of photographs by Peter Menzel called “Hungry Planet: What the World Eats” (“©Peter Menzel Ten Speed Press, published in 2005) makes a relevant point with great irony: at a time when hundreds of millions of people don’t have enough to eat, hundreds of millions more are eating too much and are overweight or obese. In observing what six billion eat for dinner the authors note,

“Today, more people are overweight than underweight.”

It is these cultural differences, emphasized and reinforced by the author, which exemplifies the lifestyles and dietary habits of people around the world. In the United States, processed foods are par for course. In the Philippines, fresh fruit and vegetables play a far more significant role. In the  harsh Chad sun, a family of six exists on a measly $1.23 per week.


You may have seen some of these photographs from the book as it been widely circulating on the net, if not, I urge you to purchase it and as one of my friends said via email: “I don’t know about you, but I’m counting my blessings.” Traveling to 24 countries, from Greenland, Chad, and Japan to Germany, Guatemala, and the United States, Peter Menzel and Faith D’Aluisio photographed 30 families accompanied by a careful display of a week’s worth of food. Chronicling the enormous differences in eating habits between industrial and developing countries, each section includes a family portrait, along with their groceries, and a listing of how much was spent in each food group. In the tradition of MATERIAL WORLD, this timely, fascinating photography book illustrates not only the growth of fast food consumption worldwide, but also the transformation of diets across the planet. One notes that except where poverty is the most extreme, packaged cookies and candies have gripped the world as have soft drinks, primarily coca-colas. I found it both encouraging that there is so much local food culture left in the world, and deeply depressing that our processed food culture has spread so far and wide. If you look closely at the types of food being purchased you can see the difference between “eating to live” and “living to eat.”

Meet the The Manzo family of Sicily. Their weekly expenditure is 214.36 Euros or $260.11. Note the copious amount of bread.
Germany: The Melander family of Bargteheide
Food expenditure for one week: 375.39 Euros or $500.07.
United States: The Revis family of North Carolina (I hope most American families eat more fresh fruits and vegetables and less junk food than this family.)Food expenditure for one week $341.98
Mexico: The Casales family of Cuernavaca
Food expenditure for one week: 1,862.78 Mexican Pesos or $189.09. Note the profusion of fruits & vegetables.
Poland: The Sobczynscy family of Konstancin-Jeziorna
Food expenditure for one week: 582.48 Zlotys or $151.27
Egypt: The Ahmed family of Cairo
Food expenditure for one week: 387.85 Egyptian Pounds or $68.53
Ecuador: The Ayme family of Tingo
Food expenditure for one week: $31.55
Bhutan: The Namgay family of Shingkhey Village
Food expenditure for one week: 224.93 ngultrum or $5.03. This feeds a family of 11! Remarkable.
Chad: The Aboubakar family of Breidjing Camp
Food expenditure for one week: 685 CFA Francs or $1.23. No comment.
Kuwait: The Al Haggan family of Kuwait City
Food expenditure for one week: 63.63 dinar or $221.45. Most foodstuffs in this State is subsidized.
Mongolia: The Batsuuri family of Ulaanbaatar
Food expenditure for one week: 41,985.85 togrogs or $40.06
China: The Dong family of Beijing
Food expenditure for one week: 1,233.76 Yuan or $175
Japan: The Ukita family of Kodaira City
Food expenditure for one week: 37,699 Yen or $317.25

10 French Beauty Secrets That Don’t Require Dieting

•07/16/2012 • 3 Comments

When it comes to beauty (and diet, and fashion – damn them!) French women are known the world over for looking gorgeous all day, every day. How do they achieve this? By figuring out that less is fabulously more. Which means they spend more effort taking care of the basics – like the health of their skin– rather than slathering on pounds of foundation and concealers to fake a glow. And how do they do this? On my last visit to France, I convinced mademoiselles from Paris to Provence to tell me their secret stories, which have been handed down through the centuries.

French, Paris, beauty, skincare, tomato, Provence, grapes, traditional, recipes, cold water, ice bath1. The French love their grapes and not just poured into a bottle of wine. These juicy fruits contain loads of antioxidants, vitamins, oligo-elements and essential oils to improve circulation and step up hydration. And nothing could be simpler: Just slice a few grapes in half and rub the fleshy part over your face for a few minutes. Let the juice dry, then rinse off thoroughly.

2. French women stick to a scrupulous and preventive skin and body care routine – this means regular facials and massages. Don’t have time for a spa visit? Do like the Gallics: Mash a handful of cherries and pomegranate seeds, then apply them as a face pack for 10 minutes. Rinse off with warm water. Their natural enzymes will help brighten and firm the skin.

3. Harsh cleansers are an absolute French no-no. Instead swab off eye makeup with sweet almond oil, which will gently remove residue while also softening the skin.

4. French woman know that hydration is important. So, in addition to drinking water throughout the day, they advise downing a glass as you get up and another before you go to bed. Why? It keeps skin and hair hydrated, flushes out toxins from the body and curbs appetite.

5. These radiant-skinned mademoiselles know that circulation is integral to beauty as it makes the skin glow. And for this, they religiously splash ice cold water on their face every morning. This gives the complexion an icy boost, making it glow and feel super-fresh.

6. Another way to bring home the je ne sais quoi? Splash breasts with cold water to improve circulation in this fragile area as well!

French, Paris, beauty, skincare, tomato, Provence, grapes, traditional, recipes, cold water, ice bath

Illustration by Izak Zenou

7. Since centuries, French women (and men!) have known that  the essential oils of lavender, geranium, neroli, rosemary and rose are unbeatable anti-aging ingredients. Similarly, they also know that jasmine, frankincense, myrrh and carrot seed rejuvenate the skin by encouraging new cell growth. And the simplest way to use them? Add 50 to 60 drops of one or two of these oils – my favourites are jasmine and lavender – to 4 oz jojoba oil and store in a pretty glass bottle. Massage this fragrant concoction into your skin every day (or night) for a gorgeously youthful appearance.

French, Paris, beauty, skincare, tomato, Provence, grapes, traditional, recipes, cold water, ice bath8. Then there are tomatoes, which are chock-full with anti-oxidants such as lycopene. Women in the South of France wipe the juice from fresh tomatoes on to their skin to cool down during the long hot summers. Sounds divine, doesn’t it?

9. The Parisian Beauty Editor of Marie Claire – my former workplace – has super-smooth hands with glossy nails and not a dark spot in sight. So I pestered and pestered and pestered her for the secret, which turned out to be a traditional French hand-bath made from cold water, coarse sea salt granules and a little olive oil. Scrub your hands in this for 5-10 minutes, then dab some almond oil on the nails – I have been doing this for the past two months and my hands have never looked softer or lovelier!

10. Finally, for something truly luxe and historic, try this historic French recipe that dates way back to the 1600s: Take 4 ounces almond oil, 3 ounces of extra virgin olive oil, 1 ounce of shaved candle wax (preferably beeswax), two tablespoons of onion juice and 10 drops of vanilla essential oil. Put the almond oil, olive oil and wax in a heavy bottomed pan and warm just enough to melt the wax. Then add the onion juice and vanilla essential oil. You will have to keep stirring the mixture to keep the ingredients from separating; and be especially careful about the onion juice because it will start lumping if the mixture gets too hot. Cool this creamy concoction and massage it into your face, neck, arms and feet at bedtime. Leave on overnight, then use a gentle face wash, toner or moisturiser in the morning. The result? Buttery soft skin like you wouldn’t believe!

What is your acne telling you?

•07/15/2012 • 1 Comment

Face mapping, which is fast taking centre stage at most clinics nowadays, combines Ayurveda and ancient Chinese medicine with cutting edge dermatologists’ prescriptions to explain how certain parts of your face are connected to other areas of your body. Put simply, think of your face as a map and blemishes as X’s on that landscape. Spots in different zones correspond to different problems. So, with this “map” as your guide, you can address the underlying causes of blemishes and not only make the unsightly zits vanish but also treat the underlying health problem in time.

Pretty awesome, right? Try it out: Here is how to decode breakouts in the basic areas.

face mapping, acne, zits, pimple, spots, solutions, skincare, beauty, skin, face

1 & 2: Digestive System — Eat less processed or junk food, reduce the amount of fat in your diet, step up water intake and opt for cooling things like cucumbers.

3: Liver — Cut out the alcohol, greasy food and dairy. This is the zone where food allergies also show up first, so take a look at your ingredients. Besides all this, do 30 minutes of light exercise every day and get adequate sleep so your liver can rest.

4 & 5: Kidneys — Anything around the eyes (including dark circles) point to dehydration. Drink up!

6: Heart — Check your blood pressure (mine was slightly high) and Vitamin B levels. Decrease the intake of spicy or pungent food, cut down on meat and get more fresh air. Besides this, look into ways to lower cholesterol, like replacing “bad fats” with “good fats” such as Omegas 3 and 6 found in nuts, avocados, fish and flax seed. Also, since this area is chock-full of dilated pores, check that your makeup is not past its expiry date or is skin-clogging.

7 & 8: Kidneys — Again, drink up! And cut down on aerated drinks, coffee and alcohol as these will cause further dehydration.

Zone 9 & 10: Respiratory system — Do you smoke? Have allergies? This is your problem area for both. If neither of these is the issue, don’t let your body overheat, eat more cooling foods, cut down on sugar and get more fresh air. Also keep the body more alkaline by avoiding foods that make the body acidic (meat, dairy, alcohol, caffeine, sugar) and adding more alkalizing foods like green veggies and wheatgrass juice. Another thing that most of forget – dirty cell phones and pillow cases are two of the top acne culprits and this area is what they affect the most!

Zone 11 & 12: Hormones — This is the signature zone for stress and hormonal changes. And while both are sometimes unavoidable, you can decrease their effect by getting adequate sleep, drinking enough water, eating leafy veggies and keeping skin scrupulously clean. Another interesting point: breakouts in this area indicate when you are ovulating (and on which side).

Zone 13: Stomach — Step up the fibre intake, reduce the toxin overload and drink herbal teas to help with digestion.

14: Illness — Zits here can be a sign that your body is fighting bacteria to avoid illness. Give it a break, take a yoga class, take a nap, take time to breathe deeply, drink plenty of water and know that everything always works out!

So the next time you break out or notice dark under-eye circles, look to your face map: your skin is probably trying to communicate on behalf of the internal organs. However, do remember that, as with all medical issues, it is always best to see your doctor or dermotologist for a proper prognosis. This is just a general guide to head you off in the right investigative direction – just becuase you break out between the brows doesn’t always mean you have a bad liver!

6 drinks that shrink your belly

•07/14/2012 • 1 Comment

That ice-cold lemonade may hit the spot on a 90-degree day, but it’s not doing your waistline any favors. A 20-ounce Minute Maid Lemonade contains 250 calories and 68 g of sugar. Fortunately, there are plenty of refreshing summer drinks that you can drink without guilt—and they may actually help you lose weight. Here are six ways to quench your thirst without packing on pounds.

Flat Belly Drink: Flavored Water

Staying hydrated is important when you’re trying to lose weight. Drinking plenty of water helps your body maintain proper fluid balance, stops water retention (a big cause of bloated bellies), and even increases the feeling of fullness so you eat less overall. But if plain water bores you, spruce it up with fresh herbs, citrus fruits, and other low-cal flavor enhancers (sliced cucumbers work well too) to encourage you to drink up. Try our Sassy Water recipe from the Flat Belly Diet!




Flat Belly Drink: Watermelon Smoothie

As long as they’re made without sugary mixers like sherbet, smoothies are a guilt-free way to hydrate—and watermelon is a terrific, low-cal smoothie base. Not only is it a natural hydrator because of its water content, watermelon is also loaded with nutrients, including cancer-fighting lycopene, as well as an amino acid known as arginine. A study in the Journal of Nutrition found that arginine can decrease body fat and increase lean muscle mass, so whip up this 56-calorie metabolism booster and sip away!

  1. In a blender, combine the watermelon and milk, and blend for 15 seconds, or until smooth. Add the ice, and blend 20 seconds longer, or to your desired consistency. Add more ice, if needed, and blend for 10 seconds.

Flat Belly Drink: Iced Peppermint Tea

This minty thirst quencher is super refreshing on a hot summer day, but it’s also a super-effective belly flattener. Peppermint helps your stomach process fat, ensuring even high-fat foods like burgers and steaks are digested quickly, which helps prevent bloat.


Flat Belly Drink: Pineapple Frappe

This blended pineapple drink tastes like a beach vacation in a glass—and it packs in two belly-flattening ingredients. A tablespoon of flaxseed oil adds monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs), proven belly flatteners, and pineapple itself contains bromelain, an enzyme that helps break down protein, ease digestion, and banish bloat.


Flat Belly Drink: Green Tea

Besides reducing your risk of cancer and heart disease, green tea benefits the whole body and contains catechins, antioxidants that studies show can help reduce belly fat. If you sip green tea before a workout, these compounds can also increase your fat burn during aerobic exercise.


Flat Belly Drink: Dark Chocolate Shake

Really? Yes, really. Chocolate—especially the dark kind—helps you slim you down because it decreases appetite and lessens food cravings overall. However, at nearly 400 calories, this shake is more of a meal than a snack. Try it for a quick breakfast to keep your appetite tamed for hours.

20 Best Burgers in San Francisco

•07/14/2012 • Leave a Comment

Cocktail Time

•07/13/2012 • Leave a Comment

Red Velvet Cake
2 oz. Pinnacle Cake
1 oz. chocolate liqueur
Splash grenadine
Shake with ice and strain
into a chilled martini glass.

Lemon Meringue Pie
2 oz. Pinnacle Cake
1 oz. lemon juice
½ oz. simple syrup
Splash cream
Shake with ice and strain
into a shot glass. Top with
whipped cream.

Blueberry Cobbler
2 oz. Pinnacle Cake
1 oz. Pinnacle Blueberry
Teaspoon brown sugar
Shake with ice and strain into a chilled
martini glass. Garnish with fresh
blueberries and whipped cream.

Chocolate Hazelnut Cake
2 oz. Pinnacle Cake
2 oz. milk
Splash hazelnut liqueur
Splash chocolate syrup
Shake with ice and strain into
a chilled martini glass.

Birthday Cake Martini
1 oz. Pinnacle Cake
1 tsp. dry vanilla cake mix
½ oz. chocolate liqueur
½ oz. half & half
Shake with ice and strain into a
shot glass. Top with whipped
cream and colored sprinkles.

Chocolate Raspberry Cake
2 oz. Pinnacle Cake
2 oz. milk
Splash raspberry liqueur
Splash chocolate syrup
Shake with ice and strain into a
chilled martini glass.

Mint Chip Cake
2 oz. Pinnacle Cake
1 oz. crème de cocoa
1 oz. crème de menthe
Shake over ice and strain into a
chocolate cookie rimmed martini
glass drizzled with chocolate. Top
with a dollop of whipped cream.

Chocolate Banana Cake
2 oz. Pinnacle Cake
2 oz. milk
Splash banana liqueur
Splash chocolate syrup
Shake with ice and strain into a
chilled martini glass. Garnish
with whipped cream.

Chocolate Whipped Cake
1 oz. Pinnacle Cake
1 oz. Pinnacle whipped
Splash half & half
Splash chocolate syrup
Shake with ice and strain into
a chilled martini
glass. Garnish with whipped

Coconut Cream Cake
2 oz. Pinnacle Cake
2 oz. milk
Splash Coconut Jack Rum
Shake with ice and strain into
a chilled martini glass. Garnish
with whipped cream.


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