Saturday, November 28, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!

We have much to be thankful for this year. A loving family, our new niece Gemma Grace, dear friends, a wonderful home in beautiful Napa Valley, loads of delicious wine and interesting teas, employment, Drink the Leaf, our feline mascot Little One, travel, much laughter, and the list goes on and on. Thank you for sharing in this adventure with us; we are truly grateful. We wish you and your family much peace, love and happiness during the holiday season.

Tea Drinker & Wife of Tea Drinker

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Three Cheers for Herbal Teas: Time to Cleanse!

Cleanse, cleanse, cleanse” kept ringing around in my head, as I dozed on a flight from Chicago to Oakland. My body was fighting back. Months of traveling, little sleep, and over indulgence of food and drink had finally taken its toll. Okay, I give in. The Isagenix 9 day cleanse had my number, and there was no way getting around it. My body was taxed to the max. What to do with my first nine days home in a row since summer? Bring on a cleanse: no alcohol(shock), no caffeine(horror), and limited food(it's about time!).

Why cleanse?
• Your body stores toxic waste that is absorbed through your skin via eating, drinking, and the surrounding air. Scary.
• Toxic waste is stored in FAT. Double scary.
• You will experience more energy, feel better, lose fat & inches. Hooray!
• It will help prevent disease, illness, and future ailments. Double hooray!

Today, is day seven. Yes, I am proud that I have made it this far, and am confident that I will stay strong to the final day. Not sure, if the Isagenix crew would agree with my timing; I will come off the cleanse straight into Thanksgiving. But, that’s how I roll.

How am I doing?
I feel alive! Am I starving? Yes and no. Am I am working out? Yes, but limited. Remember food is fuel, which became very clear to me as I was unable to perform my normal routine at Boot Camp. Will I cut out certain foods after the cleanse? Some. I feel as though I have re-set my body chemistry, and will watch what and how much I consume moving forward. What’s the first wine that I will drink? The closest. What tea will I drink? Organic Golden Monkey. Will I try cleansing again? Absolutely, but maybe not until the Spring! Hey, I have to build up toxins, right?

Cleansing is an ancient health practice to remove impurities from your body. Give it a try, but tread lightly. You will dream about turkey subs(of course, organic), and conducting 3:30am business meetings in Las Vegas (because you are superwoman), and by the end of the week you will sleep as if you were in a coma. Pure unadulterated sleep. And a forewarning to your loved ones ...beware. You will snap at them, but are far wittier. You will cherish the 600 calorie meal during the shake days, as if it were you were your last meal on earth. This is where drama enters the picture. Your loved one will count the days until 'wine time'. But, in the end you will have more clarity, and feel great.

Tips for Isagenix Cleansing:
• No alcohol, caffeine, sugar, or flour
• Drink herbal teas: Drink the Leaf Rooibos, Chamomile, and Peppermint, for example.
• Drink lots of water (80-100oz) daily, and take the vitamins offered.
• Move your body, 30 minutes each day.
• Stay positive, it’s only nine days!

Happy Thanksgiving! At Drink the Leaf, we have much to be thankful for this season. We appreciate your support, and encouragement. All the best to you and yours...

**consult your doctor before cleansing or starting a new workout regime

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Spice Up Your Holidays!

Holidays can be stressful. If the going gets rough and tough, take three deep breaths, pour yourself a cup of your favorite holiday spiced tea (Drink the Leaf Organic Chic Chai works for me), and take a moment for yourself. Everyone has experienced Thanksgiving nightmares, anxiety and embarrassing moments during the holidays. Right? Please humor me, and tell me you have…

We have quite a few cherished memories that keep us giggling during the holidays when the tasks become unbearable. We remember fondly the year we forgot the most coveted holiday gravy. Let’s just say, we were not popular with our guests that time around. Then, there was the year that the Tea Drinker was sick with the flu (I refused to cancel the dinner), and I kept trooping in and out of the bedroom peppering him with questions about how to cook a turkey. That year, I was not very popular with my husband. Or the time, I over served my guests with plenty of wine, so much so, that one of my dear friends became a fixture on our couch for the next two days. Now, this made us extremely popular!

But last year’s experience takes home the prize. After attending a friend’s Thanksgiving pig roast, we were craving the real deal: Turkey. The Tea Drinker and I set out to have the perfect cozy holiday meal at home, just the two of us. We have had many years of cooking this meal together, and jumped right into setting up our timeline, shopping list, and splitting the duties. The menu: turkey, mashers, gravy, cranberry sauce, stuffing, brussel sprouts, and pumpkin pie. Simple. Wine is never a problem, and always flowing. What could go wrong?

Table set, candles lit, music on, wine poured, the only thing left to do was carve the turkey. Hmm…but this turkey looked strange. I commented to my husband about the gap between the crispy skin and meat. Actually, where was the breast meat?! Is this turkey defected? I grumbled that I was going to give the Whole Foods' butcher a tongue lashing. Come on, an organic turkey looks like this? Emaciated?

Defeated and frustrated, we settled for a few bites of meat, and decided to go with the turkey legs. Everything tasted great, but we were still miffed about the “weak” bird. After a bottle of wine, and the dishes were put away, I heard the Tea Drinker meekly groan from the kitchen, “Honey, could you come in here?”. My husband was staring down at our starved turkey. He squeaked out, “The turkey bird is upside down.” All that delicious breast meat, that we gave up on finding, was nice and moist on the bottom of the roasting pan. Boy, he was embarrassed, and I was in hysterics. He swore me to secrecy, but I am pretty sure he does not read my blog, anyways.

This year my Drink the Leaf Chai tea moments will be extra tasty; I am grateful that my life is right side up, and I have a teeming cup of memories to keep things light hearted and fun.

** Drink the Leaf is offering 15% off Organic Chic Chai & Herbal Masala Chai. Enter "turkey" in the coupon code. Click Recalculate. Offer expires Wed, November 25th at midnight.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

As Easy as Pumpkin Pie

As Thanksgiving approaches, I am stepping back into the kitchen. Lately, I have been on a hiatus, mostly due to my hectic travel schedule. I’ve been on the “gravy train” crisscrossing back and forth around the country, dining out each night. It’s the rough life, I know. But, now I am fat and lazy, and eager to get back to the front line.

I love preparing a meal from planning the menu to sitting down with the Tea Drinker and enjoying an evening at home. Prepping ingredients tends to put me into a “Zen-like” mode (my husband may disagree with this statement, as he mostly hears swear words coming from the kitchen). This whole process of preparation and anticipating helps keep me sane. Yes, its true, afterwards the kitchen looks as if a raging war went on, but acts of brilliance sometimes are displayed in mysterious ways...

This weekend, I had the urge to make pumpkin ravioli. Well, not really, but I had to figure out what to do with the three pound organic Whole Foods pumpkin that my husband bought for me. Remember last week’s Boot Camp request to bring a pumpkin to class to use as a workout apparatus? Well, I would have been laughed right out of there with that pee-wee of a pumpkin. Nothing left to do, but eat it the darn thing.

I have never really cooked with a pumpkin outside of making a pie, and even then, used canned pumpkin puree. Not this time, we used the real deal. It was like serving Fall on a plate. Very tasty and comforting. Give this recipe a try, before you are sick of looking at all things pumpkin. Invite your friends over, pour them a steaming cup of spicy Drink the Leaf Chai, and toast to the season.

Pumpkin Ravioli served with an Autumn Salad

Simple ingredients:
3-4 pound organic pumpkin
8oz cream cheese , softened
1 tsp of kosher salt
¼ tsp of cinnamon
¼ tsp of nutmeg
1-package of wonton wrappers( square)
That’s it, and make sure you have butter and grated Parmesan on hand, too!

Roll your Sleeves Up:
1)Cut pumpkin in half, scoop out seeds(save for toasting later). Rub each half with olive oil, salt and pepper. Place pumpkin cut side down on a cookie sheet and roast in oven at 350degrees. For about an hour, until tender.
2)Scoop out the baked pumpkin goodies, and whip to a smooth puree. I used a Cuisinart, but it’s not necessary.
3) Fold the soften cream cheese into the pumpkin puree. Add salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Mix well.
4)Now the fun part! Place a 1/2tsp of pumpkin filling into the center of the wonton wrapper. Wet the edges with water, and fold in half or into a triangle piece. Press to close, and pinch edges with prongs of a fork. Viola! Ravioli.
5)Bring pot of salted water to a boil. Add ravioli, and cook for 3-4 minutes, until they float. Remove the ravioli with a slotted spoon, and set on plate to rest. Drain off any excess water.
6)While the ravioli is resting, heat butter in a pan over medium heat. Cook the butter until it starts to brown, remove from heat. Set aside.
7) Serve Ravioli with browned butter on top, and sprinkled with Parmesan. We like to heat up our serving plates in the microwave, to help keep the ravioli warm.
8) Have leftovers? Share with friends, freeze, or take a deep breath and serve up another plate!

**recipe adapted from Thank you for sharing, Jennifer. Great site.

Enjoy the bounty, working out has never been this good!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Trick or Treat & Loose Leaf Tea

Last week, Jeff Larson, our local fitness superhero, reminded us to show up for this year's Halloween Charity Boot Camp( in costume with a heavy pumpkin) for an intensive battle of the bulge workout. Jeff cautioned us about our sugar intake this time of year; he recently read that people consume an average of 26lbs of candy from Halloween until the end of the year. I was shocked. I love candy, same as the next person, but twenty-six pounds of it seems a bit excessive.

My subconscious tickled my memory and reminded me of the seventeen bags of candy the Tea Drinker and I purchase each year for the biggest night in our neighborhood—Halloween. Our street is lit up like a cemetery festival, while scary, greedy little kiddies and their parents descend into the neighborhood, ringing doorbells and yelling "trick or treat". One year, a neighbor of ours actually counted 1, 000 little munchkins. No kidding. Hence, seventeen bags of candy are needed to fend off toilet paper and egg yolks. Of course, we naturally tend to purchase these goods the week before (first mistake), and end up knocking down at least one or two bags before the big day. Then, on the night of, as our doorbell rings incessantly, both of us start stowing away our favorites(second mistake). It's was becoming clear to me why we needed to avoid going down the "26 pounds of candy" road.

This year, we were "dark". Lights off, no decorations, no candy. We planned date night in downtown Napa, and enjoyed dinner at one of our favorite haunts, Angele. Before heading out to dinner(under cloak and cover) we stopped at our neighbor's house to give candy to their two children. They are adorable kids and we did not want to deny them of their treat. True, they are probably too young to hold a grudge, but we were attempting to ward off the day when they were older and looked back on the year we starved them of their sugar rights. Paybacks can be hell.

Mysteriously, a bag of candy appeared in our home last week. I kidded the Tea Drinker about his decision to buy a whole bag, when we only needed two candy bars for the neighbor's children. We debated back and forth, as candy wrappers stacked up before us. I suggested next Halloween that we hand out gifts of Drink the Leaf loose tea( a flavorful herbal rooibos, suitable for children), instead of candy. Hey, at least its not a toothbrush! This idea came to me while sipping a bold Pu-erh and enjoying a Twix candy bar. A delicious pairing. Okay, I give in. Please continue to buy and enjoy sweets, but I urge you to control yourself. Also, remember to exercise, and move your body during the holiday season. Twenty six pounds of candy is absurd.
** Photo by Tiffany Larson, Napa Valley Adventure Boot Camp