Posts Tagged ‘ health ’

You Know You’re Pregnant When…

Sunday, September 25th, 2011

I’m officially pregnant. I mean, really officially pregnant. How did I come to this conclusion after 5 months of watching my stomach balloon, my feet ache and my cherished wine off limits? Because today Ladies and Gentlemen, someone finally gave their seat up on the subway for me!

I was heading into Manhattan on a packed car. Standing room only. A seat opened up and the woman standing next to me turned and without hesitation, asked if I wanted it. She was much older than I, so I knew she was offering because she thought I needed it more than she did.   Hallelujah. I don’t just look randomly thick and puffy anymore. Now my appearance has a purpose. And I will use it to my full advantage.  Time to get out the tighter fitting tops and get this baby bump to work for me.

Baby boy, you didn’t think you were getting off scott free did you? No sir, mama is putting you to work.

By the way, Little Leroy is the length of a squash now. Grow boy, grow.  We’re halfway there!

 

Baby Boy Squash Length

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Why Fall Foliage is Killing Me! Need Help!

Thursday, September 22nd, 2011

This picture makes me want to sneeze

This picture makes me want to sneeze

Fall sucks. And it sucks that I think this season sucks. It’s not by choice. I would absolutely love it–the way the air turns crisp and the leaves turn vibrant. But sadly, I hate it right now. I think I’m the only New Yorker who is not enjoying this amazing weather.  I watch Lee Goldberg hoping he’ll say those magical words “the first freeze.”

It’s all because of my horrendous allergies. My face looks like a Staypuff marshmallow. My eyes look like I’m a drug addict in withdrawal. I’m 5 months pregnant and limited on what meds I can take. I get shots, so I wasn’t expecting this season to hit me like it has. I have tried the sinus rinse pots and my nose is so stuffed, the water has nowhere to go. So it just goes into my head and gives me a massive headache (it’s as if I sniffed water up my nose while swimming. Am I doing it wrong?) My throat is so itchy; it wakes me up in the night. Why can’t Xanax be a class A pregnancy drug? Then I could just make myself fall asleep and not know what is happening within my sinuses.

I’m now taking Zyrtec and am about to buy Benadryl.  So far everything else I’ve tried (Claritin, Chlor-Trimeton, Qdryl) isn’t helping. Does anyone out there have any suggestions that will give me immediate relief? (I dig homeopathic suggestions, but not in this case where it will take months to build up and work. I want instant results).

I’m making my husband close up all the windows at night. He is rightly annoyed, but it’s either that or my nose blowing like a trumpet in his ear while he’s trying to fall asleep. I seriously fear my nose is going to fall off my face and my eyes are going to swell shut. Help!

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Easy Cooking Tips You Want To Know

Monday, September 19th, 2011

Last week I was doing an event in Central Park that was all about tips for Italian cooking. The Barilla Pasta Company sponsored it. I learned some really simple, but key things I didn’t know about cooking pasta, sautéing garlic and using olive oil. Wanted to share them with you guys.

The Pasta Experts

PASTA:

Always boil enough water for your pasta: one gallon of water to one pound of pasta.

Don’t add oil to your water. It does nothing. If you don’t want it to stick, the key is to add enough water and to occasionally stir it.

Add enough salt so that your water tastes like broth. For those who add a pinch of salt (like I always have)—try a few tablespoons instead. Unless you have dietary restrictions, your water should taste like a broth/saltwater. The salt will stick to the pasta and help give it flavor. I kid you not; this made a HUGE difference in the way the dishes tasted.

Don’t EVER rinse your pasta (something I always did until now). You want the starch on it to bind to your sauce.

Don’t overcook your pasta. How do you know? Follow the directions on the box. Every pasta shape is different, so you must read the directions. If it says boil for 9 minutes, test it at 8. The chefs would often drain it a minute early and add it to the sauce they were making. That way it would finish cooking in the saucepan. If you overcook pasta, you lose the essence of it. Plus, it is harder to digest. You definitely want al dente, which is usually what the directions specify on the box.

GARLIC AND OLIVE OIL:

Use a good olive oil. Look for bottles/brands that have a “best if used by” date on them. Olive Oil is best used 18 months-2 years from the time the olives were harvested. So if you’ve had a bottle sitting on your counter for a decade, toss it.

Buy olive oil that is in a tinted bottle. It shouldn’t be exposed to light. Or heat. Keep in cool, dry place, but not in the refrigerator.

They all used Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Seemed to be the general consensus.

When using olive oil to sauté garlic, heat the oil at medium (in other words, be patient. Don’t just put it on high to get it hot faster). Then add your garlic.

There is really no need to have a garlic press or to finely chop it. If you just put a clove in (without the skin, obviously), or cut a clove in half, that is enough to infuse the flavor into the olive oil. In fact, these guys, who were from Italy, often let the garlic infuse, then they would take the clove out and throw it away or use it for bread.

Don’t burn your garlic. Apparently we Americans are notorious for overcooking both our pasta and our garlic. The garlic should just be turning color when you either remove the cloves or add the rest of your ingredients. By adding other items, the cooking process naturally slows down and your garlic won’t burn. You can also add some water from your pasta pot (remember: properly salted) to slow down the garlic from burning. Also by adding water that the pasta is boiling in, you can make your sauce creamier, as it has some starch in it from cooking the noodles.

For as many years as I’ve stood with chefs in kitchens from my Food Network job, The Best Of I was surprised that I didn’t know some of these very basics.

One more personal tip I did bring to the table: to get the garlic smell off your hands, rub your fingers on stainless steel. I often use the sides of my kitchen sink. It neutralizes the odor.

Any other tips you have to share? Or questions? I feel like an expert now!

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Baby’s First Not-So-Cute Milestone: Diaper Rash

Sunday, May 15th, 2011

I’ve just jumped over another hurdle—one involving a nasty diaper rash (hers, not mine)–I need to add a crucial item to have on hand: Cornstarch. But don’t follow my example on how to use it. Here’s why:

In the past two weeks I feared arrest. Twice. Not because I was a bad mom. In fact, just the opposite. I felt so bad for the little munchkin and her red bum. I carefully applied the creams, but the diaper rash wasn’t going away as quickly as I hoped, so I added cornstarch into the mix. Apparently you sprinkle it in the diaper and it absorbs moisture. But “sprinkle” clearly isn’t in my vocabulary.

I should pause here and say I have a tendency to overdo certain things.  Like if someone tells me a wrinkle cream will get rid of crows feet, I compulsively apply half the bottle at once, hoping for a miracle.

On our way into the city to refinance our apartment, I dumped probably a quarter of a box of cornstarch in her diaper (my rationale is the diaper is white, so I can’t see how much goes in). Three subway trains and a 4-block walk later, I knew she desperately needed to be changed.

Already late to the appointment on the 23rd floor of a posh bank building, I dashed into the bathroom (no changing table. Damn, hate it when that happens), quickly put a mat on the floor and ripped off the diaper. Cornstarch went flying. I mean everywhere. It turned me, Fi, diaper bag and surrounding area into a blanket of white.  I prayed no one would walk in. I began picturing the FBI, my arrest and subsequent headline: Mom Spreads Anthrax While Baby Battles Diaper Rash. I tried scooping the massive excess off the floor with a paper towel, but it didn’t make a dent. The bathroom looked like a blizzard had hit.  I conceded defeat and walked into the conference room, looking like we had both jumped into a giant silo of flour. I apologized profusely to the woman who was kind enough to promise she wouldn’t call the authorities.

A few days later we were at LaGuardia, about to fly to Wisconsin, where my father in law (an Episcopalian Priest, nicknamed “Rev”) was baptizing the babe. I dumped a bunch of cornstarch in her diaper (clearly I’m a slow learner), got through security, and had to change her. The bathroom was tiny so I went to an empty gate. Out came the plume. Seriously?? How bad is my short-term memory? This time I envisioned the TSA coming after me. They would lock me up. We’d miss her baptism. I’d be condemned by all who know me. Panicked, I tried to rub it into the dark blue carpet as best I could. No luck. I needed an industrial vacuum. Or an escape plan.  I grabbed Fi and fled the scene.  We boarded the plane, and at 30,000 feet breathed a big sigh of relief (actually she slept).  And, the next day, the diaper rash was clear.  Maybe there’s something to compulsively using cornstarch??

A Must Have!The baptism was a breeze. After it was over, she looked at me with her impish little grin, as if to say, “Mom, this is nothing. Relax. You already baptized me twice— in cornstarch.”

So my tip to you moms who battle diaper rash: Cornstarch. Put it in the nest. Just don’t follow my lead. Now it’s your turn. What works for you? What are the things you can’t live without?

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