Snack Girl to the Rescue!

April 15, 2014 at 10:20 am , by

We at Ladies’ Home Journal have been big fans of Snack Girl, Lisa Cain, for years. As a member of our LHJ Health and Wellness Blogger Network, Lisa is always keeping us informed of the latest healthy food news. As for her recipes? Both easy and delish.

Naturally we were super excited when her latest book, Snack Girl to the Rescue!, came across our desk. Whether you’re looking to get off the constant diet roller coaster, learn how to eat better on a budget or start to live an overall healthier life, you’ll want to check out this book.

Part one is all about encouragement and guidance. Lisa hilariously details her own journey with food and health and shares the little tips that have helped her maintain a healthy lifestyle. She even touches on body image—and not in the way most diet books do. Lisa’s approach is downright inspiring.

“If you find yourself staring at your muffin top when you look in the mirror, look up. Look at your face and decide that it is a waste of time to obsess over imperfections that do not encompass or define who you are. I’ve never met one person whose entire self was constructed around a muffin top.” Truth!

Part two of the book is full of simple, satisfying recipes—all for 400 calories or less. Lisa includes meals and snacks for any time of the day. Her recipe ideas are approachable and don’t require too many ingredients. We especially appreciate her list of pantry must-haves, as well as a five-day grocery shopping list that’s perfect for anyone new to cooking. We can’t wait to test out her pumpkin overnight pancakes, airy and easy mac and cheese and homemade skinny fries.

Snack Girl to the Rescue! is on sale today.

Categories: Food, Health, Ladies' Lounge | Tags: | No Comments

A Tasty Last-Minute Gift

December 23, 2013 at 2:12 pm , by

We’re down to the wire for holiday gift shopping but if you’ve got a few people still left on your list, this tasty DIY hot cocoa gift dreamed up by design expert David Stark for Target is the perfect way to bring love and joy to your friends and family. All you need is a few mason jars, some wooden spoons, ribbon, and gift tags. Then, load up on sweet ingredients from Target and you’re ready to craft an adorable gift. Try these two hot chocolate variations:

Mexican Hot Chocolate: 
Mix one packet of Archer Farms Malted Milk Cocoa with a little ground cinnamon and a pinch of chili powder. Then, pour the dry mixture into your mason jar and top it with a layer of marshmallows. Seal the jar and add a ribbon, wooden spoon, and a tag letting your loved one know all he or she needs to do is add one cup of milk or water for warming sweet treat.

Peppermint Hot Chocolate:
Pour one packet of  Archer Farms Peppermint Hot Cocoa Mix into a mason jar. Top the dry mixture with a layer of marshmallows and a layer of peppermint candies.  Seal the jar and add a red and white ribbon, a wooden spoon, and a gift tag letting your loved one know all he or she needs to do is add one cup of milk or water for festive sweet treat.

Giada Wants You to Live Your Healthiest, Hottest Life

September 19, 2013 at 9:04 am , by

I sat down this week with celebrity chef, author, mom, and all-around superwoman Giada de Laurentiis. She teamed up with Clairol this month for the “Healthy Hot Challenge,” encouraging women to try a new mind, body, or beauty challenge every day for 28 days. Giada gave us the scoop on how we can all live our best lives (and just how she stays so gorgeous!).

What inspired you to start the 28-day Healthy Hot Challenge?

I want people to know that being healthy is hot. Healthy is many different things to many different people, which is why this challenge is fun. It’s more than just what you eat and how much sleep you get, it’s also challenging yourself to try something new every day, conquer your fears, and go on some more adventures. It can be as simple as downloading that e-book you’ve been wanting to read forever or visiting a restaurant you’ve always wanted to go to or donating your time once a month to a charity you really care about. It’s little things like that that I think enhance our lives and make us happier people.

What’s one major change you’ve made that’s really made an impact?

Yoga. I was never interested in doing yoga before my daughter [Jade, 5] was born. I was a gym rat, and six months into my pregnancy my doctor suggested yoga. I thought, “That is not a workout. I’m never going to sweat!” And instead it was one of the biggest workouts I’ve ever done. It actually changed the shape of my body because it lengthened and strengthened from the core. I feel healthier, stronger, and more secure because my core is strong. So I get up every day and do some yoga just to breathe and center myself for the day.

Ok, I have to ask: How do you stay so trim when you’re constantly cooking Italian food?

Portion control. I used to eat a lot, lot more, and I really think it’s about moderation. In everything you do. I think you can have a little bit of everything and not a lot of anything. That’s kind of how it works.

You’re always on the go. How do you de-stress and relax? (And what tips can we steal from you!?)

De-stressing is hard, especially at the end of the day. A lot of people don’t sleep well because of it. So what I like to do is –  this is going to sound strange — but I do a little yoga before I go to bed. I lie on blocks that open up my shoulders and I try to stretch before I go to bed, for just a minute and a half to two minutes. I also have a 5-minute meditation app that I listen to. I have a lavender mister I spray on my pillow, and the scent is very soothing. The other thing is that you have to get rid of your phones and your iPads and all your electronics in the bedroom. That’s the best way to decompress.

I’m dying to know: What’s your secret to glowing skin and super-healthy hair?

Well I exfoliate every day. You can use baking soda mixed with water or baking soda mixed with olive oil or almond oil if you have dry skin. Just gently exfoliate your face, your neck, your chest, and your hands so you look glowy and shiny.

As for my hair, I use Natural Instincts hair color, but my favorite thing in that box is the conditioner. It’s fantastic, especially for someone like myself because my hair goes through so much torture every day. So I use it twice a month. If my hair is really dry and I’m traveling a ton, then I use it on the ends once a week. I’ll use coconut oil on the ends, too.

How do you update your beauty routine for fall?

I’ll go a little bit darker with my hair color. I also like to change my lipstick, and lately I’ve been really liking a sparkly eye shadow. It’s an easy pick-me-up! I’m really into nail art these days as well, so I mix it up a lot. I’ll do a lot of these little, inexpensive things that actually brighten my day. Sometimes it makes me feel younger, you know? Changing things up is really important.


Check out Giada’s Healthy Hot Challenge here.

Avocado Queen Gaby Dalkin Talks Wedding Snacks, Favorite Recipes, and Her New Cookbook

April 25, 2013 at 12:05 pm , by


Absolutely Avocados Book CoverChef and blogger Gaby Dalkin knows her way around an avocado. So much so, that she just released a comprehensive cookbook dedicated 100% to the versatile, creamy-fleshed fruit. We gave her a call to chat about blogging, her recent wedding and (of course!) all things avocado.

Tell us what inspired you to write a book devoted to avocados. Within the food blogging world I’m known as the avocado queen. Everyone refers to me when they’re talking about guacamole or avocados and I’m 100% obsessed. So when I was approached for ideas for my first cookbook I just jokingly said “avocados!” and everybody loved the idea. I didn’t think that anybody would take it seriously but now, here we are.

Did you happen keep track of how many avocados you used during your recipe development? I used over 400 avocados. The produce guys at my local grocery store and I totally became best friends.

In addition to being a cookbook writer and recipe developer, you’ve written the food blog for years now. What inspires the recipes you post? I like to cook with the mentality of eating healthy most of the time, then having the occasional really incredible dessert. I just made this amazing brownie-ice-cream-cheesecake that’s going up on my blog next week. I like to have a balance of everything. I know that my readers come to my website for avocado recipes and desserts most heavily, but I also post a lot of main courses—basically what my husband and I are eating. A lot of my readers are around my age and are cooking for their families too. I want to give them simple and delicious recipes they can take into their kitchen.

The avocados available in grocery stores are often a bit under-ripe. What are your tips and tricks for storing and ripening them at home? If avocados are too ripe in the store, you sometimes get them home and they’re brown inside, mushy and just not perfect. I buy slightly harder avocados that aren’t quite ready to be cut into yet—I’ll stick them in a brown paper bag with a banana and the natural gas that the banana gives off ripens the avocado faster.

I know you were recently married. Congrats! Can I ask if there was a guacamole bar at your wedding? There was absolutely a guacamole bar at my wedding! It was a late night snack to feed people halfway through the reception and I was too busy dancing to have any—I was so bummed! But it was totally gone by the end of the night, so I think that’s a good sign!

What inspired you to try making avocado chocolate chip cookies and the other sweet recipes in your dessert chapter? Avocado is a really easy substitute for butter. My husband is in great shape but has really high cholesterol—I wanted to find a way to cut cholesterol in baked goods and allow him to still eat a cookie at the end of the day.

It’s probably like picking a favorite child, but can you tell us your favorite recipe from your new book? A top three is okay too! I’ll tell you that I’m obsessed with the goat cheese guacamole—it’s my favorite guacamole.  Also, the salmon with the pepper avocado relish is one of my favorite main courses. The avocado stuffed potato skins (recipe below) are probably one of my go-to appetizers for any kind of party or event I’m throwing.


Avocado Stuffed Potato SkinsAvocado-stuffed Potato Skins
Even though this recipe says it serves 8 to 10, be prepared to eat the entire thing by yourself. These little bites of potato filled with cheese, salty pancetta, and smashed avocado will totally rock your world. Serve them for a game day or a fun backyard bash and they will disappear off the table faster than you’ll believe.

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 80 minutes (including cooling time)
Serves: 8 to 10

12 baby yellow potatoes
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 ounces pancetta, diced
11⁄2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
2 tablespoons finely chopped red onion
2 Hass avocados
Juice of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh chives
1⁄2 teaspoon coarse salt
1⁄2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 400°F.

Drizzle the whole potatoes with the olive oil, making sure they are all evenly coated, and lay them on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until the potatoes are fork-tender. Remove the potatoes from oven and let them rest until they are cool enough to handle.

Cut the potatoes in half lengthwise so that you have 24 pieces. Carefully scoop out the middle portion of each halved potato so the remaining portion looks like a little potato cup. Set aside the scooped-out potato flesh for another use.

Put the cut potatoes back onto the baking sheet, cut side up.

Add the pancetta to a small skillet over medium-high heat. Let the pancetta start to crisp while occasionally stirring. Once the pancetta is golden brown, remove it from the skillet with a slotted spoon and transfer to a paper towel–lined plate to drain the excess fat.

Toss together the pancetta, cheese, and red onion in a small bowl. Evenly distribute the mixture in the potato skins on the baking sheet. Put the baking sheet back in the oven for 5 to 6 minutes, until the cheese has just melted.

While the cheese is melting, cut each avocado in half lengthwise. Remove the pit from the avocado and discard. Remove the avocado from the skin, and cut the avocado into a small dice. Transfer to a medium bowl. Add the lemon juice, chives, salt, and pepper and mash together with a fork.

Once the cheese has melted in the potato skins, remove the baking sheet from the oven. Let the potatoes cool slightly, and then top with the guacamole mixture.

Serve immediately.

For more avocado-filled recipes, purchase a copy of Gaby’s book, Absolutely Avocados (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt), available now on

Delicious Mocktail Recipes For the Big Game

January 29, 2013 at 9:05 am , by

You won’t even miss the alcohol in these totally tasty mocktail recipes. (But of course you can sneak in the hard stuff if you want.) Give them a try for your big game day bash!

Salted Rim Limeade
½ cup sugar
2½ cups water
Zest from half an orange
½ cup fresh lime juice
1 tsp kosher salt, plus additional for garnish
Crystal sugar, for garnish

In a small saucepan heat sugar, ½ cup water and orange zest, stirring until sugar dissolves. Cool and strain sugar mixture to remove zest; mix with remaining water, lime juice and salt. Rim glasses with a mixture of kosher salt and crystal sugar. Serve limeade in rimmed glasses over ice. MAKES ABOUT 3½ CUPS

Virgin Hurricane
1 cup seltzer
2 tbsp simple syrup (sugar syrup)
2 tbsp Grenadine
½ tsp rum extract (optional)
2 tbsp fresh lime juice
1 cup passion fruit juice (we used Ceres brand)
2 cups crushed ice
Maraschino cherries, orange and lime slices for garnish

In a pitcher mix selzer, simple syrup, grenadine, rum extract and juices. Serve over crushed ice, garnished with Maraschino cherries, orange and lime slices. SERVES 2

The Hail Mary
2½ cups (20 oz) tomato juice
1 tsp prepared horseradish
Dash Worcestershire sauce
½ tsp kosher salt
½ tsp celery salt
1½ tsp Sriacha hot sauce
Bacon, Celery and Slim Jims for garnish

In a pitcher mix tomato juice, horseradish, Worcestershire, salt, celery salt and Sriacha. Serve over ice, garnished with a stalk of celery and a strip of bacon, or a Slim Jim. MAKES ABOUT 2½ CUPS

1 cup crushed ice
8 mint leaves
3 tbsp simple syrup (sugar syrup)
3 tbsp fresh lime juice
¼ cup club soda
Mint for garnish

Combine the ice, mint leaves and simple syrup in a glass and use a wooden spoon handle to muddle. Add the lime juice and club soda and stir. Garnish with mint and serve. SERVES 1

Faux Cosmo
¼ cup cranberry juice
¼ cup orange juice
½ cup mineral water
1 tablespoon lime juice
Lemon zest twist for garnish

In a cocktail shaker combine the juices and mineral water with ice. Mix, then strain into martini glasses. Serve each drink with a lemon twist. SERVES 2

Spring Cider Punch
2 cups apple juice
2 cups pear juice or nectar
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 cups seltzer
Thin green apple slices
Thin lemon slices

In a punch powl, mix juices and selter. Add ice and apple and lemon slices for garnish. MAKES ABOUT 6 CUPS


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What Do You Love Most About Thanksgiving Day?

November 20, 2012 at 11:00 am , by

To kick off the holiday season, we asked Journal staffers to share what they love most about Thanksgiving, that wonderful holiday that’s all about good food, friends, family and feeling grateful (with a little football thrown in). We know you’ll relate to these!

• My girls love to bake (that’s Lily and Sophia in action, right). Since I learned all my baking skills from my mom, they always like to whip up a sweet treat with their “Mimi.” This year they’ll be making my mom’s famous “spice cake” (don’t call it fruitcake!), which I was honored to write about for our December issue. The recipe is on page 106 if you’d like to try it too.
Sue Erneta, fashion editor

• Now that my sister, my cousins and I are in our twenties and living across the country, Thanksgiving is one of the few days of the year that we’re all together again, and my life feels about as simple as it did back when I was a kid.
Lauren Piro, assistant editor

• I love that I don’t have to travel on Thanksgiving. Family and friends come to us. It’s a great excuse to stay at home, eat and drink, and sit on the couch. What could be better?
Jeffrey Saks, creative director

• One of my favorite Thanksgiving memories happened last year. My family and I were sitting at the dining table. My mother was in the kitchen, and I heard her in say in a calm voice, “Gab, can you come in here?” I walked in and there was the turkey on the kitchen floor with its juices and grease splattered everywhere. My mom gave me a look that conveyed, “Help but don’t say a word!” (I was called in instead of my sisters because one of them would have fallen to the floor the laughing and the other would’ve shrieked; I’m the least dramatic of the three.) We picked up the turkey, quietly holding in our laughter, and scrubbed the grease off the floor. My mom fixed it up, carved it and served it. It was delicious. We didn’t tell anyone until later. Please note: My mother keeps her floors so clean you can literally eat off them!
Gabrielle Porcaro, associate fashion editor Read more

Fix Your Health Problems Over a Lunchtime Salad

July 18, 2012 at 9:36 am , by

Our guide to the green stuff will help you understand what fruits, veggies and grains will not only provide a healthy (and delicious!) lunch, but will also fight diabetes, encourage heart-health, sharpen your senses and aid your digestive track. Who knew you could solve your health problems over lunch? Check out the salads here!

Categories: Food, Ladies' Lounge | Tags: , , | 3 Comments