By SpaFinder | June 14, 2013
By Jackie Burns Brisman
If you’ve been to the supermarket lately you’ve probably noticed an abundance of fresh, delicious fruits and veggies! There’s no better excuse for throwing a produce party and to celebrate the ‘spa way’ we reached out to some of our favourite chefs to round up recipes for delicious summer salads that are perfect for eating al fresco!
Ojai Pixie Treat Salad from The Oaks at Ojai
Serves 6 as a starter salad 90 calories per serving
6 tablespoons tangerine juice
6 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons Champagne or white wine vinegar
2 tablespoons whole-grain mustard
½ teaspoon cracked black pepper
2 tablespoons minced fresh mint
Pinch of sea salt
6 cups fresh greens, such as kale or arugula, torn or cut into small pieces
¼ small red onion, slivered (use more if you like it a lot!)
2 Ojai Pixie tangerines (or any sweet tangerine), peeled and sectioned
2 avocados, sliced
½ cup sliced almonds, toasted
1. Whisk all dressing ingredients.
2. Toss your greens with the salad dressing and the onion.
3. Divide the dressed greens on the plates, and arrange the tangerines and avocado in a swirl, as artfully as you like. Sprinkle the toasted almonds on top.
Farm-Fresh Salad from Executive Chef Scott Crawford of Herons, the Forbes Five Star, AAA Five Diamond restaurant at The Umstead Hotel and Spa
4 heads Baby Iceberg Lettuce cut in half, washed, spun dry and refrigerated
1 fresh avocado removed from skin
Chives thinly sliced
Juice from 1 lime
4 oz. Pancetta thinly sliced
4 oz. Goat Feta crumbled
½ cup buttermilk
2 tablespoons crème fraiche
2 tablespoons tomato concasse brunoise
1 fresh radish thinly sliced
1 bunch fresh baby mache washed and spun dry
8 fresh nasturtium flowers
12 fresh Violas
1 tablespoon white balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons lemon oil
Sea Salt & Pepper to Taste
1. Preheat oven to 120°C
2. Place pancetta disks on a large sheet pan between two baking mats and bake at 120°C for 45 minutes or until light brown and crispy. Remove and allow cooling.
3. After washing refrigerate lettuce, Mache and radish.
4. Using a small food processor puree the avocado with lime juice and salt to taste.
In a mixing bowl mix vinegar, buttermilk, crème fraiche, goat feta, Tomato concasse, Chives, lemon oil and salt & Pepper to taste allow to chill for at least 30 minutes to 1 hour.
Serve Lettuce very cold. Place 2 lettuce halves on a plate. Create large dots of avocado puree using a squeeze bottle or spoon. Top lettuce with buttermilk dressing, mache, radish, and spring flowers. Garnish with 2 to 3 pancetta disks. Finish with sea salt and fresh cracked pepper.
Toasted Quinoa and Seasonal Vegetable Salad from Chef Eric Bauer of Rancho Valencia Resort & Spa
1 part quinoa
2 parts water
Salt to taste
1 bouquet garni (1 ounce fresh thyme, 6 bay leaves and 1 Tablespoon black peppercorn tied in a cheesecloth)
1. In a sauce pot, combine quinoa, water, salt and bouquet garni. Bring to a boil and simmer until quinoa is tender, about 18 minutes.
2. Remove from heat and let stand for 5 minutes.
3. Strain excess liquid and set aside in a container to cool.
Roasted Tomato Sherry Dressing
10 Roma tomatoes
3/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup sherry vinegar
3 oz Dijon mustard
2 oz shallot, minced
1 oz thyme, minced
1 1/2 Tablespoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1L olive oil
1. Preheat oven to 200°C. Wash tomatoes, remove core, slice in half.
2. Place halved tomatoes, skin side up, on sheet tray and place in oven for 20-25 minutes until outer skin of tomato is deeply browned.
3. Let tomatoes cool completely. Combine all ingredients, except oil, and blend until smooth, about 2 minutes.
4. Continue to blend, incorporating oil in a steady stream until dressing is fully emulsified. Set aside.
Putting it all together
3 oz. butter lettuce
2 oz. cherry tomatoes, sliced
2 1/2 oz. Roasted Tomato Sherry Dressing (see above)
3 oz .toasted quinoa (see above)
1 Tablespoon cranberry
1 oz. asparagus, blanched
1 oz. zucchini, sautéed
1 oz. roasted peppers
Salt and black pepper to taste
7 Harissa marinated shrimp
1. In a mixing bowl, combine butter lettuce, cherry tomatoes and 1 ounce of tomato sherry dressing. Toss together well, thoroughly coating the greens.
2. In another mixing bowl, combine 1 1/2 ounces of tomato sherry dressing, toasted quinoa, cranberry, asparagus, zucchini, roasted peppers, salt and pepper. Toss together.
3. Present butter lettuce and cherry tomatoes in a large bowl, stacking lettuce leaves to create height in the center. Place quinoa and vegetable mix over butter lettuce and arrange some of the colorful ingredients on top.
4. Grill harissa marinated shrimp until just cooked through and place on top of salad.
By SpaFinder | June 11, 2013
by Will Clower, PhD, Founder and CEO of Mediterranean Wellness
The Mediterranean Diet seems to be good for whatever ails you. Every month brings more data showing how this approach leads to low weight, healthy hearts, and longer lives. Despite the luscious creams, cheeses, butters, breads, chocolates, and wines they eat and drink, they’re still thinner and healthier than us.
So what’s the magic, then? What’s the secret that makes all this make sense?
First of all, think of how we approach diet. Many people in the UK are overweight or obese. And this one single marker of poor health contributes to cancer, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and a closet of disastrous consequences.
And everyone knows that we need to live a healthful lifestyle, without resorting to fad diets. But even though the phrase, “Diets don’t work,” has been said so many times that it is now a tired, overused mantra, no one really seems to know what that even means.
That’s where magic of the Mediterranean approach can help. They are thinner and healthier, but they didn’t get this way by following any of our diets d’jour: they never wore fat-be-gone rings; they never ate margarine; they never avoided eggs; they never ate low fat foods; they never avoided carbs; they never wrung their hands about their blood type; and they never felt like they had to eat every three hours because some theory told them to. They were made thin and healthy by living the same lifestyle they’ve enjoyed for centuries.
It’s who they are, not what they do.
And the promise of the Mediterranean approach is that we can adapt and adopt their eating system as an observational model for ourselves. After all, if we do what they do, we’ll get lower weight, healthier hearts and longer lives. Just like them.
There’s just one problem: We don’t live there.
Bummer, right? We don’t have 2½ hours to eat our lunch, fresh markets on every corner, five weeks of mandatory vacation, and a culture that works to live rather than lives to work. Double bummer. Yes, they are living a healthy lifestyle—but how are we supposed to make that work for us? How are we supposed to “Rosetta Stone” their cultural habits into our lives here at home?
The first key to translating the success of the Mediterranean lifestyle is to stop being so detailed and specific. Followers of this lifestyle don’t care how many carbs are in their baguettes, how many points are in their crème brulee, or how many calories they burn when they take a walk. Micromanaging molecules— whether calories or carbs, points or proteins—is the very definition of a diet, and is never practiced by any healthy culture.
The second key is to focus on principles you know to be true. For example, the Mediterranean people eat food, not synthetics (that’s sugar, not non-nutritive artificial sweeteners; olive oil, not hydrogenated oil; and vegetables, not supplements). Even in the UK, we can adopt the Mediterranean habit of choosing items that are real food, made with real ingredients.
The third key we can adopt is to learn to love our food again. Yes, you need to LOVE your food. It’s a common misconception that the love of food is equivalent to the consumption of food. We are coached to believe that the more you eat, the more you love it. This idea is certainly not one applied by healthy cultures in the Mediterranean. For them, the love of food is less about the quantity eaten and more about the quality enjoyed.
Win, win, and win.
With these keys you can unlock the magic of the Mediterranean approach. And the only thing standing between you and smaller trousers may just be getting past the lessons that this culture has trained you to believe.
Dr. Will Clower is the founder and CEO of Mediterranean Wellness. He applies his neuroscience training to teach people how to eat well, lose weight, and love their food again. Based on the principles of the Mediterranean Diet, Dr. Clower reaches people all over the world through his successful programs, two books on the Mediterranean Diet, national television interviews on The Dr Oz Show, and many other radio and print appearances. His passion and authenticity is inspiring this generation to live life they love again.
By SpaFinder | June 4, 2013
With Father’s Day fast approaching, have you thought about treating your dad to a spa experience this year? Whether a quick massage, or a lavish full day at the spa, there are lots of different options for him to choose from. Here is our guide to treatments perfect for men:
Deep Tissue Massage targets the body’s deepest layers of muscle and releases tension in overstressed areas – which might be just what your dad needs! It can help heal injuries and relieve stress. Find spas offering deep tissue massage
A facial is perfect for men as their skin can become irritated and dull from shaving. A treatment which includes deep-pore cleansing, exfoliation and toning will brighten the complexion and let him unwind. Find spas offering facials
Lymphatic Massage features light, rhythmic strokes to assist drainage of the lymphatic system. Very gentle, it helps decrease facial puffiness and boost the immune system. Find spas offering lymphatic massage
A full-day spa experience is a highly relaxing and therapeutic experience. Nervous about sending your dad off to a spa by himself for the first time? Why not go with him? Relaxing together is a greay way to spend some quality time. Bannatyne’s has a 2 for 1 Spa Pamper Day package in locations across the UK. Find day spas.
Acupuncture is a traditional Chinese treatment designed to restore the body’s balance of chi, or energy. Fine needles are lightly inserted into the body’s energy meridians – we promise, it is painless! The treatment is often followed by a relaxing massage. Find spas offering acupuncture.
Aromatherapy features a massage with essential oils blended specifically for you. Men tend to favour deep, earthy smells like sandalwood, cypress, black pepper and vetiver. The combination of heavenly scents and massage is pure bliss! Find spas offering aromatherapy massage
You can also send your dad our Spa Guide for Men, which outlines the do’s and don’t’s before a treatment.
Is your dad based in London? The Spa in Dolphin Square is offering a King Solomon’s Father’s Day Ritual – 90 minutes of complete equilibrium for men, plus tea & sweet pastries!
By SpaFinder | June 3, 2013
Visiting a spa is intended to be a relaxing experience, so it makes sense that spa treatments would lower blood pressure. We can tell you that it may be true: Studies show these seven spa and wellness services actually do just that.
Deep-Tissue Massage: We logged on to SpaEvidence.com, the first online resource that contains thousands of clinical studies evaluating the effectiveness of spa and wellness approaches, and found this Louisiana State University analysis, which concluded deep-tissue massage lowers both blood pressure and heart rate. It noted, “45- and 60-minute deep tissue massages led to an average systolic pressure reduction of 10.4 mm; a diastolic pressure reduction of 5.3 mm; a mean arterial pressure reduction of 7.0 mm; and an average heart rate reduction of 10.8 beats per minute.”
Learn more about the healing benefits of massage.
Qi Gong: On the wellness front, this set of Chinese self-healing exercises combining movement, breathing, and mental imagery, reduced systolic and diastolic blood pressure in patients with hypertension, reports a review of nine randomized control trials. Tai chi (and qi gong) is also said to lower blood pressure in older adults, as well as shows success with physical function, depression, and anxiety, says a National Institute for Health Research review of 35 randomized controlled trials.
Yoga: The Mayo Clinic states yoga lowers blood pressure, plus decreases stress and improves heart function; most recently, a 24-week study presented at the 28th Annual Scientific Meeting of the American Society of Hypertension, held May 15-18, 2013, suggested those who practiced yoga two to three times weekly experienced an average of a three-point drop for both systolic and diastolic blood pressure.
Additional alternative therapies, including aerobic exercise, resistance and strength straining, and isometric hand-grip exercise, may also reduce blood pressures in people with levels higher than 120/80 mm Hg and those who do not react well to standard medications, according to a recent American Heart Association statement in Hypertension journal.
It should be noted that for many of these studies, more scientific research is warranted.
Tags: blood pressure, health, massage, SpaEvidence
By SpaFinder | May 29, 2013
Sugar is sneaking its way into everything these days from the obvious (like brownies and cookies) to the not so obvious (store-bought bread and “healthy” sports drinks.) Unfortunately, most sugar we consume is highly processed and refined, leading to blood sugar spikes, headaches, and get this—even more cravings. Follow these simple steps to help reduce your cravings the healthy, SpaFinder Wellness way!
Load Up On H2O: Often times when a craving comes on, it’s your body’s way of telling you its dehydrated. Before you go for that afternoon Mocha Latte or late-night brownie, try drinking a glass of water first and see how you feel in a half hour. Also, be sure to stay hydrated throughout the day to potentially prevent these cravings altogether. If you’re one to forget filling up your water bottle, try “eating your water” as well to stay hydrated all day long.
Check in With Your Caffeine Intake: Speaking of hydration, are you hooked on caffeine? Your coffee, soda and chocolate addiction could be causing dehydration and blood sugar swings, leading to energy dips and more cravings for the sweet stuff. Limit your caffeine intake, and try sticking to just one or two cups of coffee in the morning. Beware that most fancy lattes pack on a boatload of added sugar and caffeine in just one drink. Topped with whipped cream? You’re asking for a major swing in energy levels with an extra dose of nasty cravings!
Avoid Artificial Sweeteners & Added Sugars: While artificial “sugar substitutes” often don’t contain sugar, they are typically filled with chemicalized, man-made alternatives. Not only are they potentially harmful to your health, but they also trick the body into thinking it’s getting the real deal. This causes similar blood sugar spikes as plain white sugar, leading to a wild rollercoaster ride with your energy. Beware of these ingredients, sneaking their way into sports drinks, soft beverages, “diet” foods, and sugar-free snacks.
Analyze Food Labels: Next time you hit the supermarket, pay extra attention to the food label, particularly reading the ingredients. While claims like “low fat” or “fat free” may seem fine, they’re typically telltale signs that other ingredients have been added to make up for the lack of flavor. In most cases case, it’s sugar, sugar and more sugar! Know that “fat free” or “sugar free” doesn’t necessarily equate to healthy. Look for whole, natural varieties of your favorite foods that haven’t been tampered with.
Amp Up Your Exercise: We know exercise is good for our health, but did you know it may also prevent you from dipping your hand in the office candy bowl? Since physical activity can increase energy levels, reduce stress and help control blood sugar, it’s the perfect natural alternative to your sugar “high.” Find fitness classes and activities near you, from hip-hop dancing to Pilates!
Take Advantage of Naturally Sweet Foods: Many foods are naturally sweet as is; that’s the beauty in nature. Fill your plates high with carrots, sweet potatoes, squash, parsnips, turnips, corn, and sweet onions to stop you in your tracks (before things get out of control later on!)
6 Natural Sweeteners
As you work on managing your sugar hankerings you’ll naturally begin to crave it much less. In the meantime, these natural sweeteners are much better alternatives to their processed, refined, or artificial evil twins. All sugars are not created equally! Just be mindful and use in moderation because, while natural, these options are plenty sweet and still contain a good amount of sugar.
Raw Agave Nectar: Agave nectar actually comes from the same plant as tequila—The Blue Agave Cactus—but don’t worry, it won’t burn your throat! With a much lower glycemic index than regular table sugar, it absorbs into your blood stream more slowly, reducing the chances of a “sugar rush.” For the best effects on your health, look for unrefined or raw varieties, typically stored in darker bottles.
Raw Honey: Found in most households, this sticky golden sweetener has been used for years. Not only does honey taste delicious, but it also comes with a slew of health benefits and is a time-tested treatment for the common cold. Due to its natural antioxidant and anti-microbial powers, we even use raw honey as the main ingredient in our DIY Honey Banana Leg Mask. Healthy body, healthy skin!
Coconut Sugar: It’s no lie we’re nuts about coconuts (and coconut water!) here at SpaFinder, but did you know coconut sugar (derived from coconut nectar) can actually be used to enhance your favorite foods and beverages? Since it enters the bloodstream more slowly than table sugar, coconut sugar provides a more steady form of energy (i.e. less mid-afternoon slumps) with an added mineral-rich nutrient boost. Mix in to coffee, tea, baked goods or anything you’d like to add a touch of sweetness to.
Stevia: Stevia, which comes from a South American plant, is a calorie-free all natural sugar alternative. It’s a great choice for someone with blood sugar issues or who needs to watch their sugar intake, as it doesn’t affect the bloodstream. Just be cautious—just a packet is sweet enough, and it tends to have a bitter aftertaste. Be on the lookout for pure, natural varieties that aren’t disguised with dyes and added flavours.
Fresh Fruits & Vegetables: There’s nothing quite like sweetening your meals with fresh fruits and vegetables straight from the earth! Apples, bananas and berries add flavor to oatmeal without added sugar or processed syrups, and unsweetened applesauce, pureed sweet potatoes and pumpkin can be substituted for sugar when baking. Play with different produce in your home to see what works for you!
Pure Maple Syrup: While certain varieties are packed with artificial ingredients and additives, Pure Maple Syrup makes for a tasty sugar alternative. Look for 100% pure, natural varieties typically stored in a darker bottle. Keep in mind that maple syrup is still high in sugar and naturally super-sweet, so just a dollop will do!
Are you addicted to sugar? Which of these tips could you incorporate into your lifestyle to help control your cravings?