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Urban Pi - Home of the Marvelous Mango Tart!
By Carol LeBeau
10/31/2013 2:56:01 PM


–FULL BIO
 

I love San Diego’s coastal North County – the beautiful beaches, shopping along Cedros, the horse races…Legoland.  There’s so much to see and do.

But there’s one coastal attraction that brings me back time and again.  It’s the magnificent Mango Tart at “Urban Pi” in Del Mar.  If you’ve never had this amazing taste experience, you probably think I’ve “lost the bubble.”  But for the rest of you – those who have experienced this heavenly confection… your mouths are already watering.

Urban Pi, the new fast-casual restaurant in the Albertson’s shopping center on Via de la Valle (just east of I-5) serves up custom-made thin-crust pizzas, salads and sandwiches.  Everything is fresh and delicious. But the dessert menu is to die for especially their signature Mango Tart.  

The dazzling display of mango slices atop a yummy, light cream filling and crisp, pastry crust (a super-secret recipe!) is arranged in a pie made to look like a flower in bloom.  It’s not only a work of art to the eye.  It’s delicious beyond description.

But decadent it’s not.  Light on the sugar, the tasty tart gets most of its sweetness straight from plenty of perfectly ripened wedges of fresh mango.  Order an entire tart and bring it home with you.  I love the “ooo’s” and “ahhs” I get when I serve it for a special event.

And don’t forget the health benefits.  

Whether you get your mango from Urban Pi’s “pie…” or from your local market, we all should be eating more mangoes!  The world-famous fruit may taste like candy, but it’s also one of the richest sources of vitamins A and C and minerals including potassium, calcium and phosphorus.  Mango is also full of fiber and a one-cup serving has only 100 calories.

An added bonus…mango may also help improve glucose levels.  In a recent study, obese participants who ate the equivalent of 2/3 cup of the tropical treat (roughly 65 calories) daily for 12 weeks significantly lowered their blood sugar possibly due to the fruit’s fiber, which can slow sugar absorption.

So, go ahead and munch on a mango.  Eat it fresh, dried, in nectar or juice (give “Good Belly” brand a try) or make a date and take the 5 to Del Mar and taste the amazing mango tart at Urban Pi.   www.urbanpi.com

Let me know how you like it.


*Note: Many of you “locals” recall the Mango Tart was originally found at “Pasta Pronto,” which recently closed its doors.  “Urban Pi” moved into the same space, changed the menu, updated the décor, but thankfully, retained some of Pasta Pronto’s favorites including the famous tart.

Putting the Cool on Hot Flashes
By Carol LeBeau
10/28/2013 4:22:36 PM


–FULL BIO
 

The caricature of a sexy woman adorned with a feather boa and six-inch eyelashes smiled at me from the front of the birthday card.  “You’re still hot!” read the caption below the shapely cartoon lady’s stiletto heels.  Smiling, I opened the card from my dear friend…only to read the bitter truth, “These days it just comes in flashes!”

Funny card. But for women who deal with the “flashes” of heat that strike with no warning, it’s no laughing matter.

Truth is, most women experience hot flashes at some point before or after menopause when their estrogen levels are declining.  While some women are blessed with few to no flashes, others suffer the surges of internal heat numerous times a day causing miserable disruptions in sleep and daily living.

The late-summer heat just makes matters worse.

Summer can be a truly “hellish” time for women coping with hot flashes and night sweats.  While comforted knowing my personal heat waves are not a sign of some medical problem, they’re still a royal pain – frustrating and often embarrassing as the tiny rivulets of sweat trickle from my hairline down the side of my face during a business meeting.

If you’re a woman tired of waking up in a pool of sweat every night or carrying around a portable fan all day, don’t despair.  There are effective treatments that may either reduce or stop moderate to severe hot flashes including short-term, low-dose estrogen (hormone therapy), certain antidepressant and blood pressure medicines and the herb, black cohosh.

But for some of us, drugs and herbal therapy may not be an option.  If you’ve had breast cancer, ovarian cancer, or are at risk for either, you may have been told you’ve just got to put up with the unwanted waves of heat.   Like many of women, I take the anti-estrogen medication, Tamoixfen because of a bout with breast cancer. (Some women take a similar medication, Arimidex) so we’ve got to find another way to beat the heat of hot flashes.)

Avoiding tobacco and alcohol, and making sure to exercise and maintain a healthy diet are a great start…but if the heat’s still on, and hormone therapy isn’t right for you; check out these natural remedies that may just give you the big chill you crave!

Breathe Deep

A 2013 Mayo Clinic study showed that doing slow, deep, abdominal breathing reduces the number and severity of hot flashes.  (This really helps me.) Take three or four slow breaths whenever you feel the heat coming on.  The hot flash often will just fade away.  Practicing calming meditation also helps.  Scientists are finding that stress hormones aggravate menopausal symptoms.

Aromatherapy

Clary sage and Roman chamomile essential oils help balance mood swings, while peppermint can chill hot flashes.  To make your own cooling mist (especially great for night sweats!), mix the following ingredients in a 4-oz. dark-glass spray bottle:

   * 3 ounces distilled water

   * 1 ounce witch hazel extract

   * 8 drops each of peppermint, clary sage and Roman chamomile essential oils

Sip Some Sage

This is a fave for reducing flashes and night sweats. Because sage may have estrogen-like effects, avoid therapeutic amounts if you’ve had breast cancer or could be pregnant.  To brew a cup of the delicious tea: Pour 1 cup boiling water over 1 tablespoon fresh sage leaves or 1 teaspoon dried.  Steep, cover for 5 minutes and then strain.  Add a little honey or lemon, if you’d like.  Have a cup two or three times a day.

Here’s to a cool you!

Mini Greens: Good Nutrition Comes in Small Packages!
By Carol LeBeau
10/21/2013 12:48:28 PM


–FULL BIO
 

Like most of you health-conscious folks out there, I’ve done my best to make sure my diet includes a wide variety of leafy greens because they’re chock full of vitamins, minerals and cancer-fighting anti-oxidants. 

I admit going green hasn’t always bee easy.  But over time I’ve finally acquired a taste for arugula.  I make my soups “super” by adding some Swiss chard. And despite a bitter battle, I’ve finally conquered my aversion to kale and frequently mix the dark, leafy green into my favorite salads.  Pretty good effort, I’d say.

But just when I thought I’d gone green enough, a new leafy veggie has become the darling of the farmer’s market.  Have you heard the buzz about the nutritional power of “mini greens?”  According to the research, these seedlings are proving that good things can come in extremely small packages.

I first ran across the news about mini greens in “O” magazine…then checked it out for myself.   Turns out, according to the USDA, when harvested at just seven to 14 days old, these pint-size leaves can be far more nutrient-dense than their full-grown counterparts.

Studies show plants use stored nutrients to grow, so plucking the tiny seedlings early means they still have high levels of vitamins and minerals.  Just keep in mind, says one study, that these “mini-me’s” lack the fiber found in mature plants, so they should supplement the greens you already eat…not replace them.

For all you fashionable foodies out there, here’s more good news about teensy greens.  Thanks to the concentrated flavor of these diminutive standouts, they can elevate meals in taste as well as nutrition.

Give these a try:

Micro Cilantro
This fragrant green contains 11 times more lutein and zeaxanthin (nutrients that can reduce the risk of cataracts and age-related vision loss) than the same amount of mature cilantro.

Micro Red Cabbage
These slightly bitter, heart-shaped leaves outshine full-grown cabbage with roughly 260 times the beta carotene (a precursor to vitamin A that can help protect eyesight) and more than 40 times the vitamin E.

Micro Purple Mustard Greens
Just four ounces of these greens meet your recommended dietary allowance (RDA) of vitamin C (75 milligrams). Another perk: these greens may be among the tastiest, due to their spicy zing.

Micro Green Daikon Radish
These sharp, spicy leaves are vitamin E superstars, boasting 165 percent of your RDA per ounce – helping to shore up your immune system and protect tissues and organs from damage caused by free radicals.  By contrast, mature leaves contain only trace amounts of the antioxidant.

Micro Garnet Amaranth (this one’s new to me!)
Light red with an earthy, floral flavor… micro garnet amaranth ranks highest in vitamin K among micro greens (with more than 3 ½ times the amount in mature amaranth).  Vitamin K is essential for blood clotting and may reduce the risk of bone fractures.

I’m not exactly the queen of the kitchen, but I’m thinking if I adorn my next salad with nutrient-dense mini cilantro, would it be OK to can the kale?!

Bon appetit!

Dream Big! Lessons from super swimmer, Diana Nyad on how to keep your dreams alive!
By Carol LeBeau
10/14/2013 3:24:13 PM


–FULL BIO
 

I didn’t believe she could do it. 

And I’m ashamed to admit I didn’t think Diana Nyad should have even attempted the grueling ocean swim that recently catapulted the 64-year-old into the record books. 

After all, Nyad had already tried to swim from Cuba to Florida four times since her first attempt in 1978…all unsuccessfully.  And for good reason.  Sharks, jellyfish, chronic nausea and exhaustion who could blame her?  I remember talking to my TV as I watched Nyad’s fourth attempt come to a disastrous and disappointing end.  “Enough already, Diana.  Let it go.” 

Besides, you’re too old, Diana.  Face it.  At 64, it’s too late to attempt something so physically taxing.  You’ve already accomplished so much as a swimmer, author, motivational speaker and reporter.  Rest on your laurels.  Leave crossing the Florida straits to the youngsters.

Clearly, I had no idea what a woman with a dream and the iron will of Diana Nyad was capable of.  As Nyad emerged victorious from the Atlantic Ocean after completing her historic swim, I was eating crow.

You’d think I’d have been her biggest cheerleader.  After all, almost 60 myself, I’m also an open water swimmer.  In fact, I had the great experience of being a “buddy swimmer” for my friend, Becky Jackman, as she successfully crossed the English Channel some years ago.  

Honestly, it was sometimes difficult to watch as Becky pushed beyond her limits…spending12 hours in the choppy, bone-chilling waters of the Channel fighting exhaustion and the powerful current…literally crawling onto the beach at Calais…completely spent, swollen and delirious.  But as Becky moved from delirium to euphoria, there wasn’t a dry eye on the boat.  Our friend was glowing with the joy of achieving her lifelong goal.

Emerging from the Atlantic Ocean in Florida, that’s exactly what Nyad experienced – overwhelmed with emotion as she fell into the arms of her coach.  All I can say is shame on me and everyone else who didn’t believe in Diana Nyad.  Fortunately, she didn’t listen to us. She listened to her heart.

“I think it was her belief in herself that she could do this,” says Kathryn Olson, CEO of the Women’s Sports Foundation.   “That’s what makes her different.  She worked through the pain.  She had such a strong belief in herself and her ability to do this.”

The fifth time was the charm for the determined Nyad.  Her open-water swim encompassed roughly 110 miles and 53 hours.  Her superhuman feat makes Nyad the first person to swim from Cuba to Florida without a shark cage fulfilling a dream that began 35 years ago.

Diana Nyad’s incredible feat has inspired millions to dream big and go for it.  And the remarkable endurance swimmer has some pretty sage advice for anyone with doubts (or doubters!) about on pursuing their dream.

As she walked triumphantly from the water in Key West…deliriously jubilant…Diana Nyad smiled and told a mob of spectators, “We should never give up.  You’re never too old to chase your dream.”

Thanks Diana.