A Guide to Food Reactivity As You Age

Written by Dr. Chad Larson, NMD, DC, CCN, CSCS, Advisor and Consultant on Clinical Consulting Team for Cyrex Laboratories

Ahhh…the joys of aging. We work so hard on the way up the proverbial hill, but the ride down isn’t necessarily any easier. There are some bumps along the road that we all anticipate as we age, such as graying hair, decreased energy, wrinkles on our face and arthritis in our joints, to name a few. But there’s not much discussion about the digestion changes that can occur as we reach our “golden” years.

For instance, a decrease in lactase (an essential enzyme for breaking down lactose in products like milk and butter) production is very common for aging adults. In fact, about 65 percent of the global population has a reduced ability to digest lactose after infancy, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Slowing or weakening of contractions in the large intestine, bacterial overgrowth in the small intestine and slower emptying of the stomach are among other common symptoms associated with changes in digestive function that come with age. Medications and age-related illnesses might also trigger such symptoms.

You might find that foods that were once a guilty pleasure eventually become a great threat for discomfort. So what does this mean? How do you pinpoint what foods your body is not reacting well to and what should you do about it? Because the different causes of digestive track issues can produce many of the same symptoms, it can be tricky to get to the root of the problem.

Although an aging digestive system may have a harder time breaking down certain foods due to slower enzyme production, it is possible to develop food intolerances, sensitivities and allergies later in adulthood. More than 20 percent of the population in industrialized countries suffer from food intolerance or food allergy. Although many of the symptoms mirror each other, food intolerances and allergies are two different things:

An allergic reaction occurs when the immune system mistakes a food ingredient as a foreign invader and therefore attacks it, producing high levels of the antibody immunoglobulin E and releasing histamines. The reaction can be life threatening and presents itself through hives, swelling, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach pain, bloating, inflammation irregular heartbeat or restricted breathing. An allergic reaction often requires medical attention. The most common food allergens include milk, wheat, tree nuts, soy, peanuts and shellfish.

Food intolerance is a digestive issue. Although not life threatening, intolerance may result in some of the same symptoms, including bloating, cramping, gas, diarrhea, nausea and joint inflammation and pain. Other symptoms might include headache, brain fog, nervousness and irritability. Intolerance to a food is usually due to a lack of the enzyme needed to break down the particular food. For example, those with a lactose or dairy intolerance don’t produce the enzyme lactase. Those with gluten sensitivity have difficulty digesting the gluten protein. While each individual can lack different enzymes to break down the relative food, some of the more common food intolerances are to dairy, gluten, eggs, caffeine, peanuts and corn.

Food intolerances and sensitivities can be as problematic as an allergy. If you suffer from any of the symptoms mentioned above, or suspect that you may have a food allergy, intolerance or sensitivity, the following suggestions are recommended:

  1. Allergy testing – If you are experiencing more serious reactions such as those identified above as being associated with allergies, please see your primary care doctor or an allergist immediately. Skin and blood tests can help detect allergies, which could potentially save your life.
  2. Reduce serving portions – Overeating can cause feelings of discomfort, bloat, nausea and even acid indigestion. As our stomachs empty out more slowly and our elasticity weakens with age, we should reduce our portions accordingly to avoid becoming too full and provoking these symptoms.
  3. Get tested for food intolerance or sensitivities – The elimination diet, eliminating foods and slowly reintroducing them back into your diet one at a time, although helpful, can be a long, grueling process that doesn’t always lead to clear results. Cyrex Laboratories, a clinical laboratory specializing in functional immunology and autoimmunity, offers advanced, innovative tests designed to detect and monitor autoimmune reactivities and their possible triggers. The Array 2 – Intestinal Antigenic Permeability Screen – measures intestinal permeability to large molecules, which trigger the immune system. This is a fast and easy way to determine if you have developed an immune sensitivity to specific foods.
  4. Rule out disease – Because of the crossover in symptoms, digestive system issues can be mistaken for more serious conditions. For example, what seems like lactose intolerance can actually be celiac disease or irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Inflammation and joint pain, which are common symptoms of food allergies and sensitivity, could also be caused by arthritis. Cyrex also offers The Array 8 – Joint Autoimmune Reactivity Screen – which assists in the early detection of connective tissue disorders, and in monitoring the effectiveness of related treatment protocols. It is best to see a doctor who can take the initial, necessary steps of testing for more serious conditions.

Identifying or diagnosing the cause of your digestive-discomfort symptoms is important. While allergies and disease are more serious causes, food sensitivities can be managed by simply decreasing or eliminating the amounts consumed; it doesn’t always require total elimination. Either way, staying in tune with your body and being proactive with self-care and good health are the first steps to keeping your older years golden.

Dr. Chad Larson, NMD, DC, CCN, CSCS, Advisor and Consultant on Clinical Consulting Team for Cyrex Laboratories. Dr. Larson holds a Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine degree from Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine and a Doctor of Chiropractic degree from Southern California University of Health Sciences. He is a Certified Clinical Nutritionist and a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist. He particularly pursues advanced developments in the fields of endocrinology, orthopedics, sports medicine, and environmentally-induced chronic disease.

Leonardo D’Almagro: The First Latino Partnering with Global Jewelry Manufacturer 

Leonardo D’Almagro (Venezuelan jewelry designer based in Austin, Texas) is a new face in the jewelry world… but he has hit the ground running.  He was the first Hispanic Designer from the USA to launch a new brand at Vicenzaoro and Vincenza Dubai (the most important international jewelry trade shows in the world), and he is now the first Latino partnering with global jewelry manufacturer, Vaibhav Global Limited (VGL), which touts shopping channels in the USA (“Shop LC”) and in the UK (TJC, “The Jewelry Channel”) and commands presence in Asia.

About Vaibhav Global Limited (VGL)

Vaibhav Global Limited (VGL), headquartered in Jaipur, Rajasthan was incorporated as ‘Vaibhav Gems Limited’ in 1989 and renamed as ‘Vaibhav Global Limited’ in 2013. The Company went public in 1996-97 and has since evolved into a successful, vertically-integrated electronic retailer of fashion jewelry and lifestyle products in the USA and United Kingdom on its TV Shopping channels – ShopLC, USA and The Jewelry Channel (TJC), UK. The TV coverage is complemented by e-commerce websites/mobile apps www.shoplc.com and www.tjc.co.uk.

VGL reaches almost 100 million households through its TV Shopping channels – ShopLC in the US and The Jewelry Channel (TJC) in the UK. These TV shopping channels reach customers directly 24X7 on almost all major cable, satellite and DTH platforms – Dish TV, DirecTV, Comcast, Verizon Fios, Time Warner, AT&T, Sky, Virgin, Freeview, and Freesat, etc. In addition, VGL’s e-commerce websites/mobile apps in the USA – www.shoplc.com, and UK – www.tjc.co.ukcomplement its TV coverage, diversify customer engagement and increase customer lifetime value.

About Leonardo D’Almagro

He is frequently featured (TV Host-Producer) in fashion segments for national and international networks such as Univision, MSN.com. USA Hispanic market, MSN.com Latino Latin American (LATAM), MSN.com Brazil, and Telemundo.  Leonardo is also a fashion editor, contributed as a Harper’s Bazaar Style Ambassador, is a member of the Fashion Group International, and is certified by Jewelers of America as a Management Professional.

The Leonardo D’Almagro brand is becoming increasingly well known.  His jewelry was used in Paris Fashion Week to accessorize Binzario Couture.  The Daytime Emmy Awards recognized Leonardo for his contributions as a Fashion Editor to the Superlatina TV show with Gabriela Natale; Gaby Natale (3-time EMMY award winning TV host, bestselling author, and motivational speaker) also wore his jewelry while receiving Emmy Awards and during the US promotional tour of her book, El Circulo Virtuoso.  The Mr. Venezuela, Miss Venezuela & Miss Mexico organizations chose him as an official designer; his jewelry will be used by the official Miss Mexico and Mr. Mexico in all their international pageant events.  Miss Venezuela International, Amal Nemer, wore his jewelry during the Miss International contest, where she won the title of Miss South America International.  Barbara Palacios (former Miss Universe), Jacqueline Aguilera (former Miss World), and Ana Girault (former Miss Mexico, who represented her country at Miss Universe) also wear Leonardo’s jewelry line.  Other fans adorning themselves with D’Almagro’s jewelry include Hillary Kennedy (American TV host), Jeannette Chivvis (celebrity fashion stylist and TV host), and reality TV celebrities LeeAnne Locken and Tiffany Hendra from The Real Housewives of Dallas.

Co-Parenting Tips Every Divorcing Couple Needs to Know

Reena B. Patel, a licensed educational psychologist and author, offers helpful tips for co-parenting couples

It’s well known that nearly half of all marriages in the country end in divorce. The rate is even higher for subsequent marriages. What many people are not as focused on are the children involved and how to best go about co-parenting in a way that will help them grow into well adjusted adults. July is National Child-Centered Divorce Month, making it an ideal time to place the focus of divorce on the children, and what can be done to help ensure they come out of the situation in healthy manner.

“Divorce may seem like it’s something between the adults, but it is really something impacts the whole family,” explains Reena B. Patel, a parenting expert, licensed educational psychologist, and author, who offer virtual workshops. “Children need parents who will commit to working together for the health and development of their child.”

In a study published in the journal called The Linacre Quarterly, researchers shared their findings of reviewing three decades worth of research regarding the impact of divorce on the health of children. Their research found that divorce has been shown to diminish a child’s future competence in all areas of life, including family relationships, education, emotional well-being, and future earning power. Parents can help to counter the negative impact that divorce has on the children by focusing on effective co-parenting that will help ensure their success throughout life.

Children who see their parents continuing to work together are more likely to learn how to effectively and peacefully solve problems themselves. They will also have a healthy example to follow. It’s important for parents to remember that their feelings about their ex does not, and should not, dictate their behavior. It’s better to focus on being a positive example, putting your child’s well being in the spotlight.

Patel offers some tips that will help with ensuring co-parenting success:

  • Commit to making co-parenting an open dialogue with your ex. Arrange to do this through email, texting, voicemail, letters, or face-to-face conversations. In the beginning, it may be hard to have a civil dialogue with your ex. There are even websites where you can upload schedules, share information and communicate so you and your ex don’t have to directly touch base. 
  • The key is consistency. Rules don’t have to be exactly the same between the two households, but you and your ex should establish generally consistent guidelines. They should be mutually agreed upon for both households. For example, meal time, bed time, and completing homework need to consistent. This helps create a sense of belonging and creates a sense of security and predictability for children. Discuss and come to an agreement about each of these issues.
  • Don’t give in to guilt and try and outdo your ex by gifting you child with things, instead agree on discipline. This includes things like behavioral guidelines, rewards, and consequences, so there is consistency in their lives, regardless of which parent they’re with at any given time. Research shows that children in homes with a unified parenting approach have greater well-being.
  • Keep in mind that children will frequently test boundaries and rules, especially if there’s a chance to get something they may not ordinarily be able to obtain. This is why a united front in co-parenting is recommended. 
  • Be flexible and update often. If there are changes at home, in your life, it is important that your child is never the primary source of information.
  • Speak in positive language about your ex. Remember, often times, the marriage is what was the issue, not the parenting style. Each of you has valuable strengths as a parent. Remember to recognize the different traits you and your ex have – and reinforce this awareness with your children.
  • Children exposed to conflict between co-parents are more likely to develop issues such as depression, anxiety, or ADHD. Keeping this in mind, strive to keep conflict around them to a minimal or none at all.
  • Keep the conversations child-focused. This will leave out problems that you and your ex have with each other. The focus now needs to be on the children.

“Effective and healthy co-parenting may be difficult at first and it make time some time to work everything out,” added Patel. “But getting this part right in the long run is going to have a huge positive impact on your children, so it’s worth it. Also, don’t be afraid to reach out for professional help to put a plan together or determine how to best put co-parenting into action.”

Patel has a new debut radio show on Dash Radio, North America’s first mainstream South Asian radio station, which premiered in April 2019. The station was founded by Rukus Avenue Music Group, and can be heard 24-7 on the Dash Radio app, as well as on the on the Dash Radio platform at DashRadio.com. 

Patel is the founder of AutiZm& More. As a licensed educational psychologist and guidance counselor, she helps children and their families with the use of positive behavior support strategies across home, school, and community settings. She does workshops around California, and virtual workshops globally where she provides this information to health professionals, families, and educators. She also offers concierge parenting services, helping families to reach specific goals, such as focusing on college admission. She is also the author of a book that helps children with anxiety coping strategies called “Winnie & Her Worries,” and author of a book about autism awareness and acceptance, called “My Friend Max: A Story about a Friend with Autism.” Both of her books are available on Amazon. To learn more about her services, visit the website at www.reenabpatel.com

5 Tips for Moving with a Pet

Whether it’s across the street or across the country, moving can be a stressful and chaotic time for your family. This can be especially true for your four-legged family members, who don’t understand what’s happening. Detailed planning and foresight can help alleviate some of the hassle and make relocating a more positive experience for everyone.

“Moving with a pet requires careful planning to help ensure a smooth transition for the whole family,” said Dave Bradey, vice president of people and organization at Mars Petcare North America. “As someone who recently moved with two dogs, I can’t tell you how valuable it is to have access to pet-friendly public areas throughout the moving process. Mars Petcare is committed to encouraging cities to create more pet-friendly public spaces, like parks and rest stops, which can help make moving with a pet easier and more enjoyable. Our four-legged friends should be welcome wherever we are.”

Consider these tips to help make your move with your pet as smooth as possible, and visit BetterCitiesForPets.com for more information on making pets happy, healthy and welcome everywhere.

  1. Check In with Your Vet – Ahead of a move, schedule an appointment with your veterinarian to ensure your pet is healthy and up-to-date on all vaccines. While you are there, ask for a copy of your pet’s records and get recommendations for a veterinarian’s office closer to your new home. If your pet has an ID microchip, be sure to update your new address and contact information.

  1. Research Your New Neighborhood – Before relocating to your new home, research the pet policies and amenities your new town may have. Cities can require pet registration or special collar tags to help keep your pets safe. Municipalities often list the dog parks or public spaces online where pets are welcome, on or off the leash. If your new town is lacking pet-friendly places, visit BetterCitiesForPets.com to find ways to help your city become more welcoming to furry friends.

  1. Pack a Pet Bag – Amid all the packing supplies, it can be easy to lose track of your pet’s belongings. Instead of digging through boxes to find his food once dinnertime rolls around, pack a travel bag for your pet, so food and bowls are easily accessible. Keep a few of your pet’s favorite items, like toys and blankets, on-hand in the car to help reduce nervousness during travel.

  1. Take a Room-by-Room Tour – Once you arrive at your new home, introduce your pet to his new environment, one room at a time. Giving your pet free rein of a new house right away can be overwhelming and confusing, so plan a slower approach to ensure your pet gradually adjusts. Start in one main room, and once your pet seems comfortable, move onto the next room and repeat the process throughout the whole home. In seemingly no time, your pet will claim his favorite spot in the new space.

  1. Give Extra Love and Attention – As exhausted as you may be at the end of moving day, don’t forget to show your pet some extra love. Consider a reward like PEDIGREE DENTASTIX Treats to show your understanding for what your pet has gone through. As a bonus, the oral care treat will help clean your dog’s teeth, giving him a bright smile to make new friends in the neighborhood. Your pet may also need time to adjust to a new environment and may be looking for familiar day-to-day structure. Keeping a normal routine and paying close attention to your pet can help prevent unnecessary stress. (Family Features)

Mars Petcare

Building a Balanced Diet with a Better Sandwich

Fad diets come and go, and as many Americans find, so do the pounds they lose. Most experts agree that eliminating, or drastically reducing, any of the major foods groups from your diet can be detrimental to your health and prevent you from achieving long-term healthy eating goals.

Each of the food groups plays a distinct role in fueling your body and providing it with the vitamins and nutrients it needs. Attempt a well-rounded approach to eating, such as one that includes more nutritious choices for popular dishes like sandwiches. In general, pay attention to the variety, amount and nutrition of the foods you consume.

Consider these ideas for creating a balanced diet and a nutritious sandwich to help ensure you get enough of each food group:

Start from the Outside

There are two groups of grains: whole grains and refined grains. Whole grains contain the entire grain kernel, while refined grains have been milled for a finer texture and are required to be enriched per government mandate to help the population make up for nutrient shortfalls. Grains should account for about one quarter of each meal, but at least half of them should be whole grains – a fact that may surprise some people.

“Many health professionals mistakenly encourage consumers to skip the bread when trying to improve diets,” said Yanni Papanikolaou from Nutrition Strategies Inc., who completed a study to assess the energy and nutrients contributed from sandwiches in diets of children and adolescents. “Americans need to think twice before cutting bread from their diets. In fact, bread packs more of a nutrient punch than a caloric one.”

The ingredients inside a sandwich, not the bread itself, are the most significant drivers of calories, fat and sodium, according to Papanikolaou’s research. A separate study published in the journal “Nutrients” shows grain foods contribute less than 15 percent of all calories in the total diet, while delivering greater than 20 percent of three shortfall nutrients – dietary fiber, folate and iron – and greater than 10 percent of calcium, magnesium and vitamin A.

Consumers can significantly and positively impact their caloric, fat and sodium intake by making more deliberate decisions about sandwich ingredients, including choosing either whole-grain or enriched-grain bread. Find more information about the role of grains in a healthy diet at GrainFoodsFoundation.org.

Rethink the Ingredients

Making more nutritious choices with sandwiches and positively impacting your consumption of calories, fat and sodium is oftentimes a matter of changing the way you stack ingredients between the bread. Consider this sample sandwich: two slices of whole-grain or enriched bread, 2-3 slices of lunchmeat, two slices of cheese, a few spinach or lettuce leaves and a slice of tomato.

Contrary to popular belief, research shows that sandwich eaters who choose either whole- or enriched-grain bread can consume less calories, fat and sodium compared to the typical sandwich consumed in the American diet. This demonstrates the need to focus on the ingredients between the bread for a better (more healthful) sandwich.

Try a different take on a lunchtime favorite by adding spicy horseradish to this Roast Beef and Arugula Sandwich, or make packing a lunch even simpler with this Ultra-Thin Pastrami Sandwich Lunchbox.


According to the USDA, most Americans get about the right amount of protein in their diets, but could do better at choosing leaner options and adding more variety to their menus.

Incorporating more variety doesn’t have to mean sacrificing convenience. For example, while prepared meats like deli meats, hot dogs and jerky are sometimes a target of critics, numerous studies and the Dietary Guidelines for Americans affirm they can be part of a healthy, balanced diet. Prepared beef products provide a convenient source of protein, vitamins and minerals. Because most prepared meats are pre-cooked, they offer consumers easy, on-the-go access to the nutrient density in meat.

The prepared meats category is diverse and offers choices to meet nutrition needs, tastes, budgets and personal preferences. Thousands of products are available in the meat case, including low- and reduced-sodium products, low- and reduced-fat products, American Heart Association-certified, organic, Kosher grass-fed options and more. Learn more at meatpoultrynutrition.org.

Roast Beef and Arugula Sandwich

Recipe courtesy of the Grain Foods Foundation

Prep time: 5 minutes

Servings: 2

  • 1 tablespoon low-fat mayonnaise
  • 2 teaspoons horseradish
  • 4 slices whole-wheat bread
  • 4 slices tomato
  • 4 ounces lean roast beef, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup arugula or wild greens
  1. Spread mayonnaise and horseradish evenly over two bread slices.
  2. Layer tomato, roast beef and arugula on top of mayonnaise and horseradish. Top with remaining bread slices.

Ultra-Thin Pastrami Sandwich Lunchbox

Recipe courtesy of the North American Meat Institute

Servings: 1

  • 2 slices thin whole-wheat sandwich bread
  • 2 tablespoons low-fat garden vegetable cream cheese
  • 1 ounce ultra-thin pastrami
  • 1 ounce unsalted pretzels
  • 1 apple
  • 1 squeezable low-fat yogurt
  • 1 water bottle (8 fluid ounces)
  1. Using knife, spread bread slices with cream cheese. Layer pastrami on bottom slice and top with second slice.
  2. Fill lunchbox with sandwich, pretzels, apple, yogurt and water bottle. (Family Features)

North American Meat Institute

Grain Foods Foundation

4 Remodeling Projects That Won’t Break The Bank

Written by Julie Ferrell

Whether you have a new house or you’ve lived there for years. Your house is an expression of yourself. But sometimes, you might not be able to express yourself how you might like because you can’t afford it. Perhaps you’ve been dreaming of a home renovation or envying someone else’s house.

You can break away from just wishing and waiting, and start with some projects that you can do on a budget.

Conquer Your Cabinets

There are really very few things that can give your entire kitchen a facelift by re-doing your cabinets. If your cabinets are old and outdated, then they’re dragging down the appearance of your whole area.

You can go small scale or large scale with this renovation – either makes a huge difference. Replacing the hardware on your handles makes the entire space look put-together. If you want to take it a step further, you can paint or stain the cabinets a different color, and get rid of all those signs of wear and tear. 

If you want to scrap your cabinets all-together, you can remove them entirely and get a whole new set, which will greatly increase the value of your kitchen.

Bump Up Your Bed

Your bedroom should be a sacred space. You go there to relax. You walk in, and breathe a sigh of relief. 

If that’s not happening to you right now, then you need to renovate your bedroom space. All good bedrooms start with a good mattress. Most people don’t realize it’s time to get a new mattress and that theirs is old, possibly affecting their sleeping patterns.

Once you’ve figured out how to make your bed more comfortable, make it more decorative as well. Adding a new comforter set and lots of pillows really amps up the style. Throw a headboard into the mix to tie it all together.

Consider Your Countertops

Adding a new countertop to either your kitchen or your bathroom can take it from dull to dazzling in one single step.

When you think of a new countertop, you might think of a big expensive marble slab. Marble might look nice, but it’s probably not the material you want to go with if you’re on a budget. On the other hand, new synthetic materials that mimic marble and granite are becoming more and more popular. You can add this to your kitchen or bathroom counter, and have a new look in no time. For a cheaper remodel, choose your bathroom – it’s much smaller, and of course, going to cost less.

Demolish Your Door

Your entryway door might be dragging down the curb appeal of your home. If you spring for an upgraded door, you’re essentially getting a 100 percent return on your investment. 

A hand-carved, custom door will likely cost you upwards of 1,000 dollars. But that makes your home 1,000 dollars more valuable. It also gives a rich first impression, and adds a huge amount of character to your home from the get-go.

Renovating your house isn’t as expensive as you think. Pay attention to the details, do what you can, and you’ll start to see a huge difference as you go step-by-step. Whether it’s just a door or a kitchen counter, you’ll be surprised at the impact that a budget remodeling project can make.

Laura Frecon’s 5 Easy Tips To Having The Sustainable Wedding Of Your Dreams!

You believe in living an eco-conscious and sustainable life each and every day, and your wedding day should be no exception. Planning an eco-friendly wedding is a lot easier than you may think! There are many sustainable wedding ideas out there, with more eco-friendly wedding decorations available and greener options when it comes to catering, invitations, and finding your perfect dress. Here are 5 easy tips from Verte Luxe CEO, Laura Frecon that will help you have the sustainable wedding of your dreams so you can say “I do,” with a clear conscience.

Repurpose and Achieve a One-Of-A-Kind Look 

For most of us, our gowns will only be worn this one time. That’s why it’s great to consider repurposing a gown by hiring a good seamstress to re-make an existing gown and creating your own design. You will be reusing existing materials and creating a one-of-a-kind gown that is your very own. Also, look to eco-friendly wedding gown designers like Celia Grace and Lindee Daniel. These designers are using sustainable materials and fair trade practices.

Don’t Be Wasteful

Think about donating your flowers and leftover food after the event. You can search for venues who support local farm-to-table cuisine and donate to a food bank when the wedding is over. There are amazing floral companies such as Rebloom, who take your wedding flowers and repurpose them by donating to hospitals and nursing homes or reselling them at a lower cost to other events.

Send Out Eco-Friendly Invitations

Print invitations, programs, and menus on seed paper. Seed paper is a biodegradable material that sprouts into flowers when planted in soil. Botanical PaperWorks has a whole line of custom goods on plantable paper so it’s perfect for your wedding and garden.

Use Nature as Your Decor

For decor, use the beauty that surrounds you when designing the look of your wedding.  Consider an outdoor venue that will cut back on energy costs by saving the need for lighting. Look to local farms for your flowers and use the scenery that surrounds you rather than bringing in excessive decor. Work with sustainable event planners and designers in your area and always go local with your food, wine, and flowers to cut back on your carbon footprint.

Think Eco-Friendly Registry

Register for items that will support your mission and keep sustainability a priority. As your guests browse through the registry they may even become inspired to make a lifestyle change!

Laura Frecon

Laura Frecon

About Laura Frecon:

Laura Frecon has a passion for beauty, fashion, life and all things green. She is an Emmy nominated Costume Designer, Wardrobe Director for the hit TV show American Beauty Star, and the CEO of Verte Luxe, where you can learn about and shop eco-luxury products to lead a more sustainable life. As a Costume Designer, Frecon has created wardrobe for legendary characters on shows and films such as Mad Men, True Blood, Men in Black 3, Nostalgia, Kong Skull Island and many more. Her love of fashion, beauty, and design is what prompted Frecon to create Verte Luxe. She has chosen to dedicate her years of experience in the entertainment and fashion industries, as well as her love for the planet, to a deeper cause that not only educates people about how to live a more sustainable life but offers them eco-luxury products to use in their daily life. Verte Luxe was born out of the desire to provide a resource for eco-conscious, ethical and sustainably-minded people to have luxurious goods and services without sacrificing their values. With five pillars, including Wedding, Lifestyle, Fashion, Beauty and Home, Frecon strives to provide her readers all they need to live a sustainable life. Frecon recently worked on the Lifetime Television Series, “American Beauty Star,” where she teamed up with World Fashion Week to bring ethical designers from around the world onto the screen. Today, she is proud to be the United States Ambassador of Eco-Conscious, Ethical and Sustainable Fashion for World Fashion Week Paris 2019.  To learn more about Laura Frecon, please visit www.laurafrecon.com and to shop eco-luxury goods go to www.verteluxe.com. Follow @verteluxelife on Instagram to get your daily green tips!

Summer Wine Savvy

3 ways to upgrade your summer sipping routine

Rosé slushies. Spiked seltzers. Boozy ice pops. Has young adults’ quest for the next party gimmick led to soulless substitutes for real, quality wines?

It’s not hard to find wines with well-balanced natural flavors, according to Leslie Sbrocco, author of “The Simple and Savvy Wine Guide.” She recommends looking for wine from different international regions, like Wines of Sicily, which guarantee value and quality, and are made from more than 400 wineries across the island.

Sbrocco also recommends these wines and entertaining tips to make your spread the center of the party for all the right reasons.

  • Bring a balanced red to the barbecue. It’s an art to craft a truly balanced wine that needs nothing more to be enjoyed than a wine opener and an open mind. In fact, Sicilian red wines are crafted to be as lively and bold as the island itself. The icon of Sicilian wine-making and hero red grape, Nero d’Avola, balances elegance with drinkability and can range from royal ruby with aromas of strawberry and sour cherry to a more full-bodied red with sweet spices and cocoa. Whether it’s a ribeye or a spicy rack of ribs, Nero d’Avola can elevate a weeknight summer dinner on the patio to an elegant event.
  • Freshen up summer whites. Grillo, Sicily’s most famous indigenous white grape, with an aromatic bouquet and lively citrus notes, is like a pair of fresh linen pants. When paired with delectable bites like bruschetta, ceviche or a well-crafted charcuterie board, Grillo pulls out the salinity and savory notes that come from grapes grown in close proximity to the Mediterranean Sea. The other predominant yet fuller-bodied white wine grape from Sicily is Catarrato. With notes of ripe citrus and herbal flavors, it makes for a delicious counterpart to a seasonal vegetable spread.
  • Act like a sommelier. Frappato, Sicily’s cult-favorite answer to pinot noir – served chilled – is an upgrade to the ubiquitous rosé routine.It’s easy to pronounce and even easier to pair with light summer fare like these simple-to-make Open-Faced BLT Sandwiches. With its fruit-forward, lighter style, Frappato is a sommelier’s secret weapon that many people classify as pinot noir’s cool cousin. Pouring this sets the tone for even your most sophisticated set of friends.

For more food and wine pairings, visit winesofsicily.com.

Open-Faced BLT Sandwiches

Prepare an easy, seasonal appetizer with fresh produce from your local farmer’s market. Take this summertime classic sandwich up a notch by topping it with capers and pairing it with a chilled Grillo or Frappato from Sicilia DOC.

Recipe courtesy of Wines of Sicily

Servings: 4

  • 6-8       strips bacon
  • 1          loaf country bread
  • 1          cup arugula leaves
  • 1          cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1          tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus additional to drizzle
  • 1          tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • kosher salt
  • ground pepper
  • capers
  1. Heat oven to 375° F.
  2. Place bacon on baking sheet and bake 15-20 minutes depending on thickness of bacon. Remove bacon from oven and transfer to paper towels to drain.
  3. Using bread knife, slice bread 1/3-inch thick into single-serving slices; toast lightly.
  4. Add arugula leaves and cherry tomatoes to medium bowl. In separate bowl, whisk olive oil and balsamic vinegar; add to tomatoes and arugula, and gently toss to coat.
  5. To assemble, drizzle olive oil on one side of toasted bread. Arrange arugula, bacon and tomato mixture on top. Finish each sandwich with sprinkle of salt, ground pepper and a few capers. (Family Features)

Wines of Sicily

5 Ways to Prepare for a New Furry Companion

Bringing home a new furry friend can spark joy while adding new routines for the whole family. When adding a pet to a household, it’s important to take into consideration the type of companion, a pet’s life stage, size and how to select a veterinarian.

Seeking out materials to help you become a better pet parent can make the transition a bit smoother. For example, WALTHAM Brand’s Pocket Book of Responsible Pet Ownership outlines how new pet parents can care for a pet’s medical, dental, nutritional, social and behavioral needs.

When preparing for a furry companion, keep these tips in mind, and find more information at pedigree.com and sheba.com.

  • Research the pet well in advance of picking him or her up so you understand the breed’s energy levels, temperament, trainability and other traits that fit your lifestyle. After all, adding a pet should be mutually beneficial and the right fit for the family.

  • Consider adoption. More than 6.5 million animals enter U.S. shelters every year and nearly half of them get adopted. Shelters can be a source for neutered, vaccinated and trained pets in need of a home.


“We know there are countless animals in shelters, and we are committed to spreading awareness for shelter dogs in need of forever homes,” said Bo Segers, associate general counsel for Mars Petcare Americas and president of PEDIGREE Foundation Board of Directors. “Adoption is a great option to consider and can change not only an animal’s life, but your own.”


Before a shelter visit, take a look at an adoption questionnaire to get a sense of how to best prepare and create a smooth transition for a new pet.

  • Review available medical records to ensure your prospective pet is healthy and up to date on vaccinations. Request a health report from the shelter at the time of adoption to learn about any health or behavioral issues you should be aware of.

  • Consider your home environment. Think about your lifestyle routines and how they align with a pet’s well-being – specifically take into account both physical surroundings and social interactions.When bringing a pet home, gradually introduce him or her slowly to different areas then expand the accessible spaces. If possible, bringing the pet’s former bedding and toys can help him or her more quickly adapt to the new surroundings.

  • Establish regular mealtimes. Setting feeding times for furry friends can help create new routines for the whole family. Consider feeding your pet in the same location and similar times each day to minimize stress or conflict that may arise around feeding. One wet cat food to consider is SHEBA PERFECT PORTIONS, an option to help introduce your feline to meaty and seafood flavors. Because they’re appropriately sized for each meal, even the youngest family members can learn about pet responsibilities. (Family Features)

Photos courtesy of Fotolia



Pique Your Culinary Curiosity with These Trends

Forget the rules and restrictions. Today’s food trends are about enjoyment and simplicity, from decadent flavors your taste buds can’t wait to explore to convenient packaging that makes it incredibly easy to eat no matter where or when you make time to dine.

Whether you’re a foodie keeping tabs on the latest culinary trends or an everyday eater with a dose of culinary curiosity, these trends can give you something to chew on.

Unique Herbs and Spices

Most often associated with salad dressings and hummus as a flavor additive, tahini has stepped beyond just savory foods and has found its way into many new dishes, including desserts and cocktails. From ice cream and milkshakes to muffins, cookies and other baked goods, this toasted ground sesame seed spread used in Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisine can also be added as an alternative to nearly any dish that calls for peanut butter.

On the Go

For most people, a busy day is just part of the program. Even if you take your hectic lifestyle in stride, chances are it affects your eating habits to some extent. Fortunately, you’re not alone and conveniently packaged foods can make eating on the go tasty and enjoyable. The options are even crossing into areas traditionally reserved for a sit-down meal, such as Aunt Jemima’s Pancake on the Go Cups, which offer a soft and fluffy texture like the typical pancake in Chocolate Chip or Buttermilk & Maple flavors. They’re surprisingly simple to prepare; just add water, stir and microwave for a pancake in a cup that you can enjoy from anywhere. Learn more at auntjemima.com.

Ugly Eats

Save your judgment for someplace else; ugly produce is actually in vogue. A growing number of chefs and brands are promoting recipes made with ugly foods – usually produce that is perfectly useful and edible but likely to be overlooked at the store due to a physical imperfection. Think oddly shaped tomatoes or a smaller melon than you might not normally choose. Often those options are offered at a discount and it’s a savvy way to reduce food waste.

Hot and Spicy

Palettes are growing ever-adventurous, and that means flavors that pack a strong punch are gaining traction. If you’re not sure your taste buds are up to the challenge, try adding some spice to a familiar dish like rice or pasta. For example, you can find a spicy take on Rice a Roni, Pasta Roni and Quaker Instant Grits with Jalapeno Cheddar varieties, which include cheddar cheese and real jalapeno bits that leave lingering heat. Include these as the perfect side for your next taco night or try in place of mashed potatoes for an extra kick. Find more spicy ideas for dinner at ricearoni.com.

Move Over, Meat

Opting for more plant-based foods in place of meat no longer means forgoing those flavors and textures. While not a completely new trend, plant-based and blended burgers and sliders have become more mainstream and found places on menus at restaurants nationwide with more people (even non-vegans) searching for a break from meat or ways to add flavors like mushrooms into meals and snacks.

Salty-Sweet Flavors

Sweet-meets-salty combos are hardly new, but products featuring this blend are showing up in more and more places, including at the breakfast table. Sea salt is a perfect match for the sweetness of chocolate or caramel; it adds a rich depth of flavor that strikes a balance between too sweet or too salty. Start the day off with an option like Quaker’s Cocoa & Sea Salt Instant Oatmeal, which contains 100% whole grains, no high-fructose corn syrup, no artificial preservatives, no artificial sweeteners, no artificial flavors and no added colors. Explore additional ideas to sweeten your breakfast plans at quakeroats.com. (Family Features)

Aunt Jemima

Rice a Roni

Quaker Oats