Basicwomen's Blog

{October 27, 2010}   All About (Bieber’s) Hair

By Rachel Allen
20 May 2010

– by Rachel Allen, Staff Writer

What is it about pop sensation Justin Bieber that makes the tweens go wild? He does not in any way resemble a vampire, nor does his angelic smile and Michael Jackson-esque voice fit into the Cullen fanworld that seems to have captivated the youths of today.  Neither can his charm be attributed to his awkward dancing or short stature.  Only one thing remains as the key to Bieber’s sensational persona: his hair.

“The Bieber,” as it has been dubbed, is a look that anyone who has ever been in middle school will recognize: long-ish (as if mom forgot to cut it last week), with “the flip” – the mass of hair swoops out at the ends, mainly going in one direction as if the kid has been in a wind tunnel.  The eponymous hairstyle is already proving to be taking its place in hair history by force, and will probably be placed beside the Rachel, the Farrah, and the Robert (Pattinson, that is – these tweens sure know how to popularize a haircut) in the hairstyle hall of fame.

It seems like it has been a while since Americans have, as a whole, been rushing to salons, all eagerly obsessing over one style, and Bieber has filled that void.

This isn’t merely speculation – not only Bieber himself, but his hair, have been on the receiving end of multiple news stories (even the New York Times deemed Bieber’s enchanting locks important enough to cover).

According to a report on Fox News 5, New York City parents are shelling out over $150 at high-fashion salons to get their children Bieber-ready. This is a statement that says almost as much about city parents as it does about their offspring, but the fact is that now, more than ever, the power of the industry is shifting from the adult, to the young-adult.  From pint-sized fashion blogger Tavi getting front-row seats at fashion week, to one of the most universally common tween boy hairstyles becoming suddenly infamous because of one hair flip from a pop-singing 16 year-old Twitter fanatic, the kids are taking over.

The good thing is that the styles and trends of the up-and-coming generation go as quickly as they come – just recently Bieber fell out of Twitter’s trending topics (the first time since his meteoric rise to fame), and who knows what will happen if he falls out of vogue. Kids these days could be pounding down salon doors asking for the “Grayson” (the newest Bieber incarnation, instantly famous online for performing a Lady Gaga song at his 6th grade talent show).

Unless a new person or fad can truly challenge Bieber’s ability to make thirteen year-olds everywhere riot in the streets, Bieber will reign supreme – at least until he gets his next haircut.

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{October 27, 2010}   Green Tea Benefits

Green tea has been gaining popularity all over the world in the recent times. It was first discovered by the Chinese and has been used by them as a medicine for the last 3000 years. Its budding reputation can be attributed not only to the invigorating taste but also to the numerous health benefits associated with it.

Green tea has an interesting story behind its breakthrough. It is said that in the year 2737 BC, Emperor Shen Nung was boiling water whilst some green tea leaves fell into the water and the brew gave off a pleasant aroma. The emperor didn’t hesitate to drink it, and thus green tea was revealed.

Green tea is distinctive to any other drink for, it is not fermented. The tea leaves are then steamed right away after harvest, leaving no time for the leaves to oxidize. This domino effect holds more enzymes and nutritional content.

Green tea contains polyphenol, which is an anti-oxidant.

Antioxidants are the substances that destroy the free radicals which damage the compounds that alter the body cells, tamper with DNA, and even grounds for cells demise. The bitter taste of green tea is endorsed by the presence of polyphenols.

In Chinese and Indian traditional medicines, green tea was used for refreshment, diuretic and to improve heart health. It was also used in treatment of flatulence, regulating body temperature and blood sugar, promoting digestion, and civilizing psychological disorders. Green tea also contains alkaloids including caffeine, Theo bromine, and theophylline. These alkaloids are bestowed with stimulant effects.

Green tea also comprises a thermogenic property that speeds up the oxidation of fats. It results in reduction of weight. Another important component present in green tea is the epigallocatechin or the EGCG. The EGCG goes as far as killing cancer cells without damaging the tissues.

Green tea also stretches from a desirable LDL (bad cholesterol) to HDL (good cholesterol) ratio. This means fewer propensities to develop blood clot that leads to deadly heart attacks or strokes.

You might be wondering whether consuming green tea has any side effects, and the answer is no. The only side effect, if it can be called that, of green tea is insomnia due to the caffeine present in it, but its caffeine content is negligible compared to that of coffee.

So, go ahead, what are you waiting for? Go get yourself a packet of green tea for a healthy life!

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Sometimes I find that figuring out what to make on the side for dinner is a little more difficult than coming up with an idea for a main course. While frozen steamed veggies are a perfectly acceptable solution in a pinch, sometimes I want something with a little more flavor. Here are a few simple ideas that would easily go with many different types of dishes.

1.  Roasted Asparagus

Roasting is one of the best techniques for drawing flavor out of vegetables with minimal effort. It can be done with just about every vegetable, but I love using asparagus because it takes so little time. Here are two simple roasted asparagus recipes; one roasted with lemon and parmesan, and one topped with a balsamic brown butter.

With Lemon and Parmesan

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and season 1 pound of asparagus (tough ends snapped off) simply with salt, pepper, and lemon zest. Toss with olive oil just to coat, and arrange in 1 layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake for about 15 minutes, until crisp-tender and squeeze a little lemon juice on top and sprinkle with a small handful of freshly grated parmesan cheese.

With Balsamic Brown Butter and Soy

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and season 1 pound of asparagus (tough ends snapped off) with salt and pepper. Toss with olive oil just to coat, and arrange in 1 layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake for about 15 minutes, until-crisp-tender. Meanwhile, melt 2 tablespoons butter in a small skillet, and cook until it is lightly browned and smells slightly nutty. Stir in 2 teaspoons of soy sauce (preferably low sodium) and 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar. Spoon over cooked asparagus.

2.  Orzo with Herbs, Olives, and Sun dried Tomatoes

Since orzo is such a quick cooking pasta, it makes a great side dish, and it’s very adaptable to different tastes. Here I use basil, parsley, and oregano for the mixed herbs in this dish, but use whatever you like. If you want to make it a little heartier or adapt it to be a vegetarian main dish, add in some cubed feta. Otherwise, this goes especially well with lamb, but would work fine with chicken, fish or pork as well.

Cook half a pound of orzo in salted, boiling water according to package directions. Meanwhile, chop ¼ cup parsley, 2 tablespoons basil, 1 1/2 teaspoons oregano, 1/3 cup kalamata olives, and 1/3 cup sundried tomatoes packed in oil. When the pasta is done cooking, drain it well and transfer to a large bowl. Stir in herbs, tomatoes, and sundried tomatoes. Dress with 1-2 tablespoons, or to taste, of oil from the jar of sundried tomatoes and juice of ½ a lemon. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

3.  Sautéed Cabbage

In my opinion, cabbage is a very underrated vegetable. It is often associated with thoughts of a boring, limp, grey vegetable that your grandmother may try to force on you, usually boiled and bland. Here, the cabbage is thinly sliced and sautéed with butter, just long enough to become slightly tender and slightly caramelized. The result is sweet and delicious—you won’t believe how simple and good it is. Pair this with pork or chicken.

Thinly slice one small head Napa or white cabbage. In a large skillet, melt a couple of tablespoons of butter. Add in sliced cabbage and sauté for about 10 minutes, or until tender and starting to brown, but still with a little crunch to it. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

4.  Mashed Cauliflower

This is something that my mother started making in place of mashed potatoes when she started to eat healthier, but I think it’s good enough to be more than just a substitute—it’s a great side dish in its own right. My mother uses skim milk in this dish for the sake making it low calorie, but use any type of milk you have, even cream or half and half. This would go best with chicken, or a rich pork dish.

These are her instructions for making it: “Boil it to death in chicken broth. Go against all you know and boil the crap out of the cauliflower!” Then, just mash it with a little butter, about a tablespoon, and enough milk to make it creamy and easy to mash; you won’t need much, or it’ll become too thin; probably anywhere from a couple tablespoons to ¼ cup, depending on if you use milk or cream, and on the size of your cauliflower. If desired, add things like parmesan or other grated cheese, herbs, etc.

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I really like tacos. I think my love for them has stemmed from my relatively recent discovery that they don’t need to be comprised of dry ground beef and limp iceberg lettuce; that good tacos use better, fresher ingredients and have a lot more flavor.

I was never one to hop on the “sweet & savory” train that seems to be so popular now, but it really works here because the sweetness from the honey is so subtle compared to the strong, spicy, smoky flavor of adobo chipotles, and provides a much-needed contrast. Caramelized onions provided another source of subtle sweetness to balance all of the spice in the pork, as well as the chipotle slaw (which I also used in my recipe for fish tacos), and the spicy bourbon beans are great as a side dish or right inside the tacos themselves.

Tacos are a fun dish to make because there are so many possible toppings and combinations; just mix and match until you find what you like the best.

Honey Chipotle Pork Tacos with Caramelized Onions

Ingredients – Serves 4-6:

1 ½ lbs pork tenderloin

2 chipotles in adobo, coarsely chopped, plus ½ teaspoons of adobo sauce (adjust to your tastes)

2 tbsp honey

Juice and zest of 1 lime

2 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped

1 tsp salt

2 medium yellow onions, sliced

1 tbsp butter

1tbsp olive oil + 1 tbsp

1 can black beans, drained and rinsed.

1 jalapeno, seeded & minced

1 garlic clove, minced

1 tsp cumin

3 tbsp bourbon

Chipotle Slaw (recipe can be found here)

8-12 6-inch corn tortillas, heated in microwave or on the stove until pliable.

Cilantro, for garnish


1. Combine pork with chipotles, adobo, honey, lime juice & zest, garlic, and salt in a large zip top bag. Marinate for at least 1 hour or up to overnight.

2. In a large skillet, melt 1 tbsp butter with 1 tbsp oil over medium heat. Add in onions. Sweat for 5 minutes until they start to soften, but not brown, about 5 minutes. Lower heat and cook until they become a dark brown, stirring occasionally. This could take about 20-30 minutes. If the pan gets too dry, add in a touch of water.

3. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Heat oil in another large skillet over medium-high heat. Add in the pork, and sear about 3-5 minutes per side. Transfer to a sheet pan and continue cooking in the oven for about 10-15 minutes or until internal temperature reaches about 140-145 degrees. Let rest for 10 minutes.

4. Meanwhile, make the bourbon black beans. In the same skillet the pork was cooked in, sauté the garlic and jalapeno for 1 minute. Add in the black beans and cumin and sauté for 2 minutes more. Take the skillet off of the heat and add in the bourbon (this is very important-if you leave it on the heat, it may flare up). Deglaze the pan by scraping up all of the brown bits from cooking the pork. Cook until most of the liquid has evaporated.

5. After pork has rested, slice thinly.

6. To serve, top taco with pork, beans, caramelized onion, chipotle slaw, and cilantro.

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– by Jessica Verderame, Staff Writer;

Photography by Jessica Verderame

This dish is very simple to make and takes advantage of the season’s best produce.

Heirloom cherry tomatoes are not only attractive due to their various colors, but they are very sweet and flavorful, making this dish delicious without needing to add too many ingredients.

This dish would be perfect to make for company, as it is attractive, tasty, and not too expensive. The in-season spinach and tomatoes are cheaper than out of season veggies, and tilapia is a fish that is on the cheaper side. To save some extra money, regular cherry tomatoes can be substituted for the heirloom variety, but I think that they are worth splurging a little on.

By adding pasta to the spinach and tomatoes, the dish becomes more filling and stretches the veggies without adding on too much money to your grocery bill.  To make this dish a little healthier, I used whole wheat pasta, but you could easily swap out regular pasta.

Tilapia with Heirloom Cherry Tomatoes and Spinach:

Serves 4

4 8-ounce tilapia fillets

Flour, for dredging


½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, or to taste, plus 1 pinch

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 cup heirloom or regular cherry tomatoes, halved

1 medium shallot, sliced

2 cloves of garlic, minced

½ cup low-sodium chicken broth

1 ½ tablespoons butter

1 bunch spinach

1 pound cooked pasta, such as whole wheat rotini


1.    Preheat oven to 200 degrees

2.    Sprinkle tilapia with salt and crushed red pepper flakes, then dredge in flour

3.    Heat olive oil in a large skillet, and sauté fish until opaque and flakey, about 3-5 minutes per side, in batches, if necessary. Once fish is done, keep warm in the oven.

4.    In the same pan, add more oil if necessary, and sauté garlic, shallot, pinch of red pepper flakes, and cherry tomatoes for about 5-8 minutes or until cherry tomatoes start to soften.  Season with salt.  Add chicken broth and simmer until it thickens.  Turn off the head, add the spinach to the pan, and cover until spinach wilts.

5.    Add pasta to the pan and toss until combined.  Remove the tilapia from the oven.  Serve tilapia over pasta, and spoon some of the sauce from the pan over the fish.

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