Basicwomen's Blog

– by Jessica Verderame, Staff Writer

Risotto with Goat Cheese and spring VegitablesThese days, everyone is trying to shift their habits to become healthier and more budget-conscious.  For too many people, eating cheap means buying frozen meals, fast food, and processed junk that due to all of the preservatives, could last a lifetime.

Think about it: would you want your food to have a longer shelf life than you do?  What does that say about what you are putting into your body?  It is a lot simpler than people think to start eating healthier, and that doesn’t mean you have to spend most of your paycheck at expensive natural grocery stores.

The best way to save money and still eat healthy, delicious meals is to buy your fruits and vegetables while they are in season.  Produce that is in season not only tastes better, but is actually cheaper than vegetables that are out of season.  Spring is the perfect time of year for asparagus and zucchini, which is where the inspiration for this dish came from.

Risotto has a reputation for being difficult, but that is simply because it takes somewhat of a long time. But unless you think stirring a pot of rice is difficult, it is actually a very easy dish to make, and a good one to have in your repertoire; you can swap out the vegetables used for whatever you prefer or is in season.

By combining the classic technique for risotto with in-season vegetables and an added tangy twist of goat cheese, you can turn a boring risotto into a lighter, healthier dish. For a light dinner, this can be served alongside a salad. For something more substantial, serve with a light, flaky fish or chicken.

Risotto with Goat Cheese and Spring Vegetables

Serves 4-6


1 medium yellow onion, diced

Zest and juice of one lemon

2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil

1 ½ cups Arborio rice

2/3 cup white wine

5 cups of chicken stock, homemade or low sodium canned, simmering

2 medium zucchini, sliced into half moons

1 bunch asparagus, trimmed of tough ends and cut into 1-inch pieces

1/3 of a cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

4 oz goat cheese, room temperature

2 tablespoons chives, for garnish


1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2.  Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the onions and sauté until translucent, but not browned, 3-5 minutes. Add rice and lemon zest and stir to coat with the oil, about a minute.

3.  Add the white wine and stir constantly until absorbed. Add the chicken stock, about a cup at a time, stirring constantly until all liquid is absorbed before adding more. This should take about 30 minutes, until the rice is al dente.

4.  Meanwhile, toss the vegetables with salt, pepper, and a little bit of olive oil and roast for about 10 minutes, until tender but still slightly firm.

5.  Towards the end of cooking, add the Parmesan and vegetables and stir to combine. Then, turn off the heat and add lemon juice and goat cheese. Stir until goat cheese is melted throughout. Serve in bowls and sprinkle with chives.

6.  Enjoy the meal!

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– by Jessica Verderame, Staff Writer

Snack Dragon is a little hole in the wall on 3rdStreet.  One may think that it is little beyond that, but they would be greatlySnack Dragon mistaken. However, this little hole in the wall happens to make some of the best tacos in New York.

A mix between California authentic and a concern for good ingredients, Snack Dragon is a place where the employees would love to get to know you, and would be happy to let you in on their secret menu, which is mostly created from customer requests.

Though there aren’t more than 8 seats in the entire place, the ambiance of this place is charming. The walls and shelves are stocked to the brim with quirky knick-knacks, including a Furby (and who doesn’t love a Furby?), and other assorted toys you haven’t seen in years. Though their décor is definitely eye-catching, it is the food that keeps people coming back.

Their carne asada and grilled sole tacos are their best. The carne asada is grilled steak, a homemade salsa, cheese, black beans, a squirt of sour cream and cilantro; To make it even better, ask them to add their delicious chipotle coleslaw. Their grilled sole taco is served with chipotle coleslaw, radishes (a way underrated condiment), black beans, cilantro, and cheese.  What sets Snack Dragon’s fish tacos apart from the rest is the fact that these fish tacos are grilled instead of fried, so they are fresh tasting instead of being heavy and greasy.

Their “Freshly Slayed Dragon” tacos are also very good. This one combines slow-cooked pork, beans, cheese, sour cream, cilantro and salsa.

Vegetarians have options here too, including a quinoa pilaf taco and their “Quack-and-Cheese,” which is mac-and-cheese style quinoa.

Though for the most part you cannot go wrong here, one thing I would advise to steer clear from is their chorizo taco. Of course you would order it expecting chorizo, but they actually use sweet Italian sausage instead of the authentic Mexican or Spanish chorizo.

Snack Dragon opens later in the day, but is open late at night, and has a reputation of being one of the best places for your late-night cravings while bar hopping in the East Village.  Go earlier, around 6 or 7, if you want to be able to grab a seat. This place gets very crowded, especially in the summer, but it is so worth it.

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{November 16, 2010}   Shopping Tips

Shopping is a woman’s best friend. Some women are spendthrifts and love spending on shopping; some others shop when they’reShopping tips happy and some others when they’re depressed. Surprisingly, many women consider shopping the perfect stress buster. The reasons may be plenty, but shopping is an integral part of a woman’s life.

Window shopping is also a fun activity which many women indulge in. It’s not just the women, but men too have joined the party. Window shopping is a great way to kill time and have fun especially when you’re in a group.

We shop for various items. But women largely expend on apparel and shoes. There are women who boast of large collections of shoes, which sometimes touch 100 pairs. Then again, there are clothes. Jeans, capris, T’s, jackets, blouses, and scarves- women are crazy about them.

Brands are an important factor which women bear in mind while shopping. Some women are very particular about the brand they patronize and regularly purchase only that brand, and others experiment and keep switching brands. Generally, women are not known to be brand freaks and buy good quality stuff irrespective of the brand. But when it comes to shoes and some other accessories like sunglasses or bags, some women are very choosy and stick to only some brands, some of which are designers.

Since women shop quite regularly, it becomes important to keep a few tips in mind to shop better and spend effectively and on the right product.

1. Arrive early and get a good parking spot. If parking is a problem, take a cab or the bus/train.
2. Do not carry too many items with you already. Your shopping baggage is in itself a lot to carry.
3. Make sure to carry sufficient cash with you but do not overspend.
4. Before you leave, eat well because shopping can be quite tiresome. You can also pick up something on the way.
5. Wear a button dress so that it’ll be convenient for you to change.
6. Make a list of items that you need especially if you’re going grocery shopping.
7. Most stores start their weekend sales on Thursday or Friday morning. If you wish to avoid the maddening weekend rush, you could go on these days instead.
8. Don’t stick to just one store. Always try out a few options before zeroing in on one.
9. If you’re purchasing clothes, make sure they fit you well and are not too loose or tight. While buying denims, pay particular attention to the fitting.
10. Before purchasing, check the condition of the clothes.
11. If you’re buying shoes, buy them in the late afternoon. Walk around in your shoes and only if you feel comfortable buy them.
12. If you’re buying cosmetics, ensure that they have no side effects. If it’s a lipstick that you’re purchasing, pick a color you like and try it out first.
13. While purchasing a bag, choose a color which is neutral and looks good with all kinds of clothes. Buy a fancy one if you need to use it for outings, ditto with jewelry.

Always remember, whatever we buy, we spend our hard-earned money, so spend it wisely.

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Things you must know-By Nidarshana Sharma

Blood pressure is the pressure exerted by circulating blood upon the walls of blood vessels and is one of the principal vital signs.

For each heartbeat, there is a maximum (systolic) and minimum (diastolic) pressure. Each time the heart beats (about 60-70 times a minute at rest), it pumps out blood into the arteries. Your blood pressure is said to be at its highest when the heart beats, pumping the blood. This is the systolic pressure. When the heart is at rest, between beats, your blood pressure falls. This is the diastolic pressure. Gravity, valves in veins, and pumping from contraction of skeletal muscles, are some other influences on BP at various places in the body.

The term blood pressure usually is that which is measured at a person’s upper arm, on the inside of an elbow at the brachial artery, which is the upper arm’s major blood vessel that carries blood away from the heart. A person’s BP is usually expressed in terms of the systolic pressure over diastolic pressure (mmHg), for example 120/80.
Your blood pressure levels change with the kind of activity you are engaged in. BP is at its lowest when you are asleep and it increases as you get up. It can become high when you are excited, nervous or angry.

However, for most parts of the day, your BP is usually constant. A normal level is about 120/80, with a few variations. The danger is when your BP rises to say, a level of 140/90. That just indicates a high blood pressure. High blood pressure is a major reason for worry, because your heart is overworked and strained the same amount of blood and this translates to greater chances of heart and kidney diseases. High blood is often called the silent killer, because it doesn’t often manifest itself through symptoms and provides no warning signs either. When your heart is strained, it will enlarge and an enlarged heart functions with worrisome.

It is estimated that over 60 million Americans have high blood pressure.  Of this 60 million, about 35 percent of them are not aware of their it.

Having known some key facts about blood pressure, it is also important to know how to keep it in check. The most important and the most effective way is by exercise and diet control. A tab on salt intake, alcohol consumption and quitting smoking are the best ways to combat blood pressure. Individuals who are very active have a lower risk of getting high blood pressure (20 to 50 percent) than people who are not active.

Sometimes blood pressure is also controlled by medication, especially in cases where it is slightly on the higher side. However, one can control their blood pressure levels very effectively with proper food and exercise.

{November 16, 2010}   The Goodness of Aloe Vera

by – Nidarshana Sharma

Aloe Extract

For over thousands of years,aloe vera has been known as an extremely beneficial plant.It has well acknowledged positive effects on our body as a whole.It can be used in various forms,being extremely versatile.

Aloe vera also known as the true or medicinalaloe ,is a species of succulent or water-retaining plant that according to popular belief,first grew in the Southern half of the Arabian Peninsula,Northern Africa,the Canary Islands and Cape Verde.Aloe vera grows in arid climates and is widely distributed in  Africa,India and other arid areas.It belongs to the lily family and closely resembles the cactus.It contains almost 95% of water and it is rich in more than 70 essential medicinal ingredients including mineral,enzymes,proteins,amino acids,vitamins,vitamin b12,and polysaccharides.

The outer surface of the aloe vera leaf is smooth and rubbery and underneath ,is present,aloe vera gel.The usefulness of this gel can be attributed to its blend of powerful nutrients.There are ,in all,fifteen of them.The gel is a mixture of antibiotic,coagulating agent,cell gr

owth stimulator,astringent,pain inhibitor and scar inhibitor.

There is also some preliminary evidence that Aloevera extracts may be useful in the treatement of wound and burn healing,minor skin infections,sebaceous cyst,diabetes and elevated blood lipids in human beings.

Aloe vera has not just medicinal benefits,but many general ones too.For starters, it helps you boost your immune system and acts as a natural antioxidant.In times of anti-ageing creams and artificial immunizers,aloe vera is the need of the hour which will keep all your problems with regard to aging and diseases at bay.

In addition,aloe vera can be used for internal problems ranging from arthritis,insomnia,ulcers,infection to hemorrhoids,indigestion,constipation,heartburn and this isn’t an exhaustive list.When used externally,it cures-sprains,burns,bruises,sunburn,cold,sores,scalds,sore muscles,psoriasis,abrasion,eczema,scrapes,acne,stings and much more.

Interestingly,it is also an effective moisturizer and loosens up the skin when it becomes a little too tight to be good, immediately after a shower.This strait of the aloe vera gel helps you look much younger than you actually are,naturally.Aloe vera gel are now widely used in all the skin care products and cosmetic products  as ingredients and also in lift masks,medicated jelly,facial cleansing wash,medicated cream,moisturizers,heat rub and the list is endless.
Not just this,aloe vera juice is said to be one of the finest body cleansers,cleaning morbid matter from the stomach,liver,kidneys,spleen,bladder and is considered the most effective,known colon cleanser.Studies have shown that it is healing and soothing in the relief of indigestion,stomach distress and ulcers.

Some aloe vera tonics have also helped cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy or radiation by improving low blood count caused by it,increasing energy and reducing nausea.

Aloe vera has something in it for everybody and for every problem.Besides,it’s a natural.It is indeed,a boon to mankind.

et cetera
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