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M.I.S.S. Healthy Bites: Spike Your Juice

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M.I.S.S. Healthy Bites: Spike Your Juice


DIY Drinks in a Dash with Spike Your Juice!

DIY Drinks in a Dash with Spike Your Juice!

One of the pleasures of being a grown woman is having the freedom to enjoy an adult beverage at my leisure. I can celebrate with a toast, socialize over a cocktail, or just relax with a glass. As a teen, of course, the most I ever got to drink was a bottle stolen from a friend’s parents’ liquor cabinet. I no longer have to sneak a shot or spike the punch, because now, aside from proudly showing my ID to purchase a bottle, I can make my own alcohol at home. What I’m talking about is different than simply adding some Goose to your cran, or even mixing a martini. I’m actually turning juice into alcohol with the Spike Your Juice kit. If you have some juice and some patience, Spike Your Juice can turn that juice into a bubbly alcoholic beverage that you’ll be proud to say that you made yourself.

This idea of transforming juice into alcohol is not a new one, because it is a naturally occurring process that anyone can do it. But with Spike Your Juice, it takes the fermentation process and makes it almost effortless to create your own concoction. No need to measure anything, because it’s all there in the kit ready for you. My favorite part is that you use 100% juice, so not only are you enjoying a sparkling champagne-like drink, you’re also getting a dose of vitamins! Alcoholic beverages can be on the unhealthy side, especially if your favorite drink uses soda as an ingredient. For the folks that are vowing to be soda-free this summer, that includes alcohol! On top of that, there are no artificial flavors, chemicals, or colors, just simply yeast, organic evaporated cane juice, and an emulsifier.

When I had the chance of trying out Spike Your Juice, I hopped on it. I received the package in the mail and was almost shocked because the kit was just a small box. I was expecting some fancy equipment and unknown ingredients, but no, the DIY kit consisted of 6 packets, drink labels, instructions, an airlock, and a rubber stopper. I was so “juiced” to try this out!

Spike Your Juice in 3 Easy Steps

Spike Your Juice in 3 Easy Steps

The box claims to make a spiked juice in 3 easy steps, and it’s completely true!

Step 1: Pick your juice.
One packet will spike one 64 oz. bottle of juice, and you get 6 packets in the kit. That’s a whole lot of spirits, enough to make 3 gallons! The instructions suggest using grape, cranberry, or pomegranate, but really any juice will work as long as it’s 100%. Why would you buy any other juice anyways?! Because I wanted to make a seasonal blend, I chose to use an organic blueberry juice. Like cranberries, blueberries are high in antioxidants, so it was exciting for me to make a beverage that was good for my body and my spirits.

Step 2:   Spike your juice.
You can literally spike your juice in less than one minute. Just pour the packet into the juice. That’s it. You don’t even have to stir it. The kit even comes with labels with spaces for the type of juice and the spike date, as well as a notice that the juice contains alcohol. You wouldn’t want any little ones mistaking this for just juice. Slapping the label on the bottle was so empowering; I was making my own alcohol!

Step 3:   Seal with airlock.
The kit comes with an airlock that you fill with water and a rubber stopper to seal the bottle. This step was the most technical, but it’s still so easy. I’ve seen people use balloons for this stage in DIY fermentation, but this airlock and stopper are much more official. After this stage, then all of the magic happens. Each day, the natural sugar content in the juice decreases, and the alcohol content rises…up to 14% vol.

I left my bottle on the counter and checked on it every now and then. From the start, I could already see movement in the bottle. Each time I checked, there was more and more going on in there. It was exciting to see all that action because I knew that all that bubbling would make some tasty bubbly. The directions state to wait 48 hours to start sampling, and if you want a stronger and dryer taste with and increased alcohol content, then leave it a little longer. I started spiking on a Wednesday so I could have a nice Friday night, but once I found out about a friend’s potluck party on Saturday, I decided to leave it a little longer. How fresh is it that I was bringing freshly made alcohol?!

Cheers!

Cheers!

For my first taste, I was admittedly nervous to try it. Would it be too strong? Would it taste bad? Did I mess up? No, no, and no, because this spiked juice made me say YES all around! The juice itself had a lighter flavor that was infused with a champagne-like flavor and feel. Imagine a mimosa, only with blueberry juice. Yes, it’s fancy like that. The alcohol flavor was not overly strong and I think it married well with the juice.

I brought my first bottle to the potluck and proudly told folks that I made the blueberry alcohol myself. Wow, were they impressed! Only if they knew how simple it was… It was a nice refreshment on a warm summer’s day. We finished the bottle, and I probably had more glasses than anyone else (for testing’s sake). I didn’t have a buzz going on, but I didn’t need it because I was high off of making my own alcohol!

I have 5 more packets left and I’m not quite sure what my next flavor will be. I might make a blend of juices to make it even more customized, and I’ll definitely let the bottle ferment for at least one more day. I want a little buzz! I’m sure that all of my friends will hear the buzz about my spiked juices, so I’ll definitely have a few gifts already knocked off of my list.

Get your own Spike Your Juice kit for only $9.99 on the Spike Your Juice website.  This sure beats spending $10 a drink at the bar!

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Reminisce With M.I.S.S.: Queen Latifah

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Reminisce With M.I.S.S.: Queen Latifah


Queen Latifah, the hip hop legend, has been rapping since the late 80s.

Queen Latifah, the hip hop legend, has been rapping since the late 80s.

When I first embarked on my own blogging enterprises a little over a year ago (shameless plug: www.theladiesfirst.blogspot.com!), I brainstormed what I wanted my blog to represent. Fun, fresh, understated yet unmistakable femininity, and freedom of creative expression were definitely what dreamed of contributing to the online community. So when it came time to name my blog, I was at a loss for a few days. I thought about everything that had influenced me growing up–movies, music, pop culture in general. A lot of potential ideas were tossed around, but I finally settled on a name that came from the song “Ladies First”. The early 90s hit is all about a woman being the prototype when it comes to doing things right, with intelligence and grace. And I think there’s no better way to summarize the fem-cee behind the hit, Queen Latifah, whose power and musical positivity over the course of her 22-year career has changed the way women are received in the hip hop community, for the better.

The Queen started early on in her career by teaming up with the like-minded Native Tongues clique.

The Queen started early on in her career by teaming up with the like-minded Native Tongues clique, and was one of the original members of the Flavor Unit Posse.

Born Dana Owens in Newark, NJ in 1970, Queen Latifah grew up singing in the Baptist church, but as she got older, she found more of a home in the world of hip hop. In high school, the 5’10” Latifah began beatboxing for a crew of girls that called themselves Ladies Fresh. This was good practice, but no indication of the Queen’s full abilities. She began writing and perfecting her own rhymes. She must have been getting ready for what was to come, because when a demo recording of Latifah’s  “Princess of the Posse” landed in YO! MTV Raps host Fab Five Freddy’s hands, she was quickly inked to a contract with Tommy Boy Records.

Her albums: All Haill the Queen (1989), Nature of a Sista (1991), Black Reign (1993), Order in the Court (1998), The Dana Owens Album (2004)

Her albums: All Hail the Queen (1989), Nature of a Sista (1991), Black Reign (1993), Order in the Court (1998), The Dana Owens Album (2004), Travelin' Light (2007), Persona (2009).

In 1989, when she was only 19 years old, Latifah’s first album All Hail the Queen was released to huge critical acclaim. The album also put Queen Latifah on the rap game’s radar with the classic “Ladies First”. The single, a collaboration with her fellow Native Tongues posse member MC Monie Love, spoke to the ferocity and power of women in the game. The song boasted some of the most lyrically sophisticated and influential rhymes, announcing to the male-dominated industry that “A Woman Can Bear You/Break You/Take You”. The song helped the album peak at #6 on Billboard’s Top Albums. With production from the likes of KRS-One and Prince Paul, it was evident that Queen Latifah had definitely earned the respect she deserved as a female rapper. And instead of resting on her rap laurels, the Queen formed Flavor Unit Entertainment, a management/production company that put on some of your favorite pioneers in the game, including Naughty by Nature. Keeping with the whole busy trend, she released her second album on Tommy Boy records, Nature of a Sista in 91.

Tragedy struck Latifah, but she only rebounded harder-- U.N.I.T.Y anyone?!

As part of the Native Tongues and during the 90s, Latifah's look was a mix of Afrocentric and more contemporary pieces.

However, it was not the chart topping success that her last album was, and when her contract expired, she was dropped by Tommy Boy. This seeming failure marked the beginning of a rough time for Latifah– she was victim of a carjacking, and her brother Lance lost his life in a tragic motorcycle accident. Years later, The Queen opened up about dealing with the tragedy: “I don’t know if I ever recovered completely. I know I don’t hurt as bad as I used to hurt. You can’t replace a person, especially someone with a big presence like my brother. We were best friends, there were no secrets between us.” (http://www.femalefirst.co.uk/music/musicnews/Queen+Latifah-58085.html). She has also gone on record to say that her music helped her through that rough time, and after re-signing with Motown Records and working on new material, she released Black Reign in ’93. The album was a smash, mostly because of the signature song U.N.I.T.Y. A firm slap in the face to disrespectful and abusive dudes, the song is an anthem for women everywhere and a SERIOUS life-long inspiration of mine. Lyrics like “You put your hands on me again I’ll put your ass in handcuffs” reminded women everywhere to stand up for themselves, and guys everywhere that the Queen was still in the house!

The Queen has become a big box-office draw, even scoring an Oscar nod for her role in the mega-star musical Chicago.

The Queen has become a big box-office draw, even scoring an Oscar nod for her role in the mega-star musical Chicago.

While her rap rebound was on the come up, Latifah began the second phase of her career, which would soon make her a household name–acting. Starting with smaller guest starring and supporting roles in films like Jungle Fever, House Party 2 and Juice, the Queen made memorable early on-screen impressions. Who could forget her guest-starring turn as Hillary’s bitchy celebrity boss on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air?! CLASSIC. The small roles paid off, because Latifah soon landed her own sitcom, Living Single, the hilarious thorn in my productive side. Seriously, yo, it seems like ANYTIME I try to get something really important done, a Living Single marathon/DVD box set pops up and derails my plans with hours of laughs. *Sigh* It’s becoming a real problem! But I digress… on the show, which centered on the lives of six friends living in Brooklyn, Latifah played Khadijah James, a hard-working editor/publish of the fictional urban independent magazine Flavor. Portraying a strong, intelligent woman was something Latifah had no problem doing, and she received the NAACP Image Award for her work on the show in 1998. After the end of Living Single, the Queen got her mini-Oprah on and hosted her own talk show–The Queen Latifah Show, and continued to act. Her breakout role, in terms of boosting her star power and making her a certified Hollywood celeb, was her work as Matron “Mama” Morton in the 2002 Oscar-sweeping musical Chicago. Latifah managed to steal the spotlight even amongst a cast of heavyweights like Richard Gere, Renee Zellweger and Catherina Zeta Jones, and was nominated herself for a Best Supporting Actress Oscar that year. Even though she didn’t win, the nomination marked a serious turning point in her career. These days, The Queen is a bone fide star, she commands anywhere from $10 to $15 million per flick, and has carried hits such as The Perfect Holiday and the upcoming Just Wright.

Now a Cover Girl spokeswoman, sometimes-face of Weight Watchers, and that mysterious Voice-Over in the Pizza Hut campaign on TV– the Queen is a certifiable part of American culture. Sure, she’s in a bit more (OK, a LOT more) of a commercial place now than she was when she started, but at least she’s done it her way. When hip hop, or the world at large, gets too out of check, Dana Owens–The Queen– is right there, quietly but powerfully reminding us that the Ladies really are First!

Especially Queenly Facts

*Queen Latifah played power forward on her basketball team all through high school– and won two championships! You go girl!
*She played two VERY different guest starring characters on The Fresh Prince: One, Marissa Redmond (Hillary’s stuck-up boss) and the other, DeDe (Will’s tomboy crush)
*”Latifah” is Arabic for sensitive and delicate– a cousin gave her the nickname when she was 10.
*One upon a time, even this Queen flipped burgers at Burger King.

VIDEOS!!

Queen Latifah feat. Monie Love– “Ladies First”

Queen Latifah– U.N.I.T.Y.

Queen Latifah as Matron “Mama” Morton in Chicago

Queen Latifah– THE LETTER O!!

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M.I.S.S. Healthy Bites: Drink O.N.E. and You’ll Want Another

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M.I.S.S. Healthy Bites: Drink O.N.E. and You’ll Want Another


O.N.E. Water and Natural Juices

O.N.E. Water and Natural Juices

Spring 2010 collections weren’t the only debuts at New York Fashion Week, because a new line of water has also been introduced.  O.N.E. Water, the newest launch from juice company, One Natural Experience, is a water unlike any other.  We all know that water is one of the key ingredients for a healthy body, but how can a company make something so essential better than it already is?

First of all, its packaging design alone qualifies it to be a sponsor of Mercedes Benz Fashion Week.  Modern, groundbreaking fashion designs grace the runway, and now with the O.N.E Water packaging, innovative designs can go in our lunchbox.  The packaging isn’t the boring plastic bottle that we’re used to, instead, it’s a unique geometric “prisma” carton to set it apart from any other water.  The carton is made by Tetra Pak, and is a paper material made from leftover wood chips, a completely renewable resource.  Plus, the lightweight carton reduces carbon footprint because  it’s compact and shipping efficient.  Since it’s not made of plastic, you won’t have that disgusting plastic taste which soaks into your water after awhile, which actually isn’t only a nasty taste but also a nasty chemical.  Many plastic bottles contain BPA, or Bisphenol A, a chemical that has been linked to developmental problems and even cancer.  With O.N.E. Water, there’s no BPA, only all-natural packaging to keep your water fresh and cool.

If a water product that helps the planet and your health isn’t enough, this water can also help communities because 100% of the profits are donated to non-profits. To prevent dehydration, you should drink at least 8 full glasses a day, however, 1 in 6 people do not even have access to clean, safe drinking water.  Why should a company profit off of something that should be a fundamental human right?  O.N.E. recognizes that water is the gift of life, which is why the profits from sales go back into 10 different charities each year.  Choosing the charities each year is a democratic process, so vote now!  On top of that, the water itself is sourced sustainably from Canada, with no chemicals of any kind, just pure, natural spring water.  O.N.E. water not only looks good on the outside and tastes good on the inside, but it also helps you look good and feel good inside and out.

Since O.N.E. is first a juice company, you can expect high quality, natural juices in their inventory.  The dedication to sustainability isn’t only in the water, because O.N.E. also uses the same philosophy for their juices.  Their line of juices, Coconut Water, Amazon Açai, Cashew Fruit, and Coffee Fruit, all use parts of the plants that were otherwise considered waste.  By doing this, O.N.E. diverts trash and uses resources that can be given a new life, and give you a healthier life too!

Coconut Water, from young green coconut, is as fresh as you can get if you don’t live in the tropics.  It’s processed and packaged in the same day that the coconut is picked, and contains 100% coconut water with no preservatives, thanks to the Tetra Pak technology.  Coconut Water is the perfect sports beverage for an active body, as it contains more potassium than a banana and has the same level of electrolytes as human blood, making it a great alternative to Gatorade.  Coconut Water can also be beneficial after a workout, as potassium is an essential electrolyte that can help with sore muscles.  No worries if you’re prone to skipping the gym because Coconut Water is good for anyone.  Try it mixed with alcohol, or even, use it as a cure for a hangover!  For a healthier morning smoothie, blend it in with your favorite fruits.  It has just a hint of coconut flavor, which will make every sip have a taste of the tropics.

Açai, found in the Amazon Açai juice, comes from the hearts of palm in the Amazon.  Many juice bars offer açai in their menu, but now, you don’t have to make a trip to get a taste.  Known for being a superfood, açai has more antioxidant properties than pomegranates and blueberries, making it a great food to consume to prevent cancer and other diseases.  Because açai is a deep blue-purple, it can also help memory function and combat premature aging.

Cashews and coffee might be part of our diets already, and now, we can include the fruit too!  For a boost in the morning, skip the trip to the coffee shop and grab some Coffee Fruit juice instead.  Where coffee beans lose most of the nutrients during processing and roasting, the coffee fruit, the outer layer that shells the beans, still contains it all.  With as much caffeine as a cup of green tea, it will keep you perky without having to stand in long lines.  If you’re under the weather, some O.J. will help, but Cashew Fruit juice will help even more!  Cashew fruit contains five times more Vitamin C than an orange, making it give a nutritious boost to the immune system.  Plus, it’s packed with beta-carotene, an antioxidant that promotes healthy skin.  Allergic to cashews?  Don’t worry, because Cashew Fruit juice is non-allergenic.  Although the Cashew Fruit juice smells rather nutty, both juices have a sweet, tropical flavor that can’t be matched.  Skip the regular juice boxes, which usually contain artificial colors and high fructose corn syrup, and go for all natural juices that give your body essential nutrients in one natural experience that you’ll never forget.

To experience the natural flavors of O.N.E., visit a Whole Foods near you or try the store locator.  You can also shop online at Amazon to get discounts and free shipping, or sign up for a monthly subscription!  Wow, a juice subscription?!?!  Sounds like a good, healthy gift to me!

(On another note, it’s officially the end of summer.  Did you complete the Soda Free Summer challenge?  I encourage you to continue living soda-free, and now, you can add O.N.E. Water and juices to your list of goodies to keep you away from soda!)

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M.I.S.S. Healthy Bites- Have a Soda Free Summer!

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M.I.S.S. Healthy Bites- Have a Soda Free Summer!


Soda-Free Summer

Take our M.I.S.S. Healthy Bites Challenge and have a Soda-Free Summer!

Greetings M.I.S.S. Readers,

This week, I pose a challenge to you, a challenge that requires dedication, determination, and endurance. Upon accepting this challenge, you’ll be bombarded with constant messages, trying to trick you into failure. If you shall complete this challenge, you’ll have the ability to overcome more obstacles as they come your way.

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to have a soda free summer.

No soda!?!? In the summer!?!? Yes, this is the toughest time to abstain from it, but remember, this is a challenge. And if you can make it through all summer without a sip, you can probably go all year! Already living soda free? Then take it to the next level and encourage your loved ones to do the same. After all, soda is no longer just a beverage used to quench thirst; it’s a lifestyle.

Soda has flooded the mainstream, making it difficult to go anywhere without having an option to get a drink. So much money is pumped into advertising for soda, watching the latest movie or enjoying your favorite sports outing almost always has the famous logos. When it comes to soda ads, the perfect marketing formula has been to use pop culture to sell pop. From Michael Jackson’s Pepsi commercial, which almost left him burned and bald, to Sprite commercials laced with lyrics from some of hip hop’s most recognized, the combination of music, pop culture, and sugary soda seemed to all come together like Voltron (yes, Voltron was also used for marketing purposes!). One of the latest celebs to campaign for soda is Dr. Dre for….Dr. Pepper. Apparently, since his name dons the doctor title, you can trust him to prescribe a soda. While you might listen to his music, don’t listen to his advice, because slowing down to sip a soda could also slow you down.

Check out these facts from the Soda Free Summer website:
• Drinking just one 20-once bottle of soda each day for a year can result in gaining 25 extra pounds.
• Soda is the #1 source of sugar in the American diet.
• Over 30 percent of all calories from added sugars consumed daily are from sweetened beverages.
• Americans spend $56 billion annually on purchasing sugary soft drinks.
• U.S. teens consume twice as much soda as milk.

Don’t cheat and chug on the diet kinds, because those count too! If you’re trying to substitute, go for healthier alternatives, like juice (not drink!) or good old-fashioned ice-cold water. For those that drink heavier beverages, alcoholic drinks that contain soda can be switched for drinks that contain juice. Get your healthy on while at the bar!

If you’re down for the pledge, let us know and leave a comment. Have a soda free summer and good luck!

P.S.  Stay tuned for more ideas on how keep hydrated this summer…and tickle your taste buds!

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M.I.S.S. Healthy Bites: Juice, Not Drink!

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M.I.S.S. Healthy Bites: Juice, Not Drink!


You can get with this or you can get with that...

You can get with this, or you can get with that...

If the hot summer sun is beating you down, don’t reach for the purple stuff.  A nice tall glass of ice cold water will always be the best choice for refreshment, but if you want something on the sweet side, chug juice- not drink.  Confused?  Yes, juice is a drink, but is drink a juice?  Check the nutrition label on the side to make sure you’re hydrating yourself with 100% juice, and nothing less.

When I was a young girl, some of my favorite juices came in boxes, pouches, squeeze bottles, gallon jugs, or even the mix-with-water kind.  You know what I’m talkin’ about.  The drinks were so bright that they turned your tongue the same color and the sweetness tasted like your favorite candy- in liquid from.  The packaging even adorned the juicy fruits that the beverages were flavored from, or cartoon characters that hopped out at you as you cruised the grocery store aisles.

But as refreshing as the drinks were, they definitely were not nourishing.  Even comedian Dave Chappelle knows the deal with “juice” drinks when he said in his act, “Ain’t no vitamins in that sh*t!” That was true; juice drinks usually contained sugar (or high fructose corn syrup), water, color, and artificial flavors, or as Mr. Chappelle said, “Sugar, water, and of course, purple.” As more became aware of how those drinks had no nutritional benefits, companies got smart and started adding vitamins, minerals, and actual juice to their formulas to have better appeal with consumers. Now, juice drinks boast “natural” flavors and even claim to have the daily recommended value of vitamins.

Don’t let those marketing gimmicks fool you. Although a drink may contain vitamins, it doesn’t mean it’s good for your body. The sugars are enough to offset the benefits of the added vitamins. And if your drink comes in an unnatural color, like electric blue, you know already it has colors in it that are in no way real juice. The only ways you’ll be able to tell if your juice is actual juice is by looking at the label, like mentioned earlier, or by making your own. If infomercials persuaded you into getting that fancy juice machine, then hopefully you’ve been squeezing some healthy juices into your day. There are so many different concoctions that can be made with an electric juicer, you can’t get tired of the yummy nutritional drinks that can be mixed up. There’s nothing like a glass of fresh squeezed orange juice, or even better, orange-carrot-banana-mango juice!

Some of us aren’t so lucky to have an electric juicer, so buying 100% juice is the next best thing. When you drink 100% juice, you get all of the vitamins that the fruit contains in a refreshing beverage sweetened by natural sugars. Orange juice and apple juice contain loads of vitamin C, while cranberry juice (not cranberry juice cocktail) will provide great antioxidants for your body. Juices are even getting exotic because some tropical fruits, like açaí and mangosteen, are infiltrating the market, blessing us with health benefits that we’re not used to. Give those drinks a taste!

So the next time you need to quench your thirst, make sure it’s juice, not drink!

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