5 Genius Ways to Use Almonds

In a previous post I listed almonds as one of six foods I eat every day. I adore them, and aside from being delicious and filling, research on the health and weight-loss benefits of these gems just keeps piling up. A new Penn State study concluded that swapping a carb-y snack for an ounce and a half of almonds (about 33 whole nuts) helped lower “bad” LDL cholesterol, as well as reduce both belly and leg fat (impressive!).

While it’s super easy to eat them “as is” (think: adding them to yogurt or sprinkling them on a salad), there are plenty of other ways to incorporate almonds into meals and snacks. Here are five of my favorite simple, healthy combinations.

In smoothies
If you have a powerful blender you can use whole almonds, but almond butter easily whips into any smoothie. In addition to adding nutrients, including vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and bonus protein, the good-for-you fat in almonds boosts the absorption of antioxidants from the produce in your drink. I have dozens of favorite blends, but one of my go-tos lately is a cherry-chocolate-almond combo made with: a cup of frozen cherries, handful of fresh spinach, half a cup each of almond milk and water, tablespoon of almond butter, scoop of pea protein powder, tablespoon of organic non-alkalized cocoa, half teaspoon of vanilla extract, and dash of cinnamon. Heavenly.

RELATED: How to Build the Perfect Smoothie

As a crust for lean protein
Rather than breading proteins before cooking, you can use almonds as a crust. For a super simple version, just toss crushed almonds or almond flour (sometimes called almond meal) with herbs of your choice, brush your protein with Dijon mustard or dip into a lightly beaten egg, press with the almond mixture, and bake (400° F for 8-10 minutes is about right for white fish). Serve over a bed of steamed greens with a small portion of whole food starch, like roasted fingerling potatoes. Delish!

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As a crumble topping
After warming either fresh of frozen fruit on the stove top, I cover it with a crumble made from two tablespoons of almond butter mixed with a quarter cup of raw or toasted rolled oats, seasoned with either pumpkin or apple pie spice. (It’s a little messy, but the easiest way to make it uniform is to get right in there with your fingers rather than trying to use utensils.) It’s ridiculously good on any of your favorite fruits, such as a freshly sliced apple or pear sautéed in a little water and lemon juice, warmed frozen berries or cherries, or a slightly mashed mini banana.

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In a sauce
I had a blast creating more than 100 new recipes for my upcoming book Slim Down Now ($20, amazon.com), and one of my favorites includes a sauce I make from almond butter, thinned with organic low-sodium vegetable broth, and seasoned with fresh grated ginger, garlic, turmeric, and crushed red pepper. It’s awesome paired with a generous portion of steamed or sautéed veggies, a lean protein (like shrimp or black-eyed peas), and a small portion of a healthy starch such as gluten-free buckwheat soba noodles or brown rice. Seems decadent, but this healthy dish will leave you simultaneously feeling light, energized, and satisfied.

RELATED: 18 Ways to Cook With Peanut Butter

Added to savory dishes
I add chopped, sliced, or slivered almonds to hot dishes including stir frys, grains like wild rice and quinoa, cooked veggies (who doesn’t love green bean almondine), and even soups like squash, lentil, or tomato. Finely chopped almonds also add flavor and texture to chilled vegetable, grain, bean, or fruit dishes, like vinegar-based slaw, and cold ginger broccoli, three bean, or seasonal fruit salads. Like a great pair of jeans, almonds go with just about everything!

3 Running Mistakes That Can Pack on the Pounds

I recently started training for a marathon this spring. It’ll be my third go at the 26.2-mile distance, so I have all sorts of goals for it. One of my goals, you might be surprised to hear, is not to gain weight during training. Huh? Gain weight? Yep. Let me explain.

While running burns all sorts of calories, some people (myself included) will actually see the number on the scale stay the same—or even increase. Despite their best efforts, some runners struggle to lose weight. If you’ve taken up running or you’re working to run farther or faster, keep these three mistakes in mind so you don’t pack on the pounds.

Eating more calories than you burn
One common reason why some runners don’t lose weight is because they overestimate the amount of calories they can consume during training. And it’s easy to do, especially if you’re training for a long-distance race like a half or full marathon. Running burns about 100 calories per mile, and with all the running you do, you probably think it’s okay to indulge in your favorite foods when the “post-run munchies” hit, but, as we know, eating calories above and beyond what we burn will lead to weight gain. Of course, it’s normal to feel hungry when training, but stocking your kitchen with healthier foods and thinking twice about what you put into your body will ultimately help you keep off the pounds.

RELATED: 11 Ways to Stop Overeating After Your Workouts

Doing the same workout day after day
Getting into a running habit is good for your health, but if you do the same running workout (e.g. the 3-mile loop around your neighborhood that you love so much), day after day, your body might get a little too used to it. Your muscles continuously adapt to the demands that you place upon them, so if you’re running the same route over and over again, you might not see the scale move, or worse: you might see it move in the wrong direction. Instead of doing the same steady-state run, mix up your workouts with sprint intervals, hills, and vary the surfaces you run on (pavement, dirt, grass, sand) to keep your muscles guessing and growing stronger.

RELATED: 15 Running Tips You Need to Know

Focusing too much on the scale
If the scale isn’t budging, try not to focus on the number too much. Running works the strongest muscles in the legs and since the quadriceps and hamstrings are integral to running, you’re toning your lower body while burning fat. At the same time, you’re building muscle in your legs, which weighs more than fat tissue, so what the scale says isn’t a great reflection of overall fat loss. On the flip side, muscle is more dense and takes up less space, so your clothing probably fits better. Your weight might not have decreased, but your other body measurements have likely changed, such as your waist circumference. In the end, you really just want your “quads of steel” to help you cross the finish line, right?

More Power To Brooke!

Brooke Burke-Charvet slides into a seat at an oceanfront café in Malibu and apologizes for being several minutes late. Long spa appointment? Leisurely breakfast in bed? Hardly. "I'm coming from teaching my fitness class, Booty Burn," she says, as she fans her slightly flushed face. "It's fun, but my whole concept is that we work to fatigue."

Clearly, this woman knows how to push herself. Never mind that the mother of four (she has two daughters from her first marriage and a son and daughter with her actor husband David Charvet) is a multihyphenate: author-model-entrepreneur-tireless Tweeter (up to eight times a day). This month, Brooke, 42, unveils a new line of chic activewear she developed for women of all shapes and sizes. Oh, and she just got her official certification as a group fitness instructor.

Check out this video of our cover shoot with Brooke Burke-Charvet!  

It's enough to make your head spin—and glutes seize up—until this gorgeous working mom sighs and confides: "Look, I did not feel like working out today. But when you're the teacher, you have to show up!" Over a plate of quinoa and grilled salmon, Brooke candidly tells all, from facing thyroid cancer at 41 to finding time to act like a teenager with her husband.

So what inspired you to design your fitness-wear line, Caelum? 

I think that women need to feel good when they're working out. A lot of performance fabrics are so contouring that they cut you in the wrong places. Caelum—it means chisel in Latin—flatters different body types. For instance, we did a three-way waistline on our pants so you can wear them high, low or folded over.

How did you start teaching Booty Burn? 

I wanted to experiment with real women and see how far I could push them, what works, how their bodies were going to change, what was hard enough, what was too hard. I started out two years ago with a couple of friends who brought a couple of friends, and it became this really great group of women.

What do you get out of leading a fitness class? 

I get twice the workout when I'm teaching. And I love seeing the women support each other and transform. I do it every Sunday faithfully and a couple of days a week if I'm not working.

Booty Burn aside, how often do you work out? What's your M.O.? 

Three to five times a week for an hour. I mix it up, but I always work past the burn. I believe if you're not sweating, you're not working out hard enough. My ab workouts are 20 minutes and sometimes I don't need more than that. I like to try new yoga or barre classes, and I do Pilates Plus faithfully, too.

Do you try crazy fad diets? 

I did a lot of them. I used to weigh my food. I used to measure my food. I used to work way too hard at dieting and spend way too much time at the gym.

And now? 

I believe in portion control. I eat a Mediterranean diet. I have meat, fish. Lots of vegetables. We never skip breakfast. I don't buy a lot of packaged foods.

Renee Zellweger: ‘I’m Glad I Look Different’

Unless you live under a boulder, you’ve no doubt seen the mean-spirited Internet posts about Renee Zellweger’s face. The backstory: On Monday, after the Oscar-winning actress attended the Elle Women in Hollywood Awards—an event that is supposed to honor the work of talented women—all anyone could talk about was the 45-year-old star’s appearance. Her crime? Wait for it: Not looking the same as she did MORE THAN 10 YEARS AGO, back when she was in Chicago and Jerry Maguire.
Now really, who looks the same a decade later? I sure don’t. (Every time my iPhone camera accidentally reverses to selfie mode, I jump back, frightened.)

Some news outlets even hauled out plastic surgeons who do not know the actress to speculate on what she has or hasn’t had done. Ever heard someone ask why Brad Pitt doesn’t look like he did in Thelma & Louise? Of course not, because he was like 25 then and it’s a bonkers question.

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Can you imagine if regular women were exposed to this kind of scrutiny? You’d come in to work one day feeling bright-eyed and then read in your company’s e-blast: “Has Lisa had work done? She seems to be doubling up on concealer. And she is clearly dying her hair because you can see a few gray roots. She looks nothing like her ID photo from 8 years ago!”

Renee, to her total credit, is rising above the silliness. She told People in a statement: “I’m glad folks think I look different! I’m living a different, happy, more fulfilling life, and I’m thrilled that perhaps it shows.” Zellweger went on to admit that she wasn’t always living a balanced lifestyle: “I am healthy. For a long time I wasn’t doing such a good job with that. I took on a schedule that is not realistically sustainable and didn’t allow for taking care of myself,” she said. “Rather than stopping to recalibrate, I kept running until I was depleted and made bad choices about how to conceal the exhaustion. I was aware of the chaos and finally chose different things.”

Among her smart choices, according to the star? Her boyfriend, Doyle Bramhall. “I did work that allows for being still, making a home, loving someone, learning new things, growing as a creative person and finally growing into myself,” she said.

4 Face Sheet Masks For Gorgeous Skin

What’s all the fuss about the new sheet masks? Besides being virtually mess-free, dummyproof, and travel-friendly, these single-use masks take skin transformation to a whole new level. “The fabric sheets are soaked in serum—a light liquid made of very small molecules—so ingredients penetrate faster and more deeply than a standard cream or gel mask,” says New York City dermatologist Joshua Zeichner, MD.

There’s one for every skin concern. Here, four to try.

Reboot aging skin
Must-try product: Le Mieux Moisture Infusion mask ($25; myskincarebox.com)

Why we love it: Made for sensitive and stressed skin, it’s packed with luxe ingredients like marine collagen and caviar extract to firm lines and make dull skin glow.

Give eyes a lift
Must-try product: Shiseido Pure Retinol Express Smoothing eye masks ($17.50 for 3 sets; sephora.com)

Why we love it: Moisture-rich and spiked with retinol, these lima bean-shaped pads (sized to fit the undereye area) smooth out crow’s-feet and diminish dark circles.

RELATED: Tips to Make Your Eyes Pop

Firm up your neck
Must-try product: Rodial Glamtox neck masks ($56; ulta.com)

Why we love it: A clever cocktail of wrinkle-fighting peptides and wheat protein temporarily tightens crepey neck skin.

Fill in smile lines
Must-try product: Sulwhasoo Microdeep Intensive Filling Cream & Patch ($195; neimanmarcus.com)

Why we love it: Hydrating hyaluronic acid in this 30-day cream-and-patch duo plumps smile lines, while red ginseng stimulates collagen to help iron out wrinkles long-term.

How to Find the Best Cool-Weather Hair Color for You

We do lots of things to prep for fall and winter, from swapping out our wardrobes to using heavier moisturizers. The colder months (and fairer complexions) ahead also make it the perfect time to transition to a warmer, richer hair color. Check out these pointers to find the hue that’s best for you.

If you’re blonde…add dimension
The sunnier months tend to turn blonde hair into one shade of yellow(ish). Tone down the color with golden or buttery highlights and add some deeper lowlights for dimension and depth, suggests Miguel Angarita, a colorist at Mizu Salon in New York City. Keep the lightest pieces around your hairline to brighten up your complexion during the dreary days of winter.

RELATED: 16 Hair Myths You Need to Stop Believing

If you’re brunette…create contrast
Long summer days spent outside may have turned your beautiful brown color into a more brassy hue. To revive your locks, opt for a chocolate brown base with blended butterscotch highlights, advises New York City celebrity colorist Rita Hazan. The deeper base will pop against your complexion, while the golden tints will add warmth.

RELATED: How to Refresh Your Hair Color at Home

If you’re red…go richer
Red is the hardest color to maintain; it fades and loses its shine quickly thanks to washing, styling, and sun exposure. That’s why winter gets a point for scarlet lovers—less sun means longer-lasting color. Try a deep, auburn red, which works well with porcelain skin and helps prevent skin from looking sallow, Angarita says.

RELATED: 29 Expert Beauty Tips Every Woman Should Know

And to lock in luster, first cut your losses
Trim off dead ends, which often look dye-fried and damaged. Use sulfate-free shampoos to keep pigment from washing away and swap in a deep conditioning mask once a week to replenish moisture and add shine.

Hollywood’s Hottest New Hairstyle: The Wob

ove your lob? Consider rocking the wob.

Hollywood’s hottest haircut just got a major upgrade, and it’s becoming the latest style to sizzle on the red carpet. The wob, which is a wavy, chin or shoulder sweeping look, enhances tousled tresses with effortless romantic curls, easily heating up the day or night—and celebrity stylists are loving it for being youthful and easy to style.

Best of all? It works for nearly everyone.

“It’s a definite favorite among the stars because it’s so young and playful,” says celebrity hairstylist Mika Fowler. “It’s an easy-to-style look and good for every season because it gives you a change without the commitment of going too short. It’s so versatile you can take it from the office to the red carpet and still look great!”

Beverly Hills-based celebrity stylist Nelson Chan also believes this popular look is now hotter than ever.

“The wob is easy to wear and carefree,” says Chan. “The waviness brings out the sexiness in women.”