Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Guest post and SkinnyTini recipe by Teresa Marie Howes

Mixing it up with Teresa Marie Howes

Teresa Marie Howes is a health enthusiast, expert skinny mixologist, avid runner and author of SkinnyTinis: All the fun for half the calories. Backed with a formal education with degrees in both nutrition and business and over a decade of professional experience consulting in the weight loss industry, she certainly knows the “right” things to do when it comes to living a healthy lifestyle. She is also well versed in the challenges that an active social and travel calendar can infringe on ones best efforts to do these “right” things. As it turns out, what’s “right” isn’t always “realistic” and that’s where her personal experience plays a key role. She has battled out the conflict of “right” and “realistic” in the bars, on the road and on vacation for 15+ years – and now in her mid-thirties and at a weight less than she weighed in high school, she’s feeling pretty confident in her strategies and is eager to share them!

Please welcome Teresa who kicks off her Chick Lit Plus blog tour on my blog!

Q: What, in your own words, is it about cocktails that seem so glamorous and sophisticated?

A: I think it has to do not so much with the cocktail, as the way you feel when you have one. A fully done up martini with fine ingredients, care and precision in construction and artfully topped off with the perfect garnish can only leave you feeling like something special. Whether you took the time you do it yourself or you paid a pretty penny in a fine establishment – and finely crafted beverage means a time to celebrate or a time to kick back and relax. Either way, when all aligned, the experience is glamorous and sophisticated, the cocktail is just one ingredient in the equation.

Q: What was the final impetuous to write SkinnyTinis?

A; Every since I graduated from high school, I found myself naturally fascinated by health and wellness. I also grew up to be a goof ball of an adult who truly loves a night on the town with friends, a fine martini before dinner and a smorgasbord of cocktails when I’m on vacation. I’ve often touted, “I’m not drunk, I’m just awesome!” This was always balanced with a modestly healthy diet plan and a good deal of physical activity, as I am an avid runner. However, when I hit my thirties and I found myself on the beach in Antigua in December, I was so dissatisfied in my own skin, yet struggling with the burning vacation desire to always have a drink in my hand. For this trip, I opted to cut out ALL sugar from my drinks. This left me with few options as we were on a remote portion of the island. Then I discovered in my toiletry case a bottle of airborne. Mixed with 8 oz of water only had 5 calories and a delicious, tangy orange flavor – and VIOLA – the concept of SkinnyTinis was born!

Leveraging creative low calorie mixers and combining with high quality alcohol satisfied my vacation needs and kept me from growing in my bathing suit at the same time. When I got home, I found my ingenuity so impressive, I developed a slew of interesting drinks using zero calorie sweeteners, low calorie juices, sports drinks , spices, coffees, creamers, skim milk, rice milk, extracts – essentially anything low calorie I mixed up with booze and tested to see if it was tasty. These all commonly became known as SkinnyTinis amongst me and my friends.

At the time, nobody was talking about calories and alcohol – it was one or the other – all or nothing. The concept was so original I was prompted by friends, family, co-workers, strangers (essentially anybody who had a drink in their hand and a cared about their weight) to “write a book.” And so that’s exactly what I did. And to this day,SkinnyTinis will continue to exist as the first of its kind. The first tool that taught social drinkers how to enjoy all the fun of a delicious cocktail, but with 50% fewer calories!

Q: How did you test and then select the recipes in Skinnytinis?

It was all trial and error. We must have tested hundreds of recipes in 2008. I had a series of “tasting parties” and we would tweak recipes a few times over before we decided we had a good enough product to share. I divided the recipes up into several categories and wanted to provide a good variety. So the book features 30 SkinnyTinis (5 oz with 2 oz booze). 25 of these are original recipes and 5 are remakes of familiar classics (AppleTini, Chocolate Martini, Cosmo, etc). There are also an additional 20 Skinny Cocktails (5 oz with 1 ½ oz of booze). Of these 15 are remakes of familiar classics (Margaritas, Pina Colada, Strawberry Daiquiri, etc). Lastly, there are an additional 20 recipes that can be ordered when you are out on the town. Ten that are standard, easy, low calorie good picks. The other 10 all feature ingredients the bartender should have on hand, but you may have to be descriptive, as he won’t know them by title. I am a vodka drinker, so most recipes feature vodka. But I did also provide recipes that feature rum, tequila and gin, so there is defiantly something for everyone – and all with 50% fewer calories!

Q: If you could open a cocktail lounge, what would it be called and what would it look like?

A: I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about this actually. I’d have to go with SkinnyTinis, because I love the name and the brand so much. I’d have it in an urban “downtown” environment and it would be very small. I’d go super modern and chic—black bamboo floors, stainless, chocolate leather with some bright bursts of color…likely a fascia, Verde or turquoise. Most cocktails and martinis would be “skinny” along with other healthy snacks and bites. The bathrooms would have skinny mirrors and great lighting, so that everybody always felt their best when they were there.

Q: What was your favorite book or author that you read in 2012, and what new releases are you looking forward to?

A: I loved “The Paris Wife” by Paula Mclain and the “Rules of Civility” by Amor Towles. I wept like a school girl when Ernest finally left Hadly in the end and I found the Rule of Civility to be like reading cinematography. I don’t end up with a lot offree time to read novels, but when I find ones like these, it’s hard to put them down. I’m always looking for a recommendation from a good friend on similar works of this genre. My travel schedule will pick up again soon and I find that there is no better time to read than in the airport and up in the air.

Q: If you were to host a book club night, what drink would you serve?

A: Well that completely depends on what the group has read that month. This question makes me miss my book club! And it’s one of the things that I love so much about mixology and SkinnyTinis. There are endless combinations of what you can do with booze, mixers and garnishes to put the prefect accent on your evening. Hot or cold, spiced or sweet, strong or mellow, light or heavy – infinite. So the short answer to your question is that I would mix up the perfect SkinnyTini that represented the heart of what we had spent the prior month reading to make the discussion that much richer.

Connect with Teresa and get some great ideas for your next party. In the meantime, check out her Cactus Chill (180 calories)

1 1/2 ounces tequila

1/4 ounce agave nectar

1/2 ounce lime juice

2 3/4 ounces lime-flavored sparkling water

Pour the tequila, agave nectar, and lime juice into a highball or other cocktail glass and stir. Add ice and fill the glass with lime-flavored water.


Friday, January 25, 2013

Upcoming short story: Girl in the Mist

Without spoiling Lost in the Light, I’m going to say this: Dori will get a short story that is tentatively titled, Girl in the Mist. It is set in a Carmel cottage. My goal is to publish it for Valentine’s Day 2013!
As I was writing a scene today, I thought that for those of you who enjoyed the book, you’d get a kick out of this:
Gavin pinched the tip of Dori’s nose. “You are scary when you work.”
She swatted his hand away but then leaned in close and whispered, “Let’s walk by the cottage in a few minutes.”
“I thought you were going to give me a kiss.”
“Detectives don’t kiss on the job.”
Dori is the older sister in Names I Call My Sister. She is also the lead in Lost in the Light.

If you need a weekend read, check them out!

Good things come in 3s

Thanks to +Sacha Boutros (the voice that inspired Sela from Names I Call My Sister and Aracely in my upcoming novel), I have some beautiful new music! Her glamorous voice will accompany me while I edit the freshly printed manuscript of Dori’s short story, “Girl in the Mist.” If you haven’t heard Sacha perform, listen to her original song Amor Imposible.