Sunday, December 30, 2012

Cooking Lean for Family & Friends with Mario Lopez

It’s tough for working moms to find the time to cook meals that their kids will eat.  Many moms may give in to children’s pleading for fast food or may rely very heavily on processed foods when cooking at home.   Yes, it’s easier to give in and go “the take-out route”, but with childhood obesity rates on the rise and kids getting less exercise than in the past, it’s more important than ever for moms (or dads) to cook healthy meals for their family.  Drawing on principles from his first book, a New York Times bestseller titled Extra Lean, Mario Lopez wrote his new book Extra Lean Family to provide an easy to follow guide for parents to take charge of what their family eats. 

While many long time fans may remember Mario from his acting role as highschool heartthrob A.C. Slater on Saved by the Bell, his more recent work include his hosting roles on entertainment show, Extra, as well as MTV’s Randy Jackson Presents America’s Best Dance Crew.

VIVE Katerin met with Lopez during his book signing event at Bookends in Ridgewood, NJ.  He was gracious enough to interview with VIVE Katerin (see video below) despite the long lines of fans eager for an autographed book and a chance to meet Mario.  He's fit and muscular, and looks like he lives by the advice he doles out in Extra Lean Family.  It’s clear this first time dad – his daughter Gia Francesca was born in September to girlfriend Courtney Mazza – wants to ensure his family stays and healthy and fit as he is.  Extra Lean Family is more than just a recipe book.  While it does provide over 40 recipes for meals that can be prepared in less than 20 minutes, Mario’s book centers around meal planning guides, that make it easier for readers to follow, and stick with, the Extra Lean Family approach.   It also provides ideas for snacking; alternatives that will keep your metabolism rate up and still taste great.  Mario even includes some “extra lean” versions of Mexican recipes that he modified from the high calorie, high fat versions he loved in his childhood.

Pick up a copy at Bookends or a local, independent bookstore near you.

Kicking Bullying to the Curb

Bullying has been around for generations, and many Americans had experience dealing with a bully in their school years.  In recent years, the impact of social media technologies has magnified the impact of bullying and extended it beyond the schoolyard and into childrens' and teens' homes.  Cyberbullying, as it is known, has been in the spotlight of some high profile cases in which children who were bullied committed suicide.  Bullying in any form can be psychologically and physically harmful and parents, educators and lawmakers are finally starting to take notice.

In New Jersey, a state law was recently passed that sets zero tolerance policies for bullying.  Other states followed closely behind and still others are now considering legislation to increase penalties, as well as generate greater awareness about bullying and what can be done to recognize and prevent it.

The Rocky Marciano World Foundation helped launched the "Bullying...We're Kickin' It" national campaign to help drive awareness and provide resources to help combat bullying and provide assistance to victims of bullying.  Many celebrities and politicians have become involved with the campaign and have loaned their time and experience to promote the cause.

Watch VIVE Katerin's video of the "Bullying...We're Kickin' It" event by clicking the thumbnail picture below.

A Soulful Evening in Brooklyn

VIVE Katerin attended the performance by singer/songwriter Esnavi at the BAM Café in Brooklyn.  An independent artist whose first single “Unexpected Love” has already reached the Top 40 on the Urban Adult Contemporary Charts, Esnavi has a sound that draws comparisons to other soulful, leading ladies such as Lauryn Hill, Norah Jones and India.Arie. Yet, Esnavi has a style which is uniquely hers. The rich, deep breathiness of her singing voice is the vehicle in which she connects her audience with her inner self. Her songwriting is honest and from the heart; there are no gimmicks, ulterior motives or over-thought lyrics – just memories or musings which she then captures in words.  She has a stage presence which is rare for a young artist. She is open and aware of herself and her band, but of the audience as well. She had perfect control of her powerful vocal ability and she approached each song with confidence.  Esnavi was genuinely having a great time on stage and this resonated into the audience.  Speaking with her after the show, it was clear that this young lady is equally as poised and balanced in life offstage as on. She praised her family for their love and support and indeed her parents as well as her brother (who flew in from Wisconsin) were in the audience.

Look for Esnavi’s new single “Morning Dew” which will be available starting February 28th. Her current album, “Exit E” is available for sale on iTunes and other music retailers. Visit her website at to learn more.

The BAM Café provided an intimate performance venue for Esnavi, and was a refuge from a rainy, windy evening in New York. The space, originally opened in 1908 as the ballroom of the Brooklyn Academy of Music, went through many other uses over the years. It was renovated in 1997 and is currently used both for dining as well as live musical performances on Friday and Saturday nights. BAM is currently celebrating its 150th year anniversary.  Visit their website to see a calendar of upcoming exhibits and performances.

Tango Impromptu

Tango is a folk music style and dance typical of Argentina.  The music accompaning the expressive tango dance is most often played on guitars.  It is for this reason that Leonardo Le San may be considered atypical.  Le San is a Colombian born composer who learned a love of the tango from his father.  Leonardo started his musical journey playing guitar, but when he discovered the piano, he knew he had found his true calling.  Though he trained in the classical style, and he studied the work of Rachmaninov, Mozart and Beethoven, Le San continued to return to his love of tango.  Many of his compositions, such as "Tango Impromptu" reflect his passion for this style of music.

Leonardo moved with his family to the United States from the Eje Cafetero region in western Colombia, known as "the crossroads of coffee" as much of the nation's leading export is produced there.  He continued his formal musical study at the University of Delaware. His collegiate experience, in which he interacted with peers in different areas of study such as philosophy and science, contributed to the shaping of Le San's worldview and ultimately influenced his composing style.

Getting into Shape

It's January and by now, many of us have let our New Year's resolution of hitting the gym go by the wayside.  Maintaining the motivation to keep going to the gym and running on the treadmill or using the nautilus machines can be difficult when doing it alone. For many, the repetition seems boring and the results we hoped for seem to slower to achieve than expected.

If your lucky enough to live in the Hartford, CT area, then you may be able to enroll in the female only, small group sessions of Lori Ann Marchese of Body Construct.  Lori Ann is professional bikini and fitness model who has won numerous awards and has been featured on the covers of several magazines.  Lori Ann got into fitness and wellness in her late teenage years and made it a way of life.  She founded Body Construct as a way to help other women to lose weight, shed pounds and build strength as well as confidence.  Lori Ann provides her students with intense, yet varied workout sessions that combine strength conditioning and cardio exercise. She also coaches them on the proper diet for building a toned and lean body, while eating enough to not feel hungry and want to cheat on the diet.

VIVE Katerin visited Lori Ann's Body Construct studio - located in the basement to maintain privacy for the women - no men allowed!  We had the chance to look in on one of her training sessions as well as interview her and a few of her students.  Check out the VIVE Katerin video.

The Healing Power of Dance

Adriana Echeverri is the owner of a boutique dance studio in the Coconut Grove section of Miami.  To an outsider, her business, known as Belly2Abs, might seem like just another fitness-oriented small business trying to make money by helping women lose weight.  While dropping 10 lbs and toning up are certainly possible at Belly2Abs, which specializes in belly dancing, pole dancing and chair dancing, it became clear to me within the first few minutes of speaking with Adriana that her studio offered women much  more.

Her slogan, "empowering women through dance" states her mission in a matter-of-fact way, but I think even this only scratches the surface of the service that Adriana provides.  Her clients are a reflection of herself and her own personal growth.  The women who enter her studio for the first time are in emotional pain, with low self esteem and no confidence.  Many are victims of domestic abuse or are survivors of serious disease such as breast cancer.  Over time these women learn to heal as they are guided by Ms. Echeverri using dance as a medium to conjure their inner strength and confidence.

What connects Adriana to these women is that she herself was a victim of childhood sexual abuse , a topic she writes about openly in her book "I Choose to be Happy".  The title of deeply personal book says a lot about Echeverri, who originated from Medellin, Colombia before her mother fled with her to the United States to escape the drug cartel-fueled violence in the 1980s.  Despite the emotional trauma she suffered as a girl, dancing provided an outlet that allowed her to get in touch with her thoughts and feelings, and to gain a sense of personal affirmation that she was OK.  By making the conscious choice to think positively and take actions that would lead to the outcomes she envisioned for herself, Adriana prevailed over her past.  Not content with this, she came to the realization that by sharing her own experience and talents with other women, that she could help nurture and empower them through dance as well.

It is for this reason that these 3 words - Nurture, Empower, Dance - are etched on the glass front window of Belly2Abs studio and greets the women who enter.   It struck me as I looked at these words from inside the studio that they appeared backwards; that is until I realized that reflected in the full wall mirror of the dance studio, these words appeared to frame the commitment Echeverri has made to these women who are beginning to recognize their true selves emerging in their reflections in the mirror.

Putting Breast Cancer on Ice

Breast cancer affects 1 in 8 women in the U.S. during their lifetime.  According to, over 230,000 women are estimated to be diagnosed with invasive breast cancer this year. Of these women, nearly 40,000 will die from the disease.  Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in women after skin cancer, and is the second deadliest cancer following lung cancer.

As frightening as these statistics are, it's also important to know that there are more than 2.6 million breast cancer survivors.  For many women, surviving breast cancer is viewed as a battle.  Women who arm themselves with information, great health providers and a support network may feel empowered in their fight against this scary disease.  In New York State, many women have turned to the Adelphi NY Statewide Breast Cancer Hotline & Support Program, a non-for profit program funded entirely through donations.

When friends and breast cancer survivors, Nancy Sherman and Bari Cenname learned that Adelphi might run out of funding and would have to shut the breast cancer hotline, they brainstormed on ways to help. They were joined by friend Shannon Leigh Lenihan and the outcome was Iced Pink, Inc., a charity that sought to raise awareness and funding through ice skating.

On Saturday evening, January 7, 2012, Iced Pink Inc. presented the Skate Against Breast Cancer fundraising event at the Citi Pond ice rink at Bryant Park in New York City.  Many current, former and future US Olympic and national champion figure skaters volunteered their time to perform at the event.  The list of skaters included JoJo Starbuck and  Tim Goebel who acted as hosts of the evening.  They were joined by Sarah Hughes, her sister Emily Hughes, Kimmee Meissner, Nicole Bobek, Melissa Gregory and Denis Petukhov as well as several aspiring younger skaters.  The event was open to the public and was well attended, with Bryant Park full of cheering spectators.

By all measures, the event was great success.  Visit Iced Pink, Inc.'s information on their Facebook page and consider making a donation to this great cause.

Ice Skater - Kimmee Meissner

The Privilege of Being a Single Mom

VIVE Katerin met with Mireya Posada, author of The Privilege of Being a Single Mom.  Mireya wrote this book after being inspired by events in her own life.  Rather than dwell on her circumstances as a single mom and be negative about having to raise her son alone, Mireya embraced the challenge as an opportunity.  She strived to give her son the best experiences she could, to make things happy and content for him and herself as well.  Her book describes her experience and her advice for all other moms (whether single or married) and is both inspirational and emotional.

VIVE Katerin se reunió con Mireya Posada, autor de El privilegio de ser una madre soltera. Mireya escribió este libro después de ser inspirada por los acontecimientos de su propia vida. En vez de  ser negativo sobre siendo una madre soltera y tener que criar a su hijo solo, Mireya aceptado la situación como una oportunidad. Ella se esforzó por dar a su hijo las mejores experiencias que pudo, para hacer las cosas feliz y contento por él y para ella tambien. Su libro describe su experiencia y sus consejos a todas las mujeres (ya sea soltero o casado) y es a la vez inspiradora y emocional.

Josh Groban at Prudential Center

I was so excited when I got the opportunity to attend and review the Josh Groban concert in Newark, NJ at the Prudential Center. After that initial rush, my first thought was "OK, I know 'You Raise Me Up', but not many of his other songs very well."  This was just a formality, since any concert-goer unfamiliar with Groban's music (perhaps including some of the men 'dragged there by wives or girlfriends' as Josh suggested early on in the show) needed was an open mind and a general appreciation of music.  Josh Groban's amazing vocal talent, well written song arrangements and a tight backing band resulted in a performance that was undeniably excellent. Add to this Josh's onstage banter and direct engagement with his adoring fans, and an impish quality of silliness or 'slightly cheesiness' (Josh's own description of himself) and the outcome was a night of music accessible and enjoyable to all.

The show opened with Groban's string (violin, viola, cello) and brass (trumpet, trombone and french horns) sections on the stage playing an instrumental prelude. As all watched the darkened corners of the stage for Groban to appear, he threw the crowd a well received curve ball.  Josh entered the arena from the rear, walking through the crowd to a hidden stage which rose from the sound tech area.

From the start he was connected with his audience and remained so for the entire performance; several times during the show he used the stairs from the stage (which he dubbed GAPs for Groban Access Points) to engage with the crowd including bringing several on stage to sit on an inflatable couch. The use of a SMS  based Q&A session resulted in Groban answering questions about whether he understands the lyrics of the songs he sings in other languages (he does), his favorite flavor of jellybean (I think he settled on blueberry or vomit, I can't recall) and agreeing to sing a duet of his hit song "The Prayer" with Katie, a music major in the audience who sang remarkably well for the Prudential Center fans.

The musical performance was flawless and songs such as the Spanish language, "Alejate" (see video), Portugese "Voce Existe Em Mim" and "Per Te" an Italian love song needed no translation. The melodies and emotions expressed by Groban through his singing made their meaning universal.  "The War at Home" a song dedicated to active military and veterans (Josh saluted West Point Academy cadets in the audience) evoked a military sound with heavy brass and a crackling snare drum.
"Broken Vow" an emotive and beautiful song about a relationship at its end, relied on just piano and a solo trumpet that echoed Josh's voice in a call and response that recall the anguish one feels during a break-up.

Josh is truly an inspiration to his many fans, those in Newark being no exception. His love for music and the arts was already evident, but further reinforced by his call for funding arts education and cultural awareness. Josh founded the "Find Your Light Foundation" to champion arts education and he encouraged fans to donate by texting "Art" to 50555.

Opening act ELEW, an eclectic pianist was entertaining if somewhat gimmicky (such as plucking the strings of his grand piano). There's no denying ELEW's sheer talent and his fresh approach.  His rendition of Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit" made me question whether I'd ever heard a piano sound as angry.

Shining Star Chefs Building Their Dream Careers

Achieving success in any career field requires a combination of talent, ambition and hard work.  Even then, success is not guaranteed. This is why it takes a certain personality to be an entrepreneur; someone who is driven to wake up everyday and keep working toward their vision even when they are unexpected obstacles, financial challenges and other setbacks that must be faced.

Each of the 3 young chefs involved in the Celebrity Chef Culinary Tour, Chris Nirschel, Vic Vegas and Susie Jimenez are very talented and passionate about cooking. They met each other on the Food Network's reality show "The Next Food Network Star".  Each was eliminated from the show (Jimenez remained in the competition the longest), but didn't let this set-back derail their dreams.

The Celebrity Chef Culinary Tour was the idea of Chris Nirschel who aside from this weekly event, is the consulting chef at two restaurants in New York's Little Italy (Cafe Napoli, Giovanna's) as well as running an executive catering business for corporate travelers at Teterboro Airport in New Jersey.  Nirschel also told VIVE Katerin that he will be introducing an upscale bar menu at Copia in NYC's midtown area.

Hanging out at Justin's Barbershop

VIVE Katerin met recently with Justin D'Esposito, owner of Justin's Barbershop with 4 locations in New Jersey, including Jackson, Manalapan, Colt's Neck and Brick.
Justin's story is one of a talent and passion for hair cutting grown over time from when he began cutting hair in his garage at age 13 to earning "master barber" status and operating a successful barbershop enterprise.  Justin worked hard and sacrificed to get where he is today. Of course, he gives credit to his brother Timothy who was Justin's first haircut practice model as well as his current business partner. Timothy manages the books and crunches the numbers which allows Justin to manage the front end operations as well as still find time to cut hair for his customers.  

Among Justin's Barbershops' customers are celebrity clientele such as Mike "The Situation" Sorrentino from MTV's Jersey Shore, rapper Jay-Z and a few NFL players.  Despite the success, Justin has not let it get to his head.  He regularly mentors staff and helps them when they are facing personal difficulties. He also is community focused, and has organized a charity "cut-a-thon" to raise money for a local family who had a baby with cancer.

So guys, whichever location is closest to you, stop by Justin's Barbershop for a great haircut, a warm lather and hot towel shave and maybe to shoot some pool and share some Jersey Shore gossip!

Off the Runway: Simone Rodrigues of Sisa Designs

VIVE Katerin met with Simone Rodrigues - founder and designer of Sisa Designs. Simone's designs have gained a strong following among celebrities in her native Brazil and in New York and Hollywood alike.  Yet, the success has not gone to Simone's head. Rather she remains well grounded, accessible and down to earth.  Unlike other a-list fashion designers, Rodrigues doesn't maintain a NYC headquarters.  Instead, Sisa Designs is based in a boutique storefront in Union, NJ.  This location was chosen so Simone could remain close to home to maintain some semblance of a work/life balance.

Rodrigues did not lead a privileged childhood and had to work hard for many years to pursue her dream of becoming a fashion designer.  Through it all, she never stopped following her passion - working on sketches and designs late at night after working all day and balancing the responsibilities of raising two children.  Simone has not forgotten where she came from. She works with local children and teens (known as her Little Divas) interested in fashion design and modeling and mentors them and provides hands on experience.

Sisa Designs is known for bold couture designs as well as colorful ready-to-wear collections. Simone can easily switch between designing a flowing gown and a beach-ready bikini, with unique accessories and hats thrown into the mix.  Her designs are influenced by nature and Simone is conscientious about the use of ethically sourced materials.

Watch the VIVE Katerin video interviews with Simone to learn more about her and Sisa Designs.  This two part video series shares some emotional moments that shows a side of Rodrigues that many may not have seen before.  Simone is truly an inspiring and successful woman.

For more information visit

What Every Girl Needs to Know

Maria Menounos is well known as a correspondent for Access Hollywood and Today and reporter for NBC’s Nightly News and Dateline.  As if she wasn’t busy enough with her very active TV career, Menounos somehow found the time to author a new book, The Everygirl’s Guide to Life.

Fortunately for readers, Maria’s crazy schedule has led her to devise some great methods and tips for managing everything from a budding career to losing weight to saving money.  Everygirl’s Guide is a docu-journal that includes not only a how-to-guide, but Maria’s personal experiences and photographs as well.

What many people may not know about Menounos is that she was born to working class Greek immigrant parents who made a living as cleaners.  Maria spoke of working in her parents business, cleaning up at nightclubs, while trying to start her career in television.  Her strong work ethic was certainly influenced by her father, whom Menounos calls “very resourceful”.  She learned not to wait around for someone to tell her to do something, she just goes ahead and does it.

Early in her TV career, Menounos struggled to keep everything together. She was so busy, that she relied on fast food, working late hours and getting little sleep.  She realized that it was necessary to get organized and come up with a system for creating a work-life balance in her daily schedule.  Of course, Maria did find a way, and she shares her secrets with readers in Everygirl’s Guide.

Menounos has such a positive energy and can do demeanor, yet is down-to-earth and friendly.  Her “everything is possible” outlook on life sets a foundation for her “full-time, no holds barred” work ethic.  She thrives on the pressure and the variety she encounters each and every day.  Yet, Menounos sets boundaries between work and family, shares her success by giving back through charitable work.

Check out Katerin’s video interview with Maria and be sure to pick up a copy of The Everygirl’s Guide to Life at your local bookstore.

Getting Back to Your Roots

VIVE Katerin caught up recently with celebrity stylist Rita Hazan at Sephora in New York's Time Square.
Ms. Hazan performs her hair coloring magic for star clientele like Jennifer Lopez, Michelle Williams, Jessica Simpson and Renee Zellweger.

In addition to working with her famous clients, Hazan is also a successful entrepreneur and business owner. Her eponymous salon located at 720 5th Avenue in Manhattan brings her downtown style and sensibility uptown in an intimate and welcoming setting.  While one would think the pressure of running a demanding NYC hair salon would take all of Hazan's time and energy, she also managed to research and launch her new ROOT CONCEALER product line.  Rita spent over four years testing various formulations and applicators before bringing ROOT CONCEALER to market.  The product, available exclusively at Sephora, comes in four shades and is designed to let women spray on color to hide roots and keep their hair looking great in between salon visits.

While Hazan's salon and ROOT CONCEALER help women look and feel great, one of the things VIVE Katerin thinks makes Rita shine is her confidence, passion and desire to have fun doing what she loves.  Rita mentioned that when she started her salon, she surrounded herself with friends and family who supported her commitment to do what she loves.  This is so important for all of us to remember. Life is short, so keep your friends and family close while you follow your dreams.

Be sure to check out VIVE Katerin's video interview with Rita Hazan.

Beethoven in Bed-Stuy Brooklyn?

While the thought of classical music may seem foreign in a part of Brooklyn more commonly associated with gangster rap and hip-hop, the Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Plaza hosted a special performance by the Brooklyn Philharmonic featuring a remix of Beethoven’s 3rd Symphony “Eroica” by local DJ Eddie Marz.  In addition to Beethoven, BKLYN PHIL also played a tribute to the late Lena Horne with vocalist Leslie Uggams, and accompanied artist Yasiin Bey (aka Mos Def) in a unique and energizing performance. Of note, both Lena Horne and Yasiin Bey are natives of Bedford-Stuyvesant, a reflection of the numerous talents to emerge from the neighborhood.

Led by conductor Alan Pierson, the Brooklyn Philharmonic played compositions arranged by Andrew Norman (Beethoven 3rd Symphony and remix by DJ Eddie Marz) and Derek Bermel (“Life in Marvelous Times” collaboration with Yasiin Bey). The orchestra adapted well to the outdoor venue, and fortunately the forecast calling for rain was incorrect and the audience at Restoration Plaza enjoyed a beautiful summer night of music under dry skies.

The collaboration between the Brooklyn Philharmonic and Bed-Stuy Restoration was a great way to bring orchestral music to a new audience, and a neighborhood of children who may have few other chances to view a live performance by a symphony.  It was encouraging to see how many families showed up for the concert and I personally overheard several children asking their parents about the different instruments being played by the musicians.  If for nothing other than to generate interest in music and the arts among the children of Bed-Stuy, then the concert was definitely a success.  According to DJ Eddie Marz, the performance incorporated the culture of Brooklyn while introducing kids to a culture that normally doesn’t exist in their world.

Flowers Bloom Over Adversity

Elena Mazza is a strong and beautiful Latina of Argentinian descent living and working in New Jersey with her daughter Arianna. Her entrepreneurial business, AriLib Flowers, a successful start-up which produces custom designed artificial floral arrangements for corporate events, weddings and parties, is named in part for her daughter and in part an acronym meaning 'life is beautiful'.  Her designs have been featured at fashion shows, magazine launch parties and at charitable fundraising events such as the 'Got Pink?' breast cancer event.

Life wasn't always beautiful or easy for Mazza.  When her daughter was 4 years old, she moved her family to Argentina with her then husband - Arianna's father.  Her husband became abusive and after several years, Mazza found the strength to leave him, determined to return to the U.S. with Arianna.  Her husband, furious that she left, filed kidnapping charges against her in international court.  A warrant for her arrest was issued and her long battle to clear her name of wrongdoing and keep her daughter with her in the United States began.  Despite the fact that Arianna was born in New Jersey and is a U.S. citizen, international law recognizes the place that the child has been habitually been living and required her return to Argentina.  There are a few exceptions that can be made such as if the country is at war, in famine or if the child is subject to physical or psychological abuse.  Mazza went into debt and borrowed from friends and family to pay for lawyers to defend her and provide the burden of proof that Arianna would be harmed if returned to Argentina.  After a few long years, the case was decided in her favor and Arianna was allowed to remain in the U.S.

The idea of making flowers came to Mazza during her job as a teacher for special needs students.  What started as an art project, became an outlet for Mazza to express herself and bring in additional income.  Her small business is growing and thriving now, much like Arianna.  Now 12 years old, she has an interest in modeling and sometimes accompanies her mom to fashion shows where AriLib Flowers will be on display.