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Summer Travel Tips

Kelly McCombs - Friday, June 17, 2016


Now that the summer weather is upon us and the kids are out of school, many of you might be planning to book a nice summer vacation. While taking time off of work and going out of town can be relaxing, sometimes things come up and unplanned events happen. This can make what was once a fun, relaxing vacation into an overwhelming one. We have compiled a list of simple travel tips to help make your vacation a smooth one!


One helpful tip that we have found to ease some stress during the travel planning process is reading traveler reviews. Sites like TravelAdvisor.com offer traveler’s reviews on everything from restaurants and hotels to tourist attractions. They can help you decide where you would like to go or what sites you would like to see on your travels. While these reviews are helpful, you should still read them with an open mind. Pay attention to how recent the post was made. Many establishments pay attention to these reviews too and are quick to change anything that might have prompted a negative review. It is also helpful to look at the reviews that contain pictures. You can sometimes learn more from the pictures than you can the actual review.


A hugely important travel tip is to purchase travel insurance. This is an absolute must for big-ticket vacations that are non-refundable. Travel insurance covers things like lost baggage, emergency medical expenses, and it will help you recover some, if not all, of the cost of your trip if it has to be canceled or shortened. Always pay attention to whether your vacation is refundable or not. For example, my family is planning on going to Disney World this year. I did not purchase travel insurance for the actual Disney vacation package because it is completely refundable. I did, however, purchase travel insurance for my flights because this is 100% non-refundable without the insurance. You can save a little bit of money here and there by knowing the facts about your trip.


When it comes to packing, it is best to try to keep it to one suitcase. This will depend on the length of your vacation, of course. Packing light may not be easy for some, but it is essential to staying organized and avoiding too many baggage fees at the airport. I typically use a large rolling suitcase for a 7 day vacation. I have also invested in a packing cube system which keeps the suitcase space organized and makes it super easy once I get to the hotel. I will usually pack one outfit per packing cube, which makes it so I don’t have to dig around my suitcase or riffle through the closet trying to find the shirt I want to wear that day. Packing cubes also help cut way down on the wrinkles that my clothes will get, which saves me time because I don’t have to pull out the iron! The less stress first thing in the morning, the better.


Another important travel tip is to keep cash in a few different places. If you keep all of your cash and credit cards in your wallet and then you lose it, what do you do? I tend to keep some extra cash in a toiletry bag or under the insert in one of my shoes. This has saved me a few times in the past and it is something I will continue to do in the future. This is especially helpful if you are traveling out of the country. Cash is king and it is often easier to exchange and use than some credit cards. Banks often offer better exchange rates than those available to individuals, so exchange with them instead.


Our final travel tip is a simple one. Don’t sweat the small stuff! Sometimes, unplanned things happen that you have no control over, but you can’t spend your entire trip angry and in a bad mood because of it. Try to look at the bright side of every situation. If you stayed organized and pre-planned your trip well, you will know what to do. Did you miss the bus? Well, there will be another one. It pays to have a sense of humor in situations like these. Just think, you are making memories! Sometimes, the unplanned and hectic situations make for the funniest stories to tell to your friends and family down the road.


Wherever you are traveling this summer, even if you’re staying local, we hope you find some of these tips useful and have a wonderful, stress-free vacation!


Summer Salad Recipes

Kelly McCombs - Friday, June 03, 2016
(Photo courtesy of Tieghan Gerard)


There is no better way to take advantage of all of the fresh produce that the summer has to offer than with a delicious summer salad. Since it is so hard to pick just one or two varieties of fresh produce, salads give you the opportunity to throw as many as you wish into a big bowl to enjoy. The following recipes prove that summer is made for salads!


We are going to start off the list of recipes with a bang! If you love Caprese Salad and are looking for a way to switch it up a bit, you definitely need to try this Honey Grilled Watermelon Caprese Salad. Yes, you read that right…watermelon, grilled. If you thought watermelon was good before, try grilling it and then covering it with honey! Paired with ripe, juicy tomatoes, mozzarella and a balsamic glaze, this salad is to die for!


Next comes one of the easiest salads ever. The Everything but the Kitchen Sink Salad is exactly what it sounds like. It’s a salad that you can make with leftovers or whatever extra sauces and pasta’s you have in your fridge. You can really put anything in it! I’ve made this one myself before and it is a bit different each time I make it, but always delicious.


The Sesame, Tomato and Cucumber Salad is packed full of seasonal flavor and is another easy-to-make option. It is served with a salty soy sauce, but if you’d like to add a bit of texture to the tomatoes, you can sprinkle some sea salt before adding the soy sauce. The sesame seeds bring an unexpected flavor and crunch to this salad that is summer on a plate!


My personal favorite summer salad is Texas Caviar. It is a mix between a salad and a salsa and can be eaten with tortilla chips or added to a variety of dishes like chicken or salad. It can even be served as a side dish. If you are looking for a quicker option, you can use store bought salad dressing, but I like to make my own for some powerful flavor. I also add diced avocado to mine which adds a level of creaminess that is much appreciated. This salad is even better if you let it sit in the fridge overnight. The dressing will marinate all of the veggies and bump up the flavor power! I make this a few times every summer and crave it during the colder months!


For something a little more Southern, try the Grilled Peach, Onion and Bacon Salad with Buttermilk Dressing. If you think these ingredients together sound like an odd combination, you’d be right but the flavors all meld together perfectly. It makes for a nice unexpected twist on a summer salad. When choosing your onions for this salad, make sure to pick a nice juicy variety, like Vidalia onions. These bring a delicious sweetness when paired with the ripe peaches. This salad is definitely a crowd pleaser!


What better way to gather all of the delicious produce for these salads than visiting your local farmers market? They always seem to have the freshest fruits and veggies and I always make a point of going every week and stocking up! We hope you enjoy these salads and stay cool this summer!


6 Must-See Sites in San Francisco!

Kelly McCombs - Saturday, May 14, 2016

There is something in San Francisco for everyone. Whether you love to take part in outdoorsy activities, try new foods at the many different restaurants, or just generally like to wander around the city, it is chock full of fun and interesting things! It is also fairly small in size compared to many other cities, but this does not mean it is lacking. We have listed below some must see sites for your next trip!





A trip to San Francisco would not be complete without a walk over the Golden Gate Bridge. This beautiful red bridge has become a symbol of the city and is one of the most famous bridges in the world. A pedestrian walkway crosses the stunning 1.7 mile span to make your walk easy and safe. Make sure to bring your camera along! The views of Alcatraz are some of the best in the city!


Speaking of Alcatraz, this now closed prison is one of the most visited places in the city. It sits on a huge rock in the middle of San Francisco Bay, and is reached by a ferry, which is fun in itself! Officially closed as a prison in the 1960’s, Alcatraz housed some of the most infamous criminals in history. While many tried, none of them ever successfully escaped the prison. This is definitely a must see site!


If you are interested in doing some shopping on your trip, a visit to Pier 39 at Fisherman’s Wharf is on the list. There are over 60 shops to browse with everything from touristy items to local hand crafted merchandise. If you are a lover of animals and are seeking something more unique on your trip, a visit to the sea lions on the K Dock of Pier 39 is a must! These sea lions have resided here since 1990 and their amusing antics will bring some humor to your day!


A wonderful way to add some culture to your trip is to visit Chinatown. Inside the entrance on Grant Avenue and Bush Street lies 24 blocks of a city within a city; chock full of exotic shops, delicious restaurants and food markets. San Francisco’s Chinatown is the oldest Chinatown outside of Asia and the oldest one in North America. It is best seen on foot, so wear your walking shoes and get ready for an adventure!


Taking a ride on a cable car is an exhilarating way to see the city! The cable cars in San Francisco are the last fully operational, manually operated cable cars in the world. They were listed as a National Historic Landmark in 1964 and are used as much today as they were over a 100 years ago! There are three cable lines that run throughout the city, which gives the rider a chance to see many of the sites and sounds of the city, including some of the huge hills that make the city famous.


One of the most photographed sites in the city is the Painted Ladies  at Hayes and Steiner Street. These lovely Victorian homes are a site to see, set against the backdrop of the city’s skyscrapers. For a relaxing lunch, bring a picnic and set up in the adjacent grassy spot known as Alamo Square. This location provides stunning views of the Ladies. Fun fact: the Painted Ladies were used in the opening credits of the sitcom Full House back in the 1990’s!


While San Francisco is known for having some of the steepest streets in the country, it also has one of the most crooked! Lombard Street is a one-way street that is so steep, the city decided to add 8 switchback turns in the 1920’s in order to make it safer and more aesthetically pleasing. Whether you walk or drive down it, it is certainly something very unique to San Francisco that you will not see anywhere else! 


Of course, there are hundreds of places to visit in San Francisco, but we hope this gives you a good starting point! Stay tuned to the next blog for some of the best places to eat in San Francisco!


Lemon-Lime Spring Inspired Recipes

Kelly McCombs - Wednesday, May 11, 2016


We have finally welcomed Spring and some pretty fantastic weather here at Saratoga Spring Water! Why not get outside to enjoy the weather and have a picnic or outdoor luncheon? These recipes are perfectly suited for such an occasion and are inspired by our refreshing Lemon Lime Essence!



Lemon Yogurt Cake

Sometimes, it’s hard to find the perfect lemon cake. They can be too sweet or too tart, but this one hits the nail right on the head! Adding yogurt into this recipe makes the finished cake moist and very flavorful, with a wonderful tang that pairs perfectly with the lemon.


Slow Cooker Cilantro-Lime Chicken

Slow Cooker meals are always super easy to make and travel with, so they are perfect to bring along to a family barbeque or casual luncheon. Serve this meal up on lettuce for a healthier option, or on a bed of rice for something a little heartier!


Black Bean Lentil Salad with Cumin-Lime Dressing

A super light and healthy option, this salad is gluten free and vegetarian. Adding the hearty black beans means it can be eaten as an entrée or even a side dish. Topping it all off with the cumin-lime dressing brings all of the wonderful flavors together for a refreshing salad, perfect for a sunny Spring day!


Lemon Mint Iced Tea

Iced tea is a quintessential drink of Spring and Summer, but why not add a little excitement to the traditional! Adding rum spices it up a bit and takes the plain iced tea that everyone knows to the next level!


Saratoga Essence comes in three flavors: Orange Tangerine, Lemon Lime and Wild Berry. To learn more about this zero calorie, sparkling spring water or to purchase online, click here

Refreshing Sangria Recipes

Saratoga Water - Thursday, April 07, 2016

Image Credit: The Kitchn

Do you know the secret to making the best sangria? It’s all about planning ahead and of course the wine. You’re going to want to let your sangria rest in the refrigerator for a few hours or even overnight. This helps all the flavors come together nicely. The wine you select doesn’t have to be expensive, but it should be a wine that you enjoy drinking. For red sangria, try using a Malbec, Merlot or a Rioja from Spain. For white sangria, avoid using heavy oak-aged white wine. Instead, stick to lighter wines like Pinot Grigio, Riesling or Chardonnay.

The Kitchn shares one of its favorite Red Sangria recipes:
Ingredients:
2 apples 
2 oranges
1/2 cup brandy
1/4 cup orange liquor, like Cointreau
1 (750-ml) bottle red wine 
2 to 3 cups sparkling water, chilled

Prefer white wine? Try this White Sangria from Martha Stewart:

Ingredients:
1/2 cup superfine sugar
1/2 cup cognac
1 mango, peeled, pitted, and thinly sliced
1 peach or nectarine, pitted and thinly sliced
1 red apple, cored and thinly sliced
1 Granny Smith apple, cored and thinly sliced
1 to 2 plums, pitted and thinly sliced
2 bottles (750 mL) dry white wine, such as Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio, chilled
Ice cubes, for serving


Keep these recipes handy the next time you’re having a few people over for a pool party or barbecue. Your guests will appreciate a nice glass of refreshing sangria on a warm spring or summer day.

Tips for Planning a Spring Soiree

Saratoga Water - Tuesday, April 05, 2016


  1. 1. The Timeline: Planning a party can be exciting, but also overwhelming if you don’t know where to start. The best thing to do is to plan early so that everything else can fall into place. Here’s a great party planning checklist to help you every step of the way, no matter how big or small your bash is going to be. 

2. Don’t Overdo it with the F&B: Save yourself the time, money and mess by knowing how much you should make. We wouldn’t have been able to plan a party without this helpful guide from Chickabug on how much food and beverage to prepare. (Expert tip: prep as much of the menu ahead of time as possible)

3. Ambiance is Key: The ambiance of a party can make or break a guest’s experience. With that being said, make sure you are appealing to all of the guests’ senses with a great playlist, lighting inside and outside, being mindful of smells, high traffic areas, layout of the room, etc. Throwing a fun party? Make sure your space matches the theme!

4. Drinks Ready, Snacks Handy: Be sure to have your drinks chilled, and easily accessible for guests to grab as soon as they walk in. To alleviate congestion around the main food station and for those who arrive late, have small snacks placed strategically around the house or venue. If you’re unsure of how to organize your space, pretend to be your guest and walk through the venue. Here’s some inspiration you can use for your next beverage station.

5. Set up Drinks with a DIY Cocktail Bar and Food “Bar-Style”: As far as the food goes, letting the guests do the work can be less stress for you and more fun for them. Designating one area for the main finger-food course reduces the mess and allows the guests to pick and choose what they want. Setting up “Make Your Own” food or drink stations like a taco bar or a mimosa bar -- even an ice cream sandwich station -- makes eating another fun activity at your party.

6. Provide a Kid-Friendly Drink Option: If kids are involved, make sure your alcoholic beverage has a virgin version—a great option is to serve punch, lemonade or flavored sparkling water like our all natural Essence. Have the alcohol separate so people who want to drink can add their spirit of choice.

7. Stick to the Theme: Before you buy or DIY your decorations, decide how much time you want to spend decorating. A themed-party can be as simple as using matching cups, plates, and hanging a garland. But if you are game to go all-out, you can make food labels, incorporate straw-toppers, fun lighting, and so much more. Take a look at this tablescape, it really covers every little detail.

8. Be the “Hostess with the Mostest”: You’ve done all this work, it’s time for you to loosen up and enjoy your own party—mix and mingle, show how happy you are to host everyone and don’t forget to introduce your guests to each other. Make sure to thank your guests for attending and share in a toast. The planning and prep are over, enjoy yourself and the company of others.

9. The Clean Up: The whole “clean up, clean up, everybody do your share” song doesn’t always apply here, so when you’ve thrown a big bash, make the process easier on yourself by starting the party with an empty dishwasher and trash cans to fill up and having a fully-stocked cleaning supplies arsenal.

We hope these tips set you up for a great party season. Remember, you’re creating a fun environment for your friends, so enjoy every step of the process. Cheers!

Weekend Brunch Recipes You'll Love

Saratoga Water - Thursday, March 24, 2016

As we head into the weekend and start to finalize plans, don’t forget everyone’s favorite activity. Brunch. The temperatures outside are just right for a mid-morning weekend brunch. Make one or all of the recipes below for your family and friends. They’ll love getting together and eating the delicious spread. Why? Because everyone loves brunch.

Classic French Toast
Taking it back to the basics, French Toast is the perfect brunch staple because it allows for so many different toppings and combinations, from basic powdered sugar and maple syrup to spreading the toast with a layer of mascarpone, sprinkling coconut flakes and topping with strawberries and agave nectar. Using the right bread for the job is important (brioche, challah, sourdough), as it will result in a French Toast that is just the right amount of thick-crispy-chewy-ness. Beware, these French Toast recipes might just send you over the edge!

Egg White Frittata with Lox and Arugula
The best part about frittatas is that you can add just about any ingredient and the result will still be delicious. This recipe from Food Network is especially fluffy, light and full of flavor! The protein from the salmon and egg whites make it a great healthy option to balance the few bites of french toast you may have eaten. 

Fruit Salad with Herbs and Mint-Maple Syrup
No brunch is complete without a fruit salad. Gather your favorite combination of seasonal berries, melons and tropical fruits and use this simple recipe to create your choice of a refreshing mint or rosemary herb syrup to mix in with the fruit.

Brown Sugar and Cinnamon Candied Bacon
Take your side of bacon to the next level by making this incredible candied bacon from the Kitchen Joy Blog. You can even add in cayenne pepper if you’re looking for a little mid-morning wake up call. The cayenne is completely optional, but either way, this savory and sweet finger food treat will not disappoint.

Arnold Palmer
Iced tea. Lemonade. That’s it! Who knew two ingredients could create such a legendary, refreshing drink? The key is to pour over ice, serve with a lemon wedge and get the ratio right. The common misconception is that the two liquids are mixed in equal parts, but the real Arnold Palmer has clarified that the proper ratio is 3:1—three parts iced tea to one part lemonade. Add a little Saratoga Spring Water to your recipe for a sparkling Arnold Palmer.

Mimosa

Turn this recipe into “bottomless” mimosas when you swap out the four champagne flutes for a pitcher. If your kids are begging to take a sip, make them a virgin mimosa with Saratoga Spring Water’s Orange Tangerine Flavored Essence Sparkling Water.

Bloody Mary

Spicy, salty, tangy, this classic brunch staple lends itself to many variations. Think of a Bloody Mary as not just a cocktail, but a one-stop-shop for booze and food. Try adding bacon, celery, cubes of cheese, olives, even shrimp for an adult-style shrimp cocktail. The possibilities are endless. See for yourself with this recipe from Eater.
 



Clean Eating Recipes Perfect for Springtime

Saratoga Water - Tuesday, March 22, 2016


How clean is your spring this year? “Spring Cleaning” doesn’t only have to mean that we sort through our closet and toss out unwanted items—it could also mean that we clean up our pantry, our fridge and our diet.

The recipes below are so colorful, rich in nutrients and delicious that they will inspire you to stick with your spring clean eating habits year-round. And what’s more, with the sun starting to shine a bit more, the recipes below include those seasonal ingredients that can be found right now at your local farmer’s market or grocery store.

Breakfast:
Lemon Poppy Seed Steel Cut Oats: This recipe tastes like a scrumptious lemon poppy seed muffin, minus all those unwanted carbs. The heart-healthy fats, protein and fiber from the cashew butter and steel cut oats make this the perfect recipe for the most important meal of the day!

Instead of the usual sweetener of a spoonful (or two) of sugar, whip up the recipe’s rich, all-natural date paste made from blending pitted Medjool dates and water. The paste is both mixed in with the oats and used for the syrup. With the addition of lemon zest and poppy seeds, you’ll have created the most tasty lemon-poppy seed oatmeal.

Lunch:
Citrus, Fennel, and Avocado Salad: If this recipe doesn’t shout eating seasonal, we don’t know what does. Not only is it bursting with color and flavor, but also the citrus-veggie-herb combination is full of Vitamin C, antioxidants and enriching nutrients that benefit your hair, skin, heart, and so much more.
 
Grilled Veggie Pasta Salad: A simple yet fulfilling dish—you can’t go wrong with a veggie medley mixed with whole grain rotini or penne pasta. And—in our opinion — since the recipe requires grilling vegetables, you might as well stick a few chicken breasts on the grill while you’re at it to add a little protein.  
 
Dinner:
Pistachio-Crusted Salmon with Spring Onions: A little crunch, a tart kick and some pizazz is how we like to describe this dish. We love how baking the spring onions both mellows and sweetens them, complimenting the tart, crispy salmon. Keep in mind; a little orange zest (and juice) goes a long way.
 
Spring Panzanella with Asparagus: Food & Wine’s presentation of Spring Panzanella with Asparagus looks much more complicated than it is. There are really only four steps — (slightly) hard-boil eggs, slice and bake bread, cook asparagus and toss all of the ingredients together — for a fresh dish made with some of most simple, seasonal ingredients.
 
Dessert:
Chocolate Oatmeal & Chia Pudding Parfait: Blogger Moeko Munaretto made this creation of hers for breakfast, but we thought we would finish off this recipe post with something sweet for dessert. As divine as it looks, this pudding parfait actually has plenty of health benefits to offer, such as omega-3 fatty acids from the chia seeds, manganese, phosphorus, copper, selenium and many more minerals from the oats, and Vitamin C and antioxidants from the berries. Eating clean never tasted so good!

Bon Appétit!


Luck of the Irish: St. Patrick's Day Recipes

Saratoga Water - Monday, March 14, 2016

You don’t have to be Irish or even like the color green to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. Look at March 17 as a day to cook delicious authentic cuisine and have fun with family, friends and co-workers. How about starting your day with an Irish Coffee or ending it with a Stout and Ice Cream Float? We have a feeling you’ll definitely feel the luck of the Irish in these recipes below. Remember, there’s no shortage of fun to be had on this holiday. Enjoy and drink responsibly!

Irish Coffee
Start your morning with a little coffee, a little brown sugar and a little Irish whiskey. Top your breakfast buzz with whipped heavy cream and enjoy!

Irish Cocktail

Not much of a coffee drinker? No reason to worry, there are plenty of Irish whiskey cocktails you can try this St. Patrick’s Day. This Irish cocktail called “The Copywriter” is easy-drinking and easy to make.

Guinness Beef Stew

If you prefer beer over Irish whiskey, this Guinness Beef Stew is a must! Insider tip: you should also make a side of mashed potatoes -- they go perfectly with this hearty and traditional Irish dish. 


Irish Soda Bread
A traditional Irish meal isn’t complete without Irish Soda Bread. Imagine a large loaf filled with raisins and sweetened with brown sugar. What’s the best part? It takes less than an hour to prepare and bake!

Stout and Ice Cream Float
End your day of celebrating with one more treat. Scoop vanilla ice cream into a pint glass and pour Guinness right on top. The recipe says it makes 2 servings, but we won’t judge if you want to enjoy this dessert all by yourself.

Have a safe and Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Orange-Tangerine Spring Inspired Recipes

Saratoga Water - Friday, March 04, 2016


Spring has (almost) sprung! With a new season right around the corner, we’re anxiously awaiting new flavors and ingredients to join our recipes. Cooking with seasonal fruits and vegetables keeps your kitchen experience exciting. Try making one of these recipes inspired by our Orange-Tangerine Essence water. They are just what you need to get primed and ready for springtime. And trust us, the juice is worth the squeeze. Enjoy! 

Orange Romaine Salad
Light, refreshing and simple to make. This salad uses a light honey vinaigrette that complements the oranges nicely with the right amount of sweetness. Great for parties or even a weekly go-to meal. Try adding grilled chicken or fish as your protein option.

Roasted Butternut Orange Risotto
A great transition meal that combines winter and springtime flavors. You can garnish with dried cranberries, chopped pecans or fresh herbs.

Orange Blossom Cheesecake

Love to bake? This dessert is the perfect blend of fruit and cheese. It’s decadent, creamy, citrusy and most of all, tasty.

Orange Cream Float

A refreshing alternative to the classic root beer float. For a lower-calorie version, try using Orange-Tangerine Essence water instead of the orange flavored soda.

Saratoga Essence comes in three flavors: Orange-Tangerine, Lemon-Lime and Wild Berry. To learn more about this zero calorie, sparkling spring water or to purchase online, click here.

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