Sunday, January 30, 2011

Food Group Breakdown

Ever wonder what the major nutrients found in each food group are.  In no particular order, here they are...

Fruits: folate, vitamin A, vitamin C, potassium, fiber

Vegetables: folate, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K, vitamin E, magnesium, potassium, fiber

Grains: folate, niacin, riboflavin, thiamin, iron, magnesium, selenium, fiber

Meat: protein, niacin, thiamin, vitamin B6, vitamin B12, iron, magnesium, potassium, zinc

Milk/Dairy: protein, riboflavin, vitamin B12, calcium, magnesium, potassium, (often fortified with vitamins A + D)

Oils- vitamin E, essential fatty acids

Visit for more information on the US Dietary Guidelines.  Be sure to check out the new and improved food pyramid; which can now be customized by entering in your age, sex, height, weight, and daily physical activity

Saturday, January 29, 2011

"The Dirty Dozen"- Organic vs. Conventional

When I go to the market, I always try to buy organic, but sometimes double the price doesn't always seem worth it to me.

Whole foods does offer many organic produce options on sale each week, so be sure to grab those while the price is right.  Farmers Markets are also great spots to pick up organic produce for not-too-expensive prices.

I've always wondered which fruits and vegetables I should always buy organic and which ones I can safely get away with buying conventional (grown with pesticides)?

There are some fruits and vegetables that you simply don't need to buy organic.  Bananas.  You remove the peel before eating the banana.  Presto, the pesticides are found on the peel and the fruit inside is essentially "organic" or pesticide-free.

Then there are certain fruits and vegetables that should always be selected as organic when at the grocery store.  This handy guide, courtesy of the Environmental Working Group, outlines the dirtiest, meaning the most contaminated from pesticides, fruits and vegetables.

These fruits and veggies should be the ones that you always purchase organic:
12 Most Contaminated
  1. Peaches
  2. Apples
  3. Sweet Bell Peppers
  4. Celery
  5. Nectarines
  6. Strawberries/Raspberries
  7. Cherries
  8. Pears
  9. Imported Grapes
  10. Spinach
  11. Lettuce
  12. Potatoes

These fruits and veggies can be purchased as conventional:
12 Least Contaminated
  1. Onions
  2. Avocado
  3. Sweet Corn
  4. Pineapples
  5. Mango
  6. Asparagus
  7. Peas (Frozen)
  8. Kiwi
  9. Bananas
  10. Cabbage
  11. Broccoli
  12. Papaya

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Winter Wonderland in NYC

On my walk to Trader Joe's at Union Square

Today's lunch:
Everything tastes better with fresh basil pesto.

Pick up the Trader Joe's Multigrain Slims.  They are only 100 calories and are jam-packed with fiber...5g  in each 2-slice sandwich slim.  Plus, the small size keeps portion size down.
Try them toasted with pesto spread and turkey breast for a tasty sandwich.

I am going to try the "slim" for breakfast with a small amount of peanut butter and banana slices.  Yum!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Tired of plain ol' water?

Meet Polar Seltzer.  I am obsessed.  It's produced in Worcester, MA and is distributed throughout New England and to several other mid-atlantic states, however, I am having trouble finding it in the Big Apple.  I grew up in Massachusetts and didn't think anything of it when I'd buy a few 12-packs of my favorite flavors.  In fact, at my local Big Y grocery store, they were usually "buy 1 get 2 free" or some other crazy deal like that.  Sadly, I couldn't find it anywhere when I moved to DC back in 2001, so whenever friends or family would visit, they'd drive down several cases for me (thank you!) to replenish my stock.  Now that I'm in New York, I figured I'm a step closer to home and I should be able to have frequent access to it, but I am still on the hunt.

Seltzer is a great alternative to soda, fake juices or even to water if you're feeling bored with it.  I like bubbles and Polar's flavors are great.  My faves are Black Cherry and Cranberry Lime.  At zero calories, zero sodium, zero fat, zero sugar, zero everything, it's a perfect nutritious choice.

Poland Springs also makes a great seltzer that is zero sodium (and zero everything else) too.  There are many other good brands of seltzer, but beware of those seltzer brands that have sodium added to them.

Lunches at home

I don't think people know just how easy it is to make a well-balanced yummy meal right at home.

Some lunches from last week:
Half a turkey sandwich on whole grain toast with pesto spread, tomato, and avocado.  Sprout salad with broccoli.  I also had a glass of fat-free milk.

Added some baked sweet potatoes, fresh snap peas, different sprouts, and one slice of finocchiona from Eataly.

Asparagus, steamed for only 5 minutes in a basket steamer, kiwi, carrots, turkey sandwich with roasted sweet potato spread.

Vegetables maintain their nutrients better when they are eaten as fresh as possible, when not cooked directly in water (nutrients seep into the water), and when not cooked for too long.  For example. broccoli is best when steamed for only 5-6 minutes.  Vegetables should not be soggy or limp; they can be soft, but still have a bit of a snap to 'em.

When you buy your veggies from a farmer's market, you are getting the freshest possible produce, which will have the most nutrients.  The longer veggies sit around on shelves and in your refrigerator, the more nutrients they lose.  

Sunday, January 23, 2011

First Glance: Eataly

Location: 200 5th Ave New York, NY 10010

So Eataly seems to be the new food mecca in Manhattan, and I agree, it is quite an establishment.  Part market, part restaurant, part bakery, part gelateria, part espresso bar, part wine shop, part butcher, part chocolatier, part fish market, part-need-I-go-on?

I recently dined at Il Pesce within the massive building.  Sat at the bar and watched the chef, young and talented, call out orders.  Had the Zuppa de Pesce, mostly just because I like saying that phrase.  It was tasty, had a lot of flavor, but lacked on the pesce.  Also tried my misters' filet of red snapper, which was excellent, however, tiny and overpriced.

I bought some lovely baby artichokes and avocados (which are only $1.50 each, compared to Whole Foods where they cost $2+).

   low calorie food (medium-large artichoke contains roughly 60 calories)
   fat-free and cholesterol-free
   low in sodium
   source of fiber
   source of vitamin C
   source of folate
   source of magnesium

Eataly also sell local organic NY milk; which I haven't tried yet, but will consider next time I'm there.  There's something natural to me about milk in glass bottles.

Tried a cannoli, which was a big mistake.  The filling was much too sweet and the shell had, what I believe to be, cornmeal mixed in it.  What were they thinking?

The cured meats section is impressive and I found myself buying some delectable Finocchiona, which is an Italian salami flavored with fennel seeds.  It was perfectly thinly sliced and delicious.  Eat in moderation.

All in all, Eataly will definitely get a second visit; however, the crowds and pricing may keep me away more often than I would like.


Thanks for checking out my blog about food and nutrition in NYC.  I hope to enrich readers with ideas for balanced meals, where to get them, and any other tidbits about food I can find.  I will also offer my opinions about NYC restaurants and markets as I discover them along the way.  I've only been in this magical city for a month and already have a plethora of food stories.

I'm not claiming to be an expert by any means, but I will give my unbiased appraisal and encourage comments by readers, always.  I grew up with my Italian father and food-loving mother, so meals were always an event.  I also bartended in DC for many years, so I know what it's like to be on both sides of the counter.

I've spent many years trying to get myself in career-gear by taking the numerous science pre-reqs needed for graduate nutrition programs...chemistry I, II, organic, microbiology, anatomy, physiology...shall I go on?  I'm almost there and am hoping to begin a full-time program by Fall 2011.

I am lucky enough to have a part-time job and conveniently get to work from home.  Aside from hanging out in comfy clothes all day, I also get to head out to all the wonderful markets in my neighborhood (Greenwich Village, NoHo, Union Square, etc) and cook myself breakfast, lunch and dinner.  I was impressing myself with how colorful and balanced my meals were becoming and decided to create this blog to display my accomplishments- and to talk food.

Oh, and I'll try to keep things short + sweet!