Friday, September 21, 2012

Lemon Tree Update

Look at how big my first lemon is getting! Maybe it will start to turn yellow soon...

Monday, August 20, 2012

Quick Bites

Greetings all,

I've been asked to stay on at my internship through the Fall at the NYC Department of Health, Nutrition Strategy Program.  I'm excited to stick around once a week during the Fall school semester, hopefully not burning myself out too badly.  Next semester includes 3 classes and 1 lab, all toughies.  Plus, I get the added bonus of having to apply to dietetic internships for next year, lucky me!

Anyway, the purpose of this post is to give you all a few "quick bites" of information that I've collected from my Whole Living magazines over the summer.  This is the stuff I find interesting, so hopefully you will too.

1) Instead of using harsh fluorides and mouth washes (aka listerine, etc) try simply rinsing with warm sea salt water and 2 drops of spearmint or clove bud essential oils.  Check out Aura Cacia.

2) To maintain a good body pH, eat more alkaline foods (such as fruits, vegetables, and beans) and less acidic foods (dairy and meat).

3) Organic produce stickers will have a 5-digit number beginning with a 9.  Conventional produce is only a 4-digit number and often begin with 4 or 5.

4) The Contamination Scale - if you have the means to buy all things organic, go ahead.  If you can only afford to buy some things organic, buy the following, ranked from worst to worst-est in terms on residual pesticide contamination:

  • Potatoes
  • Blueberries
  • Cucumbers
  • Lettuce
  • Spinach
  • Grapes
  • Nectarines
  • Strawberries
  • Peaches
  • Red Pepper
  • Celery
  • Apples -- the worst offenders!  

5) Look at my adorable little lemon that is growing on my Meyer lemon tree!  Let's hope the branch is strong enough to support the full growth of the lemon!  I'll keep you updated!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Roast Veggies

Produce from the farmers market yesterday:
Baby eggplant
Vine ripe tomatoes
Sweet potatoes

Toss is olive oil, a few cracks of sea salt, freshly ground black pepper. Also added some freshly chopped rosemary to the sweet potatoes.

Lay everything out on a baking sheet in a single layer.

Roast in the oven at: 400 degrees
Time: after 20 mins remove the pan and flip over the sweet potatoes and carrots. Put back in the oven for another 10-15 minutes.

Going into the oven

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Farmers Market Lunch

Oh how I've missed my weekly Saturday lobster salad. Everything on the plate (except the avocado and pomegranate seeds) is from the Union Square GreenMarket.

The lobster is the best deal in town - $10.95/lb (up a dollar from last year) cooked-to-perfection lobster from the fish stand, PE & DD.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Friday, June 8, 2012

Updates and Side Notes

• I finally made it down to DC for a visit last weekend and was able to dine at the new District Kitchen.  My old bosses, from when I was a bartender at Sonoma, opened it together.  I'm so happy for them!  And everything was tasty and beautiful.

• I've been running a lot lately.  Joined the NYRR last year and have found myself signing up for several races a month with my boyfriend.  I even completed my first half-marathon.  I've decided that the best after run snack is: chocolate milk.  It's got a little fat, protein, sugar, calcium, and antioxidants from the chocolate.

It even comes with a straw and is a perfect portion

• The Madison Square Park BBQ is tomorrow.  If I can weave my way through the crowds, I'll be sure to let you know how the $8 plates of BBQ are.  

• My mister bought me a meyer lemon tree that I've been eyeing for awhile at Plantworks.  We repotted it and I have it front and center in my window soaking up the rays.  Now I just need it to flower and give me cute little lemons for my ice waters.

More like a little lemon bush

• I decided that this is going to be a gin-kinda-summer.  I tried some new ones the other day and am loving all the choices.  I have always been partial to Hendrick's, but wow, there is some hefty competition out there.  Now I just need to find more hip bars that carry these artisan bottles.  Ransom's Old Tom Gin is especially cool, due to the herbal blend and golden-tinted color.  Add a splash of grapefruit juice and a splash of club soda and I think we have a winner.

Ransom's Small's Gin and Old Tom Gin

• My favorite restaurants in New York right now: ABC Kitchen, Spotted Pig, and the usual Porchetta.  Where I'm aching to try: Roberta's, Pure Food and Wine, and John Dory.

The Spotted Pig

• I got an internship (paid!) with the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.  I start on Monday as a Nutrition Policy Intern in the Chronic Disease Prevention division.  Wish me luck!

Happy June!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

James Beard Awards 2012

And the winner is...
Best New Restaurant
Next, Chicago
Outstanding Chef
Daniel Humm of Eleven Madison Park, New York
Outstanding Pastry Chef
Mindy Segal of Mindy's Hot Chocolate, Chicago
Outstanding Restaurant
Boulevard, San Francisco
Outstanding Restaurateur
Tom Douglas of Tom Douglas Restaurants, Seattle
Outstanding Service
La Grenouille, New York
Outstanding Wine & Spirits Professional
Paul Grieco of Terroir, New York
Outstanding Wine Program
No. 9 Park, Boston
Outstanding Bar Program
PDT, New York
Rising Star Chef Of The Year
Christina Tosi of Momofuku Milk Bar, New York
Great Lakes
Bruce Sherman of North Pond, Chicago
Maricel Presilla of Cucharamama, Hoboken, NJ
Tory Miller of L'Etoile in Madison, WI
New York City
Michael Anthony of Gramercy Tavern, New York
Tim Cushman of O Ya, Boston
Matt Dillon of Sitka & Spruce, Seattle
Matt Molina of Osteria Mozza, Los Angeles
Chris Hastings of Hot and Hot Fish Club in Birmingham, AL
Southeast (tie)
Hugh Acheson of Five and Ten, Athens, GA & Linton Hopkins of Restaurant Eugene, Atlanta, GA
Paul Qui of Uchiko, Austin, Texas
James Beard Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award
Wolfgang Puck
James Beard Foundation Humanitarian of the Year
Charlie Trotter

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Give Quinoa A Try

Quinoa: pronounced keen-wah

It's known as the "Gold of the Incas," it has all 9 essential amino acids (protein building blocks that we can't make in our bodies, so we need to get them from food), and one cup contains all the magnesium we need for a day.

Since there is such a high protein value, quinoa makes a perfect meatless monday meal.  Just toss in some stir-fried veggies and you've got yourself a easy nutritious dinner.

Magnesium is an essential mineral that helps supports bone health and it's involved in many enzyme reactions in our body.  It has also be found to relax the blood vessels associated with migraines.

Quinoa is a good source of fiber and iron too.  It's also gluten-free for all of you with an allergy.

Quinoa is very easy cook!  If you buy it in bulk/plain, simply add 1 cup quinoa to 2 cups water in a saucepan, or you could use low-sodium vegetable or chicken broth.  I usually add 1 cup water and 1 cup chicken broth for some extra flavor.  Bring everything to a boil and let it simmer for around 15 minutes.  Should be fluffy and slightly translucent when ready to eat.

I like to keep things interesting, so I've been adding vegetables and extra seasonings to the plain dried quinoa mix.  Things I've tried (not all at once): diced red pepper, dried basil, oregano, rosemary, fresh black pepper, diced carrots, diced celery, and diced fresh garlic.

Once everything is cooked, I've also tried adding in sauteed mushrooms, snow peas, grated parmesan cheese and various meats.

You can find 16 ounces of plain organic quinoa at Trader Joe's for around 3 or 4 dollars.   I'm sure
Whole Foods sells it in bulk, though I've never looked for it there.  I did however recently buy a package of rosemary quinoa mix ($3.50) from Whole Foods by Near East.  I have always loved Near East products, especially their taboule, so I thought I'd give this a try.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Afternoon snack

There is nothing wrong with a little afternoon snack -- as long as it is not Doritos.  (sorry!)

May I recommend a granny smith apple sliced up with a few shakes of cinnamon? Nutritious, tasty, and curbs the hunger pangs until dinner.  Still feeling unsatisfied, fine, add all natural/unsalted peanut butter or almond butter too.

Added nutritional bonus: lots of antioxidants

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Chix Soup +++

Chicken soup is still my panacea. 

So even though yesterday's weather seemed more like summer rather than winter, (which by the way, is the season we are still technically in) I thought I'd post about a soup I recently made.  I took a basic chicken soup recipe and turned it into chix soup plus, because, why not make it a bit more nutritious?

It's quick and easy, and you don't need to make your own chicken stock, which I often dread.

chix soup +++
serves 6 to 8

1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breasts
2.5 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium-sized onion
3-4 cloves garlic, diced
3 celery stalks, chopped
1 pound sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped
3 cups kale, roughly chopped
10 grape tomatoes, halved
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
3 cups water
Sea salt and pepper


1. Season chicken breasts with salt and pepper.  In soup pot, heat olive oil over medium-high heat and cook chicken through about 4 minutes per side until golden brown.  Remove chicken and set aside for later.

2. Add celery, garlic, and onion to the pot and cook until tender, about 7-8 minutes.

3. Pour in the apple cider vinegar and then add the sweet potatoes, kale, tomatoes, chicken broth, and water.  Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to simmer for 20 minutes.

4. Tear chicken with hands for a pulled effect.  Stir chicken into the pot to heat it for a few minutes.

5. Serve and enjoy :)

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Quick Fixes

I was thinking about all of the ways that I've already altered my lifestyle to encourage a "healthier" me. I thought I'd share 25 quick fixes that you could all start doing at anytime to help improve your health.  Some of these may seem really obvious and I bet many of them you already do, but this is just a little on-going list I'd like to start on how to eat healthier and simpler long-term.  I could easily write a paragraph on each one of these items, so please feel free to leave a comment and request such information.  For now, I thought I'd keep it as simple as possible.

Good luck making the switches!

1. White rice to brown rice, black rice or brown grain blends; which may include long grain rice varieties.  Trader Joe's sells a great "Brown Rice Medley" that costs around $1.99 for a bag.

2. Regular pasta to whole grain pasta.  There are definitely times when I still eat regular pasta, for example, when I make lasagna or order homemade pasta at a restaurant, but for the most part, it's only whole grain pasta for me.

3. Soda to seltzer.  Duh.

4. Any other cooking oils/sprays to only extra virgin olive oil or canola oil.

I am probably bias, but grown and bottled olive oils
from Italy are the best

5. White bread to whole grain bread (check the food label to make sure the first ingredient is "whole ...")  You should be getting 4 - 6 grams of fiber in each slice.  May I recommend Trader Joe's Fiber Multigrain.

6. Salted peanut butter to unsalted peanut butter.  May I also recommend trying almond, sunflower seed, or any other type of nut-butter.

7. Cooking with heavy cream or whole milk to using plain yogurt instead.  Substitute yogurt in place of cream in almost any recipe.

8. Any other kind of milk to organic fat-free milk.

9. Soy sauce to only low-sodium soy sauce.  Use sparingly.

10. Salt shaker to just fresh pepper or fresh squeezed lemon for flavor.

11. Packaged trail mix to making your own trail mix -- use unsalted almonds, pecans, walnuts, dark chocolate chips, and crasins (no sugar added, all natural, if you can find them).  This will save you calories, various preservatives, and money.

12. Any type of condiment or spread on your sandwich (not that I ever used these anyways) to sliced avocado.

13. Any other kind of yogurt to fat-free Greek yogurt.  Try Fage, Oikos, or Chobani.

14. Ground beef to ground turkey (again, not for every dish all the time, but give it a try for most).

15. 1 yolk for every 2-3 egg whites.  When I make scrambled eggs, I use 1 whole egg and one or two additional egg whites.

16. Pork bacon or pork sausage to turkey bacon or turkey sausage, this is a mega fat-reduction.

17. When making any recipe that calls for sugar, I often only add half as much as the recipe calls for.  Sometimes less.  You could also play around with adding just a little bit of honey in some cases.

18. Butter to, well, still butter.  Just use less.  Much less.

19. White potatoes to sweet potatoes.  You can still enjoy white potatoes every once and while, but for the most part, incorporate sweet potatoes as their nutrients are sky high.

Roast sweet potatoes with a drizzle of olive oil and fresh pepper
20. Milk chocolate or white chocolate to dark chocolate.  Go ahead and try at least 70 - 85%.  This is my favorite!

21. Drink at least 8 glasses of water a day.

22. Exercise every day for at least 30 minutes.  Take the stairs, get off the subway at an earlier stop and walk, clean your filthy apartment/house/basement/garage, plant a garden, walk the dog longer, play, join a yoga/pilates studio, go skiing, don't drive -- walk or ride your bike, go out dancing, go for a hike, just go outside for an adventure.

23. Buy lean cuts of meat (like tenderloins, sirloins, top round steaks) and buy skinless chicken.

24. Go meatless at least once a week.

Shop at your local farmers market as often as you can

25. Buy more "real" foods (not food-like substances, processed foods, packaged foods etc...)

Enjoy what you EAT!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

An Easy Dinner Tonight

I've been trying new recipes and getting more adventurous with different foods, but let's be serious, sometimes you just want a simple tasty meal.
Here's an easy dinner loaded with nutrients: baked lemon chicken, baked sweet potatoes, and a green vegetable.

Baked lemon chicken - 
I tend to only buy antibiotic-free organic skinless chicken breasts.  I bought a some chicken at Trader Joe's the other day, and the package came with three decent sized chicken breasts for around $7.50.  
Add a drizzle of olive oil over each one.  Season both sides with pepper, dried basil and fresh pressed garlic.  Or, you can add any herbs or spices you'd like.  Then cover the chicken with sliced lemons.  I tried using some lime slices too.  I also squeezed some fresh lemon juice over the tops of the chicken.  Bake for 30 mins at 350 degrees.

Add herbs and spices first then cover with lemon slices

Bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees

Baked sweet potatoes - 
One of natures most nutrient dense foods.  I prefer smaller-sized sweet potatoes for some reason, and I at least always make sure to buy the same sized ones so they bake evenly together.  Wash them thoroughly and stab 'em all over with a fork.  Wrap each one in tin foil and place on baking sheet; they tend to drip.  Bake for 45 minutes at 400 degrees.  Or, if you're cooking them at the same time as the chicken...put the sweet potatoes in first for 30 mins at 415 degrees.  Then, when you add the chicken, lower the oven temp to 350, and continue baking the potatoes for another 30 mins alongside the chicken.
I usually just cut the potato in half, sprinkle a little cinnamon over the top, and eat it right out the skin as is.  No need for any butter since sweet potatoes already have so much flavor.  The cinnamon is a nice touch, and it adds some extra antioxidants to your meal.  I don't eat the skin.

Hot potato!

Nutrients in
Sweet Potato
1.00 cup, baked (114.00 grams)
Nutrient%Daily Value

vitamin A438.1%

vitamin C37.2%


vitamin B6 (pyridoxine)16.5%



dietary fiber15%

vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid)10.1%


vitamin B3 (niacin)8.5%

Calories (102)5%

Green vegetable - 
The easiest one to make, I think, is simply steamed broccoli.  Wash and trim broccoli and steam for 5 minutes.  No more, no less.  The broccoli will be just tender enough and it will retain all of it's nutrients (which can normally get lost in the water when boiled or steamed for too long).  Squeeze a lemon wedge over the broccoli right before serving.
Other simple green veggies to make could be sauteed kale or chard.  Washed and remove thick stems and tear off smaller leaves.  Throw the leaves into a large skillet with a few tablespoons of water and cover.  Cook the greens down a bit.  You can add a little olive oil and fresh garlic if you'd like.  Also, red chili flakes add a nice kick.  A squeeze of lemon is nice over these greens too, when serving.
Or, you could always make a quick garden salad with spinach or baby romaine salad greens tossed with a little flavored vinegar.  

Chard: just took the cover off, after cooking for about 5 mins covered

Chard and garlic being cooked down for a few more minutes uncovered

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Check out Mark Bittman's NYTimes article about American's consuming less meat and the possible reasons why.

I see many more "meatless anydays" in the future...

Garden Salad

Cremini Mushrooms

Roast Eggplant, Tomato and Artichokes with Garlic and Lemon

Vegetable Saute

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Little Seeds of Goodness

We are in the height of pomegranate season-- which usually runs from September through March.  As much as it pains me for summertime to end, I must admit that I get a smile on my face when I start seeing pomegranates back in the markets.  These little seeds of goodness not only add a sweet touch to whatever dish you are eating (or cocktail) they are loaded with antioxidants, vitamin C, fiber, and potassium.

I don't know what brought about the phrase "fruits of your labor" but my guess is that it must have stemmed from the pomegranate.  Getting those darn seeds out can be a laborious task to say the least.  I've heard of submerging halved pomegranates into water to aid in removing the seeds, though I've never tried this tactic.
For me, I cut it vertically in half first -- right through the top where the stem is.  I think you minimize losing seeds this way.  With each half, you can see where the segments are and can cut each half into quarters on the seams.  Once it's in quarters, gentle hands and patience is the only way to get all the seeds out.  Sometimes I wonder if it's worth all the time (seriously, it takes me about 20+ minutes to get all the seeds out) but I always find myself buying one weekly and enjoying the fruits of my labor.

Costs: Whole Foods and Trader Joe's sell pomegranates for about $3/each.  I've found them to be somewhat disappointing lately though.  There is a fruit cart guy on 14th Street, right by Trader Joe's, that sells them for $1.99 and they have been fantastic.  You can also buy already-seeded packages that come in a ventilated small plastic tub.  These range in price and in the midst of the season, they are about $4 per package and will save you lots of time; but I still prefer to take the seeds out on my own.

Look for:  Good sized (the size of a naval orange or small grapefruit), dark ruby colored, heavy, and unbruised.  If they're bruised or feel soft, you may find brown seeds inside, which is no good.

Toss 'em into your: yogurt, cereal, fruit salads, garden salads, quinoa, couscous, wild rice, brown rice, oatmeal, wrap sandwiches, pitas, muffin batter, bread dough, turkey stuffing, and smoothies.  Even place them on top of your grilled or baked meats, like chicken or pork tenderloin.  Buy eating your meats with vitamin-C boosting foods, like pomegranates, you can even enhance your iron absorption.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Meatless Anyday

I think it's important to go meatless at least one day a week and I often find myself going meatless even more than that without even trying.  I love a good steak as much as the rest of you, but it's important to get variety and not load up on the saturated fat that comes along with most meat.  Meatless Monday has health and environmental benefits, so give it a try.

Here are some meatless anyday recommendations:

  • Salad:  This is an easy one.  You can include all types of salads (fruit, quinoa, wheatberry, etc) on your plate.  Here, I made an easy garden salad with mixed greens, tomatoes, carrots, green peppers, and pomegranate seeds; and a roast butternut squash Israeli couscous (also called pearl couscous).  The only dressing I have over the garden salad is fresh squeezed lemon.  If you need more of a kick, any kind of vinegar would be fine, may I recommend the Spectrum pomegranate white wine vinegar, found a Wholefoods.  As for the couscous salad, I bought the Israeli couscous at Trader Joe's and I also bought their precut raw butternut squash that was all ready to go in the oven to roast.  There is even a recipe for the whole thing on the Trader Joe's box.  Including different types of salads on your plate is the best way to get all the nutrients you need and to fill you up.  The veggies have most vitamins (especially A and C) and minerals; and the couscous has the fiber and the complex carbs to keep you feeling full.
I always like to add a little fruit to my garden salads for a sweet touch

  • Stir-Fry:  Make the switch to brown rice from white rice.  This way, you gain all the fiber that is striped from the white rice version and you get all the nutrients too.  While you are making the rice, cut up and saute your veggies in a pan.  Use olive oil to lightly coat the pan and veggies.  I like to add broccoli, carrots, snow peas, peppers, and mushrooms the mix.  Once everything is mixed in together, feel free to add a teaspoon of low-sodium soy sauce or other sauce, I like San-J Teriyaki, but only use a little bit because there is a lot of sodium (and added sugar!) in these types of sauces.  If you need more flavor, add garlic to your olive oil when you are sauteing the veggies or try grating fresh ginger over top of the meal.  Again, you have the whole grains for fiber and keeping you feeling full and the veggies for the vitamins and minerals...whole grains have vitamins and minerals too!
For a little protein, try adding an egg

  • Pasta Primavera:  This is also an easy one...I mean, who doesn't have a box of pasta sitting in their cabinet?  I often make this when I have a bunch of veggies that I need to use up sitting in the fridge and I'll just throw in whatever I have.  Use wholewheat pasta, of course, and steam or lightly saute some veggies.  Here I had steamed some kale, chopped up some raw yellow and red bell peppers, and sautéed some crimini mushrooms.  Other good things to add are artichokes, tomatoes, zucchini, garlic, swiss chard, even a little avocado would be nice creamy touch.  Feel free to add any herbs, like basil or oregano, for some added flavor.
    Any shape of pasta will do, just use your favorite