Tuesday, December 23, 2008
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
Monday, December 1, 2008
It's become tradition for me to make this salad every Thanksgiving -- otherwise my family might bar me from sitting down at the table (if you've ever met my family, you understand). I decided to get a little racy this year and tossed in some whole wheat garlic croutons. I know you're thinking croutons are 'nutritional blasphemy', so I swapped the bread for whole wheat for some wholegrain, higher-fiber goodness. Yes, there's a wee bit of olive oil and butter involved, but 2-3 mini croutons won't set you back too much and they're so freaking good! Everything in balance friends - this salad gets nutritional bonus points...pomegranate seeds are jam-packed with disease-fighting antioxidants and the walnuts are a great soure of healthy omega-3 fats!
-1/3 cup pomegranate seeds
1/4 cup chamapagne vinegar
¼ cup + 2 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
All said and eaten, it's amazing how you can go into the holiday with the best of intentions, keep meals relatively reasonable, and still come out of the weekend feeling like the poor turkey probably does...plump, roasted, and totally over-done. That's the goodness of comforting holiday meals, and I love every bite of it. The trick is to maintain your normal eating routine as much as you can in the days before and after the big feast. Keep tabs on portions of leftovers and treats so you can work them in smartly...like the remains of my fave homemade pumpkin bread that was stashed into my bag on my way back to NYC (thanks Dad!).
Take some time to reboot and rebound from a few days of heavy nibbling and imbibing. Back to basics for most meals, weaving in leftovers and treats here and there (if you still have any). With yesterday's cold, nasty weather, I decided it was the perfect day for a little post-Thanksgiving chicken soup to warm me up and set me up for a nice week of rebounding back into my normal routine...kind of like when you're rebounding from a break-up. It ain't easy to pull yourself out of the depths of relationship despair, but once you do, you feel like a million bucks. After a big grocery shopping trip, I successfully restocked my fridge with tons of fresh produce and all my standard staples to set me smooth-sailing for the week.
So back to the chicken soup...if you never thought you'd be able to whip up homemade chicken soup, think again. This might be one of the easiest, fail-safe recipes ever -- I added some brown rice this time for some depth, but you can leave it out if you wish.
Your Mama's Chicken Soup
1 small whole chicken (ideally free-range or organic)
3-4 celery stalks, chopped
3-4 carrots, chopped (leave the skin on for extra fiber and save time on peeling)
2 small yellow onions, peeled and chopped
1/2 cup brown rice, if desired
1/2 cup chopped leeks, if desired (chop up the white part)
2 small Russet or golden potatoes, if desired
salt and pepper to taste
parmesan or pecorino romano cheese for grating
Get out a massively large pot (like a good-sized pasta pot), wash the chicken and plop it in the pot. Fill up the pot to cover the chicken, about 3/4 of the way to the top. Add in chopped onion, carrot and celery. Season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil and then turn heat to medium and let simmer for about an hour, or until the chicken is fully cooked. Turn the heat off, take the chicken out and skin it, removing white meat (and a little dark if you like) from the breast, thighs and wings. Dump the meat back in the pot. Add in your rice, potatoes and leeks and simmer on medium-low for another 45 minutes until the potatoes and rice are fully cook. Serve up in small bowls with 2-3 tablespoons of the pecorino cheese (my fave because it adds a nice kick of salty, cheesy goodness!).
Makes about 6-8 servings. Sorry, no pic, but I promise it's really tasty!
Monday, November 17, 2008
Butternut Squash Bruschetta w. Pine Nuts & Sour Cherries
1 medium-large butternut squash (roasted, peeled and cubed)
1 small yellow onion, diced
2 tsp olive oil
1 can cannelini beans (white beans), rinsed and drained
¼ cup pine nuts, toasted
1 cup sour cherries, jarred in natural juices and drained
2 sprigs fresh rosemary, chopped (1-2 Tablespoons)
½ - ¾ cup low-sodium chicken broth (or vegetable broth)
salt, to taste
3/4 cup freshly grated parmesan or pecorino romano cheese
Preparation: Cut butternut squash in half, brush with olive oil and roast at 350 (cut side down) for about 30-35 minutes, or until about ¾ the way done (still slightly hard, but able to be cut). For an easy shortcut, places both halves in the microwave for 7-9 minute. Allow squash to cool, peel/cut skin off and cut into small chunks. Heat oil in a deep frying pan/saucepan and sauté onion until translucent. Add in cannelini beans, squash, chicken broth & rosemary -- decrease heat and bring to a medium-low simmer. Add salt to taste, add in cherries, parmesan and pine nuts, cook until majority of broth evaporates and ingredients become warm and “stew-like” – squash should be slightly mashed/slightly chunky.
Cut baguette into thin slices about 1" thick. Arrange on a cookie sheet and brush lightly with olive oil. Toast in oven at 350 for 4-5 minutes. Place a spoonful of squash mixture onto bruschetta toasts and arrange on a serving tray or plate.
Makes 2-3 dozen bruschetta
pics, beginning and end:
Monday, November 10, 2008
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
Roasted Pumpkin Seeds
INGREDIENTS 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon chili powder or paprika
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
2 cups raw whole pumpkin seeds
season with salt to taste
DIRECTIONS Preheat oven to 275 degrees F. Combine the butter, spices, Worcestershire sauce and pumpkin seeds. Mix thoroughly and place in shallow baking dish. Bake for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.
Makes about 10-12 servings
Nutrition facts: 210 calories, 17g fat, 3.5g saturated fat, 1g fiber, 12g protein
- candy corn (1 serving, 22 pieces) 140 calories, 0 grams fat
- fun sized snickers or milkway (1) 75calories, 3.5 grams fat
- fun sized m&ms (1 pack) 90 calories, 4.5grams fat twizzlers (3 pieces) 130 calories, 5 grams fat
- peppermint pattie minis (2 pieces) 110 calories, 2 grams fat
- reese's peanut butter cups (3 minis) 90 calories, 7 grams fat
- snack sized butterfinger (1) 100 calories, 4 grams fat
- fun sized raisinets (1 pack) 65 calories, 2.5 grams fat
- fun sized goobers (1 pack) 85 calories, 5 grams fat
Friday, October 24, 2008
And on a random side-note, I'm also obsessed with my friend's band's hit song and video "Obsessed with You" . Check out the Orion Experience on itunes, their songs were recently featured on the Hills and they frequently play in NYC and LA. They rock!
A classic over-achiever (call me type-A, I can take the blow), I decided to sign up for some cooking classes to hone my culinary prowess in the kitchen...I rarely tend to use recipes which clearly contradicts the 'precise' over-achiever in me, but I love the thrill of creating something purely from my senses and from scratch. Anyhow, recipes and preciseness aside, I was excited to take a series of classes at ICE (Institute for Culinary Education) in Manhattan. Did I take the "healthy cooking" course? Hells no! I wanted to refine the basic methods of basic cooking - nothing too elaborate, nothing overly gourmet, just good sound skills that I'd be able to apply anywhere, with anything. When you experiment in the kitchen and build up basic cooking skills and knowledge, you can really translate them to making a dish as healthful...or unhealthful as you wish. That's the beauty of getting to really know your food.
I must say, "The Essentials of Fine Cooking I" was an excellent class...and the instructor, Richard Ruben (author of the Farmer's Market Cookbook) will keep you cracking up, amused and thoroughly engaged the entire 4 hour class period. From killer knife skills (not literally) to braised lamb shanks to perfect omelets, the course was a great refresher...or a comfortable introduction for some.
Do you find yourself daunted by your kitchen, by the mere thought of using your stove? Take a gamble, have some fun and experiment with a recipe, a concoction of ingredients or check out a local cooking class near you. Happy honing.
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
Go and get reading!!!
Monday, October 13, 2008
Last week was packed with item after item to blog about -- so jammed packed I'm not exactly sure where to begin. Let's start with some basics in the world o'nutrition news.
Aside from the economy tanking last week, food news covered the papers. Check out this intriguing article in last week's NY Times titled, "In Bad Economic Times, Are People Healthier?" You probably wouldn't normally link better eating habits to a clamp down on your wallet, but the article cites that this year in particular, tough times and scrimping may actually do a body some good. A market research firm reported last May that 53 percent of consumers were cooking more from scratch at home than they did 6 months beforehand, thanks to rising food costs and cutting back on extraneous expenses like dining out at restaurants. Rising healthcare costs aside, cooking more from scratch has the potential to significantly impact our health and what foods are appearing on our plates. (Hopefully that translates to a better balanced of fruits and vegetables, lean protein sources and whole grains). We know that real food has a much greater "bang for your buck" (both nutritionally and literally) than anything boxed, bagged, processed, or wrapped in plastic -- and usually taste better too. Let's start putting that concept into practice. Good quality, healthy food doesn't have to be exhorbitant. A pound of chicken breasts, 4 potatoes and a head of broccoli will cost you an average of $10-14 and feed 4 people v. your $5 frozen dinner that just feeds one and often leaves you rumaging through your barren refrigerator hungry for more.
Just something to consider. Convenience is obviously another topic to tackle entirely, but I'm sticking to basics for now. How has our current economic state affected you and what you are or are not eating (or spending on food)? What's in your grocery cart these days? Personally, I've been hitting up the farmers market more than ever and am really trying to curb how often I eat out during the week -- a 'quick bite' with a friend or colleague can easily add up to $40-50 in this city...multiple times a week! I'm also making an effort to actually EAT my leftovers -- yes, I'm definitely guilty of making extra and dumping it after a few days of sitting pretty in the fridge. Put it in the freezer if you can't stand looking it for the 3rd or 4th time in a row...magic, you've automatically got healthy convenience food at a much lower cost!
Next up on the blogging radar later in the week: The New York Wine & Food Festival that occurred in NYC this past weekend, welcoming celebrity chefs and culinary speakers from around the world. I was lucky enough to attend two fantastic talks over the weekend. More on my experience hearing the mother of the organic food movement, Alice Waters and Nigella Lawson, in all her Brit gastro-porn greatness, to come. To accompany the festival weekend, the Times dedicated this Sunday's magazine entirely to the topic of food (see pic above)...everything from food policy issues, taking food seriously, locavorism and a soon-to-be-released documentary, Food Inc., that aims to raise social consciousness -- though it might seriously make you sick to your stomach or make you think twice where your poultry and beef is coming from in the process. I'd much rather go with the latter and pray it doesn't leave me with nightmares (I have no love for horror movies).
Monday, October 6, 2008
As the New York Marathon is quickly approaching, I figured this would be a great time to bring up the whole 'carb-running' discussion. Inevitably, every year around this time, someone -- or multiple people -- ask me about race training and carbohydrates...which is an excellent question. When, what type, how much? When to taper? Ever thought, "I'm running a race tomorrow -- this is the perfect excuse for me to have a ginormous pasta dinner!"
Sorry to put a damper on your pasta party, but you'll be much better if you incorporate good quality carbohydrate sources into your diet throughout your training period -- whether you're training for a 5K, 10 miler, half-marathon or the whole 26mile load. Overloading on carbs a few days or the night before the race doesn't give your body enough time to create a storage space for energy reserves (the technical term being glycogen)...which you'll slowly and steadily release during the race. Essentially, you've trained your muscles to hold and use energy reserves effectively and efficiently. This is the idea around 'complex' or wholegrain carbs, they're slowly digested and thus, they slowly release a steady stream of powerhouse energy.
About 2 weeks before the big race, you'll want to start tapering your workouts to allow for your muscles to build up enough energy stores. Since you're not as active, you can bump down the amount of carbs you're eating each day just slightly. Continue to focus on complex carb sources which serve as our body and our brain's optimal fuel source. We're talking brown rice, sweet potatoes, lentils and beans, quinoa, barley, whole wheat pasta, oatmeal, wholegrain breads and cereals. Having a huge pasta dinner the night before the race may just make you feel unnecessarily full and may potentially upset your digestive system if it's a bit sensitive...and that's definitely the last thing you want to deal with on the morning of race-day!
The morning of, reach for a light, energy-packed breakfast (under about 300 calories or so) for peak performance. My personal fave: banana with peanut or cashew butter, but a slice of whole wheat toast with PB or a bowl of oatmeal or cereal with fruit with also do the trick. Whatever has been working for you during your training period, stick with it. Trying something 'new and supposedly improved' right before the race could wreck havoc on your stomach if it's sensitive.
Lastly, make sure you hydrate and hydrate some more in preparation for race day. Learn when and how much to drink. Drink 4 to 8 glasses of extra water for a few days prior to the event. For an endurance race like a marathon, drink 2-3 glasses of water up to 2 hours before the guns go off. Then drink 1-2 cups 5-10 minutes before the start of the race and then ¼ to ½ cup of water or Gatorade every 15-20 minutes or so during the race. For endurance workouts, races and exercise greater than 60-90 minutes, you may want to try out sports drinks to replace lost fluids and electrolytes to give you a boost of fuel. You may also want to try carbohydrate gels during a marathon again to replenish muscles and keep energy levels running strong. Again, test-drive gels, ShotBlocks, sports jelly beans, and sports drinks prior to race day to prevent any digestive problems.
Most importantly...have a great run, have fun! When it comes to running and food, slow and steady definitely wins out every time.
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
Chicken with Mushrooms & Red Wine Sauce
Makes 2-4 servings
2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
1 lb skinless, boneless chicken breast, cut into thinner cutlets and then into pieces
2-3 Tbsp minced shallot
1 heaping tsp all-purpose flour
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
½ cup dry red wine
¼ cup low-sodium chicken broth *(or water)
6-8 mushrooms, mix of button and cremini, or whatever suits your fancy; wash, trim and slice mushrooms
2 tsp fresh thyme leaves
Salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
In a medium to large frying pan, heat olive oil over medium to high heat. Add chicken breasts and season with salt and pepper. Brown chicken, about 4-5 minutes, and add in shallots during final minute. Remove pan from heat and set aside. In separate saucepan, melt butter and add flour to make a roux. Add wine, chicken broth and chicken. Bring to a simmer on medium heat. In pan used to cook chicken, add in mushrooms and cook with remaining oil left in pan, about 2-3 minutes. Add mushrooms to saucepan along with fresh thyme. Season with additional salt and pepper if desired. Allow sauce to thicken and simmer on low-medium heat for about 10-15 minutes.
Nutrition Facts: 240 calories, 11g fat, 4.5g sat fat, 0g fiber, 24g protein
Heirloom Tomato & Zucchini Gratin
Makes 8 servings
2 tsp extra virgin olive oil, extra for drizzling
1 large yellow onion, sliced thinly
2 large heirloom or vine-ripened tomatoes, sliced in thin rounds
1-2 medium zucchini or yellow squash, sliced in thin round
3/4 cup freshly shredded Gruyere cheese
2 tsp thyme leaves
Salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
Preheat over to 375. Heat 2 teaspoons olive oil in a medium frying pan and add sliced onions. Brown onions and transfer to a 13x9” glass baking dish. Layer tomato slices and zucchini rounds into 4 alternating rows. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper and sprinkle with thyme. Drizzle additional olive oil over vegetables. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 35-40 minutes. Remove dish from oven and remove foil. Sprinkle Gruyere cheese evenly over vegetables and bake, uncovered, for another 20-30 minutes until cheese is slightly golden-brown. Cool for 10 minutes and serve.
*For a comfort-food twist, replace 1 zucchini with 1 medium yellow potato, sliced thinly.
Nutrition Facts: 90 calories, 6g fat, 2.5g sat fat, 1g fiber, 4g protein
Makes 12-16 slices
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
3 ripened small-medium bananas, mashed
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp almond or vanilla extract
¾ cup sugar
¼-1/3 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
2 Tbsp brown sugar
Mash bananas in a medium mixing bowl and mix in baking soda. Let stand while creaming butter and sugar with an electric beater. Add eggs, flour, nuts, almond/vanilla extract and bananas to the butter-sugar mixture and mix thoroughly. Pour mixture into a loaf pan sprayed with cooking spray. Sprinkle brown sugar evenly on top of batter. Bake at 350 for about one hour, or until done. Cool for ten minutes and remove from pan, or cut into 14 thin slices. Served best when warm.
Nutrition Facts: (per slice) 150 calories, 4.5g fat, 1.5g sat fat, 2g fiber, 4g protein
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
If you're a frequent sipper, ditch the DC and my guess is you'll feel drastically different. Much less tired, much more energized, fewer sweet/carbohydrate cravings, more satisfied at mealtimes...the list could go on.
Thursday, September 18, 2008
Check it out...are you on the bandwagon?
A few other smart reads in the news this week:
A Dozen Ways for Kids to Eat Better
Deciphering the Good Old Egg
Update on Weight Loss Surgery
Thursday, September 11, 2008
Egg Scramble with Mozzarella w. Fresh Chives
1 whole egg
2 egg whites
2 tablespoons part-skim grated mozzarella cheese
1 teaspoon fresh chives, minced
1 teaspoon unsalted butter (or olive oil cooking spray)
salt, fresh ground black pepper to taste
In a small mixing bowl, whisk together eggs, salt and pepper with a wire whisk or fork until blended and sort-of "fluffy". In a small/medium saute pan, heat butter over medium-high heat. Add in eggs and let cook for about 30-45 seconds until they start to set on the bottom. Use a good spatula to scramble lightly, moving eggs around pan to cook evenly. Add in cheese and chives and cook for another 30-60 seconds until fully cooked, turn heat off before eggs brown. Serve with mixed greens drizzled with lemon juice and olive oil and a slice of whole grain toast.
Makes 1 serving.
Nutrition Facts: 145 calories, 11 grams fat
1 cup seedless watermelon chunks
1/2 cup chickpeas, rinsed and drained *(optional, great for a heartier salad, chickpeas add a punch of protein!)
1/4 cup chopped kalamata or Greek black olives
1/4 cup Greek or Bulgarian feta cheese
1 tablespoons fresh mint, shredded
4 cups arugula, rinsed
Basic balsamic vinaigrette
1.5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1-2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
salt, fresh ground black pepper to taste
Makes 2 servings
Toss first 5 ingredients together in a medium mixing bowl. Divide and arrange arugula leaves on plates, top with watermelon-feta mixture. Drizzle with balsamic vinaigrette and serve.
Nutrition Facts: 270 calories, 17g fat, 3.5g saturated fat, 4g dietary fiber, 9g protein
8 oz fresh caught scallops
2 medium vine-ripened tomatoes, diced
1 ear of fresh corn, schucked and cooked
2 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil
juice of 1 lemon
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, extra leaves for garnish
1 teaspoon butter
salt, fresh ground black pepper to taste
Makes 2 servings
Cook ear of corn in boiling water, about 8-10 minutes. Allow corn to cool and cut kernels off of cob. Place in bowl with diced tomatoes. In a small Cuisinart mixer, combine olive oil, lemon juice, garlic and basil and blend until smooth. Pour 3/4 of mixture into corn and tomato mixture and season with salt and pepper.
Season scallops with salt and pepper. In a medium skillet, heat butter and cook scallops 3-4 minutes on each side. Divide corn-tomato mixture onto 2 plates and place scallops atop mixture. Drizzle plates with remaining basil oil and sprinkle extra basil pieces (torn into small pieces or cut into a chiffonade) on top of scallops. *Serve with steamed green beans or sauteed asparagus or a simple mixed greens salad.
Nutrition Facts: 320 calories, 18g fat, 3.5g saturated fat, 2g dietary fiber, 22g protein
Market Fresh Tomato & Basil Summer Pasta Salad
1-15 oz box regular or whole wheat penne pasta (can substitute bowtie pasta if desired)
¼ cup Balsamic vinegar (enough to evenly coat pasta)
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oilsalt & freshly ground black pepper to taste
Makes about 10-12 servings (1/2 cup per serving)
Nutrition Facts: 220 calories, 8g fat, 2.5g saturated fat, 8g protein
Spinach Salad w. Balsamic Berries, Goat Cheese & Toasted Walnuts
1-6oz bag organic baby spinach
1 ½ cups strawberries, hulled & quartered
½ pint blueberries
¼ cup walnuts, toasted & chopped
2 oz goat cheese
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
3 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp shallots, minced
salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste
Assemble salad ingredients in large serving bowl and mix together. Combine ingredients for salad dressing in separate container and shake well, may be prepared 1-2 days ahead of time. Drizzle dressing over salad, mix well and serve.
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
Calories 130; Total Fat 9g; Saturated Fat 1.5g; Carbohydrate 12g; Fiber 3g; Protein 3g
Artichoke & White Bean Bruschetta w. Lemon & Garlic
1-14 oz can artichoke hearts, drained, rinsed & quartered
1-15 oz can cannelini beans, drained & rinsed
1 ½ Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 large clove garlic, minced
2 Tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
½ tsp red pepper flakes
1 Tbsp fresh squeezed lemon juice
2 Tbsp fresh lemon zest, additional zest for garnish (zest from 2 lemons)
¼ tsp salt, or to taste
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 18-inch wholegrain baguette, sliced into 16-18 1/2 -inch pieces
extra virgin olive oil for brushing
Preheat oven to 350°.
Place ingredients, artichoke hearts through lemon juice into a food processor and puree, mixing well until desired consistency is reached, may be smooth or slightly chunky. Season with salt, pepper and lemon zest.
Place baguette slices on a baking sheet and brush lightly with olive oil. Bake baguette slices for 8-10 minutes until toasted and slightly browned. Spread 1-2 tablespoons dip on top of bread and arrange on serving platter. Garnish each bruschetta toast with extra lemon zest if desired.
Makes 16-18 servings (2 Tbsp dip per serving)
Nutrition Facts (per serving, 1 bruschetta)
Tuesday, September 9, 2008
First up: One of my all time favorite salads, the blend of flavors is absolutley perfect for the fall. This has become a staple request at my family's Thanksgiving table (read: I'm not allowed at the table if I don't make it!) .
Pear & Gorgonzola Salad w. Shallot Vinaigrette
- 1 bag mixed greens or baby spinach
-2 red pears thinly sliced
-1/2 small red onion thinly sliced
-1/4 cup toasted walnuts or pecans, chopped
-1/4 cup dried cranberries
-1/3 cup gorgonzola cheese, crumbled (can substitute w. fresh goat cheese for a milder flavor)
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons white balsamic or Champagne vinegar
1 heaping teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons shallot, minced; salt, fresh ground pepper to taste
Combine ingredients, make dressing 3-4 hours prior to use, to allow flavors to intensify.
Nutrition facts: 280 calories, 18g fat, 4g saturated fat, 7g fiber, 5g protein.
Friday, September 5, 2008
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
So get out there and get moving! Finally, a quick note: I'm taking a breather and will be on vaca next week. I promise to return rested, refreshed and ready to blog!
Thursday, August 7, 2008
1. "The Overflowing Dinner Plate" -- I found this recent NY Times article and the crazy display of metrics attached to it to be fascinating, go ahead, call me a nerd. The article looks at what (and how much) Americans were in eating in 1970 v. what we eat today. Shocking statistics -- actually, they're really not all that shocking if you think about the obesity epedemic we're dealing with these days. In 1970, we consumed an average of 16.4 pounds of food a week. Today, we're talking 17.8 pounds of food per week. Crazy to think that in 1980, 15% of U.S. citizens were obese according to the CDC. As of 2007 however, that number sky-rocketed to well over 30% of the population -- with over 66% of the population hitting 'overweight' status. Any correlation to a serious increase in portion sizes and a +353% increase in the amount of corn syrup we consume each year? Hmm...could definitely be two of a plate-full of contributing factors. Anyhow, I thought the graphic (below) was pretty interesting. What's on your plate these days?
"What matters most is a person’s overall way of eating and living. If you indulge yourself one day, eat healthier the next. Otherwise, if it’s a diet you go on, it’s a diet you go off. Even more than feeling healthy, most people want to feel free and in control. This also gets away from moral judgments about food. It’s a small step from eating “bad food” to thinking of yourself as a “bad person,” and no one wants that. Food is to be enjoyed. Pleasure is sustainable; feeling deprived and controlled is not."
Next up: I'm going to hear Mr. Michael Pollan, author of The Ominvore's Dilemma and In Defense of Food tomorrow evening. Check out what he's got to say early next week!
Monday, August 4, 2008
Thursday -- Birthday. It's a new decade for me people...need I say more? Awesome, delicious, long and relaxing birthday dinner with my girlfriends at Rayuela in the Lower East Side, sort of a pan-Latino mix with great seafood and possibly the best lobster ceviche I've ever tasted. And of course the birthday girl had a few bites of cake...well, cake wasn't on the menu, but a few spoonfuls of chocolate mousse is a close second (see picture at left, a log-like take on chocolate mousse, darn tasty).
Friday -- long car ride to DC for the weekend. Caught up with close friends over dinner-- a salad, half a chicken burrito and a glass of red wine.
Saturday -- friend from college's baby shower. Lite brunch food and babies go well together! Later that evening, a nice dinner out with my family in DC -- salad with dried cherries and a sprinkle of blue cheese along with a halibut entree. (thankfully this multi-day/meal birthday celebration only occurs once a year!). Met back up with friends for a drink.
Sunday -- friend from college's bridal shower (different friend, we just like to jam-pack weekends every so often!). Lunch and homemade orange sorbet (unbelievably light and refreshing...and served in a scooped out orange rind!) LONG drive back to NYC. I have no love for the Jersey Turnpike. Lame attempt to catch up on sleep and go to bed 'early'.
Monday -- recovering and ligthening up my plate a little
As you can see, it's been quite an eventful past few days. We all have heftier eating or traveling weekends now and then, and once in a while, a bender of a night thanks to one too many margaritas or glasses of wine. How do you handle it without wrecking havoc on the scale? A small secret called PACING! You're heading into a long weekend, you recognize this so take a second to think before your fork dives in at every meal. Here are a few quick tips for social-heavy weekends and getting back into your groove:
1. choose 1 meal (not 5) to live a little, try something new and exciting
2. portions - do your damnest to watch em at meals, restaurants typically serve 2-3 times what a normal serving should be!
3. alcohol - just watch the intake (do you seriously need that 4th vodka and soda?), sip slow and drink some water over the course of the evening to stay decently hydrated
4. the best way to bounce back from a heavy night out with a healthy breakfast and lunch, I swear.
5. lighten it up come Monday morning -- you're back home and your normal routine is back on track. Lots of water, fresh fruits and veggies. skim back on eating out this week and be mindful of working portions back down to their normal state...your stomach often expands a little after heavier weekends/holidays etc and you may find you're able to eat more food than usual.
Thursday, July 31, 2008
All of this of course, is linked back to the overweight and obesity epidemic that has our country and food companies at their knees. A news article just published yesterday stated that 14 major food companies, Coca-Cola and Kellog's among them, who are members of the Children's Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative are planning to make a serious effort at marketing "healthier for you" foods to children in an effort too keep weight off. Great to hear, but will it really illicit change? What will really hit home with kids, what role do parents and guardians play? I'm not so sure medicine should be the got-to answer and it appears many others feel similarly because the American Academy of Pediatrics is getting a whole lot of flack right now. How did we get to this state of continuously expanding waistlines in a country that focuses so much attention on losing weight and spends millions each year on "diet" foods? Less time in front of the tube or computer, more time outside or actively playing along with smaller portions and simple changes towards healthier 'kid-friendly' foods might just do the trick--saving medical alternatives for when they're truly necessary. What do you all think?
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
What's almost more interesting, and more controversial, is that the low-carb diet which was higher in saturated fat and the low-fat diet, both helped lower LDL 'bad' cholesterol. Interesting because the Atkins diet traditionally has been scolded for encouraging unhealthful, cholesterol-raising amounts of saturated fat from rich calorie-laden sources like red meat, bacon and butter.
So behind the scenes, here's what the news stories are forgetting to mention:
1. the study was funded by the Atkins Research Foundation...I don't smell bias do you?
2. dieters put on the low-carb Atkins-like diet were actually encouraged to get their fat from vegetarian sources like nuts, oils etc which are healthy unsaturated fats and may outweigh the health/cholesterol impact of whatever saturated fats were additionally consumed.
Bottom line: It's a single study and there appears to be a number of confounding factors going on here. As Tara Parker Pope put it in her NY Times blog post, it's additional evidence that 'diets' just don't really work. A 10 or 6 pound sustained loss over two years doesn't sound ovewhelming to me. So what should we take away from all this? Stick with the basics people! The Mediterranean diet--or a version similar to it--has proven again and again to positively impact health, disease prevention and keep the scale hovering at a friendly number. A day-to-day diet rich in fresh fruits and vegetables, complex carbs like whole grains and legumes, healthy sources of fat like olive oil/grapeseed oil, nuts and avocado and a focus on seafood and fish has worked well for thousands of years. Eat fresh, eat whole, eat on smaller plates (ie. smaller portions) and you're good to go.