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I thought everyone knew about Kale chips….the best snack ever…however, the other day I was chatting with someone and she did not in fact know how to make this delicious snack. Kale chips have all the guilty crunchy salty pleasure of a potato chip but all the nutritious benefits of kale.  Plus, they are super easy to make!

Ingredients:

Kale- whatever you’ve got (ideally  a bunch since they shrink down).

1 tsp Olive Oil

pinch of salt

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2, Wash and dry kale (salad spinner works great).

3. Spread out the kale leaves and cut off the leaves from the middle stem.

4.  Coat leaves with olive oil spray or use 1 tsp to coat leaves in a mixing bowl, add a pinch of salt.

5. Spread out leaves on parchment paper or tinfoil and bake for 10-15 minutes until darker green but not burned.

Serve hot and be amazed at how quickly this health food gets goobled up.  Great for kids too!

Last week I led a lovely group in a herb & spice workshop at 18 Reasons and aside from making some delicious dishes with cumin ( a favorite spice) we also talked about the health properties of various spices.

Culinary herbs and spices are the grandparents of the “food as medicine” movement and have been used for thousands of years, not only to add flavor to foods but also to prevent illness and keep food safe from bacteria.

Did you know…

Adding cinnamon to your oatmeal, coffee or cous-cous can help control blood sugar and act as a powerful anti-inflammatory.

Turmeric also acts as an anti-inflammatory agent, which helps protect against cardiovascular disease and can even help prevent blood clots.

Mint really does help with indigestion, even folks with IBS, as it helps relax your smooth stomach muscles.

Basil (a member of the mint family) also helps with indigestion and symptoms such as diarrhea and gas.

Rosemary is an anti-oxidant (cancer protective) and also an antibacterial so makes for a great meat marinade.

Getting in the habit of using more fresh and dried spices will also displace the need to flavor with salt or need loads of fat or sugar to make the dish flavorful.

Tip: You get a more potent flavor and health benefits if you buy spices like Cumin seed, Coriander seeds, Dill seed,Fennel seed and Fenugreek seeds in their whole form and grind them (use a coffee grinder or mortar and pestle) right before using.

teaching a workshop on spices & health

Since spring is playing peek-a-boo with us….its time to get ready for an easy spring salad!  I like to add no-fat feta from Trader Joe’s for a protein kick in there as well.

From the American Institute of Cancer Research.

A versatile salad like this one is perfect for those who want to add cancer-protective foods to their diet, but are just starting to transition from a meat-based plate. Tomatoes, cucumbers and red onion make an excellent side salad or use them as a meal base by adding a lean protein like low-fat cheese or chicken.  An added bonus: tomatoes are rich in the phytochemical, lycopene, which scientists believe may play a role in protecting against prostate cancer.

Tomato-Cucumber Salad with Parsley and Mint
4 medium ripe tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1/2 medium cucumber, peeled, seeded and chopped
1/3 cup diced red onion
2 Tbsp. fresh parsley, chopped
2 Tbsp. fresh mint, chopped
1 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
2 tsp. olive oil
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

In large bowl, combine tomatoes, cucumber, red onion, parsley and mint. In small bowl, whisk together vinegar, oil and mustard. Add to tomato mixture and toss to coat. Season to taste with salt and black pepper.

Serve chilled or at room temperature.

Makes 4 servings

Per serving: 60 calories, 3 g total fat (1 g saturated fat), 8 g carbohydrates, 2 g protein, 2 g fiber, 45 mg sodium.

Move the body.

Perhaps it is because I have been sitting more than usual (mostly in the car and at my desk) that I wanted to devote a post to the power of moving the body.  Of course I am sitting as I write this but the sit-all-day phenomena really hit me last week after another day of bed to driving chair to office chair to dinner table chair to home office chair to bed. I was so thankful to be able to break up this routine a bit by going for a run in my neighborhood after an almost 2 hours in traffic but I am also working on ways on getting more movement in to my work day as well.

One tip includes making many more stops to the water cooler to fill up on water or hot water for decaf tea (my favorite lately is the Pomegranate White Tea from Trader Joes).  The side benefit of so much more fluid intake (which we all know is key for good health) is that it increases the trips to the bathroom.  More steps in my day!

Speaking of steps, getting a pedometer is another way to track and monitor your movement and challenge yourself to go a few more steps each day.  If you can get 10,000 steps in your day that is the equivalent of walking about 5 miles!

Steps per day Activity Level
<5,000 Sedentary
5,000-7,499 Low Active
7,500-9,999 Somewhat Active
10,000-12,500 Active
>12,500 Highly Active

Another ways to get moving from your desk job…try a trip to your co-workers cubicle to give her/him the message rather than picking up the phone or sending an email.  Take a walking lunch or walk to get your lunch instead of driving.  Finding a buddy to do this with you may keep you motivated and make it more fun too. Use those stairs as much as possible and you can even do a few “sets” of stairs if the weather is not inviting you to go outside.  Of course you can park farther away or get off at the bus/train stop just before or after yours and be sure to pick up the pace when you walk so that you can count it as exercise rather than a leisurely stroll.  We like to say think about walking as if you were late for the train.  This makes it a “moderate” intensity activity (vs jogging which would be vigorous intensity) and another good way to check is to see if you are breaking a sweat but can still talk (but not sing).

The American Heart Association and American Council on Sports Medicine recommend that to stay fit and maintain their weight most Americans get 30 minutes of moderate intensity cardio for 5 days a week  OR do vigorous intense cardio for 20 minutes 3 days a week AND do 8-10 strength training exercises (with 8-12 reps of each) twice (2X) a week.   To lose weight atleast 60 minutes of cardio is recommended as well as the strength training.

You can break the 150 minute recommendation into whatever chunks suit your schedule- whether that is 10 min bursts throughout the day (but do at least 10 min) or longer chunks a few times a week.

How are you going to move more this week?

Check out the guidelines here along with some good tips on getting started.

Take a break from a hike by climbing a tree!

 

Tonight was one of those nights.  I was tired after work and uninspired to cook/shop or even deal with food at all.  I knew we had some leftovers, boiled baby potatoes and string beans along with a side of grilled asparagus (some gorgeous early spring ones) but we had eaten the fish portion of the dinner last night.  A small round white light bulb went off.  Eggs! After contemplating making a quiche (too much work for the mood I was in) I just heated the pile of leftovers up in one big pan and served them with light fluffy scrambled eggs with some herbs and a splash of milk (all cooked in the same pan…less to wash).   A bit odd for dinner at first, but then I put some French music on and savored in the time dinner didn’t take to make.  Literally 10 minutes to heat up and scramble.

Eggs aren’t just for breakfast!  They are a great source of protein (~6g per egg or about 10% of your daily needs) as well as vitamins A, D and B12, the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin (antioxidants) and the nutrient choline.  They last a while in the fridge (2-3 weeks at least) and take very little time to cook.

Of course there is the cholesterol thing (an egg contains ~ 215 milligrams of cholesterol) but I tell my clients not to be afraid of eggs since the cholesterol is still under the recommendation of <300mg/day).  If you are watching your weight, you could do the egg white thing and get all the protein without the ~5 grams of fat contained in an egg yolk. A large egg is 70 calories.

And by the way, don’t get too overwhelmed in the egg section.  While you can choose organic, fertile, free-range, different sizes and brown or white, there is no nutritional differences between them.

Got more egg questions?  Check out the American Egg Board FAQs or a handy guide from the Center for Urban Education about Sustainable Agriculture (CUESA/eggs)

I think of Winter as a time for self reflection. The weather is colder, the days are shorter and you are eating more root vegetables. This can also be a nice time to get to the “root” of any behaviors you want to modify. Instead of setting overly ambitious New Year’s Resolutions, what about taking the whole winter to check-in with yourself? See where you are growing and blossoming and where you want to prune.  In my private practice I often talk about “Mindful Eating” and I think most people could benefit from slowing down and being mindful, take a minute to ask yourself “am I really hungry?” Another way to evaluate if you are being present with your food/beverages is to answer these questions regarding Emotional Eating. When you are done answering the questions, add your score and see below.  This simple scale can help you recognize if you have tendencies to eat as a reaction from an emotion rather than true hunger.

Emotional Eating Quiz

  1. Do you have a tendency to eat when you are bored, even if you are not physically hungry?
    1. Frequently
    2. Sometimes
    3. Never
  2. Do you eat when with friends or family, or at special celebrations, even though you are not physically hungry?
    1. Frequently
    2. Sometimes
    3. Never
  3. Do you eat when you are sad about something that has occurred in your personal life, even if you are not physically hungry?
    1. Frequently
    2. Sometimes
    3. Never
  4. Do you eat when you are stressed or anxious about an upcoming event or situation, even if you are not physically hungry?
    1. Frequently
    2. Sometimes
    3. Never
  5. Do you tend to have strong cravings for specific foods or food combinations?
    1. Frequently
    2. Sometimes
    3. Never
  6. Do you feel that you spend more time thinking about food than other people do?
    1. Frequently
    2. Sometimes
    3. Never
  7. How often are you ashamed of the quantity of food that you eat?
    1. Frequently
    2. Sometimes
    3. Never
  8. How often do you clean your plate, even after you are full, to either avoid wasting food or to not offend the person who prepared your meal?
    1. Frequently
    2. Sometimes
    3. Never
  9. How often do you eat specific “comfort foods” when you are upset?
    1. Frequently
    2. Sometimes
    3. Never
  10. How often do you find yourself eating, even though you are not physically hungry, in an attempt to “perk up” when your energy lags?
    1. Frequently
    2. Sometimes
    3. Never

Scoring

Frequently=2 points
Sometimes=1 point
Never=0 points

14-20: It is likely that you have a serious problem with emotional eating, and this is likely impacting your ability to eat a moderate and well-balanced diet. It is highly recommended that you follow the recommendations that follow to help cope with the emotional eating habits that you have formed.  Additionally you might want to work with a Dietitian or Therapist to assist you in behavior change.

7-13: You have a tendency toward emotional eating and may find it helpful to read through the recommendations that follow. It is likely that you are sometimes able to exert adequate self-control when it comes to emotional eating, but have a very difficult time doing so during other situations. It is important that you recognize what your triggers are in order to set up a “game plan” for difficult times.

0-6: You do not seem to have a tendency toward emotional eating. You may, however, want to read through the following tips in order to gain a greater understanding of others who struggle with emotional eating.

Tips for Emotional Eaters

The following tips can help you or someone you know deal with emotional eating.

Why are you eating?
The first step to quitting emotional eating is to become aware of why you are eating. Humans feel many different things on any given day, but rarely register these feelings unless they are severe or a drastic change from the norm.

What is missing?
It is important to determine if you are neglecting a part of your life. Spirituality, family, friends/social life, and creative expression are common examples of areas that are important to many people. Although each person is unique, all humans share some common needs.

What areas need more focus?
Many people eat in an attempt to fill a part of their life that was abandoned. Once you figure out what area needs more focus, you can find effective ways to gain more balance to your life and values.

Are you planning activities that do not involve food?
Many people have difficulty separating food and the fun of spending time with loved ones. Planning activities that do not revolve around food takes time and energy, but it is well worth the effort.

Are you prepared?
Preparation is key. Keeping a nutritious snack in your purse, pocket, glove compartment, or desk at work can help to stop you from reaching for the first comforting food that you come across.  This is a big thing we talk about in my private practice.

Whatever your “score” above, know that we humans are incredibly adaptable and we can change. So start a new healthy habit, or keep doing what you are doing!

Take a deep breath with gratitude before you dig in!

adapted from a professional resource on RD411.com

As promised in last week’s Healthy Meal Planning post, here is the White Bean & Kale Ragout recipe that is one of our meal-time staples.   You can do it with the sausage or not, with the zucchini or not and I like to serve mine with a sprinkle of parmesan on top.  Remember to make extra and pack it for lunch or freeze!

Serves 4 (serving size 1 ¾ C each)

Ingredients:

1 Tbsp Olive Oil
½ C Chopped Onion
2 (4 oz) links of chicken/turkey sausage, cut into ½ inch slices*  (OPTIONAL)
1 Zucchini, quartered and cut into ½ inch slices (about 2 cups)
3 Garlic Cloves, peeled and crushed
6 Cups chopped trimmed kale (about ½ pound)
½ C Water or Low-Sodium Vegetable Stock (good for flavor if omitting sausage)
2 (16 oz) cans Cannellini/White beans, rinsed & drained or 4 cups pre-cooked homemade
1 (14.5oz) can diced tomatoes (low sodium, or NO salt), undrained
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
Directions:

1. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.

2. Sauté onion and sausage 4 minutes or until sausage is browned.

3. Add zucchini and garlic, cook 2 minutes.

4. Add kale and remaining ingredients; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Serve immediately.

Per serving: 467 calories, 10.2g fat (6.5g if no sausage), 28.5g protein (with sausage), 15.4g fiber
764 mg sodium

Cooking Light, January 2005

Taught a great class last night at 18 Reasons about healthy meal planning and I wanted to share some key tips with all of you…

Tips for Healthy Meal Planning
•    Look ahead for extra-busy days and plan something quick for those days
•    During the week, plan simpler meals: one-pot meals, broiled or roasted meats, steamed vegetables, salads, fresh fruit desserts. Save sauces and multi-step meals for weekends.
•    Have a cook swap with your friends/co-workers or make cooking a meal together the fun activity you do one night (with a glass of wine?)
Efficiency tricks:
o    Read ahead in the recipe- so you can plot out what to be cutting while oven pre-heats, or chop 1 Cup of carrots when two recipes each call for ½ Cup.
o    Brown extra ground beef for dinner to use in another dish, like tacos, later in the week.
o    Cook two more chicken breasts and then cut some up for another meal such as stir-fry with vegetables and brown rice. Freeze or Refrigerate.
o    Cook extra rice, put it into a container, and refrigerate or freeze. On a busy night, microwave it, stirring occasionally, until heated through, then use as you would fresh.
o    Chop a whole onion or several cloves of garlic, even if you only need part of it right now. Store the rest for another meal.
o    Grate extra cheese and store it in a zippered plastic bag in the freezer.

3 Day Sample Menu for 2 people:
Night before- leave 7 Cups White Beans out to soak
Day 1
Bfast- Make big batch of oatmeal (2C), serve ½ C each with nuts & fruit, refrigerate 1 C
Lunch- Salad (pre-washed) with canned fish/beans, veggies, WW crackers
Dinner- Make big pot of simple white beans (7C), save bean liquid (1 C for bean dip),set aside 4 Cups to make Kale/Sausage/Bean Ragout (7C) (Recipe to come this week), Enjoy Ragout (3.5 C). Refrigerate the rest of the beans (2 C) and Ragout leftovers (aprox 3.5 C left). Cut up raw veggies enough for 2 days and put in ziplock baggies.
Day 2
Bfast- ½ C each Oatmeal from Day 1 w freshly added fruit & nuts
Lunch- Leftover Ragout (1 ¾ C each), side of cut up raw carrots & celery (“Crudite”)
Dinner- Make big pot of brown rice (4 C), serve 2 C of it with protein (fish, chicken, tofu etc), steamed veggies (fresh or frozen). Set aside 2 portions of protein. Make a rice  salad (try this one) with leftover 2 C rice. Blend remaining White Beans (2 C) with olive oil, lemon, parsley to make dip/spread for crudite or sandwich filling
Day 3
Bfast- WW Toast, nut butter, piece of fruit
Lunch- 2C Rice Salad, leftover protein on top, with Crudite and Bean dip
Dinner- Make a big pot(~14C) of Lentil stew (try this one), serve 2 C each w pre-washed salad, crusty WW bread.  Reserve 2 C for tomorrow’s lunch w sandwich, Freeze 4 Cups for future.

Menu Planning Resources:
Free:
www.simpleskillet.com (weekly menus- including budget, kid freindly,low carb, diabetic, vegetarian- plus shopping list)
www.eatingwell.com (28 Day diet meal plans at 1200, 1500 and 1800 kcals or customizable plans)
www.rachelraymag.com (weekly menu + shopping list)

www.familyeats.net (local Bay Area mom cooking healthy for her family of four, weekly menu+ shopping list)
Subscription:
www.myfoodmyhealth.com (specializes in health conditions and food allergies)
www.mealeasy.com (health conditions etc)

Here is a Weekly Meal Planner to fill out.  Feeling intimidated? No need to fill out the whole thing, just start with a few days or even just dinners. Give it a try!

Let me know of any time saving tricks you use, recipe/meal planning sites you love or just give a shout-out if you support planning to cook more for fun and health.

Have to chop garlic? Chop enough for several recipes and refridgerate

 

Kale Ceasar Salad

As a follow up to my last post on Eataly and their love of vegetables- I wanted to post a recipe that highlights one of my favorite leafy greens that also happens to be one of the healthiest foods out there.  It is a great source of Vitamins A and C and also a delicious mouthful of potassium, calcium, iron and folate. The best part of this recipe is that the creaminess of the casear dressing makes this dish popular for those that would normally steer clear of anything so healthy sounding!

Recipe adapted from Tartine Bread (Chronicle Books)
Yield: 6 to 8 generous servings

INGREDIENTS

Croutons:
Four 1-inch slices day-old country bread (ideally whole wheat), torn into 1-inch pieces
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Salt
½ teaspoon herbes de Provence (optional)

Kale Caesar:
3 garlic cloves (freshly minced or from a jar of minced)
6 olive oil-packed anchovy fillets (or 1-2 Tbsp of anchovy paste)
1 tablespoon lemon zest
1 large egg yolk ( I like to boil for 45 sec just to be safe first)
Salt
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, plus more to taste
1½ cups extra-virgin olive oil (I use half this but this is his recipe)
2 heads (about 1 pound) black kale, center stems removed and leaves torn into bite-size pieces
⅔ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

DIRECTIONS

1. Make the croutons: Preheat the oven to 400°. In a medium bowl, toss the bread with the olive oil, a pinch of salt and the herbes de Provence, if using. Spread the bread on a baking sheet and bake, turning the croutons midway through, until golden brown and crisp, about 10 minutes.

2. Make the dressing: Place the garlic, anchovies and lemon zest in a mortar and pound with a pestle to make a thick paste. (Alternatively, pulse them together in a blender.) Add the egg yolk, a pinch of salt and a few drops of the lemon juice and mix thoroughly. While stirring, (or with the blender motor running), add ½ cup of the olive oil, one drop at a time, to create a smooth emulsion. Stir (or blend) in the remaining cup of olive oil in a slow stream. (The dressing will thicken.) Periodically add the remaining lemon juice. When all the oil is incorporated, season the dressing to taste with additional salt and lemon juice. Add water as needed to thin the dressing to desired consistency.

3. Make the salad: In a large bowl, toss the kale with the croutons. Add the dressing to taste, reserving any extra for another use. Add the Parmesan, toss again and serve immediately.

To download this recipe, click here.

A while back while I was back in New York City for a week, I had the opportunity to visit Mario Batali’s new “Eataly” Food Emporium whose tagline is “We Sell What We Cook & We Cook What We Sell”.  Despite all the buzz, I was not prepared for the enormity of the space, the sights, sounds, smells and people that were packed in like finely cured sardines.

The 50,000 square foot space was originally the “Toy Center Building” housing various toy dealers and showroom as well as a private dining club deep in the bowels of the building.  The dining club, “200 5th Ave”, served elegant food to exclusive members with white glove waiter service.  Eataly was built in 2010 in NYC (but has several other stores around the world) to “taste and take home” delicious food and also to educate the public (they have an extensive class schedule as well).

You don’t need to be a member to dine here at one of the TWELVE food areas/mini-restaurants.  There is a coffee vendor, gelateria, pastries, a sandwich shop, pizza/pasta, fish place, salumi stop, rotisserie and even a vegetable restaurant (my favorite) which only serves vegetable dishes (some with grains, cheese but no meat anywhere) and serves them in high style (beautifully and with wine).

“Le Verdure” mini-restaurant gets its star-of-the-show vegetables from the produce section three feet away. Where tomatoes glisten and rub elbows with exotic neighbors like starfruit and buddha’s hand.   Sharing a corner of the kitchen space for Le Verdure and facing the produce area is a “Vegetable Butcher”.  This lovely person’s job is to prep vegetables in to easy to cook packets (sold at a premium of course) and to enthusiastically explain how to cook with these precious vegetable jewels.  While I was there Mr.Veggie Butcher was prepping baby artichokes (discard out leaves, chop down middle) and pontificating on how to cook them (in skillet with olive oil, salt/pepper and finish with a splash of lemon).

Additionally there are shopping areas for all sorts of other products (cheese, bread, meat, pastries, pasta etc) and the array is outstanding.

You might be wondering what I am doing talking about a high-end grocery/food shop, but I wanted to share the experience and especially the admiration for vegetables that this store has.

So don’t be shy, try a new vegetable today. Even if you don’t have the Veggie Butcher to talk you through it…I am sure you can find something on YouTube.

See a map of Eataly NY here.