Sunday, December 12, 2010

Fish in a Can

Photo by F Martin Ramin
The WSJ wrote a great article this weekend on canned fish. Use it for inspiration. My personal favorite - Henry and Lisa's tuna. It's from low mercury waters and the tuna tastes exquisite. No mayonnaise or oil needed. Simply add new potatoes, green peas, and mint - delicious!

Little Fish that Can by Sara Dickerman

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Research round-up - November 2010

Photograph by Lisa Hubbard
Purple Potatoes and their Phenolic Composition
Nov 2010: According to preliminary research at Queen Margaret University in Edinburgh, Purple Majesty potatoes have 3x has much antioxidant capacity as white potatoes. The purple potatoes contain anthocyanins, a flavanoid found in red and purple fruits such as blackberries, blueberries, red cabbage and red grapes. These potatoes were developed at Colorado State University in 2006 as a cross of original varieties of potatoes. They are not genetically modified. The study showed "peak plasma antioxidant capacity at 1-2 hours post consumption".

Dana's comment: the Purple Majesty taste as beautiful as they look. They mash well, are wonderful as potato wedges and are very appealing to children. The potatoes are available all year round. Union Square Greenmarket sells them as does Eataly. Check out Bon Appetit's Ceaser Potato Salad recipe.  For a healthier version, use 2 tbl of olive oil versus 1/4 of a cup and skip the parmesan cheese. You won't notice a difference in taste.

Blueberry Supplementation Improves Memory
Nov 2010: Researchers at the University of Cincinnati identified that drinking 2 1/2 cups of wild blueberry juice daily improved memory test scores (paired associate learning and word list recollection) after 12 weeks. There were also trends suggesting reduced depressive symptoms as well lower glucose levels. The researchers concluded “the findings of this preliminary study suggest that moderate-term blueberry supplementation can confer a neurocognitive benefit".

Dana's comment: Blueberries, like the purple potatoes, contain anthocyanins, which are associated with improved signaling in the brain. Wild blueberries contain more of the anthocyanins than cultivated blueberries. Look at for wild blueberries in the frozen section of the supermarket. Add them to a breakfast smoothie or snack on them with a dollop of Greek yogurt, but don't confine yourself to just blueberries, experiment with blackberries, red grapes and red cabbage. Antioxidants work synergistically together and the greater the variety the more powerful the impact. Remember, we are still discovering new polyphenol compounds so just because a food has less of one compound does not mean that it is inferior - the compound is likely to be discovered in the future.

High Protein - Low Glycemic Diet is Better for Weight Maintenance
25 Nov 2010: A large scale study funded by the European Commission, looked at 5 different dietary approaches for weight maintenance following a mean 11kg weight loss. All maintenance options had the same calories. The low-protein–high-glycemic-index diet was associated with subsequent significant weight regain, while the low glycemic and high protein diets saw a continued decrease in weight.

Dana's comment: A calorie is not just a calorie and it's a travesty that this dogma continues to be espoused. Controlling your weight is about regulating the hormones that influence weight loss. If you eat a high glycemic diet (think rice cakes, bagels and pasta) you cause a surge in insulin which triggers fat storage and inhibits the oxidation of fat. Eat a moderate amount of clean protein and get the vast majority of your carbohydrates from vegetables. It is this combination that stimulates the hormone glucagon which encourages fat burning and satiety.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

How to Get Fat this Festive Season

From Halloween to New Years Eve we are bombarded with candy, cakes and cocktails. Blindly munch and slurp away on these and you'll not only find yourself in a sugar coma but potentially 5 lbs heavier by the end of the season. That's not to say that you can't enjoy the occasional indulgence (I'd be lost without my Parisian macarons), you can, but don't blow it all on a gluttonous food-fest of cheap prosecco and candied nuts.

Exhibit these behaviors and and watch the scale climb upwards:

- Ignore how much you are eating
- Pretend the extra food will not affect your weight
- Drink more alcohol, egg nog and cider and not balance it with exercise
- Make excuses - it's the holidays, it won't matter, I'll only have one, I'm stressed, tired, bored
- Drop the frequency and intensity of your exercise
- Eat food from the holiday gift baskets (stale crackers and cherry jam anyone..)
- Mindlessly eat co-workers left-over candy
- Try all food offered to you because it would be rude to say 'no'
- Eat and drink exactly what you'd like because everyone else is over-indulging
- Stop planning and shopping for healthy options because you're 'too busy'
- Follow a day of indulgence with another and another...
- Think that restricting your food intake after an indulgence is not sustainable because it feels like a 'diet'
- Replace your Herve Leger dress for sweatpants

If you're committed to eating, thinking and acting lean, you'll breeze through this holiday period with a hotter more sculptured body. Here's how:

- Plan in advance to eat a little more at holiday gatherings. Stick to it and don't feel guilty. Simply balance it the next day.
- Fill up your plate with vegetables and lean protein; skip seconds and enjoy a small slither of dessert
- Focus on the food you are going to eat, not what you are not going to eat
- Take a yoga class or go for a run before a holiday gathering as it helps to stop mindless eating
- Start with a lean breakfast such as a green juice and boiled egg or grated apple over Greek yogurt with a dash of cinnamon
- If you're drinking alcohol, limit it to a glass and skip the carbohydrate. One serving is 5 oz of wine which is 43% less than what is normally served
- If you're the host, people don't want an enormous amount of food - they dread it. Save money, food and waistlines by serving less
- Send guests home with a goodie bag and throw away the candied yams and left-over dessert. If not, you'll end up eating it
- Get a one-up on everyone else. Do 3-minutes of abdominals daily. You'll feel stronger and will notice a difference within 2 weeks
- Accept that you can’t eat whatever you want and lose weight. It just can’t be done.
- Wear something that doesn't allow for a food-baby. You'll be less tempted if you need to hold your stomach in

Enjoy yourself, don't stress too much. Visualize yourself at your lean weight and keep it at the forefront of your mind. It is certainly achievable.

Fill me in on strategies and post-indulgence meals that have worked for you.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Research round-up - October 2010

Low levels of vitamin B12 linked to Alzheimer’s
Oct 19 2010: A study published in the journal Neurology by researchers at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden has indicated that people with low levels of vitamin B12 may have a greater risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. Over a seven year period, Hooshmand et al. followed 271 healthy individuals aged between 65 and 79. All participants did not have dementia at the start of the study. They examined the relationship between homocysteine (tHcy) levels and holotranscobalamin (holoTC), the active fraction of vitamin B12. High levels of tHcy have been associated with an increased incidence of cardiovascular disease and linked to negative effects on the brain, such as stroke. It is thought that elevated levels of vitamin B12 can help reduce tHcy levels. By the end of the study, 17 people had developed Alzheimer’s disease. The study found that for each micromolar increase in the concentration of tHcy, the risk of Alzheimer's disease increased by 16%. However a 1 pmol/L increase in holoTC reduced the risk of developing Alzheimer's by 2 %. The study results suggest that both tHcy and low holoTC may be involved in the development of the disease.

Dana's comment: from age 30 onwards, our body starts to produce less HCL which inhibits the secretion of intrinsic factor required for B12 absorption. Taking sublingual B12 bi-passes the digestive tract and enables its absorption. Nonetheless, if suboptimal levels of HCL exists the preferable route is to supplement with HCL and potentially zinc. Check via challenge tests.

Luteolin may reduce brain inflammation and related memory loss
A study in The Journal of Nutrition has suggested that luteolin (a flavonoid found in celery, carrots, peppermint and chamomile) reduces brain inflammation and related memory loss in aged mice, with luteolin directly inhibiting the release of inflammatory molecules in their brain. Johnson et al. from the University of Illinois conducted two studies. In the first study, Johnson et al. found that the microglial cells treated with luteolin, before toxin lipopolysaccharide (LPS) was added, had 70% less inflammation than those that weren't treated with the luteolin. The researchers concluded that luteolin was neuroprotective.

In the second study young adult mice (3-6 months) competed against aged adult mice (22-24 months). Half the mice in each group were fed a diet supplemented with 20 mg/d of luteolin for 4 weeks. The study found little difference within the two groups of young adult mice. However, the aged mice on the luteolin-supplemented diet showed improved working memory and reduced inflammation of the hippocampus putting them on a par with the young adult mice. In conclusion the researchers state that their findings suggest dietary luteolin enhanced spatial working memory by mitigating microglial-associated inflammation in the hippocampus.

Dana's comment - we don't need a study to tell us to eat carrots and celery but it's always validating when science supports common sense. Dip celery and carrots sticks in hummus for an afternoon snack or drink a green juice with kale, celery, cucumber and a carrot for an afternoon pick-up.

Soy isoflavones and hormone dependent breast cancer recurrence
Oct 18 2010: A study by scientists from the Harbin Medical University and published in the journal CMAJ has examined the associations between dietary intake of soy isoflavones and recurrence of hormone dependent breast cancer. The chemical structure of soy isoflavones is similar to that of estrogen which means they exhibit estrogen-like effects in the body. To determine the impact of soy isoflavones on hormone-dependant breast cancer, Kang et al. followed 524 women, of which 248 were premenopausal and 276 postmenopausal, for five to six years. All subjects had had breast cancer surgery and were receiving adjuvant endocrine therapy, of either Tamoxifen or Anastrozole. At baseline the women completed a food frequency questionnaire, which included reporting on consumption of soymilk, soy flour, dry soybeans, fresh soybeans, soybean sprouts and tofu amongst others. The study found that post-menopausal breast cancer survivors who consumed the most soy isoflavones (of over 42 mg/day), had a 12.9% decreased risk of hormone-dependent breast cancer recurrence compared with those who consumed the least (about 15 mg/day). They found that women consuming over 42mg/day and taking anastrozole had a 18.7% lower risk of hormone-dependent breast cancer recurrence. The study notes that they did not find the same association with premenopausal breast cancer survivors who had high soy consumption.

Dana's comment: Soy in it's natural state - miso, tempeh, tofu, edamame exhibit a weak estrogenic effect on the body which can provide protection from more potent forms of estrogen including endogenous estrodial and xenoestrogens such as BPA from plastics. However, processed soy such as soy protein isolate found in protein bars, food fortified with protein and some soy milk is highly refined and a very concentrated form of soy with potent estrogenic effects. Soy protein isolate is the 'white bread' of the soy family and should be avoided by everyone not just women at risk of hormone-dependent cancer recurrence.

Best Brunch Downtown

Nothing defines Sunday more than a leisurely brunch, strong coffee and the New York Times. Whether you are hungry or hung-over, brunch usually goes one of two ways: a disastrous carbo-loading caloric confection of French toast and pancakes or a packed plate of protein Atkins would be proud of. Nutritionally speaking, eggs are a superior brunch choice as they keep you lean and improve your memory thanks to their CLA (conjugated linoleic acid) and choline content. Who does the best eggs downtown without resorting to the ubiquitous omelete?

Here's my Top Five for Best Eggs downtown:

Spoon - 17 W. 20th St, btwn Fifth and Sixth Ave, Sat and Sun 10:00 am - 4pm
Spoon is well worth the saunter to Flatiron. Ingredients are sourced from local farms and they turn out several exquisite eggs dishes from Huevos Rancheros to Eggs Spaniard with double smoked bacon to Baked Eggs with a potato and pork sausage hash. Or, if you're bored with eggs, try the Brook trout with gorgonzola grits. Buttermilk pancakes, French toast and granola are also available for those running the marathon.

Morandi - 211 Waverly Place, cross 7th Avenue, Sat & Sun 10am - 4pm
Morandi is part of the Keith McNally clan of restaurants but much more 'local' than Balthazar and Pastis. With seven egg dishes to choose from you'll be in uova heaven. My personal favorites, Uova in camicia - two poached eggs over artichokes, squash and mushrooms and Fricando di baccala - two eggs with salted cod and potato. Morandi does a frittata so large that you'd think you were at IHOP. Share it with four others. A basket of sweet bread with brioche, donuts and cornetti is also an option if you don't mind spending $16 and gobbling metformin to lower your blood sugar spike.

Tarallucci e Vino - 15 East 18th Street, 130 Greene Street & 163 First Avenue Sat & Sun 9am - 5pm
Tarallucci has fewer egg dishes than the other eateries on this list, but they make it for their baked eggs alone. Two baked eggs in a skillet with either leeks, asparagus or bacon, it is the leanest of all eggs dishes sampled. For something more indulgent, try the poached eggs over polenta and porchetta or the speck and goat cheese frittata. The baked mackerel salad with grilled artichoke and orange zest is delicious way to get your omega 3's in when eggs just aren't your thing. Whole wheat croissants, apple turnovers and cinnamon rolls are also on offer but as the bread basket comes with mini-muffins and foccacia, save some cash by skipping the pastries. Brunch is from 9am so it's ideal if you're up early or jet lagged.

Corsino Cantina 637 Hudson Street Sat & Sun 10:00 am - 4 pm
Take a seat at the Corsino Cantina bar, throw back an espresso, sample everything (nothing is over $11) and read their copies of Bon Appetit and Conde Nast. From truffled egg toast to scrambled eggs with asparagus and prosciutto to house cured salmon & egg salad tramezzini, Corsino is the sexiest brunch choice. Head back in the evening for charred octopus with fingerling potatoes and the autumn vegetable salad with sunchokes and walnuts.

Your own home - Hours vary
Throw on a white tablecloth, add some colorful plates from ABC Home and whip up a ricotta and mint frittata. Serve with iced hibiscus tea and French press. Buy the ingredients from the Union Square market or Eataly (but mid-week, there's a line to get into this place on the weekend) and voila, you've got the best brunch in the city.

Got a favorite brunch spot - let me know.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Mixing up the Diet: Vegan

Last week I went vegan for seven days. No fish, no whey protein, no eggs, why would I undertake such a radical plan? Principally on a dare. I'd created a meal plan for one of my vegan clients and jokingly said, even I could follow this... She concurred and said it would be an experience for me. She was right.

My rational mind said, this plan is similar to how you eat now, you've just replaced the animal based protein with soy, pea, rice and hemp. And as a back-up plan, Organic Avenue is at your gym, so you can do a juice fast for a day.

One admission, I wasn't giving up my macchiato nor milk in my French Press.

The kick off - Pure Food and Wine for dinner. If you're starting plan, do it in a big way. This is haute raw vegan food served with sake on tap. We started with hazelnut crostini with crimini mushrooms and caper béarnaise followed by spanikopita with spinach and almond feta. Each little morsel was exquisitely delicious and while they don't sound vegan, they are. The béarnaise and feta were made with nuts. Feeling rather triumphant, I was excited to embark on my 7 day journey.

For success, the first day should encompass planning. Off to Integral Yoga on 13th street to collect supplies - vegan protein powder, tofu, tempeh and an abundance of vegetables. Day 1, was a hit, like the first day of most plans. My diet consisted of a vegan protein smoothie with almond milk, spirulina, kale, berries and cinnamon while lunch and dinner were mixed leaves with goji berries, avocado, sprouts and tempeh. Personally, I'm a fan of tempeh. It does require a bit of EVOO to make it golden brown but it's a very satisfying protein and carb combination.

As the week progressed, the vegan diet became more challenging. I misplaced my menu (yes, it was on my lap-top but I didn't retrieve it) and my social life was commanding different meals to the plan I had created.

Mid-week, I was caught in mid-town for lunch. Hmm, off to Dean & Deluca, surely they have a salad with tofu? No, they didn't. That left me with two choices - break my plan and make it to the office on time or seek out an alternative and be late. This was day 3, I couldn't stop now. All I needed was another 10 more minutes. Five blocks away there was Green Symphony on 43rd and 8th and they had tofu. I opted to be late. It was more important to stick to my goals than allow a misguided food decision to intercept it.

Day 4, 5pm, text message from a physician I'd agreed to have dinner with several weeks before. It had slipped my mind and wasn't calendared. Vegan? Oh no, what do I do. Every-time we meet, I'm avoiding some food - gluten, yeast, wine, he really was going to think I was some crazy nutritionist. I couldn't cancel. Deep breath - I'm vegan this week. His blunt response, "I'm not, let's compromise." A four letter explicative wanted to come out of my mouth. "I'll surprise you" I texted back as I desperately tried to book Pure Food and Wine. No table until 10pm... Blossom in Chelsea? From memory it had great reviews and I had no time to search for an alternative. To my disappointment, this was no Pure Food and Wine. It was more of a neighborhood restaurant that you'd go to for lunch. Worse, the menu was loaded with gluten (which I don't eat) - soy sauce and seitan. I had one menu option, grilled vegetables and quinoa with a side of braised tofu. The meal was fine but it's not a place I would return to.

Day 5. Off to David Barton for my morning workout and I'd collect Organic Avenue for the day. After a killer workout my body was craving protein not juices. Eggs, oh how I've missed you. Decided to skip the juices and have the raw vegan lasagna for lunch. Mmm, it looked delectable. I needed protein and Le Pain Quotidian was several blocks away and they have a 6 vegetable gluten-free quiche. While savoring my 'quiche' I happened to read the calorie count on the lasagna. 1080 calories? You can't be serious. Often calorie counts are wrong, I rationalized. But let's take a look. I conceded, yes it was the layer upon layer of nuts. I felt ill. What to do? I'd just spent $14 on my lasagna (and $20 on my quiche), eat it or throw it away. I deliberated over this one. Could I cut it into 3 portions? Could I give it away? No one would take it if I explained the caloric count. I had to dump it. Ultimately it would take 3 extra training sessions to work that off and I'd rather have bucket of brownies than fake lasagna.

By the time day 6 & 7 rolled around, my enthusiasm was waning. All I wanted was my staple comfort food - grilled octopus with sweet potato from the Standard Grill. I pushed through knowing I could have this at the end of my 7-day vegan trial. I had learnt my lessons: Be empowered and proud of what you are doing. Achieving your goals are more important than the 30 seconds of disappointment someone else may feel. When you're in foreign food territory always check labels no matter how nutritional savvy you think you are. Add a day of different 'dieting' into a weekly plan. You plateau when you feed your body the same food day in day out.

My vegan diet has inspired me to do a series of these. Watch out for updates. I've included a sample vegan day for you to follow. The photo above is of lunch.

B: Smoothie with vegan protein, strawberries, spirulina and flaxseed
L: Mixed leaves with cherry tomatoes, carrots, beets and pine nuts and tofu
D: Cauliflower tossed in turmeric served with baked chili tofu
S: Go Raw Pumpkin Seeds and baked apple with cinnamon

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Foodie Events - Mark your Calendar

'Farm to table' eating is 'uber-cool'. We get to support our local farmers, encourage sustainable agricultural practices and enjoy food that simply tastes better. While it may come with a heftier price tag, our tip is to attend some of the 'locavore' events around town this month, flirt with one of the chefs, brewers or vintners, and bat your eyelids for a free meal at one of their restaurants. Below are a handful to get you going...

Good Food Festival: Sunday, Sept 19th | MPD | All Day: Tickets from $20
Basis and the Feed Foundation co-host the first Back to Basis Good Food Festival in celebration of the season's harvest. 30 local farms and chefs collaborate to feature food during the day and a seasonal farm to table dinner in the evening. Participants include: Simple Kitchen Gardens, Sprout Creek Farm; Minetta Tavern; Gramercy Tavern and Colicchio and Sons.

Harvest in The Square: Tuesday, Sept 21st | Union Square Park | 7:30-9pm: Tickets from $125
Features signature dishes from restaurants around Union Square. Microbrews and wines from New York state will be paired with each dish. All meals will use produce from Union Square's greenmarket. ABC Kitchen, Almond, Devi and Pure Food and Wine are some of the participating restaurants. Money well spent if you can't get into ABC Kitchen.

Edible Eat Drink Local Week: Sunday Sept 26th - Oct 6th | Various NYC Restaurants | voluntary contributions
GrowNYC and Edible magazines present their second annual Eat Drink Local week (technically 11 days). Local chefs and farmers are hosting farm feasts, wine tastings and even an afternoon at Sotheby's heirloom vegetable auction. Eat out at local restaurants that support the greenmarket such as Cookshop; The Green Table; Mas and Telepan. We love The Green Table's Basil Smash with organic gin and fresh basil from Satur Farms.

Taste of Greenmarket: Wednesday Oct 6th: Chelsea | 7-10pm | Tickets from $175
Market inspired dishes and seasonal cocktails from 30 of New York's chefs and mixologists including Blue Hill, The Breslin; Marc Forgione; Il Baco, Employees Only and Gotham Bar & Grill. Worth the ticket price if you're a NYC foodie who needs to sample everything.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Eataly - A Food Lovers Orgy

I've had more quickies with Eataly than Don Draper had in Season 2. Admittedly, the vicinity of my office to this Italian gastrodome compels me to sample every delectable morsel. I've indulged in 'dirty' one month aged parmesan cheese; wrapped my finger around 5 different types of San Daniele prosciutto; thrown back shots of warmed hazelnut chocolate and bitten into chewy Italian bread with the gluttony of a recovered celiac.

But these culinary experiences are not why I am salivating. I could fly to Rome for a weekend or eat at any one of Batali's eight New York restaurants and experience the same sensory pleasures. Eataly is much more enlightening than that.

Eataly smashes together two incongruous philosophies, commitment to everything Italian and commitment to everything local, sustainable and seasonal. I'll leave it up to the foodies to debate the success, but as a nutritionist who loves to eat and is an advocate of the green movement, Eataly kicks the Greenmarket and Wholefoods off its smug 'green' pedestal. It offers local produce in one small area (no more traipsing around Union Square for the perfect apple), it is cheaper (yes, who would have thought), you can pick up olive oil that is so grassy you'd think it had been infused with medicinal marijuana, you can buy beef from the same supplier as Minetta Tavern's famed black label burger AND it offers a concierge service that only Jetcard carrying moguls are used to - the Vegetable Butcher!

The Vegetable Butcher will prep, clean, scrub and chop your vegetables. I've had onions diced, bell peppers sliced, fava beans shelled and carrots peeled and julienned. The cost - it's free! And what a brilliant idea for Batali. Use your sous chef's downtime to stimulate more spending and get kudos for encouraging Americans to eat their greens; perhaps Batali should start consulting to the White House.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Vegan for 21 Days?

That's exactly what the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine would like you to do. This Labor Day marks the start of their 21 day Kickstart Campaign where vegan meal plans and recipe ideas are sent to the subscribers. The Committee estimates ~30,000 people will participate. As most of you know, I'm protein, protein and more protein, but I do recognize the potential health benefits and reduced carbon footprint of a vegan diet provided it is fruit, vegetables and vegan protein not vegan cookies, pasta and pizza.

Could I do 21 days? It would be a challenge, but I could commit to one day per week for 21 weeks (yes, it's cheating but it's a start!). I've listed my top five downtown vegan restaurants for their culinary choices and vibe that's more 'Gwyneth' than San Francisco environmentalists.

Organic Avenue - 116 Suffolk Street and 43 8th Ave (between Jane & Horatio). Known for it's organic juice fasts and raw food this is a 'pick-up' joint versus cafe. Ideal for grabbing freshly pressed green juices, coconut water and almond "mylk" smoothies. Their kale salad and chia tapioca have inspired some of my own recipes. What's Cool: All products are organic. If they can't get organic they don't make it. All juice bottles are recyclable. What's Not: The $350 price tag for a five day juice fast, the $2 deposit for each juice bottle and the $20 delivery charge. But if you have money to burn or live locally, Organic Avenue's juice and food products are a great addition to a healthy eating regime.

Bonobos - 18 East 23rd Street. Organic and raw food salad and 'burger' bar ideal for a quick lunch. Raw salads packed with greens, cabbage, sprouts, carrots and beets and drizzled in a sweet basil dressing and topped with sea vegetables that makes you feel like a nutrition goddess. Their coconut bell pepper soup is exquisitely silky and delicious. What's Cool: House-made coco chai - fresh coconut milk blended with Indian chai spices. Beats a shake shack milkshake any day. What's Not: Scoop too much of their nut meat on your salads and you'll be adding in more calories than a Big Mac (of course, the calories are far better for you).

Pure Food and Wine- 54 Irving Place. The pioneer of the haute cuisine raw vegan food movement in the city. Think heirloom tomato and zucchini lasagna; beet ravioli with pistachio cream and salsify noodles with almond butter sake and oyster mushrooms. There is no gluten, tofu or seiten on the menu (ie no fake meats). What's Cool: Organic sake on tap and drinking a Tamarind infused martini in the garden on a balmy Summer evening. What's Not: The Chelsea Market outpost is always out of wheatgrass Saturday afternoons.

Eataly Vegetarian 'Restaurant'
- 23rd and Fifth Avenue. Part of Mario Batali's new gastrodome, Eataly. The vegetable 'restaurant' is designed to showcase seasonal fruit and vegetables, principally sourced from local farms. The menu is small but exquisite. The mushrooms sauteed in olive oil and served on toasted polenta are to die for. The warm vegetable salad will be a staple of the health conscious, yoga matt carrying downtowners (or those aspiring to be). Admittedly this may be vegetarian not vegan but on my two visits there was no dairy in sight. What's Cool: Unpretentious, no reservations required. One can turn up in gym gear and still feel welcome. What's Not: It's a mosh pit. This extremely busy and bustling bazaar usually means a 10 minute or more wait for a table (to be fair, they turn quickly) or gather with the vultures waiting for a stool at the bar.

Angelica Kitchen - 200 E 12th street - it's been around longer than two NYU students but this organic vegan restaurant continues to be one of the most influential restaurants in the city. It is the 'farm to table' restaurant using ingredients harvested less than 48 hours ago. Menus change daily with dishes such as tomato saffron broth with yukon potatoes, fennel and leeks, corn bread with miso tahini and Moroccan spiced dressing over organic vegetables and brown rice. What's Cool: It's BYOB (how rare in the city) with no corkage fee and you can feel extra smug that you are helping local organic farmers. What's Not: Cash only and forgetting to BYOB.

Others of note: Organic Grill; Blossom and Snice.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

What's on my plate?

Every Sunday I collect my fruit and vegetables from my CSA (community supported agriculture). It's the cheapest way to eat healthy in the city. For 5 months for $420 I receive 2-3 bags of local and organic vegetables. While I don't know what's being delivered from week to week as it comes direct from a farm in upstate NY (and there is a tiny 2 hour slot to collect the produce), it's radically changed the way I shop and cook. If you don't have a CSA, get on the program next Spring as they sell out quickly. See for more information.

Here's what was in my goodie bag this week:

Nectarines; peaches; plums; pole beans; fairy eggplant; heirloom tomatoes; cucumbers, basil and cabbage. All seasonal and all organic, what more could one want? Simple recipes to make ends out of the unsystematic array of fruit and vegetables. I love to cook, so meals come instantly to me, but I'm aware that's not the case with all of you. So here's what I did for Sunday lunch and dinner.

Moroccan eggplant with bison meatballs (lunch) and nectarine and heirloom tomato salad with bison meatballs (dinner). While variety is key, let's be practical here, I live in NYC and I'm utterly time pressed. Cook once, eat twice is my motto!

Moroccan Eggplant and Bison Meatballs
-7oz of grass-fed bison
-pinch of cumin (x 2)
-coconut oil
-2 fairy eggplant, thinly chopped
-pomegranate molasses

Add ground cumin to bison. Roll into tiny meatballs (about the size of a quarter). Heat cast iron pan, add coconut oil, then add meatballs and cook until browned. Rest aside.

Add eggplant to pan (no need to wash it, let the eggplant soak up the juices from the meatballs); add water to stem the eggplant; once the eggplant has started to turn golden add the pomegranate molasses for a hint of sweetness and to caramelize the eggplant. If you don't have pomegranate molasses, balsamic vinegar will do the trick. Cook until a deliciously golden brown. Add cumin for a hint of spice. Simply serve with 1/2 bison meatballs layered on top. Save remaining meatballs for dinner.

Nectarine and Heirloom Tomato Salad

3.5 oz Bison meatballs
1 x nectarine
1 x heirloom tomato

Got to love simple food. Slice both the tomato and nectarine, crack some pepper, add some sea salt and top with bison meatballs. I had some basil so added that too. Just perfect for a Sunday night dinner.

To Blog or Not to Blog

Two years ago I started a blog...continued it for two months then gave up. Too overwhelmed with running my practice and keeping up to-date with nutritional science, I protested I didn’t have time, and since I gravitate toward perfectionism, I feared it would take too long to get the posts out. I just couldn’t commit.

Ironically, I was expecting full commitment from my clients. If you want a hotter body and sharper mind, you'd have to spend some time thinking and preparing what to eat. After espousing this advice to my clients, it dawned on me that I wasn't applying those principals to my own business. I needed to walk the talk not only nutritionally but with other aspects of my life.

So my commitment to you - fresh and practical nutrition advice; culinary ideas; what's on my plate; exercise tips; and nutrition in the news - initially once or twice a month. The frequency may increase once I get warmed up, but for now, I'm following my own advice, starting small and slow but being consistent. My goal is to make the posts short, interesting and informative. If I miss the mark, please let me know. If I hit the mark, please forward the posts to your friends or family members who may benefit from them.

So with my inaugural blog post, I'll ask you a few questions: What is something you have been meaning to change in your life? What’s holding you back from fully committing to that change? And if you don’t make that change, what does your future look like?

Now you've got your answer, time to action it. Okay, enough of the psychology, here is my first "What's on my plate" post.