VirgineCuisine Healthy & Seasonal Cooking by a Nutritionist Chef

Shaved Brussel Sprout Salad with Pomegranate Arils and an Orange-Za’atar Vinaigrette

July 8, 2014 | Uncategorized | Permalink

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This passed winter, this was one of my go- to salads. It is so simple and quick to throw together, yet really throws a flavor punch. Shredding brussel sprouts is much less intimidating then one might think, plus lately they are often found pre-shredded in supermarkets for even more added convenience. This past Friday night my mother let me know that she was making turkey and sweet potatoes as part of the meal, once I heard that we were flashing back to Thanksgiving on July 4th, I decided to roll with the punches and make the perfect accompaniment- this shredded brussel sprout salad brightened by pomegranate seeds (also known as arils if you want to hold your pinky up and be in the fancy club with me).

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. brussel sprouts, rinsed and pat dry
  • ½ red onion, cut into thin strips
  • arils of ½ pomegranate (approximately ½ cup)

For the dressing;

  • 1 small shallot, minced
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 tbsp. Champagne vinegar or white wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice (appx. juice of ½ lemon)
  • ½ lemon, zested
  • 2 tbsp. fresh orange juice
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp. za’atar
  • 2 shakes each; cayenne pepper, paprika
  • salt & pepper, to taste

Procedure:

Using a mandoline, food processor or knife, thinly slice the brussel sprouts. (Oftentimes now, you can fine pre-shredded and packaged brussel sprouts- go for it!)  Thinly slice the red onion.

Combine all dressing ingredients in a small bowl, season to taste with salt & pepper. Whisk all ingredients together to blend. (Extra dressing can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 1 week)

Combine all ingredients in a bowl; shaved brussel sprouts, slivered red onion, pomegranate arils and dressing.  Let the brussels marinate for a short while (20-30 minutes) in the refrigerator before serving. Serves 4. Enjoy!

The Juicing Experiment: a Personal Experience

July 7, 2014 | Uncategorized | Permalink

photoProfessionally, especially to my patients with diabetes I have yet to recommend that any patient hops on the juice trend train that’s currently choo-chooing around the nation. It is the lack of fiber that can cause drops in blood pressure and changes in digestion that can be dangerous for certain people.However, if you have a clean bill of health I do not see much reason against a short juice cleanse. There were a couple of reasons for my giving in and attempting this super trendy juicing trend. The first was to actually speak from a personal perspective when patients came in asking a few questions about it- the truth is I wrote off cleansing probably too quickly because of the lack of fiber in juice and decided to challenge my own opinion and give it a go. The second reason was that I wanted to test the theory of “giving my GI tract a rest.” Part of this theory is attributed to the way we Americans have come to eat 3 large meals a day and the extra food consumption not only adds calories, but also stress and inflammation to our bodies. It was time to give my GI a well needed vacation- especially as summer has started and the demand for drinking and eating has increased as we are more out and about in the food obsessed culture we live in. I have recorded my experience below and noticed a few food habits of my own, of my friends, and of New Yorkers in general. I want to clarify I did NOT do this cleanse as a means of weight loss, nor would I recommend any one else expect real, lasting weight loss results. Yes you do shed a couple of pounds from a ton of water weight constantly being in the restroom, but that is sure to come back when real food is introduced. Also, I do not think that all the toxins release from your body from this simple three day cleanse. Yes you feel cleaner and leaner but do not be fooled this is not a complete toxin removing experiment.

Day #1: 

9:30—  I woke up and drank warm water with lemon as per my usual routine. Monday being a day off of work, I am a little more at leisure so I figured it would be a great day to give it a go for the first time.

10:00— Time for juice #1-here we go folks…it was surprisingly delicious I have to admit. Perhaps, I would even go as far as to say it was a little too sweet towards the end but in a good “treat-like” kind of way.

11:00— Here comes that time on Monday morning for our awesomely intense group personal trainer- where I kept up like I normally would (had food in my system from the day before so felt it would be safe to beast it out) and shed an entire layer of water. Nothing like that feeling.

12:30 juice #2— Probably my favorite treat of the cleanse…I drank my almond milk post-workout recovery drink with some protein and fat, while watching my friends chow down on yummy salads, womb wraps and soup. Now I won’t lie I would have loved to join them but it was really too soon for me to care. I committed to a 3 day cleanse, pre-paid for all the juices and “it is  only 3 days” kept playing over in my mind. Temptation #1 avoided.

2:15 juice #3—After a stressful ordeal at Fedex trying to locate my package, I became hungry and ready for another juice- second  green juice of the day- cucumber, celery, spinach, parsley, lemon, apple, ginger—it’s so clear that an apple is involved for it is super duper sweet, but hey- this really is not as bad as I thought it would be.

4:45 juice #4— Yet another green juice, this time with kale, spinach and ginger. This juice was a little more grainy and heavy than the other greens but still more than tolerable. At this point I was really actually liking these juices. A semi headache popped in- probably from caffeine withdrawal, nothing I couldn’t handle though. It was expected- I love myself some coffee.

530— Whoops!  Giving my pup a cucumber treat I almost had a small piece myself out of habit. Listen a cucumber would not have made such a difference, but the point of writing about his is that this juicing cleanse is making me realize how much I pick mindlessly, making me more aware of my own “bad” food habits. Here we have lesson #1 for myself- be conscious of eating just to eat- grab a glass of water or tea instead. It’s probably thirst anyways, as sometimes our body mistakes hunger for thirst.

630— Embark on the ferry back to NYC, back to real life. No beer or cup of wine this time, just straight up chilling and enjoying the view on the deck of the ferry without the habitual cold brew.

7:00— Bring on juice #5- Lemon, cayenne, and maple syrup in water.  Personally, I prefer things extra spicy and less on the sweet side, so I will be adding an extra dash of cayenne to my next drink to counter the sweetness, but it was a refreshing and yummy treat on the back of the boat nonetheless.

8:40— Already starting to get hungry again but not quite ready for yet another juice.  I’ve actually stayed full for quite some time and I still have 2 juices left for the day- I’m pooped. After I finish unpacking, I reject some dinner plans at my favorite sushi spot (oh man! All for the cause) and chill on my bed to do some work on my laptop. I’m also too tired to set out and go chill in my friends apartment on the couch just a mere 6 blocks away- I am ready to call it a night! Usually I’m a night owl… so I’m hoping to feel more energized tomorrow. To be fair I also, have to attribute some tiredness to the earlier commute and the workout we did this morning. Banded sprints were involved.

photo 1930— Still doing computer stuff on my bed and about to delve into the Netflix vortex,when actual hunger sets in! I then go and grab juice #6 (I did it, I did it.)- beet, carrot and apple juice that tastes mostly like yummy beets. I do admit I can’t finish the juice and only get about 2/3 the way through.  Day #1 complete.

Day #2

7:45 am— wake up to find out my first patient of the day cancelled.  Hello to another hour of sleep!

8:45 — One snooze- and got up.  I go to make my usual lemon water- whoops out of lemon, so I just have a glass of water get ready for work and have my first green juice of the day while waiting for an extremely delayed 6 train. Decided to switch up the order of my juices today to keep it interesting starting first with juice #2 at 9:30 Oooooo! Getting crazy up in here.

photo 210:00 — Of course, there is breakfast in work for the first time since I’ve been working here and in the kitchen which is right across from my office, sponsored by some bagel shop with tons of coffee, and any type of bagel and cream cheese I could  probably want. I admit, usually I probably would have picked on a quarter bagel or had a half if I hadn’t had breakfast.

No chewing for me- run past the bagels to the fridge and stick to my juice.

11:30— Juice #2- No chewing for me- run past the bagels to the fridge and stick to my juice. In between patients I have my second juice of the day- lemon, cayenne, and maple syrup aka juice # 4- spicy enough this time with the extra pinch of cayenne. Overall, I am feeling fine, but definitely start to feel hungry every 2 hours. A little fog enters my mind though at this point. Eeek not too great when my job is to listen closely and interact with patients.

1:30— Started to drink my green juice- Juice #3- during my next break and finished two -thirds before I started to feel full.  Instead of lunch break, I then headed to my treat of the cleanse which was non-food centered of course; a chiropractic alignment/ back tension release/ acupuncture that left me feeling unbelievably loose and relaxed. This is my second session and happened to be on my cleanse- turns out it was great support during my 3 chew-free GI resting days. Left with a huge smile and swing in my step.

3:15— Finish the other 3rd of lunch- kale, apple, and spinach on my walk up back home, weaving in and out of stores doing some errands.

5:30— Drank juice #4- beet, carrot, and apple during halftime of the USA soccer game- no beer for me. Wow there sure is a lot of drinking to avoid in the summer. Feeling alive, not as lively as usual but alive enough.

photo 37:15—Juice #5— It’s yet again time for another green juice, this time without any apple- definitely my favorite green juice, I’m sad I didn’t have a chance to have this one yesterday! While sitting and chatting with my friends at Bryant park, I got my energy mostly back but with a few brain lapses in conversation where it was on 30 second delay in answering questions. No big deal, they love me anyways.

I then actually had enough energy for some some Bryant park games, where I showed off my hula hoop skills and then headed to sit outside with my friends as they ate a yummy looking and smelling meal at Bryant Park Grill. I had a treat- sparkling water with lime. Yummm. For serious.

9:15— Still out and about walking down to chill by my friends apartment downtown- but oh no! I didn’t bring my last juice with me. This sucks, I’m getting hungry. Thankfully, I made some calls to all of the close juice bars thanks to yelp and find that juice generation is open till 10pm- woohoo!

9:45ish— Jucie #6 I chose a hemp milk for some protein and because it was half the calories of the almond milk (which I tried the day before and was my favorite) and it was mehh but drinkable. I couldn’t reason drinking 490 calories! I’d rather eat my dense calories in the form of almond butter or nuts. Chewing is underrated I miss it. I only finished 2/3 of the drink and was satisfied for the day.

Day #3

9:09— out of bed. Water w lemon on the way to a 9:30, hour and a half yoga flow and restore class with my friend. Could not think of ingesting another green juice at this point in the morning.

11:15— Ready for my favorite green juice without apple, I really prefer the juice sans apple and started my day drinking my greens watching my friend head to magnolia for a delicious large iced coffee (totally salivated at the site of it) and mini banana pudding. The manager ironically oogled my green juice as I oogled the sweets behind the glass. Didn’t reach over like Obama would have though, I contained myself. Suck on that Mr. President.

1:30ish—Green juice #2 as I blew my hair and got ready for work- drinking meals sure is a time saver let me tell you!

3:30—Before my next patient consultation it’s lemon, cayenne, and maple syrup time! Yummy mid afternoon “treat”.” Added my own cayenne to the juice again this morning. Boo yeah.

5:30— In between patients again and now I’m starting to feel foggy- reach in my cooler and tear out what feels like my millionth green juice. Kale, apple and spinach down the hatch.

7:30 I’m finally home but I made a colossal mistake. I left my treat drink at work in my cooler in the fridge, along with teh last green juice of the day! I was definitely not as astute as usual while on this cleanse, but this could have happened any other day. I was not so ready to drink another juice, but hunger forced me to do so. I took a few sips of the beet juice. Nope- can’t do it. Did not make it past the few sips. I just want to head to bed at this point so I can wake up and chew half an avocado with some salt and red pepper flakes (been craving this for some reason).

9:30— Still awake, turned down the opportunity for another night of drinking and treated myself to a green juice, drank about half, gave up and headed to bed. I came. I saw. I conquered.

Overall, I am looking back on a surprisingly pleasant experience and will definitely do a juice cleanse again- next time maybe for 4 days and definitely with my own juice concoctions or my own juices chosen to cater to my taste palette; It did seem to get repetitive at points with the same juices over and over. Thus, I would need to switch it up more in order to last 4 days and so I plan on doing so. My body reacted normally without any crazy hunger pangs and besides for some fogginess due to drops in blood pressure (secondary to a lack of fiber), I felt healthy overall. It was easy for me to accomplish the cleanse because going into it, I knew it was only 3 days and I had committed to the cause. I am now more compassionate about the cause and would recommend juicing for people to reset their minds to head into a healthier lifestyle and also to reset your taste preferences. I found that juicing helped to reset my taste buds, as I came out craving crunchy lettuce, sashimi and avocado (strange, huh?). Post-cleanse I find myself eating slower and consuming slightly smaller portions before I am full.  The day after the cleanse I was super motivated to eat clean and now a few days later, I have not even reached for a coffee yet. I don’t expect that to last, but I do expect to keep to a diet of completely natural foods (meaning no bread or pasta- yes, gluten) for a few weeks. I feel great, clean and energized! I would say if you are a healthy person okayed by your doctor- go for it! If I can do it, so can you.

Sweet Potato Bean Burger

April 20, 2014 | Main Dishes, Salads, Veggie Side Dish | Permalink

photoPassover, we meet again. 8 days remembering our exile from Egypt that quite ironically enough, traps all us bible-bound Jews to our kitchen because of strict dietary restrictions. 8 days of food with matzah leading the way, bringing jews to pray day in and day out for an mini exile of our own to happen in the privacy of our bathrooms. My vow this year? Avoid matzah as much as possible and rely on more natural fiber-full sources of carbohydrates at meal time. The result? These yummy and satisfying veggie burgers that I will now be making all year round. Passover WIN. Even better? Putting them into My Fitness Pal I discovered the burgers are only 100 calories per patty without factoring in oil, using a teaspoon of oil per patty would make them just 140 calories with protein and fiber in every patty for a filling and satisfying patty that can be put on top of a yummy veggie filled chopped salad- or a greek salad for a complete meal. Yumm!

Ingredients: 

  • 1 1/2 cups black beans
  • 1 cup chick peas
  • 1 medium baked sweet potato
  • 3/4 cup red quinoa
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1/2 small red onion, diced
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/8 tsp red pepper flakes
  • salt & pepper, to taste

Procedure:

For this recipe, and because of the strict requirements of keeping a kosher Passover in my home, I reconstituted dried beans- sooo good! Haven’t taken out the time in a while to do this and I finally remember how worth it it is to keep fresh beans on hand vs. using convenient canned beans. — Soak beans overnight in water, covering 2″ above bean level in the bowl–strain beans in the morning and place in a pot, covering again with an extra 2 inches of water above bean level. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, cover and cook for approximately 1 hour- 1 hour and a half until fork tender.

In a large bowl, roughly mash the black beans and chick peas, to do this I used the back of a drinking glass. Next add in sweet potato and mash that in as well. Then, mix in quinoa, chopped cilantro, diced red onion, mix well. Season with cumin, red pepper flakes (or cayenne pepper + chili powder), salt and pepper- taste and adjust seasoning as necessary. Lastly, mix in the egg to bind the mixture together. (For a stiffer patty- you can add in 2 tablespoons of brown rice flour- but I don’t mind a little bean textured crumbliness in my burgers- I actually prefer it that way.) Place the mixture in the refrigerator for at least an hour for a better formed patty.

photo 1To cook patties; heat up a skillet then add 2 tsp. olive oil or olive oil spray (for less calories- but will also be less crunch on outside). Form 1/2 cup batter into a patty and place onto skillet 3 at a time, or whatever fits on your pan, leaving to cook for 4-5 minutes over a medium heat. When you put them down on the pan you can make them super neat and round by using the spatula to fix the shape by pressing around the egdges. Flip and cook on the other side (add more oil or spray if necessary- spray will most probably be necessary) and cook for another 4 minutes until done. Repeat this process until all 8 patties are done, serve and enjoy! Serves 8.photo 2

Mixed Seed & Coconut Trail Mix

April 4, 2014 | Snacks | Permalink


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Want a free piece of nutrition advice that I give to all my patients as a crucial part of being satisfied when dieting?  Make sure to pair protein and fiber with every meal and snack! Sometimes in an on-the-go New York city lifestyle this can be a tough task to take on. Enter the old reliable food group-nuts which contain both protein and fiber- which make for a great well balanced snack when consumed in moderation (10-12 per snack).  Unfortunately for this foodie, about a year and a half ago I developed an allergy to nuts! Although I still am a nut, I can no longer consume my own kind. What to do when my easy go-to nutritious snack was taken away from me? One up the universe and make something even better- durrrr! My friend Raquel and I toyed with this sweet, savory and wholesome recipe in her kitchen using seeds as the base ingredients, and with calories, protein and fiber in mind- I have here a recipe for the most tantalizing yet healthy seed mix for only 200 calories per serving with 7g protein and 3g fiber ta-boot! I hope you all enjoy it as much as I do…this is good stuff.

Ingredients:

  •  3/4 cup raw sunflower seeds
  •  3/4 cup raw pumpkin seeds
  •  1 tbsp. sesame seeds
  •  1/3 cup currants
  •  1/3 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
  •  1/2  tbsp. coconut oil or ghee (clarified butter)
  •  1 tbsp. maple syrup
  •  1/8 tsp. cinnamon
  •  1/8 tsp. turmeric
  •  1/8 tsp. cumin
  •  1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
  •  salt, to taste

Procedure:

Heat up a frying pan, add in the half tbsp. of coconut oil with all the seeds and combine to
toast. After 3 minutes, add in the coconut and currants and begin to season the mixture
with cumin, cinnamon, cayenne pepper, turmeric and some salt. Finish off with maple
syrup, mix for another minute and remove from heat, set aside. Serves 8, enjoy!

Lemon-Poppy & Fig, Dark Chocolate Coconut, & PB &J Hamentashen

March 5, 2014 | Desserts | Permalink


photo (1)It’s about that time of the year where the inner Jew inside me shines. A rabbi-mandated excuse to dress up, get drunk and eat yummy hat-shaped cookies- what’s not to love? It has become a tradition that every year I look forward to making new and exciting flavors of the traditional hamentashen. This year, I brainstormed with a bunch of my friends and came up with a whole new lot. The Lemon-Poppy/Fig Hamentashen was inspired by my friend Raquel as she watched me purchase some fresh vanilla beans in Chelsea Market this past weekend. The Dark Chocolate Coconut was inspired by the new addition to my hood- La Duree on West Broadway and their yummy @$$ macaroons that never seem to disappoint. I have yet to venture to try and make macarons, so until then I have my macaron inspired hamentashen to hold me over. Last but not least, last Friday night I was chilling with my friends on the couch after dinner and we thought adding peanut butter to the classic jelly hamentashen would be a fun play on PB & J- and guess what? We were spot on! Simple tweak on an old classic took it to a whole new level- thanks David & Elana.

Lemon-Poppy & Fig Jam 

Ingredients:

  • 3 eggs
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 cup oil
  • 4 cups flour
  • 2 dashes salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp. lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup poppy seeds
  • 1 lemon, zested
  • 2 jars fig jam

Procedure:

Beat the eggs, add in oil, sugar, vanilla and lemon juice; beat well. In a separate bowl sift together the flour salt and baking powder. Gradually add this flour mixture to the egg mixture. Add in the zest of 1 lemon and the 1/4 cup poppy seeds. Knead well. Place in the refrigerator to chill for an hour.

Preheat oven to 350.

Divide the mixture into 3 balls. On a lightly floured work surface, roll each out and cut into 3″ circles.

Now…for the fun part. Simply spoon one teaspoon of fig jam in the center of the 3″ circle; form the triangular hat by lifting and securely pinching 3 sides. Bake at 350 for approximately 15 minutes, until golden brown. Enjoy!

Chocolate Coconut with a Dark Chocolate Ganache

Ingredients:

  • 3 eggs
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 cup coconut oil
  • 4 cups flour
  • 2 dashes salt
  • 1 cup coconut sugar
  • 2 tsp. frozen orange juice concentrate
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/3 cup shredded coconut
  • 1 cup unsweetened coconut
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 12 oz. dark chocolate chips
  • pinch of salt

Procedure:

Beat the eggs, add in coconut oil, coconut sugar, vanilla and orange juice concentrate; beat well. In a separate bowl sift together the flour, salt, cocoa powder, and baking powder. Gradually add this flour mixture to the egg mixture. Add in the shredded coconut. Knead well. Place in the refrigerator to chill for an hour.

Preheat oven to 350.

Prepare the ganache; Bring a cup of unsweetened coconut milk to a boil with one teaspoon of vanilla. Remove from the heat and add in the 12 oz bag of dark chocolate chips and a dash or two of salt. Mix well until all the chocolate melts in to the boiled coconut. When completely smooth, stir in some toasted coconut flakes and let the mixture sit for a few minutes to thicken.

Divide the chocolate mixture into 3 balls. On a lightly floured work surface, roll each out and cut into 3″ circles.

Now…for the fun part. Spoon one teaspoon of the dark chocolate ganache in the center of the 3″ circle; form the triangular hat by lifting and securely pinching 3 sides. After the tray is complete and full, top hamentashen with some coconut chips. Bake at 350 for approximately 15 minutes, until golden brown. Enjoy!

PB & J

Ingredients:

  • 3 eggs
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 cup oil
  • 4 cups flour
  • 2 dashes salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp. frozen orange juice concentrate
  • 1 cup natural peanut butter
  • 1 jar raspberry jam (I used an apricot-raspberry blend)

Procedure:

Beat the eggs, add in oil, sugar, vanilla and orange juice concentrate; beat well. In a separate bowl sift together the flour, salt, and baking powder. Gradually add this flour mixture to the egg mixture. Knead well. Place in the refrigerator to chill for an hour.

Preheat oven to 350.

Divide the mixture into 3 balls. On a lightly floured work surface, roll each out and cut into 3″ circles.

Now…for the fun part. Spoon one half teaspoon of  peanut butter in the center of the 3″ circles, then repeat this step with a half teaspoon of jam on top; form the triangular hat by lifting and securely pinching 3 sides. Sprinkle the tray of complete hamentashen with crushed raw peanuts and sprinkle some sea salt. Bake at 350 for approximately 15 minutes, until golden brown. Enjoy!

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Sweet & Sour Mushroom Broth Ramen with Chicken

January 15, 2014 | Main Dishes, Soups | Permalink

photoOn Monday after I finished seeing all my patients for the day, I met my mother for a late lunch at Jean Georges near Central Park West. For those who may not know the amazingly incredible chef that is Jean Georges, his flavors and textures always are so playful and reserved at the same time. He achieves complexity and simplicity hand in hand in each bite. He is the chef proprietor at a handful of restaurants around NYC, each one of them exciting and delicious. Go eat your way through them all! It is to him I often look for inspiration.

Okay back to the lunch. I ordered a delicious tuna ribbon appetizer and arctic char with parsnip goodness for my main course. I had my eye on the sea bass entree but, alas the fish was crusted in nuts and no meal is worth an epi-pen injection on my end (sorry Jean-Georges). My mother of course ordered the entree and enjoyed every last bite. After she was finished I ventured to taste the broth the fish was sitting in (okay Jean Georges you got me) and started immediately laughing. My mother usually doesn’t like mushrooms, nay she hates them and will not eat anything that has a mushroom in it.  The nut crusted bass was swimming in a sweet and sour mushroom broth and she hadn’t realized. This mushroom broth converted even a mushroom hater, thats how delicious it was!

Now, we have arrived at my own concoction. After that bite, I was posessed by its flavors and I thus set out to make a sweet and sour mushroom based broth of my own. Listen, I’m no Jean Georges, but for this nut with a nut allergy it hit the spot! I added some brown rice ramen noodles, plain chicken breast and some spinach to make it a healthy and satisfying complete meal and was quite happy with the way the dish turned out. Once again, thanks for the inspiration Chef Vongerichten! I owe you one more.

Ingredients: 

  • 8 oz. maitake mushrooms
  • 1 tbsp. grapeseed oil
  • 1 tbsp. low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp. red wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp. honey
  • 1 tbsp. lemon juice
  • 4-6 cups water
  • 8 oz chicken
  • dash cayenne pepper
  • 3 cups spinach leaves
  • 1 piece brown rice ramen
  • oregano

Procedure: 

Pull apart the maitake mushrooms. Heat up a medium stockpot and then add 1 tablespoon grapeseed oil. Toss in the mushrooms and caramelize for about 5-10 minutes. Add in a tablespoon of each the honey, soy sauce, lemon juice and red wine vinegar. Add 4 cups of water, bring to a boil and then cover and simmer slowly for 30 minutes.

After 30 minutes, add in thin pieces of cut skinless chicken breast along with 3 cups of spinach and cayenne pepper, cover and simmer for another 10-15 minutes until the chicken is cooked through. (If more water is needed add another 2 cups at any point.)

Lastly, throw in the brown rice ramen noodle brick and bring to a boil for 3 minutes. Mix the broth well and serve with a sprinkle of oregano on top of each serving. Serves 2, enjoy!

Caramelized Maple-Cinnamon & Cajun Roasted Brussel Sprouts and Acorn Squash

January 15, 2014 | Veggie Side Dish | Permalink

 

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Last week my family ventured on a last minute skiing vacation in Stowe, Vermont. Happened to be that the first night we arrived the skies opened up and torrential downpour ensued, crushing our dreams of skiing down a freshly powdered mountain after a weekend snow storm. Moreover, a polar vortex hit the east coast and we were officially screwed. Icy conditions made for dangerous and unenjoyable icy skiing conditions and I did not even get to suit up once!

What I did get to do was eat, and eat and eat. It felt like we were living from one meal to the next without the ski trip activity of skiing to fill our days. What I found was for some reason, these athletic ski-prone Vermont-ians ate really heavy and oftentimes on menus it seemed veggies were neglected. I mean there were copious amounts of amazinggg cheeses and delicious maple syrup so I can’t really complain about that, but I definitely came home with a huge craving for some good ole’ veg. Of course I brought myself home some delicious looking cinnamon-infused maple syrup and it made its way into this veggielicious dish.

Ingredients: 

  • 1 lb. brussel sprouts, halved lengthwise
  • 1/2 acorn squash
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1-2 tbsp. cinnamon-maple syrup
  • 1- 2 tsp. cajun spice
  • 1/8 tsp. garlic powder
  • Salt, to taste

Procedure: 

Preheat the oven to 375.

Cut an acorn squash in half, scoop out the seeds and then cut the squash into moons. From the moons, cut thin planks of squash- this way the halved brussel sprouts and squash will both evenly roast.

Next, simply season both the squash and brussel sprouts with olive oil, cajun spice (I used 2 tsp but I like it extra hot, use according to your spice preference), garlic powder and some salt. Mix well and place the mixture into a cast iron skillet.

Top the mixture with a tablespoon of cinnamon maple syrup (I bought this cinnamon-infused maple syrup on my trip to vermont, you can simply season with a dash or two of cinnamon separately) and roast in the oven for approximately 45 minutes until the veggies caramelize, checking the mixture and stirring up the pot with a spoon after 30 minutes. Serves 4, enjoy!

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Roasted Winter Veggies with Avocado

January 12, 2014 | Veggie Side Dish | Permalink

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There comes a time in the afternoon when whether or not your stomach starts to rumble…you’re ready for a snack. Something to munch on, to mull over for a bit instead of the comings and goings of your day. A brief escape from the world around you in the comforts of food. Patients often describe this afternoon lull moment to me in our meetings where we discuss daily diet habits. We crave that hand to mouth movement- something to change up our afternoon. In this instance, veggie snack time is key to healthy survival during those long hours at a desk. For the simple, carrot sticks and hummus or perhaps celery and peanut butter, but for those of us who seem to always need more, those of us who would like mouthgasmic explosions in our mouths to liven up the work day without the guilt- something more textured and flavorful with layers of spice and savor; roasted root veggies paired with avocado is here to save the day!

Ingredients:

  • 1 acorn squash, diced
  • 1 small butternut squash, diced
  • 1 sweet potato, diced
  • 1 red onion, cut into slivers
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1/8 tsp; paprika, cayenne pepper & garlic powder
  • salt & pepper, to taste
  • 2 avocados, diced
  • 2 tbsp. balsamic glaze
  • 1 tsp. lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp. squash seed oil
  • red pepper flakes, to taste

Procedure:

Preheat oven to 375.

In a large bowl, place the diced sweet potato, acorn squash, butternut squash, and red onion. Season with olive oil, paprika, cayenne pepper, garlic powder and some salt and pepper. Place on a greased baking sheet in the oven for 45 min- an hour until slightly caramelized. Let cool.

Dice avocados and mix in with the roasted root vegetables. Dress the veggie mixture with balsamic glaze [I keep this handy in my fridge since it lasts for months I make a bottle of balsamic at a time- simply boil a bottle with 2 tbsp organic brown sugar and let it reduce down to about 1/2 cup or until the mixture coats the back of a spoon, appx 10 min], 1 tsp lemon juice, 1 tbsp. squash seed oil, and as many red pepper flakes as your heart desires. Serves 4, enjoy!

Apple & Peanut Butter Oatmeal

January 3, 2014 | Breakfast/ Brunch | Permalink

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One of my favorite hold-over afternoon snacks is an apple with peanut butter. Without fail the combination of the fiber in the apple matched with the protein in the peanut butter always leaves me satisfied and full. Oatmeal for many is said to do the same, how about paired with the apple and peanut butter? I am easily satisfied for hours with this cozy winter-warming breakfast! Also, because of it’s filling nature- this also makes for an excellent post-gym snack.

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup quick cook irish oats
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup- 1 cup water
  • cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp. natural peanut butter

Procedure:

Mix 1/3 cup quick cook irish oats with 1 cup coconut milk and about a teaspoon of cinnamon.  As per the directions on the back of the container, bring oats to a boil and then reduce to  simmer stirring every now and then for 5-7 minutes.

While the oatmeal is boiling, cut up an apple into small chunks. Heat up a saute pan over a medium-high heat with the apples, apple cider vinegar, bay leaves, cinnamon and cinnamon sticks and then add enough water to almost cover the apple pieces (about 1/2 cup). Cover and let the apples soften for about the same amount of time as the oatmeal.

When everything is done, mix apple mixture with oatmeal and top with the natural peanut butter. Serves 1- enjoy!

Beef Stew

December 27, 2013 | Main Dishes | Permalink

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This year was strange for us Jews. Usually, around the time of Christmas we celebrate hanukkah so there is no huge familial and present-receiving void. This year we were jipped! Well hanukkah merged with Thanksgiving, taking away an extra time to celebrate with family. Thank G-d this isn’t happening again in my lifetime. I, this Jewish Chick, was left craving some of home on Xmas eve so I made this batch of Beef Stew, a childhood staple on my Friday Night dinner table that seems to have since disappeared. Along with the yummy winter-warming side effects of consuming the beef stew, it felt like I was home for a few short minutes. Much needed.

Ingredients: 

*adapted and edited from the FoodNetwork.com

  • 2 lbs. lean beef stew meat
  • 2 tbsp. grapeseed oil
  • 1 onion, sliced into 1″ slivers
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • 1 heaping tbsp. tomato paste
  • 1/3 cup oat flour
  • 10 cups cold water (can use stock, but since this stews for some time, I use plain old H20)
  • 6 sprigs parsley
  • 6 sprigs thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 large white sweet potato (or 2 small)
  • 2 large carrots, cut into 1″ rounds
  • 2 celery stalks, cut into 1/2″ pieces
  • 10 oz. canned diced tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp. red wine vinegar
  • salt & pepper, to taste

Procedure: 

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

Heat a large Dutch oven with a tight-fitting lid over medium-high heat. Once the dutch oven is heated, add in the 2 tbsp. of grapeseed oil. Add the meat to the dutch oven and  saute uncovered, stirring only occasionally, until well-browned, about 8 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the beef to a plate.

Add the onion and cook, stirring, until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring, until lightly browned, about 1 minute more. Put the beef back in the dutch oven and scatter the flour over the vegetable and beef mixture (enough to lightly coat) and cook stirring until lightly toasted. Season with salt and pepper. Add 10 cups of water and bring to a simmer. Tie the parsley, thyme, and bay leaves together with a piece of kitchen twine and add the bundle to the pot (I didn’t happen to have kitchen twine on hand, so instead I filled an empty tea bag with herbs, tied it shut and placed it in the pan- I’ve done this several times now and it works just as well!). Season the stew with some more salt. Cover and transfer to the oven. Cook the meat until just tender, about 1 hour. (This can also be done on the stove at a low simmer.)

Remove pot from the oven. Skim the fat from the cooking liquid with a spoon or ladle. Add the potatoes, carrots, celery, and the tomatoes, and bring to a simmer on top of the stove. Cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the liquid thickens and the vegetables are tender, about 1 1/2 hours. Remove and discard the herb bundle. Stir in the vinegar and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Divide among bowls and serve immediately. Consider serving with brown rice. Serves 4-6. Enjoy!