Friday, September 25, 2009

Organic vs Non-Organic

Originally, all foods were grown organically without the use of pesticides and chemicals. Our food these days is not only deficient in nutrients, but also full of pollutants and farming chemicals. Eating organically not only keeps chemicals off your plate it also saves energy, helps small farmers, protects the water and soil quality and most of all, food grown organically just tastes better.

What's stopping you from going organic? Is it the higher prices? If you are concerned about price you should prioritize your organic purchases based on which type of produce has the highest pesticide residues-and which do not. Check out the lists below for the 12 most/least contaminated produce.

12 Most Contaminated:
Sweet Bell Peppers
Grapes (Imported)

12 Least Contaminated:
Sweet Corn (Frozen)
Sweet Peas (Frozen)
Kiwi Fruit

Monday, September 14, 2009

Nutella as a health food?

Have you seen the latest ad for Nutella? There's a mom putting it on healthy food to get her kids to eat it. As I was watching I couldn't help but think this was the most ridiculous thing I had seen since the High Fructose Corn Syrup ads. Now, I am not knocking Nutella. It's yummy, but using it to get your kids to eat healthy foods?

This picture is featured on the Nutella website as "The ideal balanced Nutella® breakfast, as pictured here, is close to the breakfast recommended by the 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans."

Really? It's all sugar. Sugar in the orange juice, the fruit, the Nutella...even the glass of milk has sugar! Not a good way to start your day. 

Ingredients: sugar, modified palm oil, hazelnuts, cocoa, skim milk, reduced minerals whey (from milk), soy lecithin: an emulsifier, vanillin: an artificial flavor.

21 grams of sugar....that's almost 4-1/2 teaspoons per serving! The recommended daily allowance (RDA) for sugar is 0. That's right none. Some experts think we do not need any sugar in our diet at all.

Modified palm oil = 18% saturated fat. Saturated fat elevates your bad cholesterol levels.'s a nut so it must be healthy right? Hazelnuts contain vitamin E and selenium and can provide health benefits when not consumed with the fat and sugar of a spread.

What about soy lecithin? Some experts said it's bad for you and some say it's ok in moderation. But what is it? It's a by-product of soybean oil used to keep the cocoa and butter from separating. Do I want to eat a by-product?

The purpose of this article is not to tell you to stop eating Nutella. I want you to be informed that it is definitely not a health food and should be eaten in moderation if at all.

Everyone should start their day with a hearty breakfast that gives you energy throughout the morning. If you need to add sweetness to your food use a natural sweetener such as agave nectar, pure maple syrup, Stevia or raw honey. For breakfast ideas check out the recipes found here.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Chicken, Kale and Couscous

I got home tonight and felt tired, worn out and not in the mood to cook. I thought about throwing a frozen pizza (Amy’s Organic, my “I don’t feel like cooking” choice rather than ordering take-out) in the oven but then I remembered I had thawed chicken that had to be cooked today. I went through a mental list of what I had in the kitchen and came up with chicken, kale and couscous.

For those of you not familiar with kale let me introduce you. Kale: the wonder green! Kale is high in fiber, vitamins A & C and loaded with calcium and at only 43 calories per cup virtually a free food. Kale also contains many phytonutrients which have been known to prevent cancer. There are many varieties of kale such as Curly, Ornamental and Dinosaur.

Curly kale has ruffled leaves and is usually deep green in color. It has a lively pungent flavor. This is the type I most commonly use.

Ornamental is often referred to as salad savoy. Its leaves may be white or purple and has a more mellow flavor and tender texture.

Dinosaur is the common name for the kale variety known as Lacinato. Its leaves are dark blue and have a sweeter more mellow taste than curly kale.

So here’s my recipe:

• Chicken breast cubed and dipped in bread crumbs (substitute extra-firm tofu if vegetarian/vegan)
• Kale, washed and chopped
• Couscous, any variety (I used tomato tonight)
• Toasted Sesame Oil for cooking (substitute oil of your choice)

Put toasted sesame oil in a pan and heat. Once pan is heated add chicken pieces and brown. While chicken is cooking chop kale. When chicken is almost finished add the kale to the pan and cook until bright green and heated through (about 2 minutes or so). Make couscous per instructions on package (boil water, add couscous, stir, remove from heat and cover for 5 minutes). Spoon couscous onto a plate and top with chicken and kale. Super simple!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Spring Street Natural

I had brunch at Spring Street Natural (62 Spring St. @ Lafayette) today with a fellow IIN grad. What a great place!

The day was absolutely beautiful and we decided to take a seat by one of the large windows at the front. The service was fantastic. Our waiter showed us just enough attention without making us feel stalked or neglected. The atmosphere was busy but not chaotic and the food was gorgeous and yummy.

Everything on the brunch menu looked great and I found myself having a hard time deciding. I finally chose the Mayan eggs: 2 eggs on a yellow corn tortilla with black beans, Monterrey Jack cheese, guacamole, lettuce and ranchero sauce. When the dish was brought to the table it looked like a work of art. I wanted to take a picture. And the taste...yummy! The dish had just the right amount of flavor without being too spicy or too bland.

My friend had the Salmon Eggs Benedict. She was very happy with her choice and kept raving about how fresh everything tasted. I will definitely go back to this restaurant.

Spring Street Natural is also featured in Jared Koch's book Clean Plates NYC. Check it out!

PS-They have live jazz on Thursday nights starting at 7:30.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Make Eating a Ritual

I ate dinner at my new dining room table tonight. I know, not terribly exciting so why am I blogging about it? Well, I live alone and tend to eat at my desk while on the computer and with the TV on in the background. Being distracted while eating makes it easy for me to scarf down my food without tasting it and often leads to overeating.

I usually eat breakfast and lunch in my office at my desk in front of the computer. There's not much I can do about that but I can change the way I eat when I am at home. Eating should be a ritual. When you have others over for dinner you set the table, get out your best dishes and silverware, you light candles and maybe even set the mood with relaxing music. You want to make your guest feel special. Well, what about doing that for yourself? Are you not special? Take the time to make yourself feel special. Eat at your table, light candles, play soothing music or do whatever else makes you feel special.

I know we are all busy but try doing this once a week to start. See how it feels. Notice if your feelings around eating change. Do you slow down while eating rather than inhaling the food. Can you taste your food;I mean really taste it? Remember, you are special and you deserve to treat yourself!