Monday, 03 November 2014 14:13

MW University | Eat This! Healthy Cram Food

MW University // November 3, 2014

All nighters -- we’ve all pulled one. Exam seasons and/or procrastination tend to result in long nights spent at a desk, desperately attempting to prepare for the next day’s assessment. During these stressful times, most students turn to caffeine and junk food. Not only are these foods unhealthy, they can have negative effects on studying (increase of anxiety, fatigue, weight gain, etc), and may keep the body from retaining information. There are healthier food choices that can promote better physical health, while also helping to prepare the body for an academic feat.

Check out our 7 top food choices for study nights:

Almonds

Almonds have nutrients that are proven to protect the body against the damaging physical effects of stress. Women’s Health reported that the vitamin E, vitamin B, and magnesium in almonds boost your immune system when your stress levels rise. Vitamin B is used for the production of acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter that increases attention and awareness. Researchers have also concluded that almonds aid in the restoration of memory and cognitive function.

Plantains (and/or bananas)

Plantains contain vitamin B6, which helps your body create serotonin. Serotonin is our “happy” neurotransmitter, and eating plantain can help to keep depressive symptoms at bay. Plantains have a high concentration of vitamin B6. Bananas and dates are also good B6 options as they also have high concentrations of “happy”.

Protein

The neurotransmitters in the brain are built of amino acids from the foods you eat. A high protein diet will allow the brain to build healthier neural connections. Foods high in protein include meats, cheese, and eggs. For a long night or a study party with friends, consider beef jerky, salami and cheese, and deviled eggs as a snack. These foods will provide the body with the necessary energy for studying, and aid the brain in the production of neural connections for memory.

Blueberries

Researchers at Tufts University have concluded that blueberries can improve short term memory and regenerate neural connections tied to balance and coordination. In comparison to other fruits, blueberries have the highest concentration of antioxidants. Besides aiding the immune system (which is important during exam study sessions), the antioxidants have proven to restore mental health.

Black Tea

Caffeine may seem like a student’s best friend, however, the amounts of caffeine in the coffee and energy drinks tend to cause higher anxiety levels, especially if the body has not had regular exposure to caffeine. Black tea, such as Chai, English Breakfast, and Earl Grey, are great substitutes for caffeine. They do not contain as much caffeine as coffee, yet there is enough to give any student an energy boost.

Bran Cereal (B12) 

Bran cereal and/or muffins are beneficial study snacks because they have Vitamin B12, which is known for its mental clarity and brain enhancing properties. It participates in brain function, blood synthesis, and the nervous system. The vitamin is also partially responsible for the production of melatonin in the body, which helps to regulate the body’s sleep cycle. Increased levels of B12 (and melatonin) lead to heightened awareness during the day and healthy sleep patterns. Raisin Bran, for example, is a great choice for breakfast or late night snack.

Oranges and Other Citruses

Vitamin C is predominantly known as an aid to the immune system. However, it also reduces the psychological and physical effects of stress. German researchers found that vitamin C reduces the release of Cortisol when the body is under stressful conditions. The hormone, cortisol puts the body in “fight-or-flight” mode, impairing the learning and memory processes. A tall glass of fresh orange juice can reduce levels of the hormone: a perfect remedy for the night before or the morning of a big exam.

Published in Lifestyle

MW of the Month // August 4, 2014

Cold, sweet ice cream smashed between two yummy cookies may just sound like a great summertime snack to you, but for Natasha Case, Founder of Coolhaus, ice cream sandwiches have become dessert gold. A young entrepreneur and student of architecture, Natasha has relied on her instincts and passions to fuel her business and take her to the next level. What started out as making ice cream with her then girlfriend and later business partner, Freya Estreller, has turned into a multi-million dollar enterprise, with retail stores in LA, Austin, Dallas and New York and distribution nationwide through grocery store chain, Wholefoods.

It always fascinates me when Made Women are able to take start something on a small scale and turn it into a dream career. As Coolhaus’ founder, Natasha went from selling her unique brand of ice cream from the back of an old ice cream truck to now having a coffee table book called Coolhaus Ice Cream book, partnerships with huge brands and more. I met Natasha recently at the Tribe Talk event right here in LA and was excited to pick her brain a bit and see how she made it all happen:

SW: You didn’t always make ice cream. Tell me a little about your architecture background.


NC: I went to Berkeley for my undergraduate, I studied architecture and design. I studied abroad with Cornell in Rome. Everything they do in Italy had a huge influence on me in terms of quality, from the tailor made suits, to the food, to the architecture, and really realizing that, the best ingredients make the best product. And then I came back, finished Berkeley, and then I went to UCLA for grad school for architecture.

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SW: I know that you have used some of the things you have learned about architecture to inspire design with with Coolhaus and that’s what you studied. So why ice cream? Why food? Why not just architecture all the way?

NC: I had a really fun idea that food... kind of opens up the discussion a lot more. Food is something everyone can relate to. It’s comforting, it’s fun, it’s memorable. I got more intrigued in my own architecture work knowing that.

You have to bake architectural models and I always thought, if I was making this model of cake it would never get boring. So food is fun, and then there is this light at the end of the rainbow because when you are done you can eat it. So it’s always just been a passion/hobby for me, eating and cooking. And then I had the idea of how can you combine architecture with that? What are the ways they overlap? How can you use one to talk about the other? That’s what initially inspired the concept of what we’re doing now with Coolhaus. And a lot of our flavors are named after architects and designers so it’s about building awareness and making it accessible and fun. I call that Frachitecture…. But I still very much consider myself part of both of those worlds.

SW: Right, that’s awesome. It’s just incredible how you started something new and different and it just took off. How big was your team when you guys started out?

NC: Really we started with me and Freya and now we’re over seventy people company wide.


SW: Wow, and also you recently made the Forbes Thirty Under Thirty and Zagats Thirty Under Thirty as well. Congratulations. Were these your biggest accomplishments as an entrepreneur? If not, what was?

NC: To get an acknowledgement or award like that is great but for me the accomplishment is getting into markets in Guam or reaching people with a product that I never thought we were able to reach and running the business properly and being able to reward and bonus the corporate team and also the team on the ground in the trucks and stores. Those are the things that matter to me a lot more. I mean I’m so excited to be acknowledged and that means a lot. But it’s not like, “Oh, that’s my goal is to get Thirty Under Thirty.”

SW: I’m sure it wasn’t easy to go from selling from a refurbished ice cream truck to being in 1500 grocery stores. What has been the biggest challenge through it all?

NC: I think surrounding yourself with the right people -- anyone will tell you -- is the hardest part. Because you [are dealing with] different personalities, and skillsets... And really finetuning to make sure that you have the right team in place and that everyone’s skills are being optimized. The other thing is financially scaling. It’s hard to make the jump from three Wholefoods in 2011 to now over two thousand grocery stores nationwide. Cash flow in a company like ours that is obviously very seasonal is tough. There are times when it’s difficult and how you’re gonna get through it? What kind of precautious do you have to take. You really have to plan, be aware of your budgets. That’s definitely a challenge too.

SW: I know that Freya was your business partner and she worked on the finance and operations side. What was it like for you two as entrepreneurs, co-founders, and significant others? That had to be a lot going on.

NC: Yeah, it’s a lot. I think that while it worked, it worked great because we were able to talk about the company and evaluate it all the time. Then you start to hit a glass ceiling when you say okay, there are limitations to also being romantically involved. It’s not a purely professional relationship and it becomes time to bring in an expert, someone that you don’t have that emotional complication with. So I think it was an amazing thing to do in the startup phase for the company to mature. But I think for the next step, it made sense for Freya to move on and she had other passions she wanted to pursue. So, it all worked out in the end.

SW: That’s great. Your story is very unique, I know that you drove that old ice cream truck to Coachella to launch your product. What advice do you have for other entrepreneurs that are starting out?

NC: We like to say “action not perfection.” If you want to get something out there, don’t be afraid to test the market. The market will teach you a lot about what works and what doesn’t. Don’t feel like you’re always going to have to be perfect before you launch. Because the real test is reality.



SW: You found so many other ways to monetize beyond just ice cream scoops, so can you talk about the other ways that Coolhaus does business.

NC: Yes, so the book, e-commerce that has grown to bars and other clients now, in addition to grocery stores and foodservice accounts.  So, you know, I’ve been coming up with a variety of products and a variety of market channels.

SW: You also talked about partnerships, which ones are going on right now?

NC: We’ve done a big thing with Dexter the Showtime show last year. We did a pre-packaged sandwich and various event activations around it to promote it [along with] various media. This year, we have our partnership with the LA Forum. We have a special sandwich for them. It’s red velvet vanilla because they painted the Forum red. We are working on a partnership with Wholefoods and their Whole Family foundation which is in the very early stages. We have a lot of big brand activations. We are doing something with Jeep.

SW: So, how do you come up with new flavors and new ideas for that?

NC: Sometimes we are inspired by dishes we have in savory restaurants. Sometimes clients commissions us to do something interesting like make a flavor themed by a movie or a show. We did a Spongebob flavor, a 2012 flavor for the movie 2012. Sometimes we just want to push the envelope. We were the first to bring bacon ice cream to the masses and then suddenly people started doing bacon desserts. So we thought, “Okay, what’s the next flavor we can do to push the envelope?” And we came up with chicken and waffles.

SW: What’s your favorite flavor?


NC: It really depends on the day. I love our summer flavors right now Sweet Corn and Blueberry. I love the fried chicken and waffles. Our ___ are fresh and they have a touch of brown sugar.

SW: My last question for you, I know you started a company at a young age, what advice or feedback did you receive that kept you going and allowed you to get past your inexperience?

NC: I think you can walk through a wall if you don’t know it’s there. Sometimes not knowing about something makes you take a risk that you don’t even realize you’re taking and that risk can be your secret weapon because you’re going to disrupt the market and give something really cool and unique.

Love this Made Woman’s story? Join us on August 29th for a Twitter chat with her! Tweet us your questions for Natasha using the hashtag #MWChat!


Published in Business
Friday, 18 October 2013 19:41

Health | Vegetarian Starter Kit

Health // October 21, 2013

The *vegetarian lifestyle is a growing trend in the United States, with interest in the **vegan diet especially increasing this year. Maybe it’s due to public figures like former President Bill Clinton, Justin Timberlake, Ellen Degeneres and Natalie Portman endorsing the plant-based lifestyle. But reports that the many health benefits of vegetarian and vegan diets include reduced risk of cancer, obesity and cardiovascular disease is far more compelling. If you are jumping on the bandwagon (I did!) but are not quite sure where to start, these tips are for you.

1. Learn about plant-based nutritionIf you are worried about getting enough iron or protein into your diet, then it’s time to educate yourself on plant-based nutrition. I really like this veggie version of the “My Plate” dietary guidelines, which outlines sources of essential nutrients like calcium and protein.

2. Make vegetarian versions of your favorite meals—Are you committed to making a healthy transition, but sometimes crave comfort foods like Spaghetti Bolognese, chili, macaroni and cheese or an All-American cheeseburger? Then experiment with vegetarian versions of your favorites to help ease the transition. For example, swap the meat in your Spaghetti with fresh, seasonal vegetables or try a soy or black bean burger instead of beef.

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3. Try new recipes—One of the great aspects of changing your lifestyle is embracing the new flavors and textures of vegetarian food. Subscribe to vegetarian resources like VegNews and Vegetarian Times, which offer informative blogs, websites and newsletters full of fun recipes and creative ideas for living a vegetarian lifestyle.

4. Explore ethnic foods—Chinese, Japanese, Mexican, Italian, Indian and Vietnamese cuisines all offer flavorful and healthy vegetarian options. My favorite is Mexican, and my go to meal when eating out is a burrito with black beans, salsa, extra veggies and guacamole. Yum! Check out the Vegetarian Resource Group's national restaurant guide the next time you eat out.

5. Try faux meats and dairy alternatives—If you’re not ready to go cold turkey, there are meat and dairy alternatives that may be a great option. Daiya offers a variety of cheese substitutes that have great flavor and melt well, which is a great alternative for all recovering cheese-a-holics craving pizza or grilled cheese.

There are many great reasons to try a vegetarian diet, particularly because it boasts several health benefits. There is a plethora of healthful, colorful options at the grocery store, and more restaurants are adding tasty vegetarian options to their menus. However, vegetarianism can be a huge shift from the standard beef-based American diet so you’ll need some help. Get support from your family and friends by letting them know about your new lifestyle. It’s also a good idea to consult your doctor or visit a dietician if you have any existing health problems or need some extra guidance. Have more questions? Our friends at Every Day Health provided the infographic below. Happy eating!




*Vegetarians do not eat meat. This includes pork, chicken, beef and fish.

**Vegans (strict vegetarians) do not eat any meat. Additionally, a vegan does not eat dairy products, eggs, or any other animal products. Vegans also avoid using products that have been tested on animals or made from animal skins.

Published in Health
Wednesday, 21 August 2013 15:35

Lifestyle | Conquering Cooking with Scallops

Lifestyle // August 26, 2013

Each month this summer Lindsay Jones of Foodflirt.com will pick one ingredient that is usually overlooked and share her tips on how to use it. Spice up your dishes and your life by trying something new! Read the other entries here.

When dining out, most of my scallop-loving friends are happier than clams to order an appetizer or entrée made with the marshmallow-looking shellfish, but when it comes to cooking them at home…not so much.

In the summer, scallops are one of my go-to choices when I want to make a light recipe that still displays some panache and pizzazz. The slightly sweet, pale white meat pairs well with a wide variety of flavors and they cook in about 2-3 minutes flat, depending on the size.  Heads up: they’re not the most wallet-friendly ingredients -- fresh scallops can be a bit pricey -- but once in a while, splurging on them is well worth the money.

Scallops are perfect to cook when you’re craving shellfish, but feeling a little lazy. They’re easy to prepare and even easier to eat! No peeling, cracking or laborious picking necessary to indulge in these delicate, tasty treasures that add a level of luxury to many great recipes. Here’s what you need to know to make your at-home scallop prep a breeze:

Scallop School

If you found a scallop in the ocean, it wouldn’t look anything like what you see in the seafood case. Whole scallops are housed in two beautiful, scalloped seashells that are hinged at one end, which is why they are considered bi-valve mollusks. The portion that we most commonly eat is the adductor muscle, which opens and closes the two shells. Scallop lovers generally don’t know that scallops have up to 100 brilliant blue eyes around the edges of their shells.

What To Look For

At your local fish counter, you’ll usually see two types of scallops -- larger sea scallops and smaller bay scallops. The largest, sweetest scallops are known as Diver scallops; if you’re making a recipe where the scallop is the star of the show, Diver scallops are the way to go.  They are also harvested in the most environmentally-friendly method possible. Avoid buying dredged scallops, which is a harvesting method that is harmful to the environment. Bay scallops are a good choice when making soups, salads, pastas or other recipes that include scallops as just one of several other ingredients. They are more affordable, but the meat is still subtly sweet and tender. Bay scallops are VERY easy to overcook, so remember they don’t need more than about 1-3 minutes. Sometimes, you can find scallops still in their shells. These are lovely for baking!

Keep it Natural

There are “dry” scallops and “wet” scallops and you want DRY. Dry scallops are pale pink or light vanilla in color and have not been treated with any type of chemical. This means they will be more flavorful, sear better, and are healthier to eat. Wet scallops have been treated with chemicals and appear bright white. They hold extra water which makes them weigh more, thus five wet scallops can cost you more than five dry scallops. Whole Foods is a good place to look for dry scallops -- or try Santa Monica Seafood if you live in Los Angeles. Trader Joe’s carries a decent frozen option.

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Endless Options

You can serve scallops almost any way you want -- raw, poached, grilled, sautéed, steamed, broiled, baked, marinate or the always fabulous method: frying! Vintage scallop recipes tend to bath scallops in heavy sauces, but these can hide delicate flavor of the sweet, light meat. However you decide to serve your scallops, know this: all scallops cook quickly and if over-cooked, they become chewy and less than awesome. Larger scallops should appear slightly translucent inside, once cooked.  

Scallops Play Well With…

Some of the most popular ingredients and flavors to pair with scallops are: almonds, avocados, bacon, basil, brandy, bread crumbs, capers, caviar, cayenne, gruyere cheese, parmesan, chives, crab, cream, cucumbers, curry, fennel, garlic, ginger, leeks, lemon, lime, mushrooms, mustard, onions, olive oil, pepper, rosemary, sunflower seeds, salt, shallots, thyme, truffles, vanilla, cider vinegar and white wine.

Scrumptious Scallop Recipes

Sugar Seared Scallops with Chimichurri Sauce – This is an easy scallop appetizer to make that will impress both on the plate and the palate! The sugar-seared diver scallops are served in Chinese soup spoons, atop homemade Chimichurri sauce and topped with a tomato fig salsa.

12 Simple Scallop Recipes – This is a great article from the New York Times on how to serve the perfect scallop. It features twelve different recipes and each one highlights the scallop as the main event!

Cheesy Baked Scallops in Shell
  - If you find scallops still in the shell, you can bake them that way. Read this for an easy, cheesy, addicting way to devour scallops from Wiffy on NoobCook.com.

Pasta with Bay Scallops and Tomatoes – This light pasta dish from SkinnyTaste.com is filled with bay scallops and flavored with garlic, lemon juice, tomatoes and white wine. It’s a great weekend pasta dish!

So, the next time you want to cook your way into a seafood lover’s heart -- or just treat yourself to a special meal -- try preparing a scallop recipe and you are sure to see just how easy (and delicious) it can be!

Published in Lifestyle

Lifestyle // June 17, 2013

Each month this summer Lindsay Jones of Foodflirt.com will pick one ingredient that is usually overlooked and share her tips on how to use it. Spice up your dishes and your life by trying something new! Read the other entries here.

What exactly is that white and green, bulbous thing sitting on the produce shelf with celeryesque stalks decorated by fine, feathery fronds? Why, it’s FENNEL my friend—a refreshing and delicious vegetable. The flavor is slightly sweet, with notes of mellow black licorice and crisp texture.

I had my first “fennel flirtation” at a cozy little cafe in Laguna Beach. I was sitting at a tiny table in front of an open window facing the ocean, breathing in the damp sea and feeling the cool, salty breeze. I wanted a light snack with bright flavors. Always one to try something new, I ordered the shaved fennel salad with blood orange supremes, cracked black pepper and a Meyer lemon vinaigrette. The subtle hints of black licorice from the fennel danced beautifully with the sour lemon, spicy pepper and sweet, juicy orange pieces. I became a fennel fan right then and there. Now I pass along to you some fun fennel facts as well as my three favorite ways to enjoy fennel.

What is Fennel?

Fennel is used frequently in Mediterranean and Italian cooking, but there are endless ways to create edible delights with this member of the Umbelliferae family. Carrots, parsley, dill and coriander are all relatives of this versatile veggie. Some will tell you fennel is also called anise, but it’s not. They are two different plants (though related), and if you need proof, click here.

Eat This With That...

Fennel pairs well with the following: butter, celery root, cheese, chestnuts, citrus, coriander, cream, fruit, garlic, hearts of palm, lemon, mushrooms, olive oil, olives, onions, oranges, pancetta, peppers, Pernod, potatoes, sherry, thyme, tomatoes, truffles, and vinaigrette. The best part? Experimenting with these combinations may produce magical results! Fennel can be served raw, roasted, braised, grilled, deep fried, pureed, sautéed and in soups.

Fennel Facts

The bulb, stalks, and fronds are all edible parts of the fennel plant, but the bulb is the section most commonly used in cooking, while the stalks and fronds are generally used for garnish. To prepare fennel, cut off the stalks and fronds (perhaps save for garnish or stock). If the bulb is large, you might want to peel off the thicker outer layer. Next slice off the root end and shave it, slice it, dice it, cut it into wedges or roast it whole!

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3 Fabulous Fennel Recipes

Shaved Fennel Grapefruit Salad with Pea Shoots and Vodka Citrus Vinaigrette My favorite way to eat fennel is shaved-thin and raw in salads with a perfect amount of sea salt and citrus. This is when I can really taste the licorice flavor that I love!

Scallop Fennel Chowder {By Coconut & Lime} Fennel is delicious is many soups, but this chowder, made with sweet scallops, shallots, and bacon won my heart recently.

Pecorino-Roasted Fennel and Carrots {By Buff Chickpea} Roasting fennel is one rockin’ way to enjoy this unique vegetable. It brings out the sweetness and is an easy side dish to make that still brings a fair amount of flare to the table.

So, the next time you’re shopping, toss a few fennel bulbs in the basket and have fun flirting with this healthy, fabulous food.

Published in Lifestyle

Current // May 17, 2013

You would think the answer to this question would be simple. But thanks to modern day efforts in food science, chicken breasts might have more ingredients than they have ever had before. Just a few weeks ago, my mother posted a very simple question on Facebook. She simply asked, “What’s in my chicken breast?” Her question, while seemingly innocuous, garnered a host of responses. Why? Well, because it has actually become a totally valid inquiry.

You have no doubt heard or seen recent criticisms of genetically modified organisms, more commonly known as GMOs. These types of organisms occur when scientists “breed” food DNA. In others words, that tomato on your sandwich might not have come from Mother Nature -- it just might have come from a scientist’s lab.  One particular seed producer, Monsanto, has become synonymous with this food modification process. They have cornered the market on seed production for booming crops like corn and soy. Their genetically altered seeds have produced stronger, larger fruits and vegetables, which are more resilient and repellent to farm pests.

This issue has been trending in social media ever since President Obama signed a government continuance bill containing a provision that protects companies like Monsanto from Federal scrutiny. Beyond the politics, there are some key questions about GMOs which should be answered before the American people can accurately gauge any associated risks.

Are GMOs Safe?

Some of the more questionable modifications to common foods raise questions not only about the growing process, but also on the effects on the humans consuming them.  Is an apple that never  browns truly safe to eat? How would the average consumer know when an apple has gone bad?  As food science progresses, these questions will become increasingly important.

Currently, there are no legitimate studies which can definitively prove that GMOs are dangerous for human consumption. But no one can confidently say that they’re safe, either.   And that’s where the issue of GMO safety stands: at an impasse.

Do We Really Want to Know What’s In Our Food?

The biggest complaint about GMOs in the marketplace right now is about food labeling. According to a poll from Huffington Post/YouGov, 82 percent of Americans would like their food labeled in cases where it has been genetically altered. GMO firms have been lobbying against this.  At the state level, food labeling has not seen a great deal of success. Last year’s California mandate, Prop 37, was defeated by a slim margin after big name food producers like Monsanto, Nestle, Pepsico, and Kraft Foods fought against the legislation.

These types of ballot initiatives have been showing up across the country. Later this year, Washington State will face a similar debate. But, it is highly likely that the same big businesses will mobilize there to eradicate any opposition. In essence, while Americans would overwhelmingly choose to have their foods labeled as GMOs, mainstream companies whose main product is processed foods would prefer otherwise.  The good news is that we aren’t completely powerless.  Recently, a company named Buycott (clever, right?) created an app that lets consumers take matters into their own hands. The app allows users to scan barcodes on products to see if they were made by Monsanto, the Koch brothers, or other notorious pro-GMO companies.

In the end, my mom’s question, while valid, may have quite some time before it receives an accurate answer. For now, she can rest assured knowing that her chicken breast is made up of something that at least originated as good old-fashioned chicken, and no one can prove that it is a danger to her health. If that is good enough for government, it has got to be good enough for the American people. Right?

Published in Current
Sunday, 10 February 2013 23:40

Healthy Recipe | Lunchtime Veggie Chilli

Health Recipe // February 10, 2013

A couple of weeks ago during California’s cold snap, I was looking for a lunch recipe for the week. The winter temperatures had me craving something warm and filling. I like to make a large batch of something healthy yet tasty and bring it to work with me – it makes it easier to have a week’s worth of lunch ready instead of throwing it together every morning when I am inevitably running 15 minutes late. I love chili, but I didn’t think meat would store well for more than a couple of days, so I decided to make a vegetarian version of my own chili recipe. Enjoy!


Ingredients

1 to 2 tbsp. olive oil
1 small onion, diced
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 yellow squash, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 tbsp. chili powder
1 tbsp. cumin
1 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. garlic salt
Pinch of cayenne pepper
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can kidney or pinto beans (your choice), drained and rinsed
1 14.5 oz. can tomato sauce
1 14.5 oz. can crushed tomatoes
¾ cup vegetable broth (you can use chicken broth if you don’t have the veggie on hand)
1 tsp. cider vinegar
4 dashes Worcestershire sauce


Directions

In a heavy soup pot or Dutch oven, heat olive oil over medium-low heat. Add onions and sauté for about 5 minutes or until soft and translucent. Be sure to lower the heat if the onions are browning – they should just soften. Add garlic, stir for one minute. Add bell pepper and squash to the onion and garlic and cook for about 5 minutes or until the veggies begin to soften.

Once veggies are cooked, add chili powder, cumin, oregano, garlic salt and pinch of cayenne pepper. Mix thoroughly,then add both cans of beans, tomato sauce, crushed tomatoes, vegetable broth, cider vinegar and Worcestershire. Stir well. Turn heat to medium high and bring to a low boil. Lower heat and simmer for at least 20 minutes (I let mine simmer for about 40 to bring out the flavor). Adjust seasonings to taste.

This is a pretty quick way to make a healthy chili, and it will last in the fridge for 4 to 5 days. Feel free to play with the recipe – add mushrooms or carrots or another favorite veggie, add or substitute the spices according to what you like, and swap your favorite can of beans.

Bring along a whole wheat roll or some corn tortilla chips to help fill you up. If you like chili you are sure to enjoy this recipe – coworkers were telling me all week how good it looked and smelled!

Published in Health

Made Mommy // January 14, 2013

The stick you just peed on confirms that you are pregnant. Congratulations!!! Now, you can eat just as much as you want because you are eating for two, right? Ummm…guess again…

The + on that stick does not give you a hall pass in the kitchen, at the takeout window, or at the froyo-by-weight counter. Now, more than ever, you have to think about what you are eating. You are actually eating for 1.1, not 2. Your growing baby is highly unlikely to exceed 10% of your body weight. I’ll bet that the little person will weigh much less than that at the due date.

So, doubling your daily calories does not make sense. Did you know that during your first trimester, you actually don’t need to eat any more than what you do non-preggers? In your third trimester, which is when you will need to eat more, you won’t need much more than 300-500 extra calories per day.

The quality of the food you eat is far more important than the quantity of food that you eat. This is true all the time but especially now that you are pregnant. The body growing inside of you will extract all the nutrients that it needs from your body if you are not getting enough. For example, if you don’t have enough calcium in your diet, your body will “donate” calcium from your bones (where it is stored) to help develop the skeletal system of the baby you are growing inside of you. And, nobody wants to be at a greater risk for osteoporosis after a pregnancy.

Having just gone through a pregnancy and relatively uneventful labor, I am sharing with you my “power meal go-to menu” that kept my baby and me healthy, lean, strong, and happy (yes, I enjoyed my pregnancy!). Often I was still on-the-go, so these meals were pretty quick to prepare:

Breakfast and snacks

1. Quick-cook oats and frozen berries cooked and drizzled with ½ cup plain almond milk, fortified with calcium and vitamin D
2. Low-fat Greek yogurt (or dairy-free yogurt made with coconut milk) with a tablespoon of raw honey and slivered almonds
3. Scrambled eggs (scrambled with fortified milk or milk substitute) topped with sliced tomatoes and/or avocado and whole grain toast with a smear of organic unsalted butter
4. Sliced apple or banana with organic peanut butter or almond butter with sea salt
5. Fresh veggies with yogurt dip or white bean hummus

Lunch or dinner

1. Grilled salmon (fish once per week), chicken, or 4 ounces of lean steak over bed of fresh and colorful salad
2. Chicken teriyaki bowl with lots of steamed veggies over brown rice
3. Stir-fried firm tofu (or other lean protein) with tri-color bell peppers and snap peas over egg noodles or brown rice
4. Spicy minestrone soup with a side salad
5. Roasted turkey with sides of sweet potato hash and steamed veggies

Dessert (Of course, a pregnant woman ought not be denied dessert)

!. Berries and/or banana slices with dark chocolate drizzle
2. ½ cup of frozen yogurt with fresh fruit and honey drizzle
3. Baked green apple with caramelized brown sugar (a small scoop of vanilla bean ice cream is optional)


Sounds good, right? Well, you don’t have to be pregnant to enjoy these easy go-to meals. They are healthy and energy-boosting for you regardless of whether or not you are growing a “mini-me” inside of you.

Published in Made Mommy
Monday, 19 November 2012 01:47

Lifestyle | How To Keep Food Fridge Fresh

Lifestyle // November 19, 2012

Are you tired of spending money on food only to have it spoil before you eat it? Me too! Every year, American households throw away an average of 470 lbs. of food because of spoiling and poor storage. I don’t know about you, but 470 lbs. of food could feed me for a LONG time! Here are some ways to save yourself some cash when it comes to groceries!

Produce

Fruits and veggies should be stored separately in the crispers because the gases given off by different types could cause others to rot prematurely. To absorb moisture, lay a paper towel on the bottom of the drawer and replace when wet.

It is best to wrap leafy greens in a dry paper towel and then put in a perforated plastic bag and replace paper towel when it becomes moist. Tip: if you are looking for a lettuce that lasts longer, buy Romaine!

This great site I found lists fruits and vegetables and where they should be stored to last the longest. Check it out!

Dairy

DO NOT store dairy on the door of your fridge. The temperature from opening and closing the door is too warm for the very perishable items. Instead keep things like milk, butter and cheese in the body of the fridge where the temperature stays more consistent. Always keep cheese in the original container until opened, and then wrap in plastic and store in a plastic bag or airtight container.

Meat

Meat is something you should be very careful with since it can spoil easily and can cause illness when not handled properly. Always store meat in its original packaging and never place on top of where produce or other foods are kept.  If the package didn’t come with a tray, place a pan underneath to catch any drippings.
Tip: Freezing is a great way to keep meat fresh until you want to use it! Just make sure it’s in its original packaging or wrapped tightly.

Eggs

You know those little egg trays most refrigerators have on their door?? Or the cute ceramic trays you can buy at Sur La Table? DON’T use them. Eggs need to be stored in their original container as they are built with holes to keep air flowing. Also, like dairy, eggs can spoil quickly when in warm temperatures so it’s best to keep them off of the door and inside the fridge.

Fresh Herbs

Herbs are very similar to fresh flowers because they both need to be kept in water.   Trim the stems and place in a cup of cold water and put in the door of your fridge (since this is the warmest area). Change the water and re-trim every 1 or 2 days. Basil or mint store best when in water on the countertop. Always cover the tops of herbs with a loose plastic bag.

Leftovers

Store all leftovers in airtight, clear containers  (preferably glass!) and always refrigerate within 2 hours of cooking. It is best to divide food into small flat containers so that they cool faster, but waiting for the food to cool down before storing is unnecessary since most modern refrigerators can handle the heat! Also never store anything in an opened can. Once the can is open, metal on the rim can leech into the food.

Since I started researching how to keep foods fresh longer I have had to throw away WAY less food, which is much better for the environment and my pocket! I have also found that my fruits and vegetables taste better and I eat them more often. So it’s a win for my waistline too!



Published in Lifestyle
Monday, 05 November 2012 05:39

Recipes | Healthy Hearty Pasta

Recipes // November 5, 2012

I am a huge pasta lover, and I am always looking for new ways to jazz up pasta dishes with hearty, healthy ingredients. Last week I needed to make a “clean out the fridge” dinner. I had a half a can of white beans from an earlier meal, collard greens that needed to be eaten up and leftover canned tomatoes. And of course, I always have pasta and an open bottle of red wine on hand (healthy food = more calories available for wine consumption, right?).

Typically you see kale or spinach in pasta dishes, so substituting collard greens really makes this recipe stand out. It was a bit of an experiment, but I thought the collard greens turned out to be a great complement to this dish. They hold up well to cooking and add a vibrant color and plenty of nutrients. White beans add great texture and heartiness, so they are delicious in meatless dishes like this one (though my husband claims I use them too often!). This is an easy, healthy meal that will definitely fill you up but won’t make you feel guilty. If you want to add meat, use turkey Italian sausage. Just add in and brown after the collard greens have started to cook.

Recipe:
1 package whole wheat spaghetti or pasta of your choice
2 tbsp. olive oil
½ tsp. salt (or to taste)
¼ tsp. red pepper flakes
1 small yellow onion, diced
1-2 cloves garlic (depending on how much garlic you like)
2 cups coarsely chopped collard greens
7 oz. white beans (half of a standard 14 oz. can)
14 oz. whole canned tomatoes with juices
¼ cup red wine

Directions:
Cook pasta according to package instructions. While pasta is cooking, heat olive oil over medium-low heat. Add onion and salt and cook for 5-7 minutes or until onion is softened and translucent. Stir in garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

Add collard greens and red pepper flakes. Once collard greens are tender (3-5 minutes), crush whole tomatoes with your hands and add along with the white beans. Turn to medium-high heat until sauce begins to bubble, then stir in wine. Continue to cook at medium-high heat for 2-3 minutes, then reduce heat so the sauce is lightly simmering. Stir occasionally.

Continue to simmer until the sauce begins to thicken, about 5-10 minutes (or longer if desired). Using a slotted pasta spoon or tongs, add cooked pasta directly to the sauce pan (this will allow some of the good, starchy pasta water to work into the sauce). Mix pasta well with the sauce and serve with a generous amount of freshly grated parmesan cheese on top.

Enjoy with guiltless pleasure, and preferably a glass of wine. 

Published in Lifestyle
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