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Eggplant Caviar, Approximately

April always makes me want to listen to Bob Dylan’s Highway 61 Revisited. I think it’s something to do with a musical flashback to my first year of college, that fresh-air feeling of Boston after a long, dark winter. It was still cold as s*** but it smelled like spring. There were cherry blossoms outside my window and I still had the stamina to pull all-nighters listening to music and writing and go to class the next day like it was the most normal thing to subsist on no sleep. Hah! Now I feel like death with a swipe of eyeliner if I get less than seven hours.

I had a time times to kill after getting everything organized for Tuesday’s event in New Jersey, so I started unpacking boxes of old clothes at my parents’  house to separate things to give away.  I sniffed this one scarf I used to wear almost every day back in March/April/May of 2005 and since then, the song “Queen Jane, Approximately” has been stuck in my head.

The next morning, I made myself take a weekend day (or at least try), since I’d been going at full speed for a bit too long and have some busy weeks at the hospital coming up. After a refreshing hot yoga class, I took a few minutes to pick another recipe for my April Cookbook Challenge. Cheers to not forgetting three weeks in a row!

IMG_5562This go-around it was eggplant caviar from Alice Water’s The Art of Simple Food.  If I’m remembering right, this book was a Christmas gift from my mother back in 2008 or 2009. Of course, instead of actually following the recipe, I just followed the first and last few steps (roast & scoop eggplant, mix in olive oil). I completely side-stepped the minced garlic and fresh parsley on top, going instead with the Garlic Gold infused olive oil I got for Christmas this year because, well, why not? Culinary spring cleaning, what up? Eggplant Caviar, approximately.

Ingredients:
1 eggplant
salt + pepper
2-3 tsp garlic-infused olive oil
Directions: 
  1. Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Slice eggplant lengthwise. Season cut edges with olive oil (or olive oil spray) and salt and pepper. Place face-down on baking sheet and roast until soft inside, about 30-35 minutes. Remove from over.
  3. After allowing eggplant to cool, scoop insides into a bowl. Stir well to ease into a puree texture.
  4. Stir in olive oil 1 tsp at a time until mixture is desired smoothness. Season with salt & pepper to taste.
This is great on toast, but I also mixed some into a cauliflower rice stir-fry and loved it that way. It’s also great tucked into an omelet. Who are we kidding, though—I could eat this from the bowl with a spoon. I think this recipe is going to be added to the regular rotation. This may or may not mean I just buy an extra eggplant every week instead of allowing this to replace the roasted slices I enjoy in salads, stir-fry, and on toast. I have no idea how or why I’m such an eggplant freak, but it’s the number one reason I could never follow a macrobiotic diet. I love me some nightshades, what can I say?
What foods can you not get enough of? 

A Few Things for Friday

1.) Wedding season it almost here. #vanityWhite Strips

 

2.) This  hilarious post from Foodtrainers: “Are you an “Instaslave?” (I’m totally a little bit guilty of 9 & 10)

3.) Sometimes I get living-space envy when I see bloggers talking about being upstairs or being downstairs in their home. I essentially live in one room and it feels huge. Until I read something about someone’s basement or washer-dryer in the garage. Then I remember I don’t have to clean all those rooms and I feel happy and NYC-smug again.

4.) This Lobster Polenta Pizza from How Sweet It Is—right up my alley. I can’t believe I spent the first 18 years of my life thinking I hated lobster. I could basically eat it with anything now. For the uninitiated, Trader Joe’s frozen langostino tails are a good day-to-day substitute.

5.) Any of you guys with upcoming travel plans, check out this jet-lag app—so cool!

6.)  How to do “small plates” right.

cosmo surf and turf7.) Sexy-time in the presence of crustaceans just sounds like a bad idea. Lobster claws are strong! Also, can someone please tell the folks at Cosmo that they totally missed an opportunity to make an Annie Hall joke?

On a semi-related note, I tend to dream about lobsters when I have anxiety about whether I should be involved with someone I’m involved with. This winter, I had a dream about getting a lobster at a suburban grocery store. Instead of giving it to me in a bag, the person behind the counter just handed it to me, and the lobster clamped down on my left arm. My dream-self tried to play it cool, tried to shake it loose, but no dice. I asked the cashier if she could please kill the lobster, and she gave me a blank stare. It was then I realized that in order to get the lobster to let go of me, I had to first let go of the lobster. I woke up skittish as ever but feeling like I’d learned something.

8.) I’m working on next month’s newsletter—drop me a line at keepingitrealfood(at)gmail(dot)com if you want to be added to the list.

Are you a slave to Instagram? Do you like lobster? 

 

Eat Great, Feel Great Event

Token "action shot"

Token “action shot”

Tuesday night I gave a talk on foods to help you look at feel your best for the coming beach season at Athleta in Woodcliff Lake, NJ. We had a great group of people who came out in the rain for the event. Rather than just lecture the whole hour, I did a more informal  discussion with Q & A throughout. We talked about a whole bunch of foods that can help us feel in top physical form by fighting bloat and promoting weight loss/maintenance, but we also discussed foods that boost serotonin levels—great for helping to shake off any lingering winter blues. A few of the many foods we talked about:

  • Lemon: This powerful detoxifier works as a natural diuretic and gentle laxative. The scent of lemon has also been shown to ease anxiety and promote positive feeling.
  • Chicken/Turkey/Lean Beef: Poultry and meat are rich in amino acid tryptophan, which the body converts into serotonin, the neurotransmitter associated with mood.
  • Fish/Seafood: Fatty fish are potent sources of omega-3 fatty acids, EPA and DHA. Don’t like fish? Try a fish-oil supplement.
  • Avocado: The potassium fights bloat, while the healthy fats keep you satisfied while also working wonders for your hair, skin, and nails. An added bonus—the vitamin B6 helps enhance the rate at which our body converts tryptophan into serotonin.
  • Bananas: A great source of vitamin B-6, tryptophan, and bloat-banishing potassium.
  • Chia Seeds: Another great source of Omega-3s. They also contain 6 grams of fiber per tablespoon to promote satiety. They’re also thought to promote hydration—great for warm-weather workouts.
  • Yogurt: The probiotic bacteria in yogurt fight the good fight in the GI tract and help promote regularity. Since most of our serotonin is produced in the gut, a happy gut means a happier you.
  • Whole Grains: A great source of B-vitamins, whole grains also have more tryptophan than other, more refined sources of carbohydrates. The fiber also promotes healthy digestion.

Thank you to Athleta for being such a great host!

I also want to give a big thank-you to The Chia Co, General Mills, Rodan +Fields, and Goodie Foodie NY for providing treats for our swag bags.

Also, thank you to my sister for taking some pics at the event.

What are some of your favorite feel-good foods? 

 

What I Ate Wednesday #158: Work-From-Home-Monday

Athleta April 15What I Ate Wednesday, we meet again. How’s your week going? I feel like I’m still coming down from the excitement preparing for last night’s event. One of my favorite things about being a dietitian is being able to do workshops and other healthy-eating events in the community. I want to give a big shout-out to the folks at Athleta for being so great to work with! Also, thank you to everyone who came out! I had so much fun! I’ll have a post about the event soon.

Monday, I was working from home, which was a great opportunity to tie up loose ends for Tuesday. I also had quite a mountain of emails to tend to after working at the hospital Saturday and spending most of Sunday in Queens catching up with friends. One of the things I underestimated when starting my own business was just how much time I would spend on it. It’s what I wake up thinking about in the morning, and it’s what’s on my mind when I go to bed. For better or worse, it doesn’t even feel like work because I’m doing something I’m passionate about that allows me to use my skills while also learning new ones. Turns out that “labor of love” cliche is true.

One thing I should admit, though, is that on my work-from-home days, my meals do not score very high on the “presentation” side. I see nothing wrong with eating salad right from the mixing bowl…

Things in BowlsHere’s what I ate this past Monday. I wasn’t planning to make it a meatless one, but that’s what happened:

  • Breakfast: A smoothie similar to this one, except with chocolate whey protein powder. Of all the protein powders I’ve tried, whey is still my favorite—love the texture! I also feel it keeps me full for much longer than other types, and I can practically feel my muscles saying, “Thank you” after a workout when I have this for breakfast after. An aside: it happens to make smoothies taste like a Wendy’s frosty. Not sure if this is a good thing or a bad thing, but hey.
  • Lunch: Another giant salad, with butter beans and tons of roasted veggies, plus a little avocado. A little later, I had a single-serving bag of Trader Joe’s kettle corn. Totally forgot to take a picture, though. Whoops!
  • Snack: Plain Greek yogurt with flax, cinnamon, and a few blackberries, topped with a drizzle of the rosemary fig honey I’ve been enjoying lately.
  • Dinner: I was trying to use up some kale, so I added some Trader Joe’s falafel, roasted veggies, hummus, tahini, and goat cheese.
  • Snack: Another photo fail: a sliced banana with PB2.

To see more WIAW from other bloggers, visit founder Jenn’s blog Peas & Crayons.

How do your meals differ from when you’re at work vs home?  

 

Food and Mood

Irving Farm cappucinoTonight I’m giving a talk on what to eat to look and feel your best. What we eat can have a huge impact on how we feel, just as how we feel can effect what we eat. However, it doesn’t have to be a vicious cycle! Sometimes taking a few extra steps to nourish ourselves with good food can help us hit the reset button and get on track with enjoying making good choices.

In that vein, I wanted share this piece on Food and Mood from the Atlantic.

Happy full moon lunar eclipse Tuesday : )

What foods do you eat to feel good? What foods make you feel not-so-good? 

The ghost in the white noise machine

Alternate title: “Eclipse Weather.” Yep, we’ve got a full moon lunar eclipse tomorrow night, so aside from the usual crazy, we’ve got, like, mega-ultra full moon weirdness.

Great example: Saturday morning, my muscles were begging for yoga before my shift at the hospital, so I unrolled my mat, turned on some music, and hit the white noise machine by my bed. About fifteen minutes in, the machine turned off by itself, across the room. I’ve had the thing five years, and it’s never done that.

I joked, “Okay, ghost. Very funny. Can we do this after I finish yoga?” Guess someone was sick of hearing this song. I turned the machine back on and finished my solo vinyasa class.

Literally four minutes after I was done, the machine turned off again. I think it was more busted than haunted—it turned off again as I was trying to fall asleep. It was just the timing that amused me. Things always break for me during an eclipse, so go figure.

Speaking of broken, my big toenail on the other foot is not sure it still wants to be attached to me. I am giving it time to decide and being extra nice. We will see, but What. The. F.

shakshukaI was speaking with a client recently about how important it is to nurture ourselves during stressful or busy times when things are very much in flux. One of the most basic ways we can do that is by feeding ourselves balanced meals at regular intervals and not pushing ourselves too much. So, with that in mind, here are a few (or okay, a lot) of my favorite basic “healthy comfort foods”:

On another note, I re-watched 20 Feet from Stardom the other night while folding some brochure’s for tomorrow’s Athleta event, and just well, wow. Now all I want to listen to is David Bowie’s “Young Americans” and the Rolling Stones’ “Gimme Shelter.” On repeat.

What are some of your comfort foods? 

And on the third day He rose…

…from a diabetic ketoacidotic coma.

image from DunkinDonuts.com

Just in time for Easter, Dunkin Donuts recently released its newest diabesity special, The Peeps Donut. Oh dear. Peepsonality, indeed.

What’s the most ridiculous holiday treat you’ve ever seen?

 

The Challenge Continues

Embarrassing but true:

The other day, I reached for my phone to take a picture of my sparkly new phone cover, completely forgetting this was not possible, as the cover was already on the phone. #firstworldproblems.

Ooo…shiny...

Ooo…shiny…

Totally rivals the time I was frantically looking for my glasses while wearing my glasses.

zucchini coinsAlso embarrassing: forgetting all about doing a recipe this week for the April Cookbook Challenge. Except! I remembered, just in time. Weeks like this are why I tend not to undertake lofty blog-related challenges. You’d think mercury was retrograde with all the schedule changes, tech issues (not to mention having to spend a few hours resetting All the Passwords), and general sense of omgtimeismovingsofast.

To the rescue: Mary Ann Esposito’s Ciao Italia: Five-Ingredient Favorites. This enabled me to stick to my challenge without having to overthink it or undertake a big kitchen experiment. Her recipe for Hot and Spicy Zucchini Coins (page 105) caught my eye immediately. I ended up making this with a bunch of little baby zucchinis since Trader Joe’s was out of regular ones, so Zucchini for Ants, it was. And it came out just beautifully. I didn’t have any parsley, so I used garlic because I like garlic, not because it’s a good substitute for parsley. Maybe I should say love because when I say I used garlic, I mean 4 cloves, minced into teeny-tiny pieces so as to be in basically every bite.

Also to the rescue: Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh.

IMG_5481

This book is laugh-out-loud funny. I’m not kidding—I was cracking up behind my glasses as I read this in bed. I love when I manage to get on a roll with good books. Totally takes the sting out of being done with Harvard Square. For anyone who tried to read this on public transportation: you’ve been warned.

In other news, I don’t know what is up with my subconscious. I never dream about celebrities, but the other night, I dreamt David Bowie passed away and left me a painting and hand-drawn stock certificate for $17.18. Um, thanks?

Have you had any embarrassing moments lately? What have you been dreaming about? 

A Few Things for Friday

Good morning and happy Friday. How’s your week been? Not sure about you, but I feel like it’s flown by even more quickly than usual.

Here’s another set of things for Friday:

1.) I love that my phone recognizes “quinoa” as an autocorrect option, even if it does think “wino” is a close relative. One thing at a time…

Communal Kale Salad2.) Tuesday I had the pleasure of spending the afternoon with one of my lady friends who moved halfway across the country a few months ago. We went to newly-opened Communal on the Upper West Side, where I enjoyed the kale salad with some chicken. We spent the next few hours walking through the park, shopping, and indulging in scalp massages at my favorite Chinese bodywork place. It was like a mini-vacation!

3.) I’ve been adding cocoa powder to my chili for years, but this recipe (to which I was introduced via Hungry, Healthy Girl) takes the idea to another level. I really want to try this!

4.) Yesterday, another friend posted a link to  this guide to healthy eating during Passover.

5.) While we’re on the subject of what to eat during religious holidays, for anyone doing Meatless/Fish-Only Friday for Lent: The folks at Serious Eats taste-tested a bunch of frozen veggie burgers so you don’t have to.

6.) Good news for my fellow early risers/freaky morning people!

7.) Speaking of wake-up time, a few this past week, I found myself staying up to read Andre Aciman’s Harvard Square—loved it! I’m legitimately sad that I devoured it in 3 days and that it’s over. It also reminded me that I really need to make a summer trip to Boston. I don’t miss living there, but I’m now nursing a major case of nostalgia.

What’s on your  mind this Friday? What was the last book you read? 

#TBT—Anatomy of a Packed Lunch

Jess 2000ishAround age 13, I realized I just needed to embrace my nerdy side instead of trying to hide behind Abercrombie and Fitch sweatpants, which were totally the Thing circa 1999. I was not fooling anyone, least of all, myself.

I don’t have many pictures of myself around that age, but in the spirit of Throwback Thursday, here’s one in which I appear to be sporting a fuzzy hoodie and grown-out bob. I really hope I am not also wearing the camo cargo skirt and chunky black sandals I was oh-so fond of in 8th grade, but it’s totally possible, as I wore them basically every other day. Actually, sometimes I wish I still had them. I should not admit this to the internet but, well, I just did.

For grades K-6, I went to a school that had no kitchen, so packed lunch was a given during my formative years (thanks, Mom!). Going to middle school and trying to navigate a cafeteria full of unappetizing foreign things like tater tots while still wanting to buy lunch like the cool kids was…interesting. My default became a sesame seed bagel with peanut butter and a carton of milk.

It never occurred to me this was weird until one day someone asked, in only the way a 13-year-old can make the simplest question sound mean, “Why do you put peanut butter on your bagel?” Read More »

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