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Easy Kefir Salad Dressing

Remember a few weeks ago when I was talking about how much I love kefir? Lately, I’ve been enjoying this probiotic-rich drinkable yogurt as is as a snack. Sprinkle on a little cinnamon and drink up.

kefir with cinnamon

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Tiny Kitchen, Big Taste: Essential Cooking Oils

I’ve been having mad wanderlust lately. I go through these phases sometimes where I start googling real estate in other parts of the country and scoping out jobs for dietitians and salivating over gorgeous kitchens. Pros and cons. I love New York, but sometimes it makes my heart hurt to see how much more space I could have if I lived somewhere else. This never used to matter, but I guess this is just another one of those things my parents told me would happen one day that I didn’t believe them about.

New York is notorious for its teeny-tiny kitchens. A lot of us who live here have gotten used to thinking in terms of how little space ingredients take up when factoring in what to buy. I recently wrote an article for New York Spirit on the oils I consider essential in my tiny kitchen.

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From Take-Out to Homemade

Good morning! Today I’ve got a guest post to share with you guys that I think you’ll love. A topic that comes up very often with clients and patients is sugar. Our country’s food culture does not make it easy to be moderate with our intake, and it can be really challenging to find a balance.

I recently spoke with Self about sugar allergies/intolerance. As a dietitian committed to providing evidence-based recommendations, I feel I have to be extremely careful when it comes to terminology. I may not be comfortable using the word “allergy” when discussing sugar, but I definitely believe that it’s a powerful substance that can have serious and harmful effects. You don’t have to have diabetes to look at sugar as a potentially poisonous thing, but different people may draw the line in different places. For some, the effect is so strong they need to cut sugar out of their life completely, same as someone with an allergy (in the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics sense of the word) would.  I support taking an approach that feels like the right fit for your body and your mind.

Today, I’m sharing an inspiring guest post by Rochelle Rickoff Wilensky about how making drastic dietary changes helped open up a whole new world of flavors and approaches to cooking. I hope you enjoy reading this as much as I did!

cute tiny eggplant

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Fiddleheads with Mushrooms

Happy Friday! Hope you’re looking forward to a lovely weekend. Can you believe that next weekend is Memorial Day already? Yikes! But let’s savor the present. I say this as much for my benefit as anyone else’s. I have a tendency to always be looking ahead to the next thing. The here and no is totally worth savoring, though.

Case in point: Fiddlehead ferns are one of those “blink and you’ll miss it” seasonal veggies that’s totally worth jumping for if you spot it at the market. Fiddleheads are the fronds of a young fern (sounds fancy, huh?) and harvested in spring before the fern matures and the fronds unfurl. With a taste and texture similar to asparagus, these little guys also pack in a decent amount of vitamin A, vitamin C, iron, potassium, and magnesium. You just want to make sure you clean them really well before cooking.

I will admit, they can be a little pricey, but when I saw them available on Farmigo a few weeks ago, I treated myself to an order. It was a great spring side dish to help me enjoy the season before I get going on all that “summer is coming” talk. Besides, summer is always coming. So is Christmas.

fiddleheads and mushrooms

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Flax-Crusted Fluke

Breadcrumbs are one of those things I just never have in the house. I’ve got miso paste and nutritional yeast, and all manner of seeds and other seemingly weird or obscure s***, but this staple ingredient is just that thing I always put on my list for a recipe and then get to the store and say, “Meh.”

The main reason? I’ve found that flax, hemp seeds, and are great substitutes in a lot of recipes. No breadcrumbs? No problem! This recipe also works really well as a gluten-free option that doesn’t require shelling out your hard-earned dollars for GF breadcrumbs or putting in the time to make your own from scratch.

flax crusted fluke

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Yogurt Herb Dressing

Today I’m teaming up with Stonyfield and The Cookful, a new site for food geeks to nerd out on all their favorite food topics. Something I’ve been getting into lately in my own kitchen is yogurt-based dressings.

This one has become my go-to all purpose dressing. I find the herbes de Provences (typically a mix of rosemary, thyme, oregano, marjoram, savory, and other herbs) make this versatile enough to use with a wide variety of flavors. One of my favorite pairings was a salad topped with baked falafel and babaganoush—perfection.

yogurt dressing on salad


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Thinking Out Loud

Happy Thursday! How’s your week going? We’ve been having some great weather here in NYC. It’s so nice to feel like spring is actually here!

Here’s some random goings-on from the past week or so.

*The primaries were on Tuesday here in NYC. Pure crazy, but you’d better believe I voted!

I voted


*Last weekend, I went to a 30th birthday party at a speakeasy-style bar called The Back Room, where they served their drinks in teacups. Nothing says, “Happy Birthday” like a glorified mug of brown liquor. It was fun to dress up and celebrate my friend Lauren’s entrance into the over-30 club.

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Single-Serve PB & J Blueberry Crisp with Barlean’s Coconut Oil

Good morning! Today I’m going to be talking about one of my kitchen staples: coconut oil.

barleans coconut oilI first got turned on to coconut oil back in 2010 when I was volunteering at a comprehensive care center for HIV patients. The integrative medicine doctor (also an infectious disease attending physician) I worked with was from India and had studied Ayurveda, and she turned me on to a lot of food, herbs, and home remedies I still use. Coconut oil was one of those things. It’s perfect for baked goods, thanks to its rich texture and flavor. I’ve written about coconut oil on here so many times, a lot of you guys would be, like, “Okay, whatever Jess—we get it. You dig coconut oil.”

A few reasons:

-It’s true that coconut oil is high in saturated fat, but the specific type of fatty acid in coconut oil, medium chain triglycerides (MCTs), are metabolized differently in the body than the longer-chain fatty acids in meats, dairy products, and vegetable oils.  Some studies have suggested the MCTs may raise our HDL (“good”) cholesterol, but the American Heart Association still recommends capping off intake at about 1 tablespoon per day, as it may still raise LDL (“bad”) cholesterol.

-There is also a lot of research being done on potential neuroprotective effects of coconut oil. I get a lot of questions from my ALS patients about this, in particular. Though there isn’t enough evidence right now to conclusively say, “Yes, this will help your brain,” getting adequate dietary fat, in general, is important for optimal wellness, including neurological function.

-For people on a vegan diet or who can’t tolerate dairy, coconut oil makes a fantastic stand-in for butter, since it is solid at room temperature and has a mild flavor that’s palatable in baked goods and the like. It’s also great for high-heat cooking because it has a high smoke point.

-I use it as a moisturizer instead of body lotion. Love it.

-Though coconut oil has been touted as a weight-loss aid based on the notion that the body utilizes these MCTs more readily than other fatty acids, it’s still a calorie-dense food (120 calories per tablespoon), and still needs to be kept in the context of your daily intake.

Barlean’s recently sent me some of their flax and coconut products to try. Aside from making delicious, healthy products, I love that a portion of the company’s profits go to charity as a part of their “Pathway to a Better Life” program. I also have to love their sense of humor.

barleans flax oil bag

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Triple-Sesame Black Bean Pasta

Happy Monday! Hope you had a great weekend and are feeling good as we get into a new week. I don’t know about you, but I find that once spring hits, I start cramming my schedule with an ungodly amount of events, catch-ups, and other busy-ness. This makes easy weeknight dinners especially appealing.

With Earth Day coming up later this month, April is a great time to look at some different plant-based recipes, whether you’re a longtime vegetarian, a Meatless Monday newbie, or even a curious carnivore. I’ve been playing around with black bean pasta lately after spotting some in Trader Joe’s.

I’m a big fan of the taste and love the hearty texture. The nutrition stats don’t suck either. A 200-calorie serving also provides 15 grams each of filling fiber and protein.

After trying out a few different takes, I landed on this recipe, which allows me to use not just my beloved tahini, but two other kinds of sesame as well: sesame oil and sesame seeds. Aside from being delicious and satisfying, it requires minimal fuss and hits all the right umami notes. Enjoy!

black bean sesame pasta

Triple-Sesame Black Bean Pasta
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PB & J Sweet Potato

When it comes to health snacks, weird can totally be good. This is one of my favorite 200-calorie snacks when you’re craving something sweet. It’s super-easy to make. You can even do it in an office microwave.

PB and J Sweet Potato

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