Tag Archives: Food

Orange Glazed Tempeh Recipe

1 Jul

I had a package of tempeh staring at me all week. I just wasn’t inspired so I kept staring back at it until I stumbled upon this recipe for Orange Glazed Tempeh on 101Cookbooks. It was love at first sight. It doesn’t require long marinating times, or steaming the tempeh before cooking. It tastes like it took hours to make, and it was start to finish, 30 minutes.

The recipe is actually from Australian cookbook author, Jude Blereau‘s book, Coming Home to Eat – Whole Food for the Family. The cookbook doesn’t have US distribution yet (big bummer because I want it), but there’s an abundance of info on healthy eating at site and blog. You can also contact (sales@boffinsbookshop.com.au) and to coordinate an order. Beware, the shipping costs to the US are hefty (about $25).

I paired the tempeh with broccoli and quinoa, but you could easily use any lightly seasoned veggies, brown rice, couscous or even orzo. I made a couple minor tweaks to 101cookbook’s version. Although I don’t eat poultry, this sauce would go well with chicken, as well as salmon or scallops, if that’s your thing. It’s a very versatile recipe and could even work with tofu if you don’t have tempeh on hand.

If you’ve hesitated to try tempeh, or introduce it to your family, this is the recipe to try! It’s sweet, with a crusty, meaty texture that’s still light, healthy, and absolutely delicious! Liberate yourself this July 4th by trying something new!

Orange Glazed Tempeh Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice (3-4 large juicy oranges)
  • 1/2 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
  • 3 teaspoons tamari (or soy sauce)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons mirin
  • 2 teaspoons maple syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon garam masala (or ground coriander)
  • red chili pepper flakes (couple shakes, or equivalent to a couple pinches)
  • 2 small garlic cloves, crushed
  • roughly 10 ounces of tempeh (or extra-firm tofu)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 lime
  • a handful of cilantro (coriander) leaves
  • 2 cups broccoli cut into small florets
  • 2 cups cooked quinoa

Directions:

1. Put the orange juice in a small bowl. Grate in ginger. Add the tamari, mirin, maple syrup, garam masala, red chili pepper flakes, and garlic. Mix together and set aside.

2. Cut the tempeh (or tofu) into bite-sized pieces. If working with tofu, pat dry with a paper towel.

3. Put the olive oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot but not smoking, add the tempeh and fry for 5 minutes, or until golden underneath. Turn and cook the other side for another 5 minutes, or until golden.

Searing Tempeh

Pour the orange juice mixture into the pan and simmer for 10 minutes, or until the sauce has reduced to a lovely thick glaze. Turn the tempeh once more during this time and frequently spoon the sauce over it.

Seared Tempeh in Orange Glaze Sauce

4. Cut the broccoli into small, bite size florets and add them to the pan for 2-3 minutes until cooked through. (If the florets are large, you may need to steam them first before finishing in the pan). Make sure they’re well coated with the pan sauce.

Seared Tempeh and Broccoli in Orange Glaze Sauce

5. Add two cups of cooked quinoa and stir until warmed through.

Orange Glazed Tempeh with Broccoli and Quinoa

6. Serve the tempeh drizzled with any remaining sauce, a squeeze of lime, and fresh coriander scattered on top.

Orange Glazed Tempeh served with Broccoli and Quinoa

Note: If you’re cooking vegetables that are large and require a longer cooking time, cook them separately, seasoning thoroughly with salt and pepper. Same with the quinoa. Then plate the tempeh on top of the vegetables and quinoa with a drizzle of pan sauce.

*As you know, I’m not a doctor or nutritionist. If you have gluten allergies, please check with your doctor if you are uncertain about wheat content in any of these products. Some tempeh does have gluten so be sure to double-check before consuming.

Serves 4


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Raw Vegan Coconut Almond Macaroons

23 Jun

I rarely venture above 23rd street, so when I had to go to the Upper East Side the other day, I made a few stops along the way. First on my hit list? Candle Cafe!! I didn’t have time to indulge in a full-fledged meal, but I got the Green Goddess juice which boosted my spirits. (I’m sure this guy would appreciate looking like he’s scratching his butt in the picture below. He’s actually just putting his wallet in his pocket, but my version is funnier).

Candle Cafe NYC

Look how vibrant and beautifully green the juice is!!

Green Goddess Juice at Candle Cafe. Mixed Greens, Apple, Lemon, and Ginger.

I swung by Beanocchio for a soy latte and couldn’t resist these delicious coconut macaroons.

Raw Almond Vegan Macaroons at Beanocchio

And they’re even heart-shaped (-ish)! So cute.

Raw Vegan Coconut Almond Macaroons at Beanocchio

They were sweet, but not cloying, and held together perfectly. I love raw cookies and bars because I don’t feel gross after I eat them. They aren’t packed with processed sugars and artificial ingredients that can send your body into a frenzy. Plus, raw desserts are filling and satisfying. They’re typically high in protein, good fats, and fiber, which means I don’t get the urge to binge on 50 of them. It’s not about the calories, it’s about the quality of the ingredients.

I took a stab at making my own raw vegan macaroons. Next time, I think I’ll try chocolate covered ones. Mmmmmmmm.

Raw Vegan Coconut Almond Macaroons Recipe

Ingredients

1 cup almonds (soaked for 1 hour)

1/2 cup toasted unsweetened, low-fat organic coconut

1/2 cup unsweetened, low-fat, organic coconut

1/4 cup agave

Directions:

1. Soak the almonds. Drain, disposing of liquid. Reserve almonds.

2. Toast coconut in a small saute pan over low heat.

3. Line a baking sheet with parchment or wax paper.

4. Put all ingredients into a food processor. Pulse until finely ground and begins to hold together.

5. Using a tablespoon, scoop mounds of the mixture and place onto prepared baking sheet. Note: when scooping, be sure to press mixture into the tablespoon to ensure it forms a mound and holds together. If the mixture is sticking in the spoon, have a cup of hot water to dip the spoon into between scoops.

6. Refrigerate for one hour. These little mounds of joy were soft but held together, even when bitten into. They tasted even better on the second day.

7. Eat!!

Raw Vegan Coconut Almond Macaroons

I Survived Barry’s Boot Camp

19 Jun

I started “food buff” to talk about my two loves: eating, and ironically, fitness/exercise. I figured it’s about time for a fitness post or I’ll have to change my blog to “food liar”.

What better way to kick things off than with the much-anticipated, newly opened LA transplant, Barry’s Boot Camp. Holy _______ (insert favorite profanity here). I’ve tried many different workouts over the years, and I think this is the hardest yet.

Barry’s Boot Camp, which opened June 4th in Chelsea, is not what we’re used to seeing from boot camps. The studio is not covered in camouflage like a base training camp. It’s a fairly large studio, able to accommodate about 40 people, brand new Woodway treadmills, in a “club-like” atmosphere. The music is rockin’, and the dark, red lighting is figure flattering (which helps since you’re staring at yourself in the mirror all class). My instructor wasn’t yelling at us, but I’ve heard others (especially Barry) use more of a pledging approach to get you motivated.

Classes are one hour, with a combination of 25 to 30 minutes of interval training on the treadmills (a.k.a. sprinting your $ss off) and the other half focusing on strength training with free weights and other equipment. Monday through Friday the strength training focuses on different body parts each day. For example, Monday is arms and abs, Tuesday is legs and butt, etc. Full schedule is here. In theory, if you go every day, by the end of the week you would have worked all muscle groups. But if you need it all in one class, they offer full body workouts Friday through Sunday, which is what I took. The instructor had us do (four) 15 minutes segments: 15 on the treadmill, 15 on the floor with weights, 15 back on the treadmill, 15 on strength. After the first 30 minutes, I thought I was done. You can imagine my disappointment when we were told to get back on the treadmill and I realized we were only halfway through.

The idea of “shocking” the body to get the best results isn’t new. I’ve had personal trainers at Equinox and NY Sports Club, and they used the same methodology of interval training with strength. It’s a proven method and I walked out of class feeling tighter almost immediately. I was sweaty, exhausted, and could see that with consistency, this class could get me leaner, toned, and stronger.

That said, I hated every minute of running. I detest running to begin with, and was nervous about the treadmill element. The intervals were hard…high speed sprints (7-12) and high inclines (over 6). Hitting those numbers was next to impossible sometimes, and sustaining them took a whole other level of warrior. Sure there are times when you’re jogging or at a lower incline, but the peaks were brutal and even being in decent shape, I struggled. I haven’t run in over a year, so I’m sure that didn’t help. Also, there are no breaks, it’s a constant, one-hour, beat down.

The strength training portion wasn’t as brutal. They recommended 5 lb light weights and 8 lb heavy weights for women so being a little afraid of what was in store, I went with the suggestion. Perhaps I could have gone heavier now that I’ve been through it, but first class is always hard not knowing what you’re up against.

It was fun to try a new class that was challenging and totally different from anything I have in my current routine. I was completely out of my comfort zone and getting through it gave me a huge sense of accomplishment. I can’t say that this will become part of my routine, but I’d like to try it a couple more times to see. This is also a great workout to go with a buddy. Misery loves company, right?

Pros:

  • You sweat. A lot. And probably burn a ton of calories (my heart rate monitor battery died so I couldn’t calculate my workout).
  • The 50/50 cardio/strength mix makes efficient use of an hour.
  • The instructor, and being in a class setting, pushes you beyond what you think you can do
  • My class had an even number of men and women
  • New studio in convenient location. They also have electronic lockers so you enter your own 4 digit code and that’s it. No need to bring a lock.
  • If you’re a runner, you’ll probably drool over the cardio segments.
  • They also have a juice bar which is rumored to be developed by one of the folks from Greenleaf .*
I tried this Chocolate Peanut Butter smoothie. Initially it tasted good, but after a couple sips it had a little chalky aftertaste. I like my smoothies thick!! The consistency was way too thin for my taste, almost like chocolate milk. They also use “Better’n Peanut Butter” which probably appeals to people who are focused on low-fat/low-calorie. (I can picture men who can’t put their arms down, really into these). I’m more concerned with eating whole, natural foods, and would rather they use a small amount of pure, real, organic peanut butter instead of something processed.

Chocolate "Peanut Butter" Smoothie at Barry's Boot Camp

Cons:

  • As a first timer, I was shocked I didn’t receive any training on the treadmill, and no welcome, etc. When I checked in, the front desk didn’t even offer me a tour or any information on class packages. Luckily, I’d stopped in a few days prior and received one from their GM who is an absolute doll. I left class with no incentive to buy a package (i.e. discount on future package?) which was disappointing.
  • The instructor asked if anyone was new. Despite raising and waving both hands, he didn’t see me (in a class of 10 people). He seemed focused on a few “regulars”. Yes the treadmill isn’t rocket science to master, but the Woodway is a bit different, so a quick demo/tutorial would have been beneficial as there were times when I couldn’t get the stupid speed to change, and one time when it just shut off for no reason.
  • The waiver I signed before class didn’t ask if there were any injuries. In small print it says “All injuries must be reported before class.” But no one asked if there were injuries, including the instructor, so I’m not sure when this reporting should have taken place.
  • Instructor gave a couple adjustments, but guidance was minimal.
  • This is a HIGH-impact workout. In addition to running, there are lots of squats and lunges which aggravate my joints. I had surgery years ago for a torn meniscus. The day after Barry’s workout, my knee was pretty inflamed.
  • RUNNING. Did I mention, I hate it?
*I reached out to Barry’s to check details about the Juice bar. At time of posting, I had not received feedback. I’ll update the post with any other info if applicable.

TECHmunchNYC 2011: Informing and Inspiring Food Bloggers

16 Jun

I love blogging, but as with most things in life, there are times when we all need a little encouragement and inspiration.

A few weeks ago, I was exchanging emails with BakeSpace.com founder, Babette Pepaj. She asked if I’d considered attending TECHmunch NYC. It hadn’t been on my radar, but the second she mentioned it, I knew I couldn’t miss it.

TECHmunch is a series of food blogger conferences held across the US. Founded by Babette in 2010, the NYC conference was held Saturday, June 11, part of Internet Week. TECHmunch was started to give bloggers like me the tools to create great content and build loyal audiences (like you). I really enjoyed listening to all the panel discussions, particularly Chris Pearson of DIYThemes (and creator of Thesis), who shared useful tips on great website design.

Although the SEO panel discussion was overwhelming and gave me a little agita, it was eye-opening and educational. The only disappointment was not having more time to focus on the subject. I kind of wanted to kidnap the panel and host a private Q&A in my apartment.

Click here to check out the agenda from this year’s TECHmunch NYC, and here to find out if TECHmunch is coming to your city this year! And to read some of the handouts from the event…click here.

But I know all you food hounds are only interested in one thing…. a conference for food bloggers hosted by BakeSpace.com?? That’s gotta mean good eats!!! And you’re right, it did. Here’s a peek:

New Chobani Yogurt Flavors

Chobani Champions for kids - I had no idea they even had a kids line!

Banana basket at breakfast. Nice to have a vegan option.

Thank you 'Wichcraft for providing a ridiculous spread of sandwiches and salads for lunch!

And for providing a vegetarian option! The chickpea sandwich was delish.

'Wichcraft chickpea arugula salad

HUGE shout out to @KitchenAidUSA for all the product donations. There were giveaways throughout the day and consequently, a lot of smiling bloggers.

KitchenAid Appliances for Giveaways

Oh and I neglected to mention that I won this KitchenAid convection bake countertop oven during one of the giveaways! WAHOO. Now, I just have to figure out how to make room for it in my kitchen.

KitchenAid Countertop Oven

Snack time was ridiculous. There was everything from fresh made smoothies by Chobani, tons of sandwiches and salads from ‘Wichcraft, plus crudite, chips, and desserts further than the eye could see.

Ridiculous buffet for snack time

This was one of the most ridic crudite platters I’ve ever seen. It had everything from traditional carrots, cucumbers to brussel sprouts! All the vegetables were fresh, vibrant, and beautifully arranged. I absolutely loved it.

Crudite

I know there are many theories here but I grew up in Maine and thus believe, New England is where Whoopie pies were born. Growing up, I had my share of these heavenly sandwiches and Rubicelli’s were divine. I liked that they didn’t have an obscene amount of filling which many often do.

Robicellis Dessert Menu

Cupcakes & Whoopie Pies by Robicelli's

Cookies by Tasty Morsels Bakery

We were all disappointed that Mr. Chocolate, Jacques Torres, had a last minute engagement, preventing him from appearing at TECHmunch, but he was kind enough to do a video interview. And oh man, that guy is pure spunk. He really is absolutely hilarious.

Cookies by Jacques Torres

Amazingly fresh mixed berries with mint (I think in simple syrup sauce)

Four Roses Bourbon Cocktail

Four Roses Bourbon was kind enough to post the recipe to this cocktail.

Four Roses Bourbon Cocktail from TECHmunch NYC 2011

 3 Cups of Four Roses Bourbon

6 cups Water

2 cups strong tea

1 cup sugar

1 6-ounce container frozen orange juice, thawed

1 12-ounce lemon juice container, thawed

Mix and serve. They garnished with a lovely mint sprig.

Thank you to all of the following companies for making this day happen. It was truly a great learning experience and I’m so pleased to have met so many creative and inspiring people. Can’t wait until next year…or I may need to travel to another city.

BakeSpace.com

Cupcakes Take the Cake (Also co-produced TECHmunch NYC)

Chobani

KitchenAid

The Harvard Common Press

Driscoll’s

Brooklyn Brewery

Robicelli’s

Four Roses Bourbon

‘Wichcraft

Excel PR Group

Exploring Casual, Healthy Eats in LA

13 Jun

The rest of the trip to LA was fun, but not exactly the sunny week I’d envisioned. What did I expect from June Gloom? It was mostly 60s and low 70s, but I’ll take that over the 100 degrees it was in NYC any day. YUCK.

I got a lot of walking and hiking in, plus I had two Pilates sessions at Winsor. More on that in a separate post.

I love exploring restaurants/food culture in LA. It’s no surprise that I’m such a fan of California cuisine with its’ focus on local, seasonal, fresh ingredients. I had a blast trying out new places and revisiting a few favorite vegan staples. I always find it easy to eat and live healthfully when I’m in LA.  Healthy food options are wherever you turn, and although I’ve learned June weather isn’t ideal, there’s plenty of sunshine to get you off that tush and moving around outside. I didn’t hit many fancy/trendier restaurants this trip, but focused on cafes, and casual, tasty fare.

I made numerous trips to Earth Bar at Equinox for smoothies. The “Flax Master” with acai, banana, blueberries, flax oil, B-12, L-glutamine, vegan protein, and almond milk, was tasty, and thick, just the way I like it. But on a second visit, they may have been too liberal with the supplements because I was having stomach…let’s just say “issues”.

Flax Master Smoothie at EarthBar Westwood

For lunch Wednesday, I walked to Whole Foods to check out their spread. I was amazed they had pre-cut coconut meat!! I haven’t seen that in NYC. It would be so convenient for smoothies, which reminds me, I have a young coconut in the fridge probably rotting. Ugh, need to use that up pronto.

Pre-Cut Coconut Meat at Whole Foods Westwood

The organic local nectarines looked gorgeous so I grabbed two for a snack.

California Local Nectarines at Whole Foods

I spent a couple of days hanging with RealityShowChick. (Who is now my token celebrity friend after her recent segment on 20/20).  She has two flourishing tomato plants on her porch. Most are still green, but there was one, small, perfectly round, red one begging to be picked.

Tomato Plant #1

Tomato Plant #2

As you can see below, RealityShowChick wasn’t “camera-ready” and pulled a puppetry of the finger maneuver. Either that or she’s blackmailing a clown?

The lone tomato

I stopped at M Cafe to pick up dinner. The menu had almost too many options, and took me a solid 10 minutes to make a decision. I was happy to not have the pressure of a line forming behind me. Guess I’m the only person under the age of 70 who likes to eat at 6pm. The cashier was friendly and helpful.

“First time?” she asked.  “Yup. How could you tell?” I replied, going cross-eyed from studying the menu. “Can I ask you the three questions I always ask people who are struggling to make a decision?” she asked. “Sure.”  I figured what the hell, it could only help, right?

Somewhat eccentric cashier (SEC): “How hungry are you on a scale from 1 to 10? 10 being I’m gonna rip someone’s arms off if I don’t eat right now.”

Me: “7”

SEC: “Are you looking for something hot or cold?” she asked.

Me: “I’m not sure. Maybe leaning cold, although I had a salad for lunch and don’t want another one.”

I’m not sure what the third question was. Either there wasn’t one, or I’m having a brain fart. All I remember is she recommended their signature salads, an a la carte menu consisting of various sides like sauteed vegetables, and proteins like grilled fish, tofu, etc. The questions did help reinforce my initial instincts. I’ll have to remember them next time I can’t make up my mind. I went with a Garden Roll and Inari Sushi (organic brown rice in a seasoned tofu pouch garnished with veggies).

The shiitake were splendid and reminded me of my mom’s. Usually she sprinkles sugar and shoyu over the vegetables as she sautes them. It’s always seasoned “to taste” with no real recipe. The result is a sweet/salty combo that I consider one of my favorite comfort foods.

Garden Roll; Shiitake, Hijiki and Lotus Root Inari

I turned down dessert although I was tempted by the Babycakes, and opted for this bright green Kale Lemonade. It was so refreshing!!! Tart lemonade with a little agave, balanced out with earthy Kale. Really tasty stuff. I know you’re sitting there with your nose wrinkled going eewwwwwww Kale Lemonade? Don’t judge until you’ve tried it.

Kale Lemonade from M Cafe

Thursday, I met a friend for breaky at Urth Caffe. They make the best latte art.

Japanese Green Tea Latte with Almond Milk from Urth Caffe

Oatmeal with Almond Milk and Brown Sugar, Granola, Raisin Toppings

We were in Santa Monica during lunchtime and passed an unassuming cafe on Wilshire selling vegan ice cream. There was no signage outside that I could find, just a couple tables under umbrellas. Inside was a small cafe that was brightly colored, unpretentious, and just what I had in mind. Menu items were printed on multi-colored paper and taped up along the top of the counter. There was a lot to read and the guy could tell I looked a little overwhelmed so he gestured to a laminated handout of the menu on a tray behind me. Then he pointed above his head to signs for soups of the day, and other specials. Why didn’t I use the three (or two) question test here?

Inside Interim Cafe in Santa Monica

Husband got the Maui Veggie Burger (supposedly what they’re known for), I got the Tempeh stuffed whole wheat pita with hummus, veggies, and a side salad. Husband also requested a “Tiger Woods” which was an Arnold Palmer without the alcohol. Perhaps it would be more fun if they renamed it “The Womanizer” or “Man-Whore” or something equivalent?

Maui Veggie Burger at Interim Cafe, Santa Monica

Tempeh Whole Wheat Pita Stuffer at Interim Cafe, Santa Monica

While I waited for our sandwiches, I stood in front of this damn glass case full of vegan desserts. They were calling my name, loudly, so I got the “World’s Best” vegan, gluten-free, chocolate chip cookie.

Dessert Cafe at Interim Cafe, Santa Monica

I can’t argue, I don’t think I’ve had a better chocolate chip vegan cookie than this bad boy. The sandwiches and drinks were all delicious and made me wish I had something similar in my neighborhood back home.

"World's Best" Vegan Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Pecan Cookie at Interim Cafe, Santa Monica

As the trip came to a close, what better way to end our stay than a margarita poolside at the W? I love you LA. Hope to see you soon.

Margarita on the rocks with salt at W Hotel Westwood

Eating, Hiking, Celebrity Sighting

7 Jun

I’d barely been in LA for 24 hours and already had a Native Foods Cafe Scorpion Burger on Sunday, and Veggie Grill Bali Bliss over Kale yesterday. Oh and I had to swing by Earth Bar at Equinox Westwood for a green detox smoothie yesterday morning! I’m 3 for 3.

Green Detox #1 Smoothie

Simon got to meet up with his girlfriend Lilly yesterday and nearly peed himself from excitement. Lilly’s Mom (a.k.a. RealityShowChick), Dad, and I got to catch up while the kids frolicked. If you love reality TV or just like to laugh, you have to check out her site – hysterical. Her stories as a Reality Show Casting Director will make you split (or s*it) your pants.   We went for a stroll through Larchmont and stopped at Peet’s coffee for a reboot. I was so surprised they had vegan cookies! Recharged from some seriously caffeinated espresso, we decided to go for a hike at Runyon. Of course, I wasn’t dressed for the occasion, sporting a sundress and flip-flops. (Thanks RSC for the loaner duds). I did manage to hike in flip-flops and not break my neck. As we started our leisurely hike, I spotted this guy with no shirt on and black shorts. I didn’t even notice his face because I was gawking at his chest – and not in a good way. One word, Ma-Tas. They were little and his chest was tan but they still stood out. Perhaps because he was running downhill? I digress…So, as he passes, my friends turn around all giddy and are like “OMG, Sebastian Bach!!!” Yes, of course it was. And I thought, oh yea that’s right, “I Remember You”.

Me & Simon, Sarah & Lilly at Runyon

And that’s the fun in day one! I basically hit all my fave places (and people) in the first 24 hours. Not bad. OH, and I forgot to mention my other stellar celeb sighting at the MTV Movie Awards. Ron Jeremy. I mean come on, really? I hope I didn’t catch anything airborne. Bleck.

Vegan-Friendly Wedding Weekend

7 Jun

What an amazing weekend Husband and I had! Our good friends Blake and Rob got married on Saturday. Congratulations B & R! What a gorgeous wedding!!!! Judging by the way I felt yesterday, we had a ton of fun. It may be a few days until I’ve fully recuperated, but it was worth it.

Our incredibly thoughtful hosts arranged to have vegan options available throughout the weekend…how cute are they? Everything from the cocktail hour to dessert offered something for vegetarians and vegans.  I’m really not going to do this justice because I didn’t take as many pics as I should have. Blame it on the al-al-al-al-al-alco-hol. I think I have more pics at home, but I didn’t want to wait all week to share this post so these will have to do for now.

We started with the rehearsal dinner on Friday at The Modern. Guests received tickets to visit the MoMA before dinner. We arrived about a half hour early and had just enough time to breeze through Contemporary Art, then Painting and Sculpture. We saw some impressive pieces like this Jackson Pollack. (AMAZZZINNNGGGG).

One: Number 31, 1950

We headed back to The Modern promptly at 7pm. Everyone mingled over cocktails and passed hors d’oeuvres. I was so shocked when one of the restaurant managers brought over a special platter of vegan hors d’oeuvres just for me that included mini bruschetta cups and veggie spring rolls. How special!

For dinner, I received a beautiful tofu, quinoa, vegetable plate. The presentation was bright and colorful, and aroused curiosity in the other diners at table six.  In typical Danny Meyer style, the service was hospitable and the food did not disappoint.

A HUGE bowl of mixed berries arrived for dessert. They were so fresh I ate the entire bowl with a little help from Husband who kept sneaking nibbles when he thought I wasn’t looking.

On Saturday, we headed to the fabulous Mandarin Oriental Hotel in the Time Warner Center for the main event. Cocktail hour had a vast spread including passed hors d’oeuvres, a sushi, and a mediterranean bar. I was psyched when the server with the veggie spring rolls parked next to us so I had easy access to those little morsels all night. I never made it to the carving station. I was too busy making sammies out of the mediterranean bar ingredients. I stuffed the pita pockets with hummus, falafel, and olives. They were soooooo good. Sorry, no pics of these because I have no flash on my iPhone. Yes I know, I need to upgrade.

At dinner, I asked for the vegan option despite the fact that I was nearly stuffed from cocktail hour. I received a lovely plate of quinoa with haricots vert, asparagus, and sorel mushrooms (my favorite). Sorry, pic sucks. Use your imagination on this one.

Dessert was a fruit platter with a mixture of melons and berries that a few of us shared.

The next morning we were on a 9am flight to LA for the MTV Movie Awards. First stop, Native Foods Cafe. I made Husband go there before we even checked into the hotel. I had my Scorpion Burger down before the luggage arrived in the room.

After a brief snooze, we were off to the Movie Awards at the Gibson Ampitheatre. Click here for a clip from the Foo Fighters performing last night. It started pouring when it was time for the After-Party (which was completely outside) so we bailed and came back to the hotel. Rain? In LA? WTF?

We arrived back at the W starving (at least I was) and immediately ordered room service. There were limited vegan options and I was feeling a little nauseous. We got edamame, greek salad, grilled salmon salad, and a fruit plate for dessert. The food was pretty standard hotel quality, but at this point I was grateful to be eating anything at all. I’d probably avoid the fruit plate in the future. Mine had a couple moldy blueberries, and the melon was sprinkled with salt to preserve the color. Simon liked the watermelon though.

It was a whirlwind weekend and I’m totally exhausted. Looking forward to more good eats while I’m in LA and hoping to check out a couple new studios. Tomorrow, I’m testing out Winsor Pilates. I’m so looking forward to a solid workout!

Chocolate Nut Smoothie Recipe

29 May

Happy Memorial Day weekend, Food Buffers! It’s officially warm here in NYC. When it’s hot, I want my food cold (along with frosty beverages and an ice bath to soak in). What can I say? I grew up in Maine, I wasn’t made for high heat. I’ve had a smoothie every day this week and been playing around with different flavor combos.

This Chocolate Nut recipe is the perfect jump-start to the morning, or a great afternoon snack. It has a creamy, smooth texture that’s truly satisfying and is packed with nutrients and quality protein. I love making smoothies at home because I can control the portion/calories and quality of ingredients. Plus, they’re fast, healthy, and filling. If you buy smoothies when you’re out, be careful. They can be loaded with calories, sweeteners, and artificial ingredients. Try to see a list of ingredients in the smoothie. Stay away from anything with purees, tons of juices, added processed ingredients/sugars, or fillers like frozen yogurt. Look for organic or raw ingredients, whole fruits, etc.

I’ve used the antioxidant/health benefits of dark chocolate as an excuse to eat more of it (and I know I’m not alone here), but if you really want to reap the benefits, from what I’ve learned, raw, organic cacao is the way to go. Cacao nibs are crushed, peeled cacao beans. They’re deemed a “superfood” and are high in antioxidants so you get the good stuff without all the sugar. According to LiveSuperfoods.com, “Cacao has more antioxidant flavonoids than any food tested so far, including blueberries, red wine, and black and green teas. In fact, it has up to four times the quantity of antioxidants found in green tea.”

This Chocolate Nut smoothie reminds me of chocolate milk, but better. Get your smoothie-on this holiday weekend!

Chocolate Nut Smoothie

1 cup hemp milk

1 tablespoon cacao nibs

1 frozen banana

1 tablespoon almond butter

optional: add in 1 tablespoon flaxseed oil for added nutritional benefits like fiber and Omega-3s. 

1. Blend all ingredients until smooth in a high-powered blender (like Vitamix). Drink immediately!

Please keep in mind I’m not a nutritionist, doctor, or dietician so if you have any health concerns or dietary questions, please see a medical professional. Here are some other great resources if you want to learn more about cacao nibs and the nutritional benefits.

http://www.rawcacao.com/

http://www.livestrong.com/article/356782-cocoa-nibs-nutrition-information/

http://www.ext.colostate.edu/pubs/columnnn/nn100218.html

http://www.medscicommunications.com/just_for_fun.htm

New Product Watch: Mini LARABAR Variety 12-Pack

24 May

I’ve mentioned LARABARs before, but had to share my latest find… MINI LARABARs! I found them on Soap.com when I was shopping for cleaning products. I haven’t seen them in NYC yet, but I’m sure they’re on their way if not already cropping up.

Each box has four Cherry Pie, four Apple Pie, and four Cashew Cookie bars. Cashew Cookie is 100 calories, the other two are only 90, making it a healthy, portion controlled snack. They’re gluten-free, and have zero fake additives like bars often do. They’re made simply from dried fruit and nuts, and only the natural sugars from the fruit. And boy are they tasty!!

Ask anyone who has traveled with me, I’m always concerned about not having something to eat. Particularly when I’m on the go, or traveling long distances, I hate not knowing whether I’ll have a healthy and tasty food option. Although fresh fruit is my preference, sometimes it’s not available, or difficult to stuff into a bag without getting mutilated. So I always have a few LARABARs stashed in my purse. The Minis are so convenient because they don’t take up much room. I was happy to have a few in my purse when I was in Maine last week and needed a quick munch on the plane.

Check ’em out at LARABAR.COM!

Mini LARABAR Variety 12-Pack

P.S. They’ve also come out with a new bar flavor, Blueberry Muffin which if you close your eyes, does resemble its’ name. Ingredients: Dates, Cashews, Blueberries, Blueberry Juice Concentrate, Lemon Juice Concentrate, Vanilla Extract.

Blueberry Muffin LARABAR

Bay Scallops with Broccolini and Fried Garlic

23 May

When I go home, my mom usually cooks and I watch (while consuming a lot of wine). This time, I had the pleasure of cooking for my family. I was happy to return the favor after all these years. I wanted to make something they’d both enjoy, and showcased different cooking techniques and ingredients. Oh and of course, was healthy. 🙂

My mom prefers Asian flavors and already had plans for a cluster of frozen bay scallops. Yes, frozen. As they thawed, I pictured bay scallops steaming in soy sauce and wine. I’d wished they were fresh sea scallops but hey, who am I to judge. Frozen fish is tricky. It can be difficult to fully remove all the water. In order to get a good sear, it needs to be dry. Whether it’s chicken, meat, fish, tofu, or tempeh, if it’s wet, all it’s going to do is steam in the pan. I offered to lend a hand and see if we could do something special with these little frozen morsels.

I was feeling a bit out of my element. I hadn’t selected the ingredients, was in a kitchen with no idea where anything was, and didn’t have the typical tools of the trade (like my lovely knives). I’m a big baby, aren’t I? Well, I love a challenge. I imagined I was in a Quick Fire challenge on Top Chef and had at it.

Thanks to some paper towels, high heat, and oil, the scallops browned beautifully and had a crispy, carmelized exterior. And it took about a half hour to make! This is a perfect weeknight dinner that comes together quickly, but tastes like it took hours to make. If you can, use fresh wild caught fish whenever possible for best results (and optimal quality fish/nutritional benefits). Next time, I’m making fresh sea scallops for them.

If you’re interested in learning more about the health benefits of wild fish over farm-raised, check out this article. Click here.

Bay Scallops with Broccolini and Fried Garlic

Note: I served this over a bed of mixed rice using (50% brown sticky rice, 25% red rice, 25% wild rice). You can use any rice, quinoa, or even pasta drizzled with olive oil if desired. 

2 T olive oil

1 lb bay scallops (or sea scallops if you prefer, patted dry between paper towels)

2 large bunches broccolini, chopped into bite-size chunks

3-4 large garlic cloves, peeled and sliced horizontally

salt & pepper

1. With either frozen or fresh fish, be sure to gently pat the fish between layers of paper towels to ensure surface is dry. Season with salt and pepper right before cooking.

2. Make garlic oil. Heat oil in a pan over medium heat. Once hot, add sliced garlic and cook until golden brown. Remove from pan and reserve for later use.

3. In the same pan, using the garlic flavored oil, get the pan hot over medium-high. Add scallops being careful not to crowd the pan.

4. Sear on one side until they easily release from pan, then flip to sear the other side. Be careful not to burn anything that sticks to the pan as this will contribute to the sauce at the end. Remove from pan and reserve on plate.

5. Add broccolini to the pan, saute around over medium heat. Season with salt and pepper. Add 1/4 cup red wine. Deglaze the pan until all sucs on the bottom are removed. Cover and cook over low-medium heat for 2-3 minutes until the broccolini are tender.

6. Plate broccolini over a bed of rice. Top with scallops and garnish with fried garlic.

Bay Scallops with Broccolini

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