Tag Archives: healthy

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

New Fruit Mixes from Peeled Snacks

7 May

As I’ve mentioned before, I love Peeled Snacks.   {Pause}   SorryI had to take a breather from typing because I needed both hands to open a bag. I had the pleasure of trying the new Peeled Fruit Mixes at the NYC Vegetarian Food Festival. Now you can get THREE amazing dried fruits in one bag!! Available in the following organic Fruit Mixes: Farmer’s Market Trio (apple, cherry & raisin), Go Figure (fig, date, & apricot), and my personal favorite, Paradise Found (mango, banana & pineapple).

Paradise Found

The resealable pouches are perfect for keeping at your desk for that 3pm snack, or for sharing between family members. I love them when I’m traveling, or if I need a little energy before a workout. The fruit is fibrous so it satisfies without weighing you down and leaving you stuffed between meals. Sometimes I throw a handful of fruit and a few almonds in a snack bag, and I’m good to go. They’re also enough to satisfy that after dinner sweet tooth and are definitely a better alternative to a cookie or piece of cake. Of course, they can become addictive so I always watch my portions and love their single serve pouches. I adore Peeled for constantly coming up with organic, healthy, fresh, and simply delectable snack ideas. What are they going to think of next?

How do you take your Peeled Snacks? Straight up? Do you create your own mix? Are they your child’s favorite snack? Please share!

Shop for the new Fruit Mixes and many other delicious varieties at PeeledSnacks.com!

Farmer's Market Trio

Go Figure

Paradise Found

Spring Cleansing

14 Mar

I’ve done it again. I survived my third Blue Print Cleanse! Now you know why I haven’t posted a recipe in a few days. Cleansing + Cooking = Torture.

Why cleanse? Good question. I cleanse when I’m feeling run down, or have been overindulging and need to get back on track. To me, a successful cleanse is based on replenishing and taking care of the body, not depriving it. Juicing, in particular, gives the body a break from all the hard work of digesting and processing food. It floods the system with nutrients it may have been lacking. In liquid form, the nutrients are easily absorbed into the bloodstream enabling your body to reap the full benefits to create inner balance.

Blue Print Cleanse is a nutritional juice cleanse founded by Zoe Sakoutis, a raw-foodist and certified nutritional consultant, and Erica Huss. Their juices are unpasteurized, unprocessed, raw, vegan, and locally sourced from sustainable farms.

There are six bottles of juice per day, with a recommended three day minimum cleanse. BPC has three levels to choose from: Renovation, Foundation, Excavation. The levels vary from gentle (more fruit based juices) to aggressive (more green juices) and should be selected based on current eating habits. If you eat total crap, start with Renovation. If you’re a pretty conscious, healthy eater, try Excavation. See their website for details. The best part? They taste delicious and it’s idiot proof. Usually I’m obsessing about what to eat for dinner while I’m eating breakfast. On BPC, I can even give my brain a break from worrying about my next meal.

Here are the juices I had on the three-day Excavation cleanse. The bottles are numbered and consumed in numerical order approximately every two hours.

Green Juice (juices 1,2,3, & 5)- Romaine, celery, cucumber, apple, spinach, kale, parsley, lemon and ginger. I love it. Lemony and refreshing, I never get sick of it.

Spicy Lemonade ( juice 4) – Lemon juice, agave, cayenne pepper. Tastes exactly like it sounds, tart with a very subtle heat.

Cashew Milk (juice 6) – Cashew, water, vanilla, cinnamon, agave. This is like the golden child of the cleanse. It’s bottled dessert. I look forward to it all day long.

Blue Print Cleanse Excavation - photo courtesy of BPC website

BPC emphasizes the importance of pre- and post-cleansing. I’ll admit, this time I wasn’t as diligent as I usually am, which is probably why I struggled a bit. It’s important to ease in and out of the cleanse so you don’t shock your system. Their website has all the details and their customer service is quick to respond to any questions via email, Facebook, or Twitter @BPCleanse. BPC also sends guidelines on preparing and coming off the cleanse via email, along with words of encouragement throughout the cleanse (a nice touch).

Although it’s supposedly fine to workout while cleansing, it made me pretty hungry especially in the afternoons, and I had to “cheat” with some celery. Yes, I know it’s sad when celery is on the cheat list. But now that it’s all done, my skin is clear and glowing, I feel “clean”, and invigorated. Any cravings I had have subsided, and the little sweet tooth devil is off my shoulder.

BPC is available at Whole Foods Tribeca. I usually buy a couple bottles after class at Soul Cycle. You can also order through BPC’s website with the option to pick-up or and have it delivered. Delivery in NYC is only an extra $5 a day and it sure beats lugging 18 bottles home. They also have FEDEX so check it out no matter what zip code you’re in, you might be able to get it too!

If you’re interested in making your own juices/smoothies and other cleansing recipes at home, get Zoe & Erica’s book, The 3-Day Cleanse. I’ve made a couple recipes from it (including the infamous cashew milk) and really enjoyed them.

The 3-Day Cleanse by Zoe Sakoutis & Erica Huss

TheKitchn.com recently posed the question “Can Food Lovers Really Survive a Cleanse?”  My answer? Absolutely. Not everyone believes in cleansing and I respect that. But I do think cleanses like Blue Print are beneficial, even if you’re already a healthy eater. Juice cleansing floods your body with water and tons of nutrients so it’s not just about getting the bad out, it’s about overloading your body with good. If the idea of not consuming any solids for three days freaks you out, BPC has a Juice ’til Dinner program that consists of four BPC juices, a two course vegetarian meal, and two tasty snacks. I’ve never done it, but seems like a good way to dip your toe in, if you’re new to cleansing.

I’ve seen people commenting on Twitter about how they could never cleanse because they love food too much, or they couldn’t be vegetarian or vegan for the same reason. I think they’d be surprised that many people who cleanse, are vegetarians, or vegans, are actually big-time eaters, like ME. Afterall, most are very aware of what we put in our bodies, which requires not only nutritional awareness, but also a deep love of food/cooking, and concern for how our food is grown and sourced.

What do you think? Have you done a cleanse or considering doing one? Tried Blue Print already? What did you think? Please share!

Happy Spring Everyone!!

Quinoa Salad with Roasted Carrots, Broccoli and Tahini Dressing

5 Jan

Day 3: I’ve been Vegan for 3 days!

Third day and I’m sitting pretty! Ok, not pretty exactly, but I feel good. Haven’t had any cravings which totally surprises me. Energy is still up. And drumroll please… no alcohol since New Year’s. That part wasn’t planned, but I have been eating well and working out so much I haven’t felt like tainting it by drinking. Ha-ha I said “taint”. I even had a double ass-kicking session today comprised of Power Pilates then Bar Method. This was my 2nd Bar Method class this week and literally 5 minutes in, my thighs and legs were shaking uncontrollably. You know what’s worse than fat thighs? SHAKING fat thighs. However, it’s motivating to feel that jiggle and know I’m working the areas that need it. I’m going back tomorrow so hopefully will be a little stronger each time. I digress. Now that I’ve completely grossed you out, onto the food…

I need to go grocery shopping, but until then I had to whip up whatever was on hand. I’m “queen of the whip-up” thanks to a well-stocked pantry. I always keep canned no-salt beans (chickpeas, black, cannelini & red kidney beans from Whole Foods), quinoa (keen-wah), olives, frozen fruit & vegetables, tempeh, tofu and scallions. I’m asian, I require scallions and ginger at all times.

I was perusing 101Cookbooks and saw a Lemon-Scented Quinoa Salad that inspired me so below is an adaptation based on what I had available. I highly recommend the Tahini dressing and made it almost exactly as listed on their site. I will try it on salads, rice, and maybe noodles. Their site is an amazing resource, so definitely check it out when you get a chance. This recipe is a template you can use for an easy lunch or dinner. Simply substitute with any combination of vegetables, red onion or shallot instead of scallions, any beans, or try tempeh or tofu, take your pick. You could also toast pine nuts, sunflower seeds, pecans or walnuts. If you’re not vegan, this would rock with feta or goat cheese. Trust me, I was thinking that when I made it. I also recommend dousing with hot sauce simply because everything is better with hot sauce.

The beauty of this type of cooking is it’s not scientific. Don’t stress about how you’re cutting the vegetables, or the exact temperature of the oven. Just keep a close eye on your food and TASTE, TASTE, TASTE! If you taste along the way, the end result will be great. If you wait until the end, it’s often too late to make any adjustments. Many people always ask me, how long do I cook it for? How much do I put in? I often don’t have an answer because I do everything by taste. I put guidelines here, but if you are feeling ballsy, put your 5 senses to work to judge how things are going. What’s the worst that can happen? Take out? Have fun!

Quinoa Salad with Roasted Carrots and Tahini Sauce

1 cup quinoa

1 1/4 cup water

1 can garbanzo beans (rinse before using), or dried equivalent

1/2 cup parsley, chopped (couple sprigs w/leaves picked off)

1/4 cup mint (8-10 mint leaves)

2 scallions, chopped (use white and greens)

1 head broccoli chopped into bite size florets

4 carrots peeled with ends cut off

salt & pepper to taste

olive oil

Tahini Dressing:

1 garlic clove, smashed and chopped

1/4 cup tahini

Zest of one lemon

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (about 1 lemon depending on size and juiciness)

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons hot water (just heat a little filtered water up in the microwave)

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt


Set the oven to 375.

Peel the carrots. Cut the thin part horizontally into bite size pieces. I usually split the fatter ends of the carrots in half lengthwise and then cut them in half crosswise to make 1/2  moon shapes. Try to have them all about the same size so they cook evenly. Drizzle olive oil on a baking sheet. Put the cut carrots onto the sheet, sprinkle with salt & pepper then shake them around so they’re evenly covered. Make sure they are not too crowded. Crowding=steaming not browning. Same principle applies in pan cooking like sauteing.

Drizzle about 1 Tablespoon of oil on a separate baking sheet. Spread the broccoli florets on it, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and shake on the pan until all florets are coated. Pop both the carrot and broccoli sheet pans in the oven for about 20 minutes or until they start to brown and are tender. Be sure to check frequently, rotate the pans and flip the vegetables so they get even color. Taste, taste, taste! If it tastes the way you want to eat it…it’s done!

Rinse the quinoa in a fine-meshed strainer. In a medium saucepan, bring 1 1/4 cups water to a boil. Add 1 cup quinoa. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 12 minutes. Turn off the heat, but keep the quinoa covered for another 5-10 minutes to rest and absorb the remaining steam. Try not to pick up the cover during the cooking process because you’ll let that valuable steam escape.

While the vegetables cook, make the dressing. I put all the ingredients in a blender to really emulsify and make the dressing creamy. You can also use a mini food processor or go old-school and whisk it. You could probably use a full size 7c food processor, but I’d recommend doubling the recipe or you may not have enough quantity to blend.

Consider reserving 1/2c of quinoa for breakfast tomorrow (mix it with dried fruit, nuts & soymilk as an oatmeal replacement). Toss the remaining cooked quinoa, beans, carrots, broccoli, parsley, mint, scallions, and half of the dressing. Add more dressing if you like and season with more salt to TASTE. Either reserve the dressing for a salad tomorrow, or if you feel it needs it, use the whole thing. Serve garnished with a bit of parsley and lemon zest.

Source: Adapted from 101cookbooks.com

Recommended brands: Eden Organic Quinoa Whole Grain available at Whole Foods

Deconstructed Quinoa Salad with Roasted Carrots, Broccoli & Tahini Dressing


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