1 year ago 1 year ago

Roasted Acorn Squash & Fall Salad

(adapted from sprouted kitchen)

With winter comes squash. By far, my favorite squash is the acorn, which to my surprise many shy away from, or opt for the better known butternut instead. Acorn squash is actually the only squash where you can eat the skin, though in this recipe the skin gets a bit too crispy for that. Packed with Vitamins A and C, potassium, manganese and the fatty acid necessary to good health, omega 3’s. With their abundant phytonutrients, they are thought by many to have an anti-cancer effect. The beautiful orange-yellow color in the squash resembles a strong presence of beta-carotene. Let’s not forget that beta carotene reduces free radicals in the body, the chance of heart disease and even colon cancer. That, my dear, is one powerful vegetable.

Roasting only enhances its sweet, creamy texture. A fresh fall salad combining market greens, roasted potatoes, quinoa (essential amino acids and protein) and a tangy balsamic vinaigrette piled over top adds a perfect accompanying texture. Though cheese is never really a desired garnish of mine, a few shaves of pecorino over top lends a salty touch to each bite.

ingredients.

1 medium acorn squash, quartered, seeds removed

1 1/2 tbsp coconut oil

1-2 tbsp balsamic vinegar

sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper

salad.

4 cups market greens (feel free to get creative here)

1/2 cup cooked quinoa

1 cup boiled fingerling potatoes, cut into coins

1/3 cup pecans (preferably raw, but no judgement if you opt for roasted)

shaved cheese of choice (optional)

simple dressing.

2:1 ratio of your best quality olive oil and balsamic vinegar

1 tsp dijon mustard

sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper, to taste

proceed on.

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F.

Prick the flesh of the squash a few times with the fork. Coat the squash in the coconut oil and balsamic vinegar, sea salt and pepper. Lay them cut side up on a baking tray and bake for about 35 minutes, or until you can easily pierce through the flesh. Set aside.

Meanwhile, in a mini mason jar add your dressing components and give them a good shake. Wah-lah! Simple dressing, just like it says.

Combine the greens, quinoa, potatoes and pecans in a bowl and toss with the desired amount of dressing. Arrange the squash on four plates and stuff the cavity (a little over flow of veggies is never a bad thing) with your prepared salad. Top with cheese, if desired, and freshly cracked black pepper. And as easy as that you have a perfectly healthy, vegetarian dinner for four.

1 year ago

Lemony Roasted Brussel Sprouts Salad

We know winter is upon us when the stalks of brussel sprouts return to the market. As a part of the cabbage family, it is one of the vegetables that many of us manage to steer clear of in the produce aisle. I fell in love with them when I was working in the restaurant kitchen where actually, it was more of a love/hate relationship. After serving up twenty PLUS orders every night you begin to dislike the things you grew to love. Thankfully as a personal chef I no longer have to prepare, cook, and consume brussel sprouts eight days out of the week, so back on the love boat it is. Nothing pairs with brussel sprouts quite like lemon juice and the fiery kick of chili peppers. Lemon adds the perfect amount of acidity to balance out the bitterness of the sprout (and of course a touch of vitamin C), while the added spice gives the cabbage a pinch of heat. 

Brussel sprouts are an incredibly nutritious vegetable. They are rich in vitamin A (maintaining healthy skin), vitamin K (promotes bone formation and strengthening) and vitamin C (protects body by trapping harmful free radicals). They are a powerhouse of several flavonoid anti-oxidants (phytochemicals) that together offer protection against prostate and colon cancer. 

With Thanksgiving less than a week away, this recipe could not have better timing. I’m sure everyone will be thankful for your colorful, vitamin packed side dish on the table next to grandma’s famous gravy. 

Ingredients.

2lbs brussel sprouts, trimmed and halved lengthwise

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

10-15 cherry tomatoes, halved lengthwise

1 small (or 1/2 large) red cabbage, cored, shredded

1 clove garlic, thinly sliced

1 small shallot, thinly sliced

juice and zest of one large, juicy lemon, separated

1-2tsp chili flakes (depending on your heat index)

coarse sea salt

freshly ground black pepper

Proceed.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. 

Heat the oil in a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Add the sprouts and season with a good amount of salt and pepper and your chili flakes. Once the sprouts start to brown place in the oven until cooked through, 8-10 minutes. 

Meanwhile, in a large bowl add your halved tomatoes and shredded cabbage. 

Replace the pan back on the burner. (keep your towel on the handle for a reminder that it is still HOT). 

Add your thinly sliced garlic and shallot. Saute for 2-3 minutes. 

Add lemon juice and lemon zest. Season to taste with sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper. Add the sprouts (and juices) to the bowl with the tomatoes and cabbage. Toss and serve immediately. If you’re feeling indulgent, it is the holiday season after all, add an extra crunch with toasted breadcrumbs, toss in a handful of chopped walnuts or garnish with a bit of shaved pecorino romano. 

1 year ago

The Healing Power of Magnesium. 

I have only recently been introduced to the amazing healing powers of magnesium. Personally, I believe that most Americans are magnesium deficient and certain are even more likely to be deficient due to genetics, but thankfully there are numerous ways to add it to your daily regimen. Though I don’t typically suggest many supplements, this is one that I highly recommend. (and of course I must add in here to consult your doctor). That being said, as far as taking a supplement goes, it really depends on each individuals diet. Remember: bio-individuality. 

How much magnesium is enough? Well, for the most part you want about 300mg/day combined from all sources (see list below), so you may not need any in pill form at all, which to be frank, is rarely the case. Also, keep in mind that a decent multivitamin only contains about 50mg. Minimalist isn’t the trend when referring to our magnesium levels so If you decide to get your levels tested, aim to have optimum levels, not just skirting rock bottom. 

Many people believe that magnesium needs to be balanced with calcium for maximum absorption, but it does not have to be taken with calcium to be absorbed properly. If the body needs the magnesium, which it most likely will, then it will have no problem soaking it up. In the rare case that your body has enough, then it will be easily excreted, no need to worry about that. 

There are plenty of ways that magnesium is lost from the body: grains, soy, alcohol, coffee, black tea, pharmaceutical drugs, and calcium supplements, are only just a handful.

Now lets get on with the invaluable information about the benefits of magnesium, shall we?

(the following information is from an article by Marcus Julian Felicetti):

1. Better Sleep: The sleep regulating hormone melatonin is disturbed when magnesium is deficient. Furthermore, magnesium brings balance and controls stress hormones. Stress and tension are often reasons why people suffer from insomnia in the first place. 

2. Relaxes the Nervous System: Serotonin, which relaxes the nervous system and elevates mood, is dependent on magnesium. 

3. Bigger, Stronger Muscles: Magnesium allows the body to produce more Insulin-like Growth Factor (IGF-1), which is a major contributor to the growth and strength of muscles. 

4. Better Flexibility: Magnesium loosens tight muscles. Without magnesium, muscles do not relax properly and cramps occur. Magnesium is important for flexibility, because low magnesium results in a buildup of lactic acid, causing pain and tightness. 

5. Bone Integrity & Strength: Magnesium helps to fix calcium properly. It may blow some people’s mind that the calcium supplements they’re taking are not only useless, but are actually contributing to osteoporosis! There are actually about eighteen essential nutrients that contribute to bone health; magnesium is definitely one of the most essential because it stimulates a particular hormone called calcitonin. And, it also suppresses a hormone called parathyroid that breaks down bone. 

6. Remineralizes Teeth: Magnesium deficiency causes an unhealthy balance of phosphorous and calcium in saliva, which damages teeth. 

7. Alkalizes the Body: Magnesium helps return the body’s pH balance. Magnesium reduces lactic acid, which is partly responsible for post-exercise pain.

8. Hydrates: Magnesium is a necessary electrolyte essential for proper hydration. 

9. Helps to Relieve Constipation: Magnesium can be used to cleanse the bowels of toxins. 

10. Enzyme Function: Enzymes are protein molecules that stimulate every chemical reaction in the body. Magnesium is required to make hundreds of these enzymes work and assists with thousands of others. 

11. Diabetes: Magnesium enhances insulin secretion, which facilitates sugar metabolism. Without magnesium, glucose is not able to transfer into cells. Glucose and insulin build up in the blood, causing various types of tissue damage, including the nerves in the eyes. 

There are many other benefits of magnesium: It helps prevent strokes, heart disease, period pain, relieve migraines, and more. 

I was astonished when reading through all the healing powers of magnesium. I know that I personally include a small amount of magnesium in my diet daily by consuming plenty of almonds and dulse, but I am beginning to wonder if that has been enough.

Here is a list of six of the highest food sources of magnesium (mg per 100g/10 tablespoons):

1. Kelp (760mg)

2. Soaked Almonds (270mg)

3. Soaked Cashews (267mg)

4. Molasses (258mg)

5. Buckwheat (229mg)

6. Dulse (220mg)

If your diet is lacking in the above six sources of magnesium rich food, like that of several Americans, here is a list of some recommended supplements:

*magnesium amino acid chelate

*liquid colloidal magnesium

*magnesium chloride 

*magnesium citrate

Also, another notable recommendation is magnesium oil, which is rubbed onto the skin. It has been highly suggested to rub the oil on your feet before going to bed, especially if you have trouble falling asleep or your legs tend to twitch at night. (guilty). What better excuse to have a loved one comfort you with a foot massage? 

NOTE: Magnesium OXIDE is NO good. It forms a caustic magnesium hydroxide that burns intestinal walls and it is extremely poorly absorbed. 

1 year ago

A Sip of Soda: How Soft Drinks Impact Your Health


A little tid bit I have yet to share with you: my whole life I have been a “diet soda drinker.” Who would have thought, right? Well even us nutrition nerds all have our shortcomings, and this was one of mine. Unfortunately, my parents didn’t know much better either because that’s what I was brought up on. That and of course my other essentials: crystal light, diet snapple, skim milk (see a trend?), capri sun, maybe toss in a starbucks contraption in there somewhere, and more soda…an abundance of diet (mostly) soda. I’m sure I took a couple sips out of the water fountain every other day or so in my school days. Of course now is a entirely different story; I haven’t had soda since February 2011. (round of applause). Yea, it’s been quite a while. I do, however, clearly remember the one day when I was working in the kitchen at A Voce and I went back to my station to take a sip of my diet coke and I saw something scribbled on it in big red sharpie, messy chef handwriting: This Shit Will Kill You. The shocker wasn’t that someone vandalized my property (one of two girls in a kitchen dominated by dudes, vandalizing property was the least of my annoyances), it was that they - he - was, in a way, right. This 16oz soft drink I was indulging in once, if not twice, a day was loaded with aspartame, preservatives (citric acid, phosphoric acid and potassium benzoate) and of course caramel color (FDA-approved, whatever that means). But it tasted sooooooooooooo marvelous, what did I care? Well a few months later (I was pretty stubborn so it took me a bit) I came around to doing some extensive research and elected to say farewell to my nutrient lacking soft drink. I’m not sure that I can really tell you that I feel “different” in any way what-so-ever, but I do know that it has been one of the healthiest decisions I have ever made. That and parting with splenda. (gasp). I’ll save that for another “revealing of my imperfections” post.

For now, my nutritious readers, I encourage you to take a good look at this chart and at least limit your soda intake. I normally tell those willing to listen: everything in moderation. But, I think we can all agree that some things in life just need to be nixed all together. 

1 year ago

Roasted Carrots with Pistachio Vinaigrette

Seriously, how gorgeous are these carrots? The bright orange and deep magenta nearing purple hues are stunning. If you’re able to, you should definitely make a pit stop by your local farmers market this week to see the variety of colorful vegetables fall has to offer. I’m hopeful that even though Sandy rattled us up pretty severely here in New York and the surrounding states that our local farmers are safe and their crops survived Sandy’s demolition.

Naturally sweet, delicious and crunchy, carrots are a healthy addition you can make to your weekly menu. Lets not forget, these root vegetables come with wholesome health benefiting compounds such as beta-carotenes (this powerful natural anti-oxidant helps protect body from harmful oxygen-free radical injury), vitamin A (promotes good vision, reproduction, sperm production, maintenance of epithelial integrity, growth and development), minerals and anti-oxidants in ample amounts.

Pistachios are one of my all time favorite nuts. I remember when my girlfriends are I were much younger (sigh) we used to play cards with pistachios. They are a rich and important source of energy, protein, fats and minerals especially to those is Central, West and South Asia. This powerhouse “fruit” is a source of many phyto-chemical substances that may contribute to their overall antioxidant activity, including carotenes and vitamin E.

So yes, I would bookmark this recipe under nutritious and delicious! You can enjoy them as a side, toss them in a salad or pile them over warm quinoa. Oh, and remember to always soak nuts, seeds and grains over night. Helps immensely with digesting them! Give them a good rinse the next day. I normally let them dry out in a colander in the refrigerator, that way they don’t get moldy.

The goods.

1 bunch carrots, washed and sliced lengthwise

Sea salt

Fresh black pepper

5 cloves garlic (with skin on)

Olive oil

Vinaigrette.

1 tsp mustard (good quality Dijon is best)

2 tbsp fresh lemon juice

3-4 tbsp olive oil (break out the good stuff for vinaigrettes)

Sea salt

Fresh black pepper

1/4 cup raw pistachios, roughly chopped, separated

Proceed on.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Toss the carrots and garlic with salt, pepper and olive oil. Add in other spices if you are feeling fancy. Herb de Provence is great addition or some chili flakes to give them nice kick of heat. Roast in the oven for 35-40 minutes, or until al dente!

Meanwhile, combine all you vinaigrette ingredients in a small mason jar (baby food jars are great for dressing) and give it a good shake (I know, it’s so easy to make a homemade vinaigrette with no added preservatives). Adjust the seasoning to your liking and add half the pistachios to the vinaigrette and reserve the rest for garnishing.

When the carrots are done roasting, toss them in a bowl with a couple tablespoons at a time of the dressing. Carefully remove the garlic from its skin and toss them in with the carrots as well. Garnish with pistachios. Simple as good be!

1 year ago

Homemade Apple Pie. 

Ahhhhhh. Fall eats are some of my absolute favorite, including of course homemade pie. I have to admit though, this is the very first apple pie I have ever attempted to make! To be quite honest, I’ve never been a big fan of cooked fruit, or so I thought. Now lets admit, we are all pretty picky when it comes to pie crust. Flaky? Buttery? Gluten Free? Most of us cave in and purchase the store brand (guilty.) while some of us cannot make a homemade pie without a homemade crust. Well for me, if I am going to make a homemade pie crust then it might as well be gluten free. I found a great gluten free pie crust recipe from glutenfreegirl. But of course, which ever you prefer, no judgement. 

the goods. 

3 lbs apples (I used honey crisp because they are my favorite!)

1 lemon, juice and zest 

3/4 cup + 1 tbsp packed brown sugar, separated 

2 tbsp flour (use all purpose or GF if you’re going that route)

1/2 tsp sea salt

1-1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp ground nutmeg

1/2 tsp ground allspice

1 egg white, beaten lightly (optional)

melted butter (optional)

procede on. 

Adjust the oven rack to the lowest position and heat oven to 350 degrees. 

Transfer your prepared pie dough to your pie plate by rolling dough around rolling pin and unrolling over pie plate. Ease dough into the corners of the pan by gently lifting dough edges with one hand while pressing around the pan bottom with the other hand. Leave dough that overhangs lip of plate in place. Refrigerate until needed.

Peel, core and cut apples into 1/4” slices and toss them with the lemon juice and lemon zest. 

In a bowl, mix 3/4 cups sugar, flour, salt and spices together. Toss dry ingredients in with the apples. Turn fruit mixture into chilled pie shell and mound slightly. 

Roll out the second piece of dough and place over filling. Trim top and bottom edges of the pan. Tuck the rim of the dough underneath itself so that the folded edge is flush wit the pan lip. Make a beautiful design with a knife like above or just add a couple slits to the top of the dough for steam to release. If pie dough seems very soft, place in the freezer for about 10 minutes before cooking. 

Brush the egg white or butter onto top of the crust and sprinkle with the remaining sugar. 

Bake until the top crust is golden, about 30 minutes. Rotate pie and continue cooking until juices buble and the crust is a deep golden brown, 25-30 minutes longer. 

Transfer pie to wire rack and cool to room temperature for 4 hours…or however long it takes to dig in!

1 year ago

Hearty Potato & Leek Soup

It’s that time of year again for a few bowls of soul warming soup. This past weekend and the beginning of this week was not only frigid but quite the record breaker for New York City. Hurricane Sandy ripped her way up the east coast, landed in Atlantic City and barreled on up through New York. Thankfully during the worst of it I was upstate in Cornwall with a good friend of mine and her family. After a handful of runs, hikes, and couple polar bear dives all we really wanted was a big warm bowl of homemade soup. Well, maybe some apple pie too but I’ll be posting about that later on, have to keep you on your toes and coming back for more.

With the countless red potatoes and onions available at the Quinn residence it was quite obvious that potato and leek soup (vegan version of course) was going to be on the menu for the afternoon. I normally feel obligated as a chef to use all the leftover goods available, hence the added roasted acorn squash to the soup. It adds the perfect amount of sweet creaminess, it’s definitely not something that should be over looked in this recipe. Paired with my purple cabbage and walnut salad and some hearty bread for dipping and you have yourself a perfect autumn lunch.

the goods:
1 large white onion, diced
5 cloves garlic, minced
2 leeks, cleaned and sliced thin
12 red potatoes, diced
1/2 roasted acorn squash, skin removed
2 qts low sodium vegetable stock
1 tbsp dried thyme
Olive oil
Salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Apple cider vinegar
Scallions for garnish

Proceed on:

Heat a large soup pot over medium high heat. Add a good glug of olive oil.

Add the onion and leek and a big pinch of salt. Let the onions sweat but not caramelize, about 8-10 minutes.

Next, add in the potatoes, squash and garlic. Add the thyme, another generous pinch of salt and numerous cracks of fresh black pepper. Sauté the flavored together over medium heat for 8-10 minutes.

Deglaze with a couple tablespoons of apple cider vinegar and scrape the bottom of the pot with a wooden spoon to bring up any favors that have stuck to the bottom of the pot. When most of the liquid has evaporated add the vegetable stock. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer.

Cook until potatoes are tender, 45 minutes to an hour. Blend with an immersion blender (hand blender) or in batches in your regular everyday standup blender. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Ladle into mugs or bowls and garnished with fresh scallions.

1 year ago

Fish Oils. Capsulated Sewer of the Sea?

As a vegetarian this is quite a touchy subject. And as a health coach we are taught about bioindividuality and that one persons food is another persons poison, which has taken me a while to grasp but I truly believe it to be practical. I guess I should rewind a bit and take back the fact that I am a vegetarian because in reality my diet consists of mainly vegetables, fruits, seeds/nuts, grains (mostly of the gluten free variety) and on very rare occasion do I tend to eat fish. Why I don’t eat animal protein is quite simple. To me animal protein can be rather toxic to the body, especially seeing how the majority of the animal protein we are eating as Americans is chock full of hormones and antibiotics that were given to the animal to plump up faster and of course to rid of any diseases they may have from the horrible environments they live in. Also I personally have noticed it to be very hard for my body to digest animal proteins. Now, of course there are many organic and green farmers out there that care for their animals, but let’s be honest, they are few and far between. Living here in New York City I’d say people eat out 50% of the time, if not more. I would also say 10% of the restaurants in NYC use organic/sustainable animal protein on their menus and that is me being very considerate. So with that being said I’m sure you can see that the animal protein we are consuming really isn’t top notch.

Now let’s get back to the subject of fish. We have all heard of mercury and for the most part we have all heard of PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls). We also can’t deny that our waters are dangerously polluted. So when the fish we are consuming are swimming around in polluted waters, it is impossible for them to not be absorbing these toxins, following me? So now let’s talk about fish oils. The fish oils we consume are obviously from the “fat” in the fish. Mind you the toxins that the fish are consuming are fat soluble so they are being stored in the fat that is then being turned into your daily dose of omega 3 fatty acids. In short, the typical fish oil supplement is basically capsulated sewer of the sea. Yikes, right? But thankfully there is another source: ultra refined fish oils (EPA-DHA concentrates). There are still some companies that sell the best of the best that contain the omega 3 fatty acids that are an absolute must in our diets. Omega 3 fats are essential for anti inflammation. Inflammation is seen as arthritis, obesity, MS (inflammation of the brain), diabetes, cancer, alzheimers and basically any disease ending in “itis” is inflammatory. Also if you can control inflammation you can control aging and who doesn’t want to control aging without the use of Botox? Studies have also been shown that these EPA-DHA concentrates help with brain function and can make you smarter.

After learning all of this priceless information from a recent lecture from Dr. Barry Spears, I decided to incorporate ultra refined fish oil capsules into my diet once daily. Today is only day 5 but of course I will keep you all posted on any radical changes, if any, that I encounter in the next few weeks. I encourage you to also experiment and to please reconsider the rather toxic version of omega 3s or better yet, capsulated sewer of the sea.

1 year ago

When you see a rainbow there are a handful of things that tend to come to mind: a pot of gold, good luck, leprechauns, gay pride, even those infamous California sandals that everyone has a pair of. Very few of us think of the plentiful variety of vegetables that line the aisles at the farmers markets. If you do associate a rainbow with food it’s most likely “Hearts, stars and horseshoes! Clovers and blue moons…” Yes, the infamous lucky charms jingle we all know so well. It is, however, a goal of mine and a wonderful challenge to change the way my beautiful readers think about food. A great way to start is by sharing this poster with all of you. I know you’re excited to do so, so please feel free to go right ahead and add it to the background of your computer to remind yourself everyday how important it is to have a variety of colors in your diet. I promise you “…they’re magically delicious!” 

Keep Calm and Drink Tea theme by Polaraul