Archive for February, 2010

Time to get down and dirty

February 26, 2010

As we know in today’s world there is a huge disconnect between ourselves and our food sources. Most of what Americans consume today consists of packaged products which are convenient, but full of chemicals, additives and preservatives. Basically junk that looks a lot like food. We pick it up at the grocery store and feed it to our families without ever considering or (heavens forbid) visiting where it came from.

Richard Louv, author of Lost Child In the Woods, believes this has led to a nationwide epidemic of what he calls Nature Deficit Disorder – Never before have kids been so out of touch with nature.  His book includes research indicating that direct exposure to nature is essential for healthy childhood development; physical, emotional and spiritual.

So let’s try it.

Oh, but how would I do that? I don’t live on a farm. I don’t like dirt. I’m allergic to camping.

Relax. I’m going to make this easy for you. Gardening.

Gardening is an amazing way to develop physical, emotional and spiritual growth in kids by connecting them to nature while teaching them about where their food comes from. And if they grow their own vegetables they’ll want to sample their crop. So hurray.

Check out InTheKoop.com to pick up one of their easy to use garden-in-a-box kits. Choose from The Giggling Garden (a selection of heirloom vegetables with great names like Red Dragon Carrot, Dinosaur Kale and even Rattlesnake Pole Beans), Here Comes The Sunflowers or Back to the Garden which is almost a dozen heirloom varieties of veggies including some of the best tasting standards such as the Kentucky Wonder Pole Bean and the cold hardy Giant Winter Spinach. Don’t worry there are simple step-by-step instructions so those of you with a black thumb still have a fighting chance.

In the Koop kits are great for the budding gardener in all of us.  Just think by purchasing these heirloom garden kits you are not only preserving the past and enriching the future but you are giving your kids the opportunity to experience nature and eat it too!

MMMunching at Moomah

February 24, 2010

Grab your picky eaters and get ready to enjoy eating out again. My new favorite kid-friendly-but-still-fun-for-adults restaurant, Moomah in Tribeca, has cracked the code for getting finicky eaters munching merrily. They call it their “Super Tryer” menu – Munching mmmunchkins who taste any six healthy and/or seasonal items get a Super Tryer card. Kids who collect three cards get their own Super Tryer t shirt. How cute is that?

Moomah’s menu is as impressive as it is nutritious and delicious. From the “It’s Not Easy Being Green” smoothie to the Yummus (homemade hummus served with carrot and cucumber slices and blue corn tortilla chips) to Greek yogurt and chicken breast, it is enough to make this Nutritional Nanny jump for joy.

I love Moomah.

It’s movie night

February 23, 2010

Join me tonight for this month’s Hungry Filmmakers screening at Anthology Film Archives (32 Second Avenue).  The event will be hosted by Kerry Trueman of Eating Liberally and the Huffington Post and all proceeds benefit Just Food, an organization that works to increase access to fresh, healthy food in NYC and to support the local farms and gardens that grow it.

A panel discussion with the filmmakers will follow.  The films are: Fresh by Ana Sofia Joanes, Mad Cow Investigator by Nancy Good, The End of the Line by Rupert Murray, Fly on the Wall by Jenny Montasir and What’s On Your Plate which I am particularly interested in since it is a documentary about two 11  year-old-girls in New York City who question the origin of the food they eat, how it’s cultivated, how many miles it travels from the harvest to their plate, how it’s prepared, who prepares it and what is done afterwards with the packaging and leftovers. Check out the trailer…

Buy your tickets here

http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/93405

See you at the movies.

MEATLESS MONDAYS ARE SOUPER

February 22, 2010

Just in case you weren’t aware, there is such a thing as the National Lentil Festival. It’s kind of like Mardis Gras. But for beans.

Have you ever?

The truth is, there’s plenty to celebrate about lentils. Lentils are a great source of protein, fiber and iron and they are wonderful for pregnant moms – one cup of lentils provides 90% of the recommended daily allowance of baby brain boosting folic acid. Here is a great recipe for lentil chowder from the famous Candle Café that I love. (It’s delish and you can rock the crock, so it’s eeeeeeeasy.)

LENTIL CHOWDER

1 cup brown, green or red lentils, rinsed

1 medium onion, coarsely chopped

1 medium potato, peeled and coarsely chopped

1 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and coarsely chopped

1 celery stalk, coarsely chopped

1 carrot, peeled and coarsely chopped

1 tomato, seeded and diced

1 ½ tablespoons tomato paste

2 teaspoons dried thyme freshly ground black pepper

1. In a large soup pot, combine the lentils, 4 cups of water, the onion, potato, squash, celery, carrot, tomato, tomato paste, thyme and pepper to taste. Slowly bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer for about 1 ½ hours over very low heat, stirring occasionally.

2. Taste, adjust the seasoning, serve and enjoy!

NOTE: If you are using a Crock-Pot cook for around 3 hours over high heat.

The Silver Spoon

February 19, 2010

Buongiorno!  I just enjoyed a delicious authentic Italian dinner.  Did I slave over a hot stove?  No.  Did I have to rush home from work to make it?  No again.  I sat with my footsies on the couch while my eight-year-old daughter made me a fabulous bruschetta and a tuna and bean salad.  This is all because of my new favorite book, The Silver Spoon for Children.

Adapted from the Italian cooking-bible, The Silver Spoon, all of the recipes are not only delicious but kid-approved. Each step is described simply and clearly with adorable illustrations and photographs to make the recipes easy to follow.

Your kids will learn about kitchen safety, equipment and utensils, and techniques such as how to squeeze juice from lemons and oranges, how to crack eggs and how to use a grater.  They can learn how to make their own pasta, roast a leg of lamb in an herb crust with stuffed tomatoes, and even bake their own Focaccia.

Get it here… http://bit.ly/7HukaY

Now, where’s that book that shows my daughter how simple and easy it is to do laundry and clean her room?

Marion Nestle rocks

February 18, 2010

I went to see Marion Nestle speak the other night and I just have to tell you I love this woman.  Not only is she straight-forward, educated, intelligent and honest she is that no-nonsense person you feel you can trust with anything.  For those of you who are not familiar with her she is an author, professor, and among many other things a James Beard Lifetime Achievement Award recipient.

Her dietary advice is simple; eat less, move more, eat fruits, vegetables and whole grains and go easy on the junk food and most importantly enjoy.  Sounds a little like Michael Pollen, huh?  Where do you think he got it from?

Her books include; Food Politics, What to Eat, Safe Food, Pet Food Politics and Feed Your Pet Right: The Authoritative Guide to Feeding your Dog and Cat.

Marion Nestle’s books are comprehensive, accessible, riveting and reliable.  I especially find What to Eat to be indispensible and one that I refer to time and time again.

You can learn more about her on her blog foodpolitics.com

Kale is this year’s black

February 17, 2010

I hate to say I told you so, but (ahem) I have been a huge kale advocate. And now, everywhere I turn I see a recipe for kale, an article about kale, I love kale t-shirts, even tons of websites are now selling different “flavor” kale chips. Be still My heart. While I bask in the thought that there will be so many people benefiting from this green nutrient powerhouse I want the rest of you to enjoy it too. Kale, often placed on the top 10 list of healthiest foods to eat, has fiber, vitamin A and C and loads of calcium.

Here are two easy, kid-approved kale recipes:

Kale Chips

1 to 2 bunches kale

olive oil

sea salt

Preheat oven to 425

Remove kale from stalk, leaving the greens in large pieces

Place a little olive oil in a bowl, dip your fingers and massage a very light coat of oil over the kale

Put kale on a baking sheet and bake for 5 minutes until it starts to turn a bit brown.

Keep an eye on it as it can burn quickly

Turn the kale over bake with the other side up.

Remove and sprinkle with sea salt

Pina Kale-Loda

½ -3/4 cup of coconut water

1 cup chopped kale

1 cup frozen pineapple

Blend

Don’t I know you?

February 16, 2010

Remember her in high school with the thick, glossy, bouncy hair, the rockin’ bod and the skin like peaches and cream?  I know you do. Lock that into your short term memory for a moment and savor this.

I just ran into her in the street. The girl from my high school who had it all when I didn’t.

Actually she was eating in a restaurant and, of course, I had to run in to relieve myself for the third time that day (thanks kids) and well,  the only thing still bouncy might be her large and in charge breasts.

Honestly, I would not have recognized her except she noticed me staring at her lunch.  French fries, a huge coke and a giant, greasy sandwich.  Sounds great if you are hungover, but by the looks of this former beauty queen I get the feeling she eats like this everyday.

Besides being a little chunk-a-roo, her skin no longer looked like peaches and cream. More like rocky and road. Now, rather than have you think of me as catty, let me put on my nutrition hat here and remind you that it’s not just me. Michael Roizen, MD says, “People absolutely underestimate the importance of nutrition when it comes to appearance.” And Fatty McBlotchface is a prime example.

The world was hers to lose and she found an excellent way to lose it – she ate junk.

So let me remind you all once again – stay away from the refined processed carbs, like white bread and sugary cereals.  Stick with foods high in omega-3 fatty acids. They help control inflammation throughout the body, including acne.  Eat walnuts, flaxeeeds and especially salmon.  To help keep your skin glowing, supple and taut throw in plenty of nuts, avocadoes, berries, green tea, sweet potatoes, cantaloupe, tomatoes, oranges, lemons, limes and grapefruit, spinach, turnip greens and broccoli.

And for the record, I wasn’t being catty about her weight and her skin. But the bag and shoes, oy.

Meatless Mondays is bananas

February 15, 2010

As much as I try to eat locally I have to admit, I get sidetracked by bananas. They are my Achille’s heel. Although, I am guilt-ridden by the millions of food miles they have traveled, they still keep appearing in my shopping cart.

If someone from my CSA came over for lunch, I’d hide the bananas or blame my daughter. But, I feel like I can be honest with you. Because I’m betting you might have dropped a bunch or two in your basket as well.

So let’s cut each other some slack and talk about bananas.

Bananas are a great snack-especially with peanut butter. They make a great no fuss baby food – just smash and go. They compliment most anything, cakes, bread, pies, you name it. They serve as methadone treatment for my recovering sugar-addicts, especially drizzled with honey and sprinkled with coconut. They are a good source of dietary fiber, Vitamin C, potassium and manganese, and Vitamin B6. They are convenient, versatile and travel well. When they brown, you either make Aunt Helen’s favorite banana bread or slice and freeze them, perfect for smoothies.

But the real point is…they’re great with chocolate. So here you go – my favorite recipe for Frozen Chocolate-Covered Bananas.

I love Meatless Mondays.

Frozen Chocolate-Covered Bananas

4 large ripe bananas, peeled and cut into thirds crosswise

3/4 cup semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chips, melted

1/4 cup shredded coconut

Line a baking sheet with parchment or wax paper. Insert a popsicle stick into the cut end of each banana third. Cover each piece of banana with melted chocolate using a rubber spatula and sprinkle with coconut. (Reheat chocolate, as needed, to keep it melted.) Place the bananas on the baking sheet and freeze until frozen, about 2 hours.

Make Ahead Tip: Store airtight in the freezer for up to 1 week.

Big River

February 12, 2010

The guys who made the Peabody-winning documentary King Corn, are at it again. King Corn follows college buddies Ian and Curt to Iowa where they raise one acre of American’s most processed crop. In their smart, thoughtful follow up film, Big River, Ian and Curt trace their acre of corn through the country to see where it ends up and who it affects.

I’m not going to bother with spoilers here since the results are no real surprise – it’s horrifying what we’re doing to our world through the magic of agribusiness. From the heartland to the Gulf of Mexico, Ian and Curtis discover cancer clusters, dead zones and agriculture’s connection to climate change.

I highly recommend you pick up a copy of Big River and host a screening for your friends and family.

It’s horrifying, but you’ll eat it up.

http://www.bigriverfilm.com/