Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Granola for Breakfast



One of my favorite breakfasts is a bowl of plain yogurt with a small drizzle of honey, topped with fresh berries and a little granola.

I particularly love this in summer when I don't have the same physical need of the warmth of a hot bowl of oatmeal that I do on a winter morning, and when I can enjoy the sweet local blueberries.  I will be sad when blueberry season ends. My local farm stands include farms from Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania so I've been able to stretch my blueberry season by moving north as the summer progresses.


One of my best finds this year has been Icelandic yogurt which my daughter introduced me to.  I think it might be even thicker and richer than the Greek yogurt I love, and is also nonfat.  It's full of protein and tastes just a little less tangy than Greek. As I discovered in my sugar experiment a while back, nonfat yogurt is one of the few food items where the stated serving size is actually larger than what I'd eyeball for myself!


Granola can be full of fat and calories, so I both make my own and use only about a 1/4 cup serving. I like the crunch and the nuts with only a little sweetness.  Sometimes I sprinkle on a little bit of hemp hearts as well. I base my recipe off of one from a Brooklyn shop that has made the rounds and has even been adapted by Melissa Clark of the New York Times.  I've adapted it slightly differently, reducing the sugar and adding some spices like Clark does, but changing out the nuts a little.


Wednesday, July 30, 2014

healthier.kitchen

I'm really excited to tell you about my new venture!  After years of playing with this idea, I've finally taken steps toward making it happen.  I'm now officially offering my services as a "cooking coach," meaning I can come to your home and help you with whatever kitchen and cooking issues you'd like to resolve to make it easier and more pleasant for you to cook at home more.

I see this as a logical offshoot of what I've done in my own home and what I've tried to do here.  If you've been reading this blog, then you know that I try to make healthy and delicious, seasonal foods that satisfy all kinds of eaters.  I use whole, natural foods as much as possible and stay away from too many packaged items, while still trying to maintain ease and simplicity. Taste and fulfillment are paramount to me and I love to experiment with spices and international flavors as well as play around with much loved comfort foods to try to lighten them up. I'm not playing with molecular gastronomy here - I'll leave that to the restaurant chefs - but I'm hoping to make it easier to cook real food at home.

I've got an official website now, at www.healthier.kitchen.  It's a new [dot]kitchen domain name which is kind of cool and different, so don't be confused by the unusual ending. I had lots of help from my great kids with design and photos so please head over and take a look! And if you like what you see, please pass it on to anyone you think might be interested in this type of service. I can help busy parents with recipes, skills and organization for time saving, healthy meals, I can help if you've recently received a medical diagnosis that requires an eating change, or just requires that you eat out less and cook at home more (though I am not holding myself out as a medical professional or dietician, there is much that I can help you adjust in your own home), and I can help if you just want to expand your weekly repertoire, learn some new techniques and lighten up your family recipes. I can do everything from a complete kitchen and pantry evaluation and overhaul to cooking skills lessons to recipe development.

For the near future, I plan to continue the blog right here and migrate some posts that are also relevant to the cooking coach side of things over to the website.  This site will continue to have new recipes and links as well as food politics.

See you in the healthier.kitchen!!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

To Be Organic or Not To Be Organic...

The Washington Post recently reported on Consumer Reports' Food Safety and Sustainability Center consideration of whether organic foods are worth the extra money.

For fruits and vegetables, they concluded that the priority to use organic is "high" to avoid pesticide residue.  They labeled beef and dairy "medium to high" priority for nutritional benefits (limited antibiotic use, more heart healthy Omega-3 fatty acids especially with grass fed animals).  They also labeled poultry "medium to high" priority to avoid the antibiotics in regular chickens as well because organic chickens can not be fed what is called "poultry litter" which is a mix of chicken droppings, spilled feed and feathers.

Food for thought.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Irish Soda Bread


Maybe it was Maddy talking about making Irish scones with some friends who'd all spent some time in Dublin or maybe it was the bottle of farm fresh buttermilk that called out to me from the refrigerator shelf at the market or maybe it was the bag of locally ground wheat flour I recently purchased. I don't know.  But Irish soda bread has been on my mind for days, and today was finally the day.  Not too hot out, stuck in the house while the tree service chips the fallen limbs from my lovely maple, half gone now.

This is a pretty straightforward recipe adapted from Merrill Stubbs at food52. I've written about her recipe before, and linked to it directly, but over the last couple of years, I've made more changes so I thought I'd write about it again and add in my changes.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Eating Well


Over the years, I've come up with some "healthier" truths that I use for my own eating and for cooking for my family and that inform my recipes here on the blog. As is obvious on the "pages" here, I'm not into extremes or completely omitting entire food groups, but I try to cover many bases of health while maintaining flavor and enjoyment. I favor a mixed/balanced approach, loosely based on the NIH created DASH diet and a love of Mediterranean cooking of all sorts, along with a little portion control and some exercise.

Many have provided rules for healthier eating that I like and adopt:

Of course, Michael Pollan: "Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants."

Marion Nestle (Nutritionist and Professor at NYU): "My guess: If you balance food intake with physical activity and are not overeating, the specific proportion of fat, carbohydrate, and protein won’t matter nearly as much."

and

"While the arguments about fat v. sugar go on and on:  Eat your veggies, vary the foods you eat, don’t gorge, and enjoy what you eat."

David Katz (Yale University Prevention Research Center): "A diet of minimally processed foods close to nature, predominately plants, is decisively associated with health promotion and disease prevention."

Now, Eating Well magazine has just come out with a list of 10 ways to cook healthier.  I'm linking it here, but please be warned that although I like the magazine itself, its online presence is quite annoyingly littered with pop ups and ads and forces you to see their list in slide show format rather than as one article, which I can not stand and seems to be the norm for these magazine lists.

But this list is pretty similar to what I've been saying here for years, though other than in my "Why I'm Here" piece, haven't set out so concretely and perhaps should have.  So here, with my usual caveat that I am not a doctor or nutritionist and don't even play one on tv, is my list of top things to do for eating healthier: