Nosh – Vegan Meal Plan Edition

There’s this fun part of my job where I write a special section in Eating Well Magazine, called “Nosh – Just Tell Me What To Eat.” And I love writing it. Each issue the fabulous Breana Lai, sends forth a specific challenge. This month’s challenge? To create a super tasty 1,500 calorie Vegan meal plan. Challenge accepted!

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Strawberries Top Dirty Dozen List

Strawberries are a delicious, nutritious treat, but now that they have moved up on the “Dirty Dozen” list, what should you do? 

Strawberries recently moved up on the Environmental Working Group’s “Dirty Dozen” list. Just what does that mean for you? Read my article on Parents.com to learn just what prompted the changes and what you can do! Hint, don’t worry, you can still safely enjoy strawberries!

Click here for the full story on Parents.com. Don’t forget to check out the EWG website to see the complete and updated Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen Lists.

Ramps, A Spring Vegetable Worth Trying!

I remember my first encounter with ramps (no, not the kind you drive or walk on, that wouldn’t be a very nutritious topic), it was during my culinary externship. Everyone in the kitchen was out-of-their minds excited about a shipment of ramps that were arriving shortly. I, of course, pretended to be “in” on the ramp excitement. Nodding my head and grinning, acting like I was a ramp expert. No way was I going to let these guys know I didn’t know what a ramp was! The buzzing in the kitchen was escalating and pens and notepads were taken out and millions of ramp recipes were created. The whole time I kept thinking, “all of this excitement for a vegetable!?” I couldn’t wait to see what this stuff was! It had to be amazing. When it arrived, I have to admit I was a little disappointed. All of that clamoring over this thing that looked like a lost cousin to a green onion? Seemed crazy to me. Well, then I got a lesson. Because one of those chefs figured me out and immediately gave me a solid education on ramps. Then, because he was a good guy, he showed me how to cook it and then, magically, I got it! Thank goodness!

With my new appreciation of ramps, I can now say that I look forward to their arrival at the local farmer’s market. That’s because they are the indication that Spring has officially arrived. These delicious little vegetables are members of the allium family (along with onions, garlic, scallions, etc) and are wild-harvested, meaning they aren’t cultivated like most crops. Magnifying their desirability is the fact that they are only available for a short window of time during April and early May. This is why you’ll see them scooped up as soon as they’re set on the table at the market. They look a little bit like green onions, but you’ll know they’re ramps because of their distinctive flat leaves and burgundy stems. As for taste, these little guys pack a strong flavor. It’s a bold, almost wild taste of onion and garlic. While they can be eaten raw, many people prefer it cooked, which eliminates some of that piquant taste. My favorite way to eat them is to toss them lightly with olive oil, salt and black pepper and then grill them. Easy and delicious! Serve them as a side dish to any meal or chop and add to salads or pasta.

Oh yes, you are wondering about the nutritional value, aren’t you? Of course! Well, let’s just say they are loaded with Vitamin A (eat the leaves to get this powerful antioxidant) as well as Vitamin K, folate, iron and manganese. And you can be sure there are other disease-fighting phytochemicals in there too.

You’ve got a few more weeks until ramps arrive, so get your recipes ready!

The Cutting Board Blog

The Cutting Board header image

 

It is with great honor and excitement that I can finally announce the launch of The Cutting Board Blog. The blog is an amazing way to learn more about food safety (we make it fun and hey, it’s important to know this stuff!) and easy and delicious ways to prepare your favorite foods (pizza, pasta, all of your favorites!). Expect plenty of recipes, pictures, tips and fun.  

Come on over to the blog where I will be sharing some of my favorite recipes along with other awesome dietitians. So go ahead and bookmark this page, you’ll be glad you did!

Oh, and a special “thank you” to the amazing women who work on the blog behind the scenes! Kudos to you Allison MacMunn and Amanda Cohen. Beautiful work!

It’s All about the Kids! Celebrate the First Ever Kids Eat Right Month!

August is Kids Eat Right Month

 

“To highlight the role everyone plays in ensuring a healthy future for our nation’s children, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and its Foundation announce the first Kids Eat Right Month, to be celebrated each August. Kids Eat Right Month will focus on the importance of healthful eating and active lifestyles for children and families, featuring expert advice from registered dietitian nutritionists.”  http://www.kidseatright.org/

I love kids.  They are fun, hilarious, honest and care-free.  Basically, they are everything that I strive to be!  Kids find joy in so many things and it is a wonder to watch them learn and explore.  That’s why I am very excited that August is now officially Kids Eat Right Month!

This means that we as parents, friends, family members, caregivers, health-care workers and dietitians, have a special month dedicated to teaching the most spectacular people in our world the benefits of healthy eating.  We can take this month to honor our children’s desire to learn and explore by teaching them how amazing food really is.  We can get them into the garden or take them to the grocery store.  We can pull up a stool and have them help us in the kitchen.  Do whatever you can to expose them to the benefits enjoying healthy, wholesome food.

I encourage you to take this month to reach out to your children or the children in your community and teach them the life skills of healthy eating and living.  Teach them and be a role model for them.  If you need clues on how to bring these ideas to life, the Kids Eat Right website is full of helpful information.  Click on this link and get out there and celebrate Kids Eat Right Month!

The Return of the Green City Market in Chicago

Yesterday was officially the start of the outdoor Green City Market here in Chicago.  While a wee bit chilly, it was still a great morning.  Perusing the stalls left me feeling pretty darn grateful…and amazed!  How wonderful and beautiful all of the fresh produce, flowers and even the baked goods looked!

It is a real joy when the outdoor market returns to the city.  I always learn so much from the vendors and farmers.  They are always so willing to share what they know and offer tips on preparing or using their products.  A visit is always a lesson in something, and I love that!  So cheers to future months of learning and tasting!

Not in Chicago?  No worries!  There’s likely a great farmer’s market in your neighborhood!

Here’s a helpful link from the USDA that can help you locate one in your area: http://search.ams.usda.gov/farmersmarkets/

 

farmersmarket

Fresh farm produce!

Heads-up, I am NOT the Food Police

I know, it’s just a bad habit that most people have.  They assume that just because I am a dietitian, I wear a badge and write tickets for every poor food choice they make.  Well, first let me say, that would be very cool, and I may need to invest in said badge and tickets….maybe that’s the secret to get people to change their ways.  But I digress, as you will find that I do sometimes.  I want you to know that even though I may glance at your plate or tray, it does not always mean that I am criticizing you!  I do this only out of habit, and it’s a hard habit to break.  But here’s the good news.  By having this characteristic trait (sounds cooler than “habit”), I am the first to congratulate you on the amazing variety of vegetables you tossed on your salad or that swell-looking wrap you made of black beans and quinoa!  Who doesn’t like to have their healthy habits noticed and pray tell, who doesn’t like a pat on the back for a job well done?  While I am not the police, if I do see something horrific on your tray, let’s say 12 donuts, I may have to say something.  Not because I am disappointed in you or that I want to mock your choices, but because I care…it’s my job…it’s my life…and now that I am a mom, it’s worse.  So here’s the deal, dietitians are NOT the food police.  They are people that genuinely care about your health and how you feel.  Our goal is to teach you how to make good, yummy, healthy choices and keep encouraging you to do so.  Next time you see your dietitian, give him or her a hug, because they care!  And watch out, because I might start wearing that badge!

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