Since the fall of 2009, I have been traipsing, tasting and touring the great city of Chicago. I have wined and dined with an aim to eat right from Andersonville to Lakeview, the Pilsen and all around the Loop. I can't possibly remember every location or each bite, but I know that I've had Polish near Midway; French by Maude, One Sixtyblue, Bistro Margot, Bistro Campagne, Red Rooster, Bistro 110, Kith and even Kin; Burger at Paramount, the Counter, Kumas, DMK and among Five Guys; Vegan with Karyn both cooked and just raw; all of Rick Bayless; had to "Go 4 Food" in Chinatown; went from farm to table with a Girl and a Goat, at a Gilt Bar, Nightwood and The Publican; watched the chefs at Avec and Davanti Enoteca; learned to fly at Blackbird and Bluebird; picked pasta at Tocco, Coco Pazzo, Spiaggia's, Rasta Pasta, Terragusto, Roseangelis and Francesca's; did prix fixe at Sola and Moto; ate with chopsticks all over town from iNG, Urban Belly, New Tokyo, Sunda, Joy's, Jeannie's, Pingpong, Shanghai Terrace to Le Colonial; loved Lou and Gino and Spacca Napoli pizza; got whimsical with Graham Elliot; pie and home brew at Piece and Nella Pizzeria; fell in love at Great Lakes; noshed on Chicago hot dogs and lobster rolls at Fish Bar; cruised the Mediterranean in Greektown, Casbah Cafe and A La Turka; chicken pot pie where ever I could find it; Hot Chocolate, a Green Zebra, Toast, Orange and a taste at the Kitchen; tried Rockit, Table Fifty-Two, The Drawing Room, Hugo's Frog Bar, Belly Shack, Carnivale and MK; tapas at Cafe Iberico and Cafe Ba Ba Reba; met Fred's at Barneys; south of the border at Big Star, Mi Tierra, Zapatista, Cesars, Cafe El Tapatio, Chilam Balam and even Chipotle, or New Mexican at Abiquiu Cafe; Indian at Marigold, Standard India and Hemas; Fat buns at Ann Sathers; cheese with my wine at Webster's, the D.O.C., The Tasting Room, Bin, Bin 36, Volo, 404, Eno, the Purple Pig and sipped champagne at Pops; BBQ at Chicago q, Smoque and Chicken Hut; bellied up to the bar at Jacks, the Gage, Schubas, Cooper's, Minibar, Mystic Celtic and Wilde; meat at ZED451, veggies at Spring, cold queso at Bandera and brunch at Gemini Bistro; hearty at Hearty and HB; BYOB'd when we could and we can't remember the rest!
While I dined around for fun, my other objective during this two year quest was to eat right. And now that I'm trading my residence in the City of Big Shoulders for an apartment in the Big Apple, it's time to give a final answer to the question: can you eat right around Chicago?
The answer is...yes, but only sort of. Chicago is packed with marvelous cuisine with amazing chefs cooking up remarkable food. And I feel strongly that if you're going dine at their establishment and spend the $$$, you should eat what they are best at creating, the way they created it. So, I'm not ever going to advocate trying to change a chef's recommendation to suit your diet, unless you're at a restaurant where your dinner was cooked, not prepared (you know what I mean) or if you have a dietary restriction. I know that's hard to hear from a dietitian, but if you want a dish drastically changed, then you may want to make it at home. Problem is, many chefs are making mouthwatering meals that are delicious, but high calorie and heavy in fat without being nutrient dense or very creative. To my dismay, sometimes it's like they're not even trying, just tossing in more butter. But rather than skip the top dishes across the country or request grilled chicken everywhere you go, here is what I - a person that dines out for dinner not just for special, wants to taste the tastiest menu options, is determined to remain a healthy body weight - has to say for you to eat right around:
As the weather warms (maybe), it's time to eat seafood. So, I thought it was appropriate to talk about the confusing area of sustainable seafood. Here's the problem...I'm not a seafood expert. And I don't want you to suspect that anything fishy (sorry) is going on, so I invited a contributor on board (eh) to steer the helm (I'll stop). There's no better fish expert to consult than the very green, very lean and not-at-all mean, Kate Geagan, MS, RD, America's Green Dietitian. Welcome, Kate!
7 Must-Read Myths about Sustainable Seafood
In terms of a powerful lever you can push in our food system to tip it towards "sustainable", you can't get much bigger than fish; it lands right up there with meat at the top of the heap when it comes to eco-impact. Yet it's also one of Earth's healthiest protein sources (packed with a litany of other benefits, ranging from Omega-3s to selenium to vitamin D), so we nutritionists love to put it on the pedestal of ultimate healthy eating. But how to choose? I chatted with ocean advocate and visionary seafood chef Barton Seaver, whose new cookbook For Cod and Country dishes up sustainable seafood that somehow manages to be dazzling, delicious, yet totally doable for the home chef (for full interview with Seaver, visit my blog). With his input, I compiled 7 myths about sustainable seafood with the truth and my tips to help you navigate the waters.
- I'll just have a taste. - Just a small sample. - Only a bite. - Just one. - A small piece, please. - I can't let it go to waste. - She worked so hard to make it. - Only a sip. - Someone has to try it. - It's a holiday!
I was able to write this list with such authority because - of course I've said these things! Especially over the holidays! I'm famous for sticking my fingers in dishes (totally rude, I know), sampling a snack, licking a spoon, cleaning a pan, picking at cheese, dipping chips and having just a taste. I don't graze...I sample. So when I read the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension in Lancaster County's Food, Nutrition and Health article, PowerPoint and patient handout, "Tiny Tastes Can Total BIG Calories over the Winter Holidays", I was totally offended because I knew they were speaking directly to me. Once I got over my narcissistic outburst, I realized that I needed to share their keen thinking and skillful calorie calculations on tiny tastes. Could it be that I (or maybe "we") are maintaining a bit of winter insulation from these tiny tastes? Given that it takes 3500 calories a week to support (or lose) a pound of fat, what would a day of innocent sampling do to a waistline? Alice Henneman, MS, RD, University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension outlines it in her expose: Tiny Tastes Can Total BIG Calories over the Winter Holidays.
"Does this Label Make my Butt Look Fat?" asked Julie Upton, MS, RD in her blog on Appetite For Health. As a registered dietitian she has learned from clients that the food label can be tricky and unclear. And we know that "tricky and unclear" often leads to over-consumption and subsequently (along with a fair amount of sedentary living), a bigger butt (or belly or face or where ever you tend to gain weight). In her blog, Julie gave her recs for where to look on the label to get the answers you need: check the serving size, calories, saturated fat and sodium. Nice way to simplify your supermarket experience for sure. It got me thinking about all the other space-takers on the label (ya, I made up that phrase) and wondered if we, the consumer, understand all the chatter on the label. Given that she wrote the book on labels, literally, I asked Bonnie Taub-Dix, MA,RD,CDN, owner of BTD Nutrition Consultants, LLC and author of, Read It Before You Eat It (Plume) to give her insights. Here's what she had to say...
Food labels are supposed to be like the table of contents of a book - they're designed to tell you what's inside [the package.] Unfortunately, it's not as simple as that...many labels are confusing, and still others are downright deceptive. Words like "light", "low", and "natural" seem to be an instant magnet pulling products from shelf to shopping cart even though the items are not exactly health food material.
So to help prevent you from being fooled by the box, here are some of the most popular 'catchy' foods labels that you don't want to get caught misunderstanding:
I had homemade turkey soup for lunch...again. Since I took the bird out of the oven last week, I've had a turkey
sandwich for breakfast, turkey pieces for a snack, microwaved plates of butternut squash and turkey for dinner and picked it apart for soup. I'm
starting to gobble. If you are tired of turkey as well, here are three non-turkey recipes from your
dietitian friends to help you break the turkey rut. They all have five ingredients (discounting pepper) and are full of nutty nutrition, essential fats and disease-fighting phytonutrients.
Did you just realize that you didn't make a dessert? Need a dish to bring to a potluck? Can't figure out how to pass off a supermarket pie as your own? Don't worry, here is a dessert in a flash. It's easy to make and has only 100 calories per serving. Perfect for any diet, this luscious mousse has a healthy dose of vitamin
A, beta carotene and fiber, yet is low in sugar, fat and calories. A
crunchy gingersnap is a great garnish. Thank Marlene Koch, RD, author of: Eat What You Love: More than 300 Incredible Recipes Low in Sugar, Fat & Calories.
Green beans make for an easy-to-prepare, delicious, nutritious side dish. Have a bunch in the fridge or some in the freezer and want to make them special? Here are some dietitian-submitted recipes to make green beans shine.
Who doesn't love mashed potatoes and gravy? Honestly, I think I could mash any vegetable and add a dribble of gravy and love it. When I worked in the hospital, I loved all the mashed and mechanically soft foods...no kidding. The problem is, it's difficult to find a great mashed mess that isn't equal parts butter and potato. But, of course, my trusted dietitian friends have ideas. Enjoy!
Everyone is looking for simple, fast, delicious recipes for the holidays. And I'm no different. I plan to create a huge feast for Mitch, Tom (and dog, Mokey) this Thanksgiving, so I'm collecting ideas. Of course, I want these recipes to be nutritious - you know, nutrient dense and veggie-heavy - but I also need them to be super easy to make. I'm not looking for fat-free (never am), but I want lots of phytonutrients, fiber and healthy fats from nuts and oils (not butters and cream). Given that I know that the most reliable source of nutrition information is the registered dietitian, and that the registered dietitian is also the most responsive, helpful, thoughtful and concerned professional that I know...I sent out an e-blast requesting favorite, easy-to-prepare, healthy holiday recipes that can be created with 5 ingredients or less. I also asked these amazing givers to throw in a line of nutrition advice. Needless to say, I have enough content to take us through the new year so this is the first of two recipe blogs that I'll post. Each recipe is 'as is' - just the way the dietitian submitted it to me (it's my blog, so the rules of consistency are being tossed for this one). Not all of them are combined with an actual photo of the dish (just an ingredient or example) - but all are nutritious and I would hope, delicious!
Umami. It's not an illness, a derogatory slur about your mother or an Anime character, although its roots are Japanese. It means "flavorful" and has become recognized as the fifth taste alongside sweet, salt, sour and bitter. And if you're going to remember this blog for an anecdote or pick-up line at your next social gathering, it's pronounced, "you-mommy".
With the new Dietary Guidelines just around the corner, the nation is fixated on salt and sugar. It's making me think more about taste - since we are so focused on salty and sweet. This fifth sense (not to be confused with The Fifth Element) was discovered in 1908 by Kikunae Ikeda when he enjoyed a dish of konbu (kelp) and identified the salt of glutamic acid as the source of its unique taste.
Umami denotes the taste of foods that are rich in glutamic acid, inosinate and guanylate. Simply put, these are naturally occurring substances found in a variety of foods. Their synergy promotes a meaty, rich and even "tactile" taste that gives food a distinctive "full" mouth feel. Umami isn't just one taste - several receptors have been identified - and some foods have more glutamate, while others have more inosinate or guanylate. At this time, scientists can't say what the significance of umami may be on health - researchers are investigating its myriad of receptors and how the mind and mouth respond - and its impact on satiety, taste preferences and obesity is being considered. Stay tuned!
In the meantime, here are foods to tempt your umami buds:
I've always questioned the notion of grazing, snacking or eating 5-6 small meals a day. It seems like a recipe for diet disaster to me...eating every 2 hours, dreading the idea of getting hungry and proactively munching on something to avoid overindulging. Not only do I find snacks unnecessary (unless I'm training everyday), I don't trust myself to modify my calories at a subsequent meal. For example, if I enjoy an afternoon snack that has 250 calories, realistically, I know that I won't modify my dinner to compensate for these additional calories.
I also wonder how many snacks are prompted by hunger and how many are grabbed due to boredom. Ever notice that around 3pm you experience a lull or mental fatigue? If I asked you at that moment, "want to get up and grab a snack?" It's likely that you'd appreciate the relief. Is that really hunger though? Are we really short on nutrients 2-3 hours after lunch? What if I said, "let's blow this pop stand and go shopping." First you'd mock me for saying "pop stand", but then you'd probably agree, even if it doesn't fill your belly.
I'm pretty sure that we've been tricked into snacking.
First, apparently, we are frequent snackers. The piece noted that 56% of Americans eat a snack. With 25% of the US reporting NO PHYSICAL ACTIVITY, I'm thinking that most of these folks aren't snacking because they are training for a big race.
The second concern is the fast food trend discussed in the WSJ article. You've seen the commercials...fast food establishments are shrinking their supersized meals ever so slightly and calling them snacks. Eeek! So I was concerned about a 250 calorie snack and now we're grabbing a 410 calorie snack wrap?!?!
Its time to stand up against outrageous, gut busting snack attacks! Consider thinking twice on a few of these typical snacks, while trying some others...
There's so much diet hullaballoo (I'm not complaining), that I was struck by this very easy, quite useful and super tasty toast post - A Toast to Toast. Oh so simple and recipes you can use - like now - not after you write down a complicated list and drive to the market. Sure, you could have figured these out on your own, but sometimes we need a reminder to help get out of a food rut or in this case, a toast rut. Here are pics of their quick ideas and check out their post about toast for how to make these treats.
Since I went to an event at Le Cordon Bleu last year, they've been kind enough to get in touch with recipes or ideas that I can share with readers. So, for this Labor Day, I have some elegant grill recipes for you meat eaters (we'll talk more about that next week) created and tasted by the esteemed chefs at Le Cordon Bleu.
To make your guests think that you're a grill expert and culinary genius, click below for any of the following recipes (seen in the photo gallery).
Everyone is talking about reducing the salt in our diet and the foods we eat and I don't mind it one bit. I've always been frustrated by its pervasiveness and irritated when the Chef can't find that delicate balance between bland and "you've got to be kidding me". It's a flavor enhancer when just barely there and a blood pressure-raising, tongue-stinging disaster when over used.
While I may view it as an occasional nuisance, salt, or more specifically sodium, has become a serious dietary issue threatening the nation's health. The recent report from the 2010 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee said that, in short, Americans need to eat less salt (so far, they're saying that the new recommendation should be closer to 1500 mg per day). Coupled with our desperately low intake of potassium from fruits and vegetables, our country's high salt diet puts us at a greater risk for high blood pressure, stroke and other chronic diseases.
I was thinking...we all know that the foods that are the highest in sodium tend to be those that fall into the canned, processed, ready-made, snack, cured and fast food category...but do we really know how much sodium we are currently consuming from our mainstays, our daily preferences, the frequently consumed food in our fridge and pantry? Just how salty is your fridge, freezer and cupboard now? How salty is mine???
So, here's your homework: perform a pantry raid - find the foods you eat daily, check their labels or look them up on the USDA nutrition analysis site and compare them to the potential 1500 mg per day that the new Dietary Guidelines (due out in late 2010) might recommend as a daily limit.
I'll start with mine. Let's see how this supposed "low sodium eater" does on a daily basis with the daily basics - there may be salty surprises!
I spent the last few days biking RAGBRAI (more to come on that in a future post). Because I knew I'd be off the grid for a few days, I asked my sister, Lauren, if she'd share some of her food love for my blog. Here is what she had to say (and don't overlook the great pie pics below):
Hello there, this is my inaugural debut as a web writer/food blogger, nice to be here, thanks for having me. When Jenna asked me to write for her this week while she rides her bike half-way across Iowa (yes, the state), I initially thought, well, crap, I don't know anything about fitness. Being her sister of sloth-like movements and habitual sedentary living, not one to ever finish an Ironman competition, let alone a high school track practice, I wasn't sure I could hold the attention of her online demographic. But then I remembered that I have a lot more in common with most of you than she does. I'm normal. You may relate to what I have to say.
So, without stalling any further, I bring you my post; my statement and declaration that you will all understand. No, I won't talk about nutrition in the same way my sister does, and fitness will not be mentioned here in any intentional way, but hopefully you will be able to follow my meandering thoughts as I navigate this crazy world of blogging in the public domain. Because, for real, I'm about to come clean on something.
I love pie. I want you to love it too. It's beautiful, crumbly, sweet, reminiscent of windowsills wafting scents of baking fruit to passers by, it is emblematic of what is good in the world (yes, I know what a big statement that was). To me, and clearly I'm a romantic and crazy person, I think that pie makes life better. I make them to feed my family and friends, and I don't just want to feed them, because macaroni and cheese and chocolate can do that, I want to satiate their urges and make them identify new taste buds. I want them to pause with it in their mouths, to smile as the crust crumbles and sweetness (maybe a bit of savory in there? is that fleur de sel?) comes through, I want them to taste the warm, farm-fresh fruit as if it were still on the vine. I even picture hand stitched aprons and table cloths, antique pie servers and plates, flowers growing and milk being delivered in glass. A warm breeze.
I'm not kidding. I am not 80 years old, I swear, but about this I feel most passionately that some things are sacred. Pie is one of them. I do not have religion in my life, but I do have pie. And I'm wholly dedicated to it; a devout pie worshipper.
My obsession began within just the last two years, and I've tried every pie crust recipe online. For the most part, I make up what I want to go inside. I make tarts and galettes too, tiny pies and big, hand held pies and little scrappy doughy bits cooked and kept for dipping in jam. The variations possible are limitless, and for Jenna's sake I'll mention that there's only 2 sticks of butter in my favorite recipe for crust and most of the time, I only use half the recipe. So otherwise, all you're eating is fruit, or sweet potatoes and caramelized onions, or chicken pot pie, or curried vegetables, or dried tomatoes and fresh herbs, or...(I'll stop, but you get the point- this can be healthy). And if you're a purist like me, you harvested these fruits and vegetables yourself, maybe you have the garden or farm that supplied most of it, and maybe, in your wildest and most hopeful moments, you hope to one day have the cow to make your own milk, the chickens for the meat, and the bees for the honey. If you make your pies truly from scratch, you'll have a more active lifestyle than most.
To my new friends, I'll show you my pictures and share a recipe. Obviously, I won't tell you all my secrets, because why then would you make the pilgrimage to the pie shop I'll open one day? It'll be called "Pie Shop." (purposeful period) or something equally clever.
My pie crust:
2 sticks real butter (salted for savory pies, unsalted for sweet) 2 1/2 cups All Purpose flour (you can totally use pastry or whole wheat too- try it, play around!) 1 tsp kosher salt 1 tsp sugar Enough ice cold water or milk to form a dough ball
Cut the butter into small cubes and stick in the freezer for a bit. Mix the dry ingredients in a bowl (or directly in your Cuisinart). When butter is super cold (that's an exact temperature, duh), mix with dry ingredients. Julia Child says you should do this with your fingers so that you know what the dough should feel like. I agree, and now that I know what it should feel like, I use the Cuisinart. The outcome of this step is for all your butter to be mixed in with the flour and such, and broken down into what should remind you of crumbly oats, little granular balls.
You want the butter well mixed. This is most easily achieved by hand by smashing the butter against the side of the bowl with your thumb, then incorporating the flour mixture. However, your hot little hands will warm the butter quickly, so work fast. In a mixer, this step happens in about five pulses. When sufficiently granular, add the cold liquid until it becomes a ball capable of being manipulated.
Take it out of the bowl, flour up your surface, work the dough quickly and just enough to form a ball. Split dough in half (this is enough dough for a top and bottom layer or two bottoms). Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1-24 hours.
Roll out the dough, fit to your pie pan (leave enough to crimp to make a crust), fill and bake. I'm purposefully hazy on these last few directions because it's always different. I never really pay attention to the temperature I cook at (probably always within 350-450 degrees f), I rarely pay attention to the amount of time I cook something, and depending on the pie, I may precook my crust or use an egg wash to create a seal between bottom crust and filling...again, the variations are limitless. I will say this though, don't be afraid to mess it up, it'll still taste good. Your pie is always done cooking when the crust is tanned. Easy enough there, right?
If I haven't lost you completely by telling you how to do that, please see these pictures for inspiration!
Yesterday I was thinking about my blog, and all of you, while lathering a menthol muscle rub - wistfully missing my frequent dining out, tired of referring to food as "fuel". I'm 7 weeks from Ironman Wisconsin and training has hijacked my life. I could nap at the drop of a swim cap, eat my body weight in carbs and I feel like a crackhead getting a fix when the physical therapist pokes around my muscles. I think my hair has gotten a few inches longer, but it's hard to tell since it's always wet and tied back. Despite the clear zinc I bathe in, I have a freckle line across my jaw, permanent tan lines at the point of my bike/run shorts, a raspberry where my wetsuit zips up and the tips of my piggies are mad at me for letting my sneaks get wet during last week's Half Ironman.
Despite these inconveniences, I know that my training has benefits. For one, I go to the physical therapist because I have epicondylitis (tennis elbow) from typing on my computer and it seems that it only feels good when I'm exercising. And, there's all that research. Long term and clinical studies confirm that chronic exercise improves our blood pressure, reduces the risk for diabetes, heart disease and cancer, promotes weight loss, increases strength and endurance, improves mood, blah, blah, I could go on and on. Yet, our country is in crisis - obesity rates are through the roof and heart disease is squelching lives - and physical fitness remains desperately low. Everyone is talking about the health benefits of exercise, but it doesn't seem to move the needle. So, I'd like to take a crack at it. From an exerciser's perspective, here is a smattering of what I see as the real benefits of exercise. Maybe one will speak to you and help you find your inner athlete!
My colleague, Dana Angelo White, MS, RD, blogger for Healthy Eats on the Food Network website, recently asked a bunch of us dietitians for our insights on healthy cooking mistakes. She came up with list of mistakes and fixes from nutrition professionals - some a bit unexpected. Dietitians are lovin' some perfectly portioned full-fat options, farm-fresh foods, believe in spicing things up and recognize the importance of taste and flavor. Check out the nutritious insights on Healthy Eats Ask the Expert: 11 Healthy Cooking Mistakes.
Dana's blog has the full list, which you must read because they include the sensible and simple solutions from the experts. Here are a few of the mistakes to spark your interest...
I dream of sitting in a piazza, sipping Prosecco, eating a fresh Neapolitan-style pizza with a fork and knife (yes, my dream includes an uncut pizza that I eat from the center out with a fork and knife). I'm remarkably comfortable in the heat of the late day sun and I don't have a care in the world. The summer breeze makes me feel fine. If I'm dining like this, in a piazza, then I must be on holiday (sounds more luxurious than vacation). A girl can dream and a Chicagoan can easily find a bit of this Italian bliss in their backyard. One of my many favorite Chicago locales for a summer's afternoon pizza and Prosecco is Spacca Napoli Pizzeria on Sunnyside and Ravenswood. Chicago Magazine agrees as Spacca Napoli is 15 on the July 2010 Best 25 Top Pies in Town. Following an 11 mile run on Saturday, we took our weary wings to this authentic, friendly Ravenswood neighborhood gem. We capped the day with my favorite gelato from Paciugo Gelato in Lakeview. Benissimo!
With all this work and training, I'm feeling a bit flustered, disorganized, sall we shay - random - in my nutrition thoughts. Rather than trying to force one specific topic, I think it's better that I just provide you with a brain dump - a dietitian brain dump - to end the week. Like throwing spaghetti at the wall, maybe something will stick.
It may be my New England roots, but whatever the case, I believe that lobster is an integral part of summer. Throw in an ocean view and I can almost tolerate sun and heat (almost). Because I live in the lovely lakeside city, Chicago, each year, I head home to the east coast for my seaside fix. This year, my summer lovin' had me a blast at a new place: The Market Restaurant on Lobster Cove in Gloucester, MA (and check out this link to their blog for gorgeous pics and detailed bios). Recently opened by Nico Monday and Amelia O'Reilly from the brilliant and organic-acclaimed, Alice Waters', Chez Panisse in Berkeley, CA, this adorable duo brought their friends and family (and my sister) to the east coast to create amazing meals with local produce and sensational seafood. Oh my, lobster and farm-fresh by the sea - can you stand it?!?!
I am so hungry all of the time. I believe it's my training, but it could be my genes. My Dad once said that he thinks about food all day. He added that he goes to work and exercises just to fill the time between meals. I'm sitting here contemplating a blog, taking care of business and I have Regina's Pizza on my mind. Yup, Regina's...in Boston...I live in Chicago. I was going to write a simple blog, tell you about Regina's and make you suffer with me at the site of the brickoven love, but then the dorky dietitian in me took over. I started to contemplate how my hormones may be affected by my increase in physical activity. Then I thought, wouldn't it be interesting to chat a bit about how exercise affects energy balance? And is there a difference between men and women? Is there a scientific explanation for my incessant starvation? If you are wondering the same, read on. If you're not, then just drool over the pictures of pizza. Eating Because of Exercise
I found this really great scientific review about physical activity, hormones and energy balance on Medscapethat addresses this frustrating issue. It's a long-winded read, but here is what I took away from it:
- There are male-female differences in the response to exercise.
- Men say they want to eat less in response to exercise, women don't say this. I find this is true in my practice with athletes. One professional triathlete said, "I'm always hungry when training...even if I'm gaining weight."
- Women may eat more to compensate for increases in activity.
- Women actually experience changes in their hormonal regulation of energy balance when they exercise. Their hormones may drive them to eat more. It's likely to protect reproduction. (Blah, blah, I'm too hungry to feel pleased about that.)
- Men don't experience the same dramatic changes in the hormonal regulation of energy balance when they exercise.
- Women regulate their energy balance better so that they eat more when they exercise and subsequently, do not lose weight or body fat. (Unless they don't eat to compensate for the increase in exercise. Basically, if they ignore their drive to eat more.)
- Men do not compensate for the increase in activity, so they lose weight and body fat from exercise.
June 12th marked the first race of the year for me - Elkhart Lake Olympic Distance Triathlon. I'm only doing three triathlons this season, but I will be progressing from a manageable Olympic distance to a not-so-bad Ironman 70.3 in Racine to the "why am I doing this again?" Ironman Wisconsin on Sept 12th. To share my nutrition tips and race testimonials, please enjoy my photo gallery!
Salads don't have to be boring and drab. In fact, they can make a tasty, nutritious meal, especially during the warm summer months. I think you should trust me on this because if you've been following my dietary habits, I'm not a salad pusher. I need a colorful, exciting salad made with a ton of veggies and interesting flavors, not just a pile of iceberg lettuce, chicken pieces and cucumber slices, to call it a meal. In fact, I think that it can be a disappointing diet disaster when its bland in color, smothered in cheese, bacon, croutons and bad tasting dressing. Fortunately, there is a way to do salad well with a variety of fresh veggies, unexpected flavors, bright tastes and herb-rich, spicy vegetable oil based dressings (not a creamy mess of saturated fat). I recently enjoyed a salad at John's Place in their comfy, neighborhood, outdoor space. Check it out and maybe you'll get an idea to spice up your own salad at home or at your next dining stop!
Last night, we headed to the Lower West Side of Chicago, called Pilsen, for a farm-to-table, mind-blowing dinner at Nightwood Restaurant. I had very high nutrition hopes and great food expectations. So many restaurants leave me feeling lovelorn; I desperately wanted Nightwood (with its dance club sounding name) to be the one. Like I was considering a prospective mate, they had everything I was looking for. A menu that is updated daily, based on season and availability, makes the knees of my bees weak. When they boast simplicity, I imagine varied and colorful, hand-cut veggies, fresh herbs and robust, unpretentious flavors so that you make that m-m-m-m-m-m face with each bite. I fantasize about a nutrient dense, farm-fresh meal with the perfect wine pairing and all the vegetables I can eat...finished with a delicious dessert that can't be skipped. After this birthday dinner for Mitch, I have very little to say about Nightwood Restaurant except: I think I'm in love.
I am frequently asked nutrition and health questions about omega 3. Stuff like: What is it? Where do I find it? Why is it good for me? What if I don't want to have fish? Given that my clients' FAQs are usually similar to everyone's FAQs, I thought it would be helpful to develop a top 10 things you should know about omega 3s. I hope this will answer some of your questions about the big Os.
Summer is nearing and it's time for a vacation. Maybe you're planning to explore Croatia, spend time in Italy, or maybe you've decided on a sunny, beach-y destination. If it's a relaxing beach side getaway that you've picked, you may feel like you're done dieting for your swimsuit and healthy eating is on the
bottom of your list. Given all the nutritional dedication you've had this past winter, you may be asking yourself, what can I do to ensure that I get fat during my vacation? How can I avoid losing weight or getting fit? Could I gain a pound or two even if I'm only traveling for a week??? Ask no more, I have your answers. These evidence-based tips are based on my week in Aruba. I arrived on Saturday and although I'm here for work (conducting sports nutrition workshops for Aruba's Olympic team's coaches and athletes - for real), I have had time to collect data and develop these top tips to either get fat, or stay fat, on your summer vacation.
Sure, all foods can fit in your diet. You're right, you shouldn't feel emotional guilt about what you put in your mouth. Feel guilty if you purposely run over your neighbor's cat, but don't waste those feelings on food and nutrition. We should eat until we are satiated...balance our calories with our activity...consume a variety of foods...all in moderation. That said, sometimes we must stray. We must go wild. We adore some foods that provide us very little nutritional value, are dense in calories and fat (rather than vitamins and minerals), are just too salty and fried, or even processed in a way that make us question whether they deserve to be called "real food". Sometimes we're embarrassed about our adoration because of the food's lack of sophistication or culinary prowess. Whatever the case, we know that we shouldn't have these foods everyday because they are just not that good for us.
Recently, I was enjoying one of my favorite not-so-foodie and not-so-healthy food favors and it got me thinking - maybe that's part of the problem - Americans have forgotten to save these "occasional" foods for a rare occasion. We don't "go wild". We just eat our splurges daily, rather than rarely, and not only have they lost their allure, they are contributing to our national nutritional breakdown. When I was growing up we put a can of soda in the fridge every Friday morning so that it would be cold for Friday night. It was special. It was a treat. If you celebrated your birthday everyday, what would be your "special day"? We need to push the reset button and put these foods back into their "occasional" category and make them special again.
To help me convey this point, I asked a boatload of dietitians to tell me their favorite "cheat" food. What do they just love, even though they know it's not the most nutritious choice, creative creation and that may be a little embarrassing, but they cherish it here and there because it's their splurge. Take a gander at these nutrition experts' responses and use them to remind yourself of two things: 1. it's A-OK to have a food that you covet for reasons other than nourishment, even dietitians do it, and 2. if you're eating these foods daily, you may be missing out on something special - you've forgotten to save some foods as treats - if they are part of your daily intake, what's the allure? Push the reset button, don't let these foods be commonplace and habitual, make them special again. Here's what's eaten when dietitian go wild:
If you haven't seen Future Foods on Planet Green, with Moto's chefs, Homaro Cantu and Ben Roche, it's time to tune-in. If you haven't eaten the food that gave them the cred and recognition to take their molecular gastronomy to the little screen, then it's time to dine-out!
Moto is heralded for its crazy creativity, innovative food creations, gastronomic whimsy and of course, fantabulous taste. Talk to anyone that's dined at this West Fulton locale and they're likely to report that they enjoyed bite after bite, of course after course, of unexpected, inventive tastes. Moto serves a prix fixe menu of 10 or 20 items with optional wine (and sometimes beer) pairings. With this many courses to consume, can you eat right at Moto? Or will this future food make you fat? I can't possibly do justice to each course - describing each bite in the detail it deserves - but I can tell you whether each dish serves up a diet disaster.
Who doesn't love strawberries? And has anyone noticed that they are abundantly available in the produce aisle? Not only are they in-season and inexpensive, they pack a healthy punch like no other berry. They are rich in antioxidants and nutrient-dense. Results from the very large, highly-regarded, Women's Health Study showed that strawberry intake was associated with a "heart-healthy lifestyle" and lower C-reactive protein levels (a marker for heart disease risk). Strawberries also offer specific cardio-protective nutrients like vitamin C, folate, fiber and potassium, as well the flavonoids ellagic acid, quercetin and kaempferol. I don't have to tell you that they also have a sweet, fresh taste to go along with their nutritious profile.
I spend very little time baking, but love to look like a superstar when I walk in to a friend's house with a strawberry pie that I "just whipped up".
Sounds impossible, right? Nope. With the help of the most outstanding baker in all of Nashua, NH, Fran Bell (AKA, my Mom), I can create a strawberry pie that will bring people to their knees. Frannie has had this recipe since she was 16 years old and I have no idea where she got it...so it could be from a cookbook...but whatever...who cares? It's AMAZING! The best part: it's easy, breezy and right here for you to try!
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg formally announced this week that sixteen food companies have agreed to reduce salt in everything from ketchup to rice as part of a national effort to cut America's sodium consumption by 20%, according to the Associated Press. According to the Washington Post, some restaurant chains are jumping on board as well. At this point, the plan is that the salt edits will take place over the next several years. It's about time. But will it nix our need for a salt-fix?
The food industry is responding to the pressure (no pun intended) from health organizations and now governmental officials, but interestingly and unlike other health trends, this push isn't coming from the consumer, it's coming from the folks that are concerned with heart health stats and health care costs. Consumers actually tend not to buy foods labeled, "low sodium"; these items are not flying off the shelves. And Americans eat over 2X the recommended levels of sodium (2400 mg per day is recommended). The US likes it salty despite the evidence that high salt consumption is linked to high blood pressure, or that one out of three adults has been diagnosed with high blood pressure. We eat processed foods and shake the shaker despite the evidence that high blood pressure is an independent risk factor for cardiovascular disease - the country's number one killer.
Here's the issue that I see, the change needs to start with our taste buds. Our love affair with over-salting our foods must stop. Personally, I can't take it any more. Salt is killing us literally and for me, it's killing my buds. In fact, my tongue hurts today because of last night's meal. I'm uncomfortably parched and my buds feel abused and I've had it...enough with the salt.
I started this blog today in light of the dinner I had last night. Honestly, I hesitate to write this because this establishment is fabulous and I will return because I know they can do better, but given the status of my hydration and my pummeled taste buds, I'm going for it.
Mitch (salt-lovin' Mitch) and I were excited to find out that despite it's club-like, martini-serving exterior, DMK Burger Bar is a hip (using the word, "hip" means I'm not, I realize this), contemporary, forward-thinking, swanky burger joint. I was in love, love, love as soon as I walked in and read the "grass-fed beef" sign, creative beer list, fried okra and pickle starter, deviled eggs and the proclamation that they have the best veggie burger around. The menu is fun and inspired with a sensational fry selection, a few salads, dreamy sounding mac & cheese or grilled cheese plates, and beef, turkey and veggie burger options at rock-bottom prices. With a White Allagash in hand, I was gleeful.
She's Come Undone...
While Mitch and my table mates, Thomas and Philip, seemed unaffected, happy to have a burger in hand, I had a meltdown. Without warning, my meal began to spiral out of control.
My "best veggie burger ever" was deep fried like a hash-brown and as a sank my teeth into the perfect bun topped affectionately with a slice of eggplant, my tongue writhed in pain from a salty sensation that made my eyes cross. I took a sip of my beer. Mild relief.
I breathed deeply and the inner dialogue began.
Don't panic, it's grainy and good even though it's fried, look at the eggplant, eggplants are good. Oh God, are they? Oh God, no, they soak up all the fat they can! My hash-brown is wearing a sponge! I'm soaking up the oils with my eggplant sponge and I'm eating it!!!
Relax, this place is so close to your apt. The staff has been so warm and friendly, the server's sweater is super cute, you can do this. Try a fry, yes, try a fry, ooh, the one with the Parmesan and truffle, m,m,m,m,m, aaaaaah! My tongue! It's a salt lick with truffle! Dip it in the creamy dressing for relief, oh no, the fat-filled, chunky dressing!
Stop it. It's a burger bar, I love burgers, and there are so many places in town that serve up great burgers and this one needs to be one of them.
Lemme try a taste of your burger, Mitch, m,m,m,m,m, by God, it's the salt again! I could hear my tongue scream in shock and plead with me to stop this torture.
So I did.
I stopped eating. I sat there disappointed wondering how I was going to re-balance my fluids over the next 24 hours, indulging in short bursts of nutrition rants for my dinner mates' pleasure.
"It's a burger joint", they would say, in defense of the heavy-handed, salt shaker in the kitchen. As though burgers were meant to be cured on their way out to the table. As though we should accept over-indulging in salt, without any regard for taste, because it's a burger. An all-American beef burger doesn't mean that health is out the window! I don't accept that!
"No! It's not acceptable!" I exclaimed a little more frantically than the situation called for. "They didn't mean to do it!" I don't think they intended their grass-fed beef to be bathed in sea salt. They didn't mean to send their fries out in a blizzard of sodium! This was a mistake. Someone poked too many holes in the salt shaker, they accidentally doubled-up on doses, or at the very least, the esteemed chef forgot to taste the food. Whatever the case, no one meant for the food to be this salty.
Or did they? Everyone around me looked quite pleased. The burgers and the toppings were lovely after all. The ingredients fresh, cooked right and served beautifully. Could it be that the amount of salt was OK with everyone but me? How will we ever lower our sodium intake if we can handle this much salt in one meal???
It Starts with Taste Buds
So, I sit, recovering, reflecting on my salty night out, tongue still sensitive, fingers a bit swollen, with a glass full of water, writing about salt in the American diet. I'm glad to hear that the food industry is doing something about the sodium content of frequently-purchased foods and that chains of restaurants are modifying their saltiness. But as I learned from Marshall Shafkowitz of Le Cordon Bleu, and put in a previous post, eating right out is a personal choice and Chefs have to understand their patrons' preferences. In that case, I guess that means that if they want to pay for salty, you give them salty.
The food industry is making small modifications that may have a big impact on a nationwide level; 20% sounds quite dramatic for the general population of the US. We'll still be above the recommended limits if we're consuming double, but I hesitate to complain because I think it's going to be challenging for people to manage their salt-tooth. I didn't see anyone else freaking out over a salty burger last night. In fact, everyone seemed finger-licking pleased.
I guess we'll have to wait to see if these salt reductions affect our taste buds, lower our blood pressure and maybe even create a consumer that wants to pay for less salty, so gets less salty.
On a daily basis, I receive streaming updates from a variety of online news sources showcasing the latest and greatest diet and fitness headlines from across the country. Some of them highlight new trends, others alert readers to recent research findings, while many are authored by dietitians giving sound nutrition advice. Despite the plethora of diet and fitness tips and quips, discussions and reports, they don't appear to be moving the needle towards better health in our nation.
Have we become desensitized to the healthy headlines? I'm concerned that hard-earned research results and healthy recommendations have become background noise...elevator music...rather than useful information that we can use to change and improve our own lives and lifestyle. I'm worried that we are doing more reading than changing, and dismissing important guidance with the day's clutter. To help you sift through the news, I've pulled out several articles from big and small places, and broken them down into easy-to-digest soundbites that may act as a stimulus for diet and lifestyle changes. Who knows, maybe they'll help us move the needle. (The links to the complete stories are below.)
Easter is on Sunday and if you're like me, you feel that you are never too old for an Easter basket. Although some restraint is required, I prefer my bunnies and eggs made of chocolate. If you agree, then let's make the science work for us with: 10 Reasons to Eat your (Dark) Chocolate Easter Bunny!
Tomatoes and pasta, pizza and beer, tomato soup and grilled cheese, tofu and vegetables, cereal and milk, almonds and dates, chicken and pot pie, wine and cheese - all simple, culinary partnerships that I adore. With the latter in mind and an aim to eat right, I enjoyed an evening out at the Tasting Room in Chicago's West Loop. There are many wine bars speckled around Chicago and I have a special fondness for a few of them, including the Tasting Room (as well as Eno at the InterContinental on N Michigan Ave). Believe it or not, I do believe that you can eat right around wine and cheese. On the heels of my Tasting Room taste, I thought I'd share what I look for in a delicious, somewhat nutritious wine and cheese experience.
Apparently, this 42 year old mother of two is diligently eating (and sitting) to increase from 602 lb to a substantial 1,000 lb! The Fox News article reviews all the issues with this belly-stretching feat - from the impact on her health to the taxpayers' plight.
I've been reading the listserv conversations back-and-forth between Registered Dietitians but I'd like to know what you think:
What are your thoughts on her biggest-gainer mission?
Further, does this reflect a more serious issue with food and nutrition in this country?
Chicago's SundaNew Asian on 110 W Illinois Street is co-hosting a dinner for the UNICEF Tap Project this Friday night and I'm totally going. I'm going for a couple of good reasons. First, the proceeds support UNICEF's water and sanitation programs to bring clean and accessible water to millions of people around the world. (Check out the project's website - it's quite compelling.) Second, after cocktails and hors d'oeuvres, there will be a four-course family style menu created by Executive Chef Rodelio Aglibot that includes an open premium bar. And they said something about surprise celebrity guests...maybe Oprah will be there!
The total cost, and I mean total - beverages, tax, gratuity - is $100 per person. For those that stay-up after 10 pm, the ticket price also includes VIP entry to the after-party at The Underground, located at 56 W. Illinois Street and there will be a Grey Goose open bar until midnight. You're welcome to just attend the after-party portion of the night by donating $25 at the door at The Underground from 9 pm-11pm, but then you miss the food!
Sunda New Asian FRIDAY, MARCH 19th, 2010 7 pm - cocktail reception with hors d'oeuvres 8 pm - seated dinner 10 pm - after-party at The Underground
For more information or reservations contact Jamie Weil via email at Jamie@rockitranch.com or at 310-270-3054.
As I gazed adoringly at one of the most delicious plates of Fettucine Verde Bolognese that I've ever spun around my fork at La Vela Ristorante in Manhattan, a question my sister posed occurred to me. She asked me if I go out alone when I travel for work. I said, oh yes. I'd never waste my trip, money or calories on room service - and speaking of which - we all know that a club sandwich is the only good room service item anyway. It also occurred to me that I try to make the most of any work trip if I can find the time and the location is right. Fortunately, I often have conferences or meetings that allow for a few hours here and there, and put me in desirable locations. So, for those of you (and there are many, many of you) that find yourself solo on the road, I have some thoughts on traveling alone. Not really advice, because I can't claim to be an expert traveler (yet), but just some anecdotes from an average traveler.
For several years now, work has taken me to NYC, so whenever I went east, I would squeeze in a cream puff run to a Japanese bakery chain called, Beard Papa's. As luck would have it, in late 2009, Papa brought their love to Chicago's loop on the pedway level of Block 37, Suite
on 108 N. State.
It may seem like bearded papas have little to do with the most decadent, delicious, puffy, creamy, delightful handfuls of the tastes dreams are made of, but, whatever the name, Beard Papa's cream puffs are amazing. (According to Metromix, it is named after the owner's grandfather's beard.)
I love Beard Papa's puffs for the pleasure it provides, but as a dietitian, I am very fond of its modest calorie contribution. If you choose the traditional cream puff, it will cost you a mere 220 calories, 13 grams of fat and 7 grams of sugar. While a chocolate dipped is offered, the bare naked cream puff is perfect, just the way it is.
I know. The word, hearty rarely implies, "low-fat", "light", "low calorie", "veggie-rich". Actually, I'm pretty sure it conjures images and mouthfuls of warm, yummy, comfort foods, just like Mom used to make, and smother in gravy. Yes, it makes me hungry too. That's why I had to taste what the Food Network famed partners, Dan Smith and Steve McDonagh, were serving at their Chicago restaurant, Hearty. Can you eat right and hearty?
Many people are trying so hard to eat right, lose weight and create a healthier lifestyle. Consumers and experts will say that we are challenged by confusing food labels, contradictory advice and misleading nutrition tales. We seem to understand what we need to do - so why is it so hard? Why is it so difficult to eat a balanced diet and maintain a normal body weight? Listen to my 1st podcast on www.eatrightaround.com!
Like I said, I am scared of prix fixe menus, therefore Chicago's Restaurant Week makes me nervous. I also rarely dine on Michigan Ave., so I figured I'd kill two birds with one stone (such a violent adage) and dine at Cafe Spiaggia at 980 Michigan Ave. during Chicago's Restaurant Week. Given that I my menu picks were fixed, was I able to eat right?
I've decided that Chicago's Restaurant Week isn't a fair way to
determine if a restaurant provides eat right options. I've also
decided that it is a good way to enjoy an expensive meal at a
discounted rate, but it might not highlight the most amazing culinary creations on the menu.
Spiaggia earns an Eat Right Rating of Eat Right with Options. Although the prix fixe items were right off their usual menu, I
think I'd have to choose my own meal to know for sure.
I love being escorted to my table, assessing the area like I'm buying a house - looking for quiet neighbors, great view, comfortable weather.
Yes, I'd love water - tap please.
I love cloth napkins.
I love opening the menu for the first time, evaluating it for the tastes I crave, knowing that I can choose anything I want.
I love contemplating the wine and when the server has a suggestion and describes it with descriptors that are meaningful, not just "fruity" or "dry".
I love the anticipation - will the server be personable, will we love the specials, will I remember my meal, will we comment on the way out, "that was the best meal we've had in a longtime".
I love that you have to look right at your dinner mate when you talk and because of this intimacy, you learn so much about each other and solve so many of the world's problems (but only if the food is good).
I love that the size of the table matters to me and that I like to look out the window, rather than into the restaurant.
I love it when the server truly loves food and respects time rather than being too rushed or moving too slowly. I love it when they tell you that you should try this, or that they don't think that is all that - and you can tell that they mean it. And I love it when they're right and you share a look that says, "wow, that was a little bit of heaven in my mouth".
I love it when the food makes me proclaim, "holy shit, you have to taste this," or "this is just stupid," or "I think the Chef loves me," or "AMAZING!" or when I can't say anything at all because I'm weeping.
I love dining out for these reasons, and so many more.
Therefore, it is with a heavy heart and abashment that I confess: I am scared of Chicago's restaurant week and I'm scared of prix fixe menus.
I had a lovely Tom Kha Kai soup (sometimes called, Tom Kha Gui) for dinner last night. Although I wasn't inspired enough to talk about the restaurant, it did get me thinking about coconuts. I've noticed that coconuts have been getting more attention in the past few years; such as questions about the fat in coconut oil or milk, and coconut water as a beverage. And I've been asked, "what's the difference between coconut water and milk, and are they good for me?". Here are my answers...
It's Valentine's Day and for those that think this is a real holiday, you may be planning a night out with your mate, partner, spouse, luvva or someone you'd like to do it with (have dinner, that is). While peacocking may be your attention-grabbing tactic of choice, there are other things that may get you (and your partner) in the mood. Here is a list of foods that are not your typical "aphrodisiacs" (I left out oysters) but have been considered for their sexual prowess. Word of caution - unlike most of the nutrition tips I provide - the science is a bit "loose" when it comes to foods that turn you on [insert bad joke here] - and I've focused on foods you eat, rather than the science behind sexy scents. Lastly, I've included a couple of things that may help you want to "do-it" over the long term and their supporting science is more robust.
As with many annual events or holidays, Super Bowl parties have become a gathering for us to fill our faces with high fat, high sugar, unhealthy foods. Because of this, it creates an opportunity for nutrition experts to give helpful hints and share tricks of the trade to lower the fat, sugar and calories in your favorite recipes. Between the bombardment of recipes, tips and ideas for party planning, I have become concerned about this odd behavior that we repeat year after year. So, rather than provide you more ideas for creating the best, healthiest Super Bowl party ever, I have some issues for reflection.
In the words of Seth Meyers from SNL's news, "Really?!?!" We can't figure out how to not overindulge on Super Bowl Sunday? While
I appreciate that it's an opportunity to teach people how to make
healthier choices year-round, I'm concerned that we can't figure it
out. Here are my questions for consideration.
I frequently order meatless meals at restaurants. It makes me very happy when a chef does veggies right - full of flavor, cooked with care and creatively combined. Because of this, I know it's possible to serve a gorgeous, fulfilling, memorable vegetarian meal. In fact, I will go so far as to say that some of the loveliest meals I've eaten have been rich in vegetables and poor on meat. Given my adoration for vegetables, I was eager to dine at one of Chicago's few vegetarian and typically venerated restaurants. I was so looking forward to it! I had heard so many good things about this local establishment that I was salivating at the mere thought of the farm-fresh, seasonal, expertly-crafted vegetarian fare. Who would do vegetarian better than an acclaimed vegetarian restaurant, right? Who would be more creative, seasonal, sustainable, diverse, cutting-edge and skilled at preparing delicacies with vegetables??? I'll tell you who...chefs at other restaurants.
My experience at this vegetarian restaurant was just OK. It was not the amazing, veggie-tale experience that I dreamed of as a dietitian. Maybe my hopes were too high...I wanted a place that would turn any meat-eater on...make Mitch fall in-love...exude creativity and culinary amazement. It just didn't. Here are my comments:
Did you know that only 27% of Americans get the recommended number of vegetables in their diet per day? That's very low. That means that 73% of us are not eating at least 2.5-3 cups of vegetables per day. If you think you might fall into this 73% and you think that eating 2.5-3 cups a day sounds too difficult. Worry no more. Here is an easy way to get the veggies you need - and it's not a salad. I say, if you have a tough time eating them, then puree them! It's so easy, even someone that would rather eat out can make it!
Ingredients (mix and match as you see fit, this is just what I did):
I remember when my family switched from Sunday morning doughnuts from Purity Supreme to these large, shiny, rings of chewy, dough-love served fresh from the oven from this hole in the wall called, Bagel Alley in Nashua, NH (it had just opened and it was wickedgood). Bagel Alley is still a hometown favorite, serving up bagels the size of your face to carb-lovers across Nash-Vegas, New Hamm-shah.
I moved from Nashua in 1990 and ended up in Chicago in the summer of 2009 by way of Durham, NH - Boulder, CO - Albuquerque, NM - Columbus, OH - Arlington, MA (no, I'm not running from the law). I have chomped on some great bagels over the years, albeit not daily, but with the same fervor and adoration as I did as a Spring Street Junior High and NHS student. The roll-with-a-hole at Beatniks Bagels in Boulder, Wolfe's Bagels in Albuquerque and Bagel World in Salem, MA deserve a nod, but my bagel love started in "The Best Place to Live in America" (1987 & 1997). And now I seek a suitable ring of yeasted wheat dough in Chicago. My favorite so far is The Bagel on Broadway for it's entire diner (below), but I am looking for recommendations.
Before I head to the diner part, you should be aware that bagels bring in anywhere from 200-500 calories per serving depending on their size. If a 123 gram bagel has about 350 calories, barenaked, then I estimate that a Bagel Alley-sized bagel is a light 600 calories without a bit of spread. Hey, they're wicked good - live free or die - but remember that when having a bagel (have one once a month or once per week, but not daily).
It's been a slow blog week for me because I was stricken with what appeared to be the common cold on Sunday, but progressively, and I'd argue aggressively, became acute sinusitis. There is nothing cute about acute sinusitis - it feels like I've been beaten about the face and neck with my nostrils plugged and my ears full of pool water. It's commonplace, but un-fun, nonetheless. So, with a hot pack on my face, I thought that it would be helpful to write about nutrition when you're one of the millions with a cold or flu. I'm not going to talk about prevention - this is what to do when you're in the thick of it - so it's going to be a bit subjective, but from a dietitian perspective.
Everyone loves free parking...and everyone should visit their local farmers' market! Chicago's only year-round farmers' market, Green City Market, is a one-stop-shop. It has all the food you need to eat right around (at home) for the week. I love my dinners out, but prefer my breakfast and lunch at home, so a visit to the farmers' market is a must. Here's some of what Green City Market offers...
Perfect for a group or party, the Colombian-style steakhouse is a fun and spirited option for a night out with a bunch of people. I visited one of the Chicago options called, Las Tablas Colombian Steakhouse this past week (not on my Meatless Monday, of course). If your group of friends decides to take up one of their large tables, will you be able to eat right?
I am frequently asked, "what's your favorite diet and nutrition book?". And I have an answer, but I have more than one, and the list continues to change. There have several released in the past year that I think are top-notch and worth your Amazon bucks.
When considering my favorite diet and nutrition books, there are a few things I consider first:
Before I thumb through the pages, I check the author's credentials. A diet book should be written by a nutrition expert - a registered dietitian - just like if you were having a plumbing issue, you wouldn't call an electrician and you don't let your dog groomer highlight your hair.
I also want it to be an easy, but enjoyable read. I'm not looking for a textbook, rather a fun, well-written book that gives consumers new ideas and tools they can use.
That brings me to the last important point - it must provide recommendations that make sense and are easy to achieve. I want tips, solutions and meal-making ideas - something you can take straight to the grocery store and get results!
So here is a brief list of my current favorite diet and nutrition books. I've included some for everyone: overall health, healthy planet/healthy body, men seeking flat bellies, restaurant enthusiasts, weight loss and sports nutrition!
Did you know that removing meat from your diet just ONCE PER WEEK can help reduce your risk of chronic disease - you know, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity and even cancer? And, it reduces your impact on the environment by reducing your "carbon footprint" by saving water and fossil fuel. I've decided to join the brigade led by the non-profit initiative, Meatless Monday, in coordination with Johns Hopkins' Bloomberg School of Public Health and encourage you to join me!
To get your Meatless Monday started, here are some ideas for dinner tonight!
Please note, I haven't made my way to Karyn's yet (the vegetarian hot spot in Chicago) but stay tuned...
Do you like watching those TV shows featuring top Chefs? Don't you like it when they compete? Haven't you always wanted to try the food they create? Have plans on Thursday, January 14th??? If you have $25 for charity and an appetite for flavorful, creative, culinary competitions and the talents of Chicago's own Top Chef, Chef Stephanie Izard, Chef Ron Aleman and Chef Radhika Desai, then the Le Cordon Bleu Challenge is a must-attend for you!
The Le Cordon Bleu schools in the U.S. invite local residents to watch
as Chicago chefs, personalities and students team up to compete for the
Le Cordon Bleu title. The competition is taking place to celebrate the
re-naming of the Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Chicago,
formerly known as the Cooking and Hospitality Institute of Chicago. Watch as teams, led by alumni Chef Ron Aleman, Chef Stephanie Izard and Chef Radhika Desai, compete against each other to capture the coveted Le Cordon Bleu Ribbon.
Come serve as a judge at this exciting event and be a part of the celebration, as many of the Le Cordon Bleu schools in North America adopt the Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts name.
Attendees will be able to taste the competition dish created by each team and vote to determine the winner. A portion of the evening's proceeds will be donated to the local Ronald McDonald House.
Where: Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Chicago, 361 W. Chestnut
When: Jan. 14, 2010, 7:00 p.m. - 9:30 p.m.
The evening includes: Cocktail reception appetizers, three tasting portions of the featured entrée, dessert and silent auction.
A portion of the proceeds from the evening will benefit the Ronald McDonald House Charities.
Cost: The Le Cordon Bleu Challenge Event will be offered on a first come, first serve basis. Space is limited. Entry to the event is $25 per person. For tickets: http://lecordonbleu.eventbrite.com
It's a new year and after eating around Chicago restaurants in the past four months with the intention to tell you all about it, it has become apparent that I need a rating system. Why, you ask? Because I have eaten at so many restaurants in this dense Chicagoland of food that leave me satiated, even satisfied, but nutritionally uninspired. I'd like to share the experience, but need to qualify my recommendations - without telling you to avoid a tasty, but nutritionally-challenged locale. Rather I'd like to give you a heads up that some establishments may not fit if you'd like lots of "eat right", but delicious options.
'Tis the season for tips, tools and hints to lose weight, get fit and start the new year right. Although I'm inspired by the New Year, New You sentiment, I feel like we may be better off with a to-do list...a checklist of quick-n-easy changes that we can make, starting today, while we're still motivated, that make sense, give results and have the potential to last for the next decade. This New Year, New You diet/weight loss/healthier/prettier/better/cooler task list, not textbook, is straight-forward, easy-to-implement and will give you the satisfaction of being able to cross items off the list and stick to for many new years to come.
*This list is designed for the task-oriented, impatient, list-loving, spell-it-out-for-me, candidate for a "diet for dummies", tell me what to do, I'm tired, I have enough on my plate, make it easy for G's sake, attention-to-diet-deficit-disorder reader. Enjoy!
Throwing a holiday cocktail party? Like me, you are probably pressed for time and searching for inspiration. Search no more, I have done the work for you by throwing a cocktail get-together last night. Cocktail party 4-1-1...your entire menu from start to finish for 12 guests. It has been tried, tested, tasted and the results reveal a crowd-pleasing, sufficiently nutritious (code for, includes some treats and some eat right options) evening.
'Tis the season for holiday cheer and gatherings around the fireplace, hors d'oeuvres, feasts, pies and bar. Many of you may be looking for ways to eat right and maintain your weight this holiday. You will find that you have many choices. You'll be faced with figurative forks in the road, with a fork in your hand.
How can someone get fat for Christmas...you ask? Quite easily according to Kyle Shadix, MS, RD, CCC, registered dietitian and certified chef. "A holiday meal can easily exceed 3,500 calories," claims Shadix, "if you do the math, an additional 3,500 calories a day for even 3 days could lead to an excess of 5,700 calories if you only need about 1,600 per day." And there you have it, it could lead to a weight gain about 2 lbs - and this may be a modest estimate.
So with a bit of sarcasm and holiday cheer, here are your top 10 ways to get fat for Christmas!
The Christmas Weight Loss Challenge is underway, so after a successful week of nonrestrictive, realistic, healthy modifications that resulted in a couple pound weight loss, here are my tips for the week. These are things to keep in mind at-home when you are battling the bulge.
I will be joining Bill Leff on ChicagoNow RadioWGN 720 Saturday morning at 10 AM - live in the studio at the Tribune Towers to talk about the top 10 ways to get fat for Christmas. And, more importantly, how to avoid it!
I took out-of-town visitors (my parents) to Lincoln Park's The Counter this past weekend. People have been buzzing about their burgers (along with other Chicago burger joints) so I thought I'd give it a try even though famed burger spots are often greasy and cheesy with a side of fried belly fat. Oh joy, oh yum, The Counter offers more than just diet destroying fat calories!
I sent out a call to action...a challenge for the holidays: maintain or lose weight while still enjoying the holiday cheer. Today is day 1, so I am going to start with a few pointers to help you get started.
Chicago's River North just got a little spicier, thanks to Rick Bayless, famed and acclaimed Iron Chef owner of Frontera Grill, Topolobampo, Frontera Fresco and five fabulous cookbooks. I've dined at Frontera Grill (although I haven't told you about it, so I must return) but was looking forward to Xoco with a wee-bit of trepidation. Yes, I was worried that I wouldn't be able to eat right at this quick-service, "hot-from-the-fryer" el restaurante. Not to worry, Eat Right Around lectores, Rick Bayless did not disappoint my drive for good health.
I recently experienced a restaurant first - the server in a small, Lakeview Italian restaurant called Angelina Ristorante pushed vegetables on me! I nearly fell off my chair and I may have teared up a bit. You know I love a nutrient-rich meal and the best way to do that is to eat veggies galore.
Amidst the warehouses of Chicago's West Loop sit some spectacular dining spots. On Fulton Market you will find Moto and its more casual sibling, Otom (see, it's spelled backwards?). While Moto is now on my "must-eat" list, Otom has a big check mark...been there, loved it, ate right.
Otom has an understated but elegant interior, and the staff is warm and friendly. I think it's so wonderful when restaurants have a knowledgeable and approachable staff. I think that being able to describe the menu and comment on specific dishes is a real value-add. And a kind, approachable demeanor makes the meal. (Note to restaurant managers/Chefs: please let your staff try the food they are serving; we need their advice.) Sorry for the tangent, it's been on my mind. Thankfully, at Otom, the server smiled easily, knew what he was talking about and didn't look sideways when I asked for some details. Off to a great start!
Although we plan to have Thanksgiving again this Thursday, we had a practice holiday this past weekend in Oakland, CA with my younger sister and her bo, Levi. I highly recommend finding a sibling who loves farming and has an academic focus on the sustainability of food systems, and a partner that is a well-trained chef and area manager for a San Francisco bread company and string of yummy cafes. Just in case you can't find this farmer and chef to cook a Thanksgiving feast for you, here's the menu and some insights if you'd like to adopt their ideas to eat right this holiday!
Thanksgiving requires a fair amount of planning. Each year, it's like Top Chef restaurant wars for millions of households across the country. To help you with your annual opening day, I wanted to hear from the experts that work with people at their point of purchase - the supermarket. How can we plan for a healthy holiday feast? Here's what they had to say...
Thanksgiving is around the corner and "how-to have a healthy holiday" stories are everywhere. Newspapers, magazines and TV programs ask their best foodie or nutrition expert to offer suggestions for healthy holiday planning, eating and meal making. The popularity of the healthier holiday chat never declines. And I suppose that makes sense - We all want to eat our faces off this turkey day - but we don't want to spend the new year wearing drawstring pants and weighing our food. We want to be thankful, enjoy company, dine well and eat right.
So, in order to make your healthier holiday reading easier, I'm going to create your one-stop-blog for the "top healthy eating for the holiday" nutrition advice. For the next few posts, I'm going to tap the experts around the country, in all areas of nutrition - registered dietitians from hospitals, best-selling authors, sports dietitians, supermarket nutrition and wellness directors and everyone in between - to give you their best recs on how to stay healthy this holiday season.
Here's some advice to get your ready for the holidays.
I'm sure you've seen the chocolate milk debate in the papers or even on Good Morning America on Nov 16th - should chocolate milk be offered in school? Although arguments about milk or school beverages in general are not new stories, the debate has been reignited by the Raise your Hand for Chocolate Milk campaign joining celebs and dietitians in support of chocolate milk. This polarizing discussion seems to have one side raising their hand, the other raising a figurative finger.
As you may have read, I attended the LuxeHome Chill Wine & Culinary Event last night. Amidst the world's largest collection of luxury boutiques for home building and renovation, we wandered from suite to suite, dined, wined and tasted sweet and savory dishes from over 30 top Chicago Chefs paired with wines from all over. The event and silent auction was held in cooperation with Wine Spectator and sponsored by the Tribune Media Group to benefit the Respiratory Health Association of Metropolitan Chicago.
Tonight is the LuxeHome Chill International Wine & Culinary Event! If you're looking for something to do tonight, for a good cause, and to taste wine and dishes from top Chicago chefs, join me at the LuxeHome Chill Event!
I live across from a Chipotle (don't we all?) and up until the other day, haven't tried it. I typically avoid fast food restaurants or chains, but with so many patrons, so many positive stories about their food and farming practices, and so many questions about how to eat right there, I decided it was time I join the millions and eat Chipotle.
Chicago offers some of the best dining in the world - I've said this before - so I am super excited to taste an assortment of Chicago's best fixins in one night at the LuxeHome Chill event on November 12th. It is an efficient use of my time, taste buds and most importantly, it's for good cause.
I've noticed that so many Chicago restaurants, from fine dining to diner or deli love bacon and all members of the pig family. With pork belly making so many menus, I started to read-around. I discovered an article in the Chicago Tribune's food section: Bacon reaches new heights of popularity from October 28, 2009. So I knew that I must talk about this pig craze.
Omega 3 has made headlines and scientific studies for several years due to it's potential benefits for heart health and more recently, our mood and mental function. Although I include salmon on my list of "don't like the taste of", I decided to give it a whirl at the Rob Katz and Kevin Boehm owned restaurant, Perennial.
Sunda New Asian of Chicago, a Rockit Ranch creation has received a fair amount of attention since it opened, so it's been on my list of "must eat" for some time. I heard that Executive Chef, Rodelio Aglibot serves up a cornucopia of Asian cuisines, so I was looking forward to my visit, but as always, I wasn't 100% sure that I could eat right at this contemporary hotspot.
Scared you can't eat right at a weekend brunch? Don't be...pull up a chair at Orange. I did this past weekend, with Chicago marathon finisher, elite runner and registered dietitian of Swim, Bike, Run, Eat!, Pamela Nisevich.
In the eclectic Chicago district affectionately called Boystown, sits Executive Chef Joncarl Lachman's brick-walled, bustling bistro, Home Bistro. This BYOB (no cork charge) is known for its home cooking, comfortable but urban atmosphere and yummy, generously portioned dishes - but I wasn't sure if this bistro would be all buttery and bacon, or if I would be able to eat right.
I've been talking to some people about what to do when you'd like to try a Chicago food fav, but know that it's not the most nutritious choice. How do you eat right when you just want a taste of Lou Malnati's, Giordano's, Renaldi's, Piece, Kuma's Corner, Hot Doug's, Sweet Mandy B's or even Five Guys?
The Chicago Tribune published 10 Worst Dining Trends of the Last Decade and it got me thinking...not only do I agree that foam is weird (looks like spit) and the fried onion blossom is ridiculous (should be called fried blossom as the onion seems like an after thought), I think that we could devise a list of worst dining trends that are making us fat. Some are not trends, they have been around for a while. Either way, here it goes:
Mindy from Lou Malnati's was nice enough to supply some photos!
After spending five days with registered dietitians and session after session focused on some aspect of good nutrition, I landed in Chicago with one thing on my mind: Chicago-style deep dish pizza (hotly debated by food critics on RedEye - thin or thick - I say both, but tonight, it's deep all the way!).
As I've mentioned, I'm traveling this week for the American Dietetic Association Food and Nutrition Convention and Expo in Denver. During this educational, nutrition and food based event, I have grown more and more irritated with ridiculously large portions, stupid size meals and for this entry, the bulging breakfast options.
Unfiltered coffee, good for your personality, not so good for your cholesterol. I was sitting at a restaurant in Denver (not worth naming or reviewing because for one, it's not in Chicago and two, it was nothing to write home about) and the waiter brought my dinner mate a personal sized French press. And it got me thinking about a chat with ChicagoNow folks on the coffee/health issue.
Follow me around...I invite you to comment, post recommendations for restaurants and keep track of my eats via Facebook and Twitter! Search Eat Right Around Chicago on Facebook and find more pics from my dining experiences and of course, share with your hungry friends!
To kick off my weekend at the Food and Nutrition Convention and Expo (FNCE) 2009 in Denver, I started with a yogurt parfait (after feeling like I may have mislead you by matching a pint of yogurt with a cinnamon bun in a previous post). FNCE is the annual meeting of the American Dietetic Association and is like "Fashion Week" for registered dietitians, dietetic technicians and students and interns.
Eat right in the neighborhood...Chicago Mediterranean restaurant, Casbah Cafe! With the
plethora of roaming cabs, bus stops and train depots, or for those with
a parking spot and vault full of quarters, any neighborhood's gem is
for the food picking. And this great find is in the neighborhood of Lakeview (more on the East side).
Italian food and service done well so you can eat right at the Chicago restaurant, Tocco Pizza e Arte! I was seeking perfectly stewed tomatoes with fresh pasta so after checking on Metromix Chicago, I made my OpenTable reservation.
Eating around Chicago? From top chefs to sausage superstores to international fare, Chicago's culinary community is tempting, tasty and bursting at the seams. So how do you enjoy the amazing cuisine this city has to offer without bursting your own seams? Follow me each day, check out my restaurant reviews and see what I ordered to eat right around Chicago!
Chef Graham Elliot Bowles is on fire. When I heard that he served up lobster corndogs and truffle popcorn for Lollapalooza this past summer, I figured if he was feeding Jane's Addiction, he could feed mine. I knew about the "bistronomic" concept and flare for the fun and creative, but would I be able to eat right?