Friday, February 29, 2008

whole foods culinary classes, paris cheese and Yorkville CSA

I am in the process of writing a proposal to be a guest lecturer at whole foods on the Bowery. In the meantime, looks like I will be teaching my April Class there. I was perusing their culinary offerings and although I'm not an advocate for large amounts of beer drinking, I do love cheese. I'm curious if these beers are "organic" and in line with the whole foods philosophy. Here is the class description:

Friday, March 21st

Brooklyn Brewery & Fromagerie Together Again (Lecture & Tasting, Vegetarian)
7:00–8:30 p.m. $45
Meet Garrett Oliver Brewmaster for The Brooklyn Brewery and the foremost authority in the United States on the subject of traditional beer. His most recent book, The Brewmaster's Table, was the winner of the 2004 IACP Cookbook Award and a finalist for the James Beard Foundation Book Award. Garrett will work closely with our Fromagerie and their collection of international cheeses to create an exclusive beer and cheese pairing class. Taste, drink and enjoy and learn why real beer is the best accompaniment to great cheese.
Instructor: Garrett Oliver

Having just returned from Paris I am missing the cheese and bread selection just in an ordinary supermarket. Also the chevre chaud on salads I had in the 6th at a restaurant on Rue Mouftarde was to die for. I have been meaning to check out this new cheese shop I spotted on one of the side streets in the 60's off Lexington Avenue - 62nd street maybe. I'm finding nothing so far that can match Murrays, but now that I live on the Upper East Side, its a bit of a trek. I found a lovely sheep's milk brie at whole foods Columbus circle the other day. It went wonderfully in an omelet with spinach. I'll be teaching omelets with spinach and goat cheese in my upcoming cooking class on March 22 once I guarantee a location. Looks like an upper east side location is possible. I am still working that out. I am hoping to get some eggs from the Traditional Foods Guild through Sally Fallon soon. I hope I will have them in time for my class. Otherwise, I will be looking for some other more local eggs through a health food store or a co-op in Brooklyn or a CSA that has winter delivery. I have the form for the Yorkville CSA and I am currently looking for someone willing to go half wise with me since all the small shares are sold out. The CSA organizer said he can find me a partner, but I'd prefer to sort of know the person.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Sobel Wellness Cooking Classes and Events - March and April

Sobel Wellness will be offering a series of cooking classes and events in March and April:
3/10/08 - Healthy Dinners for Busy New Yorkers - venue to be determined
3/22/08 - Healthy Breakfasts on the Go - Church of the Epiphany York Avenue and 74th Street
3/23/08 - A Healthy discussion and Tour of Whole Foods on the Bowery
4/14/08 - Healthy Dinners for Busy New Yorkers - Thai Cooking - lessons learned from an organic farm and cooking school in Thailand

Sobel Wellness is also planning small group dinners in March in April where you will learn a bit about healthy cooking but not in a classroom format but rather over a small intimate meal with a new group of friends. For more information, please contact Meredith at or 212-879-2312.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Tylenol Advertising

The latest tylenol advertisements running in the subway and buses in New York City really bother me. One I saw last week said, " Skipping breakfast causes headaches, Tylenol can help." There was a picture of a smoothie. It was a strange ad. I would think - hmm - why not just drink the smoothie. Another ad I saw this week said, "Dropping 1 pound of fat can take 4 pounds of pressure off your knees." I wasn't certain if this ad was advocating losing weight or taking tylenol if you had an extra pound of fat. These ads were disturbing.

Something else I read was that tylenol and all other forms of acetaminophen can cause liver damage. Safe my behind. Watch out for this stuff.

Here are some tips for a healthy liver:

Good rest and sound sleep is very Important... if u don't sleep well, The toxic in your body will accumulate.. Affecting your health and your mood...

The main causes of liver damage are:

Sleeping too late and waking up too late are the main cause.
Not urinating in the morning.
Too much eating.
Skipping breakfast.
Consuming too much medication.
Consuming too much preservatives, additives, food coloring, and artificial sweetener.
Consuming unhealthy cooking oil. As much as possible reduce cooking oil use when frying, which includes even the best cooking oils like olive oil. Do not consume fried foods when you are tired, except if the body is very fit.
Consuming overly done foods also add to the burden of liver. Veggies should be eaten raw or cooked 3-5 parts. Fried veggies should be finished in one sitting, do not store.

We just have to adopt a good daily lifestyle and eating habits. Maintaining good eating habits and time condition are very important for our body to absorb and get rid of unnecessary chemicals according to "schedule."

Because: Evening at 9 - 11pm : is the time for eliminating unnecessary/toxic chemicals (de-toxification) from the antibody system (lymph nodes). This time duration should be spent by relaxing or listening to music. If during this time a housewife is still in an unrelaxed state such as washing the dishes or monitoring children doing their homework, this will have a negative impact on her health.

Evening at 11pm - 1am : The de-toxification process in the liver, and ideally should be done in a deep sleep state.

Early morning 1 - 3am : de-toxification process in the gall, also ideally done in a deep sleep state.

Early morning 3 - 5am : de-toxification in the lungs. Therefore there will sometimes be a severe cough for cough sufferers during this time. Since the de-toxification process had reached the respiratory tract, there is no need to take cough medicine so as not to interfere with toxin removal process.

Morning 5 - 7am : de-toxification in the colon, you should empty your bowel.

Morning 7 - 9am : Absorption of nutrients in the small intestine, you should be having breakfast at this time. Breakfast should be earlier, before 6:30am, for those who are sick. Breakfast before 7:30am is very beneficial to those wanting to stay fit. Those who always skip breakfast, they should change their habits, and it is still better to eat breakfast late until 9 -10am rather than no meal at all. Sleeping so late and waking up too late will disrupt the process of removing unnecessary chemicals.

Aside from that, midnight to 4am is the time when the bone marrow produces blood.

Therefore, have a good sleep and don't sleep late.

Of course I write this at 2:30AM due to jet lag from a recent trip to Europe. Don't go to Europe, it will affect your health adversely ;) Just kidding. If not the jet lag then the red meat and red wine will kill you. A bientot!

Monday, February 18, 2008

Do you want to eat a cow that can't walk?

So this might have not made the front page of the New York Times, but it made the business section:

Text of New York Times article follows:

Largest Recall of Ground Beef Is Ordered
Published: February 18, 2008
A California meat company on Sunday issued the largest beef recall in history, 143 million pounds, some of which was used in school lunch programs, Department of Agriculture officials announced.
The recall by the Westland/Hallmark Meat Company, based in Chino, Calif., comes after a widening animal-abuse scandal that started after the
Humane Society of the United States distributed an undercover video on Jan. 30 that showed workers kicking sick cows and using forklifts to force them to walk.
The video raised questions about the safety of the meat, because cows that cannot walk, called downer cows, pose an added risk of diseases including
mad cow disease. The federal government has banned downer cows from the food supply.
Agriculture officials said there was little health risk from the recalled meat because the animals had already passed pre-slaughter inspection and much of the meat had already been eaten. In addition, the officials noted that while mad cow disease was extremely rare, the brains and spinal cords from the animals — the area most likely to harbor the disease — would not have entered the human food chain.
“The great majority has probably been consumed,” said Dr. Richard Raymond, the Agriculture Department’s under secretary for food safety.
The video was embarrassing for the Department of Agriculture, as inspectors are supposed to be monitoring slaughterhouses for abuse. It surfaced after a year of increasing concerns about the safety of the meat supply amid a sharp increase in the number of recalls tied to a particularly deadly form of the E. coli pathogen.
There were 21 recalls of beef related to the potentially deadly strain of E. coli last year, compared with eight in 2006 and five in 2005. No one is quite sure what caused the increase, though theories include the cyclical nature of pathogens and changes in cattle-feeding practices caused by the ethanol boom.
The recall on Sunday was more than four times bigger than the previous record, the 1999 recall of 35 million pounds of ground beef by
Thorn Apple Valley, federal officials said.
It was prompted by a Department of Agriculture investigation that found that Westland/Hallmark did not always alert federal veterinarians when its cows became unable to walk after passing inspection, as required.
“Because the cattle did not receive complete and proper inspection, F.S.I.S. has determined them to be unfit for human food and the company is conducting a recall,” Agriculture Secretary Ed Schafer said in a statement. F.S.I.S. is the Agriculture Department’s Food Safety and Inspection Service.
Technically, the Department of Agriculture does not have the authority to recall meat. However, it can withdraw its inspectors from a plant, putting pressure on a company to issue a recall.
The company is recalling all its raw and frozen beef products since Feb. 1, 2006. Of the 143 million pounds that were recalled, 37 million went to make hamburgers, chili and tacos for school lunches and other federal nutrition programs, officials said.
Cows that cannot walk are banned for use in the food supply because they pose an added risk of mad cow disease, or bovine spongiform encephalopathy, a fatal disease that eats away at the brain. There have been three confirmed cases of infected cattle in this country since 2003.
The announcement on Sunday was classified as a Class II recall, indicating that the chances of health hazards were remote. Other large recalls involving E. coli have been Class I recalls, indicating that eating the product may cause serious health problems or even death.
Officials at Westland/Hallmark meat could not be located on Sunday for comment.
Some critics pointed out that the recall exposed gaps in the nation’s system for food safety.
“The recall is obviously the big news,” said Wayne Pacelle, president and chief executive of the Humane Society. “The longer-term problem is the inadequacies of the inspection system. How can so many downers have been mistreated day after day within a U.S.D.A. oversight system that was present at the plant?
“We need more boots on the ground at the plants,” he said.
The undercover video, shown on television and on YouTube and other Web sites, has caused an uproar since its release.
The Department of Agriculture started an inquiry and suspended the company as a supplier to federal nutrition programs. Steve Mendell, president of Westland/Hallmark, said afterward that he was “shocked and horrified” by the videos and voluntarily suspended operations pending the outcome of the federal inquiry.
On Friday, the San Bernardino district attorney, Michael A. Ramos, filed animal cruelty charges against two employees fired by the meat company. Daniel Agarte Navarro was charged with five felonies and three misdemeanors, and Luis Sanchez with three misdemeanors.
While acknowledging that most of the meat had been eaten, agriculture officials said the recall was necessary to find all the meat that had not been consumed and because the plant was not following the rules.
“The reason for doing this is because the plant was not in compliance with F.S.I.S. regulations, and therefore it is an unfit product,” said Dr. Kenneth Petersen, assistant administrator for the F.S.I.S.
Department of Agriculture inspectors conduct pre-slaughter inspections on all cattle on the day of slaughter. If an animal becomes unable to walk, before or at the time it is presented for slaughter, employees of the slaughterhouse are required to summon a Department of Agriculture veterinarian.
The veterinarian then has the discretion to determine whether the animal is fit for slaughter. The Department of Agriculture contends that employees at Westland/Hallmark sometimes failed to notify the veterinarian when animals could not walk after being inspected.
Agriculture officials said in a statement that they thought the case was “an isolated incident of egregious violations to humane handling requirements and the prohibition of non-ambulatory disabled cattle from entering the food supply.”
The Department of Agriculture, which is responsible for the safety of meat, poultry and eggs, has 7,800 inspectors who check more than 6,200 plants. In 2007, the agency suspended 66 plants; 12 of which were related to humane handling violations.
Ana Facio Contreras contributed reporting

Its no secret that the USDA is not watching out for our best interests in the meat packing industry, but after fast food nation and the meatrix I rarely eat ground meat and if I do its organic, grass fed meat, preferably that which is ground at the butcher in front of me. I encourage the rest of you to think twice before consuming another least in Califorina. The fact that this recall affects schools is especially troubling to me.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

subscribe to meredith's Meanders blog

Did you know that you can subscribe to my blog! You can be updated with new blog posts by clicking on the subscribe to link at the bottom of the page. Give it a go and share with your friends!

more spam? how to make this recipe yummy and healthy!

Once again, I think that google ads sees "spam" in my folder as a need to tell me about new spam recipes. This one without the spam though looks kind of good.

SPAM VEGETABLE STRUDEL - let's use tempeh or marinated
tofu instead of the spam

Recipe By :
Serving Size : 6 Preparation Time :0:00
Categories : Main dish

Amount Measure Ingredient -- Preparation Method
-------- ------------ --------------------------------
1 pk Long-grain and wild rice
-mix (6.25 oz)
1/2 c Chopped carrot
1/2 c Chopped red bell pepper
1/4 c Orange juice
1 cn SPAM Luncheon Meat, cut in
-thin strips (12 oz)
2 c Chopped mushrooms
1/4 c Sliced green onions
1 tb Dijon-style mustard
1/2 ts Basil
1/4 ts Pepper
6 Sheets frozen phyllo pastry,
Butter-flavor vegetable
-cooking spray
1 tb Dry bread crumbs
Soy sauce

Heat oven to 375'F. Prepare rice according to package directions. In
small saucepan, combine carrots, red pepper, and orange juice. Bring
to a boil. Cover and cook 5-7 minutes or until crisp-tender. Drain
well. Place in medium bowl. In large skillet, saute SPAM, mushrooms,
and green onion until tender. Add SPAM mixture, rice, mustard, basil,
and pepper to vegetable mixture; stir well. Place 1 sheet phyllo
pastry on a damp towel (keep remaining phyllo covered). Lightly coat
phyllo with cooking spray. Layer remaining 5 sheets phyllo pastry on
first sheet, lightly coating each sheet with cooking spray. Spoon
SPAM mixture lengthwise down center of phyllo stack, leaving a 1/2″
border. Roll phyllo jelly-roll style, starting with long side
containing SPAM mixture. Tuck ends under; place diagonally, seam side
down, on baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Lightly coat top of
pastry with cooking spray and sprinkle with bread crumbs. Make 12
(1/4″ deep) diagonal slits across top of pastry using a sharp knife.
Bake 20 minutes or until golden. Serve with soy sauce.

Might want to delete to phillo dough unless you could find a
whole wheat phillo dough which I have seen
and use wheat germ, crumbled nuts (peanuts, walnuts or almonds) or
hemp seeds
in place of the bread crumbs. Instead of the butter vegetable
oil spray -
put extra
virgin olive oil in a spray bottle and use that.

To marinate tofu and tempeh for an unbelievable treat:
put 1 package of tempeh broken up into bite size pieces or fresh tofu (about 1 pound) into a small bowl.
mix soy sauce, worschiture sauce, some mustard and peanut butter around
to coat add fresh grated ginger and
garlic. Marinate 1-5 hours. Use in place of spam!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

How to change recipes to make them healthier

Every so often my google ads will throw a really strange recipe at me. Here was the most interesting one I saw today. Since a good deal of the emails I send in my personal and business accounts are about cooking and recipes, it makes sense...but this one was particularly shall we say not Sobel Wellness recommended.

Here is the recipe:

Recipe By :
Serving Size : 6 Preparation Time :0:00
Categories : Casseroles Main dish

Amount Measure Ingredient -- Preparation Method
-------- ------------ --------------------------------
2 Baking potatoes, cut into
-1/8″ slices
1 cn SPAM Luncheon Meat, cubed
-(12 oz)
1 c Thinly sliced carrots
1 c Thinly sliced onions
1/2 c Thinly sliced celery
2 Garlic cloves, minced
2 tb Flour
1 t Coarsely ground pepper
3/4 t Dried whole thyme
1 cn No-salt-added green beans,
-drained (16 oz)
1 cn No-salt-added whole
-tomatoes, drained and
-chopped (16 oz)
1 cn No-salt-added vegetable
-juice cocktail (5 1/2 oz)
Butter-flavor vegetable
-cooking spray

Cook potatoes in boiling water 3 minutes or until crisp-tender.
Drain. In skillet, cook SPAM until browned; remove from skillet. Add
carrots to skillet and saute 4-5 minutes, stirring frequently. Add
onion, celery, and garlic; saute until vegetables are tender. Combine
flour, pepper, and thyme. Stir flour mixture into vegetable mixture;
cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add SPAM, green beans, tomato,
and vegetable juice cocktail. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer
5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove skillet from heat; arrange
potato slices over SPAM mixture to cover completely. Spray potato
slices with vegetable cooking spray. Broil 6″ from heat source 10 minutes or until golden brown.

Uh, so first issue. What the hell is spam? Its the subject of a Broadway musical. It makes it into just about every
breakfast meal in Hawaii, doesn't mean its fit for human consumption.
Its scary. Its of unknown pork origin and well
it certainly has more than 5 ingredients.
However, there will be those attempting to defend spam. According to, spam contains just a little

sodium nitrate to keep its "color" and also contains ham, pork, sugar, a little salt and a few other ingredients...
not exactly "natural", but the web marketing certainly tries.

So perhaps one could find some nice organic pastured pork and braise that in a bit of stock until it was a
nice juicy consistency. Substitute the white potatoes for sweet potatoes or parsnips. Just use regular butter or
olive oil instead of the cooking spray (which face it folks contains sodium lechitin and grain alcohol!)

Might want to try a soy, amaranth or almond flour instead of the white flour and see how this dish comes out.
Also cubed white meat free range chicken or turkey or even salmon braised in broth might also work better
than the pork in this dish. Otherwise, this casserole could be perfectly healthy.
I like that the recipe authors are so aware of the negative effects of over
consumption of salt.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

sugar addiction

I saw this post on another blog and thought I would share here, regarding sugar addiction:

Sugar is very addictive. Try adding more sweet vegetables to your meals to curb your sweet cravings. Try sweet potatoes, parsnips, onions, turnips, etc. Cook them together, add them to your meals, or have some as a snack.

I do this myself, eating "sweet vegetables" whenever I have sweet cravings. I pretty much avoid white sugar, corn syrup and any non-natural sweetener whenever I can. I have never been a fan of sodas (regular or diet) or sugar in my coffee. I drink sweet teas like licorice tea at night for sweet cravings. My favorite tea is yogi brand "egyptian licorice" or if you can afford it - the aveda licorice mint tea. I got the loose tea which has lasted me forever (more than two years now) - much better than the ripoff of $16 for the box of 22 tea bags. The loose tea just goes a lot longer and was well worth the $22 I paid for it a few years back now. I do love aveda products so I am sure I give them back their money in spades on hair and skincare products - but I've been satisfied with my ROI on their tea.

I do eat my share of dark chocolate - 85% cocoa mass which has less than 5g of sugar per serving...and I do stick to the serving size, savoring each square one at a time.

New York is enjoying its share of snow - I hope you are all beating the winter blues with your share of sweet relief. Wishing you and yours a happy and sweet valentines day and hoping that you'll stick to the dark chocolate and sweet vegetables when you find your need for your next sugar fix.

Monday, February 11, 2008

5 Ingredients or less

The following list are the ingredients in South Beach Peanut Butter Cookies:
Whole Grain Wheat Flour, Peanut Butter (Peanuts, Salt), High Oleic Canola Oil, Maltitol (*), Sugar, Corn Starch, Polydextrose (*), Partially Defatted Peanut Flour, Oatmeal, Brown Rice Syrup, Salt, Leavening (Baking Soda, Calcium Phosphate), Soy Lecithin (Emulsifier), Caramel Color, Natural & Artificial Flavor, Acesulfame Potassium (Sweetener), Sucralose (Sweetener)

What the heck is Acesulfame Potassium? This list is fairly tame compared to say the twinkie...

The list of ingredients of a Twinkie is a veritable Who's Who of the food chemical world and the following is a list of ingredients as provided on a ten-pack of Twinkies. Take a deep breath:

  • Enriched Wheat Flour - enriched with ferrous sulphate (iron), B vitamins (niacin, thiamine mononitrate [B1], ribofavin [B12] and folic acid).
  • Sugar
  • Corn syrup
  • Water
  • High fructose corn syrup
  • Vegetable and/or animal shortening - containing one or more of partially hydrogenated soybean, cottonseed or canola oil, and beef fat.
  • Dextrose
  • Whole eggs

How's your stomach? Really? Oh dear... Well hold tight because Twinkies also contain 2% or less of:

  • Modified corn starch
  • Cellulose gum
  • Whey
  • Leavenings (sodium acid pyrophosphate, baking soda, monocalcium phosphate)
  • Salt
  • Cornstarch
  • Corn flour
  • Corn syrup solids
  • Mono and diglycerides
  • Soy lecithin
  • Polysorbate 60
  • Dextrin
  • Calcium caseinate
  • Sodium stearol lactylate
  • Wheat gluten
  • Calcium sulphate
  • Natural and artificial flavours
  • Caramel colour
  • Sorbic acid (to retain freshness)
  • Colour added (yellow 5, red 40)

  • Hmm, pretty gross - I'd say that if you can't pronounce it, you can't find it in your kitchen and you'd rather use it to clean your floor, don't eat it.

    This philosophy should apply to lean cuisine dinners as well. It may seem lean, but its certainly not cuisine.

thailand travels

I just returned from two weeks in Thailand, the land of a thousand smiles, where I feasted on fresh, organic food. Free range chicken, fresh pastured eggs, fresh vegetables and herbs direct from garden to plate...certainly makes me want to move there. But how can I take lessons from Thailand and incorporate them into my frenetic New York City life? And better yet, how can you?

Eat local

The Weston A. Price foundation of New York City grants access to farm fresh eggs, milk and meats not available in supermarkets with delivery services to sites around New York City including a spot in Chelsea. Some health food stores will sell farm fresh eggs, produce and grass-fed milk and meat products.

Shop at the farmers market

There are farmers markets all over New York City that operate throughout the winter. Farms also have programs for weekly delivery 6 months out of the year for milk, eggs, vegetables and fruits that have been minimally sprayed and processed. Local fork and local harvest web sites give information on both of these resources for New Yorkers.

I went straight to my health food store - a Matter of health on 77th and 1st avenue and bought some farm fresh eggs, veggies and goat milk. The eggs made a good omelet - but a far cry from the freshness of the jungle lodge in Chiang Mai, Thailand where I communed with the chickens.