Monday, May 19, 2008

Vitamin D, Inositol and PCOS/Fertility

This came from Nancy Dunne's Newsletter. It is great for learning more about reducing PCOS symptoms and increasing fertility.

Inositol Improves Quality of Your Eggs

In previous newsletters we've shared with you
several studies showing that the B-vitamin inositol
and d-pinitol (another form of inositol) are useful
for improving ovulation, reducing insulin resistance
and reducing symptoms of PCOS.

New evidence suggests inositol may also be
beneficial for improving egg quality in women who
have PCOS.

You need to have good egg quality in order to
become pregnant, and in order to avoid a
miscarriage. As you may know, PCOS women
have a greater risk of miscarriage.

The results of this study indicate that if you are
interested in increasing your chances of becoming
pregnant and reducing risk of miscarriage, inositol
supplementation is advisable.

It appears that women with PCOS have a need for
higher inositol intake because they metabolize and
lose it faster than other women.

Read the full article here.

You can find inositol and d-pinitol here:

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Ideal School Lunches

I am beginning to do some research on the best school lunches for kids. I am working with some families and will be doing more investigative research when I begin teaching this fall. I am going to try grain sweetened brownies, stir fries, flax seed/whole grain (maybe spelt or amaranth crust) pizza with fresh unprocessed mozerrella, fresh tomato sauce and olive and flax seed oils, lentil salads, quinoa bean bowls and the like. I'd love some suggestions from any moms out there that have gotten this right. I am meeting someone next week pretty high up in the NYC public school system who I might be able to convince to try out some of these ideas. Please send any suggestions my way.

non meat sources of protein

I found this great post on the following website:

Proteins are necessary to sustain life, repair body tissues and promote cell renewal, to manufacture hormones, enzymes and blood cells. It is one of the most plentiful substances in the body second only to water, totaling approximately one fifth of a person body weight. Lack of protein in the diet could result in fatigue, weakness and increased susceptibility to colds, flu's and infections.

These are all facts I took for granted when I was living a vegan lifestyle, expecting my carbohydrate heavy diet to fulfill all of my nutritional needs. After a taking a deep breath and diving into the wonderful world of nutrition I came to realize just what I was missing out on.

Many people frown upon vegetable sourced protein viewing it as inferior to animal based proteins. However along with supplying the body with a valuable source of protein, plant foods also contain micronutrients, phytonutrients, antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and fiber that you will not find in meat.

It is also much lower in saturated fats and is often cheaper and less perishable. Many people consume their protein from only vegetable sources and have no problem meeting there daily requirements.

Even if you are not a vegetarian your diet could probably benefit from the addition of some plant based protein so think twice before wiping it from your plate completely. Now I realize tofu isn't everybody's idea of the perfect meal (my sister used to refer to it as fried snot) so I have come up with some suggestions to keep your plates forever varied and interesting.

(Note: all protein amounts are given in grams per 100 grams)


Tempeh is a fermented soybean product that originally developed in Indonesia about 2,000 years ago. It is high in protein (19 grams) as well as fiber, iron, potassium, B12, calcium and isoflavones. It is made from cracked cooked soybeans inoculated with beneficial bacteria to give it a chewy, meaty consistency.

There are many different varieties of tempeh on the market today and alongside the plain versions you will also find blocks with additions such as grains, seaweed, tofu, herbs and spices. Because it is a fermented product the enzymes are already partially broken down making it easier to digest and metabolize.

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It is user friendly, easy to cook and does not produce the gastrointestinal discomfort that some bean meals do.


Also known as bean curd, tofu is made from soybean milk, water and nigari (a natural coagulant) and is probably the most common soy product. Tofu was first used in China around 200 B.C and is still used as an addition to many Asian dishes today.

In recipes, tofu acts like a sponge and has the miraculous ability to soak up any flavor that is added to it. Tofu comes in a few variations; soft, silken, medium, firm or extra firm and you can find it plain, flavored or marinated. It is best to use only extra firm tofu as it has been pressed for the longest and contains the highest amount of protein (16 grams) and the lowest amount of carbohydrates.

When cooking with tofu it is important to add some sort of sea vegetable to the final dish as there are goitrogens present in tofu that can suppress the thyroid and the naturally occurring iodine in sea vegetables helps to counteract this. This however should not stop you from consuming tofu because along with being low in fat, it is a good source of B vitamins, iron, and calcium as well as being a complete protein.

* A note on soy products. People can easily buy ready-to-eat chicken, ham, tuna fish, and turkey made from soybeans. The foods are called 'textured vegetable protein." Although soy beans in their natural state and as tofu, miso or tempeh are healthy, the "textured" protein is a manipulated, over-processed product that has lost most of its original food value and should be avoided.

Sea Vegetables

In the orient sea vegetables are well renowned for their medicinal and healing properties. They are nutrient dense, full of vitamins and minerals and very low in calories. You might have to acquire a taste for them but it will be worth it for the benefits you will reap, they can be added to almost any salad, soup, and grain or protein dish.

* Arame comes in dark thread like shapes and is probably the tastiest variety. It is rich in calcium, iron, iodine and protein.

* Dulse is a reddish-purple leafy sea vegetable with a nutritional make up similar to arame. If you rinse dulse thoroughly it will lose some of its strong taste.

* Kelp is often used as a salt substitute. It is higher in iodine and potassium than the other sea vegetables.

* Kombu is meatier and also higher in sodium. It is good in soups and can also be added to beans to cut down on the gas producing enzymes.

* Nori is the most familiar seaweed known for its use in sushi making. Nori is about 50 percent protein and is also high in vitamin A, calcium and iron.

* Spirulina is richer in nutrients than any other green plant and 60% of its make up is protein. It has a fairly neutral taste and is usually sold in powder form.


Miso is another soy product, it is made from concentrated soybean paste and comes in many different types and shades, from dark brown, to ochre red or even white depending on what grains are added and how long it is aged for. They all have a distinctive taste so it is a good idea to experiment with a few versions to see which you prefer.

The white and yellow misos are generally lighter and sweeter than the darker versions with have a stronger richer taste. Miso can be used alone as a soup or as an addition to another meal as a stock or flavoring.

* Hatcho miso is made from soybeans alone and has a rich hearty taste.

* Kome miso is a combination of soybeans and brown rice and is the sweetest of misos.

* Mugi miso is made with fermented barley and is mellow and light.

Basic Miso Soup

* Chop finely garlic, onions, ginger and veggies of your choice (carrots, peppers, zucchini, celery, mushrooms etc).
* Stir fry briefly in a pan with a small amount of olive oil.
* Add some tofu, seaweed and a small amount of water and cook for a further 2 minutes.
* Add miso paste to a cup of warm water and mash with a fork until smooth.
* Then add to the veggie mix with some additional water.
* Bring water to the boil, take off the heat immediately and serve.
* You can top with finely chopped spring onions, seaweed or sesame seeds if you want to be creative.


Nuts in general are very nutritious, providing protein and many essential vitamins, such as A and E, minerals, such as phosphorous and potassium, essential fatty acids and fiber. Because nuts are high in fats they should be eaten in moderation, an addition to a meal or snack as opposed to the focus of a meal.

However the fat that nuts contain is primarily the heart-friendly monounsaturated and polyunsaturated types of fat, which are known to prevent heart disease and lower total cholesterol and bad LDL cholesterol while protecting good HDL cholesterol levels.

They should be eaten in their raw state, NON roasted and NON salted to gain the most nutritional benefits. Some people have difficultly digesting nuts and seeds so it can be preferably to soak them or grind them first. Doing this helps to reduce the phytic acid and enzyme inhibitors they contain.

* Almonds are known as the "king of nuts." A slightly sweet variety that is high in calcium, potassium, magnesium, phosphorus and 21 grams of protein. It is the most alkalizing nut.

* Cashews are grown mostly in India and Brazil. They contain a high amount of potassium, magnesium and vitamin A with 18 grams of protein.

* Chestnuts are the lowest in fat content, but also lowest in protein. They are rich in dietary fiber, several minerals and B vitamins. The have a texture more like a vegetable than a nut and are a tasty winter treat.

* Filbert (hazelnut) a mildly flavored nut that is high in potassium, sulfur and calcium. Filberts contain 15 grams of protein.

* Peanuts, although they are technically a legume they are often referred to as a nut. Peanuts are complete protein source containing 26 grams but have the highest fat content of all nuts. Often contaminated with the mould aflatoxin, a known carcinogen so make sure you are buying high quality fresh peanuts.

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* Pecans have a taste similar to walnuts and are rich in essential fatty acids, potassium and vitamin A. Lower in protein than other nuts containing only 9 grams.

* Pine nut (pignolia): A sweet and chewy nut popular in Middle Eastern and Italian cuisine and is an excellent source of thiamin, phosphorus, iron and niacin. Good source of protein boosting 24 grams. Pine nuts are highly susceptible to rancidity so it is best stored in the fridge.

* Pistachio nuts have 20 grams of protein they taste sweet, bitter and slightly sour, an excellent source of iron.

* Walnuts are high in potassium, magnesium, vitamin A and omega-3 essential fatty acids (five per cent of its total oils). Walnuts have 15 grams of protein.

An easy way to get the nutritional benefits from nuts with all the munching is to make nut milk. Nut milk is easy to prepare, does not need to be cooked and is alive with vitamins, minerals and enzymes.

Nut Milk

* Take any nut of your choosing; almonds and cashews normally work the best (hard nuts, like almonds are better if soaked overnight and rinsed)
* Water, usually 3-4 Cups of liquid per cup of nuts.
* Blend together then strain the nut pulp with a fine sieve.
* Refrigerate and drink within a couple of days, you can add a dash of cinnamon or vanilla essence to taste.


Much of what has been said about nuts also applies to seeds, seeds are a lot smaller than nuts and are therefore harder for the body to digest and assimilate. To get the most benefit from seeds it is a good idea to grind them slightly before consumption.

* Sunflower seeds are filled with potassium which helps flush and reduce sodium in the body. They are plentiful in magnesium, phosphorus and calcium. They contain an impressive 23 grams of protein. They are also a good source of omega 6 essential fatty acid.

* Flaxseeds: Flax seed is one-third omega 3 oil; the remainder consists of fiber and 19.5 grams of protein. Flaxseeds promote good intestinal health and help to keep us regular.

View All Flaxseed Products...

* Pumpkin seeds are a high source of vitamin A, calcium and iron, containing 24 grams of protein, B1, B2 and B3. Pumpkin seeds contain both omega 3 and 6 oils.

* Sesame seeds are one of the richest sources of calcium; they contain 18 grams of protein and are an excellent source of B vitamins and minerals.

Here Are A Few Simple Ways To Add These Nutritious Foods To Your Diet:

L.S.A Mix

* 1 cup flaxseeds/Linseeds
* ½ sunflower seeds
* ¼ cup almonds
* Grind up the mix in a coffee grinder until you have a fine powder.
* This mix is best kept in a tightly sealed container in the fridge to maintain its freshness.
* L.S.A mix (linseed, sunflower and almond) is a great source of essential fatty acids and fiber. It can be easily added to oats, smoothies, yoghurt, and anything else that takes your fancy.

Tahini Dressing

* 2 tablespoons tahini (sesame seed paste)
* 1 clove of finely chopped
* Juice of ½ a lemon
* And water as required
* Place the ingredients into a blender adding enough water to get the desired consistency.
* As well as being a good source of protein tahini is high in absorbable calcium.


Beans have had a fairly boring reputation. Time consuming to prepare, dull to eat and let's not even go into the after effects (beans beans the magical fruit…). Beans and legumes have been used widely around the globe for roughly 5,000 years; they are inexpensive and contain relatively more protein than other plants.

However it should be noted that only 70% of the protein from beans will be absorbed by the body the other 30% will passes through the intestinal tract with the fiber they contain.

Learn The Nutrient Profile Of Beans & Legumes...

Furthermore because they are also high in carbohydrates (with the exception of soy) it can be a good idea to prepare them with another protein rich source such as nuts, seeds, protein powder (soy or whey) or eggs. Low in fat, high in fiber, vitamins and minerals here are a few ways to spice up the beans:


* 1 Cup Chickpeas/garbanzo beans
* 2-3 cloves chopped garlic
* 1 Tbsp Tahini (sesame seed paste)
* Lemon juice
* Spices fresh or dried mix and match to your taste (cumin, coriander, paprika, turmeric are a few good ones to try)
* Oil or water to mix
* Throw all the ingredients into a food processor and blend until you have reached you desired consistency (smooth or chunky).


Start of by cooking some onions, garlic and ginger in a fry pan with either oil or a little bit of water. After about 3-4 minutes when they soften up you can add in a few veggies (carrots, celery are good) chopped up pretty small.

Then add heaps of spices; turmeric, paprika, caraway seeds, chili powder, cumin, coriander etc. Add a little more water and cook for a few more minutes. Then add about 1 cup of brown lentils and about 2 cups of water, mix well, pop a lid on and simmer for about 40 minutes.

If you aren't carb crazy you can add some sweet potatoes in when you add in the other veggies, or some mushrooms nearer to the end of cooking. You can also chuck in a scoop of whey powder right before serving for an extra protein punch. Serve with heaps of steamed broccoli and zucchini. The beauty of this recipe is you can just use pretty much what ever you have in the fridge.

Other Beans To Experiment With:

* Black beans are medium-sized, black-skinned and oval-shaped. They have an earthy sweet flavor and 9 grams of protein.

* Kidney beans are also called Mexican red beans, are a large kidney-shaped bean. Containing 9 grams of protein they have a strong flavor and soft texture.

* Garbanzo beans, also called chickpeas, are a round, medium size, beige color bean. They have a nut-like flavor and firm texture. They are the main ingredient in the popular Middle Eastern dishes hummus and falafel and also contain 9 grams of protein.

* Navy beans are small, white, and oval-shaped. They have a mild flavor and a powdery texture. Navy beans are most often used in baked bean dishes and have 9 grams of protein.

* Pinto beans are medium-sized oval-shaped beans with a spotty beige and brown color. They have an earthy flavor and powdery texture. After cooking, pinto beans turn from a spotty color to brown.

* Lentils are lens-shaped seeds found in the fruit pods of an annual herb usually grown in southwestern Asia. There are two common varieties of lentils, one is small and brown and the other is larger and yellow and they contain roughly 10 grams of protein. Quicker cooking than other beans and is the main ingredient in Dahl, an Indian dish.

* Soybeans are the highest in protein supply 17 grams and also the lowest in carbohydrates. Soybeans are very versatile and are used in the preparation of many vegetarian protein products (see tempeh, tofu, and miso above).


If you are cooking your own beans make you sure you pre soak them and cook them thoroughly. If you have trouble digesting beans quietly there is a product called beano that you can use help avoid embarrassment. It is much like soy sauce and you just add a few drops to your first few mouthfuls. Some beans are also very tasty sprouted and are a good addition to salads and stir-fry.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Mother's Day

I wish a belated mother's day to all the mothers out there. I celebrated mother's day at the ballpark with my mom rooting for the New York Mets, who won! I gave my mom this year a recipe and the ingredients to make this health recipe. Its an invention of mine I call the Quinoa, Bean Powerbowl. Its just a bunch of veggies, grains and beans I put together one night out of creative expression. The recipe is fairly easy.

1 cup of quinoa
2 cups broth (veggie or chicken)
1 can of black beans, white beans or lentils (or all three - but use less of each)
1/2 cup of buckwheat or bulgur wheat
1 bunch of kale, collards or swiss chard

Soak quinoa in water overnight - rinse and drain. Boil up 1 cup of quinoa in veggie or chicken broth. While the quinoa is boiling about 8 minutes add greens to the pot - cover and steam the greens. When water is mostly absorbed, add the beans. Add some spices and seasoning. I like tamari, peanut butter, thai pepper, black pepper and cumin/tumeric.

This recipe can change depending on the grain, bean or green. There are endless possibilities for seasoning and spice. Coconut oil or real butter (unpasteurized, cultured if you can get it) might add some flavor too to make this most satisfying.

I am working on writing up for formal variations of this recipe. Stay tuned. Cook some for your mother or your family tonight!

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Breakfast Quinoa Recipe

I found this recipe on I've started running again and did not have my quinoa this morning and definitely noticed a difference. For whatever reason, even as a health counselor I've found myself not eating as well as I should - rain, busy schedule etc. and I notice a major difference in my running. Its back to quinoa and greens for me. Hopefully tomorrow and Monday's run will be more profitable. I'm hoping for 67 degrees and no rain as well! Happy mothers day to all.

Warm and Nutty Cinnamon Quinoa Recipe

I used a red quinoa here, but you can use whatever kind you like, white/buff colored seems to be the most common. Also, a few notes and tips from the book: low-fat soy milk may replace the low fat milk, blueberries may replace the blackberries, dark honey may replace the agave nectar, and walnuts may replace the pecans.

1 cup organic 1% low fat milk
1 cup water
1 cup organic quinoa, (hs note: rinse quinoa)
2 cups fresh blackberries, organic preferred
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/3 cup chopped pecans, toasted*
4 teaspoons organic agave nectar, such as Madhava brand

Combine milk, water and quinoa in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low; cover and simmer 15 minutes or until most of the liquid is absorbed. Turn off heat; let stand covered 5 minutes. Stir in blackberries and cinnamon; transfer to four bowls and top with pecans. Drizzle 1 teaspoon agave nectar over each serving.

Serves 4.

*While the quinoa cooks, roast the pecans in a 350F degree toaster oven for 5 to 6 minutes or in a dry skillet over medium heat for about 3 minutes.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

to listen to my radio show 5/8 at 9:30AM

radio show 5/8 at 9:30AM

Listen to Sobel Wellness on internet talk radioed'


I found this interesting article on PCOS and carnitine levels. I'd like to share it here:

PCOS Women Found Low in Carnitine

A few months ago we reported a research study
showing that a nutrient, l-carnitine, appears to
stimulate scalp hair growth. Many women with
PCOS have issues with scalp hair loss. Could low
carnitine levels be partially responsible?

Since sharing this research with you, we've come
across another very interesting study regarding l-
carnitine. It is the first study we know of that links
PCOS with low carnitine levels.

The researchers conclude: "Decreased total l-
carnitine levels may be associated with
hyperandrogenism and/or insulin resistance in non-
obese women with PCOS."

Carnitine plays essential roles in your body,
including metabolism of fat and blood sugar.

So if your carnitine levels are lower than optimal,
your energy production and fat burning capability
may be somewhat impaired. You may also have
less carnitine available for scalp hair growth.

Research has shown that women with PCOS
have lower levels of a number of vital nutrients,
including carnitine, vitamin D, and inositol. Since
you are likely to be low in these nutrients, it makes
sense to take them as supplements. This is why
we feature these nutrients in our online store.

Selective supplementation plays an important role
in helping you to deal effectively with PCOS in a
more natural way that has no side effects.

Read the full article here.

L-Carnitine is available here:

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Another plug for quinoa

I saw this plug for Quinoa, my favorite grain, in a newsletter from another health counselor Randi Cestaro. Randi specializes in IBS and works in the Bronx. Here are the details of her post:

Looking for a grain that's high in protein?

Did you know that Quinoa is high in both iron and protein? It has more protein and is much lighter in starch than any other grain. It also has a much lighter taste than other grains, nearly as light as couscous.

If you would like another option for a complex carb, then you must try quinoa. This is a great substitute for rice.

How do you cook quinoa? It only takes about 15 minutes. You add 2 cups of water for each cup of quinoa.

For extra taste, I add olive oil to the pot, then add the quinoa. Toast for a minute or two, and add the water. Once it's done, squirt a fresh lemon on top.

I get mixed reviews from my clients on Quinoa. It is my most favorite grain. I love the nutty taste...but then again, it has taste...unlike white pasta or white rice that tastes like starch. I think that is tasteless. Its interesting how our tastebuds get used to certain substances and dulled of more natural tastes and we find those tasteless. I urge you to try the oil, lemon method or grate an orange (navel, not juice, they are bitter!) and add cilantro into the Quinoa. Also you could add grated lemon rind or lime rind (any rind will do) and add another herb you like: thyme, tarragon or parsley. I happen to like the cilantro and orange combination the best. You could also add a teaspoon or two of real butter. Please don't be afraid of adding butter to your food. This could be the difference between feeling satisfied and being at the fridge in two hours having a should I or shouldn't I conversation with Ben and Jerry.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

The michelin 6 in New York and a recipe from Picholine

I will provide you with a recipe that appeared in Picholine's newsletter. However, today was a day all about food. Having grown up in New York and thank god born to parents who always knew about good food, I have visited my share of wonderful New York restaurants. Little did I know that one of my favorites, Picholine (35 West 64th Street New York, NY 10023 (212) 724-8585), was awarded 2 michelin gold stars. This is one of six restaurants to be awarded 2 stars in New York. The other five: Bouley (been there!), Del Posto (I've eaten dessert there, my friends had dinner, I came at the end. They said it was wonderful. However, I taste a bit of a better than sex chocolate dessert.), Jean Georges (visited when it first opened and was not at all impressed), Gordon Ramsay (was unaware there was one in New York - will need to do some research) and Masa (for $300 price fixe - you would think they would get 3 stars, wouldn't you?). Just in case you are wondering the following three restaurants currently have 3 stars: Per Se (which I have yet to visit), Daniel (been there! Will be discussed below) and Le Bernadin (I have not personally visited. My mother and brother went a few years back and neither were impressed). As a health counselor I believe in fine dining, yet there is probably a lot I can teach these restaurants. I still hold Blue Hill in the highest of regard as a fine dining aficionado and health counselor.

Picholine is the fancier version of Artisanal - a restaurant in Murray Hill (2 Park Avenue at 32nd Street (212)-725-8585) that focuses almost exclusively on cheeses that are raw, organic and from grass fed cows, goats and sheep. On the note of restaurants, I was in union square today shopping at the Greenmarket and I discovered a completely organic Argentinian restaurant called Gusto Grilled Organics, Inc. They are located at 516 Sixth Avenue and their telephone number is 212-242-5800. I look forward to trying them out. Prices looked mixed depending on vegetarian or animal options. I also walked by Tocqueville, a lovely boutique restaurant at 1 East 15th Street - just next to the Au Bon Pain in between 5th avenue and Union Square East. Although I have not cooked in this kitchen, I did cook at Tocqueville's former location at 15 East 15th Street which is now a sister restaurant owned by the same husband and wife owner team. The menu looks just as lovely as ever with a focus on seasonal local fare. However, I have to admit from eating in New York restaurants over the years some of the dishes seem inspired by other dishes (almost to the exact dish) that I have had at Daniel (filet mignon - which Tocqueville serves with a rib eye and braised short rib - this was by far my most favorite meal ever made at Daniel or anywhere else. The strange thing was I went to Daniel twice: on my birthday and on Christmas day. The second time I went I had the same dish and the filet actually tasted burnt, so I sent it back. The second filet was decent, adequate, but no where near the taste of the first one) and Gramercy Tavern (saddle of lamb and lamb chop). However, there were some extremely original dishes that I do not remember from when I worked there such as a pomegranate duck and a lemon verbena tofu - which priced at $28 I can't say I am dying to try, but it certainly looks interesting. The diver scallops and foie gras, probably one of my most favorite dishes (the veal was my favorite) is still on the menu. I was never so happy when someone decided after the orders were put in that they didn't want it and I got to eat one. That only happened once, but was worth peeling hundreds of carrots for. I'm glad to see white asparagus still on the menu. When I worked there it was in a asparagus salad with truffles and now its changed forms to be served in a Greek style with a coddled duck egg. I can't wait to try the new Tocqueville, perhaps in August for my birthday. Its approaching and time to start picking out restaurants ;)

Now that the asparagus have been mentioned, as promised, the recipe from Picholine...
Recipe of the Month

Asparagus Gribiche Serves 4


16 large asparagus spears
2 hard boiled eggs
2 tablespoons capers, drained
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon minced shallot
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
1 tablespoon tarragon
Black pepper in a mill
¼ cup sherry wine vinegar


Pour 2 quarts of water into a 3 quart stockpot, and bring to a boil over high heat. Fill a large bowl halfway with ice water.

Place the tarragon leaves in a colander and set in the boiling water, cooking for 10 seconds. Drain and transfer the tarragon to the ice water to stop the cooking and preserve the color, reserving the water. Once chilled, drain again. Pat the tarragon dry and roughly chop it.

Separate the yolk from the egg and roughly chop both parts. In a mixing bowl add the eggs, capers, parsley, Dijon mustard, olive oil, sherry wine vinegar, shallot, tarragon, 2 grinds of black pepper and salt to taste. Mix well.

Trim the asparagus to approximately 6 inches long. Peel the asparagus 2 inches from the tip. Add the asparagus to the boiling water and cook until al dente, approximately 3 minutes. Drain and transfer the asparagus to the ice water. Once chilled, drain again.

To serve, place 4 asparagus spears on each 10 inch plate and spoon 1 tablespoon of the gribiche on top of the asparagus, or more if desired.

Friday, May 2, 2008

interesting "diet" video all about portion control - but still advocates processed foods

Eating fewer processed foods is good - if you want to lose weight...but its not healthy. Whole grains are just that - whole grains...once you make them into a flour, as with whole wheat bread or pasta - they are no longer WHOLE grains. They are pulverized and refined.

Watch this video:

They recommend 100 calorie packs. An oreo is still an oreo - full of trans fat, sugar, high fructose corn syrup and other evil substances which if you eat only one and you are overweight may lead you to lose weight but will still be filling your body with toxic substances that lead to other health problems, cancer, high cholesterol and the like. I recommend replacing processed foods with vegetables, fruits, whole grains (and I mean actual grains here: quinoa - it takes 9 minutes to make, don't complain! that's less time than most whole wheat pasta takes to boil!, buckwheat, bulgur wheat, brown rice, wild rice, barley, durum wheat...just ask me if you need help with whole grains or cookbooks/recipes). I am aggravated by this video with its cute and dopey exterior and that this is getting into the press.

They recommend low fat granola bars which have tons of sugar and high fructose corn syrup. Replacing one processed food with another does not make for a healthy diet and sustainable weight loss and fullness. This is not what your body craves or needs. Please eat whole, nutritionally dense food that is minimally processed with many fresh fruits, vegetables, seeds and limited animal protein from high quality sources such as grass fed beef, organic free range chicken and wild fish.

I am now going to buy a video camera and look for someone who knows how to edit videos. Please contact me if you live in New York and want to help me with this project!

The only thing to keep in your pantry is dried fruit, granola from a reputable company with less than 5g of sugar (or grains so you can make the granola yourself - its fun!) and dried beans as well as spices. If you are living off foods in the pantry and your pantry is better stocked than your refrigerator you are already in trouble!

CSA - Community Supported Agriculture and the Herbivore's Dilemma

I saw this on daily candy today and I wanted to rerun it here...its great. I'm starting my CSA on June 2 with Roxbury Farm at the Church on 86th and West End. They are a biodynamic farm that follows organic farming methods. I am so excited to get my vegetables delivered fresh from the farm every other week (I am splitting the share with someone else, b/c I don't know what I would do with all those vegetables!)...Its amazing $15 for a bag full of fresh vegetables. Incredible. Look into it, I don't know if there are many shares left anywhere...but its an amazing deal.

The Herbivore’s Dilemma
Farm Share CSA Deliveries
veggies are good for you!

Alright everybody, you know how this game works. The total value of items thrown into your supermarket cart determines the winning team. Sixty seconds on the clock, please.

And they’re off. Way off.

Because the best stuff is still on the farm. Farm Share delivers CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) stakes of local produce from upstate to homes in NYC.

It’s coordinated by a book publicist who loves the farm-to-table concept and figured out how to deliver: by tag-teaming with milkmen commuting to the city, thereby eliminating the need for extra trucks.

From June through November, boxes of veggies (eggplant, lettuce, cucumbers, fingerling potatoes, etc.) and fruit (cherries, peaches, plums, etc.) will be dropped at doorman buildings (sorry tenement dwellers, early a.m. delivery means you’ve got to work it out with a security guy near you).

Sign up ASAP to secure space and help get capital to the farmers up front. Then look for the purple carrot logo — an homage to heirloom varieties lost during the uniformization of shipped produce.

Their time is up.

Available online at

Thursday, May 1, 2008

black bean brownies

I have made chick pea brownies. I love them. They have had mixed appeal with some of my younger clients. Try them out - but don't tell your kids what is in them...1 1/2 cups of agave seems a little excessive in my book. i would recommend a bit more like 3/4 of a cup...but try it out and let me know!

Original recipe:

Amazing Black Bean Brownie Recipe

For those of you who have a hard time tracking down agave nectar (which is becoming much more readily available) substitute honey 1:1 for the agave nectar. Ania's head notes encourage you to keep these brownies in the refrigerator, they will slice much better if refrigerated several hours or preferably overnight. I used instant coffee this time around, but you can find natural coffee substitute at many natural food stores.

4 ounces unsweetened chocolate
1 cup unsalted butter
2 cups soft-cooked black beans, drained well (hs: canned is fine)
1 cup walnuts, chopped
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
¼ cup (granulated) natural coffee substitute (or instant coffee, for gluten-sensitive)
¼ teaspoon sea salt
4 large eggs
1½ cups light agave nectar

Preheat the oven to 325°F. Line an 11- by 18-inch (rimmed) baking pan (hs note: or jellyroll pan) with parchment paper and lightly oil with canola oil spray.

Melt the chocolate and butter in a glass bowl in the microwave for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes on high. Stir with a spoon to melt the chocolate completely. Place the beans, 1/2 cup of the walnuts, the vanilla extract, and a couple of spoonfuls of the melted chocolate mixture into the bowl of a food processor. Blend about 2 minutes, or until smooth. The batter should be thick and the beans smooth. Set aside.

In a large bowl, mix together the remaining 1/2 cup walnuts, remaining melted chocolate mixture, coffee substitute, and salt. Mix well and set aside.

In a separate bowl, with an electric mixer beat the eggs until light and creamy, about 1 minute. Add the agave nectar and beat well. Set aside.

Add the bean/chocolate mixture to the coffee/chocolate mixture. Stir until blended well.

Add the egg mixture, reserving about 1/2 cup. Mix well. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Using an electric mixer, beat the remaining 1/2 cup egg mixture until light and fluffy. Drizzle over the brownie batter. Use a wooden toothpick to pull the egg mixture through the batter, creating a marbled effect. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until the brownies are set. Let cool in the pan completely before cutting into squares. (They will be soft until refrigerated.)

Makes 45 (2-inch) brownies.

Reprinted with permission from Baking With Agave Nectar: Over 100 Recipes Using Nature’s Ultimate Sweetener by Ania Catalano. (Ten Speed Press 2008)

Nibby Buckwheat Butter Cookies and reflections on sweetness...

Ok, so I hear you all when you say grains are gross. I can't just eat them plain. I need something to have as a snack. But once whole grains are pulverized into a flour, you realize they are no longer whole grains, right? I know, I know, you need cookies. Chick pea brownies just aren't cutting it. Ok, so I found a recipe I don't feel entirely guilty about sharing with you all. You can find the original recipe at:

Nibby Buckwheat Butter Cookie Recipe

1 1/4 cups (5.6 ounces) all-purpose flour (note: i really hesitate in recommending anything that has all-purpose can try soy or almond flour instead and see how it comes out)
3/4 cup (3 ounces) buckwheat flour
1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened (I know a lot of butter, but trust me, butter is better than flour - also with this much butter you will feel satisfied eating only one cookie, which is the goal here)
2/3 cup sugar (you could also use agave, maple syrup, date sugar or succanat. If you must use real sugar - make sure its organic, pure sugar, not dominos)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup cacao nibs (yum! can get at any health food store or whole foods)
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Whisk the all-purpose and buckwheat flours together in a medium bowl. Set aside. In a medium bowl, with the back of a large spoon or with an electric mixer, beat the butter with the sugar and salt for about 1 minute, until smooth and creamy but not fluffy. Mix in the nibs and vanilla. Add the flours and mix just until incorporated. Scrape the dough into a mass and, if necessary, knead it with your hands a few times, just until smooth.

Form the dough into a 12 by 2 inch log. Wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or, preferably overnight. (hs note: At this point I formed the dough into two flat patties, knowing I wanted to roll it out and use cookie cutters to shape the cookies).

Position the tacks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and preheat the oven to 350F degrees. Line the baking sheets with parchment paper.

Use a sharp knife to cut the cole dough log into 1/4-inch-thick slices. (hs note: or roll out with a floured rolling pin and cut out shapes with cookie cutter.) Place the cookies at least 1 1/2 inches apart on the baking sheets.

Bake until the cookie are just beginning to color at the edges, 12 to 14 minutes, rotating the baking sheets from top to bottom and front to back halfway through the baking. Cool the cookies in the pans on a rack, or slide the parchment liners carefully onto the rack to free up the pans. Let cool completely. The cookies are delicious fresh but even better the next day. They can be stored in an airtight container for at least one month.

Makes forty-eight 2 1/2-inch cookies.

from Pure Dessert by Alice Medrich (Artisan, 2007) - reprinted with permission.

Let me know how they come out and if you try the variations with the soy or almond flour. Please use all the butter! I hesitate to recommend these for vegans. I'd say you could possibly substitute coconut oil or coconut butter for the butter, but I am not sure how that would come out. I do not recommend any other oil or vegan butter because I am afraid that those substances have trans fats in them. Also refined oils (which are often rancid!) and polyunsaturated oils lead to many more problems such as free radical formation (which are known carcinogens). Why on earth would you want to introduce these particles into your body.

We have become a cookie culture. Although I provide you with this recipe today, I often wonder why we crave sweet things. What is missing from our lives that is sweet that we seek it in food. Are we lonely, do we not spend enough time with people or doing activity that provide us with sweetness. I leave you with this. Next time you want to reach for a cookie, close your eyes, take a deep breath and really think - why do I want this cookie? Think about someone or in some cases something you love or you associate with sweetness. Why do you not have enough of that person or that thing and why do you still have cravings for sweet foods that provide no real sustenance? If you must have something sweet - why not a beet salad, sweet potato, butternut squash soup, piece of real dark chocolate (but only one piece!) which you chew mindfully and slowly allow to melt and envelop your tongue with its sweetness. Sugar is not the answer. Find your sweetness elsewhere or try more natural methods. Enjoy your Thursday!