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Turmeric: What's the big deal? How to consume in a tea form

TURMERIC, known for it’s powerful anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties are added to my new blend of healing homemade tea. The key to turmeric’s healing power is the chemical compound curcumin. What’s it good for?

Spaghetti Squash Comfort Food

Thinking of my east coast friends surviving winter. My first year living without snow, yet I still choose to cook heavy, flavorful winter inspired foods. 

Surprise Youself With A New Food Every Week

We came home from vacation and my friend who had been dog sitting had left two persimmons on the counter. I looked at the beautiful orange fruit as a gift and a sign to prepare my next meal with a new food. I’m sure I’ve eaten this fruit before, but my memory could not bring up the flavors so I pulled up some info on the characteristics and then looked into my favorite recipes to find a place for it. persimmon

Get out of the rut of eating the same foods over and over again. When you are at the grocery store make it a habit to try a new fruit, vegetable or grain every week. Maybe try something you recall disliking as a kid and see what you make of it now. Not feeling very experimental, start with a different brand of apple, or type of potato. Get to know your spice rack to change the flavors in a dish you make frequently.

Having just come back from vacation I wanted to incorporate the persimmon into a dish I was already familiar with. Try this experiment next time you pick up a new food at the grocery store. Substitute it for something common in one of your favorite dishes. Keep it simple.

persimmon salad

I had been eating fish all week in Hawaii and still wanted to keep on that path so I took my recipe for pecan crusted chicken and substituted tilapia. I served this over a salad of baby spinach, pre-cooked red beets, avocado, and substituted persimmon for orange sections. To add some depth to the flavor and texture I added homemade purple cabbage sauerkraut (so easy to make and it can be kept in the refrigerator for 6 months) and homemade sprouts. Before trying this dish I had no idea what to do with persimmon and now I have a new seasonal fruit to look forward to eating in the fall.

Some tips if you want to try persimmon. The fruit is native to China and was later introduced to California. Check where your grocery store fruit came from and try for as local as possible as opposed to Asian imports. It’s harvested in the fall in California and typically available through December. One fruit is about 70 calories and is a good source of fiber. It has anti-infective, anti-inflammatory, and anti-hemorrhagic properties. The orange color it a tip that it is high in carotenoids, helping to prevent age related macular disease. One fruit provides 80% of daily requirement for vitamin C. It’s a good post workout food as it is fairly high in minerals like potassium, manganese, copper and phosphorus. There are two common varieties, the hachiya (more astringent) and the fuyu (more sweet) shown in my recipe. The hachiya variety has a shape similar to a plum tomato and requires more ripening if you want to experience a sweet taste.

Now that I know I like the fruit and understand it's texture and taste I'm going to try it in a Caprese Salad. Give this a try and tell me what you think.

Balancing a meal with 5 essential flavors

Next time you have a great meal notice whether the 5 essential flavors are present. I find my meals more satisfying and I don’t crave more food, or sweet treats after if there is a balance of these five flavors plus fat. Sweet does a great job of giving a savory dish more depth, just like salt. Both salty and sweet tastes signal an intake of calories to our brain. If a dish seems too sweet, sour ingredients like lemon and vinegar will neutralize the sweetness. Fruits and root vegetables are good naturally sweet whole foods to include in your meals.

Bitter is a flavor many are not too fond of, but bitter foods are really good for us. It’s the compounds within the bitter foods that make them healthy like carotenoids in sweet potatoes and spinach, flavonoids in cranberries, and polyphenols in wine. Other bitter foods to incorporate are broccoli, kale, and Brussels sprouts.

Salty brings out subtle flavors you’d like to highlight and also diminishes flavors that are too bitter. Salty foods you may consider are soy sauce, miso paste, cured meats, olives, or cheese.

Sour is another flavor that tends to be hard to swallow, but just a small amount of lime or vinegar can brighten up a dish. Don’t confuse sour with bitter; the main difference is that sour is acidic. It generally doesn’t take much of a sour food to take a dish that is fairly bland and produce great flavor. Consider cultured dairy products, kimchi, sauerkraut, lemon, lime and vinegar.

Unami is the hardest flavor to describe. The word translates to mean “savoriness” and is often associated with meaty flavors and foods that are aged or cured. A seared red meat dish already has a unami quality, but if you are looking to make a vegetarian dish, or less flavorful chicken or fish dish more savory try soy sauce, fish sauce, miso paste, dried seaweed, beef or bone broth, parmesan, anchovies, tomatoes or mushrooms.

And what about fat? Although not on the list I feel fat should be another flavor or taste we should think about for food combining.


Take a look at the salad in my picture. I’ll put this together and have if for at least 3 meals, adding different ingredients each day. It’s so easy to pull out of the refrigerator and eat right away after a workout and I can eat a tone of it. So satisfying! I also really enjoy the textures of the shredded vegetables, crunch of the seeds and bursts of flavor from the pomegranate. If pomegranate is not in season I like to substitute grapefruit.

3 heads broccoli = bitter

1 small head cauliflower

2 large carrots = sweet

½ cup sunflower seeds (unsalted)

½ cup pomegranate seed= sour and sweet

½ cup mint

Salt and pepper to taste

With the shred blade and a food processor shred the broccoli, cauliflower and carrots. Place in large bowl and stir in sunflower seeds, pomegranate seeds, chopped mint, and salt and pepper to taste. Do not over salt as the dressing adds salty flavor as well.

Dressing: combine all ingredients and whisk until smooth

¼ cup tahini = Unami (you can sub any natural nut butter)

2 T rice vinegar = sour apple cider vinegar works ok but I like a more subtle vinegar

2 tsp miso= unami and salty

1 T maple syrup or honey= sweet

¼ cup + 1T hot water

Toss dressing into salad.

Other things I may add for additional pleasure on other days: grape tomatoes, cucumber, avocado, shredded chicken, hardboiled egg, or canned tuna.

Cooking and Multitasking

A topic that comes up from time to time with my clients is how to find time to cook a whole foods meal post workout.  I had this situation arise myself recently and thought I would share how I managed to cook, stretch post workout, take a shower and fold laundry all within 50 min! I had started preparation for a meal on a Sunday afternoon but by time dinner came around our plan had changed and the meal was not going to get cooked.  On Monday afternoon, I was on my bike in Central Park and negotiating how I was going to manage getting this meal cooked.  I’m strict about refueling within an hour of a workout (in this case a 2 hour bike ride) and sometimes turn to shakes and snacks, although they are great supplementation, sometimes these post workout mini meals turn into extra calories that I would prefer not to consume.

So here is the Spicy Coconut Chicken Casserole that I cooked, and the steps I took to get it all done in 50 min.

Spicy Coconut Chicken Casserole

This was originally a Martha Stewart recipe.  This serves 8 small dishes (1thigh each) or 4 large dishes. Nutrition data is for 8.

Ingredients:spicyCoconutChicien 1 Tbsp coconut oil 3 lbs chicken thighs 1/2 tsp sea salt 1/4 tsp black pepper 13 1/2 fl oz coconut milk 2 tsp curry paste 1 cup Arborio rice 2  bell pepper (red) 8 oz green beans 6 oz red onion 1 1/2 cups chicken broth


You can use chicken thighs or drumsticks. Arborio or jasmine rice are good choices. I used light coconut milk and went with red curry paste, 2-3 teaspoons is just a guide.

1.  Start with prep work and cut all veggies into 1-inch chunks or pieces. Skin chicken and trim the fat.

I completed these steps the day before.

2.  In Dutch oven or heavy pot, heat oil over medium-high heat. Season chicken with salt and pepper. Working in two batches, cook chicken until browned 3-4 min per side. Transfer to a plate.

While browning the chicken I brought my mat into the kitchen and stretched for a good 15 min, longer than I would usually stretch.

3.  Scrape chicken bits from bottom and add coconut milk, broth, 1/2 cup water, and curry paste. Taste and adjust spice while bringing to a boil. Stir in rice. Add chicken and any remaining juices arranging pieces in a single layer.  Cover, reduce heat to medium-low. Cook, without stirring until rice is done, about 15 min.

I made sure heat was adjusted and would not boil over.  Took my shower and dried my hair for 15 min while this simmered.

4. Scatter bell pepper, onion, and green beans on top, cover, and cook until vegetables are crisp tender, 8-10 min. 

I folded laundry and cleaned up around the kitchen for the last few minutes of cooking time.

Calories 385; fat 17g; saturated 7g; carb; 28g; protein 23g

Done!  Within 50 min post workout, got a great stretch in, got cleaned up and was refueled in less than an hour.  Plus this simple one dish meal gave me plenty of leftovers for the rest of the week.

Avocado Toad in a Hole with Sweet Potato Hash

Eggs, avocado, and sweet potato!  Yum.  I don’t keep bread in the house but always have avocado on hand.  In this recipe I substitute nutritious avocado for bread and make a better carb choice with sweet potato.

 Serves 2:

1 large sweet potato 1T + 1tsp coconut oil garlic powder onion powder (optional) dried herbs (optional) salt pepper 4 large eggs 1 large avocado

Cut sweet potato lengthwise so it will fit in a food processor tube.  Use the shredder blade.  Combine shredded sweet potatoes, and herbs in a bowl.  Add 1T coconut oil to preferably an iron skillet.  Once nice and hot stir-fry potato for one minute then place lid on top for a few more minutes.  Hash is done when some of the hash is brown and texture is soft. 

Cut avocado in half lengthwise, and then in half again.  Remove skin.  2 slices will have a hole where the seed once was.  Dig a hole in the other two slices.  Place the remaining teaspoon of oil in a skillet and warm.  Place avocado slices on the skillet.  Brown slightly and turn.  Drop an egg in the middle of each slice and cook as desired adding salt and pepper if you wish.

Check out this great site for all you could possibly want to know about avocados.

Best Darn Deviled Eggs

I’ve never been a big fan of deviled eggs because of the mayonnaise, but this healthy fat recipe is amazing.  Don’t think of them just for dinner parties, they are great accompaniment to a salad or soup, or as snack.  Healthy fats leave you feeling satiated and helps you burn body fat stores.  They will hold up for about three days. 



6 Organic hard-boiled eggs

1 small very ripe avocado


1 ½ teaspoon coconut oil (in liquid state) or olive oil


1 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar


½ dill pickle chopped (optional)


¼ cup chopped cilantro (optional)


salt, pepper, cayenne and cumin to taste





Slice eggs in half.  Remove the yolk from each egg and place in a large bowl.  Use a fork to blend yolk, avocados, coconut oil, apple cider vinegar, pickle (if using) and seasonings.  Mix to desired consistency.  You can use a blender if you prefer the filling creamier, but I like texture so use a fork.  Spoon the mixture into the center of each egg.  Place a dot of Sriracha onto each egg.  Sprinkle with cilantro if using.   Nosh!


Lose Weight Eating Spaghetti

You think I’m kidding?  Not Spaghetti pasta, spaghetti squash.  I love this vegetable as a seasonal transitional food.  I’m pretty much ready to give up the winter squashes in favor of lighter spring foods, but compared to others this one  has a light and sweet flavor, delicate texture, is incredibly versatile and can actually substitute pasta in many dishes.

Spaghetti squash is low in calories, but high in vitamins and antioxidants.  One cup of cooked spaghetti squash is only 10 grams of carbohydrates and 42 calories compared to regular spaghetti pasta, which is around 43 grams of carbohydrates and 221 calories per cup.  It ranks very low on the glycemic index, so will not cause blood sugar levels to spike and then drop suddenly.  This vegetable is an excellent source of beta carotene, also known as vitamin A which helps to boost the immune system and maintain healthy eye function.  Spaghetti squash also contains significant amounts of niacin, vitamin B6, potassium, manganese, fiber and vitamin C.

To cook spaghetti squash cut the whole squash in half and remove all the seeds.  You will need a large sharp knife, as she skin and flesh are tough.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and place the halves cut side down in a roasting pan, or glass baking dish along with half an inch of water.  Bake for 30-45 minutes depending on size, until it is tender but not mushy.  You can also microwave it, but I have not tried that method.  Take a fork and scrape the stingy squash out onto individual plates and top with the food you would normally place on top of spaghetti or place in a bowl and toss in other ingredients.

Each squash will provide at least 6 servings so make each meal a little different.  Treat it just like pasta and top with a homemade tomato sauce, meat, and sautéed vegetables.  Serve it cold and toss like a salad with lightly steamed vegetables.  Use it as a base for a meal that is a little saucy that you would typically serve over rice.  You can treat it like a side dish and toss with olive oil, a little nutmeg, ground pepper and Parmesan cheese.  Take the components of a Greek salad and cook them (onion, garlic, tomato, olives, feta cheese), replace the greens with spaghetti squash, toss and serve warm

Roasted Harvest Vegetable Medley

Someone asked me recently how I roasted the vegetables for a dinner and I laughed.  I thought everyone knew how to roast root  vegetables to make a sweet and savory side dish,  so I decided to share this one.  This is a very flexible dish for fall or winter and most of the ingredients can be gathered at a local farmer's market.  You can switch up the veggies and select whatever is available (focus on root vegetables).  If you end up with more cut vegetables than what the recipe requires just add some extra olive oil and herbs (the herbs and garlic are key).  Keep in mind that the Brussels sprouts and potatoes are the most dense and will take longer to cook, therefore make sure those are cut to an appropriate size.

Serves about 8

1 lb small Brussels sprouts, trimmed and cut in half

1 small butternut squash, halved, cut into chunks (1 1/2 lb)

1 head cauliflower, separated into 2 inch florets (1 lb)

4 medium leeks, white parts only, trimmed and quartered lengthwise

1/2 lb baby carrots

1/2 lb parsnips, peeled and cut to about the same size as the baby carrots

24 cloves garlic, peeled (2 heads), plus 3 garlic cloves minced (1 Tbs) divided

1 Tbs chopped fresh sage, plus 24 leaves, divided

1 Tbs chopped fresh rosemary

2 red bell peppers, in chunks

Adjust oven rack so it is close to the heat source.  Preheat oven to 450 deg.  Bring saucepan of water to a boil.  Add Brussels sprouts and cook 3 minutes, or until bright green.  Drain, rinse under cold water, then pat dry.

Toss squash, cauliflower, potatoes, leeks, carrots, parsnips, garlic cloves, 3 Tbs. olive oil, chopped sage, sage leaves, and rosemary in large roasting pan.  Season with salt and pepper and spread into single layer.  Roast 25 minutes, tossing vegetables twice.  Add bell peppers, Brussels sprouts, minced garlic, and remaining 1 Tbs oil.  Roast 15 minutes more, or until vegetables are browned on edges and tender.

If you have a lot of leftover you can also make a soup.  Just take vegetable stock, add the leftover vegetables and puree.

Colorful Raw Kale Salad with Sweet Root Vegetables

I made this salad for the NYC Marathon party we threw last weekend.  There was some discussion in my household about my planned menu that led me to question my choice of kale for a salad for a moment, but I stuck with my gut feeling that this one would be tasty.  If you are not familiar with preparing kale, don’t fret, this salad is raw, pleasing to the eyes, and was the most talked about dish at the party.  In a good way!  Although the recipe did not suggest preparing ahead of time, I made the salad the night before and allowed the lemon juice to tenderize and mellow the flavor of the kale.  Makes a great salad to bring to holiday parties- colorful, healthy, flavorful and filling.

Choose the tender, long-leafed Lacinato kale if available, but any variety will do as long as you cut very thin strips and give the greens a thorough rubdown with the salt, vinegar, and oil mixture.  Be sure to strip the leaves from the thick stalk and discard the stalks.  The suggested root vegetables can be substituted.  For instance I made this with turnip, beets and parsnips, which added both a sweetness and great color.  You can also save time by using the shredding blade of a food processor instead of grating the root vegetables.

Serves 8 as a side dish


2-12oz bunches of kale, stems removed, leaves cut into thin strips of chiffonade (too much is better than too little)

2 Tbsp. Olive oil or Flax oil

1 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar

1 ½ tsp sea salt, divided

1-cup whole pecans (or more)

¼ cup pure maple syrup

2 Tbsp Canola oil

¼ tsp cayenne pepper

1 medium turnip, peeled and grated (1 cup)

½ medium rutabaga, peeled and grated (1 cup)

1 medium carrot, grated (1/2 cup)

2 green onions, cut thin on diagonal


2 Tbsp lemon juice

1 Tbsp olive oil or Flax oil

1 Tbsp low-sodium soy sauce

1 Tbsp agave nectar or honey

Place well-drained kale in a large bowl and pour olive oil, vinegar and 1tsp salt over the top.  Gently massage the mixture into kale about 2-3 minutes by hand, or until kale starts to wilt.

Stir turnip, rutabaga, carrot, and green onions into kale mixture

Whisk together lemon juice, oil, soy sauce, and agave nectar in bowl. Season with salt and pepper if desired.

My suggestion is to add the salad dressing to the salad and allow to sit about 8 hours, but if you are pressed for time you can dress the salad about 30 minutes before serving.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Toss together pecans, maple syrup, canola oil, remaining ½ tsp salt, and cayenne in a medium bowl.  Spread nut mixture in single layer on prepared baking sheet; bake 8-10 minutes, or until pecans are brown and fragrant, stirring frequently.  Cool in pan.  Add the pecans just prior to serving the salad.

Adapted from vegetarian times magazine