I'm really obsessed with Ana Sortun. She's a Boston-area chef and makes insanely good food. So, I suppose it's more accurate to say I'm obsessed with her food since I actually don't know her. But in any case, if you haven't eaten at Oleana or Sofra, do yourself a favor and go. Just go. And rumor has it, she has a third restaurant opening up in Somerville which is pretty darn exciting. Oh, and did I forget to mention she has a line of "Chef Sets" at Whole Foods? I haven't tried them yet, but I kind of love the fact that she's such a female, foodie rock star. Turns out my friend and colleague Janel Ovrut was sent a free set of the meals (jealous) and wrote a review here.
So Chef Sortun uses super interesting spices and ingredients that she learns about from her travels to Europe and the Middle East. Eating her food feels like a cultural experience for my taste buds right in my own backyard! At Sofra she serves this incredible greek yogurt parfait (greek yogurt fresh from the cows in her nearby farm for crying out loud). And instead of using granola, she uses this grain called grano. Turns out grano actually means grain in Italian.
I'm in love with it. It's a whole grain with this unusual firm, chewy texture. Turns out it's high in fiber, vitamins, and protein. And when mixed with yogurt, fruit, and a some jelly, it's heavenly. It's an awesome boost to a morning meal but can also be used in any other grain-based dish you might be making.
Cook's note: you cook grano just like brown rice- 2 parts water, 1 part grain, pinch of salt. Throw it all in a pot, bring to a boil, reduce the heat to a simmer, cover with a lid and cook for ~10ish minutes.
There's something really magical about trying something totally foreign. So if you're looking for an excuse to head to Sofra, tell yourself your local dietitian said you needed to go buy some whole grain grano. :) You wont regret it, I promise!
So what's your favorite foreign food you've ever tasted? If you could import anything to American grocery store shelves, what would it be?
I don't know if you're like me but I love really good food and I like it pretty darn quick. Right now, my schedule just doesn't allow for meals that take more than 30 min to prepare. So I'm always looking for nutritious, speedy options for meal time. And this weekend I stumbled upon another gem from my BFF Trader Joe's- Frozen Sweet Potatoes. Given the fact that just prior to vacation I tossed out about 4 sweet potatoes that had started sprouting before I cooked them, this sounded like a fabulous idea.
Needless to say, I am in love. The sweet potatoes are pre-roasted, mashed, and frozen in little discs. You toss those babies in a pan with some water and they are ready in about 5 minutes. Actually, I added a tablespoon of coconut oil, water, and crushed red pepper and thought I had died and gone to heaven. So so so good. You could easily pair this with some grilled chicken, tofu, or even with cheese inside a tortilla for a spin on quesadillas.
The cool thing about these frozen veggies is that they are PURE sweet potatoes. NOTHING more. Whole veggies prepped and frozen at their prime which means they retain high nutrient value. Who can't get behind that?
Do you have any quick nutritious products you're in love with? If so, send it my way!
I have never been a fan of pre-made diet-based meals like Jenny Craig. They are tasteless, nutritionally inadequate, and provide a “quick fix” without the ability to facilitate lasting and healthful change. And it wasn’t until I was recently introduced to The Foodery that I fell in love with the idea of home delivered meals. To be brief, The Foodery is everything that Jenny Craig isn’t.
A couple of months ago, the owners of The Foodery contacted me. They were relatively new to the area and trying to get connected with local business owners. Originally when they reached out to me for a meet-up I made it very clear that I do NOT promote diets and am not an advocate of any type of company that sells meal replacements and low quality food for people desperate to lose weight. And they quickly reassured me, that’s not what they are in business for. Phew.
Turns out I have a lot in common with Mike and John from The Foodery. One- we like food a lot. But we don’t like just any food, we like food that tastes really really good. Two- we care about quality ingredients. And three- we don’t always have the time we’d like to prepare delicious and nutritionally balanced meals. If you’d like to learn more about their history and business philosophy, definitely check out their blog and website.
After our meet-up, Mike and John invited me to taste test their food in order to provide them constructive feedback. (I know, my job sounds really rough sometimes.) When the food arrived, it felt a little like Christmas.
The packaging and presentation made the whole experience totally enjoyable. I sampled three different meals:
1. Filet, spinach, watercress salad, blueberry dressing
2. Porcini-topped lamb, butternut squash, couscous
3. Shrimp veggie pizza, whole wheat crust
What I LOVED:
1. Presentation- the meals were beautifully presented. The balance, color, and variety were very visually appealing.
2. Variety- I selected items that I probably wouldn’t prepare at home. It was really fun to have such a wide variety of tastes and flavors in the course of a few days.
3. Freshness- All of the food tasted incredibly fresh. No wilty vegetables. No store bought flavor. Even the blueberry dressing for the salad was homemade and bursting with flavor.
4. Nutritional Quality- Each of the meals was really nicely balanced from a nutritional perspective. The only meal I found lacking in the nutritional department was the salad. I would have liked a grain integrated in to the meal. That was the meal that left me feeling less than fully satisfied.
Things to consider:
If you are looking for high-quality, nicely prepared, organic, nutritious, and yummy food delivered to your door- The Foodery is IT. Right now the meals are delivered on Sunday evening within a 3 hour time frame. If you aren’t typically home from 6-9 on Sunday evenings, this could prove to be problematic. Also, the price point is $23 per meal. Given the time and costs of preparing an organic meal, seems pretty reasonable to me, but something to keep in mind.
So if you give The Foodery a try, be sure to tell ‘em Marci sent you. J Happy eating.
A couple of weeks ago I ran to Darwin's to pick up some pita chips. (Big shout to Darwin's, home to some of the tastiest sandwiches I've ever tasted.) To my surprise they were all out. But they had falafel chips, which I had never heard of or tried. The package says it's "the chip for hummus dip" so I decided to check them out. Well, I had no idea what was in store! These chips are FABULOUS! In fact, I would go as far as to say I absolutely LOVE them. Oh how I love them, let me count the ways:
- They are made with whole beans and canola oil, which means they are a deliciously and nutritiously balanced snack with more protein, fiber, and healthy fats than a pita chip.
- The spices on the falafel chips are totally scrumptious. I adore spicy food though, so if you prefer a more mild snack you may want to check out Trader Joe's version of falafel chips. They are good but not as tasty as the Flamous brand, in my opinion.
- Couple them with hummus, guacamole, or bean dip and you've had a super quick snack or appetizer.
As someone who constantly drinks water all day, I knew I had to find a better alternative to buying bottled water. I couldn’t help but think how much money I was spending each day on buying water! I also felt somewhat guilty about how much waste I was creating by drinking bottle upon bottle of water each day. So, one can only imagine how excited I was when I came across this fantastic innovation from Brita. Brita’s new water bottle has a filter placed inside, which allows you to change any normal tap water into a great tasting product you might find being sold on shelves.
Though tap water is regulated by the EPA, chlorine is often added as a disinfectant by certain municipalities, and lead can leach out of household plumbing into water being poured. Brita water filtration systems reduce the common impurities, and can even remove 96.6% of pharmaceuticals found in drinking water. Reducing Chlorine, Copper, and Mercury creates better tasting and smelling water – which is more appealing and therefore hopefully helps individuals drink more of the healthy stuff. Brita bottles are NSF certified (inspected by a third-party) ensuring that their product does in fact reduce the taste and odor of Chlorine and particulates in water.
The bottle itself is easy to navigate. There is a small filter that sits inside the top that can be replaced as needed, (should be replaced every 256 refills, 2 months, or 40 gallons) and is extremely simple to change. The bottle itself is made of a soft plastic material, allowing for easy squeezing and dispensing of water. Another easily overlooked but great feature is the loop by the mouth piece, which helps with easy carry (when your arms are full) and can attach to straps on backpacks and other bags. The Brita bottle is also marketed at a reasonable price. The Brita website lists the bottle at $9.99, though I have also found it at Wal-Mart for $8.88. The replacement filters are equally inexpensive at $6.88 for a pack of two at Wal-Mart. With its ease of purchase in local stores, inexpensiveness, and versatility, I would recommend this water bottle to everyone – from kids to adults, for sporting outings and professional work days.
This bottle has changed everything for me. I use it at work, school, on-the-go, and the opportunities are endless. In the past, just thinking about how awful the tap tasted at work, would force me to pay extra for the fancy bottled water. But now, I know that I am free to drink water from any tap anywhere I go with the help of the ingenious bottle filter. And, at the great price, it is easy to buy one to keep at work, home, and even in the car. I have now had my Brita bottle for 7 months and have never looked back. It is in excellent condition even though I use it on a daily basis, and still creates great tasting water.
I picked up the Desert Pepper corn and black bean salsa, which is also labeled “medium” in spiciness. I tried it out with plain tortilla chips when I got home, and I declared it a winner. It is a nice chunky salsa, which makes scooping easy, and there are plenty of corn and black beans spread throughout the salsa. It fits the medium spice label because there was a kick to it, but it wasn’t overpowering to my taste buds. The flavors of the tomatoes, corn, and black beans were all apparent and stood out.
So far, I’ve tried it with tortilla chips, on eggs, and on tacos. My roommate and I finished it up on taco night, but I’m definitely going to pick up another jar at the store soon. I highly recommend it!
The holiday season gets me all excited for special things that are only available this time of year. Cozy sweaters, holiday decorations, Christmas music, the scent of cinnamon swirling in my apartment, and Burdick's hot chocolate (to name a few). But this year, I discovered a new favorite holiday obsession: decaffeinated Candy Cane Green Tea from Trader Joe's (which I just discovered is available on Amazon for those of you far from a TJ's!).
The topic of the health benefits of green tea is quite a controversial one. If you are interested in delving in to some of the research, this article summarizes a lot of the recent studies on the topic. Despite the enthusiasm over the tea's ability to fight cancer, lower cholesterol, and improve diabetes "real-world evidence is lacking; most of the consistent findings about green tea's health benefits have come out of the lab."
But don't let this dissuade you from warming up with a cup of Trader's Joe's holiday version. We do know that green tea is loaded with antioxidants. And THAT should come in handy as the holiday stress begins to mount. Call it fact or fiction, I can't deny that sipping on a cup of delicious tea does wonders for my mental health...not to mention the boost I may be getting from the antioxidant qualities of green tea.
Do you have any holiday favorites? I'd love to know about them!
Ok, I'm going to keep it real here. I like to cook. But recently, there hasn't been time for much else but microwaving. So I recently picked up two new frozen items to try. (Yes, frozen and pre-prepared items from Whole Foods and Trader Joe's have been keeping me fed the past couple of weeks.) And I just warmed them up for dinner and was pleasantly surprised!
Product Showcase Item #1: Turkey Meatballs from Trader Joe'sSuper tasty. Just microwave them! I can imagine they'd be great with pasta, a baked potato, or wild rice. I paired it with...
Product Showcase Item #2: Garden Lites Butternut Squash Souffle from Whole FoodsTop with some brown sugar and you're good to go! Would be super tasty with salmon or grilled chicken as well. I totally enjoyed both the flavor and fluffy texture!
In under 10 minutes I had a bowl of meatballs and squash ready to go, along with a glass of milk. Yummy, balanced, and super super speedy when cookin' just ain't gonna' happen!
What are super speedy meal time favorites?
Alright, a few days ago I tore to shreds the poor brown rice cake in my product no case post. But I promised to share with you a whole grain cracker that I simply love.
It is the yummy and inexpensive Ak Mak Cracker! They have been around for ages and are available at just about every store. Yes, they are dry and crunchy (so that may be a turn off to some people). But the sesame seed flavor is super yummy.
I don’t mind snacking on them alone but find them to be a much more satisfying snack when eaten:
1. with peanut butter
2. with hummus
3. with turkey and cheese
I think you get the idea. I prefer them when eaten with some protein and fat to add flavor and balance for a more satisfying/longer lasting snack. You can even crumble on salads or soup too.
Do you love Ak Mak crackers? What’s your favorite way to eat them?
I love peanut butter. So when a client brought me a jar of Peanut Butter & Co's Cinnamon Raisin Swirl peanut butter I was pretty excited. BUT I was not prepared for the DELICIOUSNESS awaiting me. If you like peanut butter, cinnamon, and raisins then you MUST find the nearest store that sells Peanut Butter & Co ASAP. (If you don't like all of those things, they have some other fun flavors which you should check out.) I love peanut butter for a lot of reasons:
- The smooth, rich, creaminess is like a little heaven on my tongue
- It pairs nicely with so many things: apples, bananas, crackers, oatmeal, waffles, marinades, soups, dressings, smoothies, and cookies
- The natural blend of protein and fat makes it a stellar partner with carbs like grains, fruits and veggies giving your snack or meal staying power!
Are you a peanut butter lover too? What's your favorite way to eat it?
Note: If you have a peanut allergy, I apologize. I hope I didn't make you feel left out. I'll try to pick something next month that is allergy free. :)