Tag Archives: cooking

SLIM Healthy Holiday Hacks

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It’s the holiday season and time for you to sparkle too.

Enjoy yourself and know that weight loss is a rare bird during this season of indulgence. But you don’t have to gain any weight.

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In fact, maintaining your weight should be the goal so that you don’t wake up on January 1st with a bigger New Year’s diet resolution than you had anticipated.

SLIM DOWN SOUTH COOKBOOK  There’s a reason it’s called SLIM!

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I have four tips and they spell out the word SLIM!

S- Savor the fresh flavors of the season (enjoy in season squash, apples, dark greens and citrus)
L- Linger longer ( take your time and be mindful of flavors )
I- Indulge a Little ( choose smart portions of splurge foods)
M- Make it Happen (go walking, say no to sugar sweetened beverages)

 

Please enjoy this video from NBC Atlanta & Company where I explain it all…plus an easy holiday appetizer. Mozzarella, Prosciutto and Mango.

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Nutritious Meets Delicious!

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Follow the Big Red Apple (symbol of nutrition, not just the Real Housewives of NYC) as I lead a quick tour of what Dietitians learned (and sometimes laughed about ) at the annual Food and Nutrition Conference #FNCE organized by our professional organization the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

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Thousands of registered dietitian nutritionists from across the nation and around the world met in Boston this week to hear the latest on food, nutrition and cuisine.

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Did someone say Boston? Well then where are the Lobster Rolls?

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Here they are! I had 3…they were small.

My registered dietitian colleague Janet Helm, author of Nutrition Unplugged blog is a trend spotting master. Here she is in action on the exhibit floor of FNCE where food companies, big, small, new and classic strut their nutritious stuff to see if dietitians will bite. Sometimes we love it and tell you all about it…and sometimes have to spit it out. But thanks for trying food folks.

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Registered dietitian Janet Helm, top taste trend spotter!

Here are a few of Janet’s food photos from FNCE and a few of mine. Thank you Janet Helm.

Build a better noodle: noodles made from beans, peas and other ‘pulses’ to boost protein and add variety to the ever-lovin’ noodle category.

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Classic pastas count for good nutrition too! I like Barilla pastas with a boost of protein from beans in the mix.

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Go to Gut Health:  Sure gluten-free is a trend but nutrition advice goes way beyond gluten to help folks improve their gut health. Pro-biotics is a hot topic because these foods (vegetables, fermented foods such as yogurt and even sauerkraut, and other foods and drinks packed with friendly bacteria are emerging as a lively category).

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Seeing Seeds Everywhere: Who doesn’t love sunflower seeds? sesame seeds? Well, guess what they’re good for our health because they are little power packs of good nutrition. How do you think a plant grows from a seed? I like to add a handful of toasted sunflower seeds to salads for taste, crunch ( instead of friend croutons) and great nutrition.

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Sprouted grains ( from the seeds of the plant) are trending in baked goods too. Small bakeries may have started it but now even old favorites such as Pepperidge Farm are in on the sprouted grains trend. I like the nutty taste.

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YO! There’s a LOT of Yogurt here! 

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Chobani cheers for savory recipes using their Greek Yogurt including whole milk yogurts.

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Grab a spoon because yogurt is a pro-biotic food, good for your gut, made of delicious  dairy with so many nutrients including protein, calcium and potassium. Guess what? Even folks with lactose intolerance can often enjoy cultured dairy products, such as yogurt.

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Hey Siggi, all the way from Iceland, going BIG for Icelandic “SYR” their deliciously rich and creamy yogurt. That’s #therealSiggi in the photo.

And Dannon, which I remember to be the original yogurt introduced to American palates, is still going strong. I love their Light & Fit yogurts. They threw a yoga party for dietitians. Oh wow, aerial yoga? Ever try this?

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Serious Sides for Nutrition Truths Today:

-Remember that nutrition is a hot topic so it attracts a lot of click bait on the internet, which means NOT all of the information is going to be accurate!

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-Trust a registered dietitian nutritionist RDN when they are quoted in the media. We are trained academically and professionally to translate the latest research findings into easy to understand food shopping, cooking and eating out advice.

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Rachel Berman of Verywell.com, Janet Helm and I…presented a session called “Consulting Dr. Google” – how to navigate the choppy waters of nutrition advice on the web today.
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Love sushi? Fish, all kinds, are a lean protein. Some fish, salmon and tuna are higher in healthy Omega-3 fats.

-The 2015 US Dietary Guidelines for Americans are 500 pages long, recommending we cut back on sugar, salt and saturated fats and eat more fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins…but can be translated (by me) into this little phrase:

“Eat a little bit of naughty, and a lot of Nice.” – Carolyn O’Neil, MS RDN LD

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For more information on Food, Nutrition and Healthy Cuisine have fun visiting  the website of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics for all kinds of great ideas for good nutrition.

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See you next year #FNCE for the 100th Anniversary of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
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Thank you RDN pals, Jenna Braddock, Holly Grainger and so many more….

 

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A World of Tastes in Your Kitchen

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The boneless, skinless chicken breast is the LBD of the healthy kitchen. Little Black Dress. You can dress it up for a night on the town with recipes inspired by the  south of France with white, wine, lemon and capers.

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Or you can go casual with BBQ sauce or an Italian inspired topping  of tomato, garlic and herbs.

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So let’s accessorize our breasts by taking chicken breasts on a world taste tour. You can watch the recipes come together by watching this segment on NBC Atlanta & Company.

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Click here to watch the segment.

The recipe suggestions are from my book The Dish on Eating Healthy and Being Fabulous!

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First, here are some tips from The Dish for preparing perfectly browned and tender boneless, skinless chicken breasts.

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A Simple Chicken Breast Sauté:

  1. Remove the excess fat and sinew from the boneless, skinless chicken breast.
  2. Place shiny side down on cutting board and cover with sheet of wax paper.
  3. Pound breast with wooden kitchen mallet or a rolling pin to even thickness.
  4. Season with salt and pepper.
  5. Heat sauté pan and add enough oil to lightly coat the bottom.
  6. Add the chicken breasts, without crowding the pan.
  7. When a half inch of white shows on the sides of each breast, turn over with tongs.
  8. Cook until firm to touch and juices run clear. Set aside on clean plate.

 

Now it’s time to accessorize!

Lemon Caper Chicken – (After sautéing the chicken breasts and setting aside) Deglaze the pan with white wine, add rinsed capers, very thin slices of lemon, and minced parsley. Add chicken breasts back to pan to warm in sauce and serve with golden potatoes.

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Tomato Garlic Chicken – (After sautéing the chicken breasts and setting aside) Add chopped garlic to the pan, chopped tomato, tomato paste and red wine vinegar. Place chicken breasts back in pan to warm with sauce and serve with pasta.

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Taste of Thai Chicken –   (After sautéing chicken breasts and setting aside) Stir in sliced scallions and sliced shitake mushrooms, remove from pan and stir in tamari sauce (a slightly thicker soy sauce), rice wine vinegar and a teaspoon of peanut butter.

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Add the scallions and mushrooms back to the pan and the chicken breasts to warm. Serve with steamed brown rice.

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Green Chile Chicken- (After sautéing the chicken breasts and setting aside) Deglaze pan with chicken broth, add chopped scallions, minced jalapenos, long thin slivers of mild green chiles (such as poblano). Optional: whisk in a quarter cup of light cream to finish the sauce. Add chicken back to pan to warm and serve with black beans and rice.

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I’d love for you to have your very own copy of The Dish! Why not order the paperback edition on Amazon.com to keep in your world inspired kitchen?

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Endless Summer Produce

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It may be time for back to school for lots of families nationwide, but summer is still in full swing in farmer’s markets and the supermarket produce section.  Peaches, berries, summer squash and melons – all kinds of melons are ripe for the picking and deliciously nutritious.  I’ve shared a couple of recipes from The Slim Down South Cookbook below.

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Back to work after summer vacation often means busy weeknights. But that doesn’t mean you have to say goodbye to the fresh tastes of summer produce. Why not celebrate the fabulously fresh with the wonderfully easy to prepare microwavable frozen entrees such as Lean Cuisine Sweet & Spicy Korean-Style Beef? It comes with brown rice and vegetables and I added a cup of snow peas to balance the plate. The Lean Cuisine website is beautiful with lots of nutrition information to explore. “Freshly made, simply frozen” is a great way to describe the variety of entrees inspired by global cuisines and close to home comfort foods.

Nestle’s Balance Your Plate campaign provides great information on nutrition, portion control and creative combos for satisfying meals.  I added a parfait of fresh berries and a cup of steamed summer squash and zucchini with onions to a plate starring Lean Cuisine Roasted Turkey and Vegetables.

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You can add your own creativity to the table too. Lean Cuisine’s Vermont Cheddar Mac n Cheese is beautiful when you add broccoli florets. Or even if it’s a weeknight why not enjoy Lobster Mac n Cheese?  I bought a lobster tail for $6.99, boiled it in water (with some lemon juice added) for about six minutes until the shell turns bright red and the meat is translucent. Plunge the lobster tail in ice water to cool. Remove the meat from the tail by slicing through the center of the shell longwise and pull out the meat. Chop it up and add to the mac n cheese! Fancy but soooo easy.

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SUMMER PRODUCE RECIPES from The Slim Down South Cookbook: As seen on NBC Atlanta & Company with host Christine Pulara! 

Here’s the link to the TV Segment: CLICK HERE

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Grilled Watermelon with Balsamic Glaze

Adding a bit of savory blue cheese and salty prosciutto (optional) to sweet watermelon makes for a wonderful combination. Brush the watermelon wedges with a bit of oil to keep them from sticking to the grill.

Makes 12 servings

Hands-On 20 min.

Total 20 min.

3 (½-inch-thick) watermelon rounds, quartered

1 Tbsp. olive oil

⅛ tsp. kosher salt

½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper

2 oz. thinly sliced prosciutto

2 oz. blue cheese, crumbled

Fresh basil leaves

2 tsp. bottled balsamic glaze

  1. Preheat grill to 350° to 400° (medium-high) heat. Brush both sides of each watermelon quarter with olive oil, and season with desired amount of salt and pepper. Cut prosciutto into thin strips.2. Grill watermelon quarters, without grill lid, 1 minute on each side or until grill marks appear.3. Transfer watermelon to a serving plate; top with blue cheese, prosciutto strips, and fresh basil. Drizzle watermelon with balsamic glaze. Serve immediately.Serving size 1 wedge CALORIES 44; FAT 3g (sat 1.2g, mono 1.2g, poly 0.2g); PROTEIN 7g; CARB 2g; FIBER 0.1g; CHOL 7mg; IRON 0.2mg; SODIUM 213mg; CALC 28mg

 

Tipsy Melon Salad

Cantaloupe is packed with vitamins A & C for eye and skin healthy, plus it’s is a good source of the B vitamin folate, which is critical for pregnant women. It’s high water content also makes it super hydrating for hot summer months.

Raspberry liqueur and vodka give this colorful spiked fruit salad its lighthearted moniker. Liven up a weeknight dinner party, or skip the booze if it’s a ‘school night’.

Makes 6 servings

Hands-On 16 min.

Total 1 hour, 16 min.

2 cups cubed honeydew

2 cups cubed cantaloupe

1.3 cup fresh lemon juice (about 4 lemons)

⅔ cup sugar

½ cup vodka ( optional)

⅓ cup black raspberry liqueur (optional)

¹/₁₆ tsp. fine sea salt

1 Tbsp. chopped fresh mint

Garnish: fresh mint sprigs

1. Place melon cubes in a large bowl.

2. Whisk together lemon juice and next 4 ingredients in a medium bowl until sugar dissolves. Pour lemon juice mixture over watermelon balls; stir gently to coat. Cover and chill 1 to 2 hours.

3. Gently toss melon. Sprinkle with chopped fresh mint. Serve immediately with a slotted spoon.

Serving size about 1 cup CALORIES 228; FAT 0.1g (sat 0g, mono 0g, poly 0g); PROTEIN 0.7g; CARB 41.5g; FIBER 0.7g; CHOL 0mg; IRON 0.5mg; SODIUM 25mg; CALC 14m

Many thanks to Nestle and Lean Cuisine. It’s a pleasure working with you to help happy, healthy folks learn to Balance Your Plate!

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Marvelous Mexico City Cuisine

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The vibrant art, historic monuments and architectural treasures of Mexico City continue to lure visitors in search of inspiring cultural experiences.

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Sampling the country’s culinary treasures is a portal to the past as well.

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Mexico’s cuisine is influenced by centuries of food customs from the indigenous Mayan to Spanish conquerors.

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Today chefs leading the lively food scene in Mexico City add contemporary flair to taste traditions.

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Recently opened Fonda Mayora is set in a park filled residential neighborhood of Mexico City.

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Chef Gerardo Vazquez Lugo and his team of young chefs serve smoked oysters, roast pork stuffed with chorizo and pineapple ……

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…and grilled whole fish presented with black beans, tender blue corn tortillas and a fresh selection of green and red salsas.

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For the adventurous, there’s a sauce spiced with tiny ants. It’s the one on the left in the middle. The little dots are ants. Dig in!

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“Mexican food is a way to get right to the spirit of the country,” said Paco de Santiago with Eat Mexico culinary tours. It’s a taste discovery that defies the stereotypes. “There’s a myth that Mexican food means hard taco shells, sour cream and all spicy food,” said Eat Mexico tour guide Anais Martinez.


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One of the most sought after reservations in Mexico City is at intimate Pujol where internationally renowned chef Enrique Olvera celebrates Mexican ingredients using ancient and modern techniques.

Courses included octopus with ink tostado, smoked baby corn with coffee and chile mayonnaise, a lamb taco with avocado leaf adobo and avocado puree and a suckling pig taco with smoked tortilla, chickpea puree, coriander and red jalapeno. One of the showstopper dishes was a circle of richly bright ‘new’ mole sauce surrounded by a dark and intense ‘mother’ mole sauce made 990 days ago.

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“Mole sauces are made with over forty ingredients including tomatoes, onions, nuts and seeds and not always chocolate as many people think,” said Santiago.
Mexico City Markets

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One of the best ways to leap into local cuisine is to visit a city food market such as the Mercado San Juan where Mexican avocados and limes are piled high, moles come in an assortment of flavors, tortillas are hand made and just caught Pacific coast seafood glistens on mountains of crushed ice.

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Chefs from the St. Regis Mexico City hotel lead guests on market tours including a lesson in choosing the freshest fish and a sampling of Mexican cheeses.

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“This one is like a Spanish manchego,” said executive chef Sylvain Desbois, who leads the hotel’s elegant La Table Krug eleven course Krug Champagne tasting menu.

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The dessert courses (yes there’s more than one dessert) include a salute to Mexican chocolate as warm chocolate sauce is poured over and into a sponge cake shaped like a cacao pod.

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Need more chocolate?

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The Mucho Chocolate Museum of Mexico City is a chocolate lovers dream come true with rooms filled with delicious displays about chocolate history, chocolate agriculture and chocolate cuisine over the centuries.

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Don’t miss spending a few moments of bliss in the little room with walls covered in fragrant deep dark chocolate.

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I think I’ve found my new home in Mexico City! Truly a magical culinary destination.

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Farmer’s Market Pizza!


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Summer time is prime time for farmer’s markets offering an eye-popping selection of simply delicious fruits and vegetables bursting with fresh flavors.

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So why not dress your favorite easy to prep foods -hello family pizza night! -in summer’s vibrant colors and flavors? Why not sliced strawberries on a pepperoni pizza?

Sweet goes well with spicy. Read on…..

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On a recent trip to Chicago to appear on WGN-TV’s Lunch Break segment, I dined at The Girl and The Goat restaurant the night before my TV appearance and was excited to see that celebrated chef Stephanie Izard had garnished her super tasty goat empanadas with fresh strawberries. I ordered a sweet and spicy margarita called Ring of Fire to go with the dish. Perfecto!

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OK….back to pizza night, now that we know my culinary inspiration of strawberries with savory bites was spot on!  Click HERE: Welcome to WGN TV’s Lunch Break segment.

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Set up right in the busy WGN newsroom for the LIVE segment, food stylist Robert Haynes and I dressed the demo table for a segment called PLAY with YOUR FOOD, complete with a Twister game tablecloth. Spin the little arrow and if it  lands on yellow, you pick the yellow peppers to top your DiGiorno Four Cheese Rising Crust Pizza.

 

 

Spin and it’s red, pick the red peppers. Spin and it’s blue, well, just eat the blueberries!

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Farmer’s Market Finds Help Balance Your Plate

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Working with Nestle on their nutrition education Balance Your Plate campaign,

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I presented ideas to add more fruits and vegetables to family pizza night with delicious, nutritious and fun ideas. How about pizza with your salad? OK, of course! But, what about pizza IN your salad? Pizzanella Salad is a super smart recipe from Nestle that’s a no-brainer to use leftover or just baked frozen pizza in a creative, exciting way. The pizza, cut up in bite size pieces, becomes the croutons with cheesy, tomato goodness.

A slice may be a 'portion' but a serving is how many YOU get to eat based based on age and activity level.
A slice may be a ‘portion’ but a serving is how many YOU get to eat based based on age and activity level.

Want to know more about mindful pizza portions? How many slices to eat? Well, of course that depends whether you’re a four year old or a forty year old! And depends on how active you are in your everyday life. Here’s a handy dandy pizza portion/serving guide from Nestle’s Balance Your Plate collection of nutrition resources.

And if you do want a salad with your slice of pizza ,  how about my recipe for Sweet ‘n Spicy Brussels Sprouts Slaw with Golden Raisins and Sunflower Seeds?  Here’s a beautifully balanced plate with California Pizza Kitchen’s BBQ Chicken Pizza and the slaw.

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So have fun with pizza night this summer and remember to think Farmer’s Market finds by adding seasonal produce to pizza!

Recipes Here:

Play with Your Food segment with registered dietitian Carolyn O’Neil, MS RDN

July 2016 WGN-TV  LunchBreak Segment

 

Pizza-Nella Salad

Whether you’re looking for a new way to enjoy your freshly baked cheese pizza, or something other than its leftovers straight from the fridge, this salad helps to make that slice more satisfying, nutritious and delicious!

 Yield: 1 large entrée salad

Timing: Prep time = 15 minutes

Ingredients

1 slice (1/6 of pie) prepared DiGiorno 4 Cheese Rising Crust Pizza

½ cup grape tomatoes

¼ medium onion, thinly sliced

1 clove garlic, minced

1 tsp olive oil

2 cups bite-size pieces Romaine lettuce

2 tbsp. basil pesto

1 tbsp. red wine vinegar

 

Method of Production (Instructions)

Preheat oven to 450 deg F. On baking sheet, place tomatoes, onion and garlic, drizzle with olive oil. Bake for 5-7 minutes, or until onions are tender. Remove from oven and cool. Cut tomatoes in half.

 

Cut pizza into bite sized pieces. Mix pesto and red wine vinegar. In a large bowl, toss lettuce, tomatoes, onion and garlic, and pizza with pesto vinaigrette. Wait 10 minutes before serving, to allow bread to absorb dressing. Serve on a dinner plate, and enjoy!

 

Sweet ‘n Spicy Brussels Sprouts Slaw  with Golden Raisins and Sunflower Seeds

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By Carolyn O’Neil, MS RDN, author The Slim Down South Cookbook.

 

Makes 12 servings (one half cup each )

 

2 pounds Brussels Sprouts (about 6 cups trimmed and sliced)

1/2 cup Golden Raisins

½ cup shredded or matchstick carrots

¼ cup sunflower seed kernels (one tablespoon reserved for garnish)

¼ cup sweet n’spicy dressing

 

Trim ends off Brussels Sprouts and cut into thin slices.

Place in a large bowl.

Add raisins, carrots and sunflower seeds.

Dress with 1/4 cup of Sweet ‘n Spicy dressing, tossing well to combine.

Garnish with 1 T sunflower seeds.

 

 

Sweet ‘n Spicy Dressing

 

Makes 12 servings (1 Tbsp.)

 

¼ cup lemon juice

¼ cup honey

2 tsp. hot sauce

2 Tbsp. olive oil

1 tsp. celery salt

¼ tsp. black pepper

 

Whisk together all ingredients in a small bowl.

 

 

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Food & Wine Classic in Aspen Elevates Taste and Health

Aspen Heights of Food & Wine

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They come for the food, the wine and the wisdom.

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“A young chef adds and adds and adds to the plate. As you get older, you start to take away,” said French born chef Jacques Pepin, author of over twenty cookbooks and celebrated host of over 300 television cooking shows. The audience of loyal foodie fans for Pepin’s cooking class with daughter Claudine filled a ballroom at the St. Regis Hotel, just one of many culinary seminars featured at the 34th annual Food & Wine Classic in Aspen. Assisting her father in demonstrating how to make vinaigrette salad dressings Claudine Pepin advised, “Use a really good olive oil. You know the one you’re saving because it’s too good to use everyday? Well, throw that away because it’s rancid by now and go buy a new one.”

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Over five thousand food lovers and wine aficionados attend the festival to meet top named chefs and wine makers from around the world. Spirits have taken a more central role with the rise of interest in craft cocktails.

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Chef Marcus Samuelsson of Red Rooster restaurant in Harlem created food pairings including honey glazed salmon and pork ribs with ginger and peach to match sips of Glenmorangie single malt scotch and a citrus infused whiskey cocktail.

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“Summer time is barbecue time and the spiciness goes with the sweetness and smokiness of the scotch whiskey,” said Samuelsson.

 

Fresh New Heights of Cuisine

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Aspen’s chefs know to put on a show when their rocky mountain town fills up with world-class foodies. “They literally eat it up,” said Matt Zubrod, executive chef of The Little Nell Hotel. “It’s a cool crowd who ask really good questions about food such as ‘where did you get the meat for this tartar?’”

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Executive Chef Matt Zubrod, Element 47 restaurant, The Little Nell Hotel, Aspen

Zubrod’s menu at the Relais and Chateau hotel’s Element 47 restaurant features plates as pretty as the Aspen scenery garnished with edible flowers and fresh herbs such as pineapple sage and chocolate mint and grown steps away from the tables. And just as the mountain air requires adding a layer of clothing with changing temperatures, Zubrod layers flavors in dishes, “Its evolved where I like to do a layer of pureed, then cooked and then raw of the same ingredient such as peas, corn or artichoke.”

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Halibut cheeks are served on a layer of pureed ratatouille with fresh corn and fava beans.

 

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Nilou Motamed, Editor in Chief, Food & Wine Magazine enjoys the tasting tents and saying hello!

Health and wellness was in focus on a panel led by Food & Wine Magazine’s editor in chief Nilou Motamed who noted, “I think in the last ten years the conversation have moved from a message of moderation to where our food is coming from.”

 

 

 

Octogenarian Jacques Pepin replied,

“It can go to far if we wonder where every carrot is from. I’m not a doctor, I’m a chef, but my best advice is finish your food.”

Thank you Jacques, that’s the best view in Aspen.

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Southern Vegetables Celebrated at Atlanta Food & Wine Festival

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Rebecca Lang, author of Southern Living’s The Southern Vegetable Cookbook

 

“The larger the radish, the spicier it is. Who here is afraid of radishes?” asked Rebecca Lang, author of The Southern Vegetable Cookbook. Leading a sold out class on ‘Vegetable Versatility” at the Atlanta Food & Wine Festival, Lang saw there were no hands in the air. This was a room full of enthusiastic food fans eager to taste and learn veggie-centric cooking tips from chef Todd Richards of Atlanta’s White Oak Kitchen & Cocktails restaurant and visiting chef Digby Stridiron of the U.S. Virgin Islands. While Stridiron sliced into plantains and advised, “Buy the green ones in the market and let them ripen at home”, Richards passed samples of his English pea soup garnished with fresh pea tendrils and shared, “We try to use as much of the whole vegetable together.”

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In its sixth year, the four-day festival features chefs from the southern region and entertains guests with lavish southern themed dinners, cooking classes and wine, beer and spirits tastings.

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Cold beer and hot chicken!

Please note my food festival balancing act skills as I carried a Honeysuckle cocktail made with Cathead Vodka and chicken liver pate with a cup of ice in the middle to keep things cool!

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How it’s done.

Sure there’s plenty of BBQ pig and peach cobbler to please, but there’s a sizable celebration of the lighter side of the south, too.

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Golden Lentil Salad, Odette

 

“Everyone things of pork first, but vegetables are the surprising foundation of southern foods, said chef Linton Hopkins of Atlanta’s Holman & Finch Public House, Restaurant Eugene and newly opened Linton’s in the Atlanta Botanical Garden. “I love vegetables and right now I’m excited about the in-season peas, especially lady peas.”

 

Even the Grilling Terrace at the Loews Atlanta Hotel -home base for the festival classes- put vegetables in the spotlight. Chef Rob McDaniel of the Spring House on Alabama’s Lake Martin smoked whole beets in a Big Green Egg to build a beet sandwich with celery and blue cheese slaw. “You can substitute eggplant or zucchini. Grilling is a great way to enhance vegetables because earthy and smoky flavors go really well together,” said McDaniel.

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New Southern Styles

No longer destined to be ‘cooked to death’ and coated in bacon fat, vegetables are elegantly prepared by southern chefs today. Instead of ham hocks, McDaniel prepares greens and beans with smoked turkey or chicken legs. The crisp and refreshing golden lentil salad served up in the tasting tents by chef Josh Quick of Odette in Florence, Alabama was garnished with a Gulf shrimp relish and tiny touch of ham.

 

Salt and sugar are still part of the recipe when cooking a ‘mess of greens’ but Arkansas chef Mark Abernathy of Red Door restaurant in Little Rock cautioned, “You can always add more salt and more sugar later. You can’t take it out. The sweet and salty flavors will concentrate as the greens cook, so have a lighter touch.”

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Chef Mark Abernathy gets excited about greens!

 

 

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Fresh and Fit Diet Advice

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Weight loss regimens are a national obsession especially at the start of the New Year when fitness centers fill up with new converts and supermarket carts fill up with salad fixings.

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Whether your goal is to trim a few pounds or overhaul eating habits for the long haul, here is a round up of fresh nutrition wisdoms from registered dietitians who specialize in health coaching.

It’s All About You

One size does not fit all fits all when it comes to nutrition. Changing what you eat can make you feel better and your jeans fit better but it can’t make you into a six-foot tall supermodel. So have realistic expectations.

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“People, like dogs, come in differing sizes and shapes,” says registered dietitian Nancy Clark, author of the Sports Nutrition Guidebook. “There are St. Bernards, greyhounds, Labs, poodles and Chihuahuas. Be proud of your ‘breed’, honor your genetics, and treat your body with respect,” says Clark.

Fitness Friends

Congratulations

Phone a friend. Registered dietitian Annette Schottenfeld, of Nett Nutrition says, “Walk with a co-worker. Meet new friends in dance class or team training at the gym. Stay connected with fitness friends to ensure you will show-up, motivate each other and share successes.”

Some Like it Hot

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Fed up with cold rabbit food?  “Rather than trying to eat more and more salads, cook vegetables the way Mediterraneans do by roasting or stewing them with olive oil, onion, tomatoes and herbs,” suggests registered dietitian Elena Paravantes, health editor of Olive Oil Times. 

Learn by Example

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Demand for home delivered kits of pre-measured fresh ingredients with easy to follow recipes is heating up nationwide.  Mary Alice Shreve, registered dietitian with Atlanta based meal kit delivery service Peach Dish makes sure recipes feature healthful foods with seasonings that add flavor without relying on salt. How about a Super Foods Salad with kale and sunflower seeds or Red Quinoa Parsnip Stew? Shreve says, “It’s all about getting people back in the kitchen. If you can put olive oil in the pan you can handle these recipe.”

Add to Your Diet

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Registered dietitian Toby Amidor author of The Greek Yogurt Kitchen, advises setting short term goals, “It’s very important to establish short-term benchmarks and achieve different ones every few weeks,” says Amidor. “Short-term goals should be positive. For example, eat a fruit during at least one snack time each day.”

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Goals should be measurable and pleasurable!

 

 

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Foodie in the Family Gift Ideas

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If you’ve got a ‘foodie’ on your holiday gift list or someone who wants to become one in the New Year here are some simple, affordable and fun suggestions in the culinary category.

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Watch the segment with  Christine Pullara and me with all of the gift ideas on NBC Atlanta & Company right here!

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“The designers in the housewares industry are truly ‘building a better mousetrap or cheese knife’ every day,” says Mary S. Moore, owner and founder of Atlanta based Cook’s Warehouse.  “For instance the tofu press has totally changed and made effortless the process of removing moisture from tofu, from hours of squeezing to placing in a press and walking away.  There are thousands of examples of this kind of ‘aha and/or duh’ innovation.”

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Healthy eating begins with healthy cooking and the easier the tasks become the easier it will be to enjoy time in the kitchen preparing meals to help support weight management goals all year round.

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Gifts for Healthy Cooking

  • Salad spinner- create a gourmet gift basket and fill the salad spinner with olive oils, mustards and vinegars for making vinaigrettes.
  • Slow cooker- one of the best ways to tenderize tasty cuts of lean meat in stews packed with tasty vegetables.
  • Non-stick pans – great for sautéing vegetables with just a little bit of oil.
  • Microplane grater – for zesting citrus and grating hard cheeses and whole spices.
  • Great gadgets – make fruit and vegetable prep a breeze and a lot of fun with produce specific gadgets such as a jalapeno corer, cherry pitter, citrus juicer, strawberry huller, avocado cuber, garlic peeler and ginger grater.
  • Specialty spices – more expensive spices like cardamom, vanilla, saffron, smoked paprika and curry powders are elegant gifts to add flavor without sodium and healthy antioxidants with no calories.
  • Immersion blender – make rich and creamy textured soups and sauces from cooked vegetables without the need for much or any cream.
  • Spiralizer- to make oodles of ‘zoodles’, these great gadgets turn vegetables such as zucchini into pasta-like swirls.
  • Cooking classes – great gift for the gourmet or the kitchen beginner.

Moore, who offers over 800 cooking classes per year, says, “Our most popular cooking class is Knife Skills 101.  It’s a great building block and helps the student to become more confident in their abilities and feel more at ease in the kitchen.”

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Fit for Fitness

  • Fitness sensors – they just keep getting better and better and even talk to your smart phone! Wearable digital fitness bands keep track of activity, food intake, and sleep patterns.
  • Fitness Gear – Clothes or equipment for an activity someone does or wants to try such as yoga or Pilates mat, yoga blocks, hiking poles, sports specific workout clothes and shoes.

Gifts for Gardeners

  • Little garden kits – Snip fresh herbs to add healthy seasonal taste to recipes. Small decorative containers of grow–your-own fresh herbs can sprout now on winter windowsills.
  • Big garden help – wrap up a brand new shovel, rake, or garden hose and attach vegetable seeds packets to plant in the spring.

 Something Special

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The Ruffino Bruschetta Board by Noble Goods is hand crafted from walnut and is designed to beautifully display toppings for bruschetta such as olives, cheese, roasted red peppers and hummus.  And introducing the perfect stemware for enjoying Champagne. Meet the Riedel Veritas Champagne Wine glass. Yes, even better than Champagne flutes for savoring the delicate nuances of Champagne.

Merry Christmas and happy shopping!

 

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Low Country Shrimp Boil Skewers

Shrimp Boil Skewer PHOTOGRAPHED BY JENNIFER DAVICK; PROP STYLING: LYDIA DEGARIS PURSELL; FOOD STYLING: MARIAN COOPER CAIRNS
Shrimp Boil Skewer
PHOTOGRAPHED BY JENNIFER DAVICK; PROP STYLING: LYDIA DEGARIS PURSELL; FOOD STYLING: MARIAN COOPER CAIRNS

 

Recipe from The Slim Down South Cookbook by Carolyn O’Neil, MS RD

Shrimp Boil Skewers

Fall in love with the flavors of Fall! Warm up with a Low Country Boil featuring shrimp, sausage, corn and potatoes. #lovethsouth #slimdownsouth

Get the flavor of a shrimp boil without the mess—or the calories! These skewers are perfect for a backyard party and already portioned for you.

 

Makes 24 servings

Hands-On 30 min.

Total 1 hour

 

24 (6-inch) wooden skewers

2 Tbsp. butter

¾ cup finely chopped red bell pepper

½ cup finely chopped sweet onion

1 garlic clove, minced

2 cups fresh corn kernels (about 4 medium ears)

½ to ¾ tsp. Creole seasoning

¼ cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

1 Tbsp. red wine vinegar

¼ cup Old Bay seasoning

24 baby red potatoes (about 1 lb.)

½ lb. smoked sausage, cut into 24 slices

24 peeled and deveined, extra-large raw shrimp (about 1¼ lb.)

 

  1. Soak skewers in water 30 minutes. Melt butter in a medium skillet over medium heat; add bell pepper and next 2 ingredients, and sauté 4 minutes. Stir in corn and Creole seasoning, and sauté 3 minutes. Remove from heat, and stir in parsley and vinegar.2. Bring Old Bay seasoning and 5 qt. water to a boil, covered, in a large stockpot. Add potatoes, and cook, uncovered, 10 minutes. Add sausage, and cook 3 minutes. Add shrimp; cook 3 minutes or just until shrimp turn pink and potatoes are tender. Drain.3. Thread 1 potato, 1 shrimp, and 1 sausage piece onto each skewer. Arrange on serving plates or a long shallow platter. Spoon corn mixture over skewers.

    Serving size 1 skewer CALORIES 78; FAT 3.7g (sat 1.6g, mono 1.5g, poly 0.3g); PROTEIN 5.3g; CARB 6.3g; FIBER 0.7g; CHOL 38mg; IRON 0.4mg; SODIUM 165mg; CALC 19mg

 

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Fine Tuning Cruise Fare


Ahoy there from the Sunny Med!

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Hello from the Nieuw Amsterdam, one of the elegant ships of Holland America Line, as we sail on a 12-day dream cruise from Venice to Barcelona with many exciting and beautiful ports of call.

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View of the Nieuw Amsterdam from one of the ship’s tenders. Port of Kotor in Montenegro.

On the Menu Out to Sea

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Small plates are making big waves in cruise ship cuisine. From tiny dishes of mozzarella with fresh tomato or hummus with feta cheese, dolmades and olives, an artfully arranged selection of tastes from breakfast to late night snacking is set out for passengers dining casually in the Lido Market on Holland America Line ships.

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There’s no shortage of comfort food favorites such as roast beef and mashed potatoes and vacation treat foods including burgers and fries.

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But gone are the serve yourself steam table vats and buffet style trays that passengers used to fill to capacity.

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How about a Mediterranean meze plate?

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Now at each step of the way from the salad bar to the hot entrees, members of the culinary team smile and place what you want on a plate and hand it to you.

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The salad bar is a fresh cornocopia of creative ingredients

Prettily packaged sandwiches such as chicken salad with arugula on freshly baked multi grain bread take the place of a deli concept where you’d typically stand in line.
There are three distinct dining advantages here.

-Fewer people handling the food improve food safety. -Portion control allows passengers to enjoy a wider variety of tastes and decreases food waste. -And because the culinary staff create and garnish the plates they look much better for your vacation food photography.

Foodies at Sea

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My recent vacation on the Nieuw Amsterdam to celebrate a rather big birthday served up a bucket-list Mediterranean itinerary and a peek into current cruise fare philosophy.

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So much fun to dress up at night and enjoy dressed up dishes.

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I took notice that menus afloat from the elegant Manhattan Dining Room to made-to-order thin crust pizzas on the pool deck reflect dining trends ashore.

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There’s a sushi bar in Asian inspired Tamarind and shared platters of salumi and pastas at Italian themed Canaletto.

Popup dinners such as a special evening of dishes from famed New York restaurant Le Cirque add more glamour to gourmet meals in the Pinnacle Grill.

Lobster salad with grapefruit is a Le Cirque classic.
Lobster salad with grapefruit is a Le Cirque classic.

Specials on the Distant Lands menu connect to the local cuisine of each port of call. While docked in Dubrovnik, I sampled Croatian foods onboard including pastry stuffed with seasoned beef, meatballs with coriander sauce and a flaky cheese pie called Burek Sa Siron.

Croatian traditional dishes served with view of Croatia!
Croatian traditional dishes served with view of Croatia!

Chefs’ cooking demos and mixology classes add extra entertainment for food lovers on board.  After completing a series of four mixology classes you get a diploma!

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Nice work guys!
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Of course I joined the class!!

Galley Ho!

A behind the scenes tour of the ship’s gleaming galley leads guests everywhere from the dishwashing to dessert stations.

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I learned that 137, 000 pounds of fresh vegetables are consumed by two thousand guests in a typical week.

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Oh, and nearly 1700 pounds of butter.

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“At the start of the week passengers eat a lot because they’re excited about all of the choices,” says Martin Van Winden dining room manager of the Niew Amsterdam’s Pinnacle Grill “Then we do see a decline in food consumption as the cruise continues.”

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The elegant Pinnacle Grill on the Nieuw Amsterdam.

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Ship Shape

Special diet requests and food allergy concerns are taken seriously with gluten free choices and creative vegetarian fare such as barbecue tofu with creamy grits one day for lunch.
While there’s a fabulous fitness center and spa on board, my chosen exercise was taking the stairs instead of the elevator.

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When you walk up and down from deck 2 to deck 11 a few times a day it’s a work out. Especially when realizing you’re looking for a place that’s aft when you’re at the stern so have to walk another five minutes. Then you forget something in your stateroom……we racked up a lot of steps!

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There were 2300 passengers on board for the 12-Day Mediterranean Romance Cruise on the Holland America Line Nieuw Amsterdam.

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Actually the liveliness of this shared community at sea added so much enjoyment to the journey.  Traveling with my friend Liz McDermott, we never felt that any space was crowded or had to wait for a drink! We even got to meet Captain Edward G. Van Zaane for a special tour of the bridge.

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Did you know there are no paper navigation maps anymore? But still a tradition of handsome Captains at sea.

Now, how about a recipe from Allen and Antonio, our favorite bartenders and the “professors” of the mixology class series on board? Bon voyage!

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Chocolate Martini

Garnish chilled glass with chocolate sauce in swirled pattern

Shake 1 oz Vodka with 1 oz Creme de Cacoa White in a cocktail shaker with some ice.

Strain and pour into the glass.

Enjoy and you’re on your way to earning your very own bartender certificate.

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Stay tuned as we set sail for more foodie destinations on shore in my next blog post.

A cruise is a great way to explore and discover the traditional foods, exemplary eateries and exciting markets in ports along the way.

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Liz and I stumbled upon one of the best lunches of our lives at the tucked away and affordable Dior restaurant in St. Tropez. More to come……

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Happy Healthy Thanksgiving!

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Whether you’re doing the cooking at home, taking a dish to a gathering or making restaurant reservations for Thanksgiving dinner Atlanta area chefs offer some inventive ideas to add a deliciously healthy twist to menu traditions.
While Thanksgiving is not a day for dieting, it’s certainly smart to up the flavor appeal of holiday favorites with creative recipes that help keep the calories down. That way you have room for a bigger slice of pumpkin pie. Yes, you can indulge without the bulge.

Here’s the How to Indulge without the Bulge segment for #HealthyThanksgiving I did for WGN TV with Chicago food stylist Connie Pikulas.

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Enjoy Winter Salads

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Look at these beautiful Brussels sprouts!

The very first Thanksgiving’s mission was to give thanks for a bountiful harvest. Chefs turn to the season’s harvest for culinary inspiration. Salads are often overlooked in the parade of roasted turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy.
At newly opened Paces & Vine, chef Ian Winslade’s Tuscan kale salad with mandarin orange dressing, crystalized ginger and local radishes, is a great winter produce idea. The Thanksgiving to-go menu at Murphy’s, also under Winslade’s direction, features a winter salad of mixed greens, pears and walnuts as well as butternut squash soup with the flavors of apple and ginger cream.
Sweet New Ideas
What Thanksgiving spread would be complete without sweet potatoes? Sweet potatoes are rich in healthy fiber, potassium and beta-carotene. Chef Carvel Gould suggests roasting sweet potato wedges and tossing them together with parsnips and rutabaga wedges cooked in a non stick pan with some garlic and shallots for about four minutes until their tender but still have some texture.

Chefs at Seasons 52 restaurants, who specialize in creating just-as-tasty but lighter, lower calorie dishes are serving maple-glazed roasted butternut squash with their Thanksgiving menu this year.

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Modern Family Menus
From the head of the table to the kids’ table, there are bound to be a few folks at Thanksgiving gatherings this year who have unique diet needs including a nut allergy, a gluten intolerance or are vegetarian or vegan. No doubt whoever’s cooking the meal will feel a bit challenged. Sous chef Cooper Miller of JCT Kitchen says, “We are used to special diet requests so we create a bunch of sides that anyone can enjoy without nuts, bacon or breadcrumbs. Then we throw in a few dishes loaded with all of those ingredients for those who want to splurge.” An easy idea for home entertaining: create a condiment platter of ingredients so each guest can customize their plates depending on allergies or food preferences.

Everybody’s happy on Thanksgiving.

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How Not to Get Over Stuffed on Thanksgiving

• Fill your plate with your personal holiday favorites first. Don’t waste your calories on foods you can eat all year long.
• Turkey and all the trimmings may be the draw, but remember the main event should be sharing time with family and friends.
• Start a new tradition by taking a walk with family and friends after the big meal and serving dessert after the stroll. You’ll feel better and dessert will taste even better.
• Give thanks that even dietitians believe Thanksgiving is not a day to diet. You may not lose any pounds over the holidays, but if you maintain your weight you’re doing great.

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Rooting for Root Vegetables

 


handsimagesCarrots may enjoy a starring role on restaurant menus year round, but other less commonly consumed root vegetables take center stage in the fall. The slightly sharp flavors of parsnips, rutabaga, beets and turnips are a great compliment to hearty braised meats featured on cold weather menus.

“The parsnip has that dynamic light licorice flavor that lifts your palate with heavier dishes such as duck,” says executive chef Mike Deihl of Atlanta, currently the Southeast Regional Vice President of the American Culinary Federation.

Demonstrating his enthusiasm for the autumn harvest, Deihl prepared a salad of roasted parsnips, carrots and golden beets at the Taste of Atlanta food festival recently. “I call it my culinary fall trinity,” he says. “They’re roasted first to concentrate the flavors kind of like reducing a sauce.”

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Roots on the Menu

A quick survey of online menus posted by Atlanta restaurants proves chefs are rooting for root vegetables this time of year. At Woodfire Grill braised pork shank is served with roasted parsnips and an apple cider glaze. An apple, walnut and rutabaga compote complements roasted duck at Babette’s. Creamy parsnip soup is on the menu at Canoe and braised baby beets with burnt honey vinaigrette is offered at South City Kitchen. An arugula salad at The Optimist is topped with pickled turnips and carrots.

“What I like about root vegetables is their flexibility. You can eat them hot, cold, room temperature, pureed, braised, stewed and grilled because they’re so strong and hearty,” says Deihl. “I’ve even made a golden beet sorbet!”

Grounded in Good Nutrition

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While root vegetables come in a variety of shapes, sizes and colors they’re all really good sources of dietary fiber, which promotes digestive health and is associated with lower rates of heart disease and certain types of cancer. Turnips and rutabaga are high in vitamin C.   And as with most members in the produce aisle, root vegetables contain the mineral potassium, which helps support healthy blood pressure. Rutabagas and turnips are in the same cruciferous family as broccoli and cauliflower known for cancer-fighting antioxidant nutrients that help boost the immune system. So, while you’re enjoying the seasonal taste treat of root vegetables this fall know that you’re also adding some pretty powerful nutrition to boost your health to help ward off the winter chills ahead.

 

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Atlanta Chefs Ahead of 2014 Food Trends

 

Chef Joe Schafer of King + Duke hands me yummy collards in kimchi broth with sausage from Whippoorwill Farms
Chef Joe Schafer of King + Duke hands me yummy collards in kimchi broth with sausage

Menu predictions for what we’ll be sampling at restaurants in 2014 are already showing up on the plate in Atlanta.  Guests at the Atlanta Les Dames d’Escoffier International 13th annual Afternoon in the Country were treated to a tasting of dishes from more than sixty Atlanta area chefs at an outdoor party set at the rural Serenbe community located about thirty miles south of downtown.

More than 60 chefs and 30 farmers joined forces to create great food at the annual Afternoon in the Country Event, south of Atlanta.
More than 60 chefs and 30 farmers joined forces to create great food at the annual Afternoon in the Country Event, south of Atlanta.
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Guests enjoyed a beautiful fall afternoon of tasting and talking to friends.

Rich, familiar and hard to resist earthy flavors such as The Feed Store’s braised root vegetables with braised chicken thighs were the order of the day.  Bacchanalia chef Anne Quatrano served up snails and Aria’s Gerry Klaskala dished out slow cooked black eye pea ragout with collard greens and country ham.

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These are the peas and greens.

The future of food is looking a lot like a polished version of dining’s delicious past according to the Sterling-Rice Group’s 2014 restaurant report which lists “Refined Classics” as one of the top trend picks.  Local Three Kitchen treated the gathered foodies to elegant bites of “meatloaf and potatoes”.

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Also on the list, “New Farm to Table” with lesser-known cuts of pork and beef and a wider variety of proteins from goat to rabbit jumping onto menus.  Veni Vidi Vici’s chef Jamie Adams served oxtail gnocchi.

Chicken makes way for duck. The team from Leon’s Full Service presented duck ham on a savory pancake frisee and pears from Whippoorwill Hollow Farms.

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Duck confit starred in caterer Bold American Events’ tasty offering with a sweet potato gnocchi and Brussels sprouts leaves.  More duck from Livingston restaurant in a petite bite of sweet tea infused duck breast with ginger applesauce and candied lemon pecans.  Which brings us to another predicted trend for the New Year -lots of lemon.  Preserved lemons added bright notes to Chicken and The Egg chef Marc Taft’s braised short rib with smoked Gouda grits.

And tart lemon with spicy ginger beer balanced the sweet notes of Belle Meade Bourbon in the Tennessee Stud cocktail served on the rocks for guests to sip.

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Kazia Jankowski, associate culinary director of the Sterling-Rice Group says, “Lemon is pure. Lemon is versatile. Lemon is nostalgic. For those reasons, it and not other citrus will be the flavor of next year. Lemon’s bright flavor is fresh and unadulterated.”

Year of the Yolk

Quail eggs sunny side up!
Quail eggs sunny side up!

Another yellow food beaming brighter on the culinary scene is the egg yolk. Good-bye egg white omelet, hello the whole thing.

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Chef Steven Satterfield of Miller-Union who presented a sunny side up quail egg on butternut squash hash says, “The yolk is where it’s at! The texture is unctuous and a runny yolk is one of my favorite things on earth.” Nutrition note: egg yolks contain important nutrients including choline, which supports brain health.

Registered dietitian, Janet Helm who tracks healthy food trends on her blog Nutrition Unplugged says, “I think it gets people excited about food. Quinoa, kale, Greek yogurt and chickpeas became trendy, so perhaps that motivated more people to buy these foods and use them more often.  That’s a good thing.”

Seven Lamps' Kabocha squash wrapped in surryano ham is a Southern twist on classic melon with prosciutto
Seven Lamps’ Kabocha squash wrapped in surryano ham is a Southern twist on classic melon with prosciutto
Thank you Ladies! The Atlanta Chapter of Les Dames d'Escoffier. I'm in the back somewhere on the left.
Thank you Ladies! The Atlanta Chapter of Les Dames d’Escoffier. I’m in the back somewhere on the left.

Congratulations to the LDEI Afternoon in the Country organizing teams!! We earned big $$$ for culinary scholarships and grants for culinarians in the Atlanta area to improve their skills so that we all can eat even better as the trends march on!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Food & Fitness Escape to Mexico

Under the Tecate Sun
Although my first choice for a vacation usually would not include all the flaxseed you can eat and dinner without a wine list, my week at a health spa in Mexico was an escape to a place dedicated to the joys of fitness and relaxation. 

My pretty little casita. I was told Robert Redford stayed here! 

Before

After…just kidding. This is me in the middle of a morning hike up the mountain.

Founded in 1940, Rancho la Puerta Fitness Resort and Spa is south of San Diego in the border town Tecate.


Set on 32 acres of lush gardens with hummingbirds flitting among the flowers, 
Literally on the wagon….there is no alcohol served with meals at the Ranch…but stay tuned…
the resort attracts visitors interested in improving their well-being through sunrise hikes on mountain trails 
Ssssstrrrreeeeccchhhh…after the uphill, then downhill hike then race everyone to breakfast.
and days filled with yoga teachings, Pilates lessons, fitness classes, spa treatments and — welcome in the desert heat — swimming pools and water exercise workouts. 

The quiet villa pool where I spend solitary afternoons listening to birds.
From body sculpting with weights to actual sculpting with clay, there are classes to stretch body and mind.

Sculptor in residence, Jose Ignacio Castaneda, helps turn clay into creations. 

I was just walking by one afternoon and Jose invited me to join the class. Next thing I knew
…..I was a sculptor too.

The beauty and bold flavors of Rancho La Puerta Spa Cuisine

Salads are a thing of beauty

Bold flavors of Mexico highlight the menu
All of the physical activity certainly helps work up an appetite, so it’s rare to see anyone late for a meal in the dining hall.

Just in case you’re so hungry you lose your way…..
The four-course dinner the first night started with leek potato spinach soup with caramelized carrots and an heirloom tomato salad with smoked cheese, baby greens and basil dressing. 

Fresh shrimp from the Baja California on the menu at Rancho La Puerta
It’s a principally vegetarian menu here, with many dinner meals featuring fish dishes such as citrus garlic tilapia with red mashed potatoes, grilled asparagus, and a roasted red bell pepper sauce. There’s no sugar in sight. Beverages and desserts including a dark chocolate tiramisu with mango sauce are sweetened with agave nectar.

The beautifully presented plates are prepared with produce plucked daily from the ranch’s organic farm where there’s a cooking school called La Cocina que Canta (the kitchen that sings). 

Virginia Willis, far right, as guest chef at the cooking school. My recipe pal is Lorren Negrin of  Seattle.
Atlanta cookbook author Virginia Willis was the guest chef during my vacation week. Her hands-on cooking classes featured a spa-style Southern menu. “Saying that Southern food is only fried chicken is like saying Chinese food is only egg rolls,” says Willis, author of “Bon Appetit, Y’All!”
Lorren (a registered dietitian like me) and I were asked to create a dish from seasonal vegetables picked just moments before.
The pink things are lightly sautéed radishes! 
Cook healthy, eat healthy
Laura White and Becky Jackson, guests from Atlanta, learned Willis’ recipe for bread-and-butter pickles using the organic garden’s cucumbers. Jackson said, “I’m making these at home. Most people think making pickles is hard, but in 20 minutes, we’re done!”
Don’t worry, you get dessert too. Virginia Willis’ recipe for strawberry shortcake was light and luscious!
Her secret- no sugar in the whipped cream and canola oil with butter in the pastry. 
Also on the menu: asparagus salad, cornbread-crusted halibut, and stone-ground grits with fresh greens.
“I didn’t know about stone-ground grits before,” said Lorren Negrin, a registered dietitian from Seattle. “Now I can tell my patients who are originally from the South they should try these, because they’re healthier than refined grits and they taste better.”
Guests get to keep a beautiful embroidered apron.
Deborah Szekely, 91, who founded Rancho la Puerta and still presents inspirational lectures to guests, says, “Your body makes new cells all the time, so every day you wake up a little younger. Take care of your body so it can take care of you.”

Alex’s tree, a focal point at Rancho La Puerta seen with a full moon still hanging above the mountain at 6am. 
I gave my guy a beret. I couldn’t figure out how to make the hair.

 Lessons learned at the Ranch



> Try to limit meat. Plant foods are the stars of the meal here with small but satisfying servings of fish or shrimp. The typical American plate is dominated by large servings of meat.

> Try something new. Gina Christman, of Atlanta Homes & Lifestyles Magazine tried acidopholus milk (good for digestion) at Ranch La Puerta, “I’ve taken this habit home. It tastes like buttermilk.”
  I tried flaxseeds sprinkled on cereal (good source of healthy omega 3 fats) because I heard it’s good for shiny hair and healthy skin! 

Gina Christman and I successfully reach Alex’s Tree on a morning hike. Yes, it’s already really hot!

> Try less sugar (and alcohol). A vacation away from favorite indulgences is an adventure, too. I drank water and hibiscus tea instead of wine this week. —- think of the calorie savings!

OK, we did find a wine lounge with Baja wines!

The wine lounge in a cute little casita is a new addition at The Ranch.

Guests can taste Baja whites, reds and roses in the afternoon before dinner, or after dinner.
My definition of health and happiness! 

> Try mindfulness. Appreciate the colors, textures and tastes of each component in a meal. It slows you down a bit and gives your body and mind time to appreciate a meal.

Tasting the variety of produce at the Ranch’s organic farm will help you appreciate dinner even more!

> Try keeping track. Guests wear pedometers at the Ranch to measure how many steps taken each day. Aim for 10,000 steps a day as a fitness goal. Wow, that morning hike got me half way there even before breakfast!

Don’t worry there’s plenty to eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner and look how much I piled on my tray for lunch. 

Yes, that’s a cookie with a chocolate kiss in the middle. Friday treat of the week.

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Eat the Whole Thing!

Whole Lot of Flavor: My recipe for Georgia Pecan Confetti Quinoa
with yellow squash, zucchini and carrots!
Recipe Below

Whether it’s snacking on a granola bar made with whole grain oats, ordering a whole-wheat hamburger bun or choosing the sushi made with brown rice, it’s getting easier to enjoy healthy whole grains in your favorite foods. Chefs and home cooks are giving side dishes a whole grain makeover too as mashed potatoes and egg noodles get pushed aside in favor of couscous, quinoa and whole-wheat pastas.
See the Grains section of My Plate? Make half your grains whole grains for good health.
That’s a good thing since U.S. Dietary Guidelines recommend that  all Americans eat at least half their grains as whole grains–that’s at least 3 to 5 sixteen-gram servings a day for most of us. Nutrition advice to eat the “whole” thing is based on evidence that diets that are rich in whole grains and low in fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol can help promote proper digestion and reduce the risk of heart disease and some cancers.  Whole grains may also play a role in insulin management and weight control when eaten as part of a healthy diet and lifestyle. So, whole grains have a whole lot to offer!
Had Whole Grains Today?

So, have you had your whole grain breakfast granola cereal today? How about a slice of pizza on a whole-wheat crust? If your answer is “yes”, then you’re doing pretty well – since according to The Whole Grains Council most folks consume only one serving of whole grain per day and over 40 % of Americans never eat whole grains at all!

But, that may be changing as whole grain options move to center stage for delicious meals and satisfying snacks. For example, all of Sunbelt Bakery’s tasty granola and fruit & grain bars have at least 4 grams of whole grains. Some have as many as 9 grams.    

Chocolate Chip Chewy Granola Bar with whole grain oats
from Sunbelt Bakery with a glass of fat free milk.

 

Also, all Sunbelt Bakery products are made without any preservatives or high fructose corn syrup. Their fun flavor varieties include chocolate chip and banana, and their Family Pack bars are just the right size for portion control. And because they are delivered to communities each week, Sunbelt Bakery’s snacks and cereals have a bakery-fresh taste. It’s great to feel good about this win-win for taste and nutrition!

What’s a Whole Grain?

Whole grains, or foods made from them, contain all of the essential parts and naturally occurring nutrients of the entire grain seed.  A whole grain is made up of three layers–the bran, the germ and the endosperm. If the grain has been cracked, crushed, rolled or milled into flour and the proportions of the three layers remain the same, then it contains the same balance of nutrients found in the original grain seed.

Add a sprinkling of crunchy whole grains for fitness, fiber and fun.
Greek yogurt “parfait” with berries and Sunbelt Bakery granola cereal
 What Counts as Whole Grain?

Some examples of whole-grain ingredients include buckwheat, bulgur, millet, oatmeal, quinoa, rolled oats, brown or wild rice, whole-grain barley, whole rye, and whole wheat. That’s a whole LOT of choices. And remember you can mix things up. Try half white rice and half brown rice or other rice and grain blends. 

All Sunbelt Bakery bars, for instance, are made with whole grain oats or whole grain wheat.  One my favorites is Sunbelt Bakery’s Golden Almond Chewy Granola Bar. They’re only 130 calories and contain 6 grams of whole grains per bar.

Disclosure for this post: I am thrilled to serve as the official Registered Dietitian for Sunbelt Bakery. Though I am compensated, all views and opinions expressed in this blog post are my own, and are based on my knowledge and experience as a Registered Dietitian. 


RECIPE: 
Georgia Pecan Confetti Quinoa

Quinoa is a delicious gluten-free grain that cooks up light and fluffy like rice but contains more protein. This super side dish recipe featuring confetti colored sprinklings of orange, green and yellow veggies is flavored with garlic and rosemary. Crunchy Georgia pecans add even more great taste and nutrition because pecans are a super source of heart healthy fats and antioxidants. 

By Carolyn O’Neil, MS RD co-author The Dish on Eating Healthy and Being Fabulous!

Yield: 6 half-cup servings 

Ingredients:

2 teaspoons olive oil

½ cup diced carrots

½ cup diced zucchini squash

½ cup diced yellow squash

1 garlic clove, minced

2 cups cooked quinoa (prepared to package directions)

¼ teaspoon finely chopped rosemary leaves

¼ cup toasted pecan halves or pieces (reserve 2 Tablespoons for garnish) 

Preparation:

Heat oil in large skillet and add carrots, zucchini, yellow squash and garlic. Cook until crisp tender. Fold in the cooked quinoa, rosemary and pecans. Season to taste with freshly ground black pepper and sea salt. Present quinoa on a large platter and garnish with additional toasted pecans.




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Nanjing Discovery: Books, Cooks & Looks

No bodyguards needed in Nanjing, but who doesn’t love a few escorts? 

Just as most tourists to Italy choose Rome or Florence as their first time destination, most pick Beijing or Shanghai for their inaugural visit to China.
But, my first trip to The People’s Republic of China led me to discover Nanjing.  Never heard of it?

Well, either had I until I began my research which started with randomly flipping through On Demand and finding a recent movie called “Flowers and War” starring Christian Bale about the horrible 1937 Nanking massacre of 300,000 Chinese by the Japanese during World War Two.

Nanking, now Nanjing, suffered atrocities ranking among the worst in human history. And now I was going there, coincidentally the very week the city would commemorate the 75thanniversary of the massacre. But, there’s more to Nanjing than dark history. 
Art class at East Beijing Road Elementary School, Nanjing

It’s a bright and beautiful place, boldly stepping into the future of China and the world, as I would soon learn.  Hey, there’s an H& M here and a Ritz-Carlton hotel under construction. Also, they’re super excited about being chosen as the site of the 2014 Youth Olympic Games.

Nanjing Now

Known historically as the ‘southern capital’ of China, Nanjing (the capital of Jiangsu province) is a bustling city of eight million people and over 50 universities and colleges.

View from the backseat of cab. Nanjing at night.
Riding alone I made sure to have my intended destination
written on a card in Chinese.  I can fake Italian and French
but can’t fake Chinese. 

Surrounded by the longest city wall in the world, built during the Ming Dynasty in the 1300’s, Nanjing’s beauty is a contrast of silver skyscrapers, pretty pagodas, architecturally impressive tombs, tree lined streets, lakes, rivers and mountains.  

Nanjing is ready to welcome you! 

An evening cruise in a painted boat past temples, palaces, pagodas and dragons on walls all lit up with brightly colored neon lights on Qinhuai River took me back in time to old China as we sipped hot tea in the cold December night. 

So why was I there?

Look up, there’s a bar on the 78th floor. 

The 89-story Zifeng Tower, the tallest in the city, was the setting for the Sino-American Media Exchange I was invited to attend by Emory University in conjunction with Chinese hosts from Shanghai Jiao Tong University.

Conference tables and talks around them are high art in China. 

We stayed at The Intercontinental Hotel, located in the tower and my room was literally in the clouds on the 52ndfloor with Nanjing’s city streets far below.

Yup, that’s my view of Nanjing. Former President Jimmy Carter was apparently there this day.

From Kindergarten to College in One Day
Our days were focused on meeting students and teachers at schools from kindergarten to college. 

 Sissel McCarthy of Emory University with me and festive students at Jingling High School
Cutest kids at Nanjing Gulou Kindergarten founded in 1923  


What Do You Think That Is? 
I swore I wouldn’t eat anything that looked  like an eyeball


The evenings brought Chinese and U.S. journalists and academics together for extravagant dinners. The most memorable moments of Chinese hospitality and cultural exchange involved the sharing of food and drink. “We’re a city of books and cooks,” explains Nanjing native Liu Kang who is the Director of Chinese Studies Center at Duke University and Dean of the Institute of Arts and Humanities at Shanghai Jiao Tong University.

Prof Liu Kang and I at Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Mausoleum
We climbed the 392 steps to the top and back down again.
A good thing to do to prepare for yet another glorious banquet!

We sat at huge round tables with a Lazy Susan set up in the middle to facilitate presenting and sharing dozens of dishes in a mind-boggling series of flavors, textures and colors. 


“The banquets were relentless, gorgeous, terrifying,” said Daniel Wagner, a financial reporter from Washington, D.C. “Everyone warned me not to stuff myself on the early courses. Nobody mentioned that all 20 dishes that come before the whole fried fish count as ‘early courses.'”

Daniel Wagner and Gary Xu favorites to win the Lazy Susan Chinese Banquet Contest

Added Wagner: “The food really helped me understand how similar to the Chinese we are, and how different. Similar because we all love gorging on delicious food; different because there is simply no excuse for sea cucumber.’”

Salted Duck shows up on every Nanjing table 

Nanjing’s Own Cuisine

Expertly carved vegetables

Nanjing’s unique Haui Yang cuisine may not be as well known as Szechuan-Hunan’s hot and spicy dishes or the shark’s fin soup of fancy Cantonese cooking and that’s what makes it an exciting taste discovery.

Fresh water fish in light soy

“The dishes are lighter with less oil and more vegetables (including sea vegetables), fresh water fish and shrimp, “ says Cecelia Yang of the Intercontinental Hotel, which boasts the highest restaurant in Nanjing on the 78th floor of the Zifeng Tower.

Food and Beverage Director Giuseppe Losciale oversees
the highest restaurant in Nanjing

Get Ready to Duck

Menus feature Huai Yang specialties such as precise angle cut vegetables, salted duck, duck blood soup and a Nanjing version of Peking duck.

Duck Blood Soup and Dynasty Wine 

Wondering about duck blood soup? Don’t ask me; I gave the wheel another turn.

Brave Barbara Ortutay readies her banquet worthy napkin for another spin of the Lazy Susan

“Each banquet was an adventure, I came ready to try anything at least once. Jellyfish, octopus tentacles, purple corn, duck blood soup. The duck blood had the consistency of silken tofu with a hint of foie gras, much lighter than the pork blood-sausage I’m used to from Hungary,” said Barbara Ortutay, a technology writer who lives in New York.

Nanjing Impressions is one of Sissel McCarthy’s favorite Nanjing restaurants because,
“You can watch them prepare the dishes at stations and learn a bit more about what you’re eating.”


Sissel McCarthy, professor of Journalism at Emory University says, “This is my third trip to China and while I’m not a hugely adventurous eater each time it gets easier because you recognize certain dishes. It’s challenging at the multi-course dinners so I let a few go by. I like the Nanjing cuisine because there are so many vegetables. But you’d better like salted duck.”  

Gan Bei!!
And you’d better like to toast. Every meal was punctuated by a series of toasts followed by “Gan Bei!” the Chinese phrase for ‘bottoms up’ as we were served (thankfully) thimble sized glasses of powerful white liquor to down in honor of our new friendships.

For some reason I don’t have any toasting shots, but I here’s what we call a “Banquet Aftermath” photo.

Tips on toasting in China: look your toastee in the eye, touch glasses together the whole time you are speaking, say something nice about them and how grateful you are to know them and thankful for their generosity and hospitality and then yell, “Gan Bei!” which literally translates “dry glass” and shoot the booze. By the way, the white lightning they call baijiu (which translates ‘white liquor’ or ‘white wine’) tastes and smells to me a bit like sweaty socks. It’s an acquired taste, but don’t worry, with all of the toasting madness you’ll acquire the taste quite quickly. 

An elaborate display for delicious dish we named “Squirrel Fish” 

Another side effect of the toast-a-thons according to Ortutay is the culinary courage it summons, “But I should have drawn the line at sea cucumber. I mean just look at it! Why I didn’t draw the line after the first time I tried it is still unclear. Probably the relentless rounds of baijiu, deceptive because it was served in doll-sized glasses.”

More Banquet Glory. This elegant meal was served at The Intercontinental Hotel

And the Chinese love red wine. They prefer French but China produces wine too. We had bottles from wineries called Dynasty and Great Wall. But, I wanted white wine, OK?  I made a mistake consistently requesting white wine at dinners and guess what kept showing up? Yup, more of that baijiu!  You get what you ask for, high maintenance American girl.

Of Jet Lag, Swimming and Corn for Breakfast
The Farmer’s Delight; part of the breakfast buffet at the Intercontinental Hotel, Nanjing


There’s a 13 hour time difference between Nanjing and Atlanta and I got kind of messed up the very first day because even though we left on a Monday, apparently we totally skipped Tuesday and I woke up to discover it was already Wednesday. I didn’t realize the effect of crossing the International Dateline. Oh well, everyone promised we’d get the day back when we returned home. Whatever. All I know is that I woke up most mornings at 4am Nanjing time ready to roll. Swimming helped and the hotel had a beautiful indoor pool where I swam laps at 5am in the quiet darkness. The pool and spa didn’t officially open until 6am but I just walked around the velvet rope thing. There were plenty of towels and I had my pick of lounge chairs.

Other American journalists used their early morning time to jog around the nearby Xuanwu Lake Park and told me about the well-marked trails and beautiful scenery.

By the time breakfast rolled around I was starving. Happily, the Intercontinental Hotel has a huge breakfast buffet with everything you can imagine. Everything! Want sushi? Korean kimchi? Indian food? French pastries? German dark bread? Omelet bar? Chinese dumplings? Noodle soups? Yogurt? Fruit? Cereal? It was like a cruise ship had collided with the United Nations.

Wonder what’s inside? You’ll just have to try these dumplings to find out. 

What really caught my eye was the collection of bamboo steamers on a table marked “Farmers Delight.”  Lifting the basket lids one by one revealed each contained a different steamed vegetable. Orange squash, purple yams, yellow corn.  Who needs corn flakes when you can eat corn on the cob for breakfast. A lot of folks did.  I had an omelet with vegetables and a side of bacon with a slice of that German bread.

Next Big Generation

It’s a rare sight in Chinese cities to glimpse reminders of poorer times. 

The history of China is peppered with famine and hardship. 
But today there are actually a lot of fat kids. Rates of obesity and diabetes are unfortunately increasing in China with the influx of western style fast food and less physical activity in a computer screen world. 

McDonald’s delivery guy in Nanjing


It doesn’t help that the Chinese rule “one couple, one child” has also spawned a lot of pampering of those kids and with two sets of grandparents there’s a lot of ‘have another treat’ going on.

So it was good to see elementary school kids demonstrating kung fu and high school students playing basketball during class breaks. School food was really healthy too.

Delicious lunch at Nanjing Lishui School. Tomatoes grown at the school! 
Lots of veggies at Jinling
She loves Taylor Swift

There was a varied selection of fresh vegetables simply prepared, rice of course and usually a soup with noodles. My favorite meal was lunch shared with six teenaged girls at Jinling High School. They smiled when I used chopsticks to eat slightly spicy chicken with peanuts as we chatted about their classes in applied mathematics, food likes (pizza and fried chicken!), exercise (ping pong and jogging) and going to college (most want to go to the U.S).  But things really got cooking when I asked them about music. One girl said, “I love Taylor Swift.”

And then when I followed up, “What about Justin Bieber?” they all immediately shrieked and giggled with the simultaneous outcry “We lo-o-o-o-v-v-v-e Justin Bieber!!!” Teachers, journalists and other dignitaries turned to see what was so exciting at our table and that’s when I knew that cultural connections are the strongest with shared interests – whether it’s music or math –at mealtime.  

Super smart kids at Jinling High School
I told them to stop studying so much so the American kids can catch up!
Things from Nanjing 

You’ve got a friend!
Yue helped me convert RMB prices into US dollars.
Bonus! It’s a sale day with 50% off!
I could figure that out. 

There’s really good shopping in Nanjing. The usual high-end stuff popular in big Asian cities such as Chanel and Gucci presides over the fancy shopping streets.  Or you can get into the bargaining swing of things at more touristy markets near the Confucius Temple to shop for silk scarves, Nanjing’s famous Yun brocades, and other Chinese trinkets. I love the hand made wooden carving of the see-no, hear-no, speak-no evil monkeys I bought from an elderly artisan at the Nanjing Folklore Museum. Since Nanjing was the center of the Ming Dynasty, there are lots of Ming vase themed things- I bought some key chains which are really nice looking. Was not in the market for an actual Ming vase.
But the most fun I had was shopping with my new Chinese journalist friend, Zhang Yue a reporter with China Daily in Beijing.

Zhang Yue, reporter with China Daily, looks even more petite
next a giant shoe outside the department store.

We went to a busy Chinese department store that was kind of like Bloomingdale’s with two whole floors of shoes and boots. We both bought coats in a hip section of the store. She got a cute beige wool coat with a flirty flouncy hemline and I got what I had my eye on all week!

Chinese girls were wearing these quilted down coats with fur collars and I found the one I wanted.
It’s knee length in ivory with a brown fur collar.

Ok I’ll tell you! Cost about $130

It will keep me warm this winter and remind me of Nanjing, the city of books and cooks and fashionable looks.

The coat I actually wore while I was in Nanjing everyday. It was cold in December.


Speaking of books……. 

 Pearl S. Buck, Pulitzer and Nobel Prize winning author of The Good Earth (and many other books including an Oriental Cookbook) lived in Nanjing between 1920 and 1933 and taught English Literature at Nanjing University. Her house on the campus is a museum you can visit now. I signed the guest book, “Hoping your spirit of dedication to writing will follow me home.” 


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Nanjing Discovery: Books, Cooks & Looks

No bodyguards needed in Nanjing, but who doesn’t love a few escorts?

 

Just as most tourists to Italy choose Rome or Florence as their first time destination, most pick Beijing or Shanghai for their inaugural visit to China.
But, my first trip to The People’s Republic of China led me to discover Nanjing.  Never heard of it?
Well, either had I until I began my research which started with randomly flipping through On Demand and finding a recent movie called “Flowers and War” starring Christian Bale about the horrible 1937 Nanking massacre of 300,000 Chinese by the Japanese during World War Two.
Nanking, now Nanjing, suffered atrocities ranking among the worst in human history. And now I was going there, coincidentally the very week the city would commemorate the 75thanniversary of the massacre. But, there’s more to Nanjing than dark history.  Continue reading Nanjing Discovery: Books, Cooks & Looks
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Happy 100th Julia Child

Julia Child and me in New York in the early 90’s
Apparently, we loved purple then. We had lunch that day at Union Square Cafe.
Julia told me she thought the waiter was good looking. 

“Bon appetit!” as the late culinary icon Julia Child would say at the end of each episode of her pioneering PBS cooking show series The French Chef.  This week her fans are saying “bon anniversaire!” to commemorate what would have been her 100th birthday on Wednesday, August 15th. Julia’s kitchen wisdoms continue to educate and inspire millions through her many cookbooks, biographies and documentaries about her and this month deliciously fun re-runs of The French Chef on PBS television.  A few minutes into an episode on onion soup I completely forgot I was watching Julia ladle soup and grate cheese in black and white! Her personality added the color. When she knocked over an open bottle of Cognac on the counter she quickly righted it and stated there would be plenty left for the recipe.

During my years as a CNN correspondent covering the food beat, I was lucky to interview and share memorable meals with Julia Child. She even came to my house one morning for coffee. She taught me a few things about food and nutrition, too.

While working on the manuscript for my book, The Dish on Eating Healthy and Being Fabulous!, I asked Julia who was then well into her 80’s and well known for her love of butter and cream what advice she might have for planning a healthy dinner party menu. She offered a stealth strategy, “If you serve a health-conscious meal to guests, don’t say so. Don’t mention it at all. Think taste first!”  Back to the onion soup episode – she ends the show with a table set for a meal with the soup as the entrée, a salad with green beans, a crunchy baguette and fresh fruit and small cookies for dessert. She suggests, “This would be a lovely light meal let’s say for after the movies.”

Gems from Julia

During an interview with me for a CNN profile in 1997 she shared that moderation was the key to eating a healthy diet but here’s her delicious twist on that, “Everything in moderation I say. Even excess! You can splurge every once in a while.” She continued with a stronger observation, “I think a lot of people have an immature attitude. They hear you shouldn’t eat a lot of butter or red meat and so they give up eating butter. They give up eating red meat. The key to healthful dieting is to eat small helpings and a great variety of everything. And above all have a good time!”  Julia Child was famous for telling it like it is. I remember her commenting during a food conference on the low fat diet trend in the early 90’s with this hilarious statement, “All these people eating fat free foods! They’re going to get dandruff!”

When I asked about the healthfulness of French cuisine she leapt to its defense, “When they speak of French cooking they say ‘Oh! All of those heavy sauces!’ I think people have a complete misconception of French cooking. I think they’re thinking of tourist cooking.”

Child’s cookbooks give loud applause to the appeal of produce. In her 1995 cookbook “They Way to Cook” over 100 pages are dedicated to cooking vegetables and salads with a chapter introduction in which she declares, “The truth has dawned that fresh vegetables are not only good for you, they can be the glory of any meal, when lovingly cooked.”

Starting August 15th, Julia’s birthday, the Julia Child Kitchen exhibit will be on display until September 3
Julia’s Cambridge Kitchen

During a recent trip to Washington, DC I was disappointed to find out that the exhibit in the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History featuring Child’s kitchen from her home in Cambridge, Mass was closed for renovation. I wanted to get some photos of the section of the kitchen where a VHS tape of CNN On The Menu with Carolyn O’Neil was placed next to her television. (I’m in the Smithsonian!) Nanci Edwards, project manager for the Smithsonian Institution took me behind the scenes to see how the new exhibit was coming along. Out of the public eye on the other side of an unmarked door there it was. Julia’s kitchen with its shiny appliances, cookbooks, counter tops and copper pots hung on a blue pegboard wall wrapped up in protective sheets of clear plastic waiting for the surrounding exhibit to be completed, “It’s a better point of view for visitors now. They can walk around the outside of the kitchen in a complete circle,” says Edwards. Julia Child’s Kitchen will be on display for a limited time August 15- September 3 and will reopen in November, as the focal point of a new exhibit hall titled Food: Transforming the American Table, 1950-2000.

Not the stove from Julia’s kitchen, but I took the photo anyway at the Smithsonian
But don’t look for the CNN videotape, “ I don’t think that will make it into the new exhibit.”  Edwards informed me, “But we’re not going to throw it away.” I guess I’m still with Julia Child in the Smithsonian somewhere.

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