Wednesday, February 29, 2012

National Nutrition Month -- what you can do to partake

I received this email from the Nutrition Council of Greater Cincinnati, and instead of trying to paraphrase and reproduce the helpful links embedded within it, I've pasted the communication within this post.
Be sure to check out their link "50 ways to eat more fruits and vegetables," below.

Also note that their annual Food on the Run Fitness walk/run is this Saturday, March 3rd -- scroll down for the details.

NC Logo-newFood For Thought E-News
Celebrate Nutrition Month
Winter 2012

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It's almost time to Get Your Plate in Shape to celebrate National Nutrition Month! Read on to find out the hottest topics in nutrition for March.

 Get Your Plate In Shape
Build a healthy plate. Start with more vegetables and fruit, add smaller portions of proteins and grains. Here are more tips to get your plate in shape.
Use the online supertracker to track your daily food intake and physical activity. Visit for more information.

Food on the Run 2012
Join us for ourFood On The Run annual Food on the Run 10K & 5K Run/Fitness Walk on Saturday, March 3rd. Register online no later than Thursday, March 1st at midnight. 
We recommend participants carpool, we are expecting 1200 runners/walkers. Parking is available for $4 at Yeatman's Cove and other lots. For more information or to get involved contact Jane Boback or visit our website.

We are now on Facebook!

Best of Health,

The Nutrition Council Registered Dietitians

Monday, February 27, 2012

Good spot -- no, better than good -- in a neighborhood that needs it

Dinner at Emilia
With so much wealth clustered on the east-central side of Cincinnati, you'd think there would be better dining choices, or at least more interesting and inventive ones. But Hyde Park, Indian Hill, Oakley and Walnut Hills have a lot more chain restaurants (Bonefish Grill, PF Chang's, J. Alexander's, First Watch, Chipotle and the like), casual diner style spots (Arthur's, Hitching Post), or mediocre Thai/Asian places than independent eateries. The ones that are there are either limited in scope (Essencha teahouse, great at what it does) and/or tired (Teller's) or are about to exit from the area (Boca, Hugo's).
That's a long intro to bringing up a new restaurant in O'Bryonville that is packing people in -- grateful, no doubt, for the excitement of a place worth seeking out. Enoteca Emilia couldn't be more welcome to the area. Owned by a couple who used to run the bistro at Joseph-Beth bookstore in Rookwood/Hyde Park, the former home of several failed concepts seems to be firing on all cylinders and boasting packed houses most nights.
Faro/Beet Salad, yum
The food is relatively casual but well executed -- Italian, and mostly small plates. We had a couple of meat skewers (lamb for me, chicken for my husband) and split a couple of excellent side dishes -- roasted cauliflower and a cold faro salad with beets and mint.
Everything was delicious and we loved the feel of the place -- very lively and with a friendly and happy vibe.
My husband declared this his new favorite restaurant.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Light dining, with great drinking!

My favorite restaurant (not counting the high-end, once-in-awhile options) is La Poste in Clifton, Cincinnati. Happily, Clifton is my home 'hood and the restaurant is about a 10-minute walk from our house.
The food is good at La Poste, but the drinks are stellar. In addition to perhaps the best, most extensive and most adventurous wine list within a 200-mile radius, head bartender Suzy whips up some delicious cocktails. She's not satisfied doing the same things over and over, so every couple of months she creates a new list of about 10 fun drinks.
On her latest list, the "Hot Manhattan" is my favorite so far. I can't tell you the ingredients -- figs are involved, as well as a bit of Amaretto and of course bourbon -- but it has a kick from chili peppers that is just right. Not too spicy but enough heat to give it a great aftertaste.
Great bartender!

Here's a photo of Suzy with a couple of her drinks. For my meal, I just had their flatbread appetizer. They usually have a flatbread option but the one on the current menu is the best so far. It's lighter than most, with only a sprinkling of goat cheese. The crispy, cracker-like bread is topped with a mushroom spread, candied lemon peel, the goat cheese and frisee salad. Believe it or not, it was plenty of food.
Another time I went with my husband and we split the flatbread as an appetizer. I had the roasted pear salad and he had a salmon entree, rounding out the meal.
Flatbread that's a meal

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Fat belly? Eat these foods, help it melt away

Try emphasizing whole grains, vinegar and nuts -- and get rid of that spare tire.
So says Eating Well. Here are some tasty and easy recipes that include filling foods that contain these stomach-reducing ingredients....for example, this couscous salad.

Recipe: Couscous and Berry Salad

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons orange juice
  • 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons finely chopped shallots
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 2 cups cooked whole-wheat couscous
  • 1 cup chopped nectarine
  • 1 cup mixed fresh berries, such as blueberries and raspberries
  • 2 tablespoons toasted sliced almonds

Instructions: Whisk oil, orange juice, vinegar, shallots, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Add cooked couscous, nectarines, berries and almonds; gently toss to combine.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

The best sources for protein -- lean and nutritious

Ever since I started working out with a personal trainer a few months ago, I've been a lot more conscious of reducing starchy foods (pasta, potatoes, bread, and rice) and upping the amount of protein I eat every day.
Yes, I often supplement food sources with a helping of low fat protein powder dissolved in water, but here are a few really great ways to enjoy protein on a daily basis. 
(In no special order)
Yogurt (especially Greek) -- buy nonfat or low-fat plain, add vanilla flavoring and a no-cal sweetener if you want. I have it for breakfast with berries, half a banana, chopped walnuts and a couple tablespoons of granola for crunch. It's become my favorite breakfast.
Almond butter -- almonds are so much more nutritious than peanuts, and while like most folks I love (chunky, unsalted) peanut butter, almond butter is a better choice. Spread it on apple slices or celery sticks to avoid the starchy bread or crackers that we tend to put our nut butters on.
Quinoa -- instead of rice, couscous or pasta, this grain is a great source of protein, and it's just as satisfying to the soul as those other, starchier grain products.
Eggs (especially organic) -- the ultimate fast food because they cook in no time. I don't bother with them for breakfast but at lunch I enjoy a couple of eggs scrambled with cooked veggies, perhaps some leftover chicken or salmon, and a sprinkle of cheese. A quick fritatta or omelet also makes a nutritious supper.
Wild salmon and other wild (not farmed) fish -- we eat fish for dinner at least three times a week. It cooks very fast (like eggs) in a frying pan with just a bit of oil. One of our go-to meals.
Organic Chicken and Grass-Fed Beef -- one of my healthy-foodie rules is "no supermarket or fast-food meat," if only because I am offended by the inhumane treatment of animals by our industrial food system. We don't eat beef of any kind very often, to tell you the truth, and prefer ground bison (buffalo) in chili, sauces and as burgers. 
Hummus -- made from protein-rich chickpeas (garbanzo beans), I like the chipotle flavored kind by Trader Joe's, and also the Luscious Lemon of another brand. To avoid a starchy bed for this spread, I have it with carrots and celery, usually.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Best coffee in town (by a lot)

Hyde Park Coffee Empo
This won't be news to anyone who loves coffee and lives in Cincinnati, but Coffee Emporium is the king of the Queen City when it comes to the bean.
It's probably because they roast their own at the downtown (OTR) location. Man, the stuff is good.
OTR has more indoor seating than does Hyde Park, but the parking is so expensive down there that it's hard to a) find a space at all during weekday mornings, and b) spring for the pricey meters if you do get one.
The Hyde Park locale is wonderful in warm weather because of the many outdoor spots, in front of and behind the cute house where you get your coffee, pastries, etc.
I'm there right now, about to grade a batch of papers while enjoying a superb mug of capuccino.
I do have to avoid the pastries, however, since they are large and caloric. The vegan cinnamon coffee cake would be less guilt-inducing if it were a few ounces smaller. (Yes, I know -- in theory I don't have to eat the whole thing, but what are the odds when it tastes so good?)

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

A lovely salad

This crunchy, healthful salad was featured on Epicurious recently.

Recipe: Shaved Cauliflower and Radicchio Salad


·         1/2 head of a 1-pound cauliflower, cored, cut into florets
·         1/2 head of a 6-ounce radicchio, cored, quartered lengthwise
·         6 inner celery stalks with leaves
·         1/4 cup thinly sliced chives
·         1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves
·         1 lemon

·         2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
·         1/4 cup walnut oil
·         Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
·         1 ripe Bosc pear
·         1/4 cup coarsely chopped walnuts, toasted if desired
For salad: 
Push cauliflower florets, then radicchio, through the feed tube of a food processor fitted with a slicing disk, or thinly slice cauliflower on a mandoline and radicchio with a knife. Mix in a large bowl.
Peel rounded side of celery with a peeler to remove strings. Remove leaves; add to bowl. Thinly slice stalks with a knife; place in bowl and add chives and parsley. Finely grate zest from whole lemon directly over the bowl to catch any citrus oil. Toss to mix well. Squeeze juice from lemon for dressing.
For dressing: 
Place 1 tablespoon juice in a small bowl. Whisk in Dijon mustard. Gradually whisk in oil. Season with salt and pepper.
Up to 1 hour before serving, add dressing to salad; toss to coat. Season salad with salt, pepper, and more lemon juice, if desired.
Cut pear into matchstick-size pieces. Add pear and walnuts to salad; toss to combine.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Reverting to the Old Ways (Unhealthy habits)?

Back to basics?
Readership for this blog always spikes in January. After the holidays, so many people want to shape up and make changes in their diet and exercise routines (or lack thereof), blogs such as mine get on more folks' radar. But by the time the Super Bowl rolls around, my daily hits start to drop off as we go to parties and gorge on chicken wings (does any less healthy food exist?) and cheesy dips.
So much for the New Year's Resolutions.
Now it's mid-February and my readership is half what it was a month ago.
I find it discouraging, as you might be able to guess.

However, we must soldier on -- healthy foodies unite!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Best food magazines for Healthy Foodies

There are lots of food reads on the newsstand, but if you want to narrow it down to just a couple of really good ones, here are my picks. The first two are for cooks -- for anyone who wants to enjoy delicious food at home while sticking to an overall goal of staying fit and healthy. They not only contain great recipes but they also have informative articles about the relationship between food and health.
The third one on my list is just a wonderful read every month and is one of my favorite things that comes in the mail. Unlike the first two, it has a welcome focus on wine, and on top of that includes fascinating pieces on travel, from a foodie perspective.

1. Eating Well takes very little advertising, is beautifully designed and produced, and strikes a pleasing balance in its approach to food by leaning heavily towards health-oriented recipes without going overboard toward asceticism. The articles about food trends, including an encouraging emphasis on sustainability and environmental responsibility, makes this magazine a standout.

2. Clean Eating is a relaitvely new discovery for me, but it's become a solid favorite after just a few issues as a subscriber. This one is less available on newsstands, at least around where I live, so you almost have to subscribe to keep up with it. The health orientation is a little more strict than with either of the two others, and many of the articles focus on coping with diet-influencing health conditions such as diabetes or gluten intolerance. Worth a look!

3. Food & Wine is my absolute favorite among the mainstream food mags. Although many of the recipes are too rich for my kitchen, it's possible to make lighter versions with a few substitutions here and there. I've gotten a lot of great ideas from this magazine. And I really love the wine articles and travel pieces, some of which I rip out and save for our own roamings.

Friday, February 10, 2012

More winter comfort food: Braised aromatic vegetables

Braised veggies with mushroom sauce
We fell totally in love with these flavors. (One secret: sneak just a little bit of butter in the braising liquid.) We had it as a side dish with broiled fish, and had leftovers to enjoy later. For vegetarians, don't use chicken broth in the braising liquid, and consider this dish as a main course, accompanied by whole grain bread and a green salad.

Recipe: Braised Fennel and Leeks
Serves 4 (side)

1 ½ c chicken or vegetable broth
½ c white wine
½ c water
4-5 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced in half
½ c chopped onion
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp dried tarragon
2 T butter (optional)
Salt and freshly ground or cracked black pepper, to taste

3 leeks, white parts only, trimmed and sliced in half lengthwise
2 fennel bulbs, cored and cut into quarters lengthwise

2 c sliced mushrooms, any type
3 T olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Prepare the braising liquid in a large, deep sided frying pan: add the liquids along with the garlic, chopped onions, herbs, butter (if using) and seasonings. Cover and bring to a boil.
Arrange leeks and quartered fennel in the pan. Bring liquid back to boiling, then reduce heat to low, cover and cook until vegetables are tender, about 15-20 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a smaller frying pan, heat olive oil over medium and add mushrooms. Stir-fry for 3-4 minutes, add salt and pepper and remove from heat.
To serve, carefully remove fennel and leeks to a platter; top with sautéed mushrooms.
Note: Strain the braising liquid to remove solids and store broth in the refrigerator for another use—it will be quite flavorful.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Winter comfort food: Microbrew Bison Chili

This hearty chili is a year-round staple at our house, but it's especially good when the air is frosty. We like it with a hefty stout (beer) in the stew and on the table, but tannic red wine (such as zinfandel or cabernet) works very well for both uses.

Recipe: Microbrew Bison Chili
Serves 6-8

3 T canola oil, divided
1 large onion, diced
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 red bell pepper, coarsely chopped
2 ribs celery, thinly sliced
½ cup diced green pepper (optional)
3 T good-quality chili powder
½ teaspoon chipotle powder, or more to taste
1 15-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 15-ounce can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 large can diced tomatoes, preferably no-salt-added
1 cup frozen corn kernels, thawed
1 cup water
1 pound ground bison (buffalo)
1 bottle dark beer, such as stout
Salt, to taste

1. Heat 2 T of the oil in a large soup pot over medium-high heat. Add next five ingredients (onion through green pepper) and sauté, stirring frequently, until veggies start to soften, about 4 minutes.
2. Stir in chili and chipotle powders. Add next 5 ingredients (black beans through water) and stir well. Reduce heat to medium, cover pan.
3. Meanwhile, heat the remaining 1 T oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add bison and cook, crumbling meat with a wooden spoon as it cooks. When the meat has no pink left in it, remove with a slotted spoon and add to the chili.
4. Stir in beer, and add more water if you want a more soupy consistency (leave it as is if you prefer stew-like chili). Cover pot, reduce heat to low, and let the chili simmer for at least 15 minutes to let all the flavors combine.
Season with salt to taste.

Serve over rice, with corn chips or (my favorite) cornbread.  Pass a bowl of grated jack or cheddar cheese at table. Freeze the leftovers and enjoy again on another cold winter night.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Spice up your sex life with this food

Eating certain foods not only can make you healthier, they can make you look great, too. And as we all know, when you feel good about how you look -- others notice. Va-voom!

While many herbs and spices can lead to a hotter you, none beats turmeric (with its active ingredient, curcumin) in this department. Among its most powerful beauty and good-looks benefits is that turmeric is great for your skin, helping cuts to heal faster and its anti-inflammatory properties combat skin conditions such as psoriasis and promote a healthy-looking, glowing complexion.

Health wise, studies show much promise in the realm of cancer prevention and even treatment, especially in combating breast, skin, prostate and even pancreatic cancer.

Turmeric is a main ingredient in many curry powder mixes, so if you love to cook with curry, you are on the right track. The spice may also be used on its own or in combination with other spices, as in this easy and delicious shrimp recipe from my friend, Mary Ann Barnes.

Recipe: Shrimp Sautéed with Turmeric and Garlic

Serves 4

4 tablespoons olive oil
½ chopped onion
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
1 tablespoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon habenero pepper sauce
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
2 tablespoons lemon or lime juice
1 14-ounce package precooked frozen cocktail shrimp, thawed
1 bunch broccoli, chopped
2 cups brown rice, cooked

Warm olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat.  Add onion and garlic and cook until softened.  Add remaining spices, pepper sauce, juice, shrimp and broccoli and saute until broccoli is crisp-tender.  Serve over brown rice. 

Thursday, February 2, 2012

What to eat during the Super Bowl?

For the first time ever, we are hosting a small Super Bowl party at our house. The question arises: what do we eat?
Apparently, it is de rigueur to avoid an actual meal while watching this extravaganza and instead consume chips, dips, wings and other such "junk food" fare. But there has to be a middle ground, at the very least -- I don't even like such things, and at the same time I don't want to spoil the party.

What might work:
Guacamole dip -- while it's high in calories, at least guacamole contains "good" fat in the avocado. Pair it with whole-grain tortilla chips (Trader Joe's has some multigrain chips that we like) and cut-up veggies instead of potato chips or fried corn chips.
Hummus or bean dip (sans cheese) -- include this dip with your guacamole and the same chips and veggies. Hummus comes in various flavors -- I'm fond of the chipotle kind -- and you can serve more than one.
Chili made with ground turkey, bison (my fave), tofu or just beans -- spice it up, add plenty of diced onion, pepper, garlic, carrots and celery in the first step of the recipe -- and go easy on (or skip) the cheese topping.
Drink wine instead of beer or cocktails -- fewer calories, as a rule.
Serve these chicken strips --  yes, you need more protein to go with all the carbs and fat that inevitably will laden your table. This chicken is baked rather than fried, but the breading and seasoning make it crunchy and quite tasty. You can prepare the chicken a day in advance and store the strips in the fridge; bake them just before the party starts. The dip also will keep just fine in the fridge for a day or two.

Recipe: Baked, Spiced Chicken Fingers
Makes about 8 servings


  • Cooking spray
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 cup fat-free milk
  • 1 teaspoon barbecue smoked seasoning (such as Hickory Liquid Smoke)
  • 1/2 cup dry breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 cup quick-cooking oats
  • 2 teaspoons garlic and herb seasoning
  • 2 pounds skinless boneless chicken breasts, cut into 2-inch strips
  • Honey-Mustard Dip:
  • 1/4 cup Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup honey
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Coat a large baking sheet with cooking spray.

In a shallow dish, combine the flour, salt, and pepper. Mix with a fork to combine. In a separate shallow dish, combine milk and liquid smoke. In a third shallow dish, combine breadcrumbs, oats, and garlic seasoning.
Dip chicken into flour, and turn to coat both sides; shake off any excess flour. Transfer chicken to milk mixture and turn to coat. Transfer to the breadcrumb-oat mixture, and turn chicken to coat. Place chicken on prepared baking sheet, and spray tops of strips with cooking spray.
Bake for 25 minutes, until the crust is browned.
Meanwhile, combine the mustard and honey in a small bowl; serve with the strips. (Make more dipping sauce if this doesn't seem like enough.)