Tag Archives: balanced eating

Please visit my new website

Dear Digestion Suggestion Readers, I have transferred all of my food reviews, recipes and fiction over to my new website: www.smtraphagen.com. Please visit the site, share with others, and follow me!


The site is still under construction but we are on our way! Thank you so much for your continued support.


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Mother’s Day is Fast Approaching: Why not Go Against the Grain?

IMG_2540Mother’s Day is fast approaching and you may be surprised to know that most mother’s don’t want what you think they do! While we tend to lavish flowers, chocolates, breakfast in bed or a hearty brunch filled with syrups, waffles, eggs and bacon on the ones who bore us; a recent article by media food (NBC News) found that most working moms want “more time in the day” more than anything else.


This got me thinking- whether working or not, moms these days are more than multitaskers. They are friends, they are support systems, they are caregivers to our elderly grandparents and relatives, they are cooks, they are part time workers (for those who just can’t sit still), some are pseudo parents to their own grand-kids and so on. With the ever changing food culture and the expansive list of what is good for these days and what is not, maybe what our moms need is a way to boost their energy, re-charge their batteries, and lighten their load.

Since chocolates, candies and the like really don’t boost ones energy I looked around at a few restaurants in the Buffalo area that offer great healthy alternatives.

Orazio’s on Main St in Clarence, NY is a great option for a Mother’s Day brunch. They are currently running a Mother’s Day special menu and all their food is prepared to order. Orazio’s has been in WNY for over 20 years and is a staple for Italian/American Cuisine. Dishes like their Faye Salad and Fusilli Primavera are ultra healthy and the chef is happy to explain the ingredients. If you have any food allergies or even heart disease, the chefs at Orazio’s are more then happy to accommodate you. Their Mother’s Day brunch includes omelets made to order (healthy option: stick with egg whites), pasta salads, vegetable medley, Chicken Ala King (with skim milk) and much more.

Food Truck Tuesdays is back in Larkin Square. From 5-8p.m., you and your mom can enjoy a plethora of food. And the best part is, it forces you to walk around! Exercise and eating at the same time, who would have thought. Granted, it’s not a ton of walking but with it’s prime location you can take your food and walk down by the Marina. There are a ton of healthy options; Amy’s food truck has a great Chicken Souvlaki Wrap, Hello Arepa food truck has a Scallop Slider, BMFT (my fave food truck) has an amazing Tofu Bahn Mi, and Hot off the Press offers a scrumptious Tomato, Cucumber and Onion Salad. What a great way to spend Mother’s Day- her pick of food option, great atmosphere, music and a beautiful marina to walk to. I can’t think of a more energizing Mother’s Day.

Asa Ransom House in Clarence, NY is a beautiful 19th century Inn and Restaurant with a serene landscape to match. Their healthy options range from a veggie wrap without cheese, Pear Salad with light dressing, to a delectable maple syrup glazed Salmon brushed with dijon mustard and served over a bed of spinach. While breakfast is only served to Inn guests, the doors open to the public for tea in the afternoons, lunch on Wednesdays, and a seasonal dinner menu every night. This therapeutic Inn offers beautiful garden strolls, pet friendly accommodations, roaring fireplace in the winter and rustic porches for a relaxing summer’s night meditation. Whether there for dinner or to stay, Asa Ransom House is a gem and a great way to help mom boost her energy and recharge those batteries!

No matter how you decide to celebrate with your mom- make it special and unique. Help your mom make more room in her day!

Happy Mother’s Day to all the mom’s out there.

Asa Ransom country Inn on Urbanspoon

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Digestion Suggestion food for Thought/ News and Updates

Hello Digestion Suggestion Readers.


March should be a time of renewal; a time of spring cleaning, a time of flushing out toxins and revitalizing and nourishing our bodies. Yet as we near the end of the first week of March, we do not see spring approaching. Rather, most of the country is in a time of flux; where the weather we are accustom too or anticipate seems far off in the distance. As cold weather and snow lingers for much of the North East, we wonder “is now the time to revitalize? Should I start spring cleaning when spring is nowhere in sight?” My answer is yes.

Even though we cannot see the warmer weather coming; even though we cannot see the tulips recharging their batteries and getting ready to bloom; even though we cannot see the roots in the ground replenishing and revving up for new life, it still happening. These things are happening regardless of the weather. So to should we be gearing up for spring and summer. Now is the perfect time to cleanse our bodies, nourish our digestive systems with healthy food, and flush out old man’s winter’s toxins.

I was at Wegman’s the other day and saw a plethora of U.S.A brand fresh strawberries, mango’s, grapefruit and plums. If the farmer’s and grocery stores are doing it, so must we. Snow is still on the ground but the grocery stores are already starting to stock summer produce. And while we may want to wallow in the dank dark depression that is winter, we need to pick ourselves up and trust that spring is approaching and when it does we will be ahead of the game.

Today on Ash Wednesday, I urge all of you to be creative. Lent is a great time of year to try different food you may not think to eat at other times. Lentils, beans, fish, edamame, and dates; all a great source of protein, all foods that are plentiful this time of year.

In other News: I was published once again in Buffalo Eats! Check out my latest food review: Simply Gourmet

Use this time to recharge, re-energize, replenish and renew. Happy Ash Wednesday to all.


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Healthy Alternatives: Food tips and tricks

Ok so I’m a bit of a snacker. I literally need to eat every couple of hours or so. It’s not boredom eating and it’s not stress eating (usually), it’s just my body and my metabolism. But for those of you who don’t know this, snacking throughout the day is actually healthier for your body. It also helps speed up your metabolism. I snack every 2 to 3 hours daily- but my snacking is not of the sugar, soda, chocolate variety. I try to snack healthy and in-between my 3 meals a day. I always eat breakfast and try to shoot for a high fiber cereal, oatmeal with cranberries, or a bagel with smart balance butter and peach preserves. If it’s the latter, I know I’ll be hungry by the time I reach work. My solution- bring a banana, or no salt almond mix to snack on.

But I’m also one of those individuals that gets bored quickly. And for someone with digestive sensitivities that can make snacking on different things a challenge. I don’t like eating the same thing all the time. So I change it up weekly, maintaining the same habit of healthy snacking. Whether it’s a homemade trail mix, cottage cheese with fruit, or toast slices with avocado and chili marmalade (sounds gross but so good); you can really be inventive with your snacking. So here are some of my digestive friendly snacking favorites:

No salt peanuts with dried cranberries or cherries:

(for those with no nut allergies).

I buy a container of Planters no salt peanuts and Wegman’s brand dried cranberries or cherries.

I measure out the cranberries in quarter cups, so they will mix properly with the peanuts. Then slowly add them to the container and mix together. (If using cherries, add them and then put the whole container in the fridge). For some reason the cherries taste much better cold. It’s that simple. Then I put a couple handfuls in baggies to take to work during the week.

My Peanut butter/Banana smoothie:


This is so delicious and my go to when I really need something sweet or chocolaty.

Start with about 8 cubes of ice. Add to that 2 spoonfuls of non-fat (Faye) greek plain yogurt. Then add just enough milk to cover the blade in the blender. Do not worry about covering the ice fully, the other ingredients will liquify the shake; you really don’t want a lot of milk. Due to my sensitivities, I use skim plus non fat milk. It’s a lactose free milk.

(Honestly I urge anyone with lactose intolerance to use this milk. The soy versions, lactaid milk, or almond milks contain an ingredient called Carageenan. It’s a thickening agent or coagulant and studies have shown that it increases digestive allergies and can be harmful to stomach health. Skim plus does not contain this ingredient).

After milk is added (again just enough to coat the bottom of blender) then add one whole banana. My trick: wait until bananas start to brown just a little, they are sweeter this way. Add Hershey’s sugar free chocolate syrup (roughly 4 tablespoonfuls).

Start your blender and use Ice setting for 20 seconds. Then add one huge tablespoon of peanut butter (I really like the Smart Balance chunky. I like to have just a few bits of peanut chunks in my smoothie for texture. But by all means use whatever brand and style you like). Then switch to chop setting for 30 seconds or so. Taste and add roughly 2 more teaspoons of chocolate syrup and switch setting to mix on the blender. Mix for another 30 seconds. Then you are all set to enjoy!

The trick with blending is to get the right settings for the texture you want. I really like a thick smoothie so I use the settings above in various orders to obtain the texture I like.

In order to see what works for you, you really need to know your body. If your unsure if you have a food sensitivity, get allergy testing done ahead of time or chart your body’s response to various types of foods (only recommended if you know you do not have a severe allergy).  But the whole point is to have fun with your food, be creative, eat great tasting food- but eat well.

Try these recipes and or leave one of your own in my comments section. I’ll add more as I experiment more. Enjoy!

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Rachel’s Mediterranean


Ahh- the Mediterranean Sea, boasting luscious fruits, seaport living, and an abundance of sun and surf most of the year round. It also is home to retiring baby boomers and to some of the most delectable cuisine our world has to offer.

From Provencal and Italian to Croatian and Greek; the Mediterranean spans a wide variety of cultures and therefore a wide variety of cuisine. Please do not make the mistake of thinking the words cuisine and diet are inter-changeable. Mediterranean cuisine is not a “Mediterranean Diet”. The latter is an Americanized term for a loose diet consisting of Mediterranean style foods and sans carbs. But with so many options and variety there should be no classification at all.

Take Rachel’s Mediterranean for example. Family owned since 2005; Husband and wife team Henri and Hannah Khoury took Greek cuisine and wrapped it up with simple contemporary flare. Their commercial success eventually led to their son expanding the business and adding two new locations; one at the corner of Chippewa and Delaware Street in the heart of the entertainment district and the more recent addition of the Hamburg location on McKinley Pkwy right across from Five Guys Restaurant.

What makes Rachel’s unique is the simple menu options and “make your own” style buffet. It’s Greek food done fast. Huh? Think of it this way, when you’re at a carnival and you see the “Greek Food Tent”, you know the one- people are lined up 20 deep just to get a gyro the way only the greek can do it…well it’s that simple. You walk up to the counter, pick out your meat, toppings and bread or wrap and off you go. It’s healthy, fresh and made right in front of you (for the most part). If I have to nitpick (and thus I must), the Gyro meat is not on a vertical spit but rather already cut and sitting in a tin that is warmed underneath. It looks rubbery and not very fresh. Not my favorite thing to see. When I think Gyro, I think juicy lamb meat stacked or slid onto a vertical spit that rotates and is carved fresh as you order.

With my one exception, Rachel’s offers up a delicious array of chicken souvlaki, chicken kabob, gyro souvlaki or kabob, homemade schawarma sauce ( a combination of thinly sliced meat in a piping hot pita with a secret sauce like only Rachel’s can make it) and various bread bowl or wrap options. Toppings include such items as tzatziki sauce (tangy cucumber dip with garlic and seasonings), tabbouleh (homemade), dill sauce, kalamata olives, glazed onions, peppers, and greek oil.

I tend to go for the chicken souvlaki and I layer it with dill sauce, kalamata olives, tabbouleh, and brown rice. Oh and maybe a side of their amazing greek style French fries. The fries alone will have you going back for more. Thick steak cut fries drenched in greek oil, dill sauce and feta cheese (for me it’s hold the cheese). There’s not much more to say about it.

I have been to two locations; both the Delaware location and the Hamburg location. The menu is straight forward and simple, so no rupturing a vein trying to decide what to order and the pricing is reasonable.  A meal for two (two wraps) with a side order of fries and two drinks was just $20.00 plus tax.

While the décor (in the Hamburg location) is sparse and vacant, it’s the food you go for. And for those of you with digestive sensitivities you can control what goes on your dish and in your mouth. The chef cooks (or reheats) right in front of you; making it easy to watch what he’s adding and ask questions if there are concerns. I found they were very accommodating with my lactose intolerance and asked me if I was allergic to butter (which I’m not- THANK GOD). But it impressed me that they thought to ask that. Not many chefs’ do.

Rachel’s is doing it right. It’s greek healthy food done fast. They’ve put their own spin on Mediterranean and are serving it up to the masses.

Rachel's Mediterranean on Urbanspoon

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