Tag Archives: Digestion Suggestion

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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Buffalo Soup Fest Today at the Buffalo Convention Center. Don’t Miss Out!

31c64f_f277ae72ba6a40e4b466cd3f83c09f20_jpg_srb_p_1255_460_75_22_0_50_1_20_0Buffalo Soup Fest, previously scheduled for an earlier date, takes place today at the Buffalo Convention Center from 11 a.m.- 6 p.m.

The fastest-growing event for food lovers in Buffalo, NY, the Buffalo Soup-Fest has spent the last four years providing tens of thousands of Western New Yorkers with some of the best soups in the area to help us alleviate those winter blues. For more information about this visit my new site www.smtraphagen.com


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I don’t know about you, but I love moist, warm, delicious brownies. They also happen to be my husband’s favorite dessert. After a very tedious week for both of us, and much repair to our home that has been beaten down from this tremendously long winter, I decided to bake brownies to say “thank you” to my husband for his intelligent handy work around the house. For me it’s a big deal to bake because I am not much of a baker–I’m a cook–and a writer! But brownies are one baked good I bake well. However, I decided to make these brownies with a twist–a healthy twist. I didn’t want us to be gorging over these scrumptious brownies and then feel horribly guilty the next day for eating a not so healthy dessert.

Here is my take on the traditional brownie….guilt free (almost):

Dry ingredients

2 tbsp. Milled Flaxseed (Spectrum Organic)

1/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour

1/4 tsp salt

1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

3/4 cup Turbinado sugar

3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Wet ingredients

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 eggs

2  (generous) tbsp. melted smart balance low sodium butter

1/4 cup Smart Balance Vegetable Oil


Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix all the dry ingredients first, and combine with a wooden spoon. Add melted butter, vanilla extract and vegetable oil and combine until well mixed. At this point, your brownie mix will look like chocolaty dough. Add your eggs and mix until it turns into a wet paste. It should be slightly runny and thick. Make sure the chocolate chips are well dispersed throughout the mixture.

Pour your mixture into an 8×8 prepped baking dish (spray dish before pouring mixture) and bake at 350 for 24 minutes. Use a toothpick or fork to poke your brownies. If your utensil comes out clean, the brownies are done. Note: Due to ingredients, these brownies will not rise as much as traditional brownie mixture, and that’s ok:)

Let them set for five minutes and then cut into little squares. Cover with plastic wrap until serving. Do not put in the fridge, as they will harden; best left covered and on the counter until serving. These brownies will taste slightly nutty, grainy, and oh so chocolaty with no cholesterol, and very little guilt! 20150303_125747

Happy baking.

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Updated: British Chippy–Can Fried Fish be Healthy?

The British Chippy–a carved out fish and chip shop located off South Park Ave. in Buffalo NY. Taking route 5 from the south towns, I assumed that “off South Park” meant right off South Park. Not the case. I got off at Tift, thinking it was easier and turned onto South Park. Mind you, I have now been here twice and each time drove right past this place. It is located in what looks to be an abandoned warehouse; across the street is vacant property and some old industrial work sites. Hoping for the best, I walked inside to find that it was no bigger than my first apartment right out of high school (a studio by the way). There is no heat to speak of, and it was 10 degrees outside that day, and as there is no way to escape the constant opening of the front door, there is no way to escape the whip lash of cold air hitting you in the face.

images This aside, I took in the glass cased counters, chalk board and foe British pictures plastered to the walls. The red telephone booth wallpaper was quaint, and I love that all of their food items are written in chalk. However, the only authentic British look are the actual food items listed. Everything else right down to the telephone booth is wallpaper pictures. They offer tea or hot coffee ($2.00, rather cheap) and an array of British foods from battered Cod and Fish and Chips to Yorkshire Fish Cake or Sausage Roll. The items are traditional and they tout making the food in just that way….traditional. What hit my research nerve and got me digging for more information is their claim that British Fish and Chips are healthier than Fish Fry’s. Hmmmm……ok, I’ll bite. Right on their website they state that Fish and Chips has more vitamin C than an orange, it has fewer calories than other “popular take-aways,” and are only 630 calories. Well, I had to find out if this is true. According to the British Nutrition Foundation, a typical fish and chips plate has 840 calories–not 630. It is high in saturated fat and salt/sodium. And, while the fish itself does provide vitamin C, B12, zinc, and omega-3 fatty acids, the batter around the fish is not healthy (although I will concede it is healthier than a typical American fish fry). Note also that the chips are not very healthy. However, with this I did find that the oils used to batter the fish contain more omega-3 and 6’s than other olive oils. Depending on the oil used, omega-6 can cause artery inflammation. Mono-unsaturated fats and omega-3’s are the safest for heart health. Most Chippie experts use either baking soda or carbonated water or beer as a rising agent to obtain that light, airy, an crispness that British fish and chips is known for. Doing this keeps the batter from becoming dense and dry (more commonly known as an American Fish Fry). Potato flour is used by some, and while starchy, can provide a less oily and healthier bite. Needless to say, everything in the British Chippy is authentic, British and expertly cooked as though it was right off the boat. My fish and chips ($12.00) came wrapped in white tissue (instead of newspaper), salt and vinegar was provided, and the fish (Cod) was perfectly cooked, juicy and flakey, with a thin veil of batter wrapped around it.fishandchips Upon asking my host if the staff are provided training, he stated, “oh yes, everyone undergoes British frying training to get our fish and chips right.” I was pleasantly surprised to hear this fact. So my first foray into the fatty fug of the British Chippy has had a mixed reception. Both the fish sandwich and fish and chips were very good, but the atmosphere is severely lacking, and while tasty (arguably tastier than a fish fry), I wouldn’t tout that is a “healthy” option compared to–well anything else really. All in all, an experience worth trying, but I caution against it for those with heart disease, gallbladder disease, IBS, lactose intolerance or a gluten intolerance.

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There is no other, like a recipe from down under!

Narellan, New South Wales, a suburb of Sydney Australia is home to many–including my cousin Rosa. Migrating from the Italian shores, Rosa and her family settled here when she was young. Just over 30 miles from Sydney proper, Narellan is home to 3,400 residents, steeped in culture and surrounded by beauty and an array of amazing cuisine.

Known for it’s Asian cuisine, Narellan is also know for Balkan and Italian foods, and sits close to Camden, a town known for it’s cafes. Places like Squeeze and Grind, a 4.5 star café, offers brilliant tapas, breakfast and lunch menus, while Salute Trattoria is well versed in the splendor of fine Italian cuisine.

So why am I writing about Australia on a WNY blog? Well, because like any area, in any country, we all have diverse cultures in our regions. People move and settle in many places across the globe. Here in WNY, we have roughly half a million Italians who have settled here or have relatives who came over from Italy to start a new life.

In Italy, drought and crop failure combined with heavy taxation forced many to flee the country, in search of better opportunities. 14,000 Italian immigrants came to Buffalo during the last two decades of the nineteenth century. The opportunities that attracted immigrants depended largely on prior family settlement. For the Italians who came to the Buffalo area, it was often the case that someone from a local village needed to blaze a trail before others followed. It is estimated that (after 1901) as many as fifteen hundred passages to Buffalo per year were financed by relatives.

Behind the curtain of ethnicity, there was (and is) great diversity. By 1910 Italians from hundreds of villages in 16 different provinces — such as Abruzzi, Calabria, Campobasso, Campagna, and the Island of Sicily, lived in different parts of Buffalo. An intricate network of Italian communities started to thrive in various sections of our “Golden Gate” city:

    • the Abbruzzese went to the upper East Side of Buffalo
    • the Campobassini to the lower East Side
    • the Calabrians to South Buffalo
    • the Campagnese adjacent to downtown
    • the Sicilians, the largest group, to the lower West Side in the vicinity of the waterfront.

This infusion of Italian culture led to one of the greatest gifts WNY has to offer–our food! Places Like Romeo & Juliet’s, Salvatore’s Italian Gardens, Mulberry’s, Lebro’s, Tappo, Marco’s Italian Deli, and Osteria 166 are just a few of the delectable, wonderfully tantalizing restaurants that our fair city has to offer.

WNY is moving up, shaking off the rust from the chains that bound us, and creating a dizzying labyrinth of a colorful, creative, artistic Buffalo NY.

Below is a fabulous recipe my cousin Rosa has provided and is versatile for vegetarian or gluten free options. Rosa has just completed her cooking studies after years of government work, and is now following her dreams; creating distinct and regional dishes that are very much her own creation.

Timballo Di Riso e Melezane (Bake Rice Dish with Eggplant)10953287_10152690317457887_249086473_n

Overall Ingredients:

400 G of short grain rice

4 eggplant sliced

1 Cup of seed oil for frying

2 cups of peas

2 cups of mozzarella or shredded cheese

1kg of Beef Mince

1 Onion diced finely

4 garlic cloves finely chopped

1 x 2550grams large can of peeled tomatoes

1 Bottle of tomato passatta

1 bunch of basil

¼ cup off Olive Oil

1 cup of red wine

Salt and pepper to season

Bolognese Sauce Ingredients:

1kg of Beef Mince

1 Onion diced finely

4 garlic cloves finely chopped

1 x 2550grams large can of peeled tomatoes

1 Bottle of tomato passatta

1 bunch of basil

¼ cup off Olive Oil

1 cup of red wine

Salt and pepper to season


In a deep pan heat the beef mince over a high heat, until all the meat juices has either evaporated or you can pour it out of the pot.

Add the red wine and allow the flavour to infuse with the beef mince until all the wine has evaporated.

In the same the pot drizzle the olive oil over a high heat and add diced onion and garlic, sauté and allow to soften.

Add the peeled tomatoes and bottle of passatta.

Pour 1 cup of water in the empty tomato can and pour the liquid in the sauce, the same for the bottle of passatta.

Season with Salt and Pepper

Add the basil

Cook for 3-4 hours over low heat until it thickens

Preparing the Eggplants: 

1) Wash the eggplants, dry and then slice thinly. Sprinkle the slices of coarse salt, chard in a colander and let drain for 30 minutes. Elapsed time, rinse them and pat dry with a sheet of absorbent kitchen paper.

2) Heated the oil of seeds in a frying pan and fry the eggplant. As they are ready, drain them on absorbent kitchen paper, and drizzle with a pinch of salt. 3) Gently fry the chopped onion in a saucepan with 2 tablespoons of oil.

Once combined pour the mixture into the pre lined cake dish which has been sprayed with cooking spray, I use a cake dish with a hole in the middle but you can use any type of baking dish, line the cake dish with the layers of eggplant slightly overlapping.

3) Boil for 12 minutes the rice in boiling salted water once cooked strain, place in a bowl and mix in the Bolognese sauce and mozzarella or shredded cheese and sprinkle with parmesan cheese combine everything together you can add as much sauce as you like, pour mixture into the prepare dish, fold the eggplant to cover the mixture and bake at 180 °C and bake for 20-30 minutes.10941692_10152690317487887_2133653738_n

*(Please note you don’t have to have Bolognese sauce with this dish you can just make a plain tomato sauce and add your vegetables as desired)

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