Tag Archives: healthy eating

Merge Restaurant Shares a Great Recipe to Increase Circulation!

The heart–it does more than just break when someone hurts us or feel pleasure when something wonderful happens. It supplies our body with cleansed, healthy blood; pumping it out to every major organ, cell, bones and muscles to keep us healthy and strong. It supplies our brain with nutrients so that our brain can function and feed us the knowledge, messages and coordination we need to live our lives every day.

The heart is complex and it needs to be treated like a priority, because we are its priority! IMG_0691

February is heart health month, as such Merge Restaurant is sharing a great recipe with Digestion Suggestion readers to help increase circulation. Increased circulation helps the heart pump the necessary blood to the necessary organs. Try this great recipe at home or stop by Merge and they will make it for you!

Compliments of Merge Restaurant:

“Circulation Enhancer”
1 1/2 C blueberries (frozen)
1 C coconut milk (cold)
1 TBSP maple syrup
1 TSP lemon juice
1 TSP ginger juice (or fresh ginger or ginger powder work fine)
1/8 TSP cinnamon

Add all ingredients to a blender and blend on high for 40 seconds until creamy smooth.
Garnish with coconut flakes and a light dust of cinnamon
Serve cold immediately and enjoy!

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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.

(https://twitter.com/mediaflood/status/463585895405195264)

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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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:

peanutbutter.bananashake.2

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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Blizzard-Shmizzard! It’s time to cook!

picture taken by SM Traphagen

picture taken by SM Traphagen

So it’s a blizzard outside. 40 mile an hour sustained winds, -28 degrees, and over a foot of snow…….so what! Come on guys it’s WNY! We got this- right?

We may be stuck in our houses but that doesn’t mean we can’t have some fun. Instead of staring out the window, wondering when the weather will break, or what would happen if you dare touch metal with your lips out of sheer boredom (ralphy may not be around to save the day), may I suggest you take advantage of all the great ingredients WNY has to offer and make a fabulous meal today!

Yes it is true that WNY is still working it’s way up the cultural food map, and we are making very impressive progress, but there is still much to learn about the types and styles of food our area has to offer.  With such foods as smoked sausage, sponge candies, pierogi’s, Chevetta’s, Sahlen’s meats, Beef on Weck and the delicious treats of polish Bakery Chrusciki’s; there are ample ideas to arm yourself with a variety of menu choices right out of your own home. Now there is one catch- you need to prepare a little in advance. If there is one thing my mother always taught me it’s to “have your cupboards stocked with the basics”. Things like chicken stock, chicken broth, frozen spinach, peas and brussel sprouts, onions, garlic, olive oil, beans (cannolini)bread crumbs, butter, pastas, and (for me) Pomi for making sauces.  You can make almost anything with just the basics.

Weck rolls, and some great roast beef stocked in your fridge can set you up nicely for some Beef on Weck at lunch time. Or turn your  drab healthy rice dish into a wonderful colorful Quinoa and spinach side. Gluten Free Goddess, Karina, shares a great recipe for gluten free meatballs:  http://glutenfreegoddess.blogspot.com/2008

Ingredients:
1 small to medium sweet onion
4-5 cloves garlic, peeled, cut in half
1 medium carrot, peeled, cut into several pieces
1 pound of organic grass fed ground beef or buffalo- either works
1 pound of organic ground pork
1/2 cup Annie’s Naturals or Muir Glen Organic Ketchup
1 tablespoon organic molasses (this helps bind the mixture)
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh Italian parsley
1/3 to 1/2 cup gluten-free herbed bread crumbs
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon (my secret ingredient)
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
Dash of red pepper flakes, for heat, if desired
Olive oil, as needed
Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

 
Toss the onion, garlic and carrot pieces into a food processor and pulse until the texture is very finely diced. Set aside.
 
In a large mixing bowl, briefly stir together the ground beef and pork. Add in the processed onion, garlic and carrot mixture, ketchup, molasses, balsamic vinegar, parsley, gluten-free bread crumbs, sea salt and pepper flakes. Mix gently to combine. Try not to over-mix (over-mixing makes a dense meatball).
 
Rub a little olive oil on your hands and form the meatball mixture into balls (roughly the size of golf balls). Place them on the lined baking sheet. You should end up with about 20-24 balls.
 
Bake the meatballs in the center of the pre-heated oven for about 30 minutes until done (no longer pink in the center). Note: Smaller meatballs cook faster, so if your meatballs are smaller, check them at 20 minutes. If you make ginormous balls, Darling, they’ll take longer to cook through. Adjust baking times accordingly.
You could also fry the meatballs in a large skillet, using olive oil as well. But to be creative- take your gluten free meatballs, and while still mixing the meat and bread crumb mixture, throw a little chiavetta’s sweet BBQ sauce into the mixture for a great tasting meatball app.
Have some chicken legs lying in the freezer? Turn them into succulent roast chicken legs with a Weber’s hot mustard and tangy honey glaze.
There are so many options and great ingredients right in our own snow covered back yard. I guarantee that if you poked around your cabinets, you’d find that you have some of these items just waiting to be used. So while your sitting by your fireplace contemplating the weather- try making it a WNY kind of day; there really is no other way!
And for a great podcast check out my pal Donnie’s Eat up Episode on Buffalo Eats.org
Stay warm and stay cooking!

 

 

 

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Pre-game Planning For a Healthy Thanksgiving Feast!

We all love Thanksgiving and why shouldn’t we? It’s a day of family gatherings, endless tables of food, Nonna telling you to “Eat- eat, I didn’t cook all this to go to waste!” and the acoustic sounds of the Thanksgiving Day Parade in the background on the T.V. So why would I deny you the pleasures that come with Thanksgiving- I wouldn’t dare! But I would and will suggest some tips for surviving Thanksgiving if you’re trying to watch what you eat. Surviving Thanksgiving is all about your approach. So don’t wave the white flag of defeat in the face of the first round of cornbread stuffing. Just be proactive…and by that I don’t mean wearing a pair of elastic pants to dinner- ahhhmmm Joey Tribiani. Take that healthful frame of mind you’ve been exercising lately to dinner with you alongside your apple crisp.

zxh-thanksgiving-111401

Make Breakfast Hearty and Nutritious

Begin Turkey day with a healthful, nutritious breakfast that is low in calories and fats, but high in soluble fiber to ward off early-afternoon snack attacks. Soluble fiber in oatmeal will keep you fueled and energetic until lunchtime. So try a ½ cup of quick oats with some fresh berries and plain, non-fat Greek yogurt. I happen to really like the Faye yogurt and the sugar count in it is less than in the Chobani.

Fill Up at Lunch with Complex Carbohydrates

Skip the starchy lunch options—such as the pasta, sandwich buns, and fries. Instead, opt for filling complex carbohydrates, like lentil salad, black bean soup, or chicken breast and steamed veggies over brown rice or quinoa to keep you fueled and satiated all afternoon. Provided you are not eating turkey with the family in the afternoon. It’s all about planning. If your turkey dinner is more of an afternoon affair then a simple bowl of quinoa with dried cranberries will keep you from gorging; if however you eat much later in the day then the suggestions above will do the trick.

Eat More Greens

Incorporating more green veggies into your daily diet will help you fill up on healthier foods, hopefully, decreasing your intake of calorie-laden, fatty foods. So jam pitas with baby spinach, arugula, and kale and on Thanksgiving pair that Turkey, an excellent source of low fat protein (if you stick to white meat) with steamed spinach, green beans, asparagus, and Brussels sprouts. A little secret- for those females that might be trying to get pregnant brussel sprouts apparently are a conception friendly folic acid.

Opt for Lean Proteins at Turkey Dinner

You can choose the cornbread stuffing with sausage, buttery mashed potatoes, and gravy at dinner—or you can opt for a few slices of lean white meat, baked salmon, quinoa (which is the highest protein grain), along with healthier sides, like veggie-based salads and cranberry sauce for a lighter meal.

Use Smaller Plates

I always opt for an appetizer sized plate when I’m faced with a smorgasbord of a feast. That way, I cut down my portion sizes considerably. The only other option is to load a mountain on my plate and risk embarrassing myself—gasp!

Don’t Skip Meals to Save Calories

There are people out there that have the idea if they skip breakfast or lunch; they can just move those calories over and consume them all at Thanksgiving dinner. It’s called the pre-game Thanksgiving Day plan. Those who are reading this and denying that you do this- just admit it, we’ve all been there. The only thing you’ll do by saving up the entire day’s allotment of calories for an evening gorge-fest; is overeat at the party because you’re starving. You’re still going to eat all that delicious food but don’t deny yourself breakfast and lunch just to eat Thanksgiving dinner. Another little secret- healthy snacking and eating your three square meals a day (or in this case two) actually speed up the metabolism, thereby helping you burn more calories.

Snack Smart

When it comes to snacking, particularly the days ahead of Thanksgiving, I try to have a plethora of healthy, high-protein, high fiber, low-sugar snacks on hand to avoid a rush to the nearest donut hole on the way home from work. Smart snacking requires you to be proactive. Have a selection of healthy snacks tucked into your desk drawer—i.e., low fat granola bars, rice crisps, melba toast and pack almond butter, a hardboiled egg, or fresh fruit to tackle those sugar cravings.

Bring a Healthy Dish of Your Own

This is probably the best tip I can give you. The only way to be sure there will be healthy selection of side dishes for you to sample at the game day feast is to bring a few of your own. I always know there will be turkey, so I’m set on the white meat front. However, it’s always good to ask your host/hostess what sides they are planning and if you could bring a side or two. I bring a healthy green salad and a steamed veggie side (i.e., usually kale because I love it) so I know that at least I will eat them. If you have a favorite healthy side dish, don’t be afraid to bring it, just bring enough so that others can enjoy some healthy eating too!

Eat Mindfully

Be mindful of what you consume at dinner. It’s easy to get lost in mindless eating when you’re faced with a table of creamy, cheesy hors d’oeuvres while you’re catching up with family or friends. Instead, make a small plate of health nibbles and move your conversations into another room away from the appetizer table.

There it is in a nut shell. I hope these tips help you survive your Thanksgiving Feast. To all my Digestion Suggestion Readers- Have a wonderful and Happy Thanksgiving!

snoopy

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