img_7128I can’t remember how it started, but 2 years ago I started a love affair with restaurant ramen noodles.  There was a local ramen joint that I loved that had these big bowls of delicious broth, pork, and ramen noodles.  It just seemed like the perfect winter food to me!

About a year ago, I discovered Brown Rice Ramen Noodles at the store, and I figured I could make this dish at home!   There’s many different ways to make it – chicken, pork or vegetarain.  In this version, I used some proscuitto (I know, wrong cuisine) to add flavor because I had it on hand.  Feel free to omit it (to make it vegan), or add the protein of your choice.

Since my Facebook live video last week about making tomorrow’s breakfast got such a huge audience, I decided to a Facebook Live video with all the instructions for the ramen recipe.  It’s pretty rough around the edges, and you’ll get to see me in my actual kitchen making dinner and dealing with kids and my husband who interrupts, gets in the way, and tries to eat ketchup straight up! Ewe! It’s real life!

I didn’t prepare at all for the video, except to set up the tripod.  I find with these things it’s best if I just go for it and try not to obsess over the details, because then I run the risk of never getting started.  In the words of my wise Uncle Blaise, “It doesn’t have to be perfect, it just has to be done.”

And with that, here’s the recipe for Healthy (& Quick) Ramen Noodles

Makes 8 servings, cook time 40 minutes

Ingredients:

  • Lotus Foods Brown Rice Ramen, 4 patties
  • 10oz sliced mushrooms – I used a blend of shiitake, baby bellas and oyster mushrooms, but any variety will do
  • 1 head of bok choy, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • Olive oil, 2 tbsp
  • Sesame oil, 1 tsp plus some for garnish
  • 8 slices of proscuitto
  • 8 hard boiled eggs, for cooking method click here
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 3 tbsp Osem Consomme
  • 6-8 cups of water
  • Sesame seeds for garnish
  • Scallions for garnish

Instructions:  In a large pot, over medium heat, add the olive oil and sesame oil and minced garlic.  Let the garlic become fragrant.  Chop the proscuitto and add it to the garlic and oil, lets the proscuitto become cripsy and brown – about 2 minutes.  Rinse and chop the boy chow and mushrooms.  Once the proscuitto is crispy, add the mushrooms and then the boy choy on top. Add soy sauce. Cook down for 5-7 minutes until the mushrooms have turned brown and softened.  Add the water, depending on the size of your pot you can use 6-8 cups.  Add the Osem, let it come to a boil.  Peel your hard boiled eggs.  Once the broth has come to a boil, add the ramen noodle patties and let simmer uncovered.  After 3 minutes, use a fork to untangle the ramen noodles.  Simmer another 1-2 minutes until noodles are done.

To plate, place one hard boiled egg on each serving cut in half lengthwise, scallions and sesame seeds.  Finish it off with a splash of sesame oil.

 

 

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Bring on the Chocolate!

December 15, 2013

Are you a chocolate lover? I am!  I mean, is there any more perfect food out there? Sweet, loaded with antioxidants and a little decadent.  Lately, I’ve been enjoying a square of dark chocolate a few nights a week as a little evening snack.  I also like to make smoothies and vegan chocolate pudding with Raw Cacoa powder that I got from Longevity Warehouse. 

While studying for my Health Coach certification, I learned of the raw foodist David Wolfe.  His passion for food and chocolate, specifically cacao, is truly infectious.  If you’ve ever been up at 2am watching the Nutribullet infomercial, you have already met David Wolfe as he is the spokesperson.  He’s definitely a less “hippy” version of himself in the infomercial, with his trademark long curls seriously cut down, but his passion is still there.

I decided this week to revisit my lectures from David Wolfe out of sheer curiosity.  I remember watching them back in February and it making a big impact on the way I thought about food.  He spends about 45 minutes just talking about making a smoothie! (Though, in my lecture he DOES NOT use a Nutribullet!).  After watching these lectures I ordered from raw honey, goji berries and raw cacao powder.  It was my “intro to superfoods.”  Since then I’ve learned you can find raw honey at almost any corner store in Brooklyn and that goji berries are great for smoothies and snacking.  I still have the cacao powder and use it for smoothies and desserts from time to time.  All in all, a good purchase.

In the lecture David says he’s been a raw foodist for 15+ years and he asks the audience, “Can you believe I’m still alive?”  Um, no, I can’t.  We’ve been made to think for so long that you need meat and dairy to survive (protein and calcium) and the more I learn about nutrition, it’s just not true.  I’ve mentioned many times on this blog that I still enjoy meat and dairy, though in much smaller portions.  Having said that, I do eat more vegetarian and vegan sources of protein and calcium than ever before.  And I like it!  I feel much leaner.  I don’t have any digestive issues and I’m finally starting to actually crave the veggies over the other stuff!

The thing with raw food (for me) is that in the winter, I’m just too cold to want to eat salads all day long.  I crave a hot soup or a Buddha Bowl loaded with veggies.  I want cooked food.  Cooked food is what makes up the intelligent race of humans we are today.  In Michael Pollan’s “Cooked”, he explains that once we learned to cook our food it enables our brains to grow making us smarter than the rest of the species on the planet.  We owe a lot to cooked food.  And hell, I love to cook!  So the idea of raw food 24/7 is not really in my “life plan.”  But here’s the message that David Wolfe stuck in my mind back in February, “It’s about adding in the good and all the joy that goes with it.”  He’s not saying (and neither am I) that you can never have pizza or eggplant parmigiana again.  He’s just saying add in the good.  Add in more veggies.  Add in more salads.  Add in more raw foods and see how your body feels.  I know for me, my green juice every morning is one of my ways of adding in more raw foods.  I also lightly steam my broccoli and green beans so that they retain their nutritional value so they are closer to the raw state (but, raw broccoli, ewe).  It’s all about recognizing your own “bio-individuality” and knowing what is right for YOUR body.

Especially at this time of year when we are faced with so many stresses and challenges the idea of just adding in joy seems just about right.  As you start to think about January and making some resolutions what if you just made resolutions that were about adding in the good instead of weeding out the bad?  What would that list look like?  Would it be the kind of list that you could actually stick to beyond February?  Would it be a kinder way to take care of yourself rather than bullying yourself with starvation and deprivation?

Just add in the good.  Start now.  Decide now to start loving yourself and taking care.  I am.  On Christmas eve I am enjoying and eating that delicious plate of antipasto and I’m not going to feel guilty because I take care of myself every single day.  And as any health coach will tell you, we strive for 90% perfection so there’s a little room for antipasto (or pizza or whatever your craving is).

If you’re ready to start blending up a superfood smoothie, check this out.  It’s how I started once I tuned into to superfoods and David Wolfe.  Enjoy!

Is vegetable a dirty word?  Sometimes I feel like it is.  I bring it up a lot with people (mostly my family) as in, “Are you going to serve any vegetables with that?”  I don’t mean to sound judge-y, but are you going to serve any vegetables with that?  I know that I need vegetables in my diet for many reasons: to feel full, to eat less meat and dairy, to feel regular (I went there!) and to maintain my weight.  I find most people don’t eat as much veggies as they should for 3 reasons:

1) vegetables are more expensive

2) vegetables are boring / I don’t know how to cook them

3) I don’t like salad

And all of these fall under the umbrella of “I don’t know why vegetables are important”.  We’ll get to that in a moment.

I’ve eaten my fair share of meals that are vegetable deficient.  Sandwiches come to mind, countless bowls of pasta with meatballs, even pizza.  I love all these foods, but they are seriously lacking in the vegetable department.

Did you know the FDA considers the tomato sauce on pizza a vegetable for school lunches?  I remember when I was in school that french fries were also considered a vegetable.  SCARY.  I just took a look on the FDA School Lunch website and some of my favorites horrors from these guidelines are below:

FDA says, “Select vegetables with more potassium often, such as sweet potatoes, white potatoes, white beans, tomato products (paste, sauce, and juice), beet greens, soybeans, lima beans, spinach, lentils, and kidney beans.”

Marie says, “Potatoes are a starchy vegetable that should be eaten in moderation.  They are also delivery vehicles for some very fatty toppings (sour cream, butter, oil, cheese) that must be monitored closely if you want to maintain optimal weight.”

Please instead of potatoes, try some green veggies like kale or spinach.

FDA says, “Order a veggie pizza with toppings like mushrooms, green peppers, and onions, and ask for extra veggies.”

Marie says, “Ok yes order a veggie topped pizza, but please don’t expect that to equal a vegetable serving.  Having one slice of pizza with a green salad would be a better solution.”

I love pizza, and I don’t want to discourage people from eating it, but it’s really gotta be served with a salad otherwise it’s not a complete meal.

So why are vegetables so important?

The make you feel full, they provide fiber and countless vitamins and minerals.  Plus they are a non-animal derived food which makes them more sustainable to the environment.

I always do my best to buy organic vegetables because they taste better and if I’m gonna eat and serve veggies I want the best!  There are other good reasons below…

The definition of organic when talking about food is, “Simply stated, organic produce and other ingredients are grown without the use of pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, sewage sludge, genetically modified organisms, or ionizing radiation. Animals that produce meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy products do not take antibiotics or growth hormones.” (Taken from www.organic.org).

But, sometimes there aren’t organic versions available in the grocery store or your budget won’t allow for it.  This is a handy guide you can use when shopping that outlines what’s called the “Dirty Dozen” – the list of the MOST contaminated fruits and vegetables (so you know to always buy those organic) and the “Clean Fifteen” highlighting the LEAST contaminated crops.  Take a look here! You can even download a wallet guide or an app for your phone here: (download a copy of the wallet guide)

So when I offered to bring some veggie crudite to a father’s day gathering last week there was a bit of shock and horror from my Grandmother (for more about Grandmother Nora, click here).   She really couldn’t understand why I had done it.  She made all this delicious food (pasta, meatballs and a pork roast) so why did we need vegetables?  She made a salad to go with it.  She was dumbfounded.  The truth is, I gotta crowd out the bad stuff with vegetables, I need to constantly be thinking about how to eat more vegetables otherwise I don’t eat them.  I want to eat meatballs, but it order to have balance I need the vegetables too.  Salad just won’t be enough.  So once she settled down and we were cleaning up the appetizers she yells to my father to pack up for the vegetables for me because “You’re daughter likes vegetables”.  She said it like it was a bad thing, like I liked pornography or CSI:NY.  Could you imagine if I’d become a vegan as I once toyed with? Yikes!

But I soldier on, bringing vegetables to a new level at home and away.  Someone shared this delicious recipe with me this week and it went over like gangbusters when I had a vegetarian friend over this week. Delicious Eggplant Roasted in the Oven.

Maybe I’ll bring that next time grandmother has me over!

Those of you who know me, know that I enjoy a little shopping on both QVC and HSN now and then.  I find the whole idea fascinating, and always have.  Even as a child, I was obsessed with infomercials.  I’d rather watch that Sandra Lee curtain infomercial than Saturday morning cartoons.  Come to think of it, it was kind of bizarre: a 7 year old obsessively watching 30 minute long commercials instead of Babar?  Weird.

But maybe not.  My father is a salesman thru and thru.  (Here come the Willy Loman references…I swear I’m not Biff).  Growing up around Bob “I could sell ice to eskimos” Ingrisano was definitely a lesson in how to sell.  Right out of college I landed in retail and found out for myself that I was a natural sales person.  This was something Bob was always telling me.  Well played, Dad.

Now that I have a “non-selling” focused job in cosmetics, I find I somehow miss it.  Last year the brand of skincare I work for was being featured on QVC and I was encouraged to watch it for research purposes.  Most of the beauty stuff is boring to me because I don’t buy it (I sell my own line of cosmetics and skincare) and because I’ve worked in the cosmetics industry forever, it’s no longer interesting to me.  But the cooking shows!  and the jewelry!  and the home solutions!  and the FOOD! Oh, it’s just too much for words!

I grant you, buying food off of the TV is slightly ridiculous.  Here’s my defense.  A lot of it, is healthy.  I can read the nutrition information of any of it before deciding to buy and read a slew of reviews on it before making up my mind.  This is a perfect combination for a devote Weight Watcher-er.

Some of my favorites:

Kansas City Steaks and Burgers: stay away from the 3 cheese burger if you want low fat, but the steaks are delish and come individually wrapped so you can just make one (and just eat one) without having to defrost a lot.

Stuffin Gourmet Chicken Breasts:  these breaded chicken breasts are only 5 points per serving!  Hello!  This is awesome.  They also come individually wrapped so you can only make one at a time.  My husband will eat them and that’s a good sign (he won’t eat anything labelled low-fat).  Plus, you can cook them from frozen.  This is so important because how many times have I gone into my fridge looking for dinner fixins only to find I have nothing defrosted?  What do you think happens next?  Papa John’s delivery – not a healthy choice.   This way, even if I have nothing planned for dinner I’m only 20 minutes away from a healthy chicken breast.  **Tonight I was planning on roasting a chicken, but it wasn’t defrosted, so I whipped up some risotto and made 3 of these chicken breasts.  It was very well received and ordering pizza didn’t even cross my mind.**

Salmon Burgers: also 5 points and very tasty.  A salmon burger on a WW bun amounts to 7 points and that’s totally doable for dinner or lunch.  I’ve also eaten them with a salad and skipped the bun altogether.  These aren’t individually wrapped but can be cooked from frozen.

Sensible Snacks Dried Fruit: at only 2 points a bag, this is a good alternative to 100 calorie packs (which I live off of).  Only dried fruit included in the bag (literally NO other ingredients) and it’s usually a nice blend of either tropical fruits or berries.  Haven’t tried it yet in yogurt, but I have heard thats good.  You can also put them in cereal.  Gotta get those fruit servings in somehow!

I’m not trying to sell you on any of this (hell, I don’t make a commision).  I’m just saying that sometimes you have to think outside the box to find products to help you reach your goal.  Losing weight and mainting your weight is definitely a battle between good and evil.  Chicken breast good, Papa John’s evil.  QVC has helped me buy more of the good and less of the evil.  Don’t get me wrong, QVC has PLENTY of un-healthy foods too, Junior’s Cheesecake Auto-Delivery anyone?  But I’m seeking out the healthy, convenient stuff because I know it will aid me in reaching my goal.

My other trick is to buy groceries on Fresh Direct sometimes.  That way I don’t make any impulse purchases and I can agonize over the shopping list if I like.  This seems to help me not over buy or buy shit just to open the package and start eating in the grocery store. Tragic.

Ok, here’s my secret that I’m ashamed to tell you about HSN.  I bought the Frank Sepe Fitness Disc! I know, I know, it looks so stupid, but I saw the before and after pictures and I just had to try it.  Plus it was like $80 which is less than 2 months of gym membership.  I’ve done it a couple of times, and I’ll tell ya, after a ten minute work out you are definitely feeling the burn in your muscles.  It’s low impact for sure, but I feel my muscles working so that’s good enough for me.  Also, it hardly takes up any space.  It’s going to be dark and cold soon when I get home from work, and the last thing I want to do is get changed and go to the gym some nights.  If I can at least do some time on the fitness disc, I’m doing more than sitting on the couch eating bon-bons.

I guess the only thing that comes more naturally to me than selling is buying!

And that’s ok when you’re buying the things that are going to help you make healthier choices and make a positive change in your life.  This is the defense for all the WW stuff they sell at meetings.  Some of it is good, some of it is a crutch and it’s up to you to decide which is which.  I think my QVC purchases are leaning more towards help than crutch.  I do admit, though, that packaged foods are usually loaded with mystery ingredients and tons of sodium.  So, I’ll approach it like I approach the fitness disc.  It’s not going to replace the gym, but it will supplement the gym and have me at least doing a mini-workout than no workout at all.

This is a step in the right direction.  Look, you’re not going to become a gym rat over night or a gourmet organic cook overnight, you gotta start somewhere.  That’s what I’m gonna do.

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