Saturday, May 23, 2009

Jack and the Bean Bowl

As you can see I've been on a giant bean kick as of late. But I just had to talk about the cutest little food card I stopped at in Copley Square last week-Jack and the Bean Bowl!

Vegetarian "fast" food! They sell brown rice+black bean+avocado+salsa bean bowls for $5 which are delicious!!! They also normally come with sour cream and cheese, but you can imagine my surprise when I asked if it could be vegan, and they said "of course! Would you like vegan cheeze and sour cream instead?" Now I'm not a fan of the faux dairy but I thought it was pretty cool that they keep that in stock! On top they put a creamy lemon or smoky chipotle-lime sauce which are delicious! They are almond based, vegan and sooo good! (this coming from a girl who always puts her sauces "on the side")

They also have cupcakes (not vegan yet) and Italian cream sodas for sale. So if you're feeling like a healthy little lunch in downtown Boston, swing by Jack and the Giant Bean Bowl-Open Wednesday thru Friday weather permitting, from 11ish to 2ish. Perfect for a meal while your out buying veggies at the Copley Farmers Market!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The Many Wonders of Beans

Yesterday I made Happy Herbivore's Vegan Black Bean Brownies and they turned out great! As a sequel to the Chickpea Blondies, I thought I'd try out her version! I remember finding a similar recipe on weightwatchers a few years ago, and failed miserably at making them. But HH's recipe were much much better (and healthier too! no white sugar, butter or white flour!). Here's what I made:

15oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
2 ripe bananas
1/4 tsp stevia
1/4 cup cocoa
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup quick oats
1. Preheat oven to 350F
2. Combine all ingredients, except oats, in a food processor
3. Blend until smooth, scrapping sides as needed
4. Stir in the oats
5. Pour into a pan lined with parchment paper
6. Bake approx 30 minutes, toothpick test
7. Let them cool, then slice up and enjoy!!
** Think of all the fun things you could add to this basic recipe: mint, hazelnuts, walnuts, peanut butter.....

Totally guilt-free, healthy dessert!!!!! High Protein, only naturally sweetened, high fiber and they taste GOOD!!!!! I swear!!!

My other brand new bean find: ceci!

Roasted Chickpeas as a snack! I was wandering around the North End [Boston's Little Italy] and saw these little guys and had to try. There were 4 different types to chose from- hard or soft-roasted and salted vs unsalted. I opted for the unsalted hard roasted. Great crunchy, savory high-protein/fiber snack! I am definitely making these at home!

I love finding new ways to eat/make some of my staple foods. Beans are just so versatile! Any one have more ideas for me to try??? Now I just need to work on making them look as appealing as they taste!!!!!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Healthworks and New Shoes!

Hey there! My life lately has just been working and working out! wahoo!! Mid-April I purchased a 24-class pass with Groupon to Healthworks gym for 20 dolla. So I'm sampling all the fun classes they have to offer! Healthworks is just for Women, and I'm really enjoying my temporary membership! They have a wide array of fitness classes, GREAT locker rooms, and several locations in Boston to choose from! I took advantage of their sauna and hot tub last week which was very nice! My pass expires next week, so I'm trying to squeeze a bunch in, since I was too busy earlier in the month for classes! Here's some of the classes I have tried:

Smart Bells-I'd heard about this weird shaped weight classes, and it was very interesting. You swing this thing that looks like a metal steering wheel, and it builds strength as well as flexibility. It is an alternative to weight training with dumb-bells.

Bosu Challenge- GREAT WORKOUT!! The instructor, Tracie, was soooooooo energetic-she was literally bouncing off the wall-it was great! She really challenged us with one of my favorite pieces of workout equipment-the Bosu!

Body Pump: Tracie also teaches Body Pump, and while my arms were pretty fatigued from Bosu Challenge right before, I decided to do them back to back. Body Pump is a 60 minute barbell group exercise class that works your entire body. Body Pump is cool because 1) you work all the major muscle groups and 2) you individualize the workout by selecting the weight at each interval. I also find it useful to do weight training in a group setting-it makes me stick to my reps and sets! All Body Pump instructors are trained in the same manner, so the workout is consistant no matter where you take a class. This could be a pro or a con; personally, I like mixing things up and get bored with classes that are always the same! But if you crave consistancy, this is for you!
Vinyasa Yoga- I love the instructor at the Healthworks Backbay who teaches Level 2 Vinyasa- great challenge!

Cardio Dance- We learned a fun little routine, but it wasn't that great of a cardio workout
Nia- I saw this listed on the class schedule, and had no idea what it was, so I thought I'd give it a shot! I'd say its a mix between martial arts, lyrical dance and mediation. It was fun! All about expression and letting your body tell you what it feels, being in the moment! Not a great workout per se, but fun nonetheless. I think it would be great for those with injuries or just starting out on an exercise program!

Bellydancing- Which I love! Belly dancing is so great, and I love the way it works your core, without any crunches!

PunkRope: I usually really dislike jump rope. I always end up tripping over it and it frustrates me. I'd rather just bounce bounce bounce in place. This was a really fun class. Its meant to be like an adult recess- relays, "games" jumprope intervals, switching with each punk rock song. Really fun!

Urban Rebounding: Bouncing on mini trampolines seems more like play than a workout! But I definitely worked up a sweat!

I've also tried some of their pilates and kickboxing classes. Its amazing how important a factor the instructor is in my liking a class or not. For instance, I normally enjoy a good spin workout, but I took a class at Healthworks and it was not at all upbeat, the energy in the room was just dead. If that had been my introduction to Spin, I probably would have never taken another class! But I can't wait to go to Bosu Challenge again, cause Tracie is so great! Just things I need to keep in mind since I start teaching at FitRec in a week! Cardio Kickboxing will be my jam! I still have a lot of prep work to do, but I'm excited!

And I bought some new shoes, just for my gym classes! I don't want to add even more miles onto my running shoes, so I opted for some Nike Fitness Shoes- "Quick Sister"

I'm glad I got them. I was talking to the saleman and he said that running shoes are built just for forward movement. These have a more flexible sole that allows for movement in all direction, and better balence and stability. I can definitely tell a difference! Love them!

Copley Farmers Market Opens today in Boston, which I'm headed to now!! Oh summer, I am so excited to enjoy your bounty! Its been a long winter in New England, and spring has been a little temptress!!

Have a Great Tuesday!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Future of Food Part Deux

A week ago, I attended/SFBU had a table at, a Future of Food Conference at BU organized by the Insitute of Human Sciences. The conference served as a forum for professionals interested in sustainable food throughout the world, to highlight some of the current problems with our food systems, and suggest possible futures. IHS organized this conference in response to the growing concerns of local communities in the US and Europe over growing global food crisis, and what can be done to solve it, and change the future of food into something that is sustainable, and safeguards cultural and biodiversity, while providing safe, healthy food for all citizens.
The weekend started on Friday, with a Fermentation workshop with Sandor Katz, author of "Wild Fermentation" and "The Revolution Will Not be Microwaved."

He discussed all the benefits of fermenting live foods, and did a sauerkraut demonstration. I love sauerkraut, and am currently attempting to make my own. Stay tuned for updates and more about why I'm a friend of fermentation!!

After the workshop, eco-chef and food justice activist Byrant Terry spoke about his experiences with food, and we enjoyed a wonderful dinner of his food! MMM!

His newest book is Soul Food, and incorporates healthy vegan alternatives to traditional southern cooking! I've never been down South, but the dishes were amazing! While listening to him speak we nibbled on spicy goobers.

[i'm never calling a peanut a peanut again. goober=love it!] [peanuts+peanut oil+paprika+cayenne powder+chili+sugar+salt] He talked about his lifelong love of cooking, and how he wants to talk about GRUB- good sustainable food for everyone. [he wrote a great book with that title with Anna Lappe]. While jazz played from his iHome, he argued that sustainable, healthy food should not be elitist, nor bourgeois, nor tasteless.

Bryant founded b-healthy! (Build Healthy Eating and Lifestyles to Help Youth), a program designed to empower youth to be active in creating a more just and sustainable food system.

For dinner he served citrus collard greens with raisins-"bright, bold and sexy" collard greens; corn bread, gumbo with rice, garlic-bean spread bruschetta and an orange chocolate pudding dessert. Delicious! I definitely recommend checking out his cookbooks!

After dinner we went to a screening of King Corn, with filmmaker Aaron Woolf. Its a great movie, which I highly recommend you see, even if its only to watch the scene where they try to make HFCS at home! AHHH!!
The morning started 9 am, and we squeezed in 5 panels before ending at 9pm. It was a long day, but lots of interesting discussions, and great presenters! Panels addressed issues ranging from food production/agribuiness, food security, food safety, climate change, and the ethics of eating. SFBU had a table we were manning, so we took turns listening to the panels. Satish Kumar gave the keynote address, and also spoke on a panel about the ethics of eating. He is an Indian who currently resides in Britain, nuclear disarmament advocate and editor of Resurgence Magazine. He is known for having accomplished a "peace walk" of over 8,000 miles, to the capitals of America, England, France and Russia, the nuclear superpowers. I really enjoyed what he had to say about food sovereignty and this is my new favorite quote:
"If you don't have enough time to bake Bread, you don't have enough time to Live."
Other guests of note were Mark Winne, author of Closing the Food Gap; Tim Wise, director of reasearch and Public Policy at Tufts Global Development and Environment Institute; Benedikt Haelin, president of Save our Seeds; Jim Harkness, President of Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy; Andrew Kimbrell, Executive Director of Center for Food Safety; Helena Norberg-Hodge, founder of International Society for Ecology and Culture; Sandor Ellix Katz, author of Wild Fermentation and the Revolution will not be Microwaved, Harriet Lamb executive Director of Fair Trade Foundation, and Michael Ableman, farmer and author of Fields of Plenty.
I really enjoyed the fifth panel, about the Ethics of Eating, with discussion revolving around what is Good food? Norberg-Hodge, Katz, Lamb and Kumar all presented their sides of the issue, demonstrating the costs of cheap food, from health to environment. It was interesting to compare and contrast US food policy and reports with those from other places, especially in the EU. There was so much information to absorb, and the presentors were very knowledgeable and approachable! We went to a private dinner with the guests of honor, catered by Jamey Lionette, and I tried fiddleheads for the first time! Great food, in the company of great, inspiring people;what more could you ask for??
Of course there were multiple coffee breaks, and breakfast and lunch were provided-lots of things to nibble on. Also Taza Chocolate had a booth, as did Gnosis Chocolate.MMMM coffee and chocolate all day long! [Gnosis is my new favorite thing-FIND A BAR AND TRY IT!!! review coming soon!!]
Hopefully a video of the entire conference will be on the website soon! Shape YOUR future of food and eat the revolution!!!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Eat Food, Not too much, Mostly Plants

I had the honor of hearing my future husband Michael Pollan speak last night. The Friends of the West Roxbury library had a great month-long series of discussions and workshops on sustainable eating, culminating in this lecture. So I went public-transit hopping way out to West Roxbury.

If you haven't read Pollan's books, namely "Omnivore's Delimma" and "In Defense of Food" Get out and buy/rent them!! I agree completely with almost everything he argues, and his writing is so easy to read! The auditorium was stuffed with exuberant fans/sustainable/local foodies [the type that claps when phrases like "regional food systems" are spoken]-Pollan is like a rockstar in these crowds.
Here's a summary of the lecture:
He started off talking about the basic American "ideologies" concerning food, in specific, "nutritionism" and the unspoken assumptions we carry towards food. Nutritionism, he says, is a way of thinking that states:
1. nutrients are more important than food. It is a reductionist science, that insinuates that food gets in the way of the more important stuff, like vitamins, minerals, antioxidents, etc.
2. if above is true, and you can't see those things, than you need an expert to know what to eat-aka a team of scientists, doctors and nutritionists to tell you what you need. a "priesthood of food." [yes, I do plan on being one of these priestesses]
3. foods are divided into good and bad. Protagonists and antagonists come and go, but there will always be a war. [Hero of the day= Antioxidants/O-3 Today's Villain=Trans-Fat]
4. the entire point of eating is health. you are either improving or ruining your health. [no focus on pleasure, community, friendship, family, conversations, as in centuries past]
In an attack on nutritionism he said, "I guess we could put up with this if it worked," but as long as we have been taking this reductionist point of view, and following the religion of nutritionism's crusades-[Low-Fat lifestyle!!]-Americans have gotten subsequently fatter. Why doesn't it work? Because it gives a free pass to the "good" nutrients-leading us to binge on refined carbohydrates, and sugars. That Fat-free cookie isn't going to help your health or waistline if you eat an entire package.Yes the Western Diet is bad, and leads to chronic disease, in fact 40% of cancers today are diet-related. But we need to change our approach to changing the way Americans eat. We need to take a step back from the chemical, and molecular level and look at the entirety of what we are eating.

So he's complying "food rules" [if you have any, send them over to]
-Don't eat anything you've ever seen on television
-The whiter the bread, the sooner you're dead
-eat all the junk food you want, provided you make it yourself
-eat until you are 80% full

Those all sound good to me! I'm glad I got a chance to see him speak! My life has drastically improved since finals have ended. The Future of Food Conference was great-I'll write about that asap! I just started working at Clear Flour, which I love!! I'm keeping plenty busy-exercising, re-organizing my life, doing things around the city I've been putting off. Next on the agenda-make my own saurkrat and kimchee!! This is going to be a great summer!

And just for fun here's a clip of two of my favorite men: Michael Pollan on Colbert Report

Hope you had a wonderful wednesday!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Happy Mother's Day!!!

Just wanted to say a little Happy Mother's Day to My Mom!
My amazing mother, who was organic gardening before it was hip, who insisted on always feeding us natural food. She always says that being a Mother was all she ever wanted to do, and it is something she has been very successful at. She is the queen of multi-tasking and a full-time mother.

She is such a loving, nurturing woman, and everyone loves being at our home, and eating her delicious food. What's more impressive is that she's taught herself everything, from how to start an organic garden to how to make the best birthday cake ever! The house always smells like some amazing baked treat. Her early influences have definitely shaped me into the person I am today, food-wise. I grew up in a house where tofu and kale are commonplace, where steak come from a cow we purchased from a ranch down the street, had locally butchered, and stored in our freezer all year long, where eggs are delivered weekly from a family friend.

[check out those diapers!! Cotton diapers, what a chore!!]
I haven't always appreciated all that she did for us-I used to beg for "real Mac&Cheese" (aka the neon orange Kraft variety). And weeding the garden was a chore I disdained. But as I grow older the more I appreciate all the things that she does for my family every day. My friends used to love stopping my the house after school for chocolate chip cookies and milk. Our home was always free of "fake food." No aspartame, no faux meats, no "diet" foods, no white bread. I love eating the pickled green beans, salsa and jams she cans every fall. She has been very supportive all my food decisions, welcoming vegan and raw lifestyles with open arms. She recently discovered that she is gluten-intolerant, and it has been neat hearing about all the new food products she's discovering. I am very fortunate to have a mother who insists that its worth paying for for organics, and who can always tell me natural, alternative cures to anything that might be bothering me!

I just wanted to say thank you to her for all the support and love that she gives me. Happy Mother's Day Mom!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Finals Funk

uggghhh. I'm in a Finals Funk. 2 Finals down and 2 to go, and I feel like my brain is about to explode! And the rainy weather isn't helping any!
My tea "spoke" to me today:

After two finals today, I can't start studying tonight, I'm going to sleep.
But I can not wait for Thursday night, and this weekend is going to be great, because BU is having a Future of Food Conference that SFBU is co-sponsoring, and I can't wait!!! Dinner with Byrant Terry Friday, a Fermentation Workshop with Sandor Katz, and Lots and lots of wonderful panels!
If you're around Boston, DEFINITELY COME!!
Goodnight! oh Happy Cinco De Mayo!!!!

Friday, May 1, 2009

My Good Belly

Finally!!! Finals are Over and my world is a much brighter place!!! So joyful!! And the sun decided to reflect my mood and shine today, after a week of cloudy, rainy days! There's nothing better than a lovely run after a week of being a gym rat. I can't wait for the Future of Food Conference this weekend and to eat a meal prepared by Byrant Terry!!
But before that I want to say a little something about new foods I have tried this week, (Week 1 is here)
First I tried GoodBelly Probiotic Fruit Juice-Fruit Juice that is fortified with Probiotics-the good for you bacteria that lines your intestines, and which has been getting a lot of good PR lately, being proven to cure IBS and UTIs, and may aid in digestion. Strains of bacteria are used to make yogurt, and other fermented food, giving them that characteristic sour taste. They are thought to strenthen our gut flora. Good Belly ferments grains and adds them to their fruit juices, to apply those benefits in a unique form. Good Belly products contain NO dairy, soy or wheat and are vegan.

I decided to go for the quart of Watermelon-Cranberry. It was pretty tasty. It was a very pale milky color, which I did not expect.

The source of probiotics in the drink are from fermented grains. It is sweentened with Evaporated Cane Juice. I added it to quinoa for a sweet "porridge" which was quite delicious. I probably won't purchase this again, but it was fun to try! And maybe it did boost up my immune system, because I catch any of the nasty bugs going around, despite being quite stressed. On the Goodbelly website theirs a coupon for Buy 1 Get 1 Free-so if you wanna try it, definitely print that out, and share with a friend!!

I also tried White Balsamic Vinegar. A friend was moving and didn't want it, so I thought I'd try! I'm a Balsamic feign. See I even did a taste test:

Its a little less sweet than regular Balsamic. hmmm, google says its more suitable for salad dressings, so maybe I'll have to make a switch! I have quite the collections of vinegars now!

TGIF!! Have a Great Weekend!!

Yuck! A Yuca!

As I mentioned in my last post, CCV is hosting a challenge to try out new foods and I'm all game! I surveyed Whole Foods yesterday [study break=grocery shopping :)] and pondered what I should try... In the produce aisle my eyes strayed to this:

A Yuca root from Costa Rica. Why not?? The little sign said it was a starchy tuber that tasted like a cross between coconut and a potato-what???? The guy at the checkout asked me what I was going to do with it, and I told him I had no idea, any suggestions?? He said they were good fried, but he'd never tried it at home. So I turned to my bff, google.
First, what is Yuca??? According to it is a tropical root vegetable, grown in Asia, Africa, the Caribbean, and South America, so most DEFINITELY not local. 140 calories in an average sized tuber, this vegetable is often prepared and served much like a potato as a side dish or added as an ingredient in soups and stews. The texture is very absorbant, so the flesh of the root takes on the flavor of any other ingredients combined with it when baked, boiled, fried, or sauteed. The root contains significantly more fiber content and only slightly more potassium than a potato. It is commonly used to make tapioca, tapioca flour, pancakes, and snack chips, and may be called Cassava Root, or Manioc. It is often mistakenly referred to as Yucca, which is a non-edible plant from the Agave plant family.
Next, what do I do with it? I found a wide array of possible recipes, ranging from fried yuca to yuca puddings. A lot of soups and BBQ dishes, all with a latin/carribian flair. Well, I don't do fried, and didn't have the patience or time to make a pudding, so I modified this recipe from Melissa's Organics:

Simple Yuca Simmer
  • 1/2 pound Yuca root
  • Lemon Juice
  • A bit of Minced Garlic
  • A Sprinkle of Thai Chilis
  • Black Pepper
  • Dash of Braggs Liquid Aminos
[I don't measure spice ingredients in dishes like this, can you tell??]

1. Rinse Yuca well, peel and halve lengthwise. Remove fibrous core. Combine with other ingredients in a small pan with enough water to cover Yuca. Bring to a boil. Cover, lower heat, and cook until the Yuca is soft. Eat.

Well, that was interesting. Verdict- I do not like Yuca. Maybe it was just this plain way of eating it, but it was... weird... It tasted like I was eating tapioca powder (and i do kinda know what that tastes like-once i didn't fully cook my tapioca pearls. exact same taste and texture) i don't know where Whole Foods pulled that Coconut inspiration from. It doesn't really have a taste, it just tastes like the spices, etc. But I do like tapioca, so thank you for existing, little Yuca plant. Well, At least I tried something new! This is fun! What shall I find for next time???

My life right now consists of Studying, Studying and Studying. (and obviously taking little breaks on the computer). I'm doing more yoga/pilates to try to bring more focus and calm into my day. Having 4 cumulative finals is not fun. 5 more days, 5 more days. The library is my best friend, but I want the sun and heat to come back so I can study outside!!

Ok I've wasted enough time-Have a fabulous Saturday!