Thursday, December 21, 2017

Kick- Starting the New Year

As the New Year approaches, we all start to think about our new year’s resolution. Often time weight loss is at the top of the list. Here are three holistic ways to set healthy life styles changes,

1)      Drink lots of water. This suggestion seems so simple, but you would shocked by the number of individuals who hardly drink water. Water refuels our organs and ensures they are running efficiently.  It also promotes weight-loss giving the body the boost it needs during the weight lost journey.
2)       Make realistic meal changes.  You can first start with portion control. Many of us are visual learners and need to see it in order to understand it. Having a plate that clearly sections protein, fruit, vegetables and whole grains will take the guess work out of portioning each meal. Here is what an adult portion sizes should look like.

The Adult Portion Plate - Food

3)       Meal Preparation makes the working week less stressful and also forces you to be accountable to your healthy lifestyle. It also minimizes the possibility of  eating out.  Planning our meals according to seasonal fruits, vegetables, and other food items, ensures we will also save.  Here is a link to seasonal fruits and vegetables chart,  The seasonal chart does a great job of breaking down which vegetables, fruits, and seafood are available through-out the year.

Healthy Holiday Delight

The holiday season is a great time to kick-start your healthy lifestyle. It is possible to enjoy delicious holiday treats while being conscious of our health. Vanilla Candy Cane Peppermint Bars are a perfect balance of healthy and sweet. It is also diary-free, nut-free, soy-free, low in sodium, and vegetarian friendly.

Vanilla Candy Cane Peppermint Bars 

Image result for Vanilla Candy Cane Peppermint Bars  
Nonstick cooking spray
¾ cup sugar
⅓ cup canola oil
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
⅓ cup crushed peppermint candies
3 ounces dark chocolate, melted

1) Preheat oven to 350°F. Line an 8-inch square baking pan with foil, extending foil over edges. Coat foil with  cooking spray.
2) In a medium bowl beat sugar, oil, egg, and vanilla with a mixer on medium 2 minutes or until slightly thick and pale yellow. Beat in flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt just until combined. Stir in 2 Tbsp. of the peppermint candies. Spread batter in the prepared pan.
3) Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until edges are puffed and top is golden. Cool in pan on a wire rack. Using foil, lift uncut bars out of pan. Cut into bars.
4) Line a tray with parchment paper. Dip one corner of each bar into melted chocolate and place on the prepared tray. Sprinkle chocolate with the remaining peppermint candies. Let stand until set.

What's in Season - December Vegetables

Broccoli is one of several hearty vegetables in season during the winter. It is a great source of dietary fiber, pantothenic acid, vitamin B6, vitamin E, manganese, phosphorus, choline, vitamin B1, and vitamin A.  According to world healthiest food, Broccoli has anti-inflammatory benefits such as the ability to detox the body of potential harmful toxins (  Here is a list of other vegetables you will be able to find in the market this December month, artichokes, arugula, beets, bok choy, cauliflower, carrots, celery, and collard greens.    

Soups are quick way to incorporate vegetables into our diet while keeping us warm and healthy during the winter.  Today, we will provide a delicious spin on the classic broccoli soup.

Healthy Broccoli Soup

Healthy Broccoli Soup

  • 1 large head of broccoli
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup chopped leeks, cleaned
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt, more to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, more to taste
  • Pinch red pepper flakes
  • Optional: 1/2 cup cheddar cheese

 1) Cut broccoli into florets. In a pot over medium heat, bring 3 cups of water to a boil. Add in broccoli florets, reduce heat to medium, and parboil until fork tender, 3 to 4 minutes. Drain and transfer broccoli to a bowl and set aside.
2) In your pot, heat butter and sauté leeks and garlic for 1 minute. Add in half of the broccoli and sauté for 3 minutes until veggies are sweating and broccoli is soft.
3) Add in vegetable broth, bring to a boil then reduce heat and let simmer for 15 minutes until the soup reduces slightly.
4) Using an immersion blender, blend soup until smooth. Add in remaining broccoli florets, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes. Let simmer for 15 minutes. If adding cheese, do so here and stir to combine. Taste and adjust seasoning as desired.
Serve hot.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Happy Thanksgiving!

A Healthy Side Dish for Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is a holiday known for food, family, friends, and traditions. We all look forward to eating some good home cooking  and some turkey. This holiday season is especially difficult for people who want to be more health conscious and  those seeking to provide their family with delicious healthy tasting food.  Here is a  healthy alternative for a tasty side dishes  for Thanksgiving Holiday.

Sweet Potato Spoon Bread

Everybody loves a good corn bread, but sweet potato spoon bread is a great healthy alternative.  Sweet potatoes are high in Vitamin B6 and a good source of Vitamin C.   This recipe is a great balance of sweet and healthy.


  • 1 pound sweet potatoes
  • 2 1/4 cups stone-ground yellow cornmeal, plus more for   dusting
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3 cups boiling water
  • 1 1/2 cups buttermilk
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons mild honey
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
  • Scant 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 5 large egg whites, at room temperature

How to Make It

  1. Preheat the oven to 375°. With a fork, pierce the sweet potatoes all over and set them directly on the oven rack. Bake the sweet potatoes for 1 hour, or until they are tender; let cool slightly. Slit the skins and scoop the potatoes into a large bowl. Mash until smooth. You should have 1 1/4 cups of mashed sweet potatoes. Increase the oven temperature to 425°.
  2. Meanwhile, lightly butter a shallow 2-quart glass or ceramic baking dish and dust it with cornmeal, tapping out any excess. In another large bowl, whisk the cornmeal with the sugar, salt and baking soda. Melt the butter in the boiling water, then stir the butter-and-water mixture into the dry ingredients. Let cool slightly.
  3. Using an electric mixer, beat the buttermilk, honey, cumin, white pepper, cloves and cayenne into the mashed sweet potatoes until combined. At medium speed, beat in the cornmeal mixture.
  4. In a clean stainless steel bowl, using clean beaters, beat the egg whites until stiff but not dry. Fold the beaten egg whites into the sweet-potato mixture until no white streaks remain. Pour the batter into the prepared baking dish and bake for about 40 minutes, or until golden and risen and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Serve the sweet potato spoon bread warm or at room temperature.
Make Ahead
The spoon bread can be made early in the day, wrapped in foil and reheated in a 350° oven.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Trip to the Sylvia Center Farm

This past friday Chef Andrew and an HCZ colleague went to Kinderhook NY to learn more about the Sylvia Centers Learning Garden, part of Katchkie Farms. To start the weather could not be more perfect, not a cloud in the sky. While it was the end of the season, the grounds were still beautiful. We learned a tremendous amount about the operation and took a couple pictures during the tour.  

Lunch Today 10/23/17

For today’s lunch we are Serving Kung Pao Beef. This recipe uses Sichuan peppercorns. With its unique aroma and flavor is not hot or pungent like black, white, or chili peppers. Instead, it has slight lemony overtones and creates a tingly numbness in the mouth. According to Harold McGee in On Food and Cooking, they are not simply pungent; "they produce a strange, tingling, buzzing, numbing sensation that is something like the effect of carbonated drinks or of a mild electric current (touching the terminals of a nine-volt battery to the tongue). Come by to either kitchen to try out this unique ingredient

To complement our main course, for soup today at our 245 West Kitchen we are serving Congee. Congee is regarded as the ultimate Chinese comfort food, according to the author Fuchsia Dunlop. This recipe for ji zhou or chicken congee, from her book on Jiangnan regional cuisine is dead simple and satisfying. Serve it with chicken and soy sauce for a late-night Shanghai-style snack.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Lunch Today

From the great minds at Kitchn

What Is Sumac?

Taste: Sour
Most Popular Use: Spice blends, dry rubs, salads
The sumac bush, native to the Middle East, produces deep red berries, which are dried and ground into coarse powder. The spice was long used in Europe to add tartness to many dishes until the Romans introduced lemons to the area. While it's less common, the berries may also be sold whole. Ground sumac is a versatile spice with a tangy lemony flavor, although more balanced and less tart than lemon juice. A small sprinkle also adds a beautiful pop of color to any dish.

Ground sumac is widely available in Middle Eastern markets, and little by little it's making its way into the spice aisle of grocery stores. Store ground sumac in an airtight container, away from heat and light.

How To Use Sumac

Sumac is a widely used, essential spice in Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cooking. It's used in everything from dry rubs, marinades, and dressing. But its best use is sprinkled over food before serving.
It pairs well with vegetables, grilled lamb, chicken and fish. Sumac is one of the main components in the spice mix za'atar, and is used as a topping on fattoush salad, and makes a nice topping on dips like hummus.

Today we are diving into middle eastern cuisine and serving a Roasted Sumac Chicken, Rice Pilaf and Moroccan Carrot Salad. 
Besseha (Have a nice meal in Moroccan Arabic)