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)

Cooking and Math, match made in heaven

This past Monday Chef Andrew and Chef June had the pleasure of working with the entire 7th grade at Promise Academy 2. We taught the students along side Mr. Di and Ms. Miller about Recipe scaling, ratios, proportions, kitchen math and fractions. We linked the Native American recipe to make the connection to what they are learning in History and even threw in some Science terminology to make the total connection.  Once finished with the math lesson, the students began to cut the cucumbers, onions, and assemble their salad working as a team. Another group of students made the dressing learning about emulsification. The students ate everything they made, which upon their first impression what GROSS. Even made a song about the Wild Wild Wild Wild Rice (Remix from Rhianna). Thanks again for having us and look forward to the next time. 
Makes 8 servings
  • 6 ears sweet corn, husked and roasted
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely chopped
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries 
  • 4 tablespoons lime juice
  • 1 cup cooked wild rice 
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small cucumber, finely diced 
  • 2 tablespoons honey 
  • ¼ cup finely chopped red onion
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro

Remove husks from corn and lightly roast corn over open flame. When cool enough to handle, cut corn from cobs. In a serving bowl combine corn, blueberries, cucumber, red onion, cilantro, wild rice, and jalapeno. 
For dressing: in a screw-top jar combine lime juice, oil, honey, cumin, and ½ teaspoon salt. Cover; shake well to combine. Add to salad and toss. Cover the salad and refrigerate overnight or up to 24 hours.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

The Roux- Fall Issue 2

Fall Food


We all enjoy delicious food,
Makes us happy, fixes our mood.
It's all about the juicy taste,
Doesn't matter, where the food is placed.

We should consider, nutritional support,
We shall need it, if we engage in a sport.
Energy; food provides - plenty
Need a bit more, if we're over twenty.

A great dish, we should all savor,
Eat slowly, as we taste the flavor.
Choose our very favorite cuisine,
Is it red? Or is it green?



Soon the leaves will change colors, the weather will become cooler, the days will become shorter and nights will grow longer. All of these signal the early stages of the new Fall season. As we leave the summer behind with it's citrus fruit and salads, we welcome the Fall with flavors such as squash, apple cinnamon, nutmeg and other flavors.

Here's a recipe to get you in the Fall mood. 

Butternut, Cauliflower, Coconut Curry 

1 (15-oz.) can unsalted chickpeas, rinsed and drained

3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1/2 cup frozen green peas, thawed
3/4 cup chopped yellow onion
2 tablespoons minced fresh garlic
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tablespoons curry powder
1 cup cubed peeled butternut squash
1 cup fresh cauliflower florets
1 cup diced red potatoes
4 cups unsalted vegetable stock
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt 
1 cup light coconut milk

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. 
Place chickpeas on a rimmed baking sheet; pat dry. Add 1 tablespoon oil to chickpeas; toss to coat. Spread chickpeas in an even layer on pan. Bake at 450°F for 30 minutes. Add green peas to pan; bake at 450°F for 5 minutes or until chickpeas and green peas are crisp.

Heat a large Dutch oven over medium. Add remaining 2 tablespoons oil; swirl to coat. Add onion and garlic; sauté 5 minutes. Add flour and curry powder; cook 1.5 minutes or until flour begins to brown, stirring constantly. Stir in butternut squash, cauliflower, and potatoes. Add vegetable stock, pepper, and salt; bring to a boil over medium-high. Reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer 15 to 20 minutes or until vegetables are tender.

Remove pan from heat; stir in coconut milk. Place about 1 1/2 cups vegetable mixture in each of 4 bowls; top each serving with about 1/3 cup chickpea mixture. Serve with lime wedges, if desired.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Seasonal Eating

Why Eat What's in Season?

Produce that have been allowed to fully ripen in the sun taste amazing! Freshly picked produce has the optimal flavor – crispy, fragrant, juicy and colorful. Those summer heirloom tomatoes make all other tomatoes seem inferior. You can eat it like an apple; raw, warm from the sun and straight from the vine.
Plants get their nourishment from the sun and soil. Seasonally fresh produce is picked when they’re ripe and fully developed. The plant has had more sun exposure, which means it will have higher levels of antioxidants! 
Simply supply and demand. When there’s abundance of a product, such as watermelons in the summer, the prices go down. Seasonal food is much cheaper to produce for the farmers who would rather sell their products for a lower price, than not at all. Cash in on the seasonal bounty.
Seasonal produce can grow without too much added human assistance i.e. pesticides and genetically modification. We know how these toxic compounds can contaminate the water and soil and also our health. Seasonal food is more likely to be locally produced as well, which reduces the load on our environment due to transport, or “food mileage”.
Home Cooking
Eating seasonally also forces you to cook more -- and there really is nothing better you could do for your health. When you start to take back control of what you put in to your body, which oil you choose to cook with, how much sugar you add to your food etc, you are consciously making better choices for your health. Cooking is also a great activity to do with your kids, family and friends. And, what better way to show your love?
Support of Your Seasonal Needs
The natural cycle of produce is perfectly designed to support our health.
Apples grow in the fall and they are the perfect transition food, helping the body get rid of excess heat and cool down before winter. In the spring the abundance of leafy greens help us alkalize, detox and loose some extra pounds after a long winter of heavier foods. In the summer we need to cool down and stay hydrated by eating more fruits, berries, cucumber, watermelon etc. Building a lifestyle around seasonal food facilitates the body’s natural healing process.

Organic/Free of Pesticides
Food grown outside of their season or natural environment need a lot more human assistance in forms of pesticides, waxes, chemicals and preservatives to grow and look appealing to us consumers. By choosing local and seasonal food, you are also more likely to get a cleaner product! 

What's in Season?

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Have a Berry Great Day!

Ripe for the summer. Raspberries, blueberries, blackberries and strawberries are ready to harvest and eat! Not only are berries refreshing during these hot summer months, but they also come with many health benefits. 

Berries have the greatest antioxidant content per serving compared to any other food except spicesConsuming foods rich in antioxidants may be good for your nervous system, blood vessels, heart health and may also help to lower your risk of infections and some forms of cancer. 

Women who eat about two servings of strawberries or one serving of blueberries a week experienced less mental decline over time than peers who went without eating berries. Berries help support cognitive thinking, and development

Chef's Choice:

Executive Chef Andrew Benson recommends making a fruit compote. Fruit Compote is dessert made of whole or pieces of fruit in sugar syrup. You can make fruit compote from any choice of berries and use as a healthy alternative to syrup. It's quick, easy and delicious!

3 cups mixed berries (3/4 lb) such as raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries
  1. 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  2. 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  3. 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

  4. Directions:
    1. Melt butter in a skillet over moderate heat. Stir in brown sugar and lemon juice until sugar is dissolved. Add berries and cook, tossing gently (try to keep most of them from breaking up), until berries are warm and juices begin to be released, 2 to 3 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.
    2. Once it's cool, store your compote in a tightly sealed jar and keep refrigerated for up to two weeks.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017


Tempeh originated in Indonesia, and it is made with whole soybeans that are cooked, slightly fermented, and then shaped into a compact cake. 

Vegetarians and vegans love its nutrition and versatility, and now tempeh is attracting meat-eaters who want a healthy source of protein. Tempeh’s fermentation process and its use of the whole soybean gives it a higher content of protein vitamins and minerals. It has a firm texture and an earthy flavor, which becomes more noticeable as it ages. 

Because of its nutritional value, tempeh is used worldwide in vegetarian cuisine. Its ability to take on many flavors and textures makes it a great substitute for meat productstempeh is known to reduce cholesterol, increase bone density, reduce menopausal symptoms and promote muscle recovery. In addition to these amazing benefits, tempeh has the same protein quality as meat and contains high levels of vitamins B5, B6, B3 and B2.

Tempeh is extremely versatile 

Cube and toss into a stir-fry
Marinate and grill

Substitute for ground beef

 Slice and layer in sandwiches

Have fun experimenting with tempeh!

Monday, July 10, 2017

How to Use a Thermometer

There are several types of meat thermometers. You'll find the two most basic styles, the bimetallic and bulb thermometers, at most grocery stores. These are inexpensive options which are easy to find, but they can take much longer to give a temperature read-out and aren't as accurate as other options. Also, their glass parts can easily break.
Bimetallic Thermometer

Bulb Thermometer

Digital instant-read thermometers provide much more accurate results. There are two main types in this category:

A digital instant-read thermometer gives you an (almost) instant readout, and it's easy to use.
A digital probe thermometer, which connects the probe that you insert into the meat with a separate device that contains a temperature readout and customizable alarm settings, is great for roasting or smoking larger cuts of meat for long hours.


To quickly test if your thermometer is accurate, dip the tip into a bowl of ice water. It should read 32°F or 0°C, the temperature that water freezes at. Many digital thermometers have a reset button or re-calibrate button, so if the temperature is off, you can likely fix it—just follow the manufacturer's instructions.


For the most accurate reading, place the thermometer into the thickest portion of meat, avoiding fat and bone. You're looking to find the lowest internal temperature—that's the most accurate temperature for the core of the meat. Most thermometers require you to insert the probe at least 1/2 inch into the meat, but if the meat is thicker than an inch, you'll probably want to go deeper than that to reach the very center.
The temperature should keep dropping as the probe goes into the deepest part of the meat—if you see the temperature starting to rise again, you've gone too far.


For a larger roast, start checking your meat about 30 minutes before you expect it to be done; for thinner, smaller cuts, start testing the meat 5 to 10 minutes ahead of time. To hit the right doneness, aim for the meat temperature given in your recipe, as well as food-safety charts.
It's important to remember that meat will continue cooking after it's removed from the heat—this is called carryover cooking. It's not much of a factor with smaller cuts of meat, like chicken pieces, steaks, and chops, but large, thick roasts of beef, lamb, veal, pork loin, or even large turkey breasts should be removed from the heat when they reach 5 degrees less than their desired doneness temperature. Give these larger cuts 5 to 10 minutes of resting time, and the temperature will rise up to perfect doneness and the juices will have plenty of time to redistribute into the meat.