Monthly Archives: March 2015

shakshuka

Recipe: Samantha’s Shakshuka

10/30/2013

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zaalouk eggplant and tomato dip

Recipe: Zaalouk: Eggplant and Tomato Dip/Spread

10/30/2013

Yesterday I had some people over for lunch and one of the things we made was zaalouk, a traditional middle eastern eggplant and tomato dish. It has all but 5 ingredients (not including olive oil and a few spices) and is super easy to make. Feel free to be inspired and add any other types of herbs or spices you like!

Zaalouk Eggplant and Tomato Spread

Ingredients
1 eggplant
4 plum tomatoes*
1/3 cup olive oil
1 lemon
1/3-1/2 cup cilantro depending on how much you like it
1/3 cup water
3 garlic cloves
1 tbs cumin
1 tbs paprika
salt and pepper to taste
cayenne if you like some heat

Directions
1. Slice the eggplant in half the long way and roast it at 400 until it’s soft (about 30 minutes).
2. Separate the flesh of the eggplant from the skin and rough chop it.
3. Mince the garlic, chop the cilantro and dice the tomatoes.
4. Heat pan with the olive oil. Saute the garlic in the oil for a minute or so and then add the eggplant flesh (discard the skin… or compost it if you’re cool like that), the tomatoes, cilantro, spices and water. Cover the pan and lower the heat to medium.
5. Check on the pan every once in a while to make sure there is enough liquid, you can also stir it around and help mash it together. Leave it covered and cooking for 25-30 minutes.
6. After 25-30 minutes, take off the cover and continue to let the mixture simmer if it is too liquidy. Add lemon juice and any additional salt and pepper.

*I’ve had some people reach out who can’t eat tomatoes. If you’d like to try a version of this without tomatoes, use pureed roasted red peppers.

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Recipe: Homemade Roasted Red Peppers

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Recipe: Fennel

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Recipe: Cacao covered nuts

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Yum yum crackers for everyone!

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Want to Skip the Thanksgiving Food Comas?

11/4/2014

If you are anything like me, buffets are your nemesis. I鈥檓 the type of person that should never go to buffets because I will just keep going. I hate leaving anything on my plate, and no matter how full I am, I will keep going if there is food in front of me (even if it鈥檚 on another person’s plate!).

Funny enough, a couple of weekends ago I was working at a retreat site with all you can eat vegan, macrobiotic, aryuvedic and every other type of 鈥渉ealthy鈥 food you can imagine. It was the first time I had been in a food situation like this and I was loving it! Until I wasn鈥檛 lol. The first few meals I got platefuls of food, multiple rounds, and by the end of the day I felt sick just thinking about eating anything. No matter how awesome and healthy your food is, if you eat too much of it you鈥檙e not doing yourself any favors.

The way I like to think of it is like a washing machine. You know how if you stuff it all the way with too many clothes, nothing gets clean because the soapy water can鈥檛 reach the surfaces of your clothes. That鈥檚 like what goes on in your stomach. All the enzymes and acid that need to mix with your food have trouble getting around if your stomach is too full. When you eat too much, your body has to work extra hard to digest the food and it still ends up doing a shit job.

All that said, there are some things that I find work in managing portion sizes, especially during the holidays. One of the most important things is to never show up to an event hungry. In my family, we start our thanksgiving get together around 4pm, so it鈥檚 tough to fit in lunch before I get there. If I wait until 4pm to eat lunch, I know I鈥檓 going to eat a ton more than I really want to. We all know the saying about our eyes being bigger than our stomachs. Well, when you鈥檙e super hungry that鈥檚 even more the case.

Have a snack before you go into the meal, even something small, so you鈥檙e not drooling before you even sit down with your plate.

Another thing that can be really helpful is using a small plate. For my Thanksgiving, that means using the dessert plate for my meal. This way my plate is super full, and it鈥檚 not really a big deal if I get seconds. I did a test once and I filled three different sized bowls with the same 1 cup of food. In the small bowl, the food looked great and satisfying. In the largest bowl it looked like nothing. So much of eating is psychological.

If you know you are prone to overeating on the holidays, eating from a smaller plate will help you feel satisfied without sending you into a food coma.

The last thing I like to focus on when thinking about making sure I feel my best after a holiday meal is really appreciating the people around me. Hopefully you like at least some of the people you will be spending the holidays with. And if like is too strong of a word, maybe there is at least something interesting or entertaining about them. By focusing on those around you, you will naturally eat less. There are some countries in the world that might not have the best diets, but overall, they are super healthy because so much of their eating is social. 聽They spend time talking with the people around them, laughing and story telling instead of stuffing their faces.

If you take moments between bites or plates of food to engage with people, you will feel more satisfied emotionally and physically.

Remember, change doesn’t happen overnight. Try some of these tips and see how it goes. From there you can adjust. Hey, you have the December holidays to try again!

Sending you lots of love!

Samantha

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Kale Salad with Apple Dressing

10/13/2014

Picture

During the past few months I鈥檝e had the pleasure of working as a contractor for the Department of Health in NYC. One of the things that I鈥檝e been doing is teaching cooking and nutrition demos at Headstart programs. Last week, the season came to an end, and one of my last hurrahs was making an awesome kale salad with apple dressing for the parents and kids.

This recipe from Just Say Yes to Fruits and Vegetables was a huge hit. My favorite was one woman who looked at it with a crinkled and puzzled face and said, 鈥渢his is kale? I don鈥檛 like vegetables鈥. And, she tried it (people have a hidden desire to like vegetables鈥 I can just see it) and she loved it! She came back for 3 more samples.

What I really like about this recipe is that the sweetness from the apple really compliments the kale. It鈥檚 also really quick to make. So, go grab your grater and get to it!

Kale and Apple Salad

Ingredients:

2 apples
12 cups kale (about 2 bunches)
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons oil
salt and pepper to taste

Preparation:

  1. Wash the kale and remove the leaves from the stem. Chop or rip (great for kids to help with) into bite-sized pieces. Gently massage the kale in a large bowl. This will help reduce the bitterness
  2. Chop one apple and add to a bowl with the chopped greens.
  3. Shred one apple in a separate bowl using a grater. Add the vinegar, lemon juice and oil.
  4. Add dressing to the salad and enjoy!

There are lots of different ways you can make this salad. You can switch the kale for any other green like spinach or arugula, and you can switch the apple for another fruit, like pears (which also happen to be in season鈥 hint hint). Pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds or almond slivers would also add a nice crunch.

Let me know what you think and how you made yours in the comments below!

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What We Can Learn From Cows: Chew Chew Chew!

9/16/2014

One key to good digestion is good chewing habits! Can you believe it? The cows definitely have something to teach us in this department (except it is ok to keep your mouth closed).

When you chew your food well, not only are you making it easier on the rest of your system, but you鈥檙e mixing up all those lovely food particles with the miracle that is digestive enzymes. Each digestive enzyme works on a particular type of food, whether it鈥檚 carbohydrates, proteins, or fats.

Your saliva contains digestive enzymes that help break down your food before you send it on down to your stomach. The more you chew, the less your body has to work to digest your food. It also gives your body time to rev up for the digestive process, since once you start chewing, your body knows what comes next.

Chewing your food well also forces you to slow down a bit, which means you鈥檒l be able to feel when you are full and you鈥檒l be less likely to overeat. This can prevent bloating, heart burn, acid reflux, and help you lose weight. Chewing your food slowly is also a great exercise in mindfulness. Phew! Who knew there were so many benefits of chewing your food?!?

聽 So let’s get started! Here鈥檚 your action item:

First do an experiment. Take a bite of food and see how many times you chew it before swallowing (without consciously trying to change it).

Now, take another bite and at least double that number. What鈥檚 that like?

Try to see if you can chew your bite 50 times.

The funny thing I learned about chewing is that junk food tastes awful when you chew it for a long time, whereas natural whole foods can taste even better the longer you chew them. That鈥檚 some food for thought 馃檪

Happy chewing!

Samantha

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Four Tips to Beating Bloating, Constipation, and other symptoms of IBS

6/27/2014

Digestive upset is super common, but it鈥檚 something that very few people feel comfortable talking about. Lucky for you (or me), I鈥檓 not one of those people. I love talking about all things digestion related because it is so important for our health.

The past week, a lot of people have approached me with questions about how to deal with not-so-fun digestive symptoms like gas, bloating, constipation and IBS. While doctors are great and can be helpful, other IBS warriors who have found some relief can also offer tons of great tips and tricks.

In my newsletter this week, I’m sharing four of my top tips for dealing with digestive unease based on my experience and working with other people with these symptoms. Here are four more tips that I hope you find helpful! Please do keep in mind that I am not a doctor. None of my advice is a substitute for medical care.

1. A Heating Pack

Yes, that鈥檚 right. I learned this from a physical therapist I was seeing and have never gone back. Simply put a heating pack on your stomach as you eat breakfast, watch TV, lie in bed, or any other activity. It helps immensely with bloating.

2. Massage

Abdominal massage聽 was another super helpful tip from my pelvic floor physical therapist (thanks, Karen!) when my IBS was worse. Start by making small circles right below your belly button and work your way up along your right side until you hit your rib cage, then move across and back down (following your intestinal track). Use as much pressure as you feel comfortable with. This can help stimulate peristalsis and also helped me with bloating.

3. Digestive Enzymes

When I first started to change my diet, I was super bloated! I was eating tons of greens and fiber and I needed help. My naturopath suggested some digestive enzymes and they were a God send! I even remember my mom taking them when I was little when she had digestive upset. Hers tasted really good, too. One of the main ingredients in digestive enzymes usually comes from papaya. Yay whole foods!

4. Reduce Stress

I know, everyone says it. But, what on earth does it mean!!!!! This is one of my least favorite combination of words in the english language. And鈥 it鈥檚 true. However, I prefer to think of it as having fun. Where could you be having more fun in your life? What have you been dying to do, but haven鈥檛 made time for. That鈥檚 how you reduce stress, at least in my book.

Hope these tips and techniques are helpful for you! Please feel free to share any others that work for you in the comment section.

Much love,

Samantha

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