The Magic of Coconut Oil

When I first heard about putting coconut oil into coffee in the morning, I was skeptical. I thought that this "bulletproof coffee" fad that would soon leave our realm. So many fads pass through our brains every day. It is difficult to decipher which are true and which are bogus. 

I then started reading more about coconut oil and realized it was time to give it a chance. I first brewed drip coffee. Then, I added the coffee, 1 tablespoon of unrefined organic coconut oil and 1/4th cup of Califa Farms coconut milk into my Nutri bullet. Blend for 10 seconds. By blending the oil, it becomes more frothy and palatable, instead of a liquid, runny-like substance. After I drank the coconut coffee, my energy was through the roof. I went to the gym and ran like I've never ran before. I was hooked.

I now start every morning with coconut oil coffee. I also sometimes fry eggs, salmon or sauté vegetables with the coconut oil. I have already seen improvements in my overall well being and health in just 6 weeks. I've convinced my coworkers, clients, friends and 1 out of 2 sisters to try. Did I sell you, yet? If not, read on.

In short, coconut oil contains Medium Chained Triglycerides (MCTs), including Caprylic acid, Lauric acid & Carpic acid. Unlike other fats, these digest quickly, with a 3 step digestive process instead of a 26 step process like other fats. I like fast. Our liver converts the MCTs into energy and due to this, they aren't readily stored as fat on our body. The energy is USED. 

Benefits:

Remember Me

Our brain can use the MCTs from coconut oil without the usage of insulin. Studies have shown that coconut oil improves memory, cognition and recall ability, especially in aging subjects. 

Fuel Me

Many professional athletes use coconut oil to fuel for trainings and races. As mentioned earlier, the oil is directly converted to energy, allowing for sustained energy. It is recommended to have 1 tablespoon 30 minutes before exercise. I am not a professional athlete (surprise!), but I do see the benefits in my running, vinyasa yoga & barre class. 

The Good Gut

Coconut oil improves our gut health, by promoting "good bacteria" AND also by destroying "bad bacteria." Win, win. It also decreases our stomach acid, helping with ulcers and poor digestion. Studies have also shown it helps with IBS/IBD.

That Blood Sugar Stuff

MCT's help balance our bodies insulin reactions, by taking the strain & work away from the Pancreas. This means that our body can have a constant energy source without dipping into our insulin. This is ideal for Diabetics and anyone who suffers from insulin resistance. 

Belly Be Gone

We all hate our stubborn belly fat. Luckily, coconut oil is here to help. MCTs have an unique fat burning ability. Specifically, to burn our abdominal fat (which is also a sign & symptom of insulin resistance.) Not only does coconut oil burn fat, it also will help promote muscle growth. Again, win, win. 

Aging! 

We can't all stay and look young forever, as much as we all would like to. Coconut oil reduces liver stress, oxidative stress and supports detoxification. Combined, all of these all can slow down the process of aging. 

Hormones

Consuming coconut oil has a positive effect of estrogen levels. It is especially recommended to consume during menopause, but will also help balance hormones of women who are of child-bearing ages. 

The list above contains just a FEW of the many health benefits. You also will have better skin, shinier hair, decreased inflammation of joints, etc. Just try it once in your coffee & let me know what you think!

 

 

Fried Eggplant with Labne

I'm into labne lately. When I get on a kick, I tend to stick on that kick for a while. Luckily for me, my sister wanted to create an Israeli Feast for a Mother's Day party. We made Israeli salad, chicken kebabs and other typical Middle Eastern dishes. This included fried eggplant with labne.

Eggplant is sometimes looked down upon, as it is a nightshade vegetable. In the early 18th century, eggplant was actually believed to cause insanity. That was obviously proved wrong and now eggplant is known for it's many health benefits.  I believe in these benefits so much that I tend to eat eggplant daily. The skin of an eggplant contains a compound, nasunin, which has been found to protect our brain cell membranes. Eggplant also contains a compound called chlorogenic acid, which is anti-viral, anti-mutagenic (cancer) AND lowers cholesterol.

Labne is a cheese-yogurt hybrid. It has less lactose and sugar than typical yogurt, making it an ideal choice for anyone who is lactose intolerant, limiting dairy or Diabetic. It is rich in probiotics, creating good gut bacteria and healthy digestion. It also tastes like a dream. 

Now, let's get down to business.

What You'll Need:

1 eggplant

canola oil for frying

kosher salt for sprinkling

1 cup labnne

1 cup Greek yogurt

Juice from half a lemon

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 tablespoons mint, finely chopped

What You'll Do:

1. Peel the eggplant using a vegetable peeler (you can also leave stripes of peel). Slice the eggplant into 1/3” think round or long slices.

2. Arrange the slices in a colander and sprinkle every layer with kosher salt. Put the colander over a large bowl and let the eggplant stand for 30 minutes. 

3. Wash the eggplant under running water then dry with paper towels.

4. In a frying pan over medium heat put 1/4” canola oil for frying. Fry the eggplants in one layer (you will have to do it in two batches) until the slices are deep golden brown. Transfer to a tray lined with paper towels

5. In a medium bowl, mix labne, yogurt, lemon juice and garlic. Add salt to taste.

6. Arrange the eggplant slices on a serving tray, spoon the labneh on top and sprinkle with mint. 

Sweet Potato Toast

I've been talking about sweet potato toast for at least 6 months. A snow day was the perfect excuse to finally get down to business. 

Sweet potatoes are an ideal gluten-free alternative to wheat toast.  They have a high fiber content, allowing the sugar to be released slower than your average white potato. This makes them a great option for Diabetics, women with PCOS and anyone trying to control their blood glucose levels. Long-term blood sugar spikes are connected to weight gain, irritability and eventual exhaustion.

Lately, I've been on a tinned fish & avocado kick, so I incorporated them into the S.P toast. I had salmon from my trip to Portugal, so I thought it was finally time to open it up. There are various other S.P. toast options, such as adding almond butter, peanut butter, eggs, goat cheese... basically anything you would put on regular toast.

Steps for Sweet Potato Toast

1. Preheat oven for 400 degrees

2. Cut S.P lengthwise about 1/4th thick 

3. Put olive oil on both sides of S.P

4. Bake for 15 minutes, flip them, then bake for 15 more minutes

5. Top them! 

 

Today's Toppers (not all pictured)

Fresh salmon & avocado

Spinach hummus & mushrooms

Portuguese tinned salmon & sautéed spinach

Goat cheese & avocado

Goat cheese & sesame sticks

Avocado & roasted carrots

Sardines & tomatoes 

 

Fitter, Happier, and More Productive

On New Year's Day around 9 a.m, I was at a classic diner in Eastern Long Island, enjoying an omelet with a buttered english muffin. The waitress kept refilling my coffee mug with that special illmatic diner coffee. All was well, except for the news blaring from the television on the wall. The first segment was on dieting, the second segment was about toning your butt and third was focusing on becoming more productive. It wasn't even 9 a.m. and America was already telling us how to fix ourselves.

Over the past few days, I keep coming across "dieting" posts and articles. Since it's a new year, we suddenly aren't good enough. We are told to become fitter, happier, more productive. (Shout out to Radiohead.)  Not just that. Also: leaner, taller, smaller, flatter, shinier, prettier, stronger. We are told to cleanse, to remove toxins, and to abstain from alcohol for the whole month of January. 

This isn't to say that I am not trying to improve myself. I think we all should aim to eat right and exercise regularly and I would like to be fitter, happier and more productive...I just don't believe we should be forced to obsess about changing. American culture is constantly flaunting Gigi Hadid's abs in our face and clamoring over a new sugar-free diet. 

With that being said, butter your english muffin, but take a walk after. Drink a glass of Merlot, but skip the fried food at dinner. Go for a run, but not until your exhausted. Start the day with breakfast and end it with a piece of dark chocolate. 

Balance is the goal and we should always be reminded of that, no matter what month or year it is.

Happy New Year!

Allison

 

 

 

Nutritional Benefits & Simple Recipe for Roasted Butternut Squash

Winter time means winter vegetables! Actually, butternut squash is a fruit, as it contains seeds. Let me rephrase, winter time means winter fruit! Sweet in flavor, butternut squash is a complex carbohydrate, containing tons of fiber, vitamins and minerals. I often recommend it to clients as a side dish, instead of typical rice or potatoes. 

I was lucky enough to have a "straight from the garden" squash and it was a very rich orange. The darker and richer the color of the orange, the more beta carotene it contains. Beta carotene is an anti-oxidant, promoting healthy skin, sharp eyes and a strong heart. Intake can decrease the incidence of developing coronary heart disease, macular degeneration and certain cancers.

Butternut squash is also a good source of Vitamin C, for an additional anti-oxidant boost against free radicals. You get some potassium for additional heart health benefits and metabolism regulation. Vitamin B6 is there for promoting a strong immune system, along with proper metabolism function. High fiber tops it all off, to promote regularity and weight maintenance.

Roasted Butternut Squash

1. Preheat the oven for 400°

2. Wash and peel squash

3. Cut into halves remove seeds

4. Cube squash

5. Mix squash with olive oil and pepper. I didn't add any salt, but you can add a sprinkling 

6. Place squash on baking sheet lightly coated in olive oil

7. Cook until soft and lightly browned, about 30 minutes

All Smoothies Are Not Created Equally

It seems that every other block has a juice bar. Marketed as a quick way to get your daily fruit and vegetable intake, many people believe that drinking a banana & mango smoothie on their way to a 3 p.m meeting will not effect their waistline.  This is not always true, as a smoothie or a cold-pressed juice can contain as much sugar as a can of Pepsi.

I actually used to shun smoothies, thinking they were all an endless pit of calories, but now I have learned a formula that is not only beneficial, but also palate pleasing.

Here are some easy tips to remember when ordering a smoothie or a smoothie bowl:

1. Choose fruit wisely - Yes, fruit is "good for you", containing vitamins, minerals, water and fiber. Fruit also contains sugar. Too much sugar will sabotage your health and weight goals. Each smoothie should contain 1 fruit, but not more. I tend to use bananas, as they are my favorite, but it really depends on your taste preference. Lately, I've been seeing avocado added to many smoothies, which is a fruit, and also contains heart-healthy mono unsaturated fatty acids, along with tons of B vitamins for metabolism & energy. They also have been shown to lower cholesterol. Many juice bars add dates for natural sweetener, which is great, but count them as your fruit.

2. Add a fiber source - Fiber promotes fullness, satiety, weight loss and also helps promote normal blood sugar.  This is especially true in Diabetics. The fruits and vegetables in your smoothie will naturally contain fiber, but also add another strong source. Good sources of fiber for smoothies are flax seeds, chia seeds, wheat germ, oats & 1-2 tbsp of almond butter (or any nut butter.) This past weekend, I had a spinach, banana, almond milk, wheat germ smoothie and the crunch from the wheat germ really added texture & taste.

3. Add a protein source - Sure, you can add a "protein powder", but often these are heavily processed, containing toxic metals and chemicals. It is better to use natural sources of protein, including hemp seeds, peanut butter, almond butter, quinoa, yogurt and almond milk. If using a protein powder, hemp or pea protein is best. Protein promotes lean muscle mass, satiety and delivers essential nutrients. Don't over do it, but do it.

4. Increase greens - This is where you can go crazy. Go wild. No limits. Order every green on the menu if necessary. I recommend spinach, kale, swiss chard, dandelion greens and romaine. All are low calorie, nutrient-dense and have anti-aging benefits.

5. Pump it up - This is where it becomes fun. You can add my favorite choice, coffee for an anti-oxidant kick, but also try:

  • Ginger to promote digestion, along with anti-inflammatory benefits.
  • Cacao, which contains a mood-enhancing compound called phenethylamine (PEA.) It also decreases stress, lowers blood pressure & can prevent premature aging.
  • Maca for hormonal balance & to increase mood, stamina and focus.

 

 

 

 

Spain Eats

I have been to Spain twice before, once at age 23, once at 27. This time was different. This time around, while traveling with my very good friend, Jen, I truly got to enjoy Spain. Over the years, I've learned how to accept myself and body for what it is, allowing me to finally truly enjoy all types of food, without labels of carb-free, gluten-free, etc.  

Years ago, you would never catch me eating ice cream and then later in the day, a cheese plate, but those two experiences ended up being two of my best memories of this trip. Sure, I did eat a ton of salads and worked out most days, as I do promote BALANCE. Acceptance will always be a continuous journey, but the road sure does taste better with some pan con tomate.   

I've decided to share some highlights of my meals in Barcelona, Seville, Jerez, with a special appearance from Lisbon, Portugal, which I was able to visit for four glorious hours during a long lay over. Special thanks to my amiga for allowing me to take countless pictures of food before she was "allowed" to eat it. 

Tortilla Espanola is a MUST. It is a traditional spanish omelette, made with fried potatoes and onions. The one below was eaten at 10:30 pm upon arrival to Barcelona at Cu Cut, a great restaurant in the Eixample neighborhood. 

 tortilla espanola rocks my world. 

tortilla espanola rocks my world. 

"Let's go have a meal!" 

On our first full day in Barcelona, we wandered the streets and sights for 10 miles. That night, we wanted a meal. We found La Polpa. To start, I had vegetables with Romesco sauce, followed by sweet and sour grilled salmon with fried tofu mixed with eggplant. Jen started with marinated octopus with mashed potatoes, and then moved on to swordfish with tomatoes, jam, dried black olives and crunchy kale.  The Rose was too sweet but we had it anyway. Jen's quote, "The wine didn't marry well with my food." 

 Sweet & Sour salmon and fried tofu is a really good idea. 

Sweet & Sour salmon and fried tofu is a really good idea. 

If there is hummus, I will find it. 

After a few days of eating typical spanish fare, we were craving some vegetarian food. Our favorite spots, Angelika's Kitchen and Souen were thousands of miles away, but we found Teresa Carles, right near the beginning of Las Ramblas. 

 if I could eat this every day, I would. 

if I could eat this every day, I would. 

We started by dipping fried chickpea critters & pita into sweet potato hummus, chickpea hummus and smoked eggplant hummus.   We then "made our own salads", which consisted of more than 10 ingredients each. I highly recommend Teresa Carles if you're craving fresh healthy food.  

 My salad had pumpkin AND seaweed, which probably wasn't the best combination, but I just wanted everything. 

My salad had pumpkin AND seaweed, which probably wasn't the best combination, but I just wanted everything. 

We absolutely love Milk Away, a tiny juice bar on a Seville side street. We returned a few times and took pictures. 

 The two highlights were the owner and a banana oatmeal smoothie.

The two highlights were the owner and a banana oatmeal smoothie.

When it's 95 blazing degrees, Abuela is the spot. The ice cream put us in an incredible mood for some good wandering, leading us to Alcazar for hours & hours. 

For better or for worse, tuna is everywhere.

 It usually comes on a salad, but is not limited to. 

It usually comes on a salad, but is not limited to. 

Confession: hotel breakfast buffets really do it for me. 

 Unlimited eggs and muesli, sign me up. 

Unlimited eggs and muesli, sign me up. 

 

 

If you listen to me only once in your life, please let it lead you to Maestro Marcelino.

During an extremely hot afternoon, on a winding side street in Seville, Jen found Maestro Marcelino. She stood with her head pressed up against the window, saying, "we are coming here, we are coming here." That night, we did just that.

It is a tiny place, with only four tables. The walls are lined with all types of meat, canned fish and variety of olive oils and dips. The waiter must have thought we were nuts, as we were acting extremely excited about our cured meat plate, smoked salmon on flatbread, membrillo & cheese on another flat bread, along with a decorative cheese plate with jelly & raisins. There was also some green olives and crunchy bread dipped in olive oil.  It was a really amazing experience, recommended to all who would like a true celebration in their mouth. 

Italian food in Seville! We were literally waiting at the door when La Gallina Bianca opened at 8:30 pm. Jen was thrilled with her prosciutto & ricotta pizza, while I got to pour honey all over a rocket lettuce, ricotta cheese, pine nut and orange salad. Balsamic covered shrimp then followed. 

For a farm to table experience in Seville, La Bartola is a must!  We sat at the bar and had quite the food party. Two words: beet sauce.

Four hours in Lisbon

First stop was a fresh limonada stand in the Bairro Alto neighborhood. Second stop, birthday lunch with mushroom crostini, tuna with veggies and sea bass with hummus & bok choy. Fourth stop, an artisanal chocolate shop, where we bought chocolate covered coffee and various other delicious blends. 

Things that make me wonder...

What is this peculiar orange sauce? Sadly, this may have been the worst thing I've ever bitten into. Slimy cod and secret sauce isn't for me. Don't even get me started about the flaky white bread and potato chips. 

Why is melted chocolate & coconut in a mug with a side of Baileys the best combination ever? #thankyouhotelbar

Whose baby is this and why is he on a water bottle? 

What is better than sipping Cava on a hot summer day in Seville? 

Why is it good to go, but also so good to return? Especially when you return after 18 hours of traveling, to blow out some 32nd birthday candles on some chocolate fudge, all while wearing your pajamas. 

Go Red For Women

I had a great time at Macy's Mother's Day Fashion Show last Saturday in Herald Square. Macy's is partnered with The American Heart Association's Go Red For Women campaign, bringing awareness to the number one killer in women, Heart Disease. I was on hand providing nutrition tips and information. Thanks to everyone who came out to support, learn and of course, see some Spring fashion! 

A Super Powerful Dinner: Salmon with Avocado Yogurt Sauce & Lentils with Goat Cheese

Lately I've been trying to cook/consume more power foods. A power food, also known as a superfood, is nutrient dense with vitamins, minerals and other health benefits, that promote maximum physical and mental health.  

Salmon contains a large amount of the omega 3 fatty acid, DHA, decreasing the risk of brain-related issues, including Depression, hostility and cognitive decline.  

A NHANES study, conducted from 2001 to 2008, found that people who regularly consume avocados have a lower body mass index, less belly fat and more HDL ("good") cholesterol than those who don't. 

Even though I am not a huge advocate of dairy, plain Greek yogurt is a staple in my diet. It is a great work-out recovery food thanks to it's content of amino acids. It also promotes brain and energy (metabolism) function due to it's B12 content. 

The Mediterranean diet staple, olive oil is widely known for its cardiovascular benefits and studies have shown is is associated with a decreased risk of Breast Cancer, Depression, Alzheimer's Disease and oxidative stress of the liver. 

Lentils are relatively low in calories, but high in protein, fiber and other nutrients. These legumes promote digestive health, stabilize blood sugar, and are also a good source of Magnesium and Folate, promoting heart health. 

Here is a simple dinner recipe that'll maximize your mind and body, not to mention your taste buds! 

Salmon with Avocado Yogurt Sauce

What You'll Need:

  • 1 ripe avocado
  • 1/2 cup plain greek yogurt
  • a few pieces of cilantro
  • 1 lime
  • 1 clove garlic 
  • pepper, salt to taste
  • 1 large salmon fillet (enough for 2 people)
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil

What You'll Do:

1. Place avocado, yogurt, juice from 1/2 lime, garlic & cilantro into food processor and blend for about 1 minute. Put to the side. 

2. Place salmon on foil baking sheet, skin side down. Brush with olive oil, pepper, a little salt and squeeze the other 1/2 lime.

 The fishmonger at Whole Foods might have given me more salmon than I asked for. 

The fishmonger at Whole Foods might have given me more salmon than I asked for. 

3. Heat oven 400 degrees. Cook salmon for 10-15 minutes, depending on thickness.

4. Serve topped with avocado yogurt sauce.

 

Warm Lentils with Goat Cheese

What You'll Need:

  • 1 cup lentils
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 clove garlic. minced
  • tarragon
  • pepper, salt to taste
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 to 3 ounces of crumbled goat cheese

What You'll Do:

1. Put lentils, 3 cups water, garlic clove into medium pot. Add a few dashes of tarragon, along with pepper and salt. Bring lentils to boil, then simmer for about 25 minutes. Lentils should still have texture, not mushy.

2. Strain excess water from lentils in colander.

3. Place lentils back in pot. Add olive oil and stir in goat cheese until it is melted into lentils. Season with pepper, salt to taste. 

4. Add some crumbles of goat cheese on top.


ENJOY!


Rihanna's Homemade Almond Milk

The benefits of almonds are endless. I am a true believer of this, regularly eating almond butter, snacking on almonds and drinking almond milk. Almonds provide heart healthy omega 3 fatty acids, a nice amount of fiber, Vitamin E & Magnesium. 

Most store-bought almond milk contains Carrageenan, an additive used to increase shelf life of non dairy milk, yogurt and other processed foods. Our bodies are unable to digest Carrageenan, causing inflammation in our gut.  This additive has been linked to Cancer, Ulcerative Colitis, intestinal lesions and recent research suggests a link with Diabetes.

OK. That being said, I finally decided to make my own almond milk. It honestly takes some patience to strain, but I blasted Rihanna's new album, Anti and let it filtrate. 

The finished product tastes so good, that it took some self control not to drink it all while standing in my kitchen. 

What You'll Need:

  • 1 cup of whole almonds
  • Water
  • Dates, raisins or honey to add sweetness
  • Blender, Nutribullet or Food processor 
  • Cheese Cloth
  • Mason Jar
  • Colander
  • Some bowls

 

What You'll Do:

1. Place 1 cup of almonds into a bowl & cover with water. Then add plastic wrap to bowl and place in the fridge for at least 4 hours

2. Filter the almonds in a colander

3. Blend almonds and 1 & 1/2 cups of water in processor for ~ 1 minute

4. Add dates, raisins or honey. I used raisins because I had them in my cabinet

5. Add 1/2 cup water and blend for another minute or so

6. Place cheese cloth around mason jar, add rubber band

7. Strain almond milk via cheese cloth. I had to use about 6 different cheese cloths to strain all of the almonds

8. Cover and refrigerate

 

12 Things To Do In January Instead of a Juice Cleanse

 A few of the things I've been eating recently.

A few of the things I've been eating recently.

For the past few days, I keep seeing posts about magic cleanses, 'Dry January' and other extreme diets that YOU MUST START NOW. The past few months were full of salted apple caramel pie, washed down with gin gimlets and now all of a sudden, DIET is everywhere.

Personally, I started New Year's Day with a four mile jog, followed by home-cooked french toast with smoked salmon for brunch.  During any time of the year, I think that is what life should be about: balance.

My problem with cleanses and extreme dieting is that it is not a sustainable (or happy) way to live. To go on a December binge full of spiked eggnog, proscittuo and bacon, and then just green juice for the first 2 weeks of January, will cause your metabolism (and possibly mind) to go crazy. As a former restrictive eater, I have a huge problem with promoting fasts.  Starving, I mean, juicing for 5 days will only make you want to binge. It is like anything in life; we want what we can't have. If you deny yourself breakfast, lunch and dinner for 5 days, all you will think about is bagels, cheesy sandwiches and big bowls of pasta.

12 Things You Should Do in January (and every month of the entire year):

1. Eat when you feel hungry.

2. Don't eat when you aren't hungry.

3. Start the day with a protein and fiber-rich breakfast. It helps if you choose one or two breakfasts and just alternate. No one wants to do that much thinking at 7 a.m. Be prepared ahead of time.

4. Start an exercise regimen that is realistic for the long term. Keep with it, even when you don't want to. It may help to enter an exercise plan into your calendar. Treat a spin class as you would an important business meeting or phone call.

5. Try to form/set some sort of sleep schedule. Without adequate sleep, your metabolism slows down AND you will be craving sugary foods the entire next day.

6. Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate. Buy a water bottle and keep it close to you.

7. Moderate Alcohol. Enjoy it, but don't enjoy it too much.

8. Limit processed foods. Eat fresh, whole & "real" whenever possible.

9. If you go overboard on Sunday, cut back a little on Monday.

10. Carry healthy snacks. If you're prepared, you will be less likely to make an impulsive decision that leads to an empty bag of Doritos.

11. Try the 'Ten Minute Rule." After one plate at dinner, stop, waiting 10 minutes. Listen to your body for the next few minutes. You likely will decide you do not want a second plate after ten minutes. If you still want it, have it.

12. If you find yourself constantly overeating, try to figure out the emotional root of why. Deal with the emotion, feel the emotion, no matter how uncomfortable it may be, instead of numbing it with salt and donuts.

 

Happy New Year! May it bring everyone what they hope for.

Allison

Almond Oatmeal Squares

As I always say, "Carry snacks!" 

I try to lean towards natural snacks, such as plain Greek yogurt, fruit & nuts, but I do stock up on plenty of "bars." I've tried practically every bar in the game. My goal is to look for as little ingredients as possible, but even the "healthy" bars contain unwanted ingredients.

I decided to combine two of my favorite foods; oatmeal & nut butter, and turn it into a bar/square. Turns out, it was a good idea. 

While the squares were in the oven, the whole kitchen smelled like a nutty cinnamon dream. I used almond butter as I had it on hand, but it can be substituted with peanut butter. You can have the square as a snack, quick breakfast or even an after-dinner desert. 

 

Ingredients

1/2 cup of natural almond butter (or peanut butter)

1/2 cup coconut oil, melted or at room temperature

1 ripe banana 

1/4 cup honey 

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

2 cups rolled oats

 

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees

2. Spray 8x8 baking dish with cooking spray

3. In a large bowl: whisk together peanut butter through vanilla extract 

4. Add oats & cinnamon, stir to combine

5. Pour mixture into prepared pan and smooth evenly with a spoon

6. Bake for 28 minutes or until edges are light brown

7. Cool on wire rack

8. Cut into squares


A Night of Yoga, Nutrition & Mind Strengthening

Join me for A Night of Yoga, Nutrition & Mind Strengthening with Just Salad's Fitness and Nutrition Ambassadors.

Come learn relaxation techniques, how to eat for stress & participate in a vigorous Vinyasa flow class! Please sign up as space is limited!

Sign up: http://justsaladatnormal.splashthat.com/

Where: Normal @ 150 West 22nd Street, NY, NY

When: May 1st, 5:30 - 7:30 pm

Hosted by: Shira Burstein Psychotherapy. Allison Scheinfeld Nutrition. Danielle Morelli Yoga.

Sponsored by Normal and Just Salad

 

 

Ayurveda

 A couple of my amazing bowls from the Kripalu dining hall. 

A couple of my amazing bowls from the Kripalu dining hall. 

I just spent a long weekend at Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health, located in Stockbridge, Massachusetts. I was happy to spend time with my good friend, Jen, practice some half-moon poses and sweat it out in the sauna; but most of all, as per usual, I was excited to check out the food. Luckily, the dining hall at Kripalu did not disappoint. 

Kripalu's menu is based on Ayurvedic principles. Ayurveda is the "science of life", with an emphasis on diet & lifestyle. The purpose is to eradicate sickness and achieve optimal health by balancing the three Doshas; Vata, Pitta, Kapha. Each Dosha possess certain characteristics and qualities. 

Vata qualities are dry, cold, light, mobile, clear, rough, subtle. The body type of Vata is slender with little muscle tone. They tend to feel cold and have very dry skin. Insomnia, indigestion and bloating are all common ailments of Vata. In order to warm the body, their diet should avoid raw fruits & vegetables, carbonated beverages and dry/crunchy foods. Instead, they should eat warm, cooked foods including cereal, soup and roasted vegetables. 

Pitta qualities are slightly oily, hot, intense, light, fluid, free flowing, foul smelling. Pitta body types are toned with a medium build. Often, very emotional, Pitta-types should focus on a diet that soothes and calms. Spices, alcohol, coffee and acidic foods should be avoided, while there should be an increase of sweet fruits and vegetables with a high water content, for their cooling properties.  

Kapha qualities are oily, cold, heavy, stable, viscid, smooth, soft. Kapha body types are large with broad-shoulders. Though they have good physical stamina, they are more likely to become obese compared to the other Dosha types. Kapha-types tend to have poor circulation and digestion. If you're a Kapha, you should reduce overall fat, salt and sugar intake, while focusing on a high fiber diet. 

Though, each person tends to encompass more qualities of one Dosha than the others, the goal is to achieve harmony within the three. This will allow us to live within the rhythms of nature. The main goal is to preserve your Agni, otherwise known as digestive power. 

Some of the "rules" seem like common sense, yet the Western-belief nutrition system doesn't always promote them. Though I have a strong science-based nutrition background, I have always found holistic views of nutrition fascinating and believe they should be incorporated into our diet plans and lives.

Diet Tips For All Doshas:

Wake With Water

In the morning, before coffee or breakfast, drink a glass of room-temperature water. A few years ago, an acupuncturist told me this, and I've continued with this ritual ever since.  I always encourage this with all of my clients and patients. It should be noted that cold water will work in opposition with digestion, so make sure water is relatively warm. This will promote digestion, regularity and obviously, adequate hydration.  

Breathe

Everyone is always rushing from one place to another. Meals are often eaten quickly, just to get them over with. It is important to try to break this habit and take a few breaths before eating each meal. Chew each bite thoroughly, while focusing on the smell, flavor and texture. Eating should be an act, not a rush job. This is especially a challenge if you go many hours without eating, as you feel "starving", which is why we should remember to have snacks between meals in order to avoid the feeling where food needs to be shoveled in at record speed.

Eat Only When Hungry

This is such a basic idea, yet so difficult for many, myself included. We eat for many reasons, including emotions and lack thereof. It is important for us to be aware of what hunger feels like and what anxiety or sadness feels like. Once we distinguish the two, we can feed only what is necessary and treat the sentiments accordingly. 

Observe

Before you eat a meal, observe how you're feeling. If you notice you feel uncomfortable, eat to counteract whatever you are experiencing. For example, if you feel a dryness, have food that is moist. If you're feeling cold, have soup, or something warm. If you're feeling lightness or ungrounded, try to have a meal with a heavy quality. 

Cycle It 

For the most part, try to have a schedule around your eating by having meals at the same time each day. Nature is all about cycles and your digestive system should be, too! 

Lunch & The Sun

Lunch should be your largest meal of the day. The heat of the sun is strongest mid day, and so is your digestive power. Don't be afraid to dig in! I find that many people try to "save their calories for later" and end up splurging on dinner. In actuality, you should do the opposite. 

Spices

Certain spices, including ginger, cardamom, cinnamon, cumin, coriander, turmeric & black pepper, all aid in digestion. Try to add these to your cooking, especially if you experience bloating or cramping after meals.

Teas

I often like to end my meals with tea, as many promote a balance in the digestive system, including sausalito spice, ginger and peppermint.

As always, Happy Eating! Feel free to contact me to talk Doshas, diet and digestion.

-Allison

Eating Israel

I just spent ten amazing days traveling throughout Israel with my parents and younger sister, Jillian. Yes, there was a lot of sight-seeing, but, there was also lots of eating! The food was out-of-control delicious! Every meal we ate, we would say, "no, this is the best thing I've ever eaten."  I set out to document all my bites and share the highlights.

 

Falafel & Friends In Jerusalem

During our first full day in Jerusalem, we were determined to find good falafel. We were strolling around the Mahane Yehuda Market and stumbled upon a hole-in-the-wall spot that was dishing out the goods: falafel (obviously), along with pita, hummus topped with lamb, hummus topped with mushrooms, a stuffed red pepper, a stuffed zucchini, a taste of bean soup and shared two diet cokes for balance. This was definitely one of the highlights of the trip. 

 

Fresh Falafel In Tzfat

After spending the morning in the Banias, and subsequently hearing bombs from Hezbollah, we decided to go to the mystical city of Tzfat to regroup and have some lunch. We ended up finding a falafel stand, where we watched each little perfect little chickpea ball being made. Hot root vegetable soup and french fries were also involved. Note: this is what my family looks like while eating and feeling very cold at the top of a mountain. Hoods are essential.

 

Mediterranean Birthday At Suzana

For my Dad's birthday, we went to Suzana in the art gallery filled Tel Aviv neighborhood of Neve Tzedek. A couple of years ago, my sister and I had lunch there and were still talking about it. The following meal, we will now talk about for the next five years. We started with Rosé, fried cauliflower, string beans in tomato sauce, grilled eggplant topped with labne & feta, Jerusalem artichokes and falafel with tahini. For our main, my mother and I ordered fillet of bass with wild rice. Jillian had shrimp in olive oil, citrus & garlic, and my father had a red pepper stuffed with meat & rice. We ended the meal with chocolate mousse cake and tea with nana (mint) to help digest it all. 

 

Seconds At Suzana

When the Scheinfeld's find something we like, we stick with it. A few days later, we ended up returning to Suzana for seconds. We started with the same sides, but for my main, I had salad with grilled vegetables, shredded feta & fried halloumi cheese. My dad had potato leek latkes, which were pretty damn special. We also had a visit from the cafe cat. For no particular reason, my mom named him Eddie.  Suzana is officially my favorite restaurant in the world. 

 

Tel Aviv Street Chicken 

After walking a few miles to the Nachalat Binyamin Market, we were quite possibly a little hangry. My dad saw a sign for Kosher Chicken and the decision was quickly made. Exactly four minutes later, we were feasting on perfectly-spiced chicken, tomato onion salad, rice and roasted potatoes. When I have meals like this, I am reminded why I am no longer a vegetarian. Bless this dear, sweet chicken. 

 

Tuna Salad At Bla Bla

While in Tel Aviv, we spent most of our time on the beach. A few steps away from our lounge chairs was Cafe Bla Bla. I am not ashamed to admit that I ate their salad with tuna and egg, five glorious times. I don't know what they put in that tuna, but, whatever it was, it had me coming back for more. 

 

Breakfast For Dinner

Everyone knows, my favorite meal of the day is breakfast! Usually at home, I have breakfast-for-dinner at least twice a week. I was craving my usual, so Jillian and I went to Benedict, a 24-hour diner. We both ordered Israeli breakfast, which is eggs any-way-you-like with multiple sides; tuna, cheese, eggplant dip. I love eggs. 

 

Rock The Casbah

One Saturday night, Jillian and I went out with Israeli friends in Florentin. The neighborhood has a Williamsburg-vibe and is quite fun. We enjoyed some shrimp with glass noodles at The Casbah, followed by a fair-amount of beer and pool at a local bar. 

 

Tapas Worth Dancing For

On our second to last night, we checked out Tapas Ahad Haam as per recommendation of Jillian's friend. We were not disappointed after a meal full of Yaffo-style calamari, Turkish shrimps, scallops with black mushrooms, black rice paella, spare ribs and artichoke hearts with spicy labne. There may have been some vanilla ice cream involved. Due to a combination of happy taste buds, wine and soul music blaring over the speakers; we literally danced in our seats. After some deliberation, I've decided not to share the dance video. 

 

'Cause We Have To Eat In-between Meals, Too

Worth noting: salted cashews from the hotel bar, chocolate milk in bed, crunchy cereal bites,  soy cappucinos from Landwer Coffee, cake from Aroma on a random bench, and finding an almond tree during a hike in the Golan Heights. 

 

I hope this post either made you hungry or want to visit Israel. Quite possibly, both.