Tag Archives: seasonal

Vitamin C – Where You’d Least Expect

With doctors and news reporters claiming 2013 is the worst seasonal flu outbreak in ten years, how should one prepare? As many know, the flu shot won’t prevent the flu altogether, just lessen the blow. And often times when people detect the slightest onset of illness they stock up on quick fixes like Airborne, or Vitamin C tablets. But by that time, it’s too late.

As a person who loves food, I like to impart not only the most decadent tips and advice for preparing and finding delicious meals, but also how to use food to our advantage.

Food is the most natural source of vitamins and minerals we can feed our body. It is the most natural way to prevent illness and chronic diseases from diabetes to heart disease. If you think about it, back in the day, people didn’t have a million varieties of Advil and Tylenol, or steroids or antibiotics. They self-healed. Don’t get me wrong, medicine has come a long way and has made tremendous advancements in saving lives. But Imagesomething like the common cold, and even the flu epidemic of 2013 can be easily combated or at best avoided altogether with some simple dietary alterations.

To start, Vitamin C is our best friend when it comes to boosting immunity and injecting antioxidants into our system. Most people immediately reach for the OJ. But, here are some all-star Vitamin C rich foods that far surpass the orange.

A few things to keep in mind when reviewing the list:

  • Guys – your recommended daily allowance of Vitamin C is 90mg
  • Chicas – we need about 75mg
  • If you go over your daily allowance, no fear, your body with flush it out
  • To obtain maximum vitamin capacity eat these foods raw

1. Guavas

377mg (628% DV) per cup

These exotic tropical jewels are in season from November through April, a perfect addition to your winter fruit bowl. Try and find ones that don’t have a stamp in their passport. Farms on the west coast and Florida have started distribution.

2. Hot Chili Peppers

Green – 181.88mg (303% DV) per half cup, chopped

Red – 108mg (180% DV) per half cup, chopped

Don’t have to tell me twice! Most common chili peppers are jalapenos, Thai chili peppers, poblanos, and fresnos. These guys might be tough to eat raw, so considering they already have a massive amount of Vitamin C, a cooked chili pepper will still have a pretty healthy dose.

3. Strawberry

98mg (163% DV) per cup, sliced

I might add a qualifying note of consideration when consuming strawberries. Their season doesn’t come until May/June and the winter months are really tough on strawberry distribution. If you have your heart set on those big, perfectly red, all similar in shape and size strawberries you see in the markets now, save them to dip in chocolate. Chances are they will need an extra boost in flavor.

4. Bell Peppers

Yellow- 95mg (159% DV) 10 sliced strips

Green- 22mg (36% DV) 10 sliced strips

Sweet, delicious and easy to eat raw. You can also find orange and red bell peppers which carry more Vitamin C than the green.

5. Papaya

87mg (144% DV) per cup, cubed

Another exotic beauty, maybe we should just move to the tropics! When selecting one to take home with you, look for skin that is turning from green to yellow and you should be able to press your thumb into the flesh. If it’s too soft or mushy, or if it has a sweet smell to it, the papaya is overripe. Like avocados you want to buy when they’re firm and allow about 2-3 days to ripe on the counter.

6. Kiwi

84mg (141% DV) per fruit

These guys are also great sources of magnesium which supports nerve function, strong bones and regulate blood sugar. A real super food!

7. The crucifers or the cabbage family

Broccoli – 81mg (135% DV) per cup, chopped

Brussels Sprouts 75mg (125% DV) per cup, chopped

Cauliflower – 46mg (77% DV) per cup, chopped

Enjoy these raw veggies with some hummus dip or light dressing. Even raw Brussels Sprouts shaved thin is delicious in salads.

8. Fresh Herbs

Thyme – 1.6mg (3% DV) per teaspoon

Parsley – 5mg (9% DV) per tablespoon

Fresh herbs are great for garnish and flavoring agents. Most often they are used to build flavor in stews or sautes, but again, do your best to find ways to eat them in their natural form. (In comparison, they technically have the least amount of Vitamin C in this article, but they also have the smallest measured value. One cup of parsley is close to 80mg)

9. Kale

80mg (134% DV) per cup, chopped

Dark, leafy greens are full of Vitamin C and easy to use in salads.

10. Citrus

Grapefruit – 85.1mg (142% DV) 1 cup, sections

Oranges – 83.25 mg (139% DV) 1 cup, sections

Clementine – 36.11mg (60% DV) 1 fruit

So here we are at #10 and to be fair, 1 cup of raw orange does have just about the appropriate amount of daily recommended intake.  The point is, there are 9 other foods that have super Vitamin C values (not to mention a whole host of other vitamins and minerals) so change it up every now and then, and be well!

Reference here: click


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New Years Eating Resolutions

Rather than go for the old January stand-by article on ‘Healthy New Years Eating’ and ‘Get Yourself in Shape for the New Year!’ I’ve decided to share my eleven eating and drinking hopes for 2011.

1.  Eat seasonal – I’ve always realized the importance of this but it wasn’t until recently when I just bought some frozen berries at Trader Joe’s and canned tomatoes over the summer, that I’ve actually acted on this mantra.  In the long run I’ll save money for not being a victim of a high mark up, and save the environment by reducing a potential high carbon footprint on food shipped from Chili.

2.  Host a ‘perfect pairing’ dinner party – By early 2011 I will have completed my culinary studies including a six week wine studies course.  This year I will make a strong effort to apply my knowledge to really understanding how wine and food were meant for each other.  This task will be completed by creating a three course ‘perfect pairing’ menu for some friends and myself.

3.  Eat at a foreign restaurant – At this point, there aren’t too many cuisines I haven’t tried.  But I think Turkish and Ethiopian are still on the list.

4.  Give myself recipe freedom – One of the things my school keeps reinforcing is, ‘don’t be so recipe driven.’  I hope to use recipes as a springboard for my own creativity rather than an instructional guide.

5.  Visit a working farm – There is nothing like seeing first hand where food comes from and getting an appreciation for the people who work hard to bring it to us.  

6.  Make a carbonated beverage – Soda makers were the absolute IT gift this year, once they’re back in stock I’m buying one on sale and making some healthy carbonated experiments.

7.  Read a book on food science – While I was never very good at science in school, I always found it interesting.  I think being a great chef requires knowing a little more about the scientific reason behind how food reacts to cooking elements.

8.  Use my new Kitchen Aide Mixer at least once a month – This will include making fresh pasta with the attachment, grinding my own meat (another attachment), and if I get really ambitions try and use it to bake some bread.

9.  Organize my food magazines – Yes I’m one of those people who have piles and piles of food magazines from 2009.  I have some great recipe organizers and hope to find time to consolidate and archive.

10.  Support artisan food makers – To me, these people express the highest level of creativity and bravery.  They are also usually pretty cool people.  This past year I met a beekeeper from Brooklyn, bought artisan ice cream from a farm in Ohio and got hooked on chili mango ice pops.

11.  To continue to appreciate the vast culinary universe, to never feel like cooking is a chore; to never lose the sense of joy I get from setting a plate down in front of a guest, and try and live each day for the love of food.

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Eat Your Water

70% of our bodies are made up of water and it is estimated that we lose on average about ten cups of water each day through normal bodily functions such as breathing, sweating, and going to the bathroom.  While topping off eight bottles of Poland Spring sounds like the way to go, frankly it’s quite boring and an unrealistic expectation.  In fact, even if you do manage to make it to number eight you can still be dehydrated.  The secret is to have a good balance between two key minerals: sodium and potassium.  Sodium, from a culinary standpoint is a key ingredient to enhancing flavor but also is often abused and superfluous in our society.  But, for the purposes of this article sodium blocks water absorption into the body.  Bear with me for a minute while I get a little scientific.  The cells in our body have these little doors that open and close based on mineral balance.  Potassium triggers the release of sodium from inside our cells (bodily absorption) to outside our cells into bodily fluid that will eventually be excreted.  So due to our sodium rich lifestyles, we have a lot of sodium build up in our bodies and just because there is water coming through doesn’t necessarily mean the sodium is washing away with it.  Sodium needs the potassium to give it a little nudge and open the cell door to let the sodium out and the water in.  Phew!   

Okay so how do I get more potassium?  The potassium heroes are avocados, baked potato with skin, cooked spinach, lentils, and of course bananas.  Also, coconut water has a high percentage of potassium.  Try mixing coconut water with club soda and frozen fruit to off-set the initial unflattering taste.    

So now that we have our little potassium doorman in place try getting creative with alternatives to water.  Moisture rich foods include: cucumbers, all types of melons (which are actually 90% water and a good source of potassium), strawberries, lettuce, celery and even cold soups like gazpacho.  An additional benefit to eating foods with high moisture will help keep you full on fewer calories!  And while we’re on the topic of waistlines, retaining water happens when you don’t have enough fluid and your body fears famine and holds onto every ounce of water it can get.  Which results in bloating.  

– Don’t always rely on thirst, sometimes by the time you’re thirsty you’re already dehydrated
– Beverages at moderate temperatures are said to be consumed in greater volumes
– Despite the popular myth, a frozen water bottle is a good way to ensure a cool beverage for a few hours

– Chugging your way through 8 cups of water – spread it out through the day
– Avoid frozen coffee drinks, sugary fruit drinks and teas.  Look for ‘no sugar added.’  Always read labels because ‘100% fruit’ and ‘All Natural’ can be misleading.   

Hydration Fruit in Season:
-Peaches – 89% water and a good source of vitamin C and moderate levels of potassium (285mg)
-Nectarine – 87% water and a good source of vitamins A and C and fiber
– Tomatoes – 95% water, and a half-cup is about 15 calories, and a good source of vitamins A and C and moderate levels of potassium (194mg)

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The Italian Nightmare – Tomato Shortage!

This is almost as bad as the olive oil scare a few years ago!

According to a Wall Street Journal article published yesterday, Florida’s tomato crop has suffered due to January’s freezing temperatures.

tomatoes growing in my Aunt Pina's yard in Paestum, Italy. The south-western coast.

From the article:

“Reggie Brown, executive vice president of Florida Tomato Growers Exchange, a Maitland, Fla., trade group, said Tuesday that a 25-pound box of tomatoes is trading for $30, compared with $6.45 a year ago.”

According to the U.S. Agriculture Department, about one-third of fresh vegetables such as tomatoes, bell peppers and sweet corn consumed in the U.S. this time of year come from Florida farms. About two-thirds of this type of produce is imported, and most of that is from Mexico. In recent weeks, weekly vegetable shipments from Mexico to the U.S. have soared by as much as 50% over year-ago levels, according to the USDA.


Tomatoes, bell peppers and corn are not traditionally in season until June lasting to mid autumn.  While I feel bad for the major hit to Florida farmers (just pile it ontop of the US economic downturn list) people need to be educated on how their choices effect simple supply and demand across this country.

Hold off on fresh tomatoes during the winter months.  Towards the end of their season you might want to think about jarring, or freezing.

Here are some Freezing tips from the University of California Division of Agriculture

Freezing Tomatoes
Tomatoes may be frozen whole, sliced, chopped, or puréed. Additionally, you can
freeze them raw or cooked, as juice or sauce, or prepared in the recipe of your
choice. Thawed raw tomatoes may be used in any cooked-tomato recipe. Do not try
to substituted them for fresh tomatoes, however, since freezing causes their texture
to become mushy. Tomatoes should be seasoned just before serving rather than
before freezing; freezing may either strengthen or weaken seasonings such as garlic,
onion, and herbs.


Select firm, ripe tomatoes for freezing. Sort the tomatoes, discarding
any that are spoiled. Wash them in clean water as recommended above.
Dry them by blotting with a clean cloth or paper towels.

Freezing whole tomatoes

Prepare tomatoes as described above. Cut away the
stem scar. Place the tomatoes on cookie sheets and freeze. Tomatoes do not need to
be blanched before freezing. Once frozen, transfer the tomatoes from the cookie
sheets into freezer bags or other containers. Seal tightly. To use the frozen tomatoes,
remove them from the freezer a few at a time or all at once. To peel, just run a
frozen tomato under warm water in the kitchen sink. Its skin will slip off easily.
If you prefer to freeze peeled tomatoes, you can wash the tomatoes and then
dip them in boiling water for about 1 minute or until the skins split. Peel and then
freeze as noted above.

Here is a fun little video about how jar tomatoes.  This woman probably devotes a whole day to this.  I love when she yells Basilico!  And please excuse the cheesy transitions and title cards.


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Great Food, Good Hearts

City Harvest has posted their 2010 Edition of Great Food, Good Hearts, a guide to New York’s most generous restaurants.  One of the great things about food culture in New York is that sucessful chef’s and restauronteours are so generous to those in need.

Download the full list here: http://www.cityharvest.org/restaurant-guide/Picture 1

Some of my personal favorites on the list:

Hearth – 403 East 12th St.  Great ambiance and focus on season, and locally sourced ingredients.

Scarpetta– 355 West 14th St.  Based on previous posts one can gather my slight obsession with this place.  A portion of the famous spaghetti dish goes to charity!

The Stanton Social– 99 Stanton St.  Creative menu with a great ambiance.  Awesome for sharing and big groups.

Rickshaw Dumpling Bar– 61 West 23rd St.  A neighborhood favorite, Anita Lo took a great product and adapted it to modern face-paced living.  And the truck is fun to follow on Twitter!

Tabla – 11 Madison Ave.  Solid Indian food (even my plane jane mother loves this place!) with awesome service and ambiance.

Dawat Haute Cusine of India – 201 East 58th St.  Another Indian classic.  Some Indian friends took me here and I was widly impressed!

Hudson Cafeteria – 356 West 58th St. I also feel so NY posh when I go into the Hudson Hotel.  And this restaurant has great food and the open kitchen pit makes for great entertainment.

Honorable Mentions that are on my hit-list:

Aldea – 31 West 17th St.  Has been getting great reviews and Mediterranean flavors sound great!

Annisa– Anita Lo is an awesome chef and contributor to the community.  Would love to patron her place!

Blue Hill– 75 Washington Place.  One day when the gods of reservations work in my favor!

Dirt Candy – 430 East 9th St.  Such an interesting concept on modern vegetarian, and always on the food blogs

The Little Owl – 90 Bedford St.  Joey Campanaro is another great contributor to the community.  Would love to stop in for the famous meatball sliders!

Locanda Verde – 377 Greenwhich St.  Right up there with Blue Hill and the gods of reservations.

Market Table – 54 Carmine St.  I met Mikey Price at the New York Wine and Food Festival Chef’s panel.  I real believer in educating kids about healthy eating.  My kinda guy!

Any of the Momofuku’s

Spice Market – 403 West 13th St.  I can’t believe I haven’t made it there yet!


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Oktoberfest, Fall Harvest, Halloween Mash-Up


Bacon for the German Potato Salad


Cutting squash and more squash for the soup

Fall is my absolute favorite time of year especialy when it comes to flavors.  To celebrate the coming of this magnificent season I decided to have a traditional German Oktober Fest complete with sausage, kraut, pretzels and beer.  It ended up being a mash-up with some butternut squash soup, pumpkin pie and rigatoni.  Searching for as many local ingredients as possible and with the help of  my trusty Fresh Direct delivery man I devised a pretty solid menu with all the trimings and party planning details.  I manged to take some preperaption photos but have included some beauty shots with links to the recipies.  Olive Oil Pumpkin Bread from Serious EatsGerman Sausages with Apples and Sour KrautRiatoni with Roasted Pumpkin from Martha Homemade Pretzles were a big hit and soo easy!And the finale! Pumpkin Pie Jello ShotsIMG_5605IMG_5613

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Food Advocacy

Food Inc

click to learn more and see the trailer!

What some may say has been a long time coming, I think food advocacy is really starting to erupt, especially in New York City and California.  And traditionally it won’t be long before the coastal trends make their wave across the rest of the country.

To get you started, check out the documentary Food, Inc. from Robert Kenner.  The film’s original intent was to give American’s an inside understanding of simply ‘where does your food come from.’  By the end Kenner exposed some controversial and sensitive issues that will make you want to stand up on your chair, get your hippie hat on and start a protest!

Brutal farming conditions, diabetes and obesity, E.coli, farm worker protection, and the corn situation were some of the issues that really struck a chord with me.

The main take-away is that you have an opportunity to vote 3 times a day.  Vote to eat locally, seasonally and where appropriate-organically.  Take an active part in understanding where your meat is coming from and support your local growers.  If there is a demand they will supply and the movement will be a success.

Brands are also partnering with the film.

Stonyfield Organic yogurt was featured in the film as an example how a Wal-Mart representative was interested in stocking their brand because there was an increased consumer demand for an organic product.  Success!!  They’re advertising the film on their yogurt lids.

click for more

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Aligning with the film has presented Chipotle with an opportunity to showcase its eco-friendly “Food with integrity” philosophy. Currently, 35 percent of the beans that Chipotle uses are organically grown, and the company touts that it serves more naturally raised meat than any other restaurant worldwide.

So go vote!!  And see the film!


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