Welcome 2012 + Return Home + Little Bites Updates

Happy 2012! 

Right now I am en-route from Israel back to NYC. And what a loyal blogger am I, sitting at the gate posting. I am  5+ lbs heavier after eating my weight in hummus, rugelach (I told you I eat cookies), and the freshest produce. Here are some visuals of my trip:

Yum. Fresh cheese at the shuk (main market in Jerusalem). Thanks to my Sis-in-law, we were granted much too many samples, including pesto-and chocolate flavored cheese. I’m not one for jazzed-up cheese – the simple sharp cheddar was my favorite.


Firm lookin’ green beans make a nutritionist happy.

Now, for the most delicious part of the trip – my nieces and nephews, who play the crucial role of my lil’ nutrition students:                                                                        

Eating falafel

No food/nutrition relevance, he’s just too cute not to include

A highlight from my trip was a baking session. Using a car cake pan from Williams Sonoma we made and decorated car cakes. You can use any simple white cake recipe; try to substitute at least half the flour with whole wheat flour, especially in this case when the cakes are more about the fun than taste. The kids had a lot of fun decorating their cars (though I didn’t have cleaning up. Warning: decorating gets messy). Due to lack of advanced planning and supply readiness, we had to settle for some sub-optimal decorating tools. But, next time I want to use some fresh fruit to jazz up the colors of the car.

                                                               

Now Onto Updates: 

1. To visit, you can now just go to Littlebitesnutrition.com. No more .wordpress.com.

2. Stay tuned for some website updates – both in layout and content. I appreciate all feedback, so don’t be shy.

3. If you like drinking, but want to learn how to do so more nutritiously, come to my SkillShare class: A Nutritionist Guide to Boozing (And Some Classier Cocktails).  January 18th@ 7:30 pm. Mixology included.

Lighten Up Hannukah

Lighten up the festival of lights. Clever pun, eh?

I love latkes, also known as potato pancakes. Well, I should re-phrase. I love my grandmother’s latkes. In fact, I grew up scarfing hers down that I don’t really like anyone else’s (apologies to the public). And because my grandma is awesome, she used to make them specially for me all year round so I never had to wait until December to eat these bad boys.

We all know those latkes and jelly donuts are going down, and maybe even some of the chocolate gelt (coins). But, there are ways to enjoy goods without feeling guilty. Follow the same guidelines outlined in the  Turkey Day Survivor’s Guide. Some include – work out that AM, go for a lot of greens and salads instead of heavier, cheese-filled pasta dishes, try lighter dressings, drink water before diving in for seconds, offer fruit along side the jelly donuts and give up soda, juice, iced tea and other sweetened drinks and save the calories for the good stuff.

Latkes

First, watch what goes on your latkes. They are so good by themselves, I am not one to add on the toppings. But if you must, go for low-fat sour cream or unsweetened apple sauce. The small sacrifices add up, I promise!

A traditional latke recipe, which yields about 1 dozen latkes, calls for: 2 cups potatoes, 1 tablespoon grated onion, 3 eggs, 2 tbsp flour, 1 1/2 tsp salt, and 1/2 cup canola oil. Help yourself to 1 or 2 (or maybe 3 or 4) of the traditional guys and then snack on some healthier alternatives as your 4th and 5ths, etc. I found this really good recipe on Wholefoods.com that replaces some of the potato with carrots and green onions. Plus, it has a lot less oil and eggs than traditional latkes. I made these a while back for a non-hannukah event – my man-friend’s B-day. They were really good.

Mine didn’t look as good as the ones pictured, and a few of them fell apart until I got the hang of it, but nonetheless they are worth re-making.

Mini Potato-Carrot Pancakes

Adapted from WholeFoods.Com

Makes 2 dozen

Ingredients

2 green onions, thinly sliced
1/2 small yellow onion, grated
2 large carrots (about 1/2 pound), peeled and grated
1 large russet potato (about 3/4 pound), peeled, grated and squeezed to remove excess water
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided

1/2 cup light sour cream
1 small chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, minced ** the recipe calls for a spiced sour cream dip, but I served them plain and they were great.

Directions:

In a large bowl, fold together onions, carrots, potatoes, egg, flour, salt and pepper until well combined. Heat 3 tablespoons oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Working in batches, form each pancake by dropping about 2 tablespoons of the potato mixture into the skillet. Space pancakes about an inch apart, flatten and cook, flipping once, until deep golden brown and cooked through, 8 to 10 minutes total. (Add remaining 3 tablespoons oil to skillet halfway through.) Transfer to a paper-towel lined baking sheet to drain briefly. Serve with a teaspoon of flavored sour cream on each.

Nutrition: per serving (1 each): 60 calories, 4 gm fat, 1 gm saturated fat, 10 mg cholesterol, 125 mg sodium, 4 gm carbohydrate, 1 gm protein

Jelly Donuts (AKA Sufganyot)

Good news, baked donuts taste really good. But whether you go for fried or baked, be mindful of the size. Make donuts holes injected with jelly or mini donuts instead of humongously large donuts. Check out this mini donut pan from Norporo. It sells on Amazon.com for $9.00.

Jelly donuts and latkes are easy and perfect to make with kids. If you don’t want to buy a pan just for the occasion, improvise with what you have. I found this creative recipe on Bakinwithmykid.com. It is a donut recipe that calls for using a cupcake/muffin tin instead of a donut pan. The donuts come out looking like a mix of a muffin and a donut hole.

Baked Jelly Donuts for Hanukkah

Adapted from Bakinwithmykid.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

Prep Time: 10 mins  Cooking Time: 8 to 10 mins

Ingredients:
1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
pinch of salt
1 egg (lightly beaten)
1 6 oz container of non fat organic vanilla bean yogurt
1 tablespoon canola oil
2 teaspoons lemon juice
2 1/2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon+ 1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons butter (melted)
1 jar of your favorite jelly

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Toss the cinnamon and 1/2 cup sugar together and set aside. In a large bowl whisk together all the dry ingredients. In another bowl stir together oil, lemon juice, sugar, egg and yogurt. Make a hole in the center of the dry ingredients and pour the wet ingredients into the hole. Gently fold everything together until combined. Place batter in a plastic baggie, seal and cut off the corner then pipe dollops of batter into a greased muffin tin OR donut pan. Each muffin cup should only be 1/3 to 1/2 full. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool for a few moments and then flip over onto a cooling rack while still warm. Dip the tops of the donuts into butter and then sprinkle the tops with cinnamon sugar. Let cool slightly. Fit a pastry bag with the 1/2 round tip and fill the bag with jelly. Insert the tip into the end of each donut and pipe a squirt into each donut. Makes 12.

Happy Hannukah!

And to those who celebrate Christmas…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Merry Christmas!

I hope you make these with your kids because these are  fun, healthy and freakin’ cute!

Healthful Giving: Holiday Gift Guide

It’s holiday gift giving time. This year, give your kids, parents, siblings, spouse, nieces/nephews, boss, co-workers, friends, teachers a healthy gift. A healthy gift is a gift that keeps on giving. So corny, yet so true.

1. Active Gear. For kids think a new ball, bat, cleats, jump rope, bike, scooter, snowboard or even Wii dance and other active games. For adults try sneakers, sporting goods, work out attire, yoga mat, pedometer, hiking gear, ear warmers for running. Don’t want to get that personal? A gift card to a sporting good store will do.

2. Get Moving. Purchase some classes at the new yoga or dance studio that opened in your ‘hood or try a gym membership. Better yet, buy a package of classes that you can split between you and your gift-ee to go together. And to those who like winter sports, a ski lift ticket is a sure win. For an adventurous friend try a trapeze or aerial yoga class.

3. Learn. Search online for local culinary schools/centers to purchase public classes (maybe one to attend together). Whole Foods on Bowery in NYC has some parent/adult-child cooking classes. The Natural Gourmet Institute in NYC has a ton of healthy cooking classes.

4. Stay Hydrated. There are tons of cool (PBA-free) water bottles to help kids and adults stay hydrated during sports, school and work. Helping the environment isn’t a bad thing either. My two favorites are :

Vapur “Anti-Bottles” 

They’re re-usable, foldable, washable (dishwasher safe) and only about $10.

Bobble Water Bottle

They have a built in filter to purify tap water. And, they come in fun colors.

5. Cookbook.  Can’t go wrong with a healthy cookbook from Ellie Krieger or a subscription to EatingWell magazine. There are also a couple of cookbooks for kids.

6. Sprout. Indoor gardening kits for kids are great, especially for those who don’t have yards. I started a small make-shift “garden” in my NYC apartment, which I will update you on at a later date. But, I sprouted a black bean! It brought me back to elementary school when I had to do sprout a bean at home.

7.Tea Of The Month Club. No further explanation needed.

8.Artisan Ingredients. Try a really nice olive oil and vinegar set or a spice rack with fresh spices.

9. Kitchen Gear. For a little gift, look for a small kitchen gadgets. For a bigger gift, think a set of pans, coffee maker, mixer, or blender to make fresh smoothies. A lot of the flash-sale websites, like GiltGroup.com and OneKingsLane.com, have good deals on great quality kitchenware. For kids, think fun cooking gadgets or a monogramed apron to make your lil’ guy feel like a chef.  WilliamSonoma.com has a lot of really cute kid’s kitchen gear, though it’s a bit pricey. Check out personalized kid’s Star Wars aprons and Star Wars spatula.

 10. Assortments. Instead of chocolate, candy and chocolate covered popcorn, send an assortment of fancy nuts or dried fruit. 

And yes, this post was a scheme to publish my wishlist :-)

Banging Thanksgiving (And Everyday) Sides

Nothing makes me happier than a colorful table filled with tons of colorful plant based dishes. I am totally okay with stuffing, bread, butter, oil, meat, dessert as long as there is a fair amount of healthy, light, veggie-based sides to balance out the meal.  Tis’ the season to be sharing, so let me share some of my favorite sides (and 1 soup that I love too much not to include) that I would make at any meal and definitely on Thanksgiving. Most of these recipes are easy, but between the peeling, chopping and roasting they are time consuming, which is why advance planning is key because they shouldn’t, or couldn’t possibly be made at once.

Commission kids to help with all of these recipes and involve them in the feast preparing. Let them be the peeler (age permitting), refrigerator/ingredient go-getter, time keeper, herb pull-aparter, spice adder, veggie washer, dressing mixer.

1. White Bean Butternut Squash & Rosemary Soup

Adapted from Barefood Contessa/Ina Garten cookbook. I substituted chicken broth for vegetable broth + water; added butternut squash

Barefoodcontessa.com; will turn out more orange when adding butternut squash

Serves 6

  • 2 cans white cannelli beans (sorry I made canned goods an exception here)
  • 4 cups yellow onions
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon dried rosemary
  • 1 quart veggie broth + 1 quart water
  • 1 butternut squash (or 1 package pre-cut), peeled and diced into very small pieces
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
Directions:
  1. In large stock pan, sauté onions in olive oil until translucent, 10-15 minutes
  2. Add garlic and cook over low heat for 3 more minutes
  3. Add drained and rinsed white beans, rosemary, stock/water, butternut squash – cover, bring to a boil, then simmer, stirring frequently for 30-40 minutes or until squash is soft
  4. Use immersion blender (or place in food processor) and blend until coarsely pureed

2. Spicy Lentil & Sweet Potato Salad

Little Bites Original (after some experimenting of course)

                                              Actual pics taken from my dining room table

Serves 6-8

  • 5 medium sized sweet potatoes, diced into small 1″ cubes. Leave skin on to keep the fiber and vitamins
  • 1/2 yellow onion, diced
  • 1 lb cooked lentils or about 2 1/2 cups  (I used 1 package of Trader Joe’s ready to eat lentils and heated in boiling water as instructed on package)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (up to a tablespoon if you like a kick)
  • Few sprigs of fresh thyme
  • Olive oil
  • 1-2 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
  • Salt & pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees
  2. Place diced potatoes on baking sheet or in thin pan, coat with 1-2 tablespoons olive oil, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon pepper, 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper, thyme (as much removed from springs as possible). Cook in oven for 25-30 minutes, gently stirring once or twice, until potatoes are soft (but still maintain structure). Allow them to completely cool
  3. While potatoes are in oven, heat 1 teaspoon of olive oil in frying pan. Add onions and cook on low-medium heat until translucent but not mushy, about 2-3 minutes.
  4.  Add cooked onions, lentils, 1/2 teaspoon salt into large bowl
  5. When potatoes are completely cooled add into lentil/onion mixture. Drizzle 1 teaspoon of balsamic vinegar, 1/2 teaspoon more of cayenne and additional salt and pepper to taste. Mix gently. Add additional 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar if needed

3. Roasted Maple Horseradish Beets

Adapted from Wholefoods.com & the lovely AviG

Serves 4-6

  • 1 + 3/4 lb medium beets (3 + 3/4 lb with greens), stems trimmed to 1 inch
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons bottled white horseradish (not drained)
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees
  2. Wrap beets in foil and roast until tender, about 1 hour
  3. When cool enough to handle, peel beets and cut into eighths (will dye fingers), then transfer to bowel
  4. In skillet, add oil, horseradish, syrup, vinegar, salt & pepper over moderate heat
  5. Stir in beets and boil, stirring occasionally until liquid in skillet is reduced to about 1/4 and beets are coated, about 4-5 minutes. Tastes delicious served room temperature

4. Roasted Carrots

Adapted from Barefoot Contessa/Ina Garten cookbook. So simple, yet so good. Reminds me of carrots from chicken soup.                                                                                                                                             

Foodnetwork.com

Serves 6

  • 12 carrots peeled
  • 2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon fresh ground pepper
  • 2 tablespoons minced dill (I’ve also made them with dried rosemary and fresh thyme, all are good)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees
  2. Slice carrots diagonally 1 ½ thick slices, if carrots are thick cut them first in half lengthwise
  3. Toss in bowl with olive oil, salt, pepper
  4. Place on baking pan in 1 layer, roast for 25 minutes
  5. Halfway through cooking (~15 minutes), pull out oven rock, add in dill and quickly mix with carrots

5. Stuffed Mushrooms

Little Bites original (sorry I don’t have a pic, I haven’t made them since starting the blog)

Serves 10-12

  • 10-12 baby portobello or white, stems removed, leaving caps. Clean well, but gently, using paper towel (water will create a water/runny product)
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced into small pieces
  • ¼ large red onion, diced
  • Olive oil
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Salt & pepper

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Line baking sheet with 1 teaspoon olive oil or cooking spray. Place mushrooms on pan, cap facing up. Pour a dash of balsamic on each cape. Bake for 25 minutes.
  3. While mushrooms are baking, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in skillet, add onions, peppers, teaspoon of salt and peppers, cook until soft, about 3 minutes on medium heat. Add spinach cook until wilted, 1-2 minutes
  4. Take mushrooms out of the oven and stuff the filling inside each cap. Place back in oven for 3 minutes

6. Kale & Brussel Sprout Salad

Adapted from Epicurious.com/Bon Appetit

Serves 8-10

  • ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon minced shallot
  • 1 small garlic clove, finely grated
  • ¼ teaspoon salt + pepper
  • 2 large bunches of kale (~1.5 lb total), discard center stem and thinly slice leaves
  • 12 ounces brussel sprouts, trimmed, finely grated or shredded with knife
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Directions:

  1. Combine lemon juice, Dijon mustard, shallot, garlic, ¼ teaspoon salt and pinch of pepper in bowl. Stir to blend. Set aside to let flavors set.
  2. Mix thinly sliced kale and shredded brussel sprouts in large bowl
  3. Slowly whisk olive oil into lemon juice mixture. Season dressing to taste with salt and pepper.
  4. Add dressing to kale/brussel sprout mixture. Add additional salt + pepper to taste.

7. Mustard Roasted Potatoes

Adapted from Smittenkitchen.com

Smittenkitchen.com

Serves 10

  • Nonstick vegetable oil spray
  • ½ cup whole grain Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon peel
  • 1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
  • 3 pounds mixed 1 to 1 ½ inch UN-peeled red-skinned and white skinned potatoes, cut into ¾ inch wide wedges

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees
  2. Spray 2 large rimmed baking sheets with nonstick spray
  3. Whisk mustard, olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, oregano, lemon peel and salt in large bowl to blend. Add potatoes. Sprinkle generously with freshly ground pepper and toss to coat
  4. Divide potatoes between baking sheets, leaving excess mustard mixture behind. Spread potatoes in single layer. Roast for 45 minutes, mixing occasionally, until crusty on outside and tender on inside

Uh- oh, all this blogging is making me hungry.

Pop by tomorrow to see the Nutritionist’s survival tips for getting through Thanksgiving.

It’s Raining Spaghetti Squash

One of the best things about fall is the return of the spaghetti squash, part of the winter squash family. It varies in color on the yellow-orange spectrum. The darker the orange the more beta-carotene, a plant pigment with antioxidant properties that can be converted into Vitamin A, which helps promotes  skin and eyes health. True fact- if you eat too much beta carotene it can start tinting your skin orange. But don’t worry, you’d have to eat A LOT. Spaghetti squash is very low in calories. Compared to pasta spaghetti, it’s a nutrition rockstar. 1 cup of cooked spaghetti squash weighs in at about 45 calories, 10 gm carbs, 2 gm fiber compared to about 220 calories, 3 gm fiber, 43 gm carbs in 1 cup of cooked refined (white) spaghetti.

Not only is it good tasting and healthy, but it’s really fun to make.  Is it normal that I was excited to come home from work last night to make it? I still can’t get over how one squash turns into a pile of spaghetti. It’s magic. And being that I am in my mid-twenties and still find it fun, imagine what kids would think? For all those who have kids or little cousins or siblings, try to make it with them this weekend or next week (perfect T-giving side).

Steps to Spaghetti Squash

Look at that beauty

1. Heat oven to 375.

2. Cut squash in half, lengthwise – warning, man power and a good knife required.

3. Use a fork to remove the seeds (wait, before you throw them out re-use them in his  recipe).

4. Place the 2 halves on lighty greased baking sheet open side down.

5. Cook for about 30 minutes.  Depending on the size  of squash it could be as short as 25 or as long as 35 minutes. You are looking for a soft texture that can easily pierced though with a fork.

6. Cool for 10 minutes.

 

7. Keep the squash on baking sheet or cutting board. Using a fork, scrape lengthwise  along the squash pulling off the spaghetti-like strands.

 

 

 

 

Viola! Look how much 1 squash makes. Crazy right? That’s a whole-lotta squash.

 

 

 

Now do whatever you crave. You can eat it as is or throw it back on the stove and mix it with well, anything. Whatever would be good on spaghetti would be good on this. Try sauce, cheese (preferably low fat), sauteed veggies, roasted garlic, chicken, fish, turkey meatballs, beans, fresh herbs and spices. Add cumin and coriander for an Indian flare. Add part-skim mozzarella and tomato or pesto for an Italian style. Try feta olives and roasted peppers for Greek flavor.

The finished product

Last night I wanted simple, so I threw 1 1/2 diced tomatoes, 1/2 chopped onion and 1 garlic clove on a medium flame for 5 minutes, then added the spaghetti squash and mixed for 1 minute. Delicious.

Kids In The Kitchen: Fun Cookin’ Gear

If the food itself isn’t doing the trick, entice kids into the kitchen using these whacky gadgets. They are made for kids, but is it wrong if I want them for myself (hint hint, my birthday’s coming up soon, well kinda…)?

They are a perfect gift for the holidays or for the next kid’s birthday party you go to. There is a high likelihood that the child you are purchasing for will have the lego, video game, or that new arts and crafts, but will they have a pair of woodpecker poultry shears? I think not.

Check out some of the goods by the Animal House line at Boston Warehouse. They were featured on a flash sale site Fab.com, but you can also buy them at Boston Warehouse website. Thank my friend D for sending this our way.

If you don’t have kids, I bet you have a lil niece, nephew, cousin, sista, brother, god child, kid of a friend that should have a birthday coming up one of these days.

Too good not to blog about. I wish you a weekend full of fruits + veggies.