HELLO CHESTNUTS & Homemade Chicken Broth






Every winter it seems my family finds a new soup recipe to enjoy for the season.  And this past week my sister found an amazing one in Chesnut Soup, right out of the Fine Cooking magazine.  OH MY GOD, was this delicious and worth the hours or soaking, scoring, roasting, peeling and crushing the chestnuts!  It was like we were living in the olden days (which is actually the way it should be when it comes to food)!  We all believe that the soup was so delicious because my mom made a homemade chicken broth for the soup base, a recipe straight from the Barefoot Contessa cookbook.  We in the Huwer household are not strangers to homemade broth, but Ina Garten's recipe tops them all.  We took her recipe, "organified" it, and it was the most amazing, richest broth that we all have ever tasted. 


In my family, we always try to use homemade organic chicken broth to avoid the MSG, preservatives and the salt that you get with canned broth.  It is hard to find a brand that actually makes MSG-free broth besides Swanson, but we still love to make our own because the homemade flavor is BA-zillion times better.


Check out the recipe for chicken broth that we made here.  Note, the recipe calls for 3, 5-pound chickens.  We used one 5-pound chicken and left all of the other ingredients as is. 



*Super important for all and everyone out there -- Let the stock chill and sit overnight, so that you can remove the excess fat that accumulates on top.  You do NOT want to eat all of that blubber!!




I suggest you also check out the recipe for Chestnut Soup. YUM!  It is such a hearty and sophisticated soup for a cold winter day.  Actually it will be perfect for the Nor'easter that is heading our way for New Year's!!


Chestnut Soup


And thanks to Chestnuts On Line I discovered that chestnuts have a high water content which makes them unlike any other nut.  They are considered very "unnutty" because they are low in calories and fat.  Chestnuts On Line  dubs them the nut for the "nutrition-conscious person."  They are also low in cholesterol, high in Vitamin C and the mineral Magenese.  Can I say YES?! 




Chestnuts!

Merry Christmas!!




Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!  

Health Store Heaven & Some Favorite Finds



Yummmm...a dinner in the life of a bachelorette girl. I am enjoying a Trader Joe's Vegetable Burrito dinner here.  I don't know what I would do without healthy pre-made meals.  Don't get me wrong, I love to cook, but as I recently mentioned in my Oatmeal post, convenience and budget often come into play.  Anywho, speaking of health food, let me segway into my love of health food stores. Do you mind listening to yet another spiel? (As I wipe some bean curd off of my keyboard.)


I could spend hours wandering the aisles of a health food store.  When I spot a new store, my eyes light up like a child stumbling upon a carnival and I long to be inside walking amongst other health foodies and foodettes.  It is almost like I am on a quest to discover that ultimately healthy food that still tastes amazing.  One day I wish I could say that I have visited every health food store in NYC, much like that crazy man who has made it his life goal to visit every Starbucks in the world (true story).  Alas, I have not even been to Westerly Market, the king of NYC health food stores.  I have only experienced it vicariously through my sister's stories.  I will get there though... one day.   Laura's Wholesome Junk Food (an amazing treat my sister, Jenny, discovered in Westerly's aisles), has not turned up in any of the health stores I have encountered. Sadness!


Let me diverge...



Here are some of my favorite health store finds!



1) GNU Bars - fiber packed deliciousness! 
2) Spirulina Balls 
3) MarryMe Tofutti Vanilla Ice Cream Bars (truth be told you can buy these in Stop & Shop)
4) Babbo's Garlic Hummus -- couldn't find a link, but I buy it in Grand Central Market
5) Liz Lovely Vegan Cookies
6) Laura's Wholesome Junk Food
7) Vegan Turkey Salad -- and I am not vegan
8) Kollar Cookies
9) Smart Treats
10) Good Earth Green Tea
11) Gnosis Raw Chocolate
12) Boston Cookies
13) Jala Bars        


This is a running list by the way... What are your favorite health store finds!?


My lunch today, fyi, was the yummy vegan turkey salad :)




Delish!

Can You Resist the Holiday Binge?


 Today's Holiday Breakfast at the Office
(I resisted, stuck to my Nature's Path Optimum organic cereal)

Happy Friday Blogsters.  I am enjoying my salad-of-a-lunch on this cold and blistery afternoon. You would think I would go for some soup, but after a week-long flirtation with the holiday goodies my body is craving some serious greens.  I write this and wonder how are all of you faring this season? Are you being good or are you being bad?

Some ravaged See's Chocolates up above (yes, I did have some).

December is the danger month and if you can make it through this time of year you can make it anytime of the year! Unfortunately, it is normal to gain some extra poundage around the holidays.   If you can keep it under 5 lbs (or no lbs), it will be a lot easier to shake off come January. 


Some Candied Pecans sitting around in our office
(AMAZING)

So here are five quick (no brainer) tips to help you avoid the holiday binge (because sometimes it's hard for me to end a post without a tip or two)!

1) Make sure you eat a balanced breakfast (as well as other meals) to avoid excess hunger throughout the day.

2) Give into your sweet tooth. One or two goodies will not kill you.  If you do not satisfy intense cravings, they can easily escalate and cause big time repercussions later i.e. when your boss brings in her annual batch of mint chocolate brownies.

3) Hit the gym a little more frequently than you normally would.  I know! You are soo busy this time of year.  I am just saying...this will give you a little leeway.

4) Drink lots of water.

5) Hold your liquor.  Alcohol contains 7 calories per gram.  If you go overboard it is going to be stored as fat.

Share your binge-control secrets here! Also, what's the one holiday goodie that gets you? For me it is my mom's black and white cookies that come filled with raspberry jam!

Someone just dropped this off at my desk!!



A halved avocado!
Who do these people think I am?

Last Week's Oatmeal


I have a habit of finding a food and eating it over and over again, either until I deplete all the needed ingredients or until I tire of the taste.  I know, I know, variety (especially in one's diet) is the spice of life.  But sometimes budget and convenience come into play.  Last week's daily breakfast was a rather tasty rendition on the somewhat often bland oatmeal.  Growing up, I used to be satisfied with warm oatmeal topped with a splash of whole milk, brown sugar and cinnamon. It was delicious, but a little sugary and I definitely didn't need the cow's milk.   So today, my grown-up version (or last week's version) of this oatmeal is a little healthier and a little more interesting...I think.  I am quickly learning, as I make more bloggee friends, that you can do almost anything with oatmeal! And I look forward to experimenting more down the road. 


1) Cook your oats, 5 minutes in the pot (I use Quaker Oats)


2) Transfer to bowl, splash w/ some almond milk


3) Sprinkle desired amount of cinnamon, tiny dash of vanilla (abt a teaspoon or less), and pour on some agave nectar (abt a tablespoon or a bit more) 


**(Agave nectar has a low glycemic index so it won't spike your blood sugar and cinnamon helps to slow the absorption of sugar into the bloodstream).  


4) Sprinkle with dried fruit medley of your choice! I love Trader's Joe's Mixed Berries w/ strawberries, blueberries and cherries.  Also, get a little omega-3 by tossing in some chopped walnuts


Badda-Bing-Badda-Boom! 


What is your favorite way to prepare oatmeal?

Holiday Dinner: Return Trip to Blue Hill at Stone Barns 12/12/09


Dan Barber signed our menu and circled
the ingredients that made up our meal :)

Okay folks, Jimmy and I had our third dinner at Blue Hill at Stone Barns this past Saturday and it was even more amazing than our last visit in September.  If you caught my briefing on Blue Hill last week, I explained that this restaurant aims to serve farm-to-plate local, seasonal and organic food.  However, I did not mention that the chef, Dan Barber, was named the best chef in the country for 2009 by the James Beard Foundation.  We caught a peek of him in the back of the restaurant with his chef outfit on, which made us excited!  Even more exciting, upon finishing our meal, our waiter brought us into the kitchen for a tour! Dan Barber signed our menu and circled the foods that we ate throughout the evening.

The menu at Stone Barns is unlike any menu I have ever encountered. Instead of listing dishes by name, there is a long and varied assortment of fresh ingredients printed on a page. After perusing it the waiter asks if there is anything on the list that you prefer not eat.  He also makes sure to ask if you have any dietary restrictions or food allergies. Jimmy and I do not, and we decided to pass only on the venison and organ meats. Everything else on the menu we fervently agreed to taste.  After the waiter walks away the food that follows is a complete surprise!  I was there with a pen and notebook (as well as camera) to document it all :) 

Jimmy and I did not shy away from choosing the 8 course Farmer's Feast meal.  It lasted a little over three hours and, yes, we were stuffed.  But stuffed in the best possible way!  

What we ate.....


Appetizers
Veggies from the Field
Salsify w/ Pancetta & Buckwheat
Smoked Kale, Adirondack Sage & Beet Chips
Beet Burger
Coppa on Adirondack Blue Potato Frittata
Tuscan Salami & Bologa (from Berkshire pigs on the farm)
Hudson Valley Veal Marrow w/ American Caviar

Main Course
Grilled Wahoo w/ Parsnips & Brussel Sprouts (from the field)
Roasted Carrot (from the field) w/ Spiced Bread Crumbs & Carrot Puree
Braised Hake w/ Crispy Squid & Pig's Ear
This Morning's Farm Egg w/ Dehydrated Vegetables & Lettuce Broth
Squab w/ Rutabaga, Cranberries & Leafy Greens
Berkshire Pork w/ Stuffed Squash (and something) & Spinach (from the field)

Dessert
Peanut Butter Yogurt Parfait
Chocolate & Graham Souffle w/ Prunes (and something else)

After Dinner Bites
Vinegar Chocolate
Pumpkin Seed Brittle
Marshmellow

 Pictures


Fresh Vegetables from the Field



Braised Hake w/ Crispy Squid & Pig's Ear


Peanut Butter Yogurt Parfait

I apologize for such dimly lit photos.  We did not want to be that crazy couple with the camera flashing every 10 seconds.  I would have attached more but it is hard to see them with the lighting. Jimmy will be writing a review of our meal today at his blog Golden Eats. He is much more elaborate and his review is sure to have just a wee bit more detail, plus there will be more pics :)  
I highly recommend that anyone within driving distance of Blue Hill at Stone Barns make a trip out to Pocantico Hills and enjoy the gardens, the animals and the food!! It is a once-in-a-life-time, food-altering experience.

The Skinny on Health & Happiness



Whoever said that you have to be skinny to be healthy was telling a big fat farce.  Everyone is designed differently and we are supposed to come in various shapes and sizes.  What would life be like if we only had skinny-minis walking around? Pretty damn boring if you ask me!  If we could start to focus a little more on our health rather than our weight (which would ultimately lead to a gradual loss of extra lbs) we would be more than a wee bit better off.  


The road to optimal health begins with accepting yourself.  Once there, the next step would involve setting achievable goals as they relate to your physical and emotional well being. Physical and emotional health work hand-in-hand and if one is out of whack it can mess things up, big time, which can lead to over-eating, depression and general unhappiness.  


Here are ten quick tips in no particular order that will get the ball rolling towards a more balanced, happy and healthy you!



1) Surround yourself with good people; friends and family you love and trust.  


2) Drink more water.  It cleanses your body, clears your mind, and helps to ward off cravings. 


3) Get physical.  If hitting the gym is uninspiring, find creative ways to be active i.e. trapeze school, dance lessons, kayaking, wall-climbing etc. 


4) Eat less meat.  May I suggest a flexitarian diet?  By this I mean incorporating more plant-based foods and less animal protein. You will likely find you have more energy and feel less "weighed down."  


5) Love your job! If not, take steps to find a new one. 


6) Go organic with dairy products.  Non-organic milk is loaded with hormones, primarily estrogen, which certainly does not do a body good. 


7) Find "you" time. It is important to relax/decompress at least once a day.  It may be as simple as reading, cooking or playing with your pet.  
                  Pet Therapy (Pardon the outfit!) -->


8) Eliminate chemicals/preservatives and highly processed foods from your diet i.e. high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) and artificial sweeteners.  Studies show HFCS interrupts the hormone signals that tell us to stop eating even when we are full! 


9) Soak up some sun and get your vitamin D. The U.S population is deficient in vitamin D and just 15 minutes in the sun can give you 15,000 IUS!  


10) Allow yourself to be bad.  Indulge in a decadent dessert or treat yourself to an expensive gift.  It is in moments like this that we appreciate our "good" behavior.  

Holiday Dining!


Blue Hill at Stone Barns

Hi Bloggee friends! I hope you're having a great Wednesday. Weird weather up in NYC! I awoke to the smattering of sleet hitting my window and wind wrapping around the building. Now it is quite mild and pleasant for a near mid December evening.   Anywho, I wanted to write a quick post on holiday dining plans. 
Jimmy and I are heading to one of our favorite restaurants this Saturday, Blue Hill at Stone Barns in Pocantico Hills, New York for our holiday dinner. The food here is locally grown, seasonal and organic, not to mention it is absolutely amazing!  Blue Hill Stone Barns is the epitomy of eating well; the food is 100% sustainable, respecting both the land and in turn our bodies.  We loved it so much when we visited last spring that we vowed to go back every season in order to experience the different food and flavors. This visit will be our third and our first winter meal.  I am so excited to share the food and photos with you next week.  I took pictures from our visit in early June and I still look at them in amazement. Here are a few that I hope you enjoy!
What are your plans for holiday dining? Staying in and cooking, going out? Hitting up a favorite restaurant?



Vegetable Fields



The largest turkey I have ever seen!



Sheep Field


A rogue lamb



A tiny, but beautiful salad



Fresh Farm Egg




Turkey
There are flowers on the plate!



Pretty

Okay! This was just a whistle wetter of more pictures to come after our meal on Saturday :)  

Healthy Homemade Hummus!






Hummus is just about my favorite snack food of all time.  I have my favorite brands and my favorite flaves, but for the longest time I have been wanting to make my own at home that actually satisfies me the way some store bought brands do (minus the preservatives).  This weekend I did just that, only I ended up exceeding my expectations.  This hummus is the bomb and I plan on making it again this week since it is already gone!


Ingredients:


-1 can garbanzo beans (15oz) -- Organic if possible
-1/4 C tahini
-Juice of 1 lemon
-1 clove of garlic 
-3-4 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
-1/2 C water
-Fresh parsley (finely chopped) about 1-2 Tablespoons
-Cumin -- shake to a flavor of your liking - I estimate I shook 10-12 times (added it as I went along to taste)
-Ground Red Pepper, 2-3 shakes
-Crushed Red Chili Peppers,  4-5 shakes
-Paprika, 1-2 shakes on finished hummus for added flavor and a pretty finish
-Salt & Pepper to taste





The Goods





Wash and drain the beans




** Note, because I have a mini food processor I had to mix everything in a separate bowl before adding the ingredients to be processed. If you have a normal size processor you can just throw everything into it without blending, mixing or chopping.  Lucky you!  


So here is what I did....
I put the beans in a large bowl, added the tahini, the clove of garlic (I had to chop it), the lemon juice, 2 Tablespoons olive oil, cumin, crushed chili peppers, salt and pepper. 





Mixed it all up. First batch is in the processor! 
-Looks kinda gross in this phase-





In between mixing, I added 1/4 C water, chili peppers 
and a dash more olive oil. I followed the same suit w/
the the 2nd batch in my little mini processor.





Mixed!





This is the amount of parsley I used. 





Shredded it!





Added it to hummus and mixed it up.





Finished product- sprinkled paprika, 
a drizzle of olive oil & parsley garnish
DONE! 



**After I chopped the garlic, I used the discarded lemon shell to "clean" the cutting board.  The acid in the lemon removes that awful garlic odor from the board.  Lemon also helps get rid of food stains left behind. 










There you have it!  This homemade hummus is loaded with healthy fats, fiber, protein, folate (folic acid) and minerals like calcium and magnesium.  Hummus is a delicious and healthy way to snack between meals.  For a controlled portion, scoop 2 spoonfuls into a bowl and enjoy with whatever food your heart desires! 

Lulu's Bounce Control Bra: It's Real and It's Spectacular






I love Lululemon.  I could spend my entire monthly paycheck just on their moisture wicking workout pants, colorful headbands, and figure flattering fitness tops.  However, this is not a tale about Lulu's pants, tops or headbands or how much money I spend in the store.  This little spiel it is about Lulu's miraculous sports bras.  In my opinion, these sports bras are the best in the business and they are what keep me going back for more.  


The quality of the Lululemon bras is unmatched when you consider all they have to offer women today, whether she is an athlete or a lounger, whether she is young or old.   The design, variety, breathability and support are spectacular!  Oooooh the support!  Never before in a bra have I experienced such a happy medium between comfort and restrain. 


Lululemon sports bras are designed for your desired activity level.  If you are a yogi, there is a bra for you. If you are a runner and a bouncer... well, there is a bra for you as too.  I fall into the latter category.  I run and I bounce - and by bounce I mean any kind of physical activity that requires some up and down movement i.e. aerobics, jump rope or say, the elliptical machine, which can be very bouncy!  


If you are a runner/bouncer (or a woman looking for a flattering bustline at the gym) I highly suggest the padded sports bras. Now, I don't know if these have a particular name, but I do know that they are the bras that come with the molded, nude-toned, moisture absorbing, removable pads. 





These pads are amazing. I love them and I believe that this is what makes the sports bras so comfortable, not to mention flattering.  My only caution would be to resituate the pads after they have been through the washing machine.   Washing the bra causes the pads to shift and bend, which if not corrected, the bra when worn can give the illusion of a lumpy chestal region.  It is not pretty and it can be quite embarrassing, especially if multiple men staring at your chest is something that makes you uncomfortable.   Trust me...I have been there, done that.  


I feel now that I am done venting about Lululemon's wonderful sports bras. If you have not experienced the joy that comes with owning a Lulu bra then I highly suggest you indulge in one.  They are not cheap that's for sure, but the days that I pull one out of my drawer always (for some reason) brings a little smile to my face!  

Obscene Cravings: Pregnancy and Food Fears



My beautiful friend Julie at 37 1/2 weeks!

I am not pregnant, nor do I plan on becoming pregnant in the near future.  I mean, I would like to have a baby, but that is neither here nor there as I am missing a few of the key components at this point in my life.   As much as I hate to admit it, the idea of becoming pregnant is just a wee bit scary to me.  There is the weight gain, the acne, the aches, the mood swings, the nose-shape change (yes, I have actually heard of this) and the CRAVINGS.   While these side effects are part of the pregnancy ride, I feel like some of them can be controlled. I most certainly hope that this is the case because one day I hope I can look just as good as my friend Jules! And JoJo! And Liz!




JoJo




Liz

Let us focus on cravings for this post, shall we?  Cravings are one of the most feared pregnancy symptoms, but I also believe they are the easiest to control.  Call me crazy and I have not been there to know for sure, but I believe that by properly nourishing your body (and your baby) you can quell massive munchies.  I have heard of some obscene cravings as I am sure many of you have, which only heightens the fear surrounding food and pregnancy.  One of my goals upon graduating from the Institute of Integrative Nutrition is to work with pregnant women to help alleviate such food fears along with cravings and excess weight gain.   I believe that through counsel and suggested diet and exercise, the 9 month run can be healthier for the mommy and the baby, as well as less stressful on the mind and body.


As I enter the last two months before my classes at IIN start, I find myself wondering more and more about the cravings and the changes that happen to women's bodies both inside and out. I would like to reach out to all the ladies out there that would like to share their experiences in a comment on my blog.  My hope is that your comments can help me as well as others begin to understand more on the subject of pregnancy cravings :) 

Here are some questions in no particular order:

  • What are some of the most common cravings?
  • Weirdest cravings?
  • What time of day do these cravings take place?  
  • What are your pre-pregnancy fears? 
  • Post-pregnancy fears?
  • What was the biggest struggle surrounding your pregnancy?
  • Do you think you would have appreciated having a health counselor during your pregnancy? 
  • What do you wish you had known going into your pregnancy?

** Julie has since given birth to a beautiful baby boy named Carter.  JoJo an adorable angel named Juliet, and Liz a handsome little guy named Harrison!

A Healthier Salt




If you are a salt user I beg you to switch to a Sea Salt or Himalayan Crystal Salt . Why you may ask?  Well, we all know that too much salt is not a good thing.  True, our bodies need salt to maintain a functional sodium potassium pump, but really our bodies need less than half a teaspoon of salt a day!  Most people consume WAY more than that just by eating pre-packaged foods or sprinkling lunch and dinner with a little flavor flavor.  
Himalayan crystal salt and sea salt are healthier versions of table or kosher salt because they contain natural minerals from the sea.  They also are lacking the chemicals and additives like potassium iodide found in typical table salt.  These natural sea salts also have a better flavor and are "prized by good chefs" (Jared Koch, Clean Plates).  
So if you use salt, it is wise to use it in moderation and equally as wise to use a natural salt that holds nutritional benefits.  You can find sea salt/himalayan crystal salt at your local health food store or specialty grocery store.  I actually found my French sea salt at Home Goods!! I love the container it came in too...Oh, and I believe it was $3.99 :)  











The bad stuff. 

About Me

Christine
New York City
Welcome! My name is Christine and I have landed here to share my love of healthy living and eating. I live in NYC where I am currently enrolled in the School of Integrative Nutrition. I am already certified as a holistic health coach and I have started seeing clients to help them reach their wellness goals. I started hot mama health to share the idea that it is fun to be healthy! Health is an adventure with endless foods to taste, exercises to explore, and challenges to meet! If you do not already feel this way, I hope that I can bring you into the light or at least stir a little inspiration here and there.
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