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Office ready snacks for more energy

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I have lived most of my life in New England. I love all four seasons but I have to admit, winter is tough sometimes. The days are shorter and much colder. I crave hearty meals and warm coffee drinks. I am restless, while at the same time I have less energy.

This winter, armed with some advice from my friends and my favorite healthy living bloggers, I am going to focus on one trouble spot in my day – the mid-afternoon work snack. Right around 3pm I hit my afternoon slump and I seem to crave a gingerbread latte and some sort of huge pastry with lots or frosting or crumble on top. I did a little research and talked to my friends to get some ideas for how to combat that 3pm urge.

So here are some healthy snacks that are known for being tasty and for giving you a much needed energy boost…

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I’m Bringing Puddings Back

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A few years ago my generous uncle gifted me a wooden crate packed with vintage molds collected during his travels. Underneath the copper fish mousse molds and gelatin rings were three pristine lidded pudding molds and I just about cried with joy. You see, I have a weakness for vintage recipes, and these three molds represented a new opportunity to try my hand at an old-school dessert technique mostly – and unfortunately – forgotten here in the U.S. I’ve since experimented with several recipes and I’m here to tell you that adding steamed puddings to your repertoire will add a whole new dimension to your desserts; plus, you’ll impress your friends with your “vintage-chic” sensibilities.

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Just Mom

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My three daughters are now young adults living away from home so the food-related role of being a mom has undergone many subtle changes over the years. When they were small it was “all mom, all the time” when it came to feeding them. Today, of course, they still rely on me for guidance but for the most part they are on their own to forage for food, prepare it and eat on a day to day basis.

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Wild Mushroom Stuffing

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Stuffing’s something most people can’t picture a holiday meal without, but it’s often an afterthought, pulled out of a box and if time permits, sometimes doctored. As such, many people associate the flavor of boxed stuffing as the preferred flavor for stuffing in general: it’s tradition. So the last thing I wanted to do was mess with that; so, dried fruit and chunks of random stuff was not an option. I wanted this stuffing to have the flavor everyone expects.

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Comfort Food and Nutrition

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“Comfort Food.” “Food of Love.” “Fat Bomb.” Isn’t it always the case? Whenever we think about those dishes that have meaning to us—whether it’s Mom’s specialty, that first date dish, or that snowy day favorite—we rarely default to a light salad or a whole grain pilaf. But there are verifiable reasons why certain foods spark nostalgia or warm feelings inside. There exists a science behind food choices, and that science influences our preferences and our perceived emotional attachment to certain foods.

On a very basic level, memories associated with food can be a catalyst for a particular preference. The smell of Grandma’s beef stew doesn’t usually remind us of how nutritious Grandma’s cooking was; rather, it reminds us of Grandma and her warm hugs and kind smile. That fried chicken Auntie used to make, with its crispy skin and deep brown crust, was the highlight of the family picnic…well, the chicken and the good times with cousins and friends. So many of our seminal memories—from holidays to weddings to the birth of our children–are served up with a side of comfort food.

That said, it’s interesting to note that despite the myriad influences that affect our personal tastes, the scientific community theorizes that babies are born with only two innate taste biases: a preference for sweetness (evolutionarily attributed to “safe” foods) and a rejection of bitter taste (regarded as an indication of poisonous compounds). But science has also proven that innate preferences can be overridden by experience and cultural mores; that’s why we see, for example, Asian palates developing an appreciation for the bitter flavors (despite its evolutionary consequences) present in their cuisine. Also, a desire for certain food traits, whether it be starchy carbs for quick energy, fat consumption to boost stored energy, or sodium to maintain balanced electrolytes, is important in determining our preferences. Simply put, if your lifestyle requires it, the body seems to be capable of letting you know. These nutritional cues, consistently heeded over time, can also affect our general food predilections…

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