Thursday, March 25, 2010

Pesto Pizza- My, Oh, My!

On Sunday, Tim and I spent our day like this:

The good news is we both aced our tests and got a lot of work done however we were starving by the end so we decided to make a delicious pesto pizza with mushrooms and prosciutto (on his half) . We also had the Trader Joe's Power House Salad (a complete salad with spinach, walnuts, dried edamame, dried blueberries, dried cherries.)
I haven't really plugged any brands to much on this blog yet but I have to say that the Trader Joe's garlic pizza dough was fantastic!
We made our own pesto kind of on a whim but I looked up the ingredients after which are:

Pesto Sauce:

Originally made by Cara: Sunday, March 21, 2010
Recipe from: our heads! (the one below is from Simply

  • 2 cups fresh basil leaves, packed
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan-Reggiano or Romano cheese
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil (oh we used a lot more than that!)
  • 1/3 cup pine nuts or walnuts
  • 3 medium sized garlic cloves, minced (Tim and I used 6!!!)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

  • Combine the basil in with the walnuts, pulse a few times in a food processor. (If you are using walnuts instead of pine nuts and they are not already chopped, pulse them a few times first, before adding the basil.) Add the garlic, pulse a few times more.
  • Slowly add the olive oil in a constant stream while the food processor is on. Stop to scrape down the sides of the food processor with a rubber spatula. Add the grated cheese and pulse again until blended. Add a pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.
  • Makes 1 cup.
So first we had to roll out the dough- this is actually the hardest part of the whole thing!

(Left: Tim kneading the dough)
(Right: Me spreading/kneading the dough)

Then we spread out our freshly made Pesto:

It's so green!!

Then we plopped on our fixings and also put some delicious slices of Mozzarella cheese on it- Trader Joe's has these perfectly sliced mozzarella pieces pre-packaged:

After about 18-20 minutes at 425 degrees take it out and it will look like this:

This was delicious and very fun! It lasted a long time as well- I just had my last 2 pieces today for lunch. Delicious!

I have my 3rd class this weekend and am very excited. I've been asked by IIN to be interviewed as a testimonial! I found out that my health counselor recommended me and I'm just so honored to do so, I was told to dress to impress. I will and I will speak the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth...

Be well | Cook often | Sleep A Lot | Breath Deep

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Health Histories, Institute for Integrative Nutrition and Recipes from You!

Happy Tuesday! While I am winding down my last few days at my non-profit arts management job I look forward to really diving into my next adventure!

I am going to be working with clients as of next week so if anyone would like to have a free health history with me please let me know! You can either post your interest here or email me at

What is a health history you may ask. Well a health history takes no more than an hour and is a conversation between you and me about your lifestyle- things that it will include are what you eat, how you sleep and your work schedule as well as other things. After the consultation we can talk about setting up a personal program for you if you are interested in continuing to work with me.

I wanted to also thank all of you for your amazing support as I embark on this new career. From those of you who know me I have continued to hear how this makes perfect sense and you are so excited for me! Well I know quite a few of you out there who this training would make perfect sense for as well. If you have any interest in finding out the specifics of the program that I am currently attending or would like to enroll they are now taking registrations for the 2010/2011 class. Also a bonus is that you don't even have to be in New York as you can be a part of the Distance Learning program. Again if you are interested talk to me! Below is the Nutrition Guide created by the Institute. As you can see a lot plays into your general wellness and nutrition not just the food you are eating.

Since starting this blog I have received a lot of recipe suggestions so I would like to propose a new activity: If you post it, I'll try it! I am really trying to build up my culinary skills and cabinet supplies so give me a challenge- you'll get the credit for the recipe. Also more importantly make sure to post it on here so other people can try it as well!

Be well | Sleep often | Breathe deep | Drink water

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Burning the Rice, Kale Chips & Plantains

One thing that I learned during my second weekend at IIN (Institute for Integrative Nutrition) was how to make a healthy breakfast. This is crazy to me. I have been eating "healthy" breakfasts my whole life but really I came to realize that my breakfasts have been overly sugary cereals/cereal bars which were "whole grain"(in reality any nutrients that was originally part of that whole grain gets completely disintegrated when the grains are cooked at a temperature over 500 degrees), potato products and lots of bagels. What I ended up making almost every day last week was this:

This recipe was found in handouts provided by IIN graduate, health coach and Top Chef Season 1 contestant Andrea Beaman. For more awesome recipes like this visit her website She is a great speaker, and has a really fantastic story.

Breakfast Porridge
Recipe from: Andrea Beaman
Originally prepared by Cara: Monday, March 8, 2010

1 cup leftover brown rice
2 tbsp. rolled oats
1 cup water
2 tbsp. dried cranberries
1 shake of cinnamon
raw honey (I've been using Agave Nectar!)

Bring rice, oats, water, raisins, and cinnamon to
a boil. Lower the flame to simmer and cook for
5-7 minutes, or until creamy. Add raw honey to
sweeten. Serves two.

Another tip that Andrea had given me (and the rest of my 1,000 classmates) was to "Burn the Rice" meaning to cook a lot of food in the beginning of the week that way you can quickly put together recipes like the one above during the weekday. I have tried it now for 2 weeks in a row and it's working out!

Something has changed recently and I looked crazy to my coworkers the other day when I opted to not take home a bagel but instead take the beautiful Kale that was used as decoration under the bagel platter. Kale Chips- I was almost as nervous about these as I was the Bok Choy (something about those dark leafy greens make me nervous). Turns out they are not actually as intimidating as I thought!

Kale Chips:
Recipe from:
Originally prepared by Cara: Wednesday, March 10, 2010


1 bunch kale
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon seasoned salt
  • Preheat an oven to 350 degrees F Line a non insulated cookie sheet with parchment paper/foil.
  • With a knife or kitchen shears carefully remove the leaves from the thick stems and tear into bite size pieces. Wash and thoroughly dry kale with a salad spinner. Drizzle kale with olive oil and sprinkle with seasoning salt.
  • Bake until the edges brown but are not burnt, 10 to 15 minutes.

Tonight I had a predicament...I had invited my good friend Melissa over for a feast but once I got home I had no interest in cooking and since it was the first night that it was still light out when I got home and Melissa wasn't coming over until at least 845 I took my pup, Travis Bean for a walk in Prospect Park. By the time I got back to the apartment I had passed hungry and had arrived at cranky/whiny/starving. Bad.News.Bears.
After stomping around the kitchen complaining to Travis Bean about how I didn't even want to cook for myself let alone Melissa I finally got it together, ate some cucumbers and hummus to tide me over and just started cooking rice. A very good place to start. I then took super ripe plantains and started to fry them. Then sauteed red and black beans along with Broccoli in onions and garlic and created the feast I promised. I actually had so much fun with it that I didn't even hear the phone buzzing the first FOUR times Melissa called!

Here are the Plantains starting to Fry and the Beans and Broccoli sauteing:

Fried Plantains:
Recipe from:
Originally Prepared by Cara: Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Super Ripe Plantains
2 Cups of Oil

  • Heat Oil over Medium Heat
  • Peel plantains
  • Slice them in Half and then into small thin Strips (as you may see I only read as far as half and then made it up as I went along)
  • Fry until they are a golden brown. Pat generously with paper towels

(Left) Dinner is Served!

(Right) One satisfied dinner guest!

Things I did that I never had done before:
1. Cooked with Plantains
2. Fried something
3. cooked 2 kinds of beans together (red AND black)
4. baked my own chips (3 times in a week!)
5. cooked rice

I hope you try these recipes out for your soon to be satisfied dinner guests!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

You want me to chew HOW much exactly?

One of the main things that we talk about in school is about food- surprising I know. But not just about what food we're eating, but how it is actually fueling us. As Americans, we generally....ok, let's clarify that- I generally am always looking to the next thing and don't ever leave time to savor...this applies to almost every aspect of my life- my job, my living situation, and especially my food.

I certainly love to eat don't get me wrong but what I recently realized was that I'm a "scarfer." Pretty much I scarf down my food so fast that I couldn't tell you when I'm done whether what I just ate tasted good or bad. This could be one reason that I always put hot sauce on EVERYTHING!!! You can even see it my last post- right next to the bok choy and quinoa is a nice squirt of Siracha- an asian hot sauce which some people may actually know better as cock sauce - this is of course because of the picture of the rooster on the bottle--ha ha. I love to laugh at food.

So I came to a realization for me which is:
1) everything tastes bland because I don't actually chew my food enough (in the macrobiotic diet people chew each bite 100 times.....seriously-what dedication)
2) because everything tastes bland, I smother it in hot sauce, red pepper, what have you
3) because I scarf everything down that is smothered in hot sauce it irritates my stomach and I often feel like I'm choking when I eat

With this new idea I had I proposed myself a challenge:
1) Eat food with out initially smothering it with hot sauce-- Those of you who know me know that this is a sincere challenge!
2) Chew food consciously, slowly, and really taste the flavor of what I'm eating.
3) Let food gradually swallow down the throat this way I don't have to immediately chug water to help it.

And I'll tell you- this past week has been challenging! But my new recipe that I cooked was another one from the Integrative Nutrition book and then I actually got experimental myself a bit and tried something of my own creation!

Carrot Ginger Soup and Tomato Salad with Gouda Cheese

This was especially a fun one to make as my roommate Jess was there helping me literally every step of the way while supporting my insecurities around cooking and photographing the whole process- yeah she's the best! After all the giggling and spilling and having the blender top have a hole in it and therefore shoot carrot, ginger, onion water pretty much all over me, we had a really lovely meal. Jess even thought to bring the candle that was in the living room into the kitchen so we could fully celebrate our accomplishment!

Tomato Salad with Gouda-
I had just been in Ft. Myers visiting my parents the weekend prior and went tomato picking! It was so much fun and my mom and I were stepping in rotten tomatoes like crazy but in the end I brought home about 6 beautiful, organic, picked off the vine by me tomatoes. And honestly Jess and I can always agree that everyone loves a good gouda (shout out to John Fasulo here!) so it was a pretty easy match up.

Things I did for this meal that I never had done before:
1) peel carrots
2) use a tomato knife- I've literally had this for years but have never ever used it- go figure!
3) simmer something in a pot
4) Peel and grate fresh ginger/cook with fresh was kind of scary looking but man was it worth it- the meal was so amazing because of it

So yeah, we had a feast and it was delicious and we had really great conversation as well. So again, I just hope these little anecdotes about my cooking experiments inspire some of you to just give it a try- it's really more fun and a hell of a lot easier than I ever imagined.

Carrot Ginger Soup
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 30 minutes
Serves: 4 (although actually it lasted me 6)
Originally prepared by Cara: March 1, 2010

6 carrots
1 medium onion
1 teaspoon of sea salt
4 cups water
6-inch piece fresh ginger
Fresh parsley to garnish

  • Wash, peel and cut carrots and onion into chunks.
  • Place vegetables and salt in a pot.
  • Add water. Bring to a boil. Cover with a lid.
  • Simmer on low heat for 25 minutes
  • Transfer soup into blender, adding water if necessary to achieve desired consistency
  • When blending is done, squeeze juice from grated ginger and add to soup.
  • Garnish with parsley
Tip: For extra flavor, saute vegetables before cooking.
Tip: Substitute carrots with squash, parsnip or beets. Squash and beets need 35 to 40 minutes to cook.

After it's all done eat and enjoy with friends!

Friday, March 5, 2010

What is Bok Choy and what do I do with it?

This is a question I have asked myself many times. I do like to be somewhat creative in the kitchen but I am hesitant when I am not sure exactly what something is and when I have no idea how to prepare it. When I came across my first assignment for my Institute of Integrative Nutrition Fast Track series I realized it was time to find out.

The assignment was to cook something that you haven't before and that maybe you
were a bit nervous about. I knew that this was my chance, even better than that, my opportunity to prove to myself that I was going to learn how to cook this dark leafy green (which is all I knew about it) that baffled me.

The exact definition is as follows:
Bok Choy- noun
1. an Asian plant, Brassica rapa chinensis, of the mustard family, having a loose cluster of edible, dark-green leaves on white stalks.
2. the leaves and stalks of this plant cooked as a vegetable or eaten raw in salads.

...This didn't really help me. So I went to the recipes section in the book Integrative Nutrition by Joshua Rosenthal where I found this recipe for Baby Bok Choy with Shiitake Mushrooms that had a prep time of 8 minutes, a cook time of 8 minutes and serves 6. I was so excited to see how easy it was to do this so I got out a tiny frying pan which I learned was way to small and made a note to cook bok choy next time in the big wok that I love and seldom use. With a little encouragement from my roommate Jess and once I started cooking I realized that there was nothing to be scared of when it comes to cooking. This meal was also served with a side of the lovely grain Quinoa that you can buy at almost any store now a days but I love the Trader Joe's brand.

The exact definition of that is:

Quinoa- noun

1. a tall crop plant, Chenopodium quinoa, of the goosefoot family, cultivated in Peru and Chile for its small, ivory-colored seed, which is used as a food staple.

There were several things that I did for this dish that I've never done before:
1. buy, peel and saute an onion (my mother's shaking her head right now)
2. buy and cook with sesame oil
3. buy and prepare bok choy

With my assignment completed and my belly happy I decided to start this blog to document this and many of the other adventures I'm sure to face on my journey to becoming a holistic health coach. I hope that my clumsiness in the kitchen and elsewhere can inspire some of you to try something new and try some of those things you've always wanted to but never knew how to prepare. With the closing of each post I will make sure to include the recipe that I made. I hope you enjoy my experiences over these next 6 months!

Baby Bok Choy and Shiitakes (watch yo' mouth!)
Prep Time: 8 minutes
Cooking Time: 8 minutes
Serves: 6
Originally prepared by Cara: February 23, 2010

1 small yellow onion
4 heads baby bok choy
6 fresh shiitake mushrooms
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
3 tablespoons mirin
1 tablespoon tamari

  • Peel onion and slice into long, thin strips (If your eyes started to tear like mine try chewing a stick of gum while you're cutting- a tip from the wise culinary master- Marie Kossman aka my Mom)
  • Heat oil in a frying pan
  • Add onions, turn heat down and cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally
  • Meanwhile, wash bok choy and slice each leaf in half
  • Thinly slice shiitakes
  • Add shitakes, bok choy, mirin and tamari to pan. Cover and cook 3 minutes
  • Spread on a flat surface to cool and stop greens from cooking
TIP: Garnish with toasted sesame seeds

Spring Out Quinoa
Prep time: 2 minutes
Cooking time: 30 minutes
Serves: 8
Originally prepared by Cara: February 23, 2010

2 cups Quinoa
31/2 cups water
1 bag peppermint tea
1 tablespoon olive oil
fresh mint, basil and cilantro

  • Wash grains. Place them in water and add peppermint tea bag
  • Bring to a boil. Cover and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, then remove from heat and let stand for 5 minutes
  • When it is done, add olive oil and lightly fluff with a fork
  • Garnish with chopped fresh herbs and serve

Eat and enjoy with friends!