Having fun with Water

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I think most of us know that drinking water is mucho importante`. Although I find a glass of ice water refreshing, it also can get boring.  There are so many ways to make water more exciting and dress it up – you know, with a little extra panache and color!  Friends and family that have been to my house for a meal know that I seldom put a pitcher of plain water on the table. This blog post features some of my favorite water additions which not only add some fun flavor and color, they also bring some extra nutrients and vitality.

Water + Lemon + Thyme: Thyme has a minty and lemony flavor and pairs perfectly with freshly sliced lemon. Fresh thyme is also quite replete with Vitamins A & B6, Zinc, Folate & Manganese. For the full skinny on thyme, click here.

Water + Cucumber + Orange: This combo has been a huge hit in the TeamZ house.  Cucumber is loaded with Vitamin K, which is necessary for proper blood coagulation and essential for proper metabolic activity of bone growth and strength maintenance. And apropos of the charity for which we are running the triathlon, Vitamin K may play a role in the pathogenesis of Alzheimer’s disease by limiting damage to vital neuronal processes. Click here for more nutrition facts on Cucumber!

Seltzer + Blueberry + Mint: There’s nothing wrong with water having some bubbles, right? This mix is perfect for a picnic outside, as the mint adds some freshness, while the blueberries add a delightful mix of sweet and tartness. Blueberries are loaded with beta carotene antioxidants, which if you may or may not know, help rid the body of harmful free-radicals that can stick around in the body to cause inflammation, degenerative body changes, and even cancers.

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Spring is in the air and we are spending more time outside in the sun and working out.  It is important to make sure to stay hydrated with plenty of cold water – especially with adding some of the above ingredients because they can certainly help aid any and all activities in which you’re partaking!

How do you like to dress up your water?

xoxo Team Z.

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Brie and Raspberry Grown-up Grilled Cheese

When I was thinking of “the best thing I ever ate” for this month’s link-up theme, foods that fall in the “comfort” category came to mind. To me, grilled cheese is a classic comfort food which brings back memories of childhood lunches – especially when nothing else would satisfy my discerning taste buds. As an adult however, my palette has expanded long past plain macaroni with ketchup and Ritz crackers with cream cheese. That being said, my grilled cheese needs a grown up boost!

Giada De Laurentiis has a recipe for a mozzarella, jam, and brown sugar panini that I once tried and have never been able to get out of my mind. Today though, I have chosen to augment some of the ingredients and go with a brie, raspberry, honey, and rosemary panini on ciabatta bread: my adultified and (somewhat) healthified version of grilled cheese.

Brie cheese is mild and sweet, which I feel goes great with fresh berries and honey. And because I am a fresh herb junkie, rosemary is a must in this sandwich. You can just smell the delicious, fresh aroma released as you chop it up. The ciabatta bread, which we bought at a 100 year old staple of the Upper East Side, Orwasher’s Bakery, is light, airy and fresh. The exterior of the bread is dusted with flour and makes for an outstanding panini bread.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 pint raspberries
  • 1 tsp honey
  • honey for drizzling
  • 3 oz brie cheese
  • 1 sprig of fresh rosemary- chopped
  • whole wheat ciabatta loaf or rolls
  • 1/4 cup olive oil

Instructions:

Step 1: Preheat panini press.

Step 2: Mash fresh raspberries in a bowl with 1 tsp of honey.

Step 3: Layer raspberry mash and brie cheese on one side of the ciabatta bread. Sprinkle rosemary over the raspberry and cheese.

Step 4: Sandwich the bread slices together and use a pastry brush to spread a little olive oil on both sides of the bread. Drizzle the top with honey.

Step 5: Gradually press down for 3 to 5 minutes, or until the cheese has melted and the bread is golden and crispy.

If you don’t have a panini press you can use a grill pan.

Health points: Rosemary contains vitamin A, manganese, calcium, and iron. Raspberries are extremely high in antioxidants and vitamin C.

So eat up!

p.s. prior to this sandwich matt told me he does not like brie cheese- I showed him!

Click on the blue frog below to check out the other kosher blogger’s “best thing I ever ate” recipes.

Spinach and Strawberry Spring Salad

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When the weather gets warmer it means we move our workouts to the outdoors and add some fruit to our salads. My sister Jeni’s spinach and fruit salad is the perfect way to start off a springtime lunch! Strawberries are key in this salad since it is now peak strawberry season and they add a delicious burst of flavor. If you are a sweet and salty person, crumbles of feta cheese is the perfect addition.

Ingredients:

12 strawberries: stem removed and sliced

1/2 red onion- thinly sliced

1 avocado- sliced

1lb spring mix or spinach

handful of toasted and chopped walnuts – this adds a nice crunch to the salad

6 oz feta cheese – adds a nice salty flavor.

1 garlic clove, minced

1tbsp honey (Jeni uses sugar)

4 tbsp mayonaise low fat: although I am not a fan of using mayo I think it is fine in moderation, plus this addition really enhances the salad.

4 tbsp balsamic vinegar

pinch of black pepper

Instructions:

Place spinach, strawberries, avocado, onion, and walnuts in a large bowl.

Whisk together honey, mayo, balsamic and garlic – drizzle on salad.

Finish it off with fresh pepper, toss, and dig in.

Serves 6-8 sweet and salty people

My sister makes this salad wherever she goes and it is always a hit! Here is a pic of the salad being made at my bachelorette party with the addition of mango. So make it for your friends and family and enjoy!

xoxo luvin fruit in salad season

My Mother’s Zesty Meringues

I went to my parents house for the last days of Passover. When I entered I immediately was hit with the aroma of delicious foods…with a hint of sweetness.  The sweetness was coming from my mother’s famous meringues, which were just coming out of the oven. What impeccable timing!

Here is the recipe, which happens to be super easy and quick:

Ingredients

4 egg whites

3/4 cup granulated sugar

1-2 tbsp lemon juice

1 tsp vanilla

1 tbsp ground walnuts

zest from 1/2 lemon

zest from 1/2 orange

Instructions:

Step 1: Preheat Oven to 300 F

Step 2: Coat a large bowl with lemon juice – the acid content helps with whipping up the egg whites.

Step 3: Place egg whites, vanilla, lemon juice, lemon and orange zest in large bowl and beat until soft peaks form.

Step 4: Gradually beat in sugar, until stiff and glossy peaks form.

Step 5: Fold in ground walnuts, but careful not to over mix!

Step 6: Using a spoon, dollop meringues in 2-inch mounds onto an un-greased parchment paper lined baking sheet.

Step 7: Optional: to garnish place 1 toasted walnut in each meringue before baking.

Step 8: Bake 25-30 minutes and then let cool on rack.

xoxo ending passover with mom’s meringues.

Apple Stuffed Acorn Squash

I was watching Giada De Laurentiis on the Food Network (completely addicted) and she was making this gorgeous looking apple and cheese golden crusted pie.  I wanted a bite so badly so I decided to make my own healthy version of the brilliant apple + cheddar combo.  I think I would be much skinnier if I did not watch this channel…or Giada. How does she stay so skinny by the way?!

Ingredients:

– 1 Acorn Squash

– 1 Granny Smith Apple cored and thinly sliced ( I did not peel but I recommend peeling)

– 1/2 cup coarsely grated cheddar cheese

– 1 tbsp sesame seeds

– 1 tbsp coconut oil

– 1 tbsp olive oil

– 1 tsp agave nectar

– 1 oz dried cranberries

– pinch of cinnamon

– pinch of nutmeg

– salt & pepper

Directions:

Step 1: Preheat oven to 425.  Cut acorn squash in half and use a fork to scoop out the seeds and stringy stuff in the center of each half. Coat the inside of each half with olive oil and sprinkle with salt & pepper. Place on a baking pan – cut side down – and bake for 25 minutes or until golden brown.

Now lets get to working on making the filling deliciousness!

Step 2: Heat the sesame seeds on a dry pan over medium heat – shake the pan intermittently. Once seeds start to darken remove from heat and set aside.

Step 3: Melt the coconut oil over a low flame in your pan.  Coconut oil has many health benefits including improving your digestive system, immune system, blood sugar control and much more. So get excited to infuse your dish with this super power ingredient!

Step 4: Increase flame to medium heat and toss in apples, dried cranberries, cinnamon, nutmeg, and agave nectar. Mix until apples are nice and soft (Approx. 8 minutes).

Step 5: Your acorn squash should be finishing up just about now.  Remove from oven and place on plate.  Scoop apple filling into center of each half of squash.  Add the cheddar cheese, which will melt just from the heat of the squash and apples!  Sprinkle with sesame seeds.


Now take your fork and dig in!

Xoxo getting our fall on

Run, Skip, Run, Bound – Repeat.

And so the triathlon training begins.

I am definitely feeling the pain of having taken the winter off from working out.

Tonight we met up with coach Mike of Asphalt Green Tri Club and the butt- kicking began almost immediately – a brisk run from the Engineers Gate at 90th & 5th down to the Boathouse at 72nd St. where we met up with Coach Neil for the real workout..

Tonight’s training run, which took place on “Cat Hill” – a stretch of the Central Park loop on the east side – had us alternating between running, skipping, (running again!) and bounding up the hill – twice each! – while we focused on getting our heels off the ground on the way down. And to top it off, we had to run as fast as we could up and down the hill after the 2 sets of R-S-R-B … you know, just for good measure.

Why hill train?

Training on hills is good for improving leg muscle strength, strengthening hip flexors and Achilles tendons, quickening your stride, and keeping your heart in check. It is important to combine strength training with regular running, as doing so will reduce the risk of running- related injuries.

Tips:

-Watch your posture – keep your body upright and try not to lean forward

-Run lightly – make sure your feet are not pounding the ground

By the end of the workout I think I burned off all the matzah I had consumed and really felt the burn in my calves and thighs – oh, hello forgotten muscles!

Recovery Food:

Coaches orders were to have a glass of chocolate milk within 30 minutes of your workout.  We went with coconut water and a broccoli pattie with an egg (shh don’t tell Coach Neil). The point is, your muscles need the protein for recovery.

Find a hill and get your run on … and if you can’t get to a hill, just simply increase the incline on the treadmill.

Good luck!

This is what I looked like by the end

xoxo loving/hating hills

(pictures for tonight taken with my iPhone)

Passover Friendly Pesto Spaghetti

I find that on Passover I eat a ridiculous amount of carbs – from matzah pizza to chocolate lollipops – and I end up feeling really weighed down. This year I will try to make an effort to eat healthier and hopefully not feel the need to detox after the holiday.

I heart spaghetti squash all year round but it is especially perfect for Passover.  It is a great no carb, low calorie, and gluten free food with which you can easily substitute your pasta.

I also like to be creative with my pesto. Basil and pine nuts are not requirements, but  when making a pesto, you can just as easily pick and choose based on what ingredients you have in your house. All you need is a green fresh herb + a nut + garlic + olive oil. Classic pesto has parmesean but it is not necessary.

Ingredients for Cilantro Spinach Pesto:

  • 1 cup spinach
  • 2 tbsp toasted almonds (toast on un-greased pan over medium heat, and stir until golden brown)
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 2 tbsp cilantro
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1-2 tbsp of lemon juice
  • 1 tsp of lemon zest
  •  pinch of salt and black pepper

Instructions:

Combine all pesto ingredients in food processor except for the olive oil. Finely chop and then stream in olive oil.

Tip:  Double the recipe and place in cube tray, then store in the freezer for future use!

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Ingredients for Pesto Spaghetti Squash:

  • 1 spaghetti squash

  • spinach cilantro pesto from above
  • 1 tbsp olive oil

Instructions:

1. Preheat oven to 375 F.

2. Pierce squash with a knife in several places. Cook for 50 minutes – until squash is easily pierce-able with a knife.

I prefer to cut my squash after it is cooked – I find it much easier!

3. Let cool for 15 minutes.  Cut squash in half, lengthwise. Use a fork to scoop out seeds and discard. Then, using your fork, pull strands of squash away from peel and place in bowl.

4. Heat an olive oil coated skillet. Add spaghetti squash strands, pesto, salt and pepper and toss thoroughly to heat and combine.

Serve immediately. Feel free to garnish with toasted almonds, and if you want to go dairy, sprinkle some parmesan cheese!

xoxo getting creative with passover and pesto