How the heck do I choose a tomato sauce in Whole Foods?

November 12, 2014

First of all, wait for a sale.  I have noticed that most brands of tomato sauce go on sale at least twice a year.  Whole Foods prices are high, but their sales are pretty good!  If you don’t need organic and aren’t necessarily watching sodium levels, I would go for Rao’s Marinara Sauce ($7.99 for 32oz on sale).  Rao’s sodium isn’t topping the list of sodium heavy brands or anything, but my next recommendation has much less sodium per same-size serving.

If you want organic (and lower sodium), I buy Middle Earth Organics Organic Tomato and Basil Sauce ($6.49 for 19.8oz, non-sale price).  I personally don’t eat tomato sauce, because I can’t eat nightshades, but I buy it for my family and they are happy with either of these.  My recommendations are based on ingredients that are straightforward, with no sugar, no canola oil, and a “reasonable” amount of sodium (“reasonable” is a relative term, given the nature of pasta sauces in general!).  Below are photos of ingredients and nutritional stats.

RAO’s

IMG_5907 IMG_5909 IMG_5910

Middle Earth Organics

IMG_5911 IMG_5912


Shredfest NYC – this Sunday – May 18th, 2014!

May 12, 2014

Every year, thoughts of the NYC Shredfest put a spring in my step and a song in my heart!

As usual, I’ll be at Union Square, shredding the (approximate) metric ton of love letters, fan mail, and top-secret blueprints I’ve amassed this year as a result of being awesome.

Here is the schedule.  Get there early.  Once that truck is filled, it’s gone!


Paleo dining in downtown Manhattan?

March 30, 2014

I wrote a dining guide to help you find great paleo / grain-free options around downtown Manhattan!  Enjoy!

 


What do I do with old batteries and fluorescent lightbulbs?

February 12, 2014

You can search for a place that recycles them by using the search tool at Earth911.

If you’re in NYC, you can also check out the NYC Department of Sanitation’s website for Household Special Waste Drop-Off Sites.  Just make sure you look at the bottom of the page for the days they’re open (because it’s a strange schedule), what you’ll need to be allowed to drop off (such as ID and proof of address), and what the limits are for each type of special waste (you’re only allowed to bring two compact fluorescent lights per visit, for example).

Thanks in advance for recycling!

Just a cool pic I took this morning.  Only with some creativity can you even try to relate it to this post.

Just a cool pic I took this morning. Only with some creativity can you even try to relate it to this post.


Great place to have coffee and get some work done?

December 6, 2013

That place is Pushcart Coffee on 9th Avenue and 25th Street!  It’s my new favorite spot to get some tea, meet with writing partners or clients, or get work done on my own.  Nice people, nice vibe, there is tea I like (the green jasmine), they don’t use toxic tea bags, their snacks are great (my son loves the pumpkin bread, and I love the Brooklyn-made Rawpothecary Juices they carry), and their soup is wonderful (thanks for making me try it, Ashley!).  They also have a bunch of fancy ways of making coffee that boggle my tea-drinking mind. There is a community work table, a few individual tables, a comfy corner spot in the back and counter seats and there is free wifi (you have to sign up for it, but it’s free). Go there. You know I know what I’m talking about.


Alert: Melvin’s Juice Box Open in Chelsea!

October 21, 2013

Melvin

Melvin, at his new Chelsea location of Melvin’s Juice Box.

There’s a new Melvin’s Juice Box in the Dream Hotel – 355 West 16th Street (between 8th and 9th Avenues, closer to 9th).  I was riding my bike past it today and saw Melvin out front.  I have enjoyed Melvin’s juice concoctions for years and am so happy his place is now (relatively) in my neighborhood.  Melvin is a great guy – always friendly and positive, and he really knows his juice!  All juices are 100% organic, and they also serve soups, salad, burgers, sandwiches, entrees, wine, beer, shakes, and shots (wheat grass and ginger).  There is eat-in, take-out and delivery, and it’s open 7 a.m. “until late,” 7 days a week.


Where should we go to eat when none of us can agree on a cuisine?

July 7, 2013

OMG, this is my life!  I feel your pain!  Either go to Whole Foods* or Todd English Food Hall in the basement of the Plaza Hotel.  Look at this TEFH menu and tell me that each of you cannot find something.  C’mon.  I’m not going to tell you that either of them is spectacular or the best food you’ve ever eaten or anything like that, but if you’ve all got conflicting priorities, these two places could do it for you.

* (Whole Foods warning: Chelsea location has nowhere to sit, Columbus Circle is always way too crowded – it’s a complete madhouse, Union Square is nearly always way too crowded, but Tribeca and Houston St have a lot of seating and great selections.)


How do you make yogurt?

June 5, 2013

Yogurt and Granola

Homemade yogurt with Healing Home Foods Honey Citrus Granola.

Those of you who didn’t ask me this question are wondering why the hell would I make my own yogurt.  Here is why.

You’ll need

  • whole milk  – preferably: organic, from pastured cows, low-heat pasteurized or raw, not homogenized
  • yogurt starter (I use this one to be compliant with the Specific Carbohydrate Diet) – I believe this starter can also be used for coconut milk yogurt and nut milk yogurt!  Check it out!
  • some jars with lids (I use 5 old 16 oz almond butter jars with lids)
  • a dehydrator (or some way you can keep the yogurt around 100°F for 24 -30 hours)
  • a food thermometer (I use an Oxo Digital Instant Read Thermometer)
  • a ladle (or some way to pour the yogurt into the jars)
  • a pot and stove to heat up the milk (make sure it’s big enough for all the milk, with room left over)
  • a large bowl in which the milk can cool (make sure it’s big enough to fit all the milk you are using!)
  • a slightly larger bowl with ice in it that the bowl above can sit in to cool faster (optional, but really helpful)
  • ice (two ice cube trays full or 40-50 cubes is usually good)
  • 1/4 tsp measuring spoon
  • a whisk to stir in the yogurt starter after the milk is cooled
milk

I always use Grazin’ Angus milk. They’re at the Union Square Farmers Market on Saturdays.

Heat the milk over medium heat until it is 180°F.  Do not let it boil or get hotter than that, because it will very likely boil over the top of the pot and make a huge mess all over your stove.

Heat the Milk

Heat the Milk to 180°F.

While the milk is heating up over medium heat on your stove, sterilize your jars, lids, ladle, milk-cooling bowl, measuring spoon and whisk.  You can do this by dipping them in hot water (= or > 180°F), or steaming them for 3-4 minutes.  [Since the cooling bowl will be big, you might want to just put it in the sink and pour in the sterilizing water and empty it after a few minutes.]

When the milk gets past 175 or so, shut off the stove.  It will go up a few degrees by itself (plus, you don’t want to take the chance it will boil over!).  Get your cooling area ready (preferably in the sink so you can catch spills – as long as nothing will splash in and contaminate your yogurt).  Put the largest bowl in first, with the ice in it, then put the cooling bowl on top of that.  Pour the milk into the cooling bowl.

Cool milk in an ice bath.

Place ice and water in the bottom bowl and sit the “cooling bowl” in that. Pour your hot milk in this cooling bowl. Cover is optional.

When the milk gets down to around 100°F, get out your yogurt starter (it is supposed to be kept in the fridge) and put in the required amount and whisk it through.  For the type of starter I use, and the amount of milk I work with (half gallon), it’s only an 1/8th of a teaspoon!

Tiny amount of starter

Seriously, you don’t need a lot of starter. Read directions carefully!  And make sure that milk is not more than 105°F or you will kill your starter!

Fill your jars with the milk/starter and put the lids on.  Put them in the dehydrator or whatever appliance you have that will maintain the 100°F heat, and let them sit, undisturbed for 24-30 hours.  You want the yogurt to ferment for that length of time so the bacteria eats almost all of the lactose in the milk.

Yogurt

Covered yogurt jars in the dehydrator. 24-30 hours. 100°F.

At the end of the 24-30 hours, take out your yogurt gently (bacteria don’t like to be disturbed), and place it in the fridge.  The delicious fat layer will be on the top.  Mix it in if you want it more homogenous.  The yogurt will be fresh for about 10 – 14 days.  Enjoy!

yogurt

Here’s a spoonful of freshly made yogurt. The rich layer of fat on the top can be mixed in or removed, based on your preference. The fat should be nice and yellow if the milk comes from a pasture-raised cow.


Alert: Free show and book signing at Books of Wonder Tues 4/30/13 – 4 p.m.

April 28, 2013

Story Pirates at Books of Wonder 4_30_13

The Story Pirates will be at Books of Wonder this Tuesday to act out the story of Septimus Heap! My middle schooler LOVED this series and got me to read it, and I love it, too.  Do not miss this!  SUPPORT INDEPENDENT BOOKSELLERS!  

Free Theatre Storytime at Books of Wonder with Author Angie Sage and The Story Pirates!

Books of Wonder, the oldest and largest independent children’s bookstore in NYC, will hold a free theatre performance and book signing with author Angie Sage on Tuesday, April 30th beginning at 4 PM (18 West 18th Street, between 5th and 6th Aves in Manhattan).

Fyre, the seventh and final book in the Septimus Heap series, was published last week to enthusiastic fan reception. Often compared with Harry Potter and other works of fantasy for middle grade readers, the series follows the adventures of Septimus Heap, who as a seventh son of a seventh son has extraordinary magical powers. An original fantasy about lost and rediscovered identities, magyk and intrigue, and one family’s warmth and strength, the series has appeared on national bestseller lists and garnered worldwide acclaim; Warner Bros. has acquired the rights to make a movie of the first book.

To celebrate the book’s release, local literary-based acting troupe The Story Pirates (www.storypirates.org) will introduce new readers to the series by performing scenes from the first book, Magyk!

Also in attendance will be the series’ author, Angie Sage. Following the performance Ms. Sage will meet with fans and sign copies of all of her books.

The event will begin at 4PM and is open to the public.


Alert: NYC Shredfest 2013!

April 19, 2013

The 2013 NYC Shredfest is on Sunday, May 19 from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.  I dare anyone to try and find me a better NYC Department of Sanitation event!  People, don’t even try, because you can’t.  Already I am walking lighter, with a song in my heart, now that this year’s date, time and location are in my google calendar.  If you’re going paperless like I am (yes, it’s taking me longer than I thought!), Shredfest is a godsend!  So is fermented cod liver oil, but for different reasons.


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