Calling All Foodies!

By Megan Kian

After a long hard week at work the weekend is finally here and you’re wondering what you should do with your two days off. The only place I can think of to spend my Saturday is at Smorgasburg, the food flea market located in Brooklyn. Two Saturdays ago I decided to head down to Williamsburg, Brooklyn to find out what Smorgasburg was all about.

The setting for Smorgasburg couldn’t be more serene. It’s set right on the water with a small park only a few feet away. But what is Smorgasburg? The idea for Smorgasburg initially sprang from the food that was being served at the Brooklyn Flea Market. There was such a following that the Brooklyn Flea Market decided to create a completely separate flea market that would only serve food — and good quality food at that. At Smorgasburg you can find 100 plus vendors selling everything from blood orange glazed donuts (they were delicious!) to fancier dishes like gazpacho and sandwiches with hand pulled mozzarella. You’ll feel like you’re in food heaven.

Smorgasburg brooklyn

Smorgasburg is aptly named. Turn the corner and you’ll find a completely different type of food than what you had at the stand a few feet away. While it can get pricey, I enjoyed every bit of it. Smorgasburg is featured on the Williamsburg waterfront from 9AM to 5PM every Saturday.

Have you been to Smorgasburg? If so, how did you like it?

Disclaimer: The Nutritioulicious staff was not paid to promote Smorgasburg. All opinions are our own.

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Caprese Salad for Kids

As I mentioned yesterday, I am a big believer in children eating real food. In my new kid’s cookbook, We Can Cook, there is a variety of recipes including kid favorites like grilled cheese and fish sticks and more grown-up dishes such as roasted root vegetables and veggie quinoa salad. One of my favorite recipes in the book is caprese sticks.

What I love about this recipe is that it’s interactive for kids and introduces them to an advanced taste profile that they have likely never before tasted – tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, basil, aged balsamic vinegar, and olive oil. While this recipe may be too advanced for some children, exposing them to these foods early on will make them aware of the flavors and as they get older they will hopefully learn to love it!

How do I know this works? My 7 year old nephew loves caprese salads! (This is the same kid who was eating edamame when he was almost 6.) Last week I was on vacation with my husband’s family, and at almost every dinner my nephew started his meal with a tomato and mozzarella salad. At one particular meal the salad consisted of different colored heirloom tomatoes, which he had never seen. At first he was skeptical and did not want to eat the salad, but I let him know that the yellow and purple tomatoes were just as delicious (if not more!) as the red ones and I encouraged him to at least try them. He was a great sport and tasted the yellow ones. I can’t say he loved them right away, but at least he gave it a shot. I predict that in just a couple of years he will be devouring heirloom tomatoes just like he currently does with red ones!

caprese salad

My nephew and his heirloom tomato & mozzarella salad

What is the most adventurous food your child or a child you knows eats?

We Can Cook

If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you know that I occasionally write about childhood nutrition issues: childhood obesity, children’s menus, cooking with kids, etc. One thing I am very passionate about is feeding children real food. What I mean by this, is that it is best to introduce children to the same foods you and other adults eat.

Kid favorites like mac ‘n’ cheese and chicken fingers are pretty much always available to kids at restaurants, but no child needs to eat those calorie-laden meals every time he eats out (or even when eating at home). If you knew me as a child you’d be saying “Who are you to talk?!” because I was what many parents would call a picky eater. Staples of my diet were chicken nuggets, pizza bagels, and mac ‘n’ cheese, and the only vegetables I liked were peas and carrots (especially carrots). Looking back at my diet, it’s a good question how I became a dietitian (and I didn’t even tell you about all the desserts I used to eat)! Lucky for me I didn’t have a weight issue, which may be why no one thought twice about what I ate. But from a nutrition standpoint, I would not want my children eating the same way.

My interest in childhood nutrition and making sure children learn about all varieties of foods is what excited me to write my first kid’s cookbook, We Can Cook: Introduce Your Child to the Joy of Cooking with 75 Simple Recipes and Activities

recipes
The book is full of recipes that I developed using a variety of foods including ones that children may not be familiar with. Every recipe is designed to have children help in the preparation, this way they get to know the foods they are going to be eating and they will learn how to cook at the same time. While the book is geared to children ages three to six, children of all ages can take part in making these recipes — the older the child, the more he or she can do in the kitchen! There are also a handful of food-related activities written by Maja Pitamic.

You can read a review of the book at MomTrends.com and taste a sample of the recipes in this post by my friend and fellow dietitian Elisa Zied.

And don’t fret — there are recipes for Mac ‘n’ Cheese and Chicken Fingers included!

Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream

By Megan Kian

With these past few sticky and extremely hot days it’s been hard to find a way to cool down. At home in New Jersey my dad has a garden where he loves to grow a variety of different vegetables, fruits, and herbs. One of my favorite herbs that he grows is mint (I also love his basil). It is such a fragrant herb that it had me feeling refreshed with just the smell! Mint was originally used as an air freshener to rid rooms of unpleasant smells. It is a great source of antioxidants including vitamins A and C, and has a long nutritional history for its use in aiding digestion. In cooking, it is not as common to see mint used in main dishes, but it can be used as an accent in sweets. I decided to use the mint from my dad’s garden to make mint chocolate chip ice cream! Here is the recipe that I used from David Lebovitz:

Ingredients:mint chocolate chip ice cream recipe

  • 1 cup whole milk
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 cups packed fresh mint leaves
  • 5 large egg yolks
  • Bittersweet or semisweet chocolate chips

You’ll also need an ice cream maker to make this delicious ice cream!

Directions:

  1. In a medium saucepan, warm the milk, sugar, 1 cup heavy cream, salt, and mint.
  2. Once the mixture is hot and steaming, remove from heat, cover, and let stand for an hour to infuse the mint flavor.
  3.  Remove the mint with a strainer, then press down with a spatula firmly to extract as much mint flavor and color as possible. Once the flavor is squeezed out, discard the mint.
  4. Pour the remaining heavy cream into a large bowl and set the strainer over the top.
  5. Rewarm the infused milk. In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, then slowly pour some of the warm mint mixture into the yolks, whisking constantly, then scrape the warmed yolks back into the saucepan.
  6. Cook the custard, stirring constantly with a heatproof spatula, until the mixture thickens and coats the spatula.
  7. Immediately strain the mixture into the cream, then stir the mixture over an ice bath until cool.
  8. Refrigerate the mixture thoroughly, preferably overnight, then freeze it in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
  9. Add in as many chocolate chips as you like!
  10. When finished, cover and freeze until firm.

How do you like to use mint?

Tomatoes and Basil

As you may know from summer’s past, I love farm-fresh tomatoes. What I love even more is the simple yet nutritious and delicious combination of tomatoes and basil. Lucky for me I have both from my CSA this week, which makes me so happy! This afternoon as I was looking in my fridge and pantry for an afternoon snack, I thought “Why not make a little tomato and basil salad?” In less than three minutes I had this beautiful salad, which paired with some cheese made for a filling and balanced snack!

tomatoes and basil

How good does that look?!

Ingredients:
  • Handful cherry tomatoes
  • 2-3 basil leaves
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • Aged balsamic vinegar
  • Salt & freshly ground pepper
Directions:
  1. Rinse tomatoes and basil in cold water and pat dry. Slice tomatoes in half and add to a small bowl. Tear basil leaves and add to tomatoes. Drizzle olive oil and vinegar on top of tomatoes and basil. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Enjoy the fresh flavors of the summer!

Looking for another tomato recipe? Try the Tomato Jam I made last fall.

Do you like tomatoes? What’s your favorite way to enjoy them?

Recipe Redux: Blueberry Basil Cooler

It’s that time again: the monthly Recipe Redux blog challenge! Last month’s theme was grilling (if you missed my Grilled Salmon Burgers with Cherry Chutney check it out), and in keeping with the spirit of summer, the Recipe Redux founders made this month’s theme Summer Beverages.

Back in April, Nutritioulicious intern Megan posted a refreshing recipe for Strawberry, Lemon, and Basil Soda to get us ready for summer, but I needed something new for this month’s challenge. Inspired by the blueberries I had in my refrigerator and the basil I received from my weekly CSA share, I decided to make a Blueberry Basil Cooler. I made it non-alcoholic, but feel free to add vodka or gin to it for happy hour!

Blueberry Basil Cooler
Serves 2

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup blueberries, plus more for garnish, rinsed and patted dry
  • ~10 basil leaves, rinsed and patted dry
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 1-2 teaspoons honey
  • 12 ounces seltzer or soda water
  • Ice cubes

blueberry basil cocktail

Directions:

  1. Muddle blueberries, basil, lime juice, and honey in the base of a shaker glass.
  2. Add seltzer or soda water and ice cubes and shake to combine.
  3. Fill two glasses with ice cubes and strain the drink evenly between the two glasses. Garnish with blueberries and a basil leaf. Sit back, relax, and enjoy the summer!
summer drinks   summer drink recipes

For more summer drinks, here are the other great recipes from Recipe Reduxers:

Roasted Beets and Spring Onions

The other day I wrote about roasting fennel and mentioned that it made for a great side dish with roasted beets and onions. The truth is, I have yet to find a vegetable that doesn’t taste good roasted! Since beets and spring onions are in season, that’s what I had on hand and they were so easy to cook up.

Many people shy away from cooking with fresh beets because they are afraid it’s too much work (or that their entire kitchen will be stained from them!). But cooking with beets really isn’t difficult, and once you have fresh beets it’s quite hard to go back to the canned variety. The easiest way to cook them is as follows:

  • Rinse beets and scrub to remove any dirt if they came fresh from the farm. (If your beets come attached with beet greens, cut off the greens and save for a salad.)
  • Toss beets with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Roast in a 375 degree F oven for about 20-30 minutes, until they are fork tender.
  • Remove from the oven and let cool. When cool enough to handle, use a paring knife to remove the outside skin. It should come off very easily. (If you’re afraid of staining, you can wear plastic gloves while removing the skin.)
  • Serve roasted beets as a side dish or add to a salad (I especially love the combo of beets and goat cheese!).

Here are before and after shots of spring red onions and farm-fresh beets:

CSA red onions   roasting onions

raw beets  cooking beets

Looking for another beet recipe? Try this Beet and Beet Green Gratin that Nutritioulicious intern Jo made last summer!

FYI: Consumption of beets can turn your urine and stool a red color. So if you start peeing red and you ate beets within a day or two, don’t worry!

Do you like beets? What’s your favorite way to eat them?