You would think that the UWS neighborhood, home to a large Jewish community, would have lots of great, local falafel joints. But I have yet to find better chickpea fritters than at Maoz Vegetarian— the international veggie falafel chain, located on 70th and Amsterdam. For just $4.95 you can get a falafel sandwich with your choice of tasty toppings and sauces from their– the best part— do-it-yourself salad bar. Their falafel has the perfect balance of cilantro and parseley and is fried to perfection in heart-friendly canola oil. For more flavor– dress your sandwich with the classics, tabouli salad, hummus and tahini sauce, and add some spicy hot green chili dressing for heat. Stay tuned for a Creative Delites do-it-all-yourself falafel sandwich recipe!
Jarlsberg is nothing new, but right now, I can’t get enough of this Norwegian skim-milk cheese. It tastes like a mild form of Swiss. Apparently, I’m not the only one. Jarlsberg has it’s own facebook fan page! Most low-fat, no-fat and reduced-fat cheeses lack flavor and have a plastic texture, but Jarlsberg, even the lite variety, melts beautifully in grilled cheese. Is the reduced-fat version flavorful enough for your palate? The rating goes 1 to 10 (10 being the best).
Appearance: Sold in a plastic wrapped block at Whole Foods Market. This cheese has large holes similar to Swiss, but thankfully, it doesn’t have the same stinky cheese smell
Texture: Semi-firm and smooth. Melts smoothly without being greasy.
Flavor: The overall taste is mild. Since Jarlsberg is a skim-milk cheese, it lacks the same intensity as Swiss but has the same nutty, slightly sweet flavor. Great paired with other ingredients.
Cost: $ 3.59/lb
Health: Jarlsberg Lite is the low-fat version of Jarlsberg. High in calcium, and only has 70 calories and 3.5 grams of fat, while regular Swiss has about 100 calories and 8 grams of fat per serving.
Recommendation: You can use Jarlsberg (regular or lite) in any recipe that calls for Swiss. Store in the fridge. If eating in a cheese course, best served at room temperature. Delicious in a grilled cheese sandwich with a pumpernickel raisin roll and a drizzle of honey, melted over a veggie burger with sliced tomato and spicy mustard (pictured below), or shaved over scrambled eggs.
Resolution Stats: 22 new food stuffs tried, 83 more to go
Final Verdict: Doesn’t taste as flavorful as full-fat cheese, but if you are seeking a healthy alternative, Jarlsberg is great option for your everyday cheese fix.
I own three cookbooks, that’s it. Most of the time I just try and recreate my favorite restaurant dishes. Even when the food doesn’t come out exactly right, I like knowing that it’s my creation. The only cookbook I use on a pretty regular basis is Mark Bittman’s ginormous vegetarian cookbook, How to Cook Everything Vegetarian, and I’m not even a vegetarian! The part I love most about the book is that Bittman treats vegetarian food like a cuisine, rather than a series of substitutions. His cookbook presents ingredients that lend themselves to vegetarian cooking — everything from chickpeas to sushi rice and demonstrates how to use them in range of ways. Take nuts. Bittman devotes an entire section to the lexicon of nuts and seeds and then offers various ways of how to season and cook with them. See the recipe for Caramelized Spiced Nuts below or feel free to experiment and make your own nutty creation!
Caramelized Spiced Nuts
Makes: 4 to 6 servings
Time: 15 minutes
2 tablespoons peanut or neutral oil, like grapeseed or corn
2 cups of sugar (variation, sugar in the raw)
2 teaspoons garam masala
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups unsalted mixed shelled nuts (I just used almonds)
1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Grease a baking sheet with the oil. Put a wide pot or deep skillet over high heat, and 2 cups of water and the sugar, and bring to boil. Stir in the spices, salt and nuts. Reduce the heat to medium and cook, stirring frequently, until the liquid is reduced to syrup, 5 to 10 minutes.
2. Turn the heat to low under the nuts and remove with a slotted spoon, letting the excess syrup drain off a bit and then spreading them on the baking sheet.
3. Roast the nuts for 10 minutes, tossing once or twice with a spatula. Remove from the oven and let cool; the sugar coating will harden as the nuts cool. Serve or store in an airtight container at room temperature for 2 or 3 days.
There are a number of terrific Indian restaurants in NYC, but when I’m in the mood for a light, healthy, inexpensive Indian snack– I always head to Hampton Chutney West Side (464 Amsterdam Ave.) for their addictive dosas and fresh chutneys. I also love that the restaurant posts their nutritional info– only 189 calories and 3 grams of fat per dosa.
I recommend the spiced potato masala dosa ($7.95) with the mango chutney. If you’re not a fan of spicy Indian food, there are plenty of other nontraditional fillings, including roasted tomato, arugula, with jack cheese and grilled portobello mushroom, spinach and roasted onions, with goat cheese.
The dosas taste like delicate, flaky sourdough crepes. The dough is made with rice-and-lentil flour and baked until crisp.
Paper-thin and quite long– about the length of a large sub
Tasty vegetarian, spiced potato and onion filling
Freshly made mango chutney
Would love to find a cereal bar that has its nutrition, taste and cookie-like texture down. I browsed the shelves at WFM to see if they could raise up the cereal bar to breakfast status? The rating goes 1 to 10 (10 being the best).
365 Brand Mixed Berry Cereal Bars
Appearance: From the wrapper, looks just like a generic Nutri-Grain bar. The top of the bar has a dusting of whole grains and you can see the oats running throughout the bar.
Texture: When you bite into the bar you can feel the texture of the oats and the moist fruit filling. Loved the soft crust, similar texture to a soft-baked cookie.
Flavor: True to the mixed berry flavor, the filling tastes like a puree of different berries. The bars also come in apple and blueberry.
Cost: $ 2.49 for a box of 8 bars
Health: Good in the organic department, made with organic fruit and oats. Comes with some of the vitamins that dry cereals have, such as b12, b2, and folic acid. Minus a few points for the sugar (18g per bar) and for being short on fiber and protein, which are essential to a healthy breakfast. The calories are reasonable (140 calories), as is the amount of fat (2 grams).
Resolution Stats: 20 new food stuffs tried, 85 more to go
Final Recommendation: If you are looking for a quick afternoon snack at your desk, these bars are perfect. But if you are looking for a filling breakfast or are in need of an energy boost, you are better off going for a bowl of Wheaties with milk and fruit.
Want to start the new year off right? Try a refreshing and healthy cocktail recipe. This delicious creation is loaded with fresh blueberries, agave nectar and lemon juice, but feel free to substitute your favorite fruit for the berries. I realized that the cocktail would have tasted even better with winter fruits that are in season now (such as satsuma tangerines or pomegranates)–well after the cocktail was finished. Take my mistake and make your own healthy winter cocktail.
Blueberry Sparkling Cocktail
2 small handfuls of blueberries, reserve a few
1 ounce agave nectar
11/2 ounces fresh lemon juice
2 ounces vodka (feel free to add more)
2 ounces blueberry acai juice (optional)
1 lemon wheel
About 1/4 cup soda water (or ginger ale)
In a cocktail shaker, muddle the blueberries with the lemon juice, agave nectar, and blueberry acai juice. Add the vodka and shake well. Strain into a chilled glass. Top with a few splashes of soda water.
* Place a few of the reserved blueberries on a skewer and use as a drink mixer.
* Create blueberry-filled ice cubes.
* Garnish with a lemon wheel.
Makes 1 nice sized cocktail!
As far as I know, there is no healthy substitute for chocolate (carob is good, but wouldn’t stand a chance in a taste test with chocolate). So I go for sheer enjoyment and look for the best quality that I can afford. I discovered that when I buy quality chocolate, I treasure it more, and actually eat less. With so many specialty markets and health food stores on NYC’s UWS, I never have a problem finding the “perfect” piece. A good rule of thumb for chocolate (for any food product) is to always read the label so you know exactly what you are getting. Make sure the chocolate contains real ingredients– no fillers, has a high cocoa content, 70 percent or greater, tastes rich, and has a low sugar content. Tonight I was craving something sweet and tart, so I went for a dark chocolate bar with tiny pieces of dried raspberries and another one loaded with chopped walnuts. A delightful way to bring in the new year!