a taste of fall, featuring spaghetti squash

For the past few months, I’ve been on the zoodle bandwagon. It’s a delicious, healthy, and incredibly easy dish to prepare. However, to celebrate the changing of the seasons, I decided to switch it up a bit by swapping out zucchini for spaghetti squash. Continue reading “a taste of fall, featuring spaghetti squash”

5 reasons I decided to move abroad after graduation

Senior year of college brought with it all sorts of feels, the most prominent of which was an impending sense of doom mixed in with lots and lots of nostalgia. That may sound dramatic, but I loved the person I had become after four years in college. I loved my friends, the activities I was involved in, and the classes I was taking. I was happy, so I suppose the “impending sense of doom” I speak of was really just a fear of unhappiness, a fear of losing the places and the people that made me feel so alive in college. Continue reading “5 reasons I decided to move abroad after graduation”

Umi Kitchen: Home Cooking, Delivered

Craving authentic, homemade food but don’t have time during the week to cook? Look no further than Umi Kitchen, a platform designed to connect talented home chefs with families and individuals craving home cooked meals delivered to their very doorstep.

Screen Shot 2015-09-09 at 9.51.17 PM“We source the best local culinary talent – folks cooking on their own time and out of their own Umi Kitchens, whether professionally trained or just plain incredible cooks – and provide an entrepreneurial outlet and opportunity for them to share their home cooking with a broader audience in their community,” explains Hallie Meyer, co-founder and head of community at Umi, which translates to “my mother” in Arabic.

While the home cooked meals will surely make your mouth water, they are just one ingredient in the larger Umi recipe, the goal of which is to accompany each meal with a story. By doing so, Umi hopes to create a community one meal at a time while changing the way that people eat in the process.

“We believe a home cooked meal made personally, intentionally, and with care, is the best kind of meal there is,” writes the Umi team on their website. “Everyone – no matter how busy, young, or old – should enjoy real, healthful, delicious home cooking.”

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Meyer grew up in New York City surrounded by a family in the restaurant business. Although she spent her childhood living and breathing the world of food and hospitality, “at the end of the day, there was nothing we loved more than cooking and eating at home,” she tells me.

Meyer’s co-founder, Khalil Tawil, has a unique relationship with food himself. While serving in the army in Afghanistan, Tawil got a taste of home every time his mother sent over her home cooking.

Drawing on their gastronomic experiences and hungry to create a community of like-minded chefs and diners, the Umi Kitchen team is now in the process of raising funds to launch the platform in the big apple.

“NYC is our go-to market,” explains Meyer, “given the incredible amount of culinary talent we know is hiding everywhere, and the amount of families and individuals who care about putting good food on their tables.”

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If you’re convinced that sometimes, home is the best restaurant in town, Umi is for you. Although they’re not delivering at the moment, they will be soon so sign up on their website to stay tuned for updates. In the meantime, check out Umi’s Instagram account loaded with pictures of home cooked meals and tag #UmiKitchen for a chance to be featured.

a taste of fall, featuring a healthy apple crisp

Since graduating from college, the month of September has taken on a whole new meaning. Although the days are getting shorter and August is slowly fading away into my memory, this no longer means trips to Staples, a back-to-school wardrobe, or first-day-of-school jitters. For the first time in a really long time, it just feels like autumn. And maybe, just maybe, I can actually enjoy the changing of the seasons by spending more time outside rather than cooped up in library cubicles dimly lit with the ever-so-flattering fluorescent glow.

I also plan on taking advantage of all the seasonal produce available in the coming months, such as squash, cranberries, and my personal favorite: sweet potatoes.

“It’s not a coincidence that we have some of our best and our biggest food holiday in the fall,” explains Global Produce Coordinator of Whole Foods, Chris Romano, in an article on Rodale Wellness. “The warm days and cold nights of autumn make for ideal growing conditions… And, one of the best things about autumn produce is that Mother Nature really offers us the types of fruits and vegetables we crave during the cooler months like hearty root vegetables, gratifying pears and filling squashes.”

First fall order of business: apple crisp. I decided to put a healthy spin on an original favorite by making the dessert gluten-free and sweetening it only with honey.

Ingredients:

Filling:

  • 13 apples (10 for the filling, 3 for the topping)
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon all spice
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • zest from 1/2 lemon

Topping:

  • 1 1/2 cup certified gluten-free oats
  • 1 cup densely packed almond meal 
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • Dollop of greek yogurt

Instructions:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Peel, core, and slice 10 of the apples into bite-sized pieces. Toss them together with the cinnamon, all spice, nutmeg, lemon juice, and zest.
  2. After evenly distributing the apple mixture in your baking dish, combine the ingredients for the topping into a medium-sized bowl and mix thoroughly.
  3. Evenly distribute the mixture over the apple filling.
  4. Take the remaining 3 apples (not peeled, cored, or sliced) and use a mandoline or a sharp knife to slice them into thin rounds. Place the rounds along the edges of the baking sheet to form a border.
  5. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 50 minutes. Then remove the foil and bake for another 5-10 minutes until the top becomes golden brown.
  6. Serve with a dollop of greek yogurt on top.

adventuring out of nyc

Don’t get me wrong, I love the spending time in the big apple. From museums to restaurants to monuments, it’s literally impossible to be bored. But sometimes, I need a reprieve from the hustle and bustle of the city that never sleeps to spend time in nature. Thankfully, I have been able to do just that by swimming, hiking, and soaking up a healthy dose of Vitamin D. I call it my weekend exhales.

After all that swimming, a girl’s gotta eat. And a big appetite appetite can only mean one thing: farmers markets. Come late-summer, outdoor markets are in full swing, which means there is an abundance of local fruits and vegetables that haven’t traveled very far and are often fresher and more nutritious than anything I could buy at the grocery store. Plus, there’s nothing quite like meeting the farmer who planted the seeds and tended the soil so that the tomatoes could grow and eventually end up in my kitchen. Sounds like a win-win to me.  

Here are some snapshots of my favorite late-summer fruits and vegetables.

5 things to learn from Michael Pollan

For years, people have been telling me to read Michael Pollan‘s work. But only a few weeks ago did In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto finally creep to the top of my “books-to-read” list. And oh boy am I glad that it did.

Pollan somehow manages to comb through the overwhelming amount of conflicting nutritional research and present not only a disturbing account of the American food industry, but also a historical analysis of our relationship with food in addition to succinct recommendations for how we should be eating.

http://www.amazon.com/In-Defense-Food-Eaters-Manifesto/dp/0143114964
http://www.amazon.com/In-Defense-Food-Eaters-Manifesto/dp/0143114964

The crux of Pollan’s argument is that people should “Eat Food. Not too much. Mostly Plants.” Now you may be thinking, what else is there to eat besides food? Well, according to Pollan, many of the products in grocery stores today are “foodlike substances” rather than real food. To help you distinguish between the two, I’ve summarized the manifesto into 5 bite-sized nuggets of wisdom:

  1. Don’t eat anything that your great-grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food (read: Go-Gurt Portable Yogurt or non-dairy creamers) because they probably contain chemical additives in addition to corn and soy derivatives.
  2. Avoid food products that contain unpronounceable or unfamiliar ingredients. Do you know what sodium stearoyl lactylate is? Yea, me either. And while you’re at it, avoid foods that have high-fructose corn syrup in the ingredient list.
  3. Avoid food products that make health claims because they are often founded on erroneous science and are big warning signs that the product in question is not real food.
  4. When possible, shop the peripheries of the supermarket where you can find dairy, produce, meat, and fish. Try to stay out of the aisles where processed foods are more likely to live. Better yet? Get out of the supermarket entirely and head to the farmers’ market or join a CSA.
  5. Pay more, eat less. If we buy cheap foods that require very little, if any, time or effort to prepare, we’re bound to eat more of them. Think about it, if you had to wash, peel, and bake your sweet potato fries, how many of them would you be eating? Surprisingly enough, Americans spend a smaller percentage of our income on food than any other industrialized society. And as our spending on food has declined, the opposite has happened with health care costs, which leads us to doubt if food is the best place to economize our budgets.