Category Archives: lose weight

Foodbuzz 24×24: Kids Cooking Club

Last week, I told you that there was something exciting happening soon at Camp Endeavor. My Kids Cooking Club proposal  was chosen to be a part of this months 24×24, sponsored by Foodbuzz, and our meal was Saturday night! The concept was to have a group of kids at camp come up with a menu for our Saturday night cookout. Once the meal was decided on, they would help prepare the meal for their fellow campers. Reminded me a bit of Dinner Impossible, but I was hoping for a little less stress.


There was no problem in finding enough campers to help, in fact so many of them wanted to be involved that we decided to hold another Kids Cooking Club in a few weeks. I just can’t turn down kids who want to cook! After the group was decided on, it was time to get to work.

Armed with some cookbooks and a handout on planning a menu with a few ideas, we discussed how to build a menu, pick a theme and prepare food that everyone will like. They decided to go with an Italian theme and I couldn’t have been more impressed with the menu they decided on. Whoever says that kids will only eat mac & cheese hasn’t met these kids. The only steering I had to do was suggest a vegetable side instead of a starch – the spinach in the salad? Entirely their idea.


  • Grilled Pizzas with Fresh Herbs and Veggie Toppings Bar
  • Romaine & Spinach Salad with Home-made Croutons & Dressing
  • Vanilla Ice Cream with Fresh Berries or Grilled Fruit


Most of the campers opted to go to the pool instead of to the store – a choice I would have made myself if given the choice – it was a hot day! Fewer people allowed for a quick and easy trip, just what we wanted considering what was ahead of us.

I even learned something new at the store from Emily! She taught me a way to tell if pineapple is ripe –  if the leaves pull out easily, the pineapple is ready to eat!

We also had an interesting dilemma in the pizza aisle. When comparing the whole wheat pizza crust vs the white pizza crust, I expected to show Emily the reasons why whole wheat is a better choice – more fiber, protein, vitamins, etc. Oddly enough, the nutrition stats were exactly the same and the ingredients? Essentially the same as well. I’m not sure if there was a mistake in the ingredient list, but the only difference in the crusts seemed to be the color. I let Emily decide which crust to go with and she decided on the Thin & Crispy because, “we’ve had enough whole-wheat.” Ahh, you can’t win them all 🙂


The plan of attack – with about 3 hours before dinner- was to make the ranch dressing first, in order to let the flavors meld together. We would then make the croutons, move on to the pizza toppings, which were all going to be sautéed, and finish up with the salad and dessert preparation. The actual pizzas would be prepared and cooked once we got up to the grill and right before dinner.

We chopped more fruits and veggies then I’ve ever done in an afternoon and also sampled a lot of fresh herbs, vegetables and fruits along the way. A few of the kids had never had fresh pineapple before and they were shocked at how delicious it is!

We sometimes overhear campers longing for certain foods – typically fast food and pop, but on our walk over to the grilling/lake area, I overheard them saying, “when I get home I’m going to have my Mom buy me 7 pineapples!” I can’t be certain, but I think I had a huge grin on my face at that moment. This is what I’m here for, to introduce kids to fresh foods and have them longing for pineapple, not pop.

The Meal:

When someone asks for the recipe to a salad, you know you’ve done something right. But I can’t take the credit for this one – the campers came up with this salad idea. The fresh herbs added some flavor they weren’t used to and the home-made croutons and ranch dressing made the salad a definite crowd-pleaser.

Our grilled pizzas were served along with a “toppings bar” where everyone could choose what toppings they wanted to add to their pizza slice – sautéed peppers, onions, mushrooms and olives were the choices and it was up to the campers if they wanted all or nothing, and everything in between. The pizzas turned out fabulous, the crispy crust was a perfect base for a mound of toppings.

The boys were still talking about the salad the next day and while not all of them were fans of the feta or fans of the dressing, they all tried it, and most loved it.

Dessert was a hit too, I often forget how good ice cream is with some fresh berries and I was introduced to how good it is with grilled fruits as well. Grilling the pineapple and nectarines caramelizes the sugars and turns it into an amazing treat!  It truly was the perfect ending to the perfect cookout.

Will we do it again? We just might have to. I don’t want to stop introducing cooking, fresh & wholesome foods to kids, one delicious meal at a time. Thanks to Foodbuzz for a wonderful evening!



Filed under article, eating local, fruit, great meals, grocery shopping, ice cream, lose weight, salad, vegetables, whole foods, whole grains

a better nacho

This summer at Camp Endeavor I will be leading a lot of cooking classes and I couldn’t be more excited! Last year we made Spring Rolls and they were a big hit, I love seeing kids try new foods and enjoy things they don’t think they will. I wanted to test out some new recipes before camp starts and this one is so delicious I had to share!

After watching Food Revolution, I was really inspired by Jamie’s addition of vegetables in everyday dishes like sloppy joes and nachos. In a quest for healthier alternatives to kid favorites I thought that nachos would be a great meal to have the kids at camp prepare as well as a recipe that they could then prepare for their families once they returned home.

The mission: Make nachos into a healthy meal and include as many vegetables as possible.

The result: A filling, well-rounded meal that is stuffed with vegetables and enjoyed by everyone – kids and adults.

Beef & Veggie Nachos – 4 servings

  • 16 oz grassfed beef
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 zucchini, chopped
  • 4 oz mushrooms, roughly chopped
  • 1 green pepper, chopped
  • 1 can fiesta corn, drained
  • seasonings: cumin, cayenne pepper, salt & pepper
  • tortilla chips
  • shredded cheese
  • toppings: chopped tomatoes, green onions, black olives, lettuce, salsa and sour cream
  • 1 can refried black beans

Heat large pan. Add beef and onions to pan, cooking for about 4 minutes. Add zucchini, mushrooms, peppers and seasonings. Let simmer until no pink meat remains, about 4-5 minutes.

Heat can of refried beans or black beans and turn on broiler. Layer tortilla chips on pan. Top with beans, beef mixture and top with a sprinkle of cheese. Broil until the cheese has melted, about 3-4 minutes.

Serve nachos with additional toppings and napkins. 🙂


Filed under beans, cheese, eating experiment, great meals, lose weight, protein, Recipes, Uncategorized, vegetables, whole foods, whole grains

ask the nutritionist: at the salad bar

The salad bar can be a great place to build-you-own balanced meal or a place where you can feel like you are eating healthy when it really isn’t the case.

In college, the salad bar was my favorite aspect of dorm dining – when else do you have access to rows of clean and cut veggies? I frequented it on a daily basis and firmly believe that it helped prevent the dreaded freshman 15.

While I don’t get to the salad bar quite as often these days, it does make a great stand-in for those days that I don’t bring my own lunch. Here are my guidelines for building the perfect salad:

  • The lettuce base: the darker the better, think spinach and spring greens for the majority, and some romaine for added crunch if desired. Fill most of the container with lettuce.
  • Load up on veggies: add as many vegetables as you can, remembering the rainbow – think cucumber, broccoli, bell peppers, carrots, tomatoes, sprouts, etc.
  • Add a protein: tofu, beans, chicken or lean deli meats. This will add some staying power to your salad.
  • The Extras: I sometimes like to add some deli salads for a little something extra, sometimes a grain or pasta, sometimes a veggie salad like the marinated Italian veggies shown here. If choosing a grain or mayo-based salad, stick to less than 1/2 cup.
  • Fat & Flavor: Add 1 Tbsp of nuts (choose nuts over croutons) or flavorful cheese (feta, blue or parmesan) for some healthy fats and extra flavor.
  • Dressing: Instead of the typical ranch dressing, try using  a balsamic vinaigrette or a sprinkle of olive oil and vinegar over your salad.

What ingredients does your ideal salad bar have?


Filed under antioxidants, ask the nutritionist, cheese, fats, great meals, grocery shopping, lose weight, nuts, protein, salad, tomatoes, Uncategorized, vegetables, whole foods

book review: The World Has Curves

This was a book that I was instantly drawn to but was honestly in my pile of “recipes to try, books to read, restaurants to visit and workout moves to do” for months. I’m sure my mother will smile at the visual of me surrounded by a ridiculous amount of papers, but they are all neatly contained in folders Mom. 😉 (I frequently give her a hard time about her papers and lists that cover every flat surface in their house – all in love!) And she is clearly where I got my list-writing skills from!

I am so sorry that I waited so long to read this book. Especially after my visit to Haiti, I knew this book would be one that really made me think about the ever-touchy subject of body image. The premise is that different cultures have widely variable body type “ideals.” Countries and cultures have almost opposite body ideals, but in most cultures, there are always ideals that women strive to reach. Some are becoming closer and closer to the Western standards we see, but others are holding onto their own ideals.

Women in Jamaica for example would scoff at some of the size 2 Hollywood models that we admire. They want curves and they want big curves. But what struck me the most was this quote: “God gave me this body as it is; I can’t change it and even if I did it would go right back,” and similarly “We are born with a certain something that we must do our best with. I myself believe this. You can tone up your muscles a bit and lose or gain a bit of weight here and there, but your basic shape will always return to its natural shape.” These words of wisdom remind me of how many times I’ve purchased “curvy fit” pants to only find out time and time again that I’m not curvy. “Curvy” has always appealed to me in some way – it seems womanly, it seems real and there is nothing better than a curvy girl with some self-confidence. But I wasn’t born with a curvy body and no matter what I do, (short of plastic surgery) my body will always hold onto that boyish shape.

But what is interesting is that while we obsess over the roll in our stomach, they’re consumed with the pressure to have big hips, thighs, “bumpas” and breasts, all fitting into the “perfect ratio” – and taking the very same “extreme” approach to gaining weight that we take to lose weight. Since most women are built with bigger bottoms, I think that their ideal may seem a little more realistic, but that certainly could be argued and certainly depends on the body you are given.

Take Jennifer Hudson, the newest Weight Watchers spokes woman. When I first saw the commercial, my thoughts were that she looked good, curvy and downright beautiful.  Not that she needed to cut calories and hit the gym more often. I just wish that we could teach our young girls that as long as they are eating well and moving often, a larger body shape is nothing to be ashamed of. But our culture, among others is one that prizes tall and lean. I wonder if this will ever shift?

While the same “chubby” body type is also appreciated in Afghanistan, there is no emphasis on the “ratio” nor on body shape as much as in other cultures. “Beauty is the whole person,” not so much a feature or specific part of the body. It was very difficult for Afghani women to describe the “perfect body,” something I doubt would ever happen here.

The trends seem to be going in a different direction here in the US now, you don’t want to be overweight, but skinny fat isn’t healthy either. The women of today want to show their strength and determination through their toned biceps. We also want to see what our bodies can do and how far we can push them – the number of women participating in triathlons and marathons is on the rise. How much attention has Michelle Obama gotten for those arms of hers?


I would highly recommend this book to every woman – it is so interesting to read about the struggles that women go through in other countries to reach that perfect body – something most of us are all too familiar with. I know that I myself have been trying to look at my body differently – not as a size, not as a flat tummy or not having a flat tummy, but taking care of myself and considering optimal health the ideal. Eating whole, nutritious foods, moving frequently and fitting in yoga so that I can breathe in this hectic world. Because really, what are we without good health and more importantly, what are we without the love, joy and passion that can be sucked out of us on the quest to “perfection?”


Filed under book review, haiti, lose weight, travel, Uncategorized

ask the nutritionist: holiday eating

With Christmas/Chanukah behind us and New Years Eve ahead of us I’m interested to hear how you all stay healthy through the Holidays. I know in past years I’ve felt a little sluggish and “heavy” but this year I feel great and don’t think I’ve really put on any weight – if so, it is a minimal amount. I think this is because:

  • I remained active (including snow-shoeing with mom and hotel gym)
  • The “Holidays” are not a month-long event for me
  • I eat great food year-round – this is not a once-in-a-year chance (with the exception of some cookies)
  • I enjoyed cookies and treats but because I never denied myself, I never over-did it

How are you feeling this year? And what did you do to keep up with your healthy lifestyle? (if you are into that sort of thing 😉 )


Filed under ask the nutritionist, in season, lose weight, Uncategorized

ask the nutritionist: calorie counting

I’m often asked about calorie counting and whether or not I do it. It’s one of those things that people love or hate. I love doing it – but not on myself.  I’ve gone through various phases where I estimated and wrote down everything I ate. I’ve kept track of fruits and vegetables, grams of fiber (The F Factor Diet) and most recently I’ve used the Lose-It app on the iphone. This app is fabulous if you are counting anything and is easy and fast to use. Except one minor problem – it makes me absolutely insane. I always have a rough idea about how many calories I’m eating but when there is a running total throughout the day? I swear there is some button that turns on and makes me want to eat everything in sight. Which is why I don’t count anything anymore. I just listen to my body. I like to check-in with myself every so often to make sure I’m not too far off base or if my jeans are tight but last week when I tried it for fun (yes, apparently this is the sort of thing nutritionists find fun…) but I noticed almost an immediate change in how I felt. I felt I needed to eat and I needed to eat less, all to just get the right “number”. How ridiculous.  So the moral of the story is that everyone is different and everyone’s bodies are different (another whole lesson in itself) and what works for me might not work for you. Listen to yourself and find YOUR balance!

What works for you?

Leave a comment

Filed under ask the nutritionist, lose weight

book review: Naturally Thin

Of course being a 20-something lady I love the Real Housewives show and Bethanny from the NY show is one of my faves because I think we have some similar ideas and thoughts on food, eating and enjoying life. So I was of course excited to read her new book titled, Naturally Thin.
I wasn’t really sure what to expect from this book but many of her “10 Rules” make a lot of sense to me. My favorite was: Know Yourself – this means that you really need to listen to your own body and everyone is different so it doesn’t make sense that you would eat exactly the same as someone else. I also appreciate that no food is off-limits and it is not about counting calories, carbs or anything else. I hope to try some of her recipes as well. Her Spinach, Chive and Ricotta Linguini sounded especially good.
There were a few things that I didn’t like however –
There were a few “side bar” comments regarding celebrities, which maybe helps sell books but it seemed a little bit like “I know so and so celebrity”.
Also some of her days she seems to barely eat anything at all and will skip a meal and a snack in a row. Now this goes back to the “know yourself” rule, which I do agree with to a certain extent, sometimes on the weekends I’m not as hungry for lunch so I’ll just kind of snack, but I don’t know about you but I can’t just skip meals and then snacks…..Just doesn’t happen in my world. 🙂
And lastly, being the food lover that I am, having “2 bites” of a great pasta or meal is not realistic to me. I don’t need a plate-full of pasta, but I’m going to have more than “2 bites”.
I guess with all diet books, if you can take a few snippets of good information to apply to real life it can be considered a benefit!


Filed under ask the nutritionist, book review, lose weight, whole foods