foodies

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Simple Mills, My Favorite Healthy Cracker

Published November 7, 2016 by Maryanne

sam_1576Simple Mills Crackers go great with salsa! 

Since I discovered Simple Mills crackers a short time ago, I can’t stop raving about them. They are all natural, no GMOS, paleo-inspired — and delicious!

As a health nut, crackers were the last thing I’d eat. For a long time during my paleo inspired lifestyle I’d throw it to the wind on Sundays when I’d go for Mexican with my husband. But when I’m more paleo than not, I honestly feel better. So now, I can’t have Mexican food unless I have my Simple Mills crackers.

When I dip Simple Mills crackers into my salsa, I don’t feel so bloated.

I also use them to dip into guacamole or put them in organic chicken broth.

They come in different flavors but the sundried tomato and basil is my favorite.

For more information on Simple Mills, visit: http://www.simplemills.com/

Maryanne Christiano-Mistretta is a public speaker, very much into health. She currently writes for Vitamin Retailer Magazine. To contact Maryanne for lectures, email: maryannechristiano@gmail.com 

Dreaming Big with Drew Nieporent

Published April 21, 2016 by Maryanne

DrewHighRes-1Photo courtesy of Drew Nieporent

This article originally appeared in the spring edition of DiningOut (Bergen/Hudson County, New Jersey edition).

Dreaming Big with Drew Nieporent

By Maryanne Christiano-Mistretta

“You have to dream large if you’re gonna win.”

That is sound advice from America’s legendary restaurateur, Drew Nieporent, founder of the Myriad Restaurant Group, which operates: Tribecca Grill, Nobu New York City, Nobu Fifty Seven, Nobu London, Nobu Next Door, Bâtard, and Crush Wine & Spirits.

In addition to opening and operating over 35 restaurants worldwide, Myriad most recently helped open The Daily Burger at Madison Square Garden.

Born and raised in New York City, Nieporent had fond memories of his Jewish grandmother’s “amazing matzo ball soup,” though his actress mom, who entertained often, liked making frozen food. “…typical sixties mother,” he said.

Growing up in the 1960s, Nieporent was inspired by the confidence of Muhammad Ali, known for his quote, “I am the greatest.” And it was Joe Namath making it into the Super Bowl in 1969 that got Nieporent’s wheels turning that he, too, wanted to be a success.

Nieporent’s father worked for NY State Liquor Authority in the 1960s and exposed his son to diverse restaurants. “Chinese, French, Italian … I took to it right away,” said Nieporent. “I always knew I wanted to open more than one restaurant.”

Early on Nieporent said he was fortunate to work on cruise ships and began his management career at New York City’s Maxwell’s Plum and Tavern on the Green. He went on to work at French restaurants Le Périgold, La Grenouille and Plaza Athenee’s Le Regence.

The Montrachet was Nieporent’s first restaurant, which opened in 1985 and earned three stars from The New York Times. Robert De Niro came to Montrachet as a guest and asked Nieporent if he wanted to do another restaurant in Tribecca.

Jokingly, Nieporent said, “You talking to me?” referring to De Niro’s famous movie quote from “Taxi Driver.”

Together Nieporent and De Niro opened up Tribecca Grill in April, 1990. Investors included Bill Murray, Sean Penn, and Mikhail Baryshnikov.

Four years later, off the success of Tribecca Grill, they opened Nobu New York City, with Japanese celebrity chef Nobuyuki “Nobu” Matsuhisa as chef and owner. Matsuhisa is known for his fusion cuisine, blending traditional Japanese dishes with South American ingredients. Black cod in miso is Matsuhisa’s signature dish.

Today there are 32 Nobu restaurants around the world. “The flavors are amazing,” said Nieporent. “Nobody really puts out the food in the unique fashion that Nobu does.” Nobu menu favorites include: yellowtail with jalapeno; and tiradito made with special citrus.

In 1994, in collaboration with De Niro, Robin Williams, and Francis Ford Coppola, Nieporent opened Rubicon in San Francisco.

Now, so many years later, Bâtard won best new restaurant in May, 2015.

Of all Nieporent’s restaurants, he is quick to say he doesn’t have a favorite. “I always say I relate to my restaurants like I relate to my children,” Nieporent said. “I don’t play favorites.”

When asked if he has plans for opening a new restaurant Nieporent said he didn’t. “I take them as it comes,” he said. “The reality is I’m content with what we have. In the restaurant business, you have to keep an eye on what you have. The most important thing is that we stood the test of time. I think what’s really important is looking over our shoulder and keeping the restaurants strong and vibrant.”

When asked what advice he’d give to someone who was considering going into the restaurant business, Nieporent said to “Think long and hard about doing it. Today the odds are stocked against you. Costs are up … food costs … payroll … You have to dot ever ‘I’ and cross every ‘T’ … you have to be accurate of your bookkeeping when it comes to your staff and payroll.”

On his down time, Nieporent loves to cook at home, typically for the holidays, adding, “I love barbecuing pork chops on the grill.”

During the winter months, like most others, Nieporent enjoys warm, cozy meals. He said, “Nothing’s more delicious than a good stew or a good chili … a beef stew with a good cut of meat and lots of chilies. My wife makes a delicious Texas style chili that I love. We do an onion soup with a melted cheese at Tribecca Grill that’s very comforting.”

When dining out in Piermont, New York, where he lives now, still close to Bergen County, just over the border in Rockland County New York, Nieporent favors the Italian restaurant, Confetti. He also enjoys Peter X. Kelly’s restaurant in Yonkers, Xaviars X2O. “It’s really a special place,” he said of the exquisite glass framed French/Italian/Spanish influenced dining salon with a 25 foot vaulted ceiling and three walls of glass frame offering views of the George Washington and Tappen Zee bridges.

And when dining out in New Jersey, Nieporent loves Arturo’s in Midland Park; Brasserie Brandman in Park Ridge; and Dim Sum Dynasty and Latour in Ridgewood, where he was a longtime resident until he recently moved back to New York with his wife so they’d be closer to her parents.

Nevertheless, Nieporent has fond memories of life in Bergen County. “It was the perfect situation,” he said. “My kids had great schools … We had a beautiful yard … It was easy to get around.”

Maryanne Christiano-Mistretta is an award-winning journalist and public speaker. She is available to speak at libraries on healthy dining out. She can be reached at: maryannechristiano@gmail.com

 

Healthy Pasta Alternatives at William E. Dermody Library, Carlstadt, New Jersey

Published April 7, 2016 by Maryanne

SAM_9882Cold sesame noodles made with Dreamfields pasta

Last night I had a blast presenting my lecture “Healthy Pasta Alternatives” at the William E. Dermody Library (http://carlstadt.bccls.org/) in Carlstadt, New Jersey.

We had a great turn out, including my sister!

The next “Healthy Pasta Alternatives” lecture will be presented Saturday, April 16, 2016, 1 p.m. at the Fairfield Library, Fairfield, New Jersey. To sign up, call 973-227-3575. The lecture is free, but you must call to sign up.

SAM_9885Maryanne Christiano-Mistretta, former lead market editor DiningOut

SAM_9873

Here is the synopsis for “Healthy Pasta Alternatives”

Pasta: A Healthy Staple Food

Pasta, a typical dish of unleavened dough of a durum wheat flour, has been a traditional Italian staple, dated back to 1154 in Sicily.

It can be presented in a variety of shapes and made with flour from cereals or grains, and eggs. It’s a simple dish that can be served hot or cold, varying in taste, color and texture.

Discover how pasta evolved and changed over time – from a small simple item to an elaborate culinary dish.

Learn about the nutritional value of pasta, which contains complex carbohydrates, essential nutrients such as iron, vitamin B and folic acid. And depending on the flour, may also be a good source of protein.

Gather information about healthy pasta options such as: brown rice noodles, soy noodles, seaweed noodles, buck wheat noodles, squash pasta, and more!

This presentation will include a cold pasta salad made with one of the healthy noodle alternatives.

For cost and availability, contact Maryanne Christiano-Mistretta at: maryannechristiano@gmail.com

Maryanne Christiano-Mistretta is the former editor of New Jersey Health & Fitness and former lead market editor of DiningOut (Bergen/Hudson County edition).

Arugula, Mushroom & Walnut Salad

Published January 6, 2016 by Maryanne

SAM_9463Arugula, Mushroom & Walnut Salad

Not too long ago I treated myself to the Lydia Lunch cookbook, “The Need to Feed.”

In Lydia Lunch fashion, she offers deep and sometimes dark commentary for each chapter. Her side notes that accompany the recipes are witty and sassy. This book has something for everyone: vegan, vegetarian, paleo, decadent, smoothies, and juices.

I just made the Arugula, Mushroom & Walnut Salad dish for me and my husband. It was fabulous! My husband who often doesn’t finish his salads, cleaned his plate!

Here is Lydia’s recipe, along with my slight alters. ENJOY!

Serves 2

Large bunch of fresh argular

Handful of cremini mushrooms

1/2 cup walnut pieces

Salad Dressing

1 glove of garlic, crushed and minced

1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon lemon juice, or to taste (Note: I used half a lemon!)

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar (Note: A little more for me here, too!)

1/2 teaspoon of honey or to taste (Note: I used buckwheat honey, which was incredible!)

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil (Note: cold-pressed!)

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Crumbled goat cheese or shaved Parmesan cheese (optional), for serving (Note: I went with finely chopped raw milk Parmesan)

NOTE: I simplified the directions because her original words were hilarious, and I don’t want to reprint without permission.

Wash the arugula and pat it dry. Clean and slice the mushrooms. Toast the walnut pieces lightly in dry pan over low heat until fragrant. Remove from the pan to a plate to cool. Combine the arugula, mushrooms, and walnuts in a large bowl.

Whisk the garlic, mustard, lemon juice, vinegar, honey, and oil.

Drizzle over salad. Add salt, pepper, and optional cheese. Toss.

Maryanne Christiano-Mistretta is a public speaker and offers lectures on healthy living to libraries and senior groups. Contact at: maryannechristiano@gmail.com for rates and availability.

The Hearth, New Hope, PA

Published November 9, 2015 by Maryanne

SAM_9180The Hearth

My first visit to The Heart, in New Hope, Pennsylvania: http://hearthnewhope.com/

This is a cozy restaurant. They play excellent music (like Traveling Wilburys and Bob Dylan).

They specialize in vegetarian, so I had a chickpea burger, with a side salad. It was a little dry, as was the salad. They are chintzy with the dressing; you could barely taste it.

The best was the dessert, pictured below, Raw Chocolate Mousse: avocado, cashew, cacao, agave blend topped with raspberries and toasted coconut. [Note: I make a similar pudding at home with frozen acai, banana, honey and avocado. It sounds weird, but the avocado gives it the pudding consistency and it really does taste like pudding!]

My husband had the Flourless Chocolate Torte [also pictured below] which is gluten free. I had a taste and it was very rich.

The Ethiopian coffee was perfect.

SAM_9174Raw chocolate Mousse w/pear

SAM_9175Flourless Chocolate Torte

Upstairs is nice and cozy, with a beautiful stained glass window, though with the acoustics, it’s a shame it’s too loud and you can hear conversations at everyone’s tables — even a soft whisper sounds loud. Luckily we were able to enjoy the dessert portion of our meal when a foursome left and only another quiet couple were upstairs with us.

Maryanne Christiano-Mistretta is the managing editor of Dining Out magazine and a serious Yelp-er.

When It Comes to Food, Go Where the Love Is!

Published September 24, 2015 by Maryanne

SAM_8617Having fun — at a DINER! ❤

I recently became managing editor of an upcoming food magazine. It’s a great thing, because I love to eat. I flip flop between eating very healthy and going for good ol’ diner food. And there’s a reason why I am not militant about eating healthy all the time.

When I first came on board as managing editor, I was thrilled to see how many farm-to-table restaurants there are, but a little leery about the pretense that comes with it. I’ve been to so many restaurants, some are just too “foo foo” for my tastes that I’d never set foot in them again.

Of all the restaurants I’ve been to in my life, I have to say Pure Food & Wine on Irving in New York City is the ONLY restaurant that rates five stars with both food and service. Every time I’ve been there, I’ve been treated like a queen and the food was amazing. But then again, what do you expect from a place that has a $6000 Japanese water filter?! The water is like silk!  And no attitudes at all! That’s why Pure Food & Wine will always be my favorite. However, I don’t live in NYC, so I don’t get to go as much as I’d like. And since no other restaurant quite adds up to Pure Food & Wine, it’s often a toss up. What is most important? Good food? Good service? Healthy, natural food? Price?

Your guess is as good as mine. If I’m going out to eat, it just depends what area I’m in that day.

About half a year ago, I vowed never to go back to a certain gluten-free eatery because the service was the pits. Today I was in a health food store I was never in before. The cashiers and manager had such piss poor attitudes. These are the kind of women my husband and I call “Health Hags.” That means women who work in a health food store but are ugly inside and out, the opposite of a picture of health!

I gave this terrible store bad reviews all over the internet and even sent them an email that they could learn something from McDonalds. Check out this heart-warming story: http://nextshark.com/mcdonalds-worker/

I won’t even talk about the food I got in that health food store today because it’s irrelevant. When you get bad service, you can’t even properly enjoy your food. Of course you’re upset so you eat without truly tasting. This is why I say, it’s sometimes better to eat cheaper, crappier food — IF you are in a more relaxed environment.

The other day when I was on the cable show in Long Island, my friend and I hit a diner on the way back. We had Greek salads and sweet potato fries. Of course the salad was non-organic. And the fries were probably sugar-coated. But because the service was so fantastic, we ate in peace and really enjoyed our meal, which was stretched out to two hours! This is most likely why they say countries like France and Italy have less of an obesity rate than the United States — because they eat slow and enjoy. When you’re not stressed, you digest better. This is why I say, you can eat all the kale you want, but if you’re not happy, it ain’t gonna do you any good! (DO YOU HEAR THAT HEALTH HAGS?!)

So, next time you’re thinking about going on the road, please, do not stress over cooking in your hotel room or even seeking out the nearest health food store. Just go to a freakin’ diner and ENJOY! You’ll probably get a sexy cougar type waitress, chewing gum and calling you “Hunny Bunny.” Can’t beat that and you certainly won’t get that kind of cool in a farm-to-table restaurant or health food store!

Maryanne Christiano-Mistretta is a health advocate and a public speaker. She presents various health topics, including healthy food samples. For bio, rates, and availability, email her at: maryannechristiano@gmail.com

Girls Afternoon Out!

Published May 30, 2015 by Maryanne

SAM_7526Vegan deliciousness from Loving Hut, Matawan, New Jersey

It was super awesome spending an afternoon out with my friend Linda J., one of my favorite people! (Her boyfriend and my husband are great friends). Linda is vegan and I was dying for her to come to Loving Hut in Matawan, New Jersey (http://lovinghut.us/matawan_01/). The great thing about Loving Hut as opposed to other vegan restaurants is that it’s not just about fake meat, it’s about freshness!

We shared the spring rolls (above). The sauce was peanut mixed with Hoison. These wraps were so fabulous. They had mint leaves inside them!

We both had a kale salad mixed with dried cranberries and sunflower seeds and chickpea soup with straw mushrooms.

I had a raw vegan coconut macaroon for dessert.

After that we went shopping: health food store shopping, fine wine shopping and finally clothes shopping.

Then nothing beats walking into a store and hearing your favorite band HIM doing “The Sacrament”! ❤ With all the garbage you hear when you’re in stores, this was a super refreshing treat! I almost died of happiness overkill!!

I just love spending my Saturdays with girlfriends! It’s such a blessing!

SAM_5880From last summer: Left to right, Darlene, me and Linda