health food

All posts tagged health food

Easy Homemade Miso Soup

Published January 12, 2016 by Maryanne

SAM_9494Homemade Miso Soup (photo by Maryanne Christiano-Mistretta)

Miso soup is one of the healthiest dishes and this is the first time I ever made it. I can’t believe how great it came out. My husband loved it too. We both cleaned our dishes.

Here is the very easy recipe:

Ingredients

1 tablespoon dried wakame (I love Eden brand!)

2 scallions, sliced thin

4 ounces of firm tofu, cubed

3 tablespoons white miso

1 teaspoon sesame oil

Directions

Soak wakame in cold water for five minutes (it will expand) and then drain.

Boil four cups of water in saucepan.

Add scallions and cook for two minutes

Add tofu and turn off heat.

Take some of the broth aside and mix with miso until smooth, then add to the saucepan, along with the wakame. Stir in sesame oil.

Healthy and delicious!

Maryanne Christiano-Mistretta is the former editor of NJ Health & Fitness and the column “Here’s to Your Health.” She presents lectures on healthy food choices at libraries and assisted living facilities. For rates and availability, contact Maryanne at: maryannechristiano@gmail.com

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.

Favorite Healthy Eats in Ocean City, New Jersey

Published October 10, 2015 by Maryanne

SAM_8693Photo by Maryanne Christiano-Mistretta

My husband and I treated ourselves to a beautiful three-day stay in Ocean City, New Jersey. We scored a penthouse suite overlooking the ocean with a heated pool and a jacuzzi in the room (we absolutely adored the place, but I’m not saying where we stayed because we love our privacy and do plan to go back — very soon!)

So, while being vague about our actual vacation, I will give a shout out to some places that had great eats!

Crab Trap: https://www.thecrabtrap.com/

The Crab Trap, after a 45-minute wait for a table, was a very good time. They had live entertainment and excellent service. Standouts include the crackers and horseradish on the table (very addicting!) and the clams on a half shell.

Yoasis: http://yogurt-oasis.com/

Right on the boardwalk! The signature Original Acai bowl was to die for: pure acaí, banana, almond milk blend, topped with granola, sliced banana, and honey. This is so delicious, after the first one I went back three hours later for another — and added spirulina the second time. I’m only home one day and I am missing this already! (And again excellent service!)

Rojos Tacos: http://www.octacos.com/

Wanting something simple and healthy, I opted for a large serving of guacamole. Theirs was fabulous. It was made with cilantro. Another place with excellent service!

Bashful Banana: http://www.bashfulbananacafe.com/

Also on the boardwalk. I love this place because I was able to get lunch for breakfast! I had a veggie burger with hummus, salad and fresh fruit; and a kale/carrot/celery juice. Delicious, fresh food and more great service! We ate outside, but when I went inside, it was super cool to hear The Archies playing “Sugar Sugar.”

And I have to give a shout out to Pamela’s (health food) in Margate: http://www.pamelashealth.com/

Pamela is a doll! I just stopped in for some zinc because I was a little under the weather. We ended up talking about cats for about 10 minutes! So I must say, they have some organic cat food I wasn’t able to find anywhere else. And you just can’t take a vacation without bringing a treat home to the little guy! ❤

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

Celebrating Mom and Pop Health Food Stores

Published May 15, 2015 by Maryanne

SAM_7343Basil Bandwagon (Photo by Maryanne Mistretta)

I took a much needed day off today and went on a little adventure and ended up, for the first time at two amazing health food stores I was never in before! Big Bear Natural Foods (http://www.bigbearnaturalfoods.com/) in Pennington, New Jersey and Basil Bandwagon (http://basil-bandwagon.tumblr.com/) in Flemington, New Jersey.

Basil Bandwagon has been around since 1993 and Big Bear since 1971 (with locations in Pennsylvania too!)

Since the mid-1980s when I first became health conscious, I was all about supporting the local health food stores. Back then, they were a real novelty. You go to the Mom and Pop stores and find amazing items you couldn’t find elsewhere. Then fast-forward to modern times and now all the big corporations like Shop Rite, Stop & Shop, A&P sell the goods, even the goods you’d least suspect: grass-fed beef, Miracle Noodles, kombucha and non-homogenized grass-fed milk. And that is a good thing, but not for the Mom and Pop stores. So I like to continue supporting them as much as possible.

The thing with Mom and Pop stores though is that they do jack their prices up, so my game plan is to look for sales or very unique products that are not yet in supermarkets.

Both stores went beyond my expectations!

At Big Bear I purchased Brad’s Kale Chips which were on sale. These raw chips are my favorite, but extremely pricey. So kudos to Big Bear for having a sale!

Then at Basil Bandwagon my favorite score was Nick’s Sticks (http://www.nicks-sticks.com/), grass-fed beef snacks with no nitrites, no added antibiotics or MSG (and no sugar either, I might add). These treats were absolutely delightful! As a little girl I favored Slim Jims (an unhealthy treat) and I gave them up in my early 20s learning how bad they were for you. Nick’s Sticks is the first grass-fed beef snack I ever had that was just as fabulous as Slim Jims — but they are GOOD for you. With 10 grams of protein, a fairly low sodium content for a snack, zero carbs, zero grams of sugar and nine grams of healthy fat — you can’t go wrong! This brings me back to the day of eating beef snack sticks on the porch, reading comic books, while my Grandma and Aunt Sophie chatted. What a great thing to have a healthy version of a favorite childhood treat!

And I’m ecstatic to say, the service at both Big Bear and Basil was excellent!

At Big Bear, the woman who helped me went out of her way looking for other health food stores in the area to help me find a product I was looking for. That’s how I came upon Basil Bandwagon, which was huge — possibly the biggest health food store I was ever in, including those in NYC. They had a counter where I ended up having a bean burger without bread. They put it on a huge salad platter, accompanied with fresh salsa. The greens were super fresh too. They had Bragg’s amino liquids on the counter and balsamic vinegar, as well as pink Himalayan sea salt. It’s so nice when health food stores go the extra mile for you and you don’t have to ask for stuff. Everyone in the store was extremely helpful and I spent a lot of time there.

You can guarantee I will be back at both health food stores

(Even though they are not in my area, they are well-worth the trip!)

And I gotta be honest too. Even though I’m a Young Living Oils distributor, I do LOVE a diffuser that was being used at Big Bear by a company called NOW. So I will be going back to get that diffuser. (No disrespect to Young Living, but hey, you gotta love my honesty! I still spend over $100 a month on Young Living products and always will. I’m just madly in love with that diffuser. Tee-hee!)

KUDOS to TWO AWESOME MOM AND POP HEALTH FOOD STORES!

YOU GIVE NEW JERSEY A GOOD NAME!

SAM_7349Looking forward to eating my Sea Snax!

Kudos to Surf Taco for Low Prices and Excellent Quality!

Published April 27, 2014 by Maryanne

SAM_4123GT’s Synergy Kombucha, only $3.79 at Surf Taco!

My husband Dennis and I have been a fan of Surf Taco for several years now. And I was even more impressed today, finding out they now carry kombucha in their Red Bank facility. Mind you, I’m not a “hipster” — I’ve been drinking this stuff since 2004!

But even more wonderful is that Surf Taco is awesome enough to keep the price low! In most grocery stores (Shop Rite, Whole Foods and Fairway) GT’s kombucha is $3.59. And in indie health food stores I’ve seen it as high as $4, even $5!

So a big shout out to Surf Taco for keeping it real!

Thank you Surf Taco — you rock!

And while I’m at it, I might add that their vegan burrito is to die for! Which brings me to another reason to give three cheers to Surf Taco — they know what vegan means (no cheese!) YAY!

Over the Rainbow

Published September 17, 2013 by Maryanne

over the rainbowSomewhere Over the Rainbow

An excerpt from my upcoming book, “On the Guest List”

Working in Montclair I soon discovered a unique health food store called Over the Rainbow – not to be confused with the nursery school of the same name.

Turned out, the owner, Bob Farina, was an old acquaintance, the Plasmatics fan. He didn’t remember me, even though I showed him some pictures of me as a teenager, over 20 years ago. I was now 38, but Bob thought I was only 24 so he had a hard time putting two and two together.

Bob Farina and his assistant Andy Loria were the salt of the earth. They kept their prices very low, which was unheard of in Montclair. They also fed the homeless and always sold cheap clothes for the homeless.

Over the Rainbow was like a shrine to the Plasmatics. Pictures of the late Wendy O. Williams, who died in 1998 due to a self-inflicted gun wound, were all over the place, including a copy of The Vegetarian Times, when Wendy O. was on the cover.

Bob shared with me that Wendy O. was the reason he got into health and she inspired him to open his store. Bob knew Wendy very well because he was not only known as the biggest Plasmatics fan, but he also did pyrotechnics for their live performances.

In addition to having all the Plasmatics memorabilia, Bob ran cool videos of movies such “The Wizard of Oz” and Laurel and Hardy flicks such as “March of the Wooden Soldiers” throughout the day. Bob also allowed a homeless woman to stay in his store during the cold winter months. He even set up a table and chair for her in the window store front.

It was so cool going to this bizarre punk rock luncheonette on a regular basis. This was something you just didn’t see – not even in New York City!

I decided it was a “must” to write an article about Bob Farina and Over the Rainbow for The Montclair Times. After my article was published, Bob offered me free lunches every day as a thank-you. I only accepted once. I wouldn’t possibly take another free lunch from a struggling business that often fed the homeless!

Bob said he loved the article, that it was well-written and accurate. “I’ll cherish the article,” he added.

I was honored.

I spent so much time at Over the Rainbow that Bob started ordering me around as if I worked there. It was hilarious! If it wasn’t, “Mare get the phone!” it was me teaching customers how to prepare seaweed, or putting napkins on the table. I would have loved to officially work there part-time if they were thriving as a business, but sadly they weren’t.

Within a year, Over the Rainbow went out of business.

I think the problem with Bob, as a business man, was that he was too honest, selling everything at cost. I brought shampoo there for $3 that would have cost $9 in another store.

After “Over the Rainbow” closed, I cringed at the thought of what stuffy, over-priced ugly “upscale” clothing store would replace the old spot.

I almost cried as I shook hands with Bob and Andy and said “good-bye.”

It was the end of something special, devastating, really. And I wondered, Where will the homeless lady go to eat now?

Hunger Construction

Published June 19, 2013 by Maryanne

Hunger ConstructionI just saw a genius concept — a lunch truck with healthy options!

Hunger Construction (http://hungerconstruction.com/) was parked outside of the Montclair Public Library. The sign that said “VEGAN OPTIONS” caught my eye such as seasonal vegetables and bean dishes. Sweet potato ice cream sounded interesting too.

I didn’t try anything, but I think this is a terrific idea, especially for ball games and outdoor events, because usually the only vegetarian choice is a pretzel and options are always a good thing.

Kudos to these guys for thinking of us vegetarians!

Quick Solutions to Healthy Meal Dilemmas

Published April 9, 2013 by Maryanne

macaroni dishMy spinach pasta dish with onions, carrots, tomatoes, celery

Sometimes you’re really on a roll with healthy living and you come across some issues.

Here are three dilemmas that recently could have stood in the way of a healthy meal, but I conquered with creativity!

1. You’re at  your favorite grocery store, but you have several other errands to run, maybe even a meeting and you won’t be home for several hours. You forgot your cooler, it’s a warm day, so it’s not a good idea to buy something fresh. What do you do?

Seaweed is the answer! Go right to the Asian section and buy packaged nori, which is filled with plenty of nutrients and very tasty. Try to get “dried” instead of “toasted” because it has more nutrients. Seaweed, alone, makes a great salad. Yum!

Also whenever the greens at the grocery store look a little limp or shabby, I’ll go straight for the packaged seaweed.

2. You ran out of your favorite salad dressing or vinegar.

For an amazing salad dressing that doesn’t require vinegar, take an avocado and blend with a banana. It will be a guacamole consistency and it’s fantastic on greens or sprouts! It’s sweet and filling. You may even want to add a clove of garlic to give it a little kick. I’ve been doing this for years.

3. It’s Friday night. Or any night that you don’t feel like cooking and you don’t feel like running to the store.

We always keep a box of pasta in the house. There are healthier versions of pasta  like spinach or rice pasta; or Dreamfields (a “right-carb” pasta). Stir-fry some vegetables, throw in with the pasta — and you have a quick, easy meal.

Bon appetite!

Last Meal, Anyone?

Published December 20, 2012 by Maryanne

Barbecue chips

No more tomorrows? Bring on the chips!

If the world was really going to end tomorrow, how would you eat today?

If you didn’t have to worry about being bloated tomorrow, gaining weight, having sensitive teeth from sweets, having a hangover, having a stomach ache or headache, having garlic breath, having a heart attack, diabetes, etc. — WHAT WOULD YOU EAT?

This is a typical day for me:

Breakfast: Organic green smoothie (kale, apple, lemon) with chia seeds; non-homogenized plain yogurt with organic blueberries, brewer’s yeast, and a green kombucha.

Lunch: Organic salad with quinoa. Another kombucha (either green or w/chia seeds). Maybe an organic coffee.

Dinner: Dreamfield’s pasta (has a great carb/protein ratio), another salad, maybe a sweet potato.

Treats: May include Annie’s bunnies crackers or Justine’s (or Paul Newman’s) dark chocolate bar w/peanut butter. Once in a blue moon French fries.

My drink: Unfiltered pearl sake; or organic wine.

Okay, END OF THE WORLD DAY MENU! WHOO-HOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

(Note: This is what I realistically think I can handle in a single meal sitting).

Breakfast: An entire LARGE bag of Wise barbecue potato chips with rennetless wine cheese on every chip. A freshly baked bagel with thick honey mustard.

Lunch: Pasta (WHITE, not whole grain or low carb) with marinara sauce, and few pieces of Wonder Bread to dip in the sauce or a Fluffernutter sandwich on Wonder Bread.

Dinner: A vegetarian version of mu-shu, eating about four pancakes. A pack of Jolly Ranchers. And a couple White Russians.

WHAT DO YOU THINK?