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Sweet treats I won’t share

April 4th, 2013 2 Comments


Hail Merry Macaroons

Trader Joe's Pineapple Rings

My two favorite healthy treats right now: Hail Merry Macaroons from Whole Foods and TJ’s Pineapple Rings.

I’ve learned NOT to share them with friends because the bag is empty by the time it circles back to me.  Haha.

I apologize I don’t have more foodie fun to share today.  The recipes I want to post are in my cookbooks, that are unfortunately still packed away in Atlanta.

Tomorrow I’m off to NYC, and I doubt I’ll be doing a lot of cooking there.  Me, myself, and I don’t put in a lot of effort for each other.  However, we LOVE to eat out in NYC so look out for photos of the city’s finest fare, restaurant reviews, and food trends soon.

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When you NEED to buy organic + other money-saving grocery shopping tips

August 30th, 2012 No Comments


Hilary has our answer!

(Is it just me, or are you loving all of her helpful tips too?!  The girl poses these questions before I even get a chance to ask!)

The rule of thumb is:

If the food comes in a shell,

is not porous,

or you can scrub it,

you don’t need to buy organic.

So you need to buy organic: meat, milk, and produce that you can’t scrub (like broccoli, berries, or mushrooms).  The exception is eggs.  We learned that last week.

With fruit, you need to beware of shiny skins.  They are sprayed down and that pretty shine is the build up of chemicals.  If you are willing to scrub this off (lemon juice works well), then you can feel free not to buy organic.  But with something like an apple or cucumber where it’s almost impossible to get it all off, you should choose organic.  As Hil says, “if a bug isn’t going to eat it, neither should you.”

With fruits like pineapples, bananas, melons, avocados etc, since you peel off the skin, you don’t need to buy organic.

Almonds, all nuts actually, come in shells, so any pesticides they were exposed to were removed along with the shell!  Hilary also says if you buy your nuts in the bags instead of boxes you’ll save money.  Check out the unit price next to the total price.

Other things that don’t have to be organic:

Here are more of Hilary’s insights:

Sugar is sugar.  Cane sugar, agave, maple syrup, corn syrup, it all metabolizes pretty much the same, according to Hilary.  I’m not sure I buy this totally, it’s probably the first thing I’ve seriously questioned, but she claims it all hits your blood system the same way. If you read the “turbinado” bag, it is a “cane” product so I suppose she is right.  She has been about everything else :)  Since sugar is cane and the skin is taken off before processing, then you don’t need to buy organic.

It’s cheaper and better for you to buy frozen veggies in a BAG not a BOX.  Make sure they are flash-frozen to preserve the nutritional value.  Veggies in boxes have usually been cooked once and have additional stuff on them for flavor.  When you cook them again, you are killing the reason you are eating them.

The vine attached to the tomato means that the fruit still has a small source of energy and will last longer on your counter top.

As long as the only additional ingredients in canned beans is water and salt, you’re good to go!

If you are cooking with olive oil, which Hilary does not recommend due to its low smoking point, you don’t need to spend the money on “Extra-Virgin.”  The only time you should use olive oil is for dressings and sauteeing over low heat. Hilary suggests cooking with coconut oil, which I have tried, and adds an interesting dept to my dishes.  I use grape seed oil for simple sauteeing.

Vegetables that have been fried are not good for you.  When you cook something until it’s crunchy, you’ve taken away all it’s nutritional value.  Might as well get chips instead!

Speaking of chips, the “crunchy” rule applies as well.  To my shock and disappointment, sweet potato chips are not better for you than regular potato chips.  THE ONLY THING THAT MATTERS WHEN BUYING CHIPS: the fat source – what kind of oil was used to make them.  Look for bags with nut oils instead of vegetable or canola.

If you are going to buy pasta, choose the ones with whole grains so you’re actually getting the fiber the box claims you are.  At the end of the day it’s all pasta and there are many better choices for your source of carbs.

Veggies in the deli case are shinier and more expensive, both of which signal a bunch of stuff has been added.  Opt for the veggies at the salad bar for a lower price and fat content.

More to come on how I’ve been executing Hilary’s actual nutrition plan for me.  It ain’t easy, I’ll tell you that much, but totally worth it when I execute her rules properly.

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Whole Foods recipes you can play with

January 19th, 2012 No Comments

Tired of cooking up my veggies the same old way, I downloaded the Whole Foods Recipe App on my iPhone in the grocery store the other day for some quick and healthy recipes.  The following two caught my attention and make it to my stove top last week.  Honestly, they’re both pretty bland if you make them according to the instructions, but that means they are perfect bases for you cooks to go wild with herbs, spices, and additional veggies.


* I shared this with my Dad, my mom who hates healthy food, and a girlfriend.  They all loved it!

Nutrition Per serving : 120 calories (5 from fat), 0g total fat, 0g saturated fat, 0mg cholesterol, 180mg sodium, 21g total carbohydrate (7g dietary fiber, 6g sugar), 6g protein

*Makes 8 servings.  I cut in half and got 5.

  • 8 cups low-sodium vegetable broth, divided
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 large red bell pepper, chopped
  • 5 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 4 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 (16-ounce) package brown lentils (about 2 1/4 cups lentils)
  • 2 (15-ounce) cans no-salt-added diced tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro (VERY IMPORTANT)
  • My additions: fresh thyme and a whole bag/box/bunch of spinach


1. Bring 3/4 cup broth to a simmer in a large pot over medium-high heat.

2. Add onion, bell pepper and garlic and cook about 8 minutes or until onion is translucent and pepper is tender.

3. Stir in chili powder and cook 1 minute, stirring constantly.

4. Add lentils, tomatoes and remaining 7 1/4 cups broth.

5. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, partially covered, 30 minutes or until lentils are almost tender.

6. Uncover and cook 10 minutes longer. * I stirred in fresh thyme and a whole page of spinach. Probably should have stirred in thyme earlier but it didn’t occur to me.

7. Stir in cilantro and serve.

I served with sweet potato chips (no salt) instead of crackers.



Nutrition Per serving: 210 calories (10 from fat), 1g total fat, 0g saturated fat, 0mg cholesterol, 60mg sodium, 39g total carbohydrate (12g dietary fiber, 3g sugar), 14g protein


* Makes 4 servings.  I cut the recipe in half and got 3 servings.

  • 3/4 cup low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 1 cup chopped white onion
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 pound (1 to 2 bunches) dark leafy greens, such as collards, kale or mustard greens (above), tough stems removed and leaves thinly sliced
  • 1 (15-ounce) can no-salt-added Great Northern or other white beans, rinsed and drained, or 1 1/2 cups cooked white beans
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper (optional)
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper


1. Bring broth to a simmer in a large, high-sided skillet over medium-high heat.

2. Add onion and garlic and cook until tender, stirring occasionally, about 7 minutes.

3. Stir in greens, in batches if needed, along with beans, rosemary, thyme and crushed red pepper.

4. Cover, reduce heat to medium and cook 5 minutes, stirring once.

5. Uncover and cook another 2 minutes or until greens are very tender.

6. Stir in black pepper and serve. *Absolutely needs a little salt as well.


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What I Buy at the Grocery Store

February 24th, 2011 3 Comments

— By Nutritionista

People always ask me what I buy when I go grocery shopping, so I thought I’d shed some light on what items always make my list!

Grocery shopping can be brutal: expensive, time-consuming, and confusing. But to me, it’s mostly just fun and relaxing. That’s because I usually buy the same things every time and don’t branch out into the dubious processed food-filled aisles.

My go-to grocery stores are Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, and Arbor Farms (a local grocery store that carries the most amazing local, organic, and hormone-free meat!). I buy all my meat at Arbor Farms, but for the sake of this post, I’ll leave it out of the mix. Let me break it down by store for you!

What I buy at Trader Joe’s (mostly snacky stuff):

  • Roasted Seaweed Snacks
  • Just a Handful trail mix
  • big bags of nuts (any kind, usually unroasted and unsalted). Sometimes I’ll get the Chili-Lime mixed nuts (which is almonds, cashews, peanuts, and maybe one or two other types with Thai flavoring and big chunks of dried basil and chili pepper — amazing!).
  • Mini goat cheese and brie
  • Pre-cooked hard-boiled eggs (though last time I went, they were MIA).
  • Avocados — they’re a good deal at TJs.
  • Organic, grass-fed ground beef. It’s pretty cheap here, and as far as I know, it’s the only grass-fed meat they carry.
  • Coconut milk
  • Uncured, nitrite-free bacon. It’s cheaper here than most places.
  • pre-made mire poix. I love when they have this — it’s always SO handy!
  • specialty cheeses. If a recipe calls for gruyere, I’m buying it at TJs!

What I buy at Whole Foods (mostly high-quality staples):

  • Local, raw goat cheese. For some reason, WF is the only place I can find this where I live.
  • Cage-free, organic eggs.  You can also get these at TJs, but I think WF has better options.
  • Meat sticks. Not sure what their official name is, but you find these in the ready-to-cook meat area. You can buy them in beef, bison, or turkey, and they’re a great snack!
  • All my produce, which usually consists mostly of spinach and other leafy greens (love kale!), berries if they’re in season, and other necessities for recipes I’m making. Spaghetti squash has been on the list lately, too.
  • I would buy fish and meat here if they had more wild/local/grass-fed options. Usually, they have at least one grass-fed type of meat, but there’s not a whole lot of choice.
  • Coconut oil/cream/butter (depending on my mood).
  • Muir Glen organic canned tomatoes. I love their “fire roasted” varieties. Definitely a staple.
  • Any other obscure spices/fresh herbs/ingredients. WF has almost anything you’d need. At a price, of course.

Of course, any of this could change depending on what I’m making that week, but these are the things I seek out for the most part.

Click through to the comments to see Mary’s list and add your own. What are the staples on your grocery list, and where do you shop?

Single girl fridge

December 16th, 2010 No Comments

My fridge looks like the prepared food section at Whole Foods….after a hurricane warning.  As you can tell I haven’t actually made any of the recipes I’ve posted in a while, but with all of my family in town, that is about to change!

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I just can’t say no

November 15th, 2010

Broccoli crunch at Whole Foods = irresistible! I buy it EVERY time it’s available.

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December 3rd, 2009 No Comments

This always happens when I come to pick up soup and salad at Whole Foods for lunch.

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Favorite Spots in LALA Land

June 3rd, 2008 No Comments

LA LA Land

As promised, here is the list of my favorite LA spots, for pretty much everything.

(Kiss from the fabulous Andy on my 24th Birthday at the Beverly Hills Hotel)

Equinox West Hollywood

99.9% of the people who work out here are beautiful with perfect bodies.  Some people don’t like the atmosphere and find it pretentious.  But I’m motivated to get my ass in gear when I see a woman twice my age wtih rock hard abs.  Amazing spin classes (Instructors: Keith, Rich, Eileen), challenging yoga taught by Kristin, and a tough toning class called All The Right Moves taught by Grace.

Runyon Canyon

If you prefer an outdoor workout, go hiking in West Hollywood. You’ll get an amazing view of the city, and on a clear day, you can see the ocean.

The Beverly Hills Hotel

Sit poolside and enjoy a serene poolside atmosphere with your McCarthy Salad.  Ridiculously expensive, but you’re paying for the whole package.  I also love creating my own omelette – they’ll pretty much make anything you want.  Ask for Louis. Skip the Polo Lounge, it’s stuffy and boring.

Golden Nail

Despite the fact that it’s located across the street from the Peninsula Hotel(my favorite hotel in LA), it’s not expensive at all.  And everyone there does a spectacular job.  Get a mani/pedi from Christine or Tua, and an eyebrow waxing from Ana for only $45.

Il Tramezzino

For the best chicken sandwich in town, hit up Il Tram on Canon and Little Santa Monica in Beverly Hills.  Order, The Chicken Special, extra hot, with extra sauce on the side.  It’s heavenly.

Peet’s Coffee v. Coffee Bean

For straight up coffee, go to Peet’s. For an Ice Blended (the Vanilla Ultimate being the best), go to Coffee Bean. End of story.


Brunch in West Hollywood doesn’t get better than Toast.  You’ll have to wait a while, but it’s totally worth it.  Great food and people watching.


My favorite steakhouse in LA.  On Canon in Beverly Hills, Maestro’s has the best bone-in fillet and pecan pie.  For the best people watching, sit upstairs (although it can get loud, just try to sit away from the piano). Spago is really good as well (sit outside).

Trattoria Amici

For low-key but delicious Italian, I love Trattoria Amici at the Beverly Terrace hotel. You really need to get a table outside on the small patio.  Last time I ate here, the place was empty with the exception of the table next to us: Penelope Cruz, Ashton Kutcher, Demi Moore, and a couple producers.  Order the turkey entre, yum!

Asia De Cuba

The LA restaurant at the Mondrian hotel is much better than it’s NYC location.  Sit outside and get a great view of the city. Go for lunch or dinner.


Again, much better in LA than NYC.  Love the food, love the scene. Reservations in advance are a must!

Mr. Chow

What a scene! You’re sure to spot a handful of celebs here.  Just make sure you’ve brought your celebrity budget to pay for the meal. Forget about ordering and trust your waiter to do it for you. (Again, much better in LA).


Gourmet tapas with an amazing wine list.


More incredible low key Italian nestled up Laurel Canyon.

Magnolia Grill

At Magnolia in Hollywood, you’ll find affordable, delicious American food in a modern but warm setting.  A great place for a fun group dinner.

Cobras & Matadors

Delicious and casual tapas in West Hollywood.  Bring your own wine.

Bossa Nova

Very casual and VERY good.  The food is Brazilian, but you could argue some Italian as well.  3 locations in LA, but I like the West Hollywood location the best, then Robertson, don’t bother going to the one in BH. My favorite thing is the Bossa Salad, with chicken, no onions, chopped.

El Compadre

Under the radar Mexican food on Sunset that’s really good.

Best Fast Food: Whole Foods, In-N-Out (order your burger “Animal Style.” trust me), and Baja Fresh (delicious taco salad)

Best Expensive Shopping: Robertson(between 3rd and Melrose), Melrose Place(east of La Cienega), Montana (a lovely stroll in Santa Monica), Neiman Marcus and Barney’s

Best Bargain Shopping: Third Street Promenade (Santa Monica), Loehmann’s(La Cienega), Century City Mall

Places to See: Venice Beach, Sunset Strip at night, Rodeo drive, Hollywood Boulevard, a hike up Runyon Canyon, hmmm….

Fun lounges: 1912 (at the Beverly Hills Hotel), Peninsula Bar, Wilshire bar, The Bowery, Jones Bar (good food too!), Brass Monkey (karaoke), Teddy’s, Cabo Cantina (sports, day drinking, happy hour)

Places to skip: The Ivy (the food is awful), the bar at the Four Seasons, clubs in general, The Little Door, Trader Vic’s

I’m sure I’ll think of other stuff and update my list. Hope this helps!