Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Chocoholic Benefits / Dagoba Review, by Emy

Very rarely do I eat chocolate, but when I do, I like it to be good and usually dark. Therefore, I tend to give friends and family good chocolate sometimes for presents. If I am going to give them some sort of confection, I want it to be a healthy one. Chocolate, especially kinds with high amount of pure cocoa, or dark chocolate varieties, are filled with flavonoids (flavonols are specific to cocoa) which are powerful plant substances that have a strong antioxidant effect on the body. These flavonols can contribute to a heart healthy effect by lowering blood pressure and curbing the risks of cardiovascular disease. Studies have shown that antioxidant effects can be seen in the reduction of LDL-cholesterol culminating in a decrease in arterial plaque.

Now while [especially] dark chocolate is good for you, that doesn't mean you should throw care to the wind and storm the Hershey's factory. Chocolate is still high in sugar and calories, and should be enjoyed in moderation. There is no serving size information to couple with the studies relaying the health benefits. Choose dark chocolate varieties over milk chocolates (higher in fat) and look for brands which have been less processed. This way you will get the best benefits as over processing can strip the flavonoids from the finished process, as they are are what gives chocolate its pungent taste in the form of polyphenols. Basically, learn to appreciate real, less processed dark chocolate like you would a fine wine.

For this present I needed to get a whole carton of small presents together for the belated birthday of my S.F. wife, Emy, so I threw in a Dagoba organic dark chocolate bar for good measure asI knew she would get it at her office and would most likely need some sort of carbohydrate boost to make it to the end of the day. The rest is in her own words.
"It was with trepidation that I took my first nibble of the organic bittersweet dark chocolate bar sent to me so kindly by my wife. I don't know why I was so worried, as she generally knows what's best for me, and has yet to lead me astray. I generally don't condone that which is either too dark (coffee without creamer) or too bitter (shots of Fernet Branca), and don't get me started on organic. I went to Berkeley and those organic-loving hippies are about to single-handedly ruin Cal's football team by refusing to stop living in a grove of trees near the stadium.

Furthermore, the label reads "new
moon 74%", and such astrological
references led me to believe I'd be
fortunate if this thing didn't taste
more of patchouli than of chocolate...
But I digress. Despite all indications to the contrary, I liked it. It's not the sort of thing I'd eat in a sitting, but half a square as a quick pick-me-up with my afternoon coffee would be pleasant. Further, I'm pretty sure it would be fabulous in baking, very creamy (which surprised me since I often conflate organic with vegan, my mistake), and it has a good strong chocolate flavor. -Emy"

*This post is semi-dedicated to my former neighbor Megan T., who used to pretend to be surprised when I would slip these chocolate bars under her door at 6:30am in the morning.... ~beth

Restaurant Review ~ Saigon Grill

I often go to dinner with my girl Chinky (yes, that’s her chosen nickname) and now that she is getting her Master’s in Nutrition at NYU, we tend to eat more down there. Just having moved from that area in July, I know the restaurants there pretty well. Therefore, we decided to meet at Saigon Grill as it is typically a safe bet. Unfortunately for us, though, the labor dispute that began in March 2007 still seemed to be raging on in front of the restaurant steps. The almost thirty protesters fled as police arrived just in time for us to get a table, frankly at that hour we were too tired to figure something else out.

Overall look, feel…Is it worth the price? ~ The décor of the restaurant is attempted nightclubesque and Asian themed with a large open room with booths and tables behind a full bar with tables situated at the front of the building. It is a fairly large restaurant. We opted to get a small booth behind the bar to be close to the bar, yet away from any lurking protesters. Like most restaurants in the area, the prices are above average; high enough to make you think you are having an adult dinner yet low enough to entice students to spend their parents’ money there. It is supposed to be a Vietnamese restaurant but the dishes steer towards a general generic Asian fair.

Service ~ The service is always a sore point in this place. Of course, you are welcomed in graciously by the hosts because you have almost broken picket lines to get inside. This is nice because before their labor issues, the hostesses were a real bitch to deal with in general, even if the restaurant was not busy. Once we were seated, one of the black clad super robotic waiters brought us water and took our drink order. When he brought us out drinks, we ordered appetizers. He was visibly annoyed that we had not chosen entrees yet and left the table in a huff, muttering. A few minutes later we waived him down again to order the rest of our meal. He stopped to explain the ingredients of the meal to Chinky, which did not go well since she can actually read and was really more focused on her Lychee martini instead of dealing with the server. The phrase, “I’m half Asian, I know what curry is,” may have been dropped.

My soup was brought to me very quickly but Chinky’s spinach dumpling appetizer failed to appear. They often bring out dishes as they are ready there instead of in course groupings so we figured it would just show up later. Five minutes passed and what did show up was our dinner. Chinky flagged down our server and asked him why she had not gotten the dumplings only to be told that she had not ordered them. I told him that she clearly had, he argued it, I stuck with my point, and he went away muttering under his breath in Vietnamese. Chinky was not amused. I think she was more offended that he did not notice that she needed drink refills on a regular basis. We were sitting next to the bar for a reason, but anyway…

Food…the MOST important part of all! ~ The food was the same as always, which is why we go there. Not terribly authentic but completely consistent. My hot and sour shrimp wonton soup was very nice with tons of mushrooms and pineapple chunks. My plum wine was…plum wine. I have ordered Bo Luc Lac (beef chunks cooked stir fried served with salad greens, tomato slices, brown rice, and fish sauce) about 15 times and it is always the same: good and beefy. Chinky’s Royal Seafood Curry was very nice, I was having order envy, but she gave me some bites and some noodles so that was close enough. Next time, that will have to be what I get, it is very good.

Overall, the consistency of the food is why we go back to this place. They have their labor issues which they should sort so they can deliver again before it gets colder, and the in house service is fairly weak in a robotic yet bitchy way, but until they stop making that soup, I think that we will eat there.


Neighborhood: NYU, Union Square

91 University Place (between 11th & 12th)

New York, NY 10003


Tuesday, September 18, 2007

I ♥ Cilantro

Some of my former fellow interns may think this is a post about Cilantro the restauarant, the site of our graduation day intern lunch, where the margaritas are strong, the plantain chips are endless…. And while I do love that place (Hornitos, please!), this is about cilantro the herb.

Cilantro is also known as Chinese Parsley or Coriander and is a member of the carrot family (vital information!). It is a staple of Mexican, Caribbean, and Asian cooking and has a distinctly pungent flavor and odor which if used incorrectly can overpower a dish. This is one of the reasons it is not found in European cooking despite its growth in the wild of southern Europe. The Chinese used to believe the herb brought immortality and it has been considered an aphrodisiac since the days of the Arabian nights.... Get in!

This herb is available year-round in the grocery store, so there is no real excuse for not adding it to meals in lieu of other salty or fat filled condiments. It is great in all tomato based recipes and gives bold tastes to stir fries and salads. It is said to have medicinal use as an appetite stimulant that curbs cholesterol, and has antibacterial qualities when used externally.

Cilantro can be easily grown in a pot…in say, even a small Manhattan kitchen. It grows quickly and can be used in everyday cooking to keep the plant fresh of bolting (early seeding through flowering). Basically, if the flavor agrees with you, it is great. If it doesn't...don't eat what I cook. ;)

~beth with her girls, Megan F. and Jatonamous at the NYP August 2007 Intern Graduation Lunch

Juniata County Fair Photos

I know this was a few weeks back and that you have all been holding your breath for these, but if we pretend we aren’t in the digital age, this would be right about the time I would get my film back…or something like that.

Andrew, Becca, and I went to visit her parents and also stopped by the juggernaut that is the Juniata County Fair. No flora or fauna were harmed in these photos…well, except maybe that butternut squash. But that’s a post for Becca, not for me. Enjoy….


Padma Lakshmi’s Groceries Are As Boring As She Is

Anyone who has ever watched Bravo’s Top Chef for more than ten minutes can clearly state that the person with the least personality on the show is also the person who looks like she actually ingests the least amount of food…and that would be show presenter, Padma Lakshmi. She really should have stuck to her original claim to fame as India’s first supermodel and left speaking parts to those who can conjure up actual working commentary. Let’s just say that her grocery list published on Fresh Direct is as boring as she is.

Also, it begs the question of whether this is a post Salman Rushdie list or not (Lakshmi recently "packed her knives and went" for Top Chef Tom Colicchio...?). Was he the one serving up the Stonyfield Farm’s baby yogurt every morning? Was that what drove her to another man’s arms? Probably not, but that is how boring the grocery list is.

Yes, it is obvious that Fresh Direct, who is using the lists in cross promotion of different celebrities and their services, would never post anything racy or less than organic on their website. But come on, give us something worth clicking on here people. I want to know that Kelly Clarkson only eats chicken nuggets and rum raisin ice cream with her Vitamin Water. I want to know that 50 Cent has an Entenmann's addiction bordering on Type II Diabetes. I want to know that Tiki Barber orders Chef Boyardee Spaghettios by the case…. Come on.

*If you happen to be a celebrity and need help grocery shopping or even just making the list, I'm your girl. For serious. ~beth

Monday, September 17, 2007

Restaurant Review ~ Caffe Swish

In an effort to find a place above Midtown which has decently priced sushi that doesn’t taste like fish ass on a three day layover, we decided to try Caffe Swish. The online reviews were more than mixed, warning of poor service and unimaginative dishes, but frankly, just a solid spicy tuna roll would be like a breath of fresh air right now in the wasteland of chicken bones that is Central Park North. This place is a staple of the Columbia Business School crowd, so how bad could it be?

Overall look, feel…Is it worth the price? ~ The décor of the restaurant is nice enough but typical: high ceilings, light hardwood, small tables and booths, fake corn cobs on the wall behind glass, outside seating…. The prices are not terribly high; high enough to make you think you are having an adult dinner yet low enough to entice students. When we came in there was an unidentifiable smell in the air, and it wasn’t a good one. Also, the bathrooms were pretty foul. I hate restaurants with foul bathrooms. Come on people, it really is not that hard to mop up once a day and toss in some fresh tissue. Right….

Service ~ The service was robotic and dismissive from the moment we walked in the door. The “hostess” was certainly NOT a part time model or even the mother of a part time model, and she was more than rude. This led me to hope that the food would be good. Eventually we were shoved in a small table in a corner next to the opening to the outdoor patio, where we asked not to sit due to the chill finally hitting Manhattan. Our server seemed appalled that I asked for light rice on the sushi rolls and he either thought I was joking or disregarded it altogether. It took more than five minutes to get their standard hot tea, the sushi rolls came before the soup, our server forgot a roll, and our table was so small that we had to consolidate dishes to fit things. The only thing that was fetched with some sort of pertinence was the check.

Food…the MOST important part of all! ~ Well, let’s just say that I have not spit out food into a napkin while at the table since 2002. As I noted earlier, if a place has a solid spicy tuna roll, a lot can be accomplished there. Caffe Swish’s spicy tuna…kind of like tuna paste, not spicy, and certainly not good. The tea was weak, the rolls all were coated in sauces and mayonnaises which were not listed on the menu, and the food came out of order. The only good thing we got out of 4 rolls and soup was the Hot & Sour Prawn Soup. However, if you are going to say “with Prawns” there should be more than 2 of them in a large bowl. The other rolls: the Volcano, the Lobster Mango, and the Sushi Bullet were all fairly disgusting, the last of which got spit into a napkin. Even the young Andrew would not eat it. Our server did not even care that we mentioned how bad it was. I hope he enjoyed cleaning up that napkin then.

Overall, if the food was good I would go back, but it really really wasn’t. The soup has the best chance of being ordered by delivery as it was cheap and decent and Saigon Grill won’t deliver here (I don’t blame them). Overall, I give it zero out of three possible points. Back to the drawing board.

Japanese, Sushi, Thai fusion

Neighborhood: Manhattan/Morningside Heights
2955 Broadway (between 115th and 116th)
New York, NY 10025


The Mythical Legend Known As “Bacon Dinner”

“Bacon Dinner” grew out of a stifling August night in a kitchenette on the Lower East Side. It began in the market, while searching for foods palatable to people who loathed vegetables and vegetablekind to make a full dinner. The scarcity of items led to the realization the bacon should probably just be included in every dish, therefore rendering the vegetables bacon-like in their greatness and acceptable to all who would dine on them. Therefore, two 1 pound packages of thick-cut Boar’s Head Brand cured bacon were placed lovingly in the basket with some other ingredients, all of which would become what we now know as “Bacon Dinner.”

The main course would be a variation on this meal called “Monterrey Chicken” served at the horrid and now defunct chain restaurant where I waitressed in college. Only with this preparation, the bacon would not be there to accessorize the bird, it would take over the plate to make it an experience. The bacon is cooked first, not to a crisp, but to a medium, then set aside. Hands will be slapped if they try to steal any of the bacon goodness, it is understood. The chicken is then browned in the nice bacon juices and kept on warm in wait for the other bits and bobs to be finished.

All the while sweet potatoes are being sliced to millimeter thinness to be tossed on medium heat with sliced Vidalia onions, a chunk of butter, and about a 1/3 pound of glorious bacon to cook and meld together. The bacon juices from the chicken are then added. Also, green beans are being steamed with some slices of chopped up bacon for flavor, or rather to make them taste less like beans and more like bacon.

Lastly, a tossed salad is put together made of crispy Romaine hearts, tomato wedges, green onions, crisped bacon bits, and a snappy French dressing ("Briana's"). The chicken is laid on plates and topped with bacon strips, sprinkled with cheddar cheese, chopped tomatoes, chopped cilantro, and green onions. There is spicy barbecue sauce and Tapatio on the side for dipping.

The hot August air of the small apartment would not be noticeable to those sitting down to the bacon feast. Bacon had been infused into all four parts of the meal, beginning the legend which would only be celebrated in the most important of settings. The apartment would smell for days like this feast of pork and all who are lucky enough to consume it remain giddy for days with joy that only bacon brings.

That is just a small look into the legend that is bacon dinner. It has only been replicated once since and no, there is not a recipe to be given out.

*Dedicated to my one and only "Bacon Dinner" sous chef, my S.F. "wife" Emy... ~beth

Maruchan Instant Lunch Can Cure Anything That Ails You, I Swear

Anytime anyone is sick or hung over or generally just feeling like ass, I always tell them the same thing. They should immediately get a liter or two of water, a handful of vitamin C, and a chicken flavored ramen soup cup. It will literally cure anything that ails you, at least conditions within reason.

The water will take away dehydration as a factor. Dehydration can cause lethargy, dry mouth, decreased urine output, thirst, muscle weakness, dizziness, and headaches. All of these symptoms can make whatever else is wrong with you feel about a million times worse. If your stomach can handle it, push the water. If your stomach cannot handle it, have fluids like ginger ale or Pedialyte which will be easier on your stomach but still hydrate you adequately. I know that Pedialyte is for kids, but I don't care, it comes in sippy bottles. You could put diesel fuel in a sippy bottle and there is a good chance I would give it a swig. But I digress...

Vitamin C is thought by many to be a cure all of sorts. It is a water soluble vitamin which means that you cannot technically overdose yourself on it. Various studies have shown that taking small doses of the vitamin throughout the day is the key to increased absorption rather than taking one megadose. For example, take four to five 250 mg doses of vitamin C at different times rather than one large 1000 mg dose in the morning. And as always, there are a large number of foods loaded with vitamin C, but if you are feeling like crap, odds are your appetite is really not that good. More later on vitamin C….

And now, the holy grail to my hangover, the chicken ramen soup cup. Sadly, I am a purist and will only consume the finest of all of the ramen soup cups, the Maruchan Instant Lunch brand. Don’t be bringing me any of those silly other brands. You fetch me that nasty Nissan on my deathbed and it’s not getting eaten. Sadly, the cure granted from this “food” I love is only anecdotal. While the sodium content is off the charts for what I would tell humans to consume in a day let alone a meal…in theory when you’re sick it helps you hold fluid, can be tasty on your dulled taste buds, and soothes the stomach. It is high in saturated fat and carbohydrates, but you can always argue the carbohydrates help replete your energy. Frankly, it is warm and tastes good and makes me feel less crappy.

So, that’s my key to not feeling as crappy as you were an hour before you sent someone to the store to fetch you this stuff. That and sleep…lots of glorious sleep.

*This post is dedicated to my lovely NY "wife" (above) who is feeling like ass today. If she hadn't eaten the last of my tasty tasty Maruchan Instant Lunch cups on Saturday night in a fit of drunkenness, I would totally fetch her one. ~ beth

Saturday, September 15, 2007

What the Hell Are International Units?

No, that is not code for James Bond in a Speedo, although that would be nice. In looking over some information on vitamins and minerals to put up here, it seems that a few terms may need to be explained before we just assume all those friendly little vitamin and mineral bits are the same thing.

Living in the United States, we all might as well admit that we are too arrogant as a society to accept the superiority of metric measurements in life. But if you are in a medical profession like nutrition or dietetics, metric is just plain more convenient to deal with on a daily basis.

How does this benefit the average consumer of supplements? Well, it would if you were to know a few key points.

The following units weigh vitamin and mineral materials in the physical sense…I know, heavy, huh?

“g” stands for gram ~ About 29 grams make one ounce

“mg” stands for milligram ~ One thousandth of a gram. 1,000 mg = 1 g

“mcg” stands for microgram ~ One thousandth of a milligram. 1,000 mcg = 1 mg

Now International Units (“IU”) are a different type of measure, although it still deals with supplements, so you should know what it is when perusing supplements. It is not indicative of the weight of the substance, but more accurately, the activity of the substance. Vitamins A, D, and E are all measured this way. Knowing the Recommended Daily Allowance of each of these vitamins is recommended.

Honestly, vitamins and minerals are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration at this point, although in the opinion of many, they are just as strong as many drugs on the market. This having been said, knowing safe dosages can start with being aware of the dosage meanings on their labels and each supplement is different.

And now, as incentive to use what we’ve learned, a nice photo….

*This post is dedicated to my minxy girls stuck out on Long Island this morning. Saturday's a Rugby Day! ~beth

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Food Babe Slang #1

foodgitive [foo-ji-tiv]... How one feels after eating too much food at one sitting; The outcome of your meal making you a fugitive.

Usage: "If I had any idea how that dozen hot wings would make me a foodgitive, I would have run screaming into the night."


Thursday, September 6, 2007

Ask A Dietitian

Really we won’t bite. Well, some of us won’t. Send or comment us with your nutrition/food questions and we will do our very best to answer them.

Some examples…

"Is Splenda the Devil?"

"Is yoga a bunch of hippy bullshit?"

"Can I live on bacon alone?"

"Are oysters alive when I eat them?"

"What is the difference between a nutritionist and an R.D.?"

"Is Atkins better than South Beach?"

"When you say 'HDL' you mean what?"

"What makes custard taste like heaven?"

"Why is salt so bad when it tastes so good?"

"Expliqueme diabetes, por favor."

Really, challenge extended.


Once It Hits Your Lips, It's So Good!

Let’s face it, beer is part of life as most of us know it. In high school you sneak it, in college you funnel it, as an adult you should appreciate it in pint form with friends. Beer is great. There’s only one little thing that is wrong with beer…it sticks with you.

Only a few people on this vast green earth can drink their weight in glorious beer and not gain an inch on their waist. When you are done wishing them ill or willing them your share of calories for last Saturday night, take a minute and learn some facts about beer so you can stave off that beer intertube that is sadly only attractive with the use of beer goggles.

If you’re bored enough to be reading the nutrition information on the case or bottle, you are not utilizing that beer to the fullest. Luckily, there are many online resources for you to determine what’s in your beer, AKA “What Happened to My Formerly Slim and Athletic Figure.”

Let’s take for example a NYC after work friend, Amstel Light, the post-grad girlfriend of beers. Per 12 ounces of lovely Amstel Light (3.9% alcohol by volume) there are 99 calories. It takes 3500 calories to be stored in order to make a pound of fat. Therefore, that means you would be able to drink 35 of those little beers if you were willing to put on a pound…

Pretty simple, right? Nope, alcohol in its simple joy wreaks havoc on your metabolism in a very complex way. Those hoppy hops are slowing down your metabolism, not being burnt nearly as quickly as you’re drinking them. Your system has no other option than to store them as adipose tissue…basically, nasty fat. You liver is busy converting the majority of the alcohol to acetate which gets dumped into the bloodstream to be used for fuel instead of fat cells. And like all good things that you can’t live without, beer is high in calories, so the more you drink, the more calories you take in, the more fat is stored.

Who knew getting on the piss could be so complicated?!? Here are some tips to try to get you buzzed but keep that beer belly at bay:

  • Eat a solid meal before drinking. This will fill your stomach and slow the absorption of alcohol. Alcohol not only depresses blood sugar but also willpower, making it an appetite accelerator. The munchies combined with alcohol are the tag team enables of the beer gut.
  • Don’t confuse "light" with "diet." If you're a person who tosses back far more because the bottle says "light" on it, beware! Choose a beer you can savor the taste of and enjoy it rather than racing to the point where you have drank enough light beer to not be put off by the taste.
  • Plan your drinking. If you know that you are going to have 3 beers at the bar during the game this Saturday, avoid calorie laden foods for snacks that week to offset what you plan to have there. This is also a good way to plan for your workouts. Planning does take
    practice and is a good way to find some willpower.

*This post is dedicated to the Rugby World Cup beginning 7 September 2007. ~beth

Welcome to Babes in Foodland!

We know, the name is a little cheesy, but what’s wrong with cheese? Nothing, that’s what! Like it says at the top of the page, we are three minxy girls who are looking to put some humor back into our lives after finishing our yearlong Dietetic Internship in New York City. All food related topics are fair game here, some will be more medical, some more fitness and diet, some more culinary, and others will be just plain silly (the best!).

Anyway, let us introduce ourselves…

beth holds multiple degrees including a B.S. in Nutrition Sciences from UNLV, her hobby school. In addition to her varied knowledge as a dietitian she excels at writing headlines, traipsing the globe in search of a home, taking inhuman amounts of photos, semi-elemental knuckle cracking, cupcakery, and tomato juggling. In her next life she will be a wildly successful Will Ferrell impersonator who will work towards environmental peace in conjunction with rock greats the Wyld Stallyns, but for now she is an unemployed bloggette.

Now, the Wilford Brimleys to beth's Steve Guttenberg...the megans...

megan.f is a clinical dietitian by way of NYU who spends her time bamboozling diabetics with her intimate knowledge of the Kreb Cycle while waiting for the chance to revive Solid Gold. She is willing to give anyone a chance to pick her brain if they want to shed a pound as long as they understand that she is actually A Pepper, original recipe, not diet. 'Cause it's all in moderation, baby...

megan.T likes to dose her patients with food and has traveled coast to coast spreading her personal motto, "Beans Not Drugs," taking nutrition support to new plateaus of greatness. Her unique method of hippy chic means she doesn't smell like patchouli, which she counts as one of life's great achievements (more than her masters, maybe?). Please feel free to send her a chimp mint as a token of your appreciation, she will savor it while playing Legend of Zelda online with beth.

Feel free to ask us questions (“Ask A Dietitian”), ask about products or restaurants, comment on things in general, or just peruse… We hope you enjoy reading as much as we do writing…