Archive for December, 2012

Hangover Helper

December 31, 2012

7764600015 New Year’s Eve is upon us, and the celebration often involves large quantities of alcohol, resulting in an inevitable hangover.

While resolving to practice moderation might not work in “real time,” having the right foods on hand to ease the effects of over- indulging is a good idea.

Here are a few foods that are hangover helpers:

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Asparagus contains enzymes that help breakdown the alcohol in your body. Eating asparagus for dinner can jumpstart the process. Asparagus is also a natural diuretic, which will not only help the alcohol pass through your system more quickly, but will also help avoid the bloating associated with a night of indulgence.

Coconut water contains the same amount of electrolytes as many of the popular sports drinks, without all the sugar and additives.  An earlier study found that Zico Natural Pure Premium Coconut Water contains the most electrolytes of the conventional brands.

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Bananas are rich in potassium, which will strengthen your muscles and help overcome that weak shaky feeling, often experienced after a binge.

Tomato juice is a great way to hydrate, and is packed with vitamins and minerals that are depleted after a night of partying.

Organic, Pasteurized Eggs contain protein, which breaks down toxins in your body.
Eggs produced by grass fed hens replenish vitamin B levels as well.

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Quinoa is a trendy grain and a health powerhouse. It helps to restore amino acids lost during drinking and absorbs a little of that “icky” feeling in your stomach. Just remember to rinse the quinoa before cooking it, to make it easier on your digestive system.

Honey is loaded with antioxidants and naturally occurring fructose, which helps flush out the system. Drink it in some soothing tea, add it to your quinoa for a morning meal, or spread it on some toast.

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Much of what you are feeling the morning after is a result of dehydration. Try sipping a glass of water between cocktails, and be sure to down a large glass before bed. Sipping water throughout the next day will provide ample rehydration, and flush out your system.

Whatever you do, please don’t drink and drive! Plan ahead for transportation home from the celebration to insure a happy and safe New Year.
Happy 2013!!

photos: Glasshouse Images

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The Actual Diet Riot Dinner Pary

December 30, 2012

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Last night I hosted a dinner for 25 adults and children. I think I nailed the “diet riot” pretty well. By dessert time, even the gluten frees and calorie counters succumbed to platters of yummy bar cookies! Everyone had their favorite dishes to eat, and a few people enjoyed sampling it all.

Everything but a couple of the desserts were made the day of the party, attesting to the fact that simple, fresh and flavorful is always better than overly complicated  heavy fare.

Almost all of the recipes came from my Indigo Jones Unrecipe Cookbook, and are previously posted on the site where *.

We started with small nibbles:

*Parmesan Shortbread Crisps

*White Bean Dip with a choice of pita chips or baby carrots

Assorted Olives

*Spiced Nuts

For dinner, we served:

*Baby Arugula, Radicchio and Fennel Salad with Toasted Pecans and Cranberry Vinaigrette

*Herb Roasted Salmon

*Sticky Asian Chicken Wings

Marinated Pork Loin

*Brown rice, with Corn, Shallots and Fresh Mint

Roasted Green Beans

Assorted Rolls

Dessert was an assortment of bar cookies:

Chocolate Marble Cheesecake Brownies, Chocolate Chip Blondies, Pecan Toffee Bars, and Lemon Bars.

I had options for the gluten free, chicken averse, sauce avoiders, vegetable haters, and fish phobics. Weight watchers, cholesterol controllers, vegetarians, and the generally fussy were covered as well (I hope). Although some of the pickiest eaters found only 1 or 2 items to try, nobody went hungry; score!

The casual dinner went on until 2 a.m. so we can assume it was a success!

I hope all of your celebrations are happy ones. Enjoy!

Respect Yourself

December 27, 2012

Young woman having body treatment on legsIt’s been a tough few months. In late October, Hurricane Sandy hit New York City, leaving us powerless for almost a week. Days later, we experienced the chaos of voting, followed by another storm.

Just as we were getting back to normal in early November, I fractured my knee.
Hobbling around was difficult at best, and for the first month, I barely moved, yet somehow managed 60-70 hour workweeks.

I just started walking a few days ago, albeit slowly and gingerly.

It is amazing how weak I have become. I am experiencing soreness, akin to the morning after a crazy hard workout, just from walking around.

As an avid exerciser, and someone who walked everywhere, this sedentary life has been difficult. More importantly, it has been eye opening.
I think I have been not only rehabbing an injury, but also rehabbing my lifestyle.

Prior to my accident, I had an extremely healthy diet. I lived in fear of skipping a workout, and felt guilty over indulgences. I tracked every movement and every calorie with an iPhone app. The mere thought of not working out for a few days, let alone months, terrified me.
The first few weeks were the most difficult. Not only could I not make it to the grocery store, I couldn’t stand long enough to prepare the food. Add in a beyond crazy work schedule, thanks to Sandy tearing through in the middle of a big deadline. Eating well was not a priority. I ate whatever, whenever, and worried that I would end this 10 pounds heavier.

Guess, what? My weight has remained about the same. Yeah, I am surprised too.

A few realities:

My increased activity levels left me always hungry.
Deprivation left me always wanting something else.

Muscle weighs more than fat.

It takes a long time to build muscle. Fat takes over pretty quickly.

My appetite is reduced; therefore my calorie intake is reduced. Although I am not limiting myself to being fat free, gluten free, or sugar free, I am simply eating less. If I want a cookie, I eat a cookie. I don’t seem to want 6 of them.

Muscle does weigh more than fat. While my weight is about the same, my pants are actually getting to be too big.  Where there was muscle tone, there is now just flesh. I am looking skinny rather than healthy. My formerly hard body has been replaced by a very soft one. I now know that the number on the scale is not an indicator of how I look, or how much body fat I have.

Don’t get me wrong; I am not advocating a poor diet, or a non-active lifestyle.

I am not living on fast food and processed junk.
I will be back in the gym the minute the doctor tells me I am strong enough to do so.

What I am advocating, is giving ourselves a break. Would working out 4 days a week instead of 6 be so bad? Would eating healthfully but not obsessively, work better than constant restriction and occasional binges? For those who don’t have a good diet and exercise routine, the thought of all or nothing often feels too daunting and stops them from even trying. For those of who do, obsession can easily take hold.

I want to be strong and healthy, and of equal importance, happy.

I love how I feel after a hard run or a challenging cycling class. I have more energy and stamina when I eat well. But, moderation, for those of us capable of practicing it, is a good thing. And it works both ways. Too much of a good thing, is still too much. My body was trying to tell me to back off, with cranky aches and pains and constant exhaustion. It finally, just cracked. Right across the kneecap.

While many of you are crafting your New Year’s resolutions to start diets, lose weight, or join a gym, why not join me in vowing to respect our bodies and all it does for us?

Instead of thinking about a diet, why not think about nourishing your body for optimum performance? Care for your body as you might care for something else that is important to you.  Listen to what your body is telling you and respond to it.

We only get one body; take good care of it.

photo: Glasshouse Images

Diet Riot

December 26, 2012

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I am planning a small holiday soiree and want to include a variety of foods that suit a variety of dietary choices.

There are the vegetarians, the gluten free, the lactose intolerant, and the just plain fussy.

Some won’t eat fish, some won’t eat red meat, and some won’t eat chicken. One guest has a shellfish allergy.  A few won’t eat vegetables. There are the carb restrictors, and the sugar- free. There are the adventurous gourmets, and the no sauce types.

Sound like an impossible to please group? Not really.

These days, everyone has a dietary issue, due to allergies, or just personal taste. A good host can plan around that, and make sure that everyone has something to eat that they (hopefully) will enjoy. It’s not necessary to adapt recipes to cater to dietary preferences, but it is important to offer a selection of foods to suit everyone.

I have stated my distaste for serving too many hors d’oeuvres, which in my opinion just fill everyone up before the main meal. I tend to opt for a few simple “nibbles” that won’t wreck anyone’s appetite before the big event, but will tide my guests over while they are gathering with cocktails before dinner.

Tangy dips or spreads, made without mayonnaise, sour cream or cheese, are good options. Put out crackers or chips, as well as baby carrots to cater to the gluten free crowd. I love Food Should Taste Good multigrain chips, which are gluten free, lactose free and whole grain. Spiced nuts, or a selection of olives are easy ideas.

As long as everyone has something they can snack on, feel free to offer a cheese plate or meat based hors d’oeuvre for the others.

Variety is the spice of life, and when possible, it’s nice to have choices. Few people will love everything, but as long as everyone has a few things they can enjoy, the menu is a success.

An interesting salad, made with vinaigrette rather than a creamy dressing is a nice way to start the meal. Skip the cheese, so that the lactose free guests can partake.

For a buffet, it is easy to make a few different types of protein, such as fish, chicken, pork or beef. Make sure that at least one of them can have the sauce served on the side, to accommodate someone with a simpler palette. If it is a sit down dinner, with only one main course, be sure that the sides are ample enough to please anyone who doesn’t care for it.  Be sure that the dishes don’t all contain sugar, cream, or tons of butter, as many holiday sides do.

Dessert can get a bit trickier, as flour, butter and sugar are the mainstays of most pies, cakes and cookies. If you can’t include at least one gluten free option, and at least one lactose free option, have some fresh fruit so that all of your guests can enjoy a final course.

At the end of it all, the act of getting together and sharing a meal is the most important part of holiday entertaining. Enjoying time spent with family and friends trumps sticking to a rigid diet any day!

photo: Glasshouse Images

Merry Christmas!

December 25, 2012

Wishing all of our readers a Merry Christmas, and a joyous year filled with all good things!

Ginger shortbread Christmas tree

xo indigo jones and Glasshouse Images

Project Snowflake

December 21, 2012

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In January, the children of Sandy Hook Elementary School will be returning to a new facility. Please join me in easing the transition by helping to turn their new building into a winter wonderland.

The Parent Teacher Association of Connecticut is planning on filling the building with homemade snowflakes to welcome them to their new school, and assuage some of the anxiety of returning to school.

It is a small but heartfelt and meaningful gesture that truly embodies the meaning of the season.

If you would like to take a moment to make a paper snowflake, (or 10), please send them to me by January 7, and I will make sure that they get there in time.

Happy Holidays!

Indigo Jones

161 West 15th Street #1C

New York, New York 10011

photo: Glasshouse Images

CSA Tuesday: It’s a Wrap!

December 20, 2012

This week marks the end of our CSA series for the season. I have mixed reviews about it. On one hand, I did become acquainted with a few new vegetables, and I did need to flex a little culinary muscle to use some of the items I received.

On the other hand, there was a lot of waste. Things that went bad before I could get to them, and things I just didn’t like that much that kept on coming.

This week we received more beets ( yum), lettuce, spinach and pumpkins (hence the things that just keep coming!). We also got butternut squash and garlic.
I have 4 day weekend coming up, so I hope to be creative and use it all up.

Spinach…That’s an easy one! Saute with garlic. ( 2 items used already!)

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I love beets!

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Roasted beets in a salad? That’s a no-brainer!

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People were leaving the pumpkins behind…they are heavy to carry, and harder to prepare. Late in the season pumpkins are not always so tasty. I will give them a try, one last time!

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photos: Spencer Jones / Glasshouse Assignment

Think Pink

December 19, 2012

Pink was the surprise color of the season, with hues ranging from strong and vibrant, to soft and pastel ruling the runways.

Even the softest of shades had a strength to them. This is not your average girlie pink!

Costume National used  hot pink for modern clothes with a sexy vibe:

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Burberry mixed their rich pink with red, for a new silhouette with exaggerated round shoulders and a nipped waist:

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Elber Albaz took a minimalist approach to magenta with a simply cut sheath dress for Lanvin:

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Raf Simons popped his pale pink with a bright yellow lining and edgy black shorts for Christian Dior:

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Balmain used a vibrant pink for laced up shoes in rich satin:

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K-9 Comfort

December 18, 2012

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Sometimes, words are not enough.

In the wake of the horrendous events in Newtown, Connecticut last week, a team of comfort dogs was dispatched from Chicago to try to help the residents come to terms with the tragedy.

Lutheran Church Charities deployed 10 golden retrievers to provide comfort to those struggling to make sense of the circumstances. The dogs are available to just sit and be petted, while residents deal with their grief.
Says Tim Hetzner, President of the organization:

“Dogs are non-judgmental. They are loving. They are accepting of anyone. It creates the atmosphere for people to share.”

The dogs come with a business card containing its name, Facebook page, Twitter handle, and email address, so that those that they meet can keep in touch.

We hope that these dogs can help bring some respite to this community ravaged by an unthinkable act of violence.

photo: Glasshouse Images

Unrecipe of the Week: The Salvage Operation

December 17, 2012

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Last night, I finally got around to assessing the vegetable situation in my refrigerators. I tossed out an entire garbage bag filled with stalks of wilted Brussels sprouts, rotting greens and herbs; some too far gone to identify. I did manage to salvage some things, and set about using up what I could.

I roasted 2 large bunches of golden beets, and trimmed them up for salads.

I found 4 tiny heads of cauliflower, and a large head of garlic.
Inspired by a recipe I saw, I seized the opportunity to create a dish to put it good use. I pureed the cauliflower for a base on which to scatter sautéed bay scallops and roasted cauliflower florets. It was delicious, and surprisingly hearty.

Sautéed Bay Scallops with Cauliflower Two Ways:

For the cauliflower:
Separate cauliflower into florets and divide it in half.

For the roasted portion:

Toss the florets in olive oil, sea salt and a little black pepper and roast in a hot oven for about 20 -30 minutes until soft and golden brown. For the last 5-7 minutes of roasting, toss in some pignoli nuts.

For the pureed portion:

Boil the florets in water for about 20 minutes until soft. Add a little butter, salt and pepper, and puree until smooth.

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For the scallops:

Heat some olive oil and a little butter in a pan until the butter is melted. Add 2 cloves of diced garlic and stir. Add the scallops to the pan in a single row and let them start to caramelize before turning them. You can do this in batches if necessary. Season the scallops with salt and pepper. Remove the scallops, and add a little white wine or lemon juice to deglaze the pan.

To assemble:

Place a large dollop of cauliflower puree on the plate.
Spoon the scallops over the puree. Sprinkle the roasted cauliflower and pignoli nuts around the scallops. Pour the remaining pan juices over the scallops. Garnish with finely chopped parsley or the fresh herbs of your choice.

Enjoy!

Now, what to do with the 2 heads of cabbage I have left…


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