$1.42 per meal “Living on a Food Stamp Budget”

In Wedding on January 29, 2011 at 11:55 am

In my Politics of Nutrition class, I am to assess if the federal food stamp program can alleviate the hunger and malnutrition issues. I will adhere to the challenge “Living on a Food Stamp Budget” with an allotment of $30.00 for 7 days ($1.42 per meal) and evaluate the effectiveness of the program, whether one can truly meet nutritional needs, etc. I am required to print grocery receipts of my purchases and maintain a food log. Join me as I will document this challenge next week on the blog.

Hunger is a real problem in New York state. Food pantries and soup kitchens across the state are experiencing record demands. Hunger affects people of all ages, from children who attend school each day with empty stomachs, to seniors who struggle to afford food on fixed incomes. The population in NYC is 8.2 mil, with 19% living in poverty (1.5mil). What’s more, children represent 28% of that 1.5 mil (521,398).

I must plan my meals accordingly as I am not allowed to buy pre-made packaged foods or order in. I am guessing that the menu for each day will be repetitive and boring but that’s ok. Low cost meal ideas thus far: egg salad sandwiches, pb&j, canned goods… (goodbye fresh sushi and produce :()

Anyway, here’s what I’ve been munching on lately: some nuts and chocolate while watching a movie (hence, dark photo)   a pecan frosting cupcake I picked up in honor of ‘snowed-in-no-school day’ I ❤ cupcakes, salad….before the cupcake 😉 sushi & sashimi (I can’t do this next week!)

post gym fuel,   a carrot cake loaf I picked up at the farmer’s market (along with squash, apples, and potatoes),

and sourdough bread+cream cheese+smoked salmon snack.

Finally, ever since the operation of this blog, I have been receiving free products, coupons, and restaurant invitations for review. Thank you! Here is my first nutritional review of Gorge Delights: Just Fruit Bars I LOVE THESE BARS. I recommend these bars. They are 100% all natural and contain only one ingredient (the pureed fruit itself). 90 calories, loads of natural vitamins and no chemicals/additives, they are a great snack to carry around always. They come in 30 different flavors with a 2 year shelf life! It’s like a larabar but with a more gooey, chewy, dense texture. I tried the pear and I cannot wait to sample the other flavors. I usually prefer real fruit instead of fruit juices or bars for satiety, but one single serving of these bars is just as filling as one serving of real fruit  (from my personal experience) Grade: A


Candle 79, Manhattan-Half Marathon Race-Recap

In Wedding on January 24, 2011 at 11:49 am
Beiber says ‘never say never.’ Eminem says ‘lose urself’ and ‘I’m not afraid.’ Nike says ‘just do it.’ So did I run this weekend in 12F? Yes. Let me backtrack to Friday…
After breakfast, I tackled some schoolwork then headed out to pick up my race bib.
Afterward, lunch was quite delicious at Eli’s market (a sister of Zabar’s)… an appealing market with a bevy of foreign products, freshly baked bread, and gourmet goods, but I’m not sure if I’d go back on a regular basis because it was double the price of an expected Whole Foods lunch.
O well. Moving forward…Here’s lunch: a pay by the lb box comprised of: wheatberry salad, fennel salad, white bean salad, beet salad, waxy bean salad, and strawberries. To go along with my medley of salads, I also consumed Pappo al Pomodoro soup (a very simple soup I often make at home which consists of tomatoes, olive oil, Parmesan cheese, onions and stale bread), Greek yogurt, and a baguette.
Throughout the day, I snacked on some more carbohydrates I packed in my handbag (Kix cereal, Kashi cereal, and a brownie). It was a cold, chilly, snowy afternoon in NY. After many tissues of Kleenex (runny nose, anyone?) and debating whether I should back out on tomorrow’s race (of course, not!)
I met up with a friend for dinner at Candle 79. Both of us have never tried fine vegan cuisine before..and my friend is a die-hard meat eater…but we crossed our fingers and decided to give it a shot.                
The ambiance was warm and stunningly beautiful. Our waitress was knowledgeable,  having no problem reciting the lengthy and detailed description of specials for the day.
We each started our meal with a wonderful amuse-bouche of one endive leaf, stuffed with cheesy tofu and pumpkin seeds.

The crispness of the raw endive complemented the smooth texture of the ‘tofu cheese’. The pumpkin seeds added an extra touch of spicy flavor.

Next, we proceeded to a salad and appetizer. We were excited to try the daily specials: Mache & purslane with roasted delicata squash, cippolini onions, Brussels sprouts, chickpeas, radish & sunflower seeds tossed with a creamy tarragon dressing,
Sesame-crusted mushroom with baby bok choy, scallions, and soy glaze.
Here is my first portion (I went back for more after this):
The salad was not too intense which I preferred; instead, it calmly released mild flavors of sweetness, tang, and saltiness throughout the course. The tofu was firm on the outside and soft on the inside. The soy glaze was delicious and well-seasoned.
Next, we shared two entrees: Chili grilled Seitan: quinoa pilaf, sauteed chard, tomatillo-black bean sauce, avocado-pumpkin seed salad. Spaghetti & Wheat balls: truffled tomato sauce, roasted garlic, spinach, cashew parmesan.

The pasta portion of the spaghetti was nothing out of the ordinary, but the wheatballs were outstanding. My friend, a meat lover, loved the wheatballs and proclaimed it was a favorite item out of the entire experience. The seitan was chewy and gave off a texture like chicken. It tasted OK with a smoky flavor, accompanied by fluffy quinoa and avocado.

Overall rating of this restaurant: B. Wonderful ambiance, carefully thought out menu, exotic fresh ingredients…an innovative Vegan restaurant. The only downside was the taste in some (not all) aspects of the dishes. I deeply respect the restaurant’s effort in incorporating seasonal, unique ingredients. I support farmers and the true art of farming (read my farm-to-table experience). We both agreed that Vegan cuisine is tasty, but the faux meats cannot compare taste-wise or nutritionally to the real thing. Nonetheless, Candle 79 does an impeccable job at creating spectacular vegan dishes.

I came home and immediately went to bed….zZzZzz…I dreamed of the race course looking like this the next day…

But the weatherman didn’t lie. 12F on the dot. BOO. The next morning it looked like this:

O well. I woke up, stretched, bundled up and was out the door by 6:40AM. A friend came out to support and met me at H&H Midtown Bagels. I decided on bagels again for a substantial breakfast. I ordered something different this time!

A salty bagel with tofu vegetable cream cheese on the side because yesterday’s was too much. With coffee and fruit.

Side thought…I love the spirit of New Yorkers supporting the Jets, but who would really buy an artificially colored green bagel to support? I guess some crazy fan out there would…Not me…

but then again, I’m crazy in other ways…like running a race in 12F.  

I suckered up and got to the start of the line:

and at 8AM, the race took off! It took forever to actually start ‘running’ because there were over 5,000 people and it didn’t help that I was in the very back of the starting line. Here are some pictures of me the first couple of miles in (I’m in the blue jacket in front of the red):

I also had my phone with me so I took pictures of the park throughout: Overall, it was a successful race. I kept it very conservative the first six miles and gave it my all the last half. The water and gatorade being served were frozen solid and I had to break the cup with my hands while running. I ‘crunched’ my way to hydration (on ice). 😉

I experienced some painful breathing because my lungs would not expand any further. I could feel my lungs having a difficult time circulating…shortness of breath and asthmatic inhalations were experienced so in some parts, I had to breathe through my mouth. I slipped once on ice but immediately got back up with no pain. It was still very fun to be running outside with thousands of runners while viewing the beautiful scenery of Central Park.  I did a decent job keeping a steady pace throughout and finished at 2:14. Although no PR or my fastest pace, I was still happy for finishing and not backing out.

Would you ever eat a green bagel in support of a team or have you ever done anything crazy lately??

Greece not Grease

In Wedding on January 21, 2011 at 7:38 am

On Thursday, I attended the graduate school’s health department party.

I gratefully enjoyed the free appetizers while conversing with professors (I mainly listened) about our latest health care rights, the cons of Wal-Mart entering Manhattan, and the F.D.A’s newest approval of testing Alzheimer’s. I also caught up with my classmates on what we did over holiday break. My friend just returned from Rome and Greece and shared about her wonderful vacation. O Greece…one day.

Speaking of Greece, I could not get my mind off of Mediterranean food…and guess what I had for dinner? Yes. My friend and I ordered take-out from a Mediterranean restaurant on the upper east side called Pyramida.

I ordered a mezze platter with side salad on the right and my friend ordered a lamb sandwich.

This morning I headed out at 7AM and saw this outside:

Tomorrow is the Manhattan half-marathon and temperatures say it will be 12F. I’m going to have to bundle up…

Anyway, I headed out to grab coffee and some breakfast. I am doing my best to consume plenty of carbs for tomorrow. I love H&H Midtown bagels and wanted to try something new (tofu, scallion, or cinnamon cream cheese?) but I went with my favorite because it was what I was craving: bagel lox with cheese, capers, and veggies.  

I am looking forward to the weekend. Do you have any fun plans?