Girls We Love: Guest Blogger Bridget Sandorford

If you hadn’t noticed, here at The Girls Who Eat, we are all about balance. We absolutely love indulging in the best cookie or bacon bomb around, but balance these indulgences out with veggies smoothies, salads, and quinoa (and of course lots of exercise). Today’s guest blogger, Bridget Sandorford is all about this balanced lifestyle too. Bridget is a freelance food and culinary writer culinaryschools.org, where recently she’s been researching culinary colleges in New York. In her spare time, she enjoys biking, painting and working on her first cookbook.  Below, she offers great tips of how to lead this balanced life.

How to Eat Healthier While Still Enjoying Food

A lot of people think that when you decide to eat healthier, you have to give up all the foods you love. Most of our favorites and our go-to comfort foods aren’t exactly healthy, foods like chocolate cake, macaroni and cheese, pizza, and ice cream. They’re comfort foods because they’re loaded with fat and sugar — two things you need to limit on a healthy diet. However, eating healthy doesn’t have to be an exercise in self-deprivation. You can learn to eat a healthier diet while still enjoying foods just as much as you always did. Here are a few tips:

Eat What You Want

Craving that double-layer chocolate cake with ganache frosting? Go ahead and have it. Just make sure you split it with a friend or that you only have a few bites and save the rest for later. Can’t keep fighting your craving for a pint of Ben & Jerry’s Chubby Hubby? Opt for a single- serving instead or, again, share with a friend. You don’t have to deprive yourself of the foods you want — you just have to practice portion control. A few bites of the food that’s tempting you will satisfy your craving but won’t wreck your healthy eating plan. Plus, by indulging even briefly, you will be better able to resist cravings and avoid binging on the whole cake plus ice cream later.

Strike a Balance

OK, so maybe you did lose control and have that whole pint of Ben & Jerry’s. All is not lost. You can balance out your indulgences by choosing lighter fare for your next meal or for the next day. If you just had to have pizza for lunch, go ahead and enjoy a large, healthy salad for dinner. If you spent all day celebrating and noshing, spend the next day making healthier choices. A few heavy meals or treats won’t send you into a downward spiral. The key is to eat a balanced diet and to make healthy choices overall.

Focus on Adding Healthy Foods

When you become fixated on what you can’t have or what you shouldn’t have, those foods start to seem like the only thing you want to have. Instead of focusing on what you can’t have, focus on what you can have. Add lots of delicious and nutritious foods to your diet, and feast on all the possibilities. Make your diet one of abundance — full of foods that are healthy and life-sustaining. When you enjoy so much delicious, healthy bounty, you won’t notice the things you’re missing quite so much.

Choose Healthy Alternatives

There is room for chocolate every day. You can have a lot of the “junk” foods you enjoy by making healthier alternatives. You can substitute ingredients like refined flours and sugars for healthier options, making the whole dish better for you. Not sure where to start? There are plenty of websites that offer recipes that use all-natural sweeteners, whole-grain flours, and healthy fats to make healthier options of your favorite foods. Eating a healthy diet doesn’t have to mean being an ascetic. You can still enjoy food as much as you always did but make sure you practice an overall healthy diet by following these simple tips. How do you find ways to enjoy food while still eating a healthy diet? Share your tips in the comments!

 

Girls Who Love All Things Food: Union Market

Last weekend, I headed down to Washington D.C. to visit my friend Allison. She and her husband had bought a rowhouse in an up and coming neighborhood in D.C., and had spent every last moment of the past year gut renovating it. So I wanted to go down and see their beautiful new home and celebrate Allison’s return to regular life! They live a few blocks from Union Station, in an area that continues to change rapidly. One of the biggest changes in the neighborhood is the addition of Union Market – a foodie paradise. It opened this past September, and it really seems to have quickly taken hold in the community. In the two days I went – yes, I went two days in a row – there were always lots of people. A fabulous combination of food related shops, food vendors, and fresh produce and bread, there is something for everyone, and something to keep bringing you back time after time. In two days, I didn’t even get to try everything there, but I’ve written about the vendors I did experience. I can’t wait to go back and try all the other vendors!

Salt & Sundry: A very cute kitchen and home store with an Anthropologie feel. They have a section of small batch bitters, a well edited selection of cookbooks, great candles, an interesting selection of salts, beautiful plates and unique home decorations. Owner Amanda started the store when she was Christmas shopping, and couldn’t find anything she wanted to buy. This store would definitely feel at home in Brooklyn, and is truly unique in D.C.

Red Apron: A meat counter meats sandwich bar meets bar, this is where your un-interested manly husband will park himself. The sandwiches sound amazing, and the bar is very cool, with various beers on draft.

Juice Bar: The lovely ladies at the juice bar offer you tastes of their three different juices, and you will definitely have a hard time deciding! We bought the kale juice, which had a lovely citrus and gingery taste.

Tacorean: Delicious Korean Tacos!! Enough said.

DC Empanadas: Fried for you on the spot, these homemade empanadas are so good. I tried one that sounded unusual for an empanada – buffalo chicken. Of course anything in that little pocket is delicious, but these are some good empanadas.

Peregrine Espresso: This espresso and tea vendor makes each cup in front of you in a really fun to watch way.

All Things Olive: Along with an array of tasty olive oils, the one that I HAD TO HAVE was the smoked olive oil. So unique, I can’t wait to use it to give my meals a nice smokey taste.

Buffalo & Bergen: After making a name for herself as a killer mixologist, and inspired by New York soda shops, owner Gina decided to open her own soda shop. I sat down at the bar for a ‘real’ drink. Unlike most bars, where you tell the bartender what liquor you like, here you tell Gina what syrup you like. I picked ginger syrup. I have no idea what she ended up putting in it for liquor, but it was damn tasty. They also have a food menu, and are packed for brunch.

So next time you’re in D.C., make time to stop at Union Market. You won’t be disappointed. For more information, check out their website: http://unionmarketdc.com/.

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Girls Who Snack: Crispy Chickpeas

A long time ago, I was at an excellent little restaurant in Fort Greene. The restaurant’s version of free table bread was smoked paprika crispy chickpeas. I was instantly obsessed, and swore I would try to figure out how they made them. So when perusing my new Smitten Kitchen cookbook, I noticed a recipe that includes crispy cumin chickpeas. I was so excited, and I figured this would be a good base recipe to help me replicate the delicious snacks. Smitten Kitchen’s recipe called for cumin, but I plan on making my next batch with smoked paprika, and then the next batch with chipotle pepper. Point is, you can literally spice it up! Feel free to try this recipe with whatever your favorite spices are.

With the Super Bowl coming up, this would be a great healthy addition to the super unhealthy spread. One that I think everyone would love. Just don’t tell them it’s healthy! Of course this is a great snack any time of the year, and you’ll be happy they are healthy when you can’t stop shoveling them into your mouth.

Girls Who Snack: Crispy Chickpeas
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 

Serves: 4
 

Ingredients
  • 1 15.5 ounce can of cooked chickpeas
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin

Instructions
  1. Drain chickpeas and rinse under cold water. Lay the chickpeas out on a paper towel and pat dry. If you can’t get them dry, let them air dry for a little bit.
  2. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  3. Toss the chickpeas with olive oil, salt, pepper, and cumin until all the chickpeas are coated.
  4. Spread on baking sheet, and place baking sheet on middle shelf in the oven.
  5. Roast until the chickpeas are browned and crisp.

 

 

Girls Who Brunch: Egg Grilled Cheese

One cold Friday night, I had a hankering for grilled cheese. Trying hard to save my indulgences for the weekends, I decided that I would have it tomorrow. Possibly for lunch. But then it hit me – why not do a breakfast version of it? What if I made a grilled cheese with eggs. Similar to the ubiquitous egg and cheese sandwich, just taken up a notch.  Loads of shredded cheese, scrambled eggs, and bacon salt on rosemary and sea salt bread -what’s not to like? I went to bed SO excited to wake up in the morning. They became an instant hit in my house, and I think it’ll be nearly impossible to go back to a regular egg and cheese sandwich.

 

 

Girls Who Brunch: Egg Grilled Cheese
Author: 
Recipe type: Breakfast
Cuisine: American
 

This take on the classic egg and cheese sandwich will have you begging for more.
Ingredients
  • 4 large eggs
  • 8 oz shredded sharp cheddar
  • Bacon salt
  • 2 tablespoons salted butter
  • 4 slices rosemary & sea salt bread (or your favorite crusty bread)

Instructions
  1. Finely grate the cheese.
  2. Place ¼ of the cheese two slices of bread.
  3. Scramble the eggs.
  4. Split the scrambled eggs evenly on top of the two slices of bread with cheese.
  5. Pinch bacon salt and sprinkle over the eggs.
  6. Split remaining cheese on top of the eggs.
  7. Put the two remaining slices of bread on top of the heaping cheese.
  8. In another pan, melt 1 tablespoon of butter on high heat. Once melted, carefully place on sandwich in the melted butter. Turn the head to medium-low.
  9. Flip the sandwich when the bottom layer of cheese has mostly melted. Then melt until the sandwich sticks together. If the bread starts to brown too quickly, turn down the heat.
  10. Once melted, ready to serve!

Notes
If you want to add bacon, make it extra crispy and crumble it on top of the eggs instead of the bacon salt. I would still add a little bit of sea salt as well. If making for a group, preheat the oven to degrees. After each sandwich is done, pop it in a ceramic baking dish until you have completed all of your sandwiches.

Girls Who Travel: Mexico

To celebrate our 5-year wedding anniversary, my husband I recently returned to the land in which we got married – Mexico. Five years ago, the wind was whipping my hair in circles as I had my dream beach wedding near Playa del Carmen in the Riviera Maya. We returned again to the Riviera Maya, but this time to Maroma Resort & Spa. Our wedding coordinator had spoken so highly of the place, and it had always stuck in my mind. We were lucky enough to not only be able to experience the amazing beauty of this quite little resort, but also their delicious food. Unlike most the all-inclusive mega-resorts down there, they take their food very seriously. They make everything with fresh ingredients, and have inventive Mexican or Mexican-inspired cuisine. They even have a little old lady making tortillas for the entire resort! Her name is Dahlia, and she kindly sat me down and showed me how to properly roll out a tortilla. The resort’s head chef also teaches a 2-hour cooking class, in which I learned quite a few things I didn’t know. In no particular order, they are:

  • When making guacamole, start by salting the onions and pepper. Let them sit for a while until they are sweating (you’ll know because it’ll be wet), and then continue to add the rest of the ingredients. This is done because it softens the onions and pepper, so it blends with the avocado better. I make guacamole that people always love, and this trick had never occurred to me.
  • Real guacamole does not include tomatoes – the change the taste and texture too much. He said they are filler, since avocados are so expensive.
  • Mexicans do not use jalapenos – they ship them off to other countries to use. The most popular pepper is the serrano pepper. When I asked why no one like jalapenos  he said because “they are flavorless and watery.” After biting into one, I can see his point. Then after biting into the serrano, my mouth was on fire for 30 minutes! And I love me some spice!
  • When making ceviche, you will know it’s done when the originally clear lime juice turns milky white. And it goes without saying that fresh fish is crucial to any good ceviche.
  • Tinga Tostadas – Tinga is translated as “anything” and they make this dish when they have leftovers, but not enough to feed the entire family again.
  • Mexicans do not eat hard shell tacos. He said that was a Taco Bell thing, haha!

Given that Mexican is my favorite type of food (for those few times it is done right in the US), I was really excited to not only eat great, fresh Mexican for a few days, but also to learn something from a real Mexican chef. Now that I’ve passed on my few pearls of wisdom, enjoy all the beautiful photos!

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Girls Who Rock: My Personal Martha Stewart

You that friend of your who always throws the best dinner parties? Who not only makes all the most amazing and elaborate dishes, but also manages to somehow perfectly decorate the table, and give you a goody bag when you leave? No? You don’t have a friend like that? I do. To most of my friends, I am the hostess that has people over and makes good food. But when you come to my place, I use the same (beautiful) dishes I use every day, I make…maybe one or two fancy sounding dishes, and my husband and I sit on an ottoman and an office chair so our guests can sit at the ‘real’ chairs in our apartment. And there are definitely no goody bags when you leave my house. Sure, the food was good, but it doesn’t feel like an event. However, when I get invited to my friend Alison’s house for a dinner party, I am always so excited  because I know I am in for a real treat. Last weekend, she kindly had some of her friends over for a Christmas-y dinner. The table is always perfectly and elaborately set, this time with festive holiday decorations and patterns.

On the menu:

Appetizers:
Burrata & Balsamic Tomatoes
Pate
Olives
Soppresata

First Course:

Citrus salad with Roasted Cashews

Main Course:

Homemade Pasta with Butternet Squash and Black Truffles

Dessert:

Chocolate-Cinnamon Souffles with Steve’s Sea-Salted Caramel Ice Cream

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Girls Who Bake: Gluten-Free Red Velvet Cheesecake Cookies

This summer, my hilariously awesome office mate was celebrating a birthday. Given that I have become the defacto office-birthday-baker, I asked her what she wanted me to make. She suggested red velvet cupcakes, carrot cake, or macaroons. The only hiccup: she’s allergic to gluten. Normally I wouldn’t bat an eye at her requests, but given that I haven’t figured out how gluten free flours work yet, I wasn’t exactly sure what I would do. I stumbled upon this recipe for Red Velvet Cheesecake Cookies on Two Peas & Their Pod, and then through more googling, figured out a way that I was hoping I could make them deliciously gluten free. Luckily, it worked! These cookies are so ridiculously amazing, you won’t say, “These cookies are so good – for gluten free.” All of my coworkers were drooling over them as word spread around the office. Gluten-free often gets the shaft on taste, but these dense cookies will leave everyone wanting more. These are now my favorite cookies – hands down. So if you have someone in your life with Celiac, surprise them with this delicious treat this holiday season.

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Girls Who Eat Out: Don Antonio by Starita

After winning the “Best Pizza of 2012″ Award from New York Magazine, Don Antonio by Starita was on my list of places to try. My friend and I were able to stop by before a Broadway show to try their famous specialty pizza: Montanara Starita. This house specialty is lightly fried pizza dough, topped with their signature tomato sauce and smoked buffalo mozzarella, then finished in a wood burning oven. I’m going to keep this brief: You must try this pizza! We did try their other pizzas, and they were quite good, but not quite as show-stopping at the Montanara Starita. It’s unlike any other pizza I have ever had, thus warranting a visit. Go!

Honey Chipotle Bacon & Red Velvet Pancakes

Last Saturday, I had invited a couple good friends over that we hadn’t seen in a while. The only thing on the menu: Red Velvet Pancakes. I had been dreaming about them for a while, and a home cooked brunch with friends was the best opportunity for this decadent breakfast. But then I thought, I need something a little savory. So bacon it is! And while I’m at it, lets just make this a big breakfast and make scrambled eggs with scallions and goat cheese. And then my friend showed up with champagne. My dream of decadent pancakes turned into an accidental full on brunch!

The red velvet pancakes – the centerpiece of my brunch menu – were from a recipe I came across on The Kitchy Kitchen blog. Normally I would not repost another bloggers recipe, but this one is something I must share. The only alteration I made was substituting 2 tablespoons of sugar with about a 1/4 teaspoon of stevia. I like to replace sugar with stevia whenever possible. Generally with pancakes I keep some sugar, and replace some of it with stevia. But don’t replace the sugar in the Marscapone Spread – it would change the taste too much. And the Marscapone Spread is the real star of this amazing recipe. You won’t need syrup with these pancakes – the spread is all you need.

Turning my attention to the bacon, I was feeling the need for a little spice to balance the incredibly sweet “desert” pancakes. Chipotle might be one of my favorite spices, so honey-chipotle felt like the perfect glaze for my bacon. They turned out to be perfectly sweet and spicy, with a kick of chipotle at the end. Given that the pancakes were the planned star of my brunch, this bacon got just as many rave reviews.

Not sure that this brunch menu was the most cohesive menu, but when everything is so good, no one really seems to mind.

Honey Chipotle Glazed Bacon
Recipe type: Breakfast
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 

Serves: 2-4
 

This smoky and sweet glazed bacon will become the star of your breakfast.
Ingredients
  • 1 package of bacon
  • 2 tablespoons of honey
  • 2 teaspoons of ground chipotle

Instructions
  1. Combine honey and chipotle in a small bowl. Mix with a fork until combined, and then set aside.
  2. Preheat a cast iron skillet. Add slices of bacon so that they are flat on the skillet. Do not overcrowd the pan. Do two batches if need be.
  3. Fry the bacon on both sides until it starts to brown, but is still fatty around the edges. Place on a plate with paper towels to drain of grease.
  4. If there is a lot of grease, wait till it cools a little and drain it.
  5. I prefer my bacon extra crispy. These instructions are for extra crispy bacon. If you don’t like bacon like that, please adjust the recipe accordingly.
  6. Combine honey and chipotle in a small bowl. Mix with a fork until combined, and then set aside.
  7. Preheat a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add slices of bacon so that they are flat on the skillet. Do not overcrowd the pan. Do two batches if need be.
  8. Fry the bacon on both sides until it starts to brown, but is still fatty around the edges. Place on a plate with paper towels to drain of grease.
  9. If there is a lot of grease, wait till it cools a little and drain it.
  10. Return the bacon to the pan, and brush the top side with the honey chipotle mix.
  11. When getting crispy, turn the bacon over, and brush the top of the bacon pieces with the remaining honey-chipotle mixture. If you have two batches, divide the spread into quarters.
  12. When bacon reaches desired crispiness, remove from heat and place on plate with paper towel to drain of fat.

Notes
I prefer my bacon extra crispy. If you do not, please adjust the recipe accordingly.

A foodie experience of a lifetime: Maialino’s Private Wine Room

My husband’s birthday was last week, and given that our birthdays are three days apart, we generally tend celebrate together. I always try to do something to make his day separate than mine, but it’s usually just something like a slightly nicer dinner out. This year, I was excited to do something a little bigger. While helping a friend try to plan his 80th birthday party, I happened upon the private wine room at Danny Meyer’s Maialino. It fits a maximum of four people, so that obviously didn’t work for a party, but I kept it in my back pocket for future reference. My husband adores wine, as well as good food, so I thought this might be the perfect place to surprise him for his birthday this year. Working with Amanda in their private dining department, I found out that you can do a 4-course, 6-course, or 8-course tasting menu, and all can be done with or without wine pairings. I opted for the 4-course tasting menu, with optional wine pairing for my husband. Amanda was extremely helpful and accommodating  even making sure my last minute request of waiting until I arrived to show us to the room was accommodated.

When you step into the restaurant, the first thing you see is the private wine room behind glass doors. There was a table for two waiting decked with blue and white checkered table cloth and a candle. My husband was completely blown away when the maitre d’ showed us to our room. Given that this is the working wine room, the room was slightly cool (though they offered to make it warmer), and the waitstaff popped in an out to grab some of the Italian-only wines for their patrons. After triple-checking to make sure they knew our allergies, and inquiring how we would like the meal paced, our first plate arrived. More