Monday, March 18, 2013

the kitchen is 99.9% ready!... and what's saving me meal-wise this week

Amazing, isn't it? Truly the most gorgeous kitchen I could have ever imagined.
I am so, so excited. 
Our contractor asks if I "want to wait until it's done to take pictures?"
Nope, too excited. 
So anyway, it's going to be a little quiet on the blog these next 2 weeks, as

I deal with this (much less sexy than the almost-done kitchen pic, huh?)...

quickly fill this (enjoy the cubby view while they're serene)...

and spend some Q time with my boys, who are on break. Once we have the art cubbies, and the pantry, and all the other amazing new spaces full I'll take pics and share them with you. Promise.

Oh, and on the food front, things aren't too shabby either. Random, yes, but delicious. All of the odds and ends (like 4 different 1/4 packages of pasta) are being put to good use so I can start fresh with all of my pantry essentials in the new digs.

And there's the freezer to empty out too, before we move back. In fact, I don't plan to cook at all this week.... which is sort of a shame, given the swell new digs. Truth: maybe I'm a little afraid to get anything dirty? That'll last about 3 days... in the meantime, we're sitting down to my oven-baked meatballs tonight, kale pesto (in some iteration) another night, and a tub of turkey chili, which will make good use of the tortillas in the fridge. Alright, so back in new recipe action soon. Can't wait to shoot my simple recipes from the brand-spanking new kitchen!!

Oh, and don't forget that I am sharing some of my make-ahead meal tips and simple recipes as a speaker at the Family Dinner Conference in NYC on April 18. I would love to meet some of you live if you can make it!!

food crush: Earth Balance coconut & peanut spread

They were sampling this deliciousness at our local Whole Foods last week and it is soooo good.

It's really more of a dessert than a snack... I mean, you can have it as a snack if you're into gluttony. Just balance it out with some celery sticks. Here's the link to Earth Balance's site if you want to see if it's sold by you.

Oh, and no, they didn't pay me to say such nice things about their product. I just tried it, instantaneously swooned, and thought you might like to know about it too. You're welcome.

Friday, March 15, 2013

green foods for St. Patrick's Day (or any day!)

Want to whip up something green for St. Patrick's Day? I've got you covered! Click here for a whole Pinterest board of (healthy) green foods!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

after school snack - super green machine smoothies

Our after school activities have picked up... more often than not, my kids get off the school bus, play for a half hour or so, have a snack, and then we're off to an activity.

Lately, I have been making a green smoothie for myself in the morning, then tucking two glasses away for them as part of their after school snack.

I know what you're going to ask.

The answer: One of my kids (in the photo above) will happily try anything I offer up. And each day's smoothie is "really good!". Sometimes it's even, "the best one ever!".  My other child? It's all about an opaque glass, and an appealing (to a Kindergartner) name. And so, with that in mind, here's our latest go-to green smoothie recipe:

Super Green Machine Smoothies
(makes about 4 cups)

1 banana
2 cups fresh pineapple, rough chopped
3-4 ounces organic baby spinach
2 Tablespoons chia seeds
2 Tablespoons organic ground flaxseed meal
enough water (or coconut water) to reach desired consistency
juice of one lemon, optional (cuts the "green" taste)

Place all ingredients into your blender. Serve in a glass, or opaque, cup! 

Note that the chia seeds will make the smoothie thicken, if you're making it ahead... so, you may need to add more liquid and re-blend it right before serving, if it gets too thick for your tastes!

Friday, March 8, 2013

announcing SWELLMom spring cooking classes!

The time has come! Our kitchen is *almost* done, so I can (finally) say “yes” to all of you who have been asking for hands-on cooking lessons!! 

SWELLMOM Cooking Lessons:
How to feed your family well on the busiest of days… 
and still leave time to take care of yourself
(because no one wants a cranky mom come dinnertime)

This is the chance for just a few lucky (if I might say so myself!) moms (or dads) to enjoy in-person cooking lessons from yours truly. As a former personal chef, certified health coach, and fellow busy mom (who gets that you don’t have all day to hang out at the burners), the goal of these lessons is to teach you simple, healthy recipes that you can quickly + easily recreate at home. While the classes are fun—by all means, sign up with your friends if you’d like-- understand that these classes are the real deal. You’ll be doing the cooking, with my expert guidance. I want you to go home and feel 100% comfortable that you can recreate these recipes for your families.

For specific questions, to check availability, be placed on a wait list, or to inquire about private cooking lessons please email me. Class descriptions and current dates are as follows {class availability updated as of Wednessday, April 24}

“I Know I’m Supposed To Be Eating More Leafy Greens, But…”
We all know we are supposed to be eating more leafy greens, but how many salads can you assemble?! This class will teach you some of my favorite, family-friendly, quick + easy ways to serve up leafy greens including: green smoothies, make-ahead breakfasts, power-packed pesto, and more.
Tuesday, April 23rd (10am-noon)  - FULL!! - wait list only
or Wednesday, April 24th (9-11am) - FULL!! - wait list only    

Take Me To The Mediterranean!
Hearing all the buzz about the benefits—and deliciousness—of a Mediterranean Diet? Let me teach you simple, family-friendly recipes that highlight fresh spring vegetables, whole grains, and protein-rich legumes. Drawing on my Professional Certificate in Healthy Cooking from the Culinary Institute of America’s Greystone campus-- but balanced with my first-hand knowledge that busy moms need snacks and meals that are quick and easy (and sometimes portable!)-- I will help you add in healthy, delicious, Mediterranean-inspired snacks and meals into your family’s repertoire in no time.
Tuesday, April 30th (10am-noon) - 2 spots open!
or Wednesday, May 1st (9:30-11:30am) - FULL!! - wait list only 

Getting Back to Swell – Clean Eating 
A few times a year, our bodies just need a break. We may feel sluggish, a little ornery, maybe a tad bit bloated... Busy parents, let’s set aside some time for you and have you heading into summer feeling swell again. As a Holistic Health Coach, former personal chef, and a busy mom (who, yes, has felt a little sluggish, ornery and maybe a tad bit bloated in the past!), I understand the desire to feel good, and the need for meals to be simple to prepare. I will be sharing my 1-week clean eating meal plan, and we'll gather in my kitchen to make sure you are comfortable whipping up some of these nourishing "clean" recipes up in your own home kitchen.  We’ll focus on delicious—and simple—preparations of fruits, vegetables, and plant-based foods + good fats. This is a delicious way to get back to feeling swell before summer kicks off.
Tuesday, May 7th (10am-noon) - FULL!! - wait list only 
or Wednesday, May 8th (9:30-11:30am) -  1 spot available
Classes are held in New Canaan, CT. Each class includes 2-hours of hands-on instruction, all cooking equipment, all groceries, generous samples of each recipe, and special take-home gifts; maximum 6 participants/class. You may block out a class date with friends, or sign up as an individual and meet a nice group of moms and dads who also interested in bolstering their healthy cooking skills. 

Introductory pricing is $150/person/class. 

Please email me ( for availability and more information on discounts. Please note that classes will be booked on a first-come-first-served basis, and payment is due within 72-hours of confirmed enrollment to hold your spot(s). 

I am so excited to have the chance to cook with many of you soon!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

turkey-cauliflower lasagna made with power greens pesto

The benefits of a Mediterranean Diet are a hot topic right now. While I don't pigeonhole the way we eat, most of what I feed my family falls into this way of eating: lots of veggies, leafy greens, nuts, good fats, lean meats... With this in mind, I recently shared my recipe for "Power Greens Pesto" with Walter Stewart's Market. There, I paired it with a delicious pasta I came across on one of their end aisle displays. Delicious.

Then later in the week, I transformed the remaining pesto into a comforting (Mediterranean Diet-inspired) lasagna loaded with turkey, veggies and the power pesto. The verdict? Rave reviews!

Turkey-Cauliflower Lasagna with Power Greens Pesto
(makes 12 servings; freezes well)

olive oil
1-2 onions, diced
1 lb ground turkey
1 head of cauliflower, chopped
2 T dried basil
2 T dried oregano
4 cups (30 oz) organic ricotta cheese
3 cups power pesto
8 oz oven-ready (no cook) lasagna sheets
2 cups mozzarella
1 cup Parmesan, shredded

Preheat oven to 350.  Saute onion, ground turkey, cauliflower and dried spices in a bit of olive oil, until cooked through. In baking dish(es) layer: a bit of pesto + lasagna sheets + ricotta + pasta sheets + turkey/cauliflower mixture + pesto + pasta sheets + shredded cheese. Bake for 30 minutes, or until cheese is golden brown, and pasta is al dente. 

You may freeze the lasagna cooked or uncooked. If you freeze it uncooked, simply double the cook time if you are reheating from frozen, so 1 hour. 

the kitchen's home stretch!!... backsplash in!

this is the home stretch!! i should be whipping up, and photographing, recipes for you all from our new kitchen in the next few weeks. pinch me! the kitchen is turning out more beautiful-- and functional-- than i ever imagined it could be. i feel so, so lucky. here's a sneak peek at the backsplash (minus lights-- sorry, forgot to turn them on) gorgeous, isn't it? oh, i am so excited.

part of what has made this renovation so smooth, and fun, is our "dream team". since so many have asked, let me make sure you have their contact info, in case you're embarking on a Fairfield County, CT renovation or building project too:
architect: neil hauck + project manager, brian o'connor
contractor: jeff pirone of pirone construction
designer: sanny warner from alice burnham, inc.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

kale and new potato soup

Today was beautiful, but deceptively cold. I'd stayed up until the wee hours last night, watching the replay of this weekend's Integrative Nutrition Conference, so today we stuck close to home so I could catch as much of it on live stream as I could. While listening, I made one of those "whatever is in the fridge" soups. It turned out so delicious that it's worth sharing...

Potato-Kale Soup
(makes 8 servings)

2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
4-6 carrots, chopped
4-6 stalks celery, chopped
1 medium zucchini, chopped
6 new potatoes, chopped
1 bunch dill, chopped
1 bunch parsley, chopped
5 oz. kale
8 cups homemade bone broth (or store bought broth)

In a large pot, saute the onions, garlic, carrots, celery and zucchini in olive oil about 5 minutes. Add potatoes, herbs, kale and broth*. Simmer over medium low heat until potatoes are cooked through, about 25-30 minutes. Serve warm. May be made, stored in the fridge, and reheated.  (Because of the potatoes, this soup will not freeze well... so, just make enough to enjoy, or to share with a friend.)

*In my case, the bone broth had been made last month and was frozen. I simply added the frozen blocks of broth to the soup pot, covered the pot, and let the stock thaw while it was cooking. This only took a few minutes. 

Full disclosure on how family dinner went: my older son proclaimed the soup, "delicious! One of the best you have made!!" My younger son turned up his nose, claiming to "not like soup" and focused his attention on the leftover pasta salad and broccoli slaw from yesterday's ski picnic... As soon as he'd eaten the pasta I offered to scoop the veggies out of the soup and put them on his plate. He was much more excited to eat the "soup" that way. While he didn't get the full benefit of the bone broth, I still considered this a success health-wise b/c all of the veggies were cooked in the broth... I forgot to take an "after" photo of his empty plate.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

learning from home

I didn't announce this with too much fanfare, but I took my final certification exam to be a holistic health coach last week. I am super excited to be working on a couple of exciting ways to share this experience and knowledge with all of you, with my focus continuing to be on helping moms feed their families well on the busiest of days. (Because really, can we busy moms ever have enough help when it comes to mealtimes?!)  

I must admit that I am a sad that the program is over. Each week, I was exposed to a variety of dietary theories, and thoughtful ways to balance out our busy lives. For me, the beauty of this integrative nutrition program was that I could expand my knowledge from home, and continue to be present for my children when they were home from school. While I am always looking for ways to learn, grow, help and inspire, I've made a conscious decision to be a "stay-at-home-mom"... so anything I do on top of that can augment, but not take away from this special time in my life. It was sometimes tricky, but I found pockets of time to listen to my lectures, and fit time for my husband, friends, volunteer work and writing around my schoolwork.

Even this weekend, I made the juggle work. IIN was having their conference in NYC. So close... and yet so far. My husband was out of town on a ski weekend with college friends, and my children had a variety of classes and fun things to do queued up both weekend days.

So, I decided to spend the day with my kids up at the mountain... snowshoeing (in some much-appreciated solitude while they skied with their groups), and then skiing with my little one in the afternoon.

I got to be present for my older son's ski awards ceremony, and then we all headed home, tuckered out and content. A quick family dinner, then they agreed to read to each other before bed so I could start listening to a reply of the conference at 7pm.

And now I am sitting here in front of the fire, enjoying (a replay of) the conference, smitten that I also got to enjoy the day with my kids. For any of you busy moms whose interest in this nutrition program might be piqued, I am more than happy to describe my experience and share my feedback. Feel free to send me an email and you can ask away! And in the meantime, if you want a sneak peek at what integrative nutrition is all about, you can download this free ebook about health and wellness, which I found hugely inspiring a year ago, when I began my studies.