The Balanced Diet: Dill Salmon Burgers

Dill Salmon Burgers

I shudder when I think about my early days of “professional” cooking. Everyone has to start somewhere. But without having gone to cooking school or gotten any real world restaurant experience, I was particularly clueless and ill equipped for my first few private chef gigs.

Shortly after I quit my day job to blog and work on my cookbook full-time, one of my family friends in a gesture of good will hired me to cook for a dinner party. Not only did I have no idea what to charge him, I wasn’t even an experienced enough host to know the right kind of thing to serve a group of adults that was creative, easy to execute and didn’t feel like I was trying too hard. I was 23, so it’s arguable whether I could have even been considered an adult myself.

Dill Salmon Burgers Dill Salmon Burgers Dill Salmon Burgers

I ended up making these ginger salmon burgers, which had been a good one-off dinner experiment I tried on my parents. Though they were always polite and encouraging about whatever I was trying out on a given evening, you could tell that on this occasion, they actually didn’t have to fake it. And that was a good enough endorsement for me.

Salmon burgers are an easy option for a weeknight dinner for 3, but searing off 10 patties before dinner service proved to be slightly more pressure than my limited skill set could handle. Especially since I’d already burnt my arm on the oven and was running an hour behind schedule and desperately trying not to cry. Also, no matter how big and beautiful the kitchen, in a New York City salmon cooked stove-top has the tendency to leave everyone who enters the apartment smelling just a little bit fishy.

Dill Salmon Burgers

Lou Reed was one of the dinner guests, which only intensified my panic attack as funky smoke wafted out from the open kitchen into the dining area. Luckily, the food all tasted pretty good and the guests were equally skilled in positive encouragement as my parents, even if the presentation deserved little praise. And Lou ate two salmon burgers, so I counted the whole experience as a win. Continue reading

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The 7 Best Healthy Take Out Recipes


I’m just as prone as most people to the lure of seamless web. Sure, convenience is 50 percent of the battle. But the other half is simply craving-related. I love me some Pad Thai and Fried Rice—they just aren’t things that are usually at the top of my from-scratch cooking list since the alternative can arrive so quickly via bike messenger.

But the biggest incentive to making some of your favorite takeout dishes at home is the health factor. I usually dial back the sugar and add some leafy greens to make the contents of my favorite to-go containers MSG-free and full of nutrients. Here are a few of my best healthy ethnic dishes that only take slightly more time to make than it does to read through an entire Chinese takeout menu.


1. Scallop Pad Thai  | 2. Quinoa Fried Rice  | 3. Smoked Tofu Summer Rolls | 4. Mushroom Hot and Sour Soup | 5. Brown Rice Peanut Noodles | 6. Sesame Chicken | 7. Lentil and Spinach Masala

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The Balanced Diet: Minestrone Soup with Turkey Sausage and Fennel

Minestrone Soup with Turkey Sausage and Fennel

The weather on the East Coast has become a sick joke. I swear Mother Nature already has her April Fool’s Day all planned out and it’s going to be 20 degrees and snowing.

I’ve been dying to jump into spring cooking and start experimenting with all my favorite green vegetables. But my body is still craving stews and soups. March is always a weird time of year for recipe planning. So for the past few weeks I’ve tried to focus on hardy late winter fare that takes well to a little Springification.

Minestrone Soup with Turkey Sausage and Fennel Minestrone Soup with Turkey Sausage and Fennel Minestrone Soup with Turkey Sausage and Fennel Minestrone Soup with Turkey Sausage and Fennel I made this easy minestrone soup recipe a few weeks ago when the temperatures were taking a turn for the arctic again. Charlie was working late, so I brought over a quart container of it for us to enjoy while continuing our House of Cards bingefest.

Minestrone soup is already a great one-pot meal. But I tried to make sure that all the food groups were covered by adding some turkey sausage and bulking up the broth with even more veggies and herbs than usual. It’s always best to spoon feed yourself your dinner when there’s political blood being spilled in the background.

Minestrone Soup with Turkey Sausage and Fennel There’s a second quart container in my freezer that might just have to be defrosted for dinner tonight, lest I have to go outside to grocery shop.

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Meatless Monday: Red Quinoa Salad with Roasted Carrots, Parnsips, and Green Tahini Dressing

Quinoa Salad with Roasted Carrots, Parnsips, and Green Tahini Dressing

Yesterday, I semi-successfully completed my third weekend in a row of alcohol-free amusement. This one was a bit tougher than last. As it turns out, I’m a lot better at sober dance parties than sitting around a table with friends while they drink lambrusco and eat chocolate cake. The FOMO is just too much to handle.

For this next stage of my liver spring cleaning, I’m adding on a few more challenges. My acupuncturist Heidi (who you’ll meet this Wellness Wednesday!) happened to post this on her site last week about liver cleanses, and it made me realize that there were a few more things I should probably weed out if I want my excruciating month of vice-free living to actually be effective. In addition to alcohol, caffeine and sugar, Heidi also recommends removing dairy and meat.

Quinoa Salad with Roasted Carrots, Parnsips, and Green Tahini Dressing Quinoa Salad with Roasted Carrots, Parnsips, and Green Tahini Dressing

I don’t eat a ton of dairy, since for years before I was diagnosed with a gluten allergy, I thought I was lactose intolerant. (Oops.) But I am very much a carnivore. So the idea of going vegan on top of everything else is definitely daunting. To ease into it, I’m trying to go vegan during the daylight hours. (Though I’m still eating organic eggs).

Green Tahini Dressing Quinoa Salad with Roasted Carrots, Parnsips, and Green Tahini Dressing

I wrote this post about Bittman’s VB6 diet in the fall, along with a delicious recipe for his roasted ratatouille. I think this is a smart way to go about things, and it’s pretty close to how I eat on a weekly basis anyway. I try to eat homemade lunches to cut down on my seamless habits and also because it’s an easier way to stick to my budget and still have fun with friends out on the town. Most of the time 75 percent of these dishes come from my pantry and are vegan just by way of the fact that I don’t keep a whole lot of frozen meats on hand.

I always recommend to people who are new to integrating cooking into their daily routine that they try blocking off a chunk of cooking time on Sunday. I don’t always stick to this schedule myself, but usually one day or night at the beginning of the week I’ll prepare a couple make ahead things to have on hand for my lunches. A few weeks ago, this quinoa was on the menu. I had a handful of different veggies that were shriveling away in my crisper drawer, so I threw them on a sheet pan and gave them some olive oil love.

Quinoa Salad with Roasted Carrots, Parnsips, and Green Tahini Dressing

My rando fridge scrap creations rarely get any face time on the site. But this red quinoa salad recipe ended up being so delicious that I might just make it again on purpose. I also had some fresh green herbs and a jalapeno that were about to go bad. So I added them to my standard tahini dressing for a fresh and spicy version that tasted amazing with the sweet and caramelized veg. Continue reading

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Gluten-Free Is Me: Thai Peanut Chia Pudding

Thai Peanut Chia Pudding
As part of the aftermath of our Alive Tribe retreat, I’m doing a 100 Day Project. The idea is that everyone does one action or furthers some intention everyday for 100 days and records their progress in some form, the most popular of which has been instagram. I’ve been trying to find a morning routine that works for me, and as part of that pursuit, I decided to make my project to spend 10 percent of every day on myself.

My acupuncturist Heidi has urged me to carve out this time. We spend so much of the day leasing out mental space to other people’s problems. Taking legitimate time to yourself is like taking your soul vitamins. And it’s important to set that type of intention at the beginning of the day.

Even though my schedule is fairly flexible as a freelancer, the unpredictability has made it hard for me to make time for any sort of regular practices. This is one of the biggest challenges I’ve had with exercise, as self care usually feels frivolous to prioritize over work. And it’s also something that’s gotten in the way of breakfast. Some days I’ll walk downstairs from my sleeping loft, start writing emails while my tea kettle is coming to a boil, and then before I know it, it’s noon and I’m still in my underwear. I’m also starving.

Chia Seeds Peanut Butter Lime zest IThai Peanut Chia Pudding
So as part of my 10 percent exercise, I’m committing to a more regular breakfast routine – something other than the usual bars I eat bites of in between clicks of the keyboard. This green smoothie is one of my new go-to’s, and the fact that it requires 5 minutes to prepare actually helps establish some “me time” before I get distracted by everyone else’s needs via email. But I’ve been dying to step outside my breakfast box and experiment more with chia seeds ever since my friend who recently moved to San Francisco expressed that we were way behind the chia movement on this coast.

The nice thing about chia pudding is that the seeds benefit from hydrating overnight. They also pack a crazy amount of nutrients in a very small package, so you don’t need much to give you a kick start in the morning. My new routine is going to include making a batch of chia pudding at the beginning of the week and dividing it between a few individual cups for easy breakfast grab and go snacking.

Thai Peanut Chia Pudding Thai Peanut Chia Pudding Thai Peanut Chia Pudding This dairy-free Thai peanut chia pudding was inspired by my favorite flavor of Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream, Bangkok Peanut. I love how she packs all those sour, sweet, salty, and spicy Thai flavors into an ice cream. Why not do the same thing with my morning pudding? Continue reading

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Wellness Wednesday: How to Heal Hypothyroidism

#WellnessWednesdays-Flyer-Thyroid The year after I graduated college, I was diagnosed with Hashimotos Thyroiditis. My doctor, who I’d been seeing since I was a teenager, casually explained that it was an autoimmune thyroid disorder and was fairly common in women my age. She told me not to worry – it was completely treatable with Synthroid, the widely prescribed hormone replacement drug. But I’d probably need to be on some form of medication for the rest of my life.

Obviously this last piece of news did not sit well with me. I was pretty wary of medication, even though I turned a blind eye to the fact that birth control fell into that category. So I did what any super mature 22 year old would do in my situation: I pretended like the conversation never happened.

After two years of stomach pain, it became clear that my digestive system was seriously janky. I ended up in another doctor’s office, this time someone with a little more of an integrated perspective. He took some blood work, recommended I start an elimination diet, and one month later relayed that I was allergic to gluten. He thought that if I got this under control, and my digestion healed, that I could potentially continue treating the thyroid issue without medication.

My new gluten-freedom definitely moved the needle at the beginning, especially where my digestion was concerned. But it wasn’t until I started seeing an acupuncturist that the correlation between hypothyroidism and gluten was really explained to me. Heidi has since become my health rock, helping to synthesis the often conflicting information I get from various doctors and practitioners in my life. It was also Heidi who finally talked me into going on a natural thyroid medication, after my adrenals eventually gave out and my hands and feet were going numb from serious vitamin B deficiency.

Even though over 4 percent of the adult population has hypothyroidism, it seems not to have really entered the popular vernacular in the same way that celiac disease (only 1 percent) has in the past few years. Perhaps it’s because there is such an easy mainstream solution in the form of a pill. Perhaps it’s because hypothyroidism isn’t as sexy. But regardless, I don’t see a lot of discussion of it in mainstream media.

So needless to say, this Wellness Wednesday has been a long time in the making. The reason why Heidi began practicing acupuncture in the first place is because she herself was diagnosed with Hashimotos at a young age. I’m very excited to share her wisdom with you, and even more stoked that Amie Valpone of The Healthy Apple will be joining the conversation. Amie has the disease as well and her site is an amazing resource for information on treating hypothyroidism and other autoimmune disorders with diet.

You can RSVP to next week’s hangout here. And I urge you to share with any women in your life who have been living with hypothyroidism – there may be more than you realize!

See you then!

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