Clean Habits: Nick Anderer How Maialino's chef keeps it clean

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It’s hard out there for a chef. (To stay fit and healthy, that is).As the executive chef of MaialinoNick Anderer is surrounded by swaths of food every day—everything from the restaurant’s morning oatmeal to dinner’s braised local suckling pig. However, Anderer is also one of the fittest guys we know.

With that in mind, we asked him to spill his tried-and-true secrets to staying healthy with us. His Clean Habits will come in handy come August, when Anderer will add more to his already-full plate when he opens Marta, a thin-crust pizzeria that emphases local ingredients.

What’s a typical day of eating like for you?
I eat a lot of small meals and bites throughout the day, either via recipe testing, quality control or just straight snacking. Rarely do I sit down to a full plate of food on a workday. I don’t follow any strict diet, but as a meat-lover, I try to balance my meat consumption with a healthy dose of raw fruits and veggies. And I also try not to eat anything after 10 pm and to limit my carb intake during the second half of the day.

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He even cycles for charity! (photo Credit: Jordan A. Mermell)

How do you stay balanced and healthy while working in the restaurant industry? 
You need a lot of restraint from the temptations of constant pecking. And you need to find time to stay active outside of work. With a job that requires you to be on your feet all day, I’ve been focusing more and more on keeping my core as strong as possible so that my lower back is supported—in the chef world, that’s usually the first part of your body that gives out. 

Has your healthy lifestyle rubbed off on the menu at Maialino or the upcoming Marta?
Definitely. We are always talking about more healthy ways to serve Italian food. We stopped toasting our almonds in butter or oil, and are instead leaving them raw and unseasoned. With really good Sicilian almonds, not only are they healthier raw, but they actually taste better. We’ve added extra fish options to the menu and are sure to keep them predominantly carb-free, utilizing as much raw vegetables as possible and dressing with light vinaigrettes as opposed to heavier sauces or purees. At breakfast, we’ve focused on serving more healthy grains, even adding a house-made, whole-grain cereal to the menu.

How do you stay fit?
I try to do something active with my body at least five times a week, going heavy on cardio and peppering in light doses of strength training and stretching/ lengthening. I probably SoulCycle at least twice a week, and when it’s nice out, I opt for long runs along the East River. And every so often I do one-on-one Pilates sessions, which focus much more on balance and muscle lengthening than on traditional ab work.

 

Move! With free outdoor fitness classes

Step aside, green juice Why we're crazy about LuliTonix juice and veggie blends

Blend, blend baby

With so many fresh juices jostling for space in the New York market, we were invigorated to discover a totally new kind of product.

Lianna Sugarman (official title: Chief Blending Officer) doesn’t deny that green juices deliver a nutritional roundhouse kick of the good stuff, but she swears that once you try her blended LuliTonix potions, there will be no going back.

To maker her LuliTonix products, Sugarman blends—rather than presses or juices—organic and raw greens, fruits, herbs and spices. Why blend? Sugarman says the process ruptures the cellular wall of the greens, releasing nutrients and making them more easily digestable. Her mission is to “seduce people who don’t like green juice at all and also those who consider themselves total green heads.”

Discover the delicious and fiber-packed result in drinks like “Kick!” ($11 for 16 oz.), which uses copious amounts of kale, lettuce and chard, along with an extra punch of chia seeds, cinnamon, mint and lemon.

She advises that getting more greens into your diet doesn’t only need to happen through hardcore cleanses, but that “anyone can add one green blend to their day and see how that shifts you intro craving cleaner foods every day.”

We’ll drink to that.

CHECK OUT: Lulitonix

Dear Clean Plates: Are Granola Bars to Blame for My Bloat?

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Though I always aim to eat whole foods, I’ll sometimes grab a granola bar when I’m on the run. I thought their fiber was supposed to be gut-healthy, helping to manage weight and good digestion, but it seems like I’ve been bloated since I started eating them. Why might this be?

Sincerely,

Bloated & Bummed

Dear Bloated & Bummed,

It’s very possible your granola bar is guilty as charged. While foods like beans, Brussels sprouts and milk are the most recognized for causing bloat and gas, if your granola bar contains a certain high-fiber additive called inulin, it could be causing that flatulence instead of a flat belly.

Chicory root extract, a type of inulin, is one of the most popular ingredients in “high-fiber” products like granola bars. Inulin is a polysaccharide, which means it has long-chained sugar units that are hard for the body to break down. In addition, inulin is made of fructan, an indigestible molecule that feeds off the bacteria in the bowels. Between the body’s difficulty in breaking down inulin’s complex chemical makeup and the byproducts of fructan-feasting bacteria, it’s no wonder your belly feels (and shows!) some unhappy side effects.

And that inulin-induced discomfort isn’t just limited to granola bars. Foods such as Fiber One Cottage Cheese and Yoplait Light with Fiber each contain five grams of fiber, the majority being inulin. Fiber One Chewy Bars can have up to nine grams.

All this being said, the addition of inulin to foods is actually well intentioned. A good source of soluble fiber and a prebiotic (it helps to grow healthy bacteria in the colon), inulin is considered a nutrient-booster. Many foods contain inulin naturally, such as leeks, bananas, and asparagus. So just be aware of where your inulin is coming from. Plus, being a processed food, granola bars might have other additives working in tandem with inulin to cause that gas and bloating. Artificial sweeteners and coloring, sugar alcohols and other additives may be to blame, as well.

There is no RDA for inulin. We recommend you tune in to how specific foods make you feel after eating them, and eliminate the ones that cause discomfort. Stick to whole foods as often as possible, and next time you grab a granola bar, reach for a brand with as few dubious ingredients as possible before biting in.

Photo by Angie Garrett

On Our Radar: Creative Juice Café

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With flu season in effect, and celebrities touting the power of juicing, you may be asking, “Should I try a juice fast?” But at Clean Plates, we think a better way to power up is to add organic, fresh juices to your diet (it may even help to stop a food sensitivity cycle).

That’s why we’re excited about the freshly opened Creative Juice Café.  Inside the 50th and 76th Street Equinox locations, the new café is helping gym-goers supplement their diets with innovative concoctions that can cleanse your system while you continue a healthy diet. Co-created by Equinox and NYC restaurateur and CEO of Union Square Hospitality Group, Danny Meyer, the café offers high-nutrient, cold-pressed, organic juices in addition to smoothies, baked goods, and sandwiches.

Quiet_The_Riot_19Expect unusual produce combos, and most of the juices on the menu—designed by chef Michael Romano and New York nutrition specialist and Equinox health advisory board member Dr. Jeffrey Morrison—contain no more than 200 calories.

Dr. Morrison offers these five powerful ingredients for DIY juicing:

  1. For belly and body aches, pineapple is high in bromelain, an enzyme that helps with digestion and also inflammation. “So this is a useful ingredient for people with stubborn, achy joints.”
  2. For trimming your waistline, jicama is “a root vegetable with surprisingly low calories and high in fiber and an non-digestible sugar called inulin; inulin tastes sweet, but has very few calories, which makes it a great addition to a shake for people looking to lose weight.”
  3. For a hangover, young ginger is a root with a spicy flavor. “It’s a great aid for digestion and anti-nausea. Think of adding ginger if you’ve had too much to eat or drink the night before.”
  4. For post-workout pain, try jalapeño (with only a few seeds). “[The] seeds are high in a nutrient called capsaicin, which is an amazing anti-inflammatory. So this is great for people with muscle or joint achiness.”
  5. For muscle cramps, parsley is high in potassium. “This is a great ingredient to add if you suffer from muscle cramps.”

Equinox
633 Broadway at 50th St.; 212 541-7000
1429 2nd Ave. at 74th St.; 212 249-3917

“On Our Radar” features restaurants that might meet Clean Plates standards, but haven’t yet been thoroughly vetted and reviewed. For a directory of reviewed restaurants, see our Restaurant Finder.

Locavore BBQ: How to Make the Best Burger

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Though the end of summer is bittersweet, we love celebrating with a good ol’ fashioned BBQ full of big, juicy, chin-dripping burgers. That’s right, a healthful burger, made right, can be created entirely from local, artisanal ingredients. The best part? You can combine your shopping with one last summery excursion: All of the ingredients, whether for a conscious carnivore or thoughtful vegan, can be found on Sunday morning at the New Amsterdam Market on the South Street Seaport  — though please note, the market will not be open this coming Sunday, September 2nd. But next weekend, mosey over for the best fresh and local offerings, then fire up the grill! Continue reading

NYC’s Soda Ban: Healthier Options for Soda Lovers

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It’s official: soda is evil.

Ok, maybe that’s an overstatement, or at least unnecessary judgment. But with Mayor Bloomberg’s proposed ban on sales of the stuff (in quantities of 16 ounces or more) and other cities considering similar action, there’s more attention than ever on soda’s failing nutritional report card.

Why the bad rap? First, soda is loaded with sugar, typically in the form of high fructose corn syrup, or HFCS, which has been shown to contribute to two of our country’s most serious health problems, obesity and diabetes. (Diet soda may not be any better for you; see here and here.) Second: “The most popular, mainstream sodas — Coke, Pepsi and the like — are full of chemicals that do a sum total of absolutely nothing good for our bodies,” says Clean Plates founder and nutritionist, Jared Koch.

So what’s a soda fan to do? Here are a few options. Continue reading

Break Me Off a Piece of That: Sweet Loren’s Healthier Cookies

Image courtesy of Sweet Loren's

When you can’t resist having a treat, homemade cookies are best — but you might not have a couple of hours and all the necessary ingredients in the cupboard. If you’re going to indulge, Sweet Loren’s is one of the very few (and possibly only) good-for-you cookies in the freezer aisle. They’re quick and easy, free of the usual preservatives and chemicals in conventional store-bought cookies and ready to enjoy fresh out of the oven whenever you want. Continue reading

Rustic Roots Delivers Local Food with No Commitment

Emer and Jeff Moore with Natural Earth Farms in Calverton, NY

Move over Fresh Direct. There’s another organic and local food delivery service out there: Rustic Roots Delivery.

The service works with farmers to bring quality local food products straight to the doorsteps of New York residents; Rustic Roots Delivery not only offers a CSA program, it allows for one-time orders as well. With a minimum order of $50, they’ll deliver delicious local goods anywhere on Long Island, Brooklyn, Queens or Manhattan. The products to choose from run the gamut: Order seasonal fruit and vegetable baskets, meat packages or items à la carte like local glass-bottled milk, handmade pasta, local cheeses, butter, honey, eggs and more. Continue reading

Tips for a Healthier Thanksgiving From NYC Restaurants

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We asked some of our favorite NYC restaurants for tips on simple ways to boost the nutritional factor of this year’s Thanksgiving meal — without sacrificing taste. Get advice below from the chefs at Greensquare Tavern, Dirty Bird To Go, HENRY’s and GustOrganics, plus tips from nutritionist and Clean Plates founder Jared Koch. (Don’t miss the Branzino and Kale Salad recipes at the end of the post.)

Tip #1: Try adding a fish course to your Thanksgiving meal.
Chef John Marsh, Greensquare Tavern

“Branzino filets cook quickly and are easily garnished and flavored for stress-free service during the Thanksgiving meal,” says Marsh. “Have the fish monger filet and bone the fish for you; one fish provides two portions.” See recipe below.

Tip #2: Create a nutrient dense vegetable dish as a healthy side (or vegetarian/vegan main).
– Joseph Ciriello, Dirty Bird To Go and Chef Mark Barrett and Henry Rinehart, HENRY’s

“Oven roasted brussels sprouts are a fun side dish,” says Ciriello. “Just keep it simple: a little olive oil, salt and pepper, throw it in the oven until it reaches carmelization. It’s a nice clean way to enjoy a veggie for Thanksgiving.”

Kale salad is another easy way to to get maximum nutrients with little effort. At HENRY’s, the Shredded Kale Salad is a best seller. “I’ve done raw, shredded kale lots of ways, but always with a toasted nut, a fruit, and a sprinkle of cheese,” says Barrett. Rinehart adds, “The combination of properly chopped kale with toasted nuts, juicy red grapes and a touch of Vermont maple syrup in the vinaigrette is pure magic.” See recipe below.

Tip #3: Use lean, high-protein, skinless, organic turkey breasts.
– Alberto Gonzalez, GustOrganics

Gonzalez recommends serving skinless organic turkey breasts instead of a full bird, noting that individual portions are perfect for smaller, more intimate holiday gatherings. “The secret to avoid dryness is to marinate for 24 hours using your favorite marinade,” he tells us (when in doubt, try olive oil, garlic, salt, pepper and a sprinkling of your favorite herbs). Next, sear the turkey in a pan, then finish in the oven. Gonzalez also suggests you make things fun for your guests by putting garnishes on the table like lemon slices, chopped parsley, capers, and whole-grain mustard.  (If you prefer a whole bird, look for Heritage Turkeys.)

Bonus Tips from Jared

Our resident nutrition expert and Clean Plates founder Jared Koch suggests eating salad and a lot of other vegetables during your Thanksgiving meal. This helps in two ways: first, it gives your body the nutrients it needs to help deal with some of the negative effects of more indulgent foods on the table; and second, the fiber from the vegetables should help you fill up quicker, which can keep you from overindulging. Jared also suggests that preparing desserts with better quality sweeteners like maple syrup or raw honey, instead of plain old sugar, will allow you to satisfy your sweet tooth in a more healthful way.

Tell us: What are you planning for your Thanksgiving table?

RECIPES

Quick Branzino Filets
Chef John Marsh, Greensquare Tavern

1 Branzino, filleted
Filtered water
Lemon juice to taste
Fresh tarragon, thyme, marjoram, oregano and chive to taste

1) Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

2) Using a stainless steel or ovenproof glass pan, brush the pan with olive oil.

3) Lay the Branzino filets in the pan. Hydrate the filets with a mix of pure water and freshly squeezed lemon juice.

4) Bake for 5 minutes. Remove filets to plates to serve.

5) Transfer the liquid left from cooking the Branzino to a sauce pan. Bring to a simmer. Season gently to taste with sea salt and freshly ground pepper. Add a bit more lemon juice to boost flavor, check seasoning then finish the sauce by adding chopped fresh herbs: tarragon, thyme, marjoram, oregano and chive.

6) Drizzle sauce onto the Branzino filets and serve.

Shredded Kale Salad
Chef Mark Barrett, HENRY’s

Vinaigrette

1 Lemon
1 T Grade “B” Amber Maple Syrup
1/4 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil (25%)/ Canola (75%) Blend
Kosher Salt (to taste)

Salad

1 Bunch Green, Curly Kale
1 Head Belgian Endive
1/4 Cup Toasted Hazelnuts
1/2 Cup Red Seedless Grapes
1/2 Cup Grated Parmesan Cheese

1) Make vinaigrette by shaking vigorously lemon, syrup and oil. Season with salt to taste.

2) Wash and dry the kale. Remove tough middle ribs; stack leaves flat, roll like cigars, and julienne across the leaf’s veins.

3) Remove outer leaves of endive and cut in half, then chop on bias.

4) Mix together all ingredients, reserving some Parmesan for garnish.

5) Garnish with grated Parmesan, and enjoy!

Photo by robbplusjessie on Flickr

Beginner’s Guide to Farmers’ Markets

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Let’s face it: your first trip to a farmer’s market can be intimidating. Faced with so many options — some of them different than what you’re used to seeing in the supermarket — how do you know what to buy? And if you see something that looks good, that you haven’t cooked before — how can you find out how to prepare it? Don’t worry — it’s easier than you think, and the farmers and market staff are all eager to answer any questions you might have, as well as share recipe ideas and other information.

Here are some tips to make navigating the market simple and fun: Continue reading