Apple Tips and Tricks

Growing up in the Hudson Valley, apple and pumpkin picking are annual traditions that I look forward to and hold a nostalgic place in my heart. Admittedly, it has gotten more difficult over the years to find the time to go back. I have learned that it a thousand times more relaxing to go when no one is around so I try to go mid-day during the week. Over the last four years, it has become a new tradition to take my younger sister with me. We pick as many apples as we can physically carry, eating a few along the way. We stop on our way out to get honey sticks & cider donuts. Being that most of my time is spent in the city, I have learned to be grateful for simple moments like these.

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A Day on the Ketogenic Diet

The Ketogenic Diet

The best part of owning a personal chef service is having the opportunity to meet new people and help them. Whether it's having dinner on the table for a busy family every night, fueling an individual's weight loss journey, or cooking for someone with an illness, it is rewarding and often puts life back in perspective.

Recently, I have been cooking for clients with chronic illness that must strictly adhere to the ketogenic diet. With the help of a licensed nutritionist, I have witnessed several clients whose health has drastically improved as result. It always amazes me how much food can truly heal!

For those who are interested in the ketogenic diet, please find some general info and recipes below to get a jump start. It is strongly recommended to to consult with a registered nutritionist or dietitian  (even if only trying to lose weight). The keto diet is essentially low-carb with high-fat and moderate protein.

It has become increasingly popular due to its proven weight loss and health benefits. The ultimate goal is to go into ketosis, which is done through manipulation of macronutrients (carbs, fats, protein). If done correctly, the body will start to burn fat for energy instead of glucose, producing  ketones.

Some typical foods to eat are: omega rich fish and seafood, cheese, meat, eggs, coconut oil, and  leafy veggies. Spice up these foods with the recipes below!

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Tomato Season

It's that time again aka one of my favorite seasons. Tomatoe season is in full affect in NYC. Did you know that only 200 years ago tomatoes were thought to be poisonous in the U.S. Tomatoes are now the fourth most popular fresh-market vegetable. 

Cooking with Tomatoes is one of my favorite things, I love making sauces, soups, salads and more. Tomatoes can be sweet and tangy depending what it is paired with. Tomatoes are an intensely nutritious plant food. 

There are different types and sizes of tomato, and they can be prepared in different ways. These include cherry tomatoes, stewed tomatoes, raw tomatoes, soups, juices, and purees.

The health benefits can vary between types. High fruit and vegetable intake is also linked to healthy skin and hair, increased energy, and lower weight. Increasing the consumption of fruits and vegetables significantly decreases the risk of obesity and overall mortality.

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Q & A With Michele Wood, Founder of M.M Meals

Michele Woods is the founder of M.M Meals. M.M. Meals was created as a realistic, weekly solution for families in need of healthy meals who value seasonal, local ingredients.They believe in customizing every package to fit the needs of their clients and love building relationships  with each family.

Learn a little bit more about M.M Meals and Michele below:

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As a personal chef, catering special events is a fun opportunity and a break from cooking in client's kitchens. Consulting with the client to hear what they're envisioning and helping them to bring that idea to life is an amazing feeling. Every event is diffferent and unique in it's own way, which pushes me to think outside of the box and come up with new ideas. 

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Healthy Barbecue Ideas

With the first weekend of summer upon us, I am excited at the thought of making lighter dishes and  doing summer time activities like going to the farmers market. One of my favorite things is grilling by my parents pool. The smells, rituals, and food associated with it bring back a wave of nostalgia as a child (not to mention avoiding a hot, stuffy  kitchen.) Grilling is a great way to maximize flavor in healthy ingredients. Marinating chicken breasts, seafood, and veggies in fresh herbs and acids instead of butter is not only easy to do but allows for more time to mingle with your guests when entertaining.. This  Memorial Day I am making chicken and shrimp in a ginger, soy, lime, and cilantro marinade. The veggie skewers to go with it will be brushed with avocado oil and lightly seasoned with cumin before being lightly grilled.

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March Recipe of the Month: Roasted Salmon with Carrot Top Chimichurri

Continuing with our stem-to-root cooking, this recipe is a great way to use those carrot greens that you never know what to do with!  Earlier on in the week, I had made black bean and carrot soup and had a huge bunch of beautiful carrot greens remaining. They personally taste like a slightly bitter version of parsley and you would never know that they are the main ingredient in this chimichurri. Having a bold, earthy sauce like this compliments the soft, mild taste of the salmon while the sweet, orange parsnip mash provides good contrast. I used parsley along with the carrot greens because I had them on hand but feel free to add other herbs. 

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Eating While You’re Away

I recently took a weekend trip to Long Beach Island in New Jersey to unwind and enjoy some solitude with my family and best friend, Adriana. Having come here for over twenty years now, I consider it my second home and can almost feel the stress and pressure being lifted off of me as soon as we cross the bridge onto the island.

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Stem-To-Root Living

I  love my job as a personal chef but it can be physically and mentally draining at times. The fast-paced nature of cooking, extreme multi-tasking, and concentration to stay present in the moment as you're on a time crunch to get to your next client is usually a fun challenge. On the other hand, it is also easy to get stressed out and not appreciate the gift and opportunities that I've been given. Lately, to keep myself in a growth mindset, I have consciously been trying to be aware of the food that I throw out throughout the day as I cook. I often go on autopilot as I prep veggies and it wasn't until I made the active decision to look at my food waste that I noticed how much there actually was.

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February Recipe of the Month: Cauliflower Rice & Kale Soup

Listed as the "it" vegetable of 2018, cauliflower has taken an interesting turn in the food world as people turn to gluten-free and low carbs options more than ever before. Roasted cauliflower steaks and cauliflower rice are two of the most common ways that I see this veggie being utilized. Adding cauliflower rice to a soup is the perfect way to substitute rice, lentils, and other high-carb grains. Cauliflower rice easily takes on the flavors of whatever you are cooking it with and can be made in five minutes with a food processor. This soup can be a perfect weeknight dinner with a side salad. Add in avocado or a turkey meatballs for  extra protein and you're set!

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January Recipe of the Month: Layered Winter Veggies

As the excitement of the new year starts to dull down, many of our clients' willpower are tested and they rely on us to keep their healthy eating game strong. Our goal is to provide our clients with food that is not only nutritious but something to look forward to after a long day. Whether it's a healthier version of a childhood favorite or a new type of cuisine that we gently pushed them to try, it is truly rewarding to help others on their way to a healthy lifestyle. By doing our part we hope to keep on motivating our clients and all those who read our blog!

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"Let Food be Thy Medicine"

As a personal chef, winter time to me means heartier dishes, full-bodied flavors, and lots of great soup recipes that I get to try out. Unfortunately, amidst the holiday cheer and snow is the common cold or worse, the dreaded flu. As a professional who works in people’s homes, it is important to take care of myself, to remain healthy, and most importantly, not get any of my clients sick. I am a firm believer in using herbs and food to heal our bodies whenever possible. It is especially easy in New York where we have access to plenty of health food stores and a wide variety of  produce.

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December Recipe of the Month: Moroccan Spice Marinated Chicken

Try this easy recipe for the most tender, flavorful chicken! This is one of my go-to's when I know I have a long work day ahead of me and want something to look forward to when I come home. 

I suggest letting it marinate for a minimum of 8 hours. If you are in a pinch for time, then use thinly sliced chicken breasts and marinate for at least a hour. 

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Michele Wood