Sunshine and spring have finally made it to Virginia. Fresh strawberries, crisp lettuce & of course asparagus, just to name a few of my spring favorites. Spring brings a much greater appreciation for the simplicity of fresh, local food. The farmer’s market is showing signs of spring, inspiring me to break out some of my classic seasonal recipes. This recipe is an old favorite I bring out when the first asparagus comes to harvest in Lynchburg.
Roasted Asparagus with Lemon Zest & Cheese
· 1-pound asparagus
· 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
· 1-2 tablespoons finely grated hard cheese, such as 3-year gouda or parmesan
· 1 tablespoon lemon zest, plus lemon slices for garnish
· Salt & pepper to taste
1. Preheat oven to 450°F. Fit a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. Cut the last inch from each stalk of asparagus and discard. Spread stalks out on a prepared baking sheet.
3. Drizzle with olive oil, using a pastry brush to coat each stalk, or simply turning the stalks over with a fork until they are well coated.
4. Sprinkle with cheese and lemon zest, and then season with salt & pepper.
5. Bake for 10-13 minutes, until tops of the asparagus, start to turn crisp and stalks are bright green. They should be tender through. Serve hot, with lemon slices for garnish.
Source: Foraged Dish
2 t salt
1 c fresh or frozen baby peas
4 c penne or cavatappi
3 T olive oil, divided
1 can (14 oz) artichoke hearts, quarted, drained
2 t fresh garlic, minced
1 c feta cheese, crumbled
2 T fresh parsley, minced
1 T lemon zest
2-3 T fresh lemon juice
⅓ c grated parmesan cheese
1. Bring 1 gal water to boil with salt. Blanch peas 1 minute, shock in ice water, drain well.
2. In same pot, cook pasta al dente. Drain, reserve 1 c pasta water. Return pasta to pot.
3. In large skillet, heat 1 T olive oil over med heat. Sauté artichoke hearts 3-4 min, add garlic, cook 1 min.
4. Add to pasta, along with peas, feta, parsley, lemon zest & juice, remaining olive oil & pinch of salt. Toss to combine, add pasta water as needed to coat. Heat through, serve parm on side.
Maintaining (or improving) our relationships, work and personal, is directly tied to how emotionally intelligent we are. And how emotionally intelligent we are starts with our self-awareness. But how easy is it to be self-aware? How accurate are you at diagnosing whether your mood and behaviors are picking people up or dragging them down? Before you interact with others (arrive at work or walk in the restaurant to meet your best friend) check in with yourself. How am I feeling: positive and upbeat? Tired and deflated? Full of dread or doubt? Thankful? Resentful?
“Awareness is the greatest agent for change.” —Eckhart Tolle
Recently, I had the privilege of speaking to a group of educators about nutrition. My focus was on “wellness’ and what that actually means. We live in an era of diet culture (often masked as wellness) and one of the biggest challenges is navigating our way through the misinformation. Over the years, my stance on diets has evolved and I would now consider myself an “anti-diet” dietitian. I work with clients to support body positivity & intuitive eating. I encourage clients to shun dieting “rules” and focus on nourishing their body with good food. This philosophy is certainly not meant to oversimplify the challenge of weight loss (39.8 % of Americans are considered obese), but to accept the reality that our current culture of dieting is not working. The following opinion piece Why You Can’t Lose Weight on A Diet is a must-read for anyone who has struggled with their weight and/or eating.
With an adventurous cook for a mother and a father who was a politician with a food critic for a best friend, Dominique Crenn was destined to LOVE food.
Dominique began her culinary journey in San Francisco in the late ’80s under esteemed chef, Jeremiah Tower, of Stars. It was there, at Stars, that Crenn perfected her craft and after gaining experience in several local kitchens, accepted the position of Head Chef for Intercontinental Hotel in Jakarta, Indonesia, making her Indonesia’s first female chef! Forced to flee Indonesia in 1998, due to civil unrest, Crenn made herself at home in both L.A. and Santa Monica, before returning to San Francisco in 2008 at Luce, where she was awarded her first Michelin Star.
In 2011, Dominique opened her own restaurant, Atelier Crenn, with the intention of expressing her art form, emotion, and memories into every dish. The Wall Street Journal noted, “Atelier Crenn serves a cuisine so visually, texturally, and conceptually inventive it has both delighted and baffled critics and drawn international attention.” After being the first woman, in the U.S., awarded 2 Michelin Stars back-to-back in 2013 and 2014, Crenn went on to earn Best Female Chef in 2016 and Best Chef: West by the James Beard Foundation in 2018. So, it is NO surprise that another first was in line. In 2018 Crenn was the first woman in America to be awarded 3 Michelin Stars.
After the big win, Crenn stated, “It’s a platform I now have; I must inspire others and make a difference.” Well, Chef, you inspire and make a difference for women not only in our industry but around the world every day. Thank you for truly loving food, people, and serving others!
Image by: FSR Magazine, https://www.foodnewsfeed.com/slideshows/11-quotes-prove-chef-dominique-crenn-can-save-world
After working under esteemed chefs Takao Izumida & Morihiro Onodera, Nakayama set out on a 3-year work study in Japan, where she discovered her love for the country’s traditional and cutting-edge cuisines. After returning to her home in Los Angeles, she opened Azami Sushi Cafe, an all-female ran establishment, awarded several ‘Best of’ Awards by Zagat, the L.A. Time, and Citysearch.
Eleven years later, after the closing of Azami and the opening of a second venture, Inaka, Nakayama, opened n/naka. The restaurant quickly became one of the hottest spots in L.A., drawing in curious diners with a ‘new-to-America’ culinary art form, kaiseki. This art form focuses on unprocessed ingredients that check all the boxes: fresh, sustainable, seasonal, local, balanced. Nakayama and her wife, Carole Iida-Nakayama, are the only known females to own and run the kitchen of a kaiseki-dedicated restaurant. This alone is extraordinary, but what sets them above the rest is their belief in omotenashi, which is, the value of guest experiences above all else. This principle, no doubt, is what makes n/naka one of the hardest restaurants in the country to get a seat at, being booked out months in advance.
Niki Nakayama, is one of the culinary world’s leading innovators, pushing the boundaries of tradition, and creating realities for women unimagined for generations in Japanese cooking. Her passion, process, and power are inspiring, and for this, we thank you, Niki!
Image via Frank Terry for Darling Issue 20
Diets don’t work for sustainable for weight loss.
In the past, I have written about diet culture & the challenges of weight loss maintenance. It’s no surprise that in 2019, diet culture continues to persist with the promise of easy, long-term weight loss success. While there is ample research that shows diets (i.e. a calorie deficit) result in weight loss, long-term adherence is challenging. Fad diets are difficult to maintain and eventually resumption of former eating habits is pretty much guaranteed. Subsequently, the weight returns, often more than the original amount lost.
The current diet trends aren’t actually new or cutting edge, just “recycled” versions of diets in years past. Remember Atkins? Currently rebranded as the Keto diet. The Keto diet has brought the return of the high fat, low carbohydrate meal plans. While this diet can certainly result in weight loss, long term maintenance of this diet is unsustainable & a long term low carbohydrate diet can have health consequences. Other diets such as Whole 30 & Paleo, cut out whole food groups, which automatically eliminates essential nutrients. Despite rebranding as “lifestyle” changes, they are in fact diets.
The best diet for a for a healthy lifestyle is really no diet at all. Consuming fruits & vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, nuts/seeds, plant oils & water is the way to go.
Yet, will you continue to gravitate toward the promise of quick weight loss? What are you willing to sacrifice in terms of your lifestyle & physical well-being in order to attain thinness? Ask yourself these 5 points (courtesy of Lisa Andrews, Med, RD, LD) the next time you decide to embark on the next fad diet.
- Does this plan exclude one or more major food groups?
- Would it be impossible to follow if you went out to eat or traveled?
- Do you need to take a handful of supplements to meet your nutritional needs?
- Is the meal plan short term or long terms? Can you sustain this way of eating?
- What will the plan cost you? Not just in terms of financial cost, but consider your physical, mental & social health.
Adapted from Food & Health Communications
Lisa Andrews, MEd, RD, LD
Can you be kind, positive and gracious, and have conflict or need to share difficult feedback? Dealing with conflict in a constructive fashion is a form of kindness — to the parties involved, to the team, and to the organization. But, research shows that 95% of the workforce (that means each one of us) avoid difficult conversations. And…every avoided conversation costs 8 hours of productivity. Yikes, how do we do better? Conflict Competence is a skill to be developed. A growth mindset means believing you can improve your abilities. If you feel you “aren’t good” at difficult, honest, direct conversations – try again, you will get better at it. Talk to someone you admire in this regard. And, empower your team to do the same.
We all struggle with conflict, but the path to becoming conflict competent is to first adopt the right mindset, learn the skills and practice. With the right support system, a company can shift from a costly culture of avoidance to a prosperous culture of quick course-correction.
1 1/2 c butter divided into three 1/2 c portions
1 lb boneless skinless chicken thighs
1/2 c yellow onion, medium diced
1/2 T ea fresh garlic & ginger, minced
1/2 T garam masala
1/8 t cayenne pepper
1 c heavy cream
3/4 c tomato sauce
1. Brown chicken in first 1/2 c butter in large skillet over med-high heat. Set aside.
2. Sauté onion in second 1/2 c butter for 3 min.
3. Stir in garlic, ginger, garam masala, chili powder, cumin, & cayenne. Cook 1 min.
4. Add tomato sauce. Bring to simmer, let cook 5 min.
5. Add cream & browned chicken, with juices, simmer for 10-15 min over low heat.
6. Stir in last 1/2 c butter, s&p to taste.
7. Serve garnished with lime & cilantro, alongside rice & naan.
We talk a lot about “brand” at MG. Lately, we’ve put even more focus on what that means because it’s way more than chef dude or interesting composed salads or signs on kraft paper. Yes, those are things we hope people recognize us for, but it’s way more. This article – What does your corporate brand stand for – reinforces why this is so important. Our brand is what we stand for and how others perceive we are doing with that (our reputation!). It’s critical that a company know their “brand core”: what do we promise and how do we express that?
We have ten core values, but they are all summed up in our overarching goal: to make a difference every day. From how we appreciate people to how we love food and our planet…this will never go out of style.