My Favorite Burger Joint

I’ve lived in Roanoke on & off for 20 years.  In that time, we’ve gained some excellent restaurants (finally!).  Local Roots, River & Rail and Blue Apron (technically Salem) are three that come to mind as top tier places to dine.  They’re all very focused on local, sustainable offerings in a cool ‘hipster’ atmosphere.


But I don’t want to talk fine dining.  I want to talk about really really great burgers.  I have found the quintessential burger place in Roanoke.  It’s been around forever, and consistently wins Best of Roanoke awards.  It’s Burger in the Square, which used to actually be in the Square downtown, but is now in a little nondescript hole-in-the-wall place on Brambleton Ave.  They’re the bar I use to judge all other burgers.  Fresh ground beef, hand pattied daily, cooked on a flat grill,  locally made buns, lots of toppings and cool spreads.   Not much else on the menu.  They do use frozen fries, which is a mark against them, but their burgers are so darn good, it doesn’t really matter.


Friends have told me the new burger joint downtown is excellent too.  I’ve tried to eat there a couple times, but it’s tiny (maybe 20 seats) and always packed.  I’ll admit I haven’t tried all that hard to eat there.  BITS calls my name, loudly, when I’m craving a burger.   If you’re in Roanoke anytime soon, check it out!

HopeTree Family Services to celebrate 125th anniversary in 2015

Submitted by Hayley Reed


The Salem-Roanoke County Chamber of Commerce held a Wake Up To Business breakfast event from 8 to 9:30 a.m. on Friday, Oct. 17, at HopeTree Family Services in Salem.

Members of the community and the chamber joined HopeTree President and Executive Director Stephen Richerson for a video presentation, networking and delicious food catered by HopeTree’s dining services.

HopeTree also announced that it will be celebrating its 125th anniversary of providing care for at-risk children and youth, as well as adults with developmental disabilities, in 2015.

The Salem-Roanoke County Chamber would like to thank HopeTree for their membership and support.







Source: The Roanoke Times

Tuscan Garbanzo Bean & Kale Stew


Serves 16

¼ c            olive oil

½ c ea       celery, carrots & onion, finely diced

6 lb           fresh mushrooms, quartered

4 t             fresh garlic, minced

3               15.5 oz cans garbanzo beans, drained & rinsed

28 oz        canned diced tomatoes, with juice

1 t ea        crushed red pepper, dried thyme leaves, ground coriander

3               bay leaves

24 oz       tomato sauce

3 ½ c        water

1 lb          kale, stemmed, cut in ½” strips

                shredded parmesan



In Medium Stock Pot

1. Heat olive oil on medium

2. Add celery, carrots, onion & mushrooms; cook, stirring 6 min. Add garlic, cook 1 min

3. Stir in garbanzo beans, diced tomatoes & spices. Cook 2 min

4. Add tomato sauce & water. Simmer 20 min

5. Add kale, simmer another 10 min

6. Remove bay leaves

7. Sprinkle each serving with parmesan

*Can sub swiss chard for kale

Uninspired? Improvise!


My bookshelves are lined with many cookbooks.  Despite my wide variety of culinary instruction my wish list on Amazon remains filled with desired books.  However, overflowing bookshelves does not always lead to motivation to create meals.  Feeling uninspired this weekend I stared at my farmer’s market purchases-green beans, zucchini, squash, carrots & tomatoes. Because no particular cuisine was calling to me I thought what better way to combine this produce then a colorful late season vegetable soup.  I remembered a gem of a recipe from one of my favorite cookbooks Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone, Herb and Garlic broth.  Not having all the ingredients on hand, I improvised with garlic, carrots, fresh thyme & parsley to come up with a quick stock for my impromptu vegetable soup.  Dinner ended up being a delicious, warm, homey soup served with a side of cornbread muffins. Not bad for an uninspired dinner.

Finding Your Fiber


Most of us know that eating fiber-containing foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes are good for our health. Unfortunately the great majority of us consume less than half of the daily fiber recommendation. Never fear, food manufactures have come up with a way for us to consume our daily fiber intake without even so much as picking up a fruit or vegetable. The grocery store shelf is loaded with “high fiber” products such as cookies, brownies, bars, “fruit” snacks, drinks, muffins, and white-flour pastas and breads. A chocolate brownie with “4 grams of fiber” must be healthy, right? However, these processed foods get much of their “fiber” from something called isolated functional fibers like inulin, polydextrose, and modified starches. What exactly are these isolated “functional” fibers that they are putting into these “healthy” foods? Isolated fibers are either extracted from foods or chemically synthesized and are added to foods not naturally rich in fiber. Marketers claim that eating  these fibers will lead to weight loss by making you feel full. While we know that a diet high in natural fiber contributes to satiety, most added fiber in food or drinks is unlikely to have the same affect.


The bottom line, stick with real plant based fiber rich foods (beans, fruits, vegetables, whole grains) that can lower the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes and obesity as well as help prevent constipation. And as Nutrition Action puts it so well “added processed fibers don’t turn cookies, brownies, bars, and shakes into beans, bran, berries, and broccoli. But they do turn little white powders into bigger profits.”

Believe in Wellness and Balance


That’s the core value that maybe makes your eyes roll this time of year. Seriously, “how CAN I get it all done!!?”, “…and still have time for my _____?!”, <–fill in that blank with whatever means the most to you.

Planning for your personal time can make you much more productive and focused at work.

Eric Barker offers a few tips on how you can get tons of stuff accomplished during the week, feel less stressed and even have more fun on your days off. See his article: How The Most Successful People Manage Their Time. Have you set your personal WIGS (Wildly Important Goals)? It helps to start there, and approach your personal wellness and balance with the same time management expertise you’ve mastered at work! Use your mornings to score tremendous victories for yourself and set the tone for your day.

  1. Do a time log. See how long things take and when your best windows are.

  2. Plan the whole week. Focus on your core competency and what makes you happy.

  3. Have a morning ritual that gets you closer to your long term goals.

  4. Set 3-5 anchor events for the weekend.

  5. Plan something fun for Sunday night.

“The best morning rituals are activities that don’t have to happen and certainly don’t have to happen at a specific hour. These are activities that require internal motivation… The best morning rituals are activities that, when practiced regularly, result in long-term benefits.”- Laura Vanderkam

Butternut Squash Lasagna


Serves 12

2 lb        butternut squash, peeled, seeded, 1” cubes

1 T         olive oil

¼c          water

1t. ea     s&p

1c           part skim ricotta

¼c          butter

¼c          flour

3½ c      skim milk

1pinch  nutmeg

4t          fresh thyme & sage, finely chopped

9oz       lasagna sheets, no boil

2c         part skim mozzarella

½c        grated parmesan

1. Cook squash, oil, water, s&p in microwave covered, 10-15 min

2. Purée squash in processor or blender. Remove & mix with ricotta. Set aside


Herb Sauce

1. Melt butter, add flour, cook 1 min

2. Whisk in milk, bring to boil, reduce

& simmer 5 min until thick

3. Stir in seasonings


Assemble in well sprayed 11×14 casserole

1. ⅓ sauce, ⅓ sheets, ⅓ squash pureé, ⅓ c mozzarella

2. Repeat 2 more layers

3. Cover with foil, bake on 375°F @ 40 min

4. Remove foil, top with remaining mozzarella & parmesan

5. Bake for 15 more min

Fresh Fall Apples


One of my son Oliver’s “homework” assignments is to cook an apple dish at home. Though he isn’t really a fan of apples unless they are slathered with peanut butter; I thought at the very least this was an opportunity to expose him to the variety of ways fresh fall apples can be prepared.  Selfishly, I thought it was also a great time to dust off one of my “oldie but goodie” recipes that I admit I have not made in years.  The Thin French Apple Tart not only looks elegant, but also tastes divine.


Speaking of apples, one of my favorite fall activities is apple picking.  If a journey to an apple orchard does not fit into your schedule, check out the Saturday morning Lynchburg Farmer’s Market or the Farm Basket for the tastiest, most flavorful apples you can find.  And remember, those shiny prefect apples in the grocery store shipped from hundreds of miles away don’t even compare to a freshly picked (not so pretty) local apple.


Thin French Apple Tart

1/2 (15-ounce) package refrigerated pie dough (I usually make my own crust with whole-wheat pastry flour

1/4 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

2 pounds apples, peeled, cored, and thinly sliced

2 1/2 tablespoons honey

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract


1.    Preheat oven to 425°.

2.    Place dough on a lightly floured surface; roll into a 12-inch circle. Place on a 12-inch pizza pan. Combine sugar and cinnamon. Sprinkle 1-tablespoon sugar mixture over dough. Arrange apple slices spoke like on top of dough, working from outside edge of dough to the center. Sprinkle apple slices with remaining sugar mixture. Bake at 425° for 30 minutes.

3.    Combine honey and vanilla in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave at high 40 seconds. Brush honey mixture over warm tart. Serve warm.


Use a paring knife to prepare the apples for this simple dessert.


Source: David Bonom, Cooking Light
MARCH 2004

Step Away From Chronic Dieting


The other day as I was working out in my humid basement, sweating to the tune of a fitness instructors DVD, the message really struck me.  As a nutrition professional, I know without a doubt most people will not get a ripped 6-pack or thin thighs by working out for 30 minutes a day.  This body “evolution” involves so much more (diet, genetics, etc).   The main reason for my “suffering” through the endless droning about transforming your body is that I actually really like to workout.  Over the years I have seen a great improvement in my fitness, however, with that has come inevitable aging changes & the reality that I do enjoy eating.


Very few of us can say we have never struggled with our weight or body image. And messages like “get ripped in 30” certainly do not contribute to body acceptance. (i.e. accepting your genetic blueprint). While I certainly don’t believe that body acceptance means a sedentary lifestyle and stuffing yourself silly, dieting does not work and there are countless studies supporting this conclusion.


So what is the long-term solution?  Of course, I am a proponent of movement, not simply exercise, but minimizing our daily sedentary activities.  I also believe that knowledge is power, so educating yourself about the basics of nutrition is another key piece of the puzzle.  In addition, I am a huge fan of Intuitive Eating principles and the 3 main principles are a great starting point for changing your lifestyle and step away from chronic dieting


1.     Unconditional permission to eat when hungry & what food is desired.

2.     Eating for physical rather than emotional reasons

3.     Reliance on internal hunger & satiety cues to determine when & how much to eat.

Just Another Day?

make a difference phrase on blackboard

Maybe today is your birthday, maybe it’s a major holiday, maybe it’s your first day in a new job or with a new team or in a new place, maybe it’s a Wednesday or a Saturday, maybe it’s raining or not, maybe you have catering tonight, maybe you’re down an employee, maybe you’re getting a haircut later…or maybe none of the above.  Is it just another day?


Is time flying by or is it creeping?  Are you startled that the pool has closed and Christmas decorations are starting to pop up?


Since so many of us work to the rhythm of education, it is that crazy busy and crazy fresh opening season.  Lots of to-do’s, long days, pop-up requests…so let’s keep it simple and soak up the wisdom of Jane Goodall:

“You cannot get through a single day without having an impact on the world around you.  What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.”