Eataly is not just an incredible emporium filled with exquisite food and wine from Italy. It’s not just a collection of wonderful restaurants, bakeries, coffee bars and gelato stands. It’s also a school. And this past Monday we got a delicious lesson in Italian cuisine, Meatless Monday style, from Chef Nicoletta Grippo. As Eataly says in their manifesto, “Here, you won’t just discover what you love, you’ll also learn about what you love.”
Chef Nicoletta grew up in a large Italian family, the oldest of nine children. They kept a huge vegetable garden, with heirloom seeds going back many generations. What they had for dinner was frequently decided by what was freshest in the garden. She still uses that approach, often starting at the local farmer’s market and letting what looks fresh and intriguing be her inspiration. While Eataly is all about Italian cuisine and traditions, they also strongly believe in supporting local farmers.
The first dish Chef Nicoletta showed us how to prepare was a Frittata, which can be enjoyed for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, and in any season. “The frittata is a blank canvas,” she said, “which you can add any vegetables to, depending what is in season.”Being winter, she turned to root vegetables – potatoes and onions.
The chef emphasized how important it is to use quality ingredients, and that a small amount of freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano has more flavor than a cup or two of the parmesan cheese in the containers. While a frittata can be made completely on the stovetop, she recommended finishing it in the oven to add volume. That made it beautiful to look at as well as delicious to eat.
Our next Meatless Monday treat was Pansotti Stuffed with Ricotta & Spinach in Walnut sauce. She began by explaining how easy it is to make homemade dough, and showing us how to stretch it until it’s paper thin.
Her tips for cooking pasta: put salt in the pasta water but not olive oil – if you don’t want the pasta to stick just keep stirring it; never rinse pasta or you lose the starches that help bind the sauce; and remove the pasta when it’s still aldente, so it’s still ‘thirsty’ and will hold the sauce. It did seem like just the right amount of her exquisite walnut sauce was on every delicious pansotti.
The pièce de résistance: an Artichoke Tart. “Artichokes scare a lot of people,” said our chef, “but once you get to know them, they’re great with pizza, pasta, in salads, or in a tart.” One tip: keep artichokes looking good by putting them in cold water with a squeeze of lemon. While assembling the tart she talked to us about ‘ugly vegetables’ like artichokes, beet greens, and celery root, and how they are really hidden treasures.
While Chef Nicoletta touted the benefits of Meatless Monday for the environment and personal health, you could tell that she’s most passionate about Meatless Monday for the opportunities it affords to try more vegetables. It’s also clear she loves teaching people about new vegetables and new dishes they can try. “This was the job I made up in my head when I thought about what I wanted to do. And now I get to do it.”
If you are ever in New York City, don’t miss the chance to go to Eataly. If it’s a Monday see if you can join their Meatless Monday cooking class. Until then, you can try their wonderful recipe for Pansotti con Sugo di Noci, courtesy of Eataly and Chef Nicoletta. As they say in their manifesto, “Good food brings all of us together and helps us find a common point of view. We believe that one of the greatest sources of joy is what happens around a dinner table.” Buon appetito! Every Monday!
The festival marking the start of the Chinese new year began on Thursday, February 19th with families reuniting, fireworks exploding, and decorations everywhere. Special dishes are eaten on New Year’s Eve and throughout the sixteen day festival, with certain foods believed to bring good luck for the coming year. Not only do the dishes themselves matter, but the way you prepare and serve them matters as well.
Dumplings, a classic Chinese dish dating back more than 1,800 years, are traditionally eaten on New Year’s Eve. They generally consist of minced meat and finely-chopped vegetables but can be made with just vegetables and can be boiled, steamed, fried, or baked. Legend has it the more dumplings you eat during the New Year celebrations the more prosperous you will be in the New Year. Arrange your dumplings in lines instead of circles – circles of dumplings can mean your life will go round in circles, never getting anywhere.
Spring rolls actually get their name from being eaten during the Spring Festival celebrating the New Year. Filled with vegetables, meat, or something sweet, they’re fried so that they have a golden-yellow color, which makes them resemble gold bars and become a wish for prosperity.
Niángāo, glutinous rice cakes, are another popular New Year’s dish. Made with sticky rice, sugar, chestnuts, Chinese dates, and lotus leaves, the name relates to “getting higher year after year.” So whether you’re a child wanting to grow taller, a student wanting better grades, or an office worker wanting a promotion, you definitely want to try niangao.
Then there are longevity noodles – not hard to figure out the symbolism there. Longer than normal noodles and uncut, they can be fried, or boiled and served in a bowl with broth. And finally there’s ‘good fortune fruit’ such as oranges and tangerines. As you can see there are many ways to enjoy a Meatless Monday during the Chinese New Year while encouraging luck and prosperity.
Predictions are also part of the Chinese New Year season, and here’s one many culinary experts are making: Asian cuisine will rise in popularity in 2015. “It’s easy to see why Asian cuisines are getting all the attention,” wrote Karen Caplan, President and CEO of Frieda’s Specialty Produce. “They are mostly vegetable-centric with bold flavors, and that resonates with consumers who want authenticity, as well as healthy food choices.”
She thinks shoppers’ desire for increased protein will motivate them to try more vegetables like Brussel Sprouts, cauliflowers, and artichokes.
“Meatless Monday also plays a part in this surge in popularity of plant-based protein,” she noted. “Meatless Monday is gaining enough popularity that some restaurants add special items for Mondays and some schools incorporate it into their lunch menus.”
Dare we predict continuing popularity for Meatless Monday in this new ‘year of the sheep?’ Many will certainly approve of that trend, including sheep.
Mardi Gras is French for “Fat Tuesday.” It marks the last night of eating richer, fatty foods, the ‘last hurrah’ before the fasting and discipline that starts on Ash Wednesday and continues for the forty days of Lent. Louisiana is the only state that has declared Mardi Gras a legal holiday, but elaborate festivities take place in several parts of the United States, and all over the world.
The word “carnival,” another common name for the pre-Lenten festivities, is from the Latin, carnelevarium which means ‘to take away or remove meat.’ You could think of it as a distant ancestor to Meatless Monday, though when you’re only giving up meat for one day you generally don’t feel the need for a big spree the day before. And with all the delicious meatless recipes and new foods to try, cutting out meat one day a week can feel more like a fun exploration rather than self denial.
While Mardi Gras has come to be associated with raucous revels in the Latin Quarter, for many in New Orleans the Carnival season is a family event, with outdoor picnics, parades, marching bands, and free toys for kids. Just as it can be a family holiday Mardi Gras can also be a meatless holiday. Below are four mouthwatering recipes from our wonderful Meatless Monday bloggers that are Cajun classics made over to be meatless.
From Apron Strings there’s an etouffee that substitutes portabella mushrooms for the seafood; Jackie Newgent shared a jambalaya with no chicken, shrimp, or Andouille sausage but still plenty of zesty flavor; We have The Saucy Southerner to thank for a hearty gumbo using pinto beans; and from Watching What I Eat, a classic red beans and rice. When you take out the sausage, bacon and chicken gizzards it leaves you with a healthy, nutritious one-pot meal. And if you want to be a little decadent, you can always indulge in Beignets or King Cake, which will still keep your Mardi Gras celebration a meatless one. As they say in NOLA, “Let the good times roll.”
Happy February! How’s that New Year’s resolution going? If you’re anything like the average consumer, it might not be going as well as you hoped. Thirty-five percent of all New Year’s resolvers don’t make it through the end of January. And for those with fitness-related resolutions, the second week of February (right now, in other words) marks a dramatic decline in gym attendance.
Sound grim? With only about one in five people sticking with their resolutions for an entire year, you may wonder what the use is in making a resolution at all. But this year, I challenge you to reframe the way you think about introducing healthy changes into your life.
Forget January 1 and the inevitable mid-February setback. Research shows that Monday is the day people are most open to introducing healthy new changes. With 52 of them in a year, the day offers an ever-renewing chance to get back on your resolution wagon.
Ready to make the commitment? To inspire you, I polled leading food and lifestyle influencers about their 2015 Healthy Monday resolutions. Here’s what they had to say:
Marcus Samuelsson, Chef and Restaurateur
For my Healthy Monday resolution, I’ll use every day as an opportunity to eat and enjoy good, healthy, delicious food and live an active life. So, instead of thinking of what you shouldn’t have or have to do, just make a simple choice that day. Instead of hopping in a car, walkwhere you need to go. Go to a market and grab whatever fruit or vegetable looks yummy and cook it up. Every little choice you make adds up and that¹s what makes it naturally a part of your lifestyle. It also helps to get those around you involved. Grab a friend to go for a run with you. Make dinner for your honey. Teach your kids how to make a salad with you. It’s more fun that way!
Photo: Catherine Fiehn
My 2015 Healthy Monday resolution is to make health a group activity. Working out with my friends and family keeps me accountable, but it also makes it fun! I look forward to the time I get to spend exercising with those I care about, and it’s an added bonus that I know we’re doing something great for our health.
Bill Yosses, Director of the ChopChop Cooking Lab and Former White House Chef
Actually my resolution is to cook more with others: friends, family, new acquaintances and especially kids. I am constantly amazed by their creativity and skill with food when they have the chance to express themselves freely on the plate. We underestimate our kids’ abilities. With a little coaching and supervision they can take off!
Susan Ungaro, President of the James Beard Foundation
Photo: Susie Cushner
Monday is the day I know I can make up for my overindulging sins of the weekend. The first day of the week always offers a fresh start for body and soul. Like a kid, I like starting my Monday mornings with a light breakfast of my youth: toasted oats cereal with bananas or blueberries. And the motivational mantra for living smart: “If it is to be, it is up to me” — they are the 10 most powerful two-letter words.
Sharon Palmer, RDN, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Author of Plant-Powered for Life
My resolution is to try one new healthy, plant-based recipe every Monday for the whole family and to stay focused by writing a weekly menu at the beginning of the week. I like to spend time every Sunday — my best day for planning and grocery shopping — and create a menu and shopping list for the week. That way I start off the week right on Monday, and keep moving from there. In fact, I recommend that everyone find one day a week which is your best day for planning and take just a few minutes to write out your menu for the week. It can be as simple as scribbling your dinner menus for the week, and transferring this info to a shopping list. Even if you are super busy, just try one new recipe a week. The other days can be more about your old easy favorites — such as tacos or spaghetti night.
Richard Pérez-Feria, Editor-in-Chief of Now It Counts Magazine, former Editor-in-Chief of People en Español
Every Monday I remind myself that going to the gym is just as important (if not more so) than going to a meeting with my boss. I’d never dream of skipping a meeting with my boss, and if you treat your gym appointment the same way, you can’t lose.
So what will your 2015 Healthy Monday resolution be? Check MoveItMonday.org, TheKidsCookMonday.org and MeatlessMonday.org for resources to help you out along the way and don’t forget — if you have a mid-week slip-up, another Monday is right around the corner!
This past Friday was ‘Go Red Day’ when women across America wore red to raise awareness about women’s heart health. But why settle for one day a year? The Healthy Monday initiative is urging Americans to sport something red every Monday and keep heart health top of mind.
“If more women wear red every Monday and share the reason with other women they meet, they can ignite a viral movement,” says Healthy Monday founder Sid Lerner, who also founded Meatless Monday. “If every Monday each woman tells two friends, and they tell two friends, pretty soon women all over the country will have this lifesaving information. And with powerful tools like Facebook, Twitter, and texting, women can share this message with those they love.”
As part of the Go Red For Women campaign, the American Heart Association came up Life’s Simple 7™ a list of seven actions that anyone can take, are not expensive to try, and that can make a real difference to women’s health . Chief among them is ‘Eat Better’, which impacts several of the other areas including controlling cholesterol, managing blood pressure, reducing blood sugar and losing weight.
The folks at Meatless Monday believe that eating to protect your heart doesn’t have to mean giving up your favorite comfort foods. To celebrate American Heart Month last year, they put together 11 of the most comforting, heart-healthy meatless recipes they could find in a free cookbook called, We Love Comfort Food. Whether you’re looking to start a heart-healthy diet without sacrificing your favorite dishes or you’re already a Meatless Monday enthusiast, you’re sure to find recipes that hit the spot.
Because of the increased awareness and the healthy steps women are taking, 34% fewer women now die from heart disease. There’s also been increased funding from the Center for Disease Control to provide screenings for low-income women. Heart disease rates vary by ethnicity, with unique challenges for each, but targeted efforts are reaching African American and Hispanic women. And, while women had been under represented in clinical studies on heart disease that is changing, thanks in part to the Heart for Women Act passed in 2012, which requires study results to be reported by gender.
There’s also more awareness that the symptoms of heart disease vary greatly between men and women. We tend to think the telltale sign of a heart attack is extreme chest pain. However, women are much more likely to experience shortness of breath, nausea, and pain in the back or jaw, as well as dizziness, lightheadedness or fainting.
Heart disease is still the #1 killer of women, but it doesn’t need to be. Wear red this Monday and every Monday to keep awareness growing. As Go Red For Women says, “The strength of mothers, sisters, daughters and friends, fighting side by side, is more powerful than any killer.”
Meatless Monday has made it to the House of Representatives, thanks to Tony Cárdenas, Congressional Representative from California’s 29th District, Congressman Cárdenas recently sent a ‘Dear Colleague’ letter to his fellow Representatives in the 114th Congress that was all about Meatless Monday; its history, its benefits, and the reasons why last year he and his staff made the decision to join the global Meatless Mondays movement.
“The production of meat employs a tremendously wasteful amount of resources,” wrote the Congressman. “Raising livestock for food causes the destruction of open space in favor of factory farms, the release of millions of tons of greenhouse gases, and the consumption of valuable drinking water.”
He also cited research by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization showing that livestock contributes to 15 percent of all human-related greenhouse gas emissions. “By choosing to go meat-free even one day a week, we can help conservation efforts and take one more action to help mitigate the threat of global climate change.”
In addition to the environmental impact, he also addressed the health benefits of giving up meat one day a week, referring to a recent draft of the Department of Agriculture’s new dietary guidelines which urge a shift toward more plant-based foods. He also quoted the American Heart Association which says, “Going meatless at a meal every now and then can help you lower your cholesterol and may reduce your risk for cardiovascular disease.”
Cárdenas expanded on this in an interview with the Latin Post. “Latinos face higher risks from heart disease, due to more cases of diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity in our communities.” He went on to say, “Red meat also leads to an increased risk of heart disease and so cutting back on red meat is a great idea for Latino Americans concerned about their overall health.”
Since sending out the letter, Cárdenas says he’s received an outpouring of support from local farmers, environmentalists, restaurants, and community members. “Folks in the Valley want to know more about how they can eat healthy and how to cut down on meat to make their diet better and help the environment.” He is hoping his colleagues in Congress are equally as enthusiastic. He closed his letter to them with the following:
“The adoption and awareness of Meatless Mondays continues to grow. Some of the nation’s largest school districts, workplaces and public figures are signing up to start the week off by taking a day off from eating meat. Going meat-free means enjoying delicious vegetarian options at restaurants and trying out new recipes at home. I hope you will join me and my staff in observing Meatless Mondays and I hope that you will encourage our other colleagues to participate.”
To all those under 40 who go meatless on Mondays – a new study on cholesterol is reinforcing just how smart you are.
Conventional wisdom used to say – don’t worry about cholesterol until you’re at least 40; then, if you’re cholesterol levels are high you can think about cutting back on the cheeseburgers, fried chicken and bacon & eggs. However, new research reported online this week in the journal Circulation concludes that for every 10 years a person has elevated cholesterol between the ages of 35-55, their risk of heart disease increases by almost 40 percent.
“In our 30s and 40s, we are laying the foundation for the future of our heart health,” says study author Dr. Ann Marie Navar-Boggan, a cardiology fellow at the Duke Clinical Research Institute in Durham, N.C. “The duration of time a person has high cholesterol increases a person’s risk of heart disease, above and beyond the risk posed by their current cholesterol level.”
Dr. Navar-Boggan compared extended exposure to high cholesterol to the concept of “pack years” in smoking, where doctors assess a person’s health risk by determining how heavily they smoked and for how long. “We should really be thinking about cholesterol the same way,” she said. “What are your cholesterol years?”
For the study, partially funded by the U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, researchers used data from the Framingham Heart Study, one of the largest ongoing research projects focused on heart health. Since 1948, families in the town of Framingham, Mass., have allowed researchers to track their health.
Researchers took 1,478 adults from the study who had not developed heart disease by age 55, and then calculated the length of time each person had experienced high cholesterol by that age. The researchers then followed these adults for up to 20 years past age 55 to see how their exposure to high cholesterol affected their risk of heart disease.
The results showed that a person’s long-term “dose” of high cholesterol appears to directly affect their future risk of heart disease.
Dr. Robert Eckel, past president of the American Heart Association, said if these new results are confirmed in future studies, it could influence guidelines on the use of cholesterol-lowering statin drugs. But Navar-Boggan said she’s cautious about making the leap to prescribing statins for people in their 30s and early 40s. She recommends people be screened at least once for high cholesterol, but those found to have elevated cholesterol should first try bringing down their levels with exercise and a heart-healthy diet.
Meatless Monday anyone? It’s sounding like a wise idea at any age.
The Monday after the Super Bowl should be a national holiday. At least that was the opinion of some folks at 4for4.com Fantasy Football, who petitioned the White House two years ago to make it a holiday. Their reasons: it would promote camaraderie among the American people, honor the most popular event in our culture, and…give everyone a day to recover before going back to work.
Chances are, the day after the Super Bowl will never become a national holiday, but it should definitely be a Meatless Monday. It’s a great way to balance the excesses of the weekend, both in terms of personal health and the health of the planet.
What kind of excesses? The 2015 Wing Report of the National Chicken Council estimated that 1.25 billion wings would be consumed during Super Bowl XLIX. To put that in perspective, that’s enough wings to stretch back and forth from Seattle’s stadium to New England’s stadium nearly 28 times. Add to that countless hamburgers, hot dogs, and brats, plus over half a million pounds of pepperoni for the millions of pizzas. Just reading that may make you want to go meatless on Mondays for the next year.
Fortunately, some vegetables were also consumed, including 100 million pounds of avocados (to go with the 8 million pounds of tortilla chips.) And while some stuck to crudité, there was enough dip eaten to fill 12 football fields. The average fan consumes about 2000 calories during the game, which is the suggested total for an entire day according to the FDA. So we could probably all stand to use this Monday as a reset day. Which makes perfect sense.
Research shows that Mondays are the day many of us turn the page after a weekend, forgive ourselves for eating too much or not exercising enough. With the fresh start Mondays provide, people recommit to those health goals that make sense long term. People report being more likely to start exercising, quit smoking, and schedule doctor’s appointments on Monday than any other day. Dieters have greater long-term success if they use Monday as a “reset” day to get back on track. While most dieters indulge and gain weight back over the weekend, studies indicate that those who get back on track with their weight loss at the beginning of the week are better able to maintain progress over time.
An article in Sunday’s USA Today, Cure for Super Bowl Sunday pig-out? A Healthy Monday, offered similar advice about using Monday as a day to reset. “Wake up Monday morning, wipe those tortilla chip crumbs from your lips, and start over.”
For many, the salad bowl may not seem as exciting as the Super Bowl, but there are definitely ways to keep things interesting. Not every salad, for example, needs to revolve around lettuce. Below are three salad recipes that can make your Meatless Monday satisfying and fun. Enjoy!
To get the word out about their new organic tofu Sofritas, Chipotle is offering a tasty deal, nationwide. If you order their Sofritas today, January 26th, and save your receipt, you can return anytime between January 27th and February 28th, 2015, for a FREE burrito, order of tacos, salad or bowl of your choice.
It’s a risk-free way to try their new tofu option and enjoy a Meatless Monday. Chipotle is committed to serving the best sustainably raised food possible, with an eye to great taste and great nutrition. Their new Sofritas is no exception. They start with Hodo Soy, made from non-GMO, US-grown whole soybeans. It’s shredded, then braised with chipotle chilis, roasted poblanos, and a blend of aromatic spices. Chances are you won’t miss the meat in your burrito, taco, or salad once you taste the spicy Sofritas.
Like Meatless Monday, Chipotle is concerned with people’s health. They have a consumer-friendly nutrition calculator on their website that gives you nutritional measures and calorie counts for the meal you’re planning to order, and it’s detailed enough to show you the difference between adding guacamole or subtracting sour cream.
They also have high standards when it comes to their ingredients, always preferring organic vegetables and refusing to purchase any dairy that comes from cows treated with rBGH.
Another similarity with Meatless Monday is Chipotle’s concern for the health of the planet. To quote from their website, “Industrial ranching and factory farming produce tons of waste while depleting the soil of nutrients. These seem like bad things to us. We so work hard to source our ingredients in ways that protect this little planet of ours.” Since 1999 they’ve been supporting farmers who focus on responsible and sustainable practices.
If you’re seeing this after the 26th, you’ve unfortunately missed the promotion. But you may still want to try the Sofritas. It could make a delicious Meatless Monday lunch or dinner.
Despite freezing temperatures, a crowd of public health, environmental, and animal rights advocates rallied on the steps of New York’s City Hall this past Thursday to support the Meatless Monday Resolution being introduced by Council Members Helen Rosenthal and Corey Johnson, chair of the Health Committee. The resolution would bring awareness to efforts already underway in restaurants, schools, and cafeterias across the city to provide meat-free meals on Mondays, and it would call for a city-wide expansion of those efforts.
“I’m so excited to be introducing a resolution today calling on the City of New York to declare Mondays ‘Meatless Mondays,’ said Council Member Rosenthal. “Meatless Monday is a national and international campaign that encourages people to enjoy meat-free meals on Mondays to improve their personal health and the health of the planet.” She expressed her hope that the resolution would quickly pass through the City Council and arrive on the mayor’s desk surrounded by a variety of healthy veggie treats.
Approximately 40 schools in New York City already participate in Meatless Monday, including public, private and charter schools at all grade levels. New York City colleges and universities have also participated in Meatless Monday, including Barnard College, Brooklyn Law School, Columbia University, Fordham University, LaGuardia Community College and Manhattan College.
“It’s wonderful that New York City plans to join Los Angeles, Philadelphia and other major cities in the U.S. and 36 countries by introducing the Meatless Monday resolution,”
said Sid Lerner, found of the Meatless Monday Movement, and chairman of The Monday Campaigns. “What perfect timing to introduce Meatless Monday with the new year, when many people are thinking of improving their diets.”
Peggy Neu, President of The Monday Campaigns, also attended the rally and addressed the crowd. “It’s only fitting that the city where Meatless Monday was born should adopt such a resolution.” She noted the important role played by the academic partners – Columbia, Johns Hopkins, and Syracuse – and how their research continues to yield new insights into the power of Mondays to improve public health.
Many New York chefs and restaurateurs have promoted Meatless Monday over the years including Mario Batali, John Fraser (Dovetail and Narcissa), Marisa May (SD26), Jason Weiner (Almond), and Bill Telepan (Telepan.)
Chef Telepan was on hand and spoke about how Meatless Monday encourages more variety in people’s diets. “Through my career as a chef, and especially my work with Wellness in the Schools, I’ve seen the impact of how encouraging the consumption of real foods, stripped of processed ingredients, can help combat the epidemic of obesity and improve long-term health outcomes.”
Mia MacDonald, executive director of Brighter Green, a New York-based action tank, offered a global perspective on the perils of exporting a meat-heavy American diet to countries like China, India, and Brazil. “It is great to see New York, the most global of cities, joining the growing national and international movement for more sustainable, humane food systems and ways of eating.”
Friends of Meatless Monday shared their support from all over the world, including Paul, Mary, and Stella McCartney, founders of Meat Free Monday. “Great to hear that New York City officials are considering introducing Meatless Monday! It’s such an easy and enjoyable way to reduce our carbon footprint and improve our health. If the resolution passes, we look forward to seeing what delicious and creative meat free options chefs come up with on Mondays in this amazing city!”
Council Member Rosenthal was optimistic about the City Council passing the resolution and sees a bright future for Meatless Monday. “As goes New York City, so goes the nation!”
Watch a short video of Council Member Rosenthal speaking at the rally.