Brassica: A Blissful Bounty

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Good news. We’ve found the location of culinary heaven. Its address is 680 N High St, Columbus, OH 43215.

Welcome to the restaurant Brassica. The mere word brings to mind the amazing dish pictured above and feelings of pure bliss.

For those of you who don’t live in Columbus, we couldn’t feel sorrier for you. Goodness knows when a Brassica could come to your location. In the meantime, you’ll likely want to save your pennies for a bus, train, plane, or teleportation device to bring you to our newest mecca of tongue-tingling and nutritious food.

It was somewhat of a surprise to find out that it’s related to Northstar but, happily, the menu here is more varied. In a Chipotle-style assembly line, you start with a choice between a pita sandwich, hummus plate, or salad (we chose the salad). Then you choose your protein – brisket, falafel, hummus – and begin the move down the line as staffers ask if you’d like crispy onions, pickled radishes, spicy cauliflower and more. Yes, yes, and yes in our case.

Sitting down, the first step was eating the meal with our eyes – isn’t it colorful and gorgeous? Then we took a bite (see the hummus and carrots) before we remembered to take the photo. The first bite was so deliciously promising for what awaited us. Hummus with a hint of garlic, plenty of shredded greens, the best brisket ever, beets, pickled radishes, spicy cauliflower and carrots. Oh, and the fried onions on top took the dish to the next level.

As with most meals, if you’re super-hungry, you can expect to finish the dish and feel full; this could also easily be portioned into two meals.

With the cost of the meal ranging from about $7.50 to 11.50, you (and a dining partner) can enjoy a high-quality meal for under $30.

Truthfully, it’s an out-of-the-park hit in our book. Outside of some favorite high-end restaurants, this is a new love. Visiting four times in two weeks might seem like a bit excessive, but once you go, you’ll likely be doing the same.

See you there!

“A-choo!” Seasonal Allergy Relief

allergy forecast

Source: pollen.com

Yes to the spectacular sunshine. Yes to the breathtaking flowers popping up. Yes to putting the ice scrapers away for 6 months. But a definite NO to spring allergies. Can we get an “A-men” after your next “A-choo”?

It’s estimated that between 10-20% of American adults suffer from seasonal allergies. For reasons not fully understood, the immune system gets a bit confused and starts to react to generally innocuous items.

The first key to reducing symptoms: know thy triggers.

It may be the case that pollen is to blame, but mold or even mites may also play a role in some people’s allergies.

Here are 10 tips to stave off a runny nose and sneezing during allergy season.

  1. Follow pollen and mold counts, which are typically included in weather reports.
  2. Nasal saline irrigation can help keep your nasal passages clear of irritating allergens. A staple in the Ayurvedic traditions, a neti pot is a nifty vehicle for getting the job done. Ensure you are using quality water (distilled, bottled, or previously boiled) and properly caring for the pot to prevent infection.
  3. Though it is tempting to let the fresh air in, consider keeping windows and doors shut both at home and in your car.
  4. There’s some anecdotal as well as scientific evidence that raw, local honey may help desensitize symptoms of allergies
  5. Consider showering in the evening to help wash away the pollen gathered on clothes, hair, and body before sleeping.
  6. Rethink your diet. An anti-inflammatory diet of foods rich with antioxidants and omega-3s can mitigate symptoms. Also evaluate dairy consumption and its role in mucus production.
  7. Pollen counts are typically highest late-morning and during the afternoon hours so you may want to stay indoors.
  8. Hypnotherapy has been show in studies, such as the one from Switzerland’s University Hospital Basel, to provide significant improvements in symptoms; it can work very well as adjunctive care.
  9. Wearing a particulate respirator mask while mowing the lawn can help abate allergy symptoms.
  10.  Quercetin is an antioxidant that helps stop cells from releasing histamine. It can take weeks to work so it’s best to start supplementing before allergy season begins.

Other well-known options exist, including over-the-counter and prescription medications as well as allergy shots.

Pretty soon you may find you are more the giver, and less the recipient, of “bless you”, “salud” and “Gesundheit!”

 

 

Spring Cleaning: Konmari Method

It’s difficult to label recent Midwestern weather as “spring” but so it is. Time to switch out the flannel sheets and warm, comfy throws for t-shirts and flip-flops. This is also the perfect opportunity for a bit of spring cleaning. We’ve chosen to utilize the Marie Kondo, also known as Konmari, method to see how using the metric of ‘sparking joy’ helps to decide what stay and what goes. As per her recommendation, we started with creating a pile of all clothing:

clothes pile obw

It’s always a bit shocking to see the sheer volume of one’s garments…and this is the second round since last year!

 

Kondo’s book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying-Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing, describes how she helps her clients sort through categories of household items. If an item brings joy, they keep it; if not, it is removed from the residence. She says the focus is not so much on decluttering as much as it is creating a curated closet and home environment wherein everything there brings a sense of lightness and peace. It’s a simple but transformative idea. For those who’ve struggled, wanting to use pure data (i.e. “how many pairs of jeans does the average person have?”), in their decluttering attempts, this is a different style and it just may work for you too.

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Notice the employment of two techniques – Marie Kondo’s and the forward-facing hanger technique to see which clothes are not worn during the next 6 months.

Keeping items “just because” or out of guilt hampers your ability to enjoy your possessions. The gifts, family heirlooms, the pants you spent way too much money (but still have the store tag)….consider letting them go if they aren’t bringing a smile to your face.

The main points in Kondo’s book are:

1. Declutter and then organize (no need to buy more “smart storage” strategies)
2. Tidying is meant to be a one-and-done marathon – go through everything in your house once and then maintain (you’re not meant to be tidying for the rest of your life)
3. The question to ask as you encounter each object: “does this spark joy?”
4. Tidy by category, not location (i.e. go through all the clothes in your house at once, not waiting to get to the downstairs hall closet to remove unwanted coats, etc)
5. Store your items in an appealing way (she has a method of folding designed for this)

As for order of categories to tidy, Kondo suggests starting with clothes, books, papers, komono (miscellany), and sentimental items. The reason for this is clothes have relatively low sentimental value and you can exercise your decision-making muscle before getting to the harder categories. See what it can do for you!

Recipe: Spiced Vanilla Chia Pudding

chia obw above

Oh boy – this is a filling, satisfying treat without tons of calories. What’s more, it’s made with a variety of items that may be found in your pantry or fridge. Get your sweet tooth filled without tons of sugar and experience the health benefits of fiber, omega-3s, blood sugar stabilization, and CHOCOLATE.

Ingredients
2 cups homemade almond milk
6 tablespoons chia seeds
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 heaping tablespoons whole cacao beans or 1/4 cup cacao powder for a smoother finish
1/4 cup fruit (i.e. raspberry, strawberry, and kiwi work well)

Instructions
Blend all ingredients in a blender until smooth. Refrigerate overnight, or until set. Garnish with cinnamon, fruit, cacao beans, and a drizzle of honey if desired.

chia obw

Food Truck Love: Challah

Columbus is a city with a burgeoning food truck scene. Want gyros, pizza, tacos or Korean street food? We have it. Recently we were fortunate enough to stumble upon Challah food truck during a visit to a local brewery.

Food trucks, and restaurants in general, can be a bit hit-or-miss when it comes to meeting nutritional and happy-taste-bud standards. So we weren’t exactly sure what to expect as we approached to the truck. Over the next few minutes of conversation with Catie and Janet through Challah’s window, we learned that the menu includes home-made ingredients and can be customized to dietary restrictions (i.e. gluten- or dairy-free) and they are happy to redesign a meal to meet your needs. So far so good. We ordered the avocado beet sandwich sans bread and some salty, vinegary Schmaltz fried potatoes. The next part of the evaluation would be waiting for the taste-buds approval. A few minutes later our food arrived:

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Truthfully, we dove in with gusto and almost forgot to photograph!

We needn’t have had any reservations. The creamy avocado, pickled beets, fresh onion and goat cheese over escarole had a simple vinaigrette; it was appealing to both eyes and stomach. Its lightness paired well with the salty potatoes and it was incredibly tempting to order it up again. Luckily, we were informed that Challah had plans for serving brunch at another local establishment the next day. Sold.

There are few things that can compound one’s happiness quotient on a beautiful spring early afternoon, but this brunch is one of them. The menu had a diverse listing of ingredients such as lamb, curried chickpeas, challah french toast, brisket, bison tongue, and roasted carrots. Dining companion chose an egg, cheese, and bison tongue sandwich with fried potatoes while this dish was roasted carrots, curried chickpeas and parsley (yogurt optional).

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Considering the importance of cleaner eating in general, and particularly after a night of a few libations, this would definitely be a healthier option for a brunch indulgence.

Catie was advised early on to limit her menu and make it stick, but she couldn’t do it.  She cares about seasonally available ingredients, and in making a menu that excites her.  Her food truck proudly displays a trophy from when she played soccer as a kid, as if to say that she’s keeping her identity, staying true to herself and that comes forth in her constantly-changing creations.

Upon telling Catie how impressed we were with the high-quality ingredients, she responded:

“When you respect the ingredients, you let them speak for themselves in a dish”

Well said. We will be back for more!

 

 

Recipe: Cherry Almond Pancakes

cherry almond pancakes

Waking up and enjoying a fresh stack of cherry almond pancakes is both a joyful and nutritious way to start the day. May it be the same for you!

Serves 4 (or two hungry people)
Prep time: 5 minutes
Total cook time: 15 minutes

Ingredients
2 cups almond flour
2.5 tbsp coconut oil (1/2 tbsp used in saute pan when cooking pancakes)
1/2 cup almond milk (try DIY almond milk)
4 eggs
1.5 tbsp honey
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp sea salt
6 oz Morello cherries
1/2 cup pecans or walnuts
1/4 cup maple syrup

Instructions
Melt coconut oil in small saucepan (you can use this same pan for the cherry topping) . In a medium bowl combine eggs, almond milk, raw honey, and melted coconut oil. Add almond flour, sea salt, and cinnamon; mix well. Heat saute pan with 1/2 tbsp coconut oil and ladle 1/4 cup pancake batter into pan. When pancake edge brown and/or bubbles form in batter, use spatula to flip over pancake. They are done when cooked thoroughly and browned to your liking.

Between the few minutes of waiting for pancakes to cook, you’ll likely want to start on cherry topping. Add the Morello cherries, pecans or walnuts, and maple syrup to high-speed blender. After blended, heat in saucepan to be ready to serve once pancakes are done.

Consider adding some fresh fruit and more pecans or walnuts as a topping. Bon appetit!

The DARK Act: Defeated!

DARK act

It’s rare that we pump our fists in the air or high-five strangers upon hearing most recent news stories. Yesterday evening was different. The news rolled in and, truth be told, a few happy tears formed.

In case you’ve been living in the DARK (pun intended), here’s why this is so important:

Last July, legislators passed a bill, dubbed by opponents as the Deny Americans the Right to Know, or DARK Act (H.R. 1599). The bill would preempt the FDA and states of their right to label and regulate genetically engineered (GE) foods; thereby denying consumers the right to know what is in their food and how it is grown. Despite many Americans’ desire for GE labeling, big food and chemical companies lobbied and spent massively to conceal this. Why? Perhaps it’s because genetically altered foods have been linked to a host of issues.

Consumer advocate groups contend that Americans should have the same entitlement as those in other countries (i.e. European) to this information. We agree. And, luckily, so did the Senate.

Yesterday’s defeat of the DARK Act marks a victory for the organic industry, for public health and consumers. There’s hope that a compromise can be made about GE labeling that is supported by both the public and industry.