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Top Chef Judge Tom Colicchio’s Clean Kitchen Tips (Plus Salad Recipe!)

Written on April 10, 2013 at 1:30 pm , by

Fennel and endive paired with other fresh ingredients helps take your go-to salad from drab to a healthy fab! (Photo courtesy of TalismanPHOTO)

Tom Colicchio, renowned James Beard “Outstanding Chef” and Top Chef judge, takes a simple, produce-packed approach to cuisine, telling us that the one culinary skill everyone should know is how to properly season your dish. Don’t overcomplicate it! “Simple salt and pepper go a long way,” he said. We asked Tom about his kitchen must-haves, sandwich suggestions and how he keeps his kitchen safe from cross-contamination. Here’s what Bounty’s partner dished. (His salad recipe below is out of this world!)

What are five of your kitchen staples?

Beyond the right cleaning supplies—keeping the kitchen clean as you go is a must—my staples are pretty basic. All I really need are sharp knives, a cutting board, a couple of decent pots and pans and salt and pepper to season, and I’m ready to go.

How can we add healthy variety to break a monotonous diet funk?

Produce is the answer. I always start with produce whenever I’m developing a dish because seasonal ingredients allow you to add different flavors to a meal and give whatever protein you’re working with an entirely new spin. Proteins tend to remain the same, season to season, but vegetables change. Visit your local farmer’s market or supermarket and see what fruits and vegetables are in season. Once you figure out what’s in season, you can choose what protein you want to work with. You can create so many different, healthy meals by combining seasonal produce and protein and varying the base flavors with spices and cooking methods.

How can our readers lighten up their lunchboxes? Do you have a healthy sandwich suggestion?

I’ve noticed that people are becoming more aware of their diets as they adopt healthier lifestyles. I think people can lighten up lunch by eating less protein and turning to more vegetable-based diets. I like to take fresh salads and turn them into quick, portable lunches. For instance, if you make my fennel salad with yogurt vinaigrette, you could put it into a toasted whole wheat pita and grab it to go for a tasty and nutritious version of fast food.

If you could cook for any person—living or dead—who would it be?

I’d love to cook for—or with—Teddy Roosevelt.  He was a big outdoorsman and had a huge appreciation for the natural beauty of America.

How do you keep your kitchen clean and safe from contamination?

I’m obsessive about keeping everything clean in the kitchen, both at home and on the job. Paper towels are a must—I use them to tidy up as I go instead of a dishcloth. You can actually cross-contaminate kitchen surfaces if you wipe up with a used, germy dishcloth. It can harbor and spread germs, so using a durable paper towel like new Bounty DuraTowel is a much more effective way to clean. And one sheet really goes a long way – I can mop up everything from sticky sauce spills on the counter top to cleaning spatters off the fridge which helps me keep my momentum going.

Fennel Salad with Yogurt Vinaigrette
Serves 4

1 bulb of fennel, trimmed and cored
1 cucumber
1 head endive
6 radishes
1 apple, cored
½ cup of sheeps milk yogurt (plain or Greek yogurt can be used as substitutes)
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 tablespoons chopped fresh herbs (mint, chive, cilantro, basil, parsley, etc.)
Pinch of cayenne pepper
Juice of one lemon

With a mandolin, thinly slice the fennel, cucumber and radishes and add the watercress and endive. For the vinaigrette, whisk together the yogurt, lemon, vinegar, soy sauce and cayenne and slowly add the olive oil. Add chopped fresh herbs. Toss the vegetables with the vinaigrette and serve.

Now tell us: How do you keep your culinary haven safe from germs?

Fit Links: The (Not So) Secret to Flat Abs and How to Save Big on Groceries

Written on August 24, 2012 at 9:34 am , by

This week’s fit links from around the web:

No surprise: Flat abs are the result of a nutritious diet and hard work in the gym.(Photo by Alex Palombo)

The Pros of Probiotics

Written on February 16, 2012 at 1:24 pm , by

Written by Lauren Cardarelli, editorial intern

Many yogurts pack a healthy amount of "good bacteria." (Photo by Jonathan Kantor)

We often hear that probiotics are important to maintain healthy digestion, but what exactly do they do? FITNESS recently learned all about the friendly bacteria from Dr. Melina B. Jampolis, M.D., who we met with at an Activia event. We asked her about the digestive system, the role of probiotics in overall health and how to incorporate the live microorganisms in our diets. Here’s what she had to say:

How do probiotics help regulate our digestive system?

Probiotics are friendly bacteria that live in our intestines. The gut contains 70 percent of our body’s immune tissue so a healthy gut is important for healthy immune function. Probiotics help keep the cells of the colon healthy, promoting good digestion. Things like stress, lack of sleep, medication and infection can throw off the ratio of good to bad bacteria in the intestines which can lead to overall health and digestive problems. This bacteria keeps the cells that line the gut healthy, they produce vitamins and produce lactase, an enzyme that helps break down milk.

Can you get probiotics from frozen yogurt? 

It depends on the preparation of the frozen yogurt and if probiotics are added. Although yogurt contains live cultures, it does not contain probiotics unless they are added. If it is frozen slowly the probiotics can survive but if it’s just placed in the freezer they will not.

How can those who don’t like yogurt incorporate probiotics into their diet?

Probiotic supplements, both refrigerated and shelf stable, are available. You can also find different strains in chocolate bars and juices but the benefits of probiotics are strain specific so if you are looking for a specific benefit, such as supporting a healthy digestive system, it is important to choose a clinically validated product.

Pastry Chef and Bravo’s Top Chef Just Desserts judge, Johnny Iuzzini, showed us how easy (and delicious!) incorporating probiotics into your diet can be. Check out his sweet recipe!

Panna cotta is Italian for cooked cream. (Photo courtesy of Activia)

Yogurt-Orange Blossom Panna Cotta

  • 2 1/4 cups Activia Vanilla Yogurt
  • 1/3 cup skim milk
  • 4 tablespoons sugar
  • 4 gelatin sheets or 1 tablespoon gelatin powder
  • Lime zest
  • 1 teaspoon orange blossom water
  1. Heat sugar and milk until hot.
  2. Soak the gelatin in ice water for 10 minutes then squeeze out excess water and add to the hot milk. Allow milk to cool to room temperature.
  3. Stir in the vanilla yogurt, lime zest and orange blossom water and pour into a 4-ounce ramekin or a mold and allow to set in the refrigerator.
  4. Once set, carefully unmold into the serving bowl by inverting and releasing one edge.

Food Fight: The Greek Yogurt Debate

Written on December 1, 2011 at 5:17 pm , by

yogurt cup

Photo by iStockPhoto

By Kati Mora, RD for DietsInReview.com

It seems like everyone has jumped onto the Greek yogurt bandwagon. Perhaps this is because it’s relatively low in calories, often fat free, and packs a strong protein punch. This powerful combination can help you feel fuller for longer with less calories, and often help you maintain a healthy weight.

Because of Greek yogurt’s recent buzz and skyrocketing sales, not all Greek yogurts that have hit the market are as great as they claim to be. Additionally, determining which yogurt fits best into your diet depends on more than just nutrition facts. Texture, cost, and versatility all play a role. To help you determine which Greek yogurt is best for you, let’s take a look at three of the most common varieties available.

1. Yoplait Greek Yogurt

Yoplait Greek yogurt is relatively inexpensive; however, many do not consider it to be a true Greek yogurt because it contains milk protein concentrate for added protein power and several different thickeners in its flavored varieties. Milk protein concentrate is also considered to be a controversial ingredient since it is often imported from other countries where safety regulations aren’t as stringent.

On a more positive note, this brand does have a wide variety of flavors available and boasts double the protein of traditional yogurt. It is also a great source of both calcium and vitamin D. If you are a fan of traditional Yoplait yogurt, you may find this brand enjoyable; however, it is important to note that the flavored varieties often contain more sugar (18-20 grams per serving). According to Yoplait’s website, all of their products contain live and active cultures, important probiotics that have been shown to be beneficial for overall health. Some diets, like The 17 Day Diet, advise a daily serving of probiotic-rich yogurt. Unfortunately, the live and active cultures used are not individually listed on the ingredient list, making it difficult to know which type or quantity of each is found in the end product.

Keep reading to see how Chobani and Stoneyfield Oikos compare! Read more