Training for My First Half Marathon

Every time I stand on the sidelines and cheer friends and family on as they race towards the finish line of half or full marathons, I feel exhilarated and inspired. I think, “if they can do this, so could I!” And so, after using my internship year, nuptials, and new job as convenient scapegoats, I have finally run out of excuses, and figured it was time for me to run my first half marathon! I’ve been training for the past 5 weeks, with 7 more to go, and I’ve learned a lot about my physical capabilities, mental toughness, eating intuitively, and enjoying running! Today I’m sharing with you my biggest lessons learned so far on my road to 13.1

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Better Breakfasts with Steel Cut Oats

My readers and patients alike have frequently heard me talk about quick and easy meal ideas, especially breakfasts. After all, breakfast really is found to be one of the most important meals of the day as it is associated with reduced risk of overweight and obesity (Szajewska & Ruszczynski 2010); better glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity, which is especially critical for individuals with type II diabetes (Versteeg et al 2015); and improved satiety that leads to less overconsumption at subsequent meals (de Castro J 2007).

For the most part, I am a fan of breakfasts that require minimal effort during the week- Siggi’s yogurt with fresh fruit and nuts, hard boiled eggs over homemade bread, or a mason jar of delicious overnight oats. Lately, however, I have fallen in love with steel cut oats.

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Extra! Extra!

I’m a published author! In the nutrition world that is.

During the food service rotation of my dietetic internship we were asked to write a blog post regarding food safety, putting into practice all that we’ve been learning about proper sanitation procedure and how to prevent foodborne illness. Our professor sent in our posts to Food and Nutrition magazine, a publication from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, and if your post was selected by their editors it would be featured on the AND’s Stone Soup blog. I am proud to say that my post was chosen and I’ve made my first official contribution to the Stone Soup!

My blog post, 5 Tips for Safer Slow Cooking, focuses on how to cook safely using your slow cooker, and as the temperatures settle into the 60’s and 50’s, I am warming up to the idea of breaking out this trusty appliance myself. If you want to bone up on your food safety and get excited to cook all your favorite crock pot favorites, find my first published work right here on the Stone Soup!

Updates from the desk of Mrs. Casey Luber, MS RDN

It’s been five years of dating the most wonderful man, three years of studying macronutrient metabolism and designing lesson plans for nutrition and gardening programs, and one year spent working (for free) at a hospital, clinic, and community nutrition sites, but I wouldn’t trade that journey for anything because today I can happily introduce myself as Mrs. Casey Luber (almost Seiden), MS RDN!

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Crunchy Matcha Banana Bread

I love banana bread. I love it clean and classic, studded with chocolate chips, swirled with cinnamon, “healthified” with dried fruit and nuts…the list goes on! I like to enjoy it in the morning with a smear of warm butter for breakfast or even as dessert in place of a heavier and more sinful slice of cake. I can really find any opportunity to make banana bread and St. Patty’s Day was no exception!

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Potato, Potahto. Yucca, Yautia.

You know the song. “You like potato and I like potahto, You like tomato and I like tomahto
Potato, potahto, Tomato, tomahto, Let’s call the whole thing off.” This Louis Armstrong classic is not only a catchy tune, but it speaks the truth when it comes to interchangeable words. Some people refer to that starchy tuber as a potato, while others may say potahto (although I’ve never met anyone who does). The fact of the matter is there can be many words used to describe the same thing, and that is what sets the stage for this very overdue blog post.

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Dietetic Internship Ramblings and Meal Planning

My dietetic internship (DI) is in full swing, folks! It’s been a wonderful change of pace to be practicing all that I’ve learned for the past 6 or so years, and to feel like a professional in my field. While I do miss my leisure mornings where I drink coffee out of my favorite mug instead of a travel thermos, it is wonderfuly nice to be on a schedule again and I truly look forward to going to work each day where I am learning, observing, and practicing what I love.

My first internship placement is at the Institute for Family Health, a group of health clinics throughout Manhattan, the Bronx, and upstate New York. We provide care to the most underseved populations of New York and I have been a grateful witness to the triumph of so many people who face real adversity every day of their life. The role of a dietitian at the Institute is to provide nutrition therapy and counseling for a number of issues, including weight loss, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, gastrointestinal disorders, kidney disease, disordered eating, pediatric weight management, prenatal nutrition, food assistance, and many more. Patients often come to the Institute for primary care, psychiatric, gynecology, or dental visits and are then referred to see a nutritionist/certified diabetes educator if the doctor thinks it would be beneficial, or sometimes patients request an appointment with us on their own, which is great!

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Sunberry Butter

Usually when I’m bored- or, I mean, taking a well-deserved break from working on my thesis…- I post up in the kitchen and whip up something yummy. Whether I’m baking apple bread or doing some weekly dinner prep, I’m happy and relaxed when I’m chopping, sauteeing, or baking. However, seeing as my stove is still on the fritz (but intended to be mended by tonight!) my usual cooking adventures have been turned on their head and I have NOT been happy about it.

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New Year, New Recipes

Happy 2015, everyone! In the past, I’ve gone along with the hype of NYE in NYC- the ticketed bar event, scouting a sparkly outfit, and guzzling watered down cocktails with lots of strangers. And while I usually have a good time out at a bar or event with friends it’s really just not my thing. I’m so happy Danny and I spent this year ringing in 2015 with old and new friends at the apartment (his parents’ rooftop apartment to be precise!), enjoying good food, bubbly champagne, and never having to wait in line for the bathroom. I’m sure my pups, Carmen and Belle, celebrated their ideal New Years as well, in these same sleepy spots. How did you ring in your 2015?

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And with the new year comes new recipes, along with…a cold! The crazy changes in temperature and the packed trains and gyms (go get those resolutions, people!) have most likely been my downfall, and so I’ve been doing everything to start feeling recharged and well again. Lucky Duck Danny is in Florida this week for work so at least I don’t have to worry about passing this cough along to him. First, lots of tea and honey. Second, Switchel. Ever heard of it? I’d been seeing it in a few boutique-y grocery and health food stores (it does cost a pretty penny at about $6 a jar), but was skeptical to try it until prompted by a friend. Switchel is a genius concoction of ginger, raw apple cider vinegar, and maple syrup, born in Vermont and now brewed in Brooklyn. The antimicrobial properties of ACV, soothing and anti-inflammatory qualities of ginger, and sweet taste and hint of calcium from maple syrup make this drink unstoppable. I’ll have to start experimenting with different ratios and preparation techniques to brew a cheaper batch myself, but for my cold’s sake, it’s Switchel for now.

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Third on my sick list is soup and I figured this would be a perfect time to test out an easy ramen recipe inspired by my good friend Stephanie from Figs In My Belly. Ramen shops are popping up all over the city and curious noodle-slurpers are lining up to get a taste of this Japanese speciality. I’ve waited in the two hour lines at Ippudo, but I’ve also easily grabbed a booth at Jin and have loved each experience equally. But why eat at Jin when you can make ramen in?

I definitely took some shortcuts, like buying chicken broth instead of making my own, but I think my other ingredient choices more than made up for it. Besides the broth I knew I wanted to keep it vegetarian, but you are more than welcome to add the more traditional pork chasu or perhaps slices of crispy skinned duck.

To compliment the umami flavors of the miso broth I just had to add some mushrooms, and I couldn’t think of a better time to splurge on a maitake mushroom from my farmers’ market- for $24 a pound maitakes are definitely not just for sautéing everyday! * I did NOT buy a pound of maitakes, only a meager 1/12th of a pound for this recipe. Sometimes called hen-of-the-woods, this monster mushroom is meaty, yet silky smooth tasting when immersed in broth. Incredibly enough, this wonder fungus is being used to treat cancers by reducing tumor growth and as an adjuvant therapy for those undergoing chemotherapy to reduce hair loss and pain. The power of food and fungi truly is amazing!

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Miso Ramen for One *easily double all ingredients to make 2-3 servings!

adapted from Figs In My Belly and Just One Cookbook

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup onion or shallot, finely diced
  • 1 garlic clove, finely diced
  • 1 teaspoon fresh grated ginger root
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1 heaping tablespoon white miso paste- trust me, you’ll find excuses to keep using this product!
  • 1 teaspoon fermented black bean paste or spicy chili bean paste
  • 2 cups chicken/vegetable stock- or 1c stock + 1c water
  • 1 pack of instant ramen noodles- throw that flavoring packet away!
  • Your own toppings!
    • I used sliced carrots, tatsoi (a Chinese spinach), maitake mushrooms, seaweed paper (nori), a 4-minute egg, and scallions.
    • Any green, leafy veg would work great (think mustard greens, bok choi), sautéed corn, bamboo shoots, bean sprouts, and again, meat such as ground pork, shredded chicken, or crisy duck breast would be a real treat!

Directions

  • Heat sesame oil in a pot. Add diced onion, garlic, and ginger and let cook for 2 minutes until fragrant.
  • Add miso and bean pastes, followed by a splash of chicken stock to deglaze the pan. Add remaining stock and continue to stir until miso has smoothed out and is incorprated into liquid. Let this broth simmer while you prepare your toppings.
  • For the egg: bring a pot of water to a boil. Using a spoon, gently lower your egg into the water and let cook for only 4 minutes. Remove egg carefully with spoon and transfer to an ice bath. Once egg is cooled or has reach room temperature, carefully peel away shell and keep egg whole until ready to slice in half atop ramen.
  • For the noodles: cook according to package directions, remembering to NOT add the flavoring or sauce packet. Strain noodles once cooked and place in serving bowl.

Now for the assembly. Some of my toppings, such as the greens, carrots, and mushrooms, didn’t need to be cooked beforehand- I was going to let the broth do all the cooking for these items- so I layered those into my serving bowl with the cooked noodles.

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Next came the simmering broth.  Once my noodles were swimming in a salty bath, I added the final touches- two strips of seaweed tucked on the side, a sprinkling of scallions on top, and my ooey, gooey 4-minute egg sliced on top.

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And if you like spice, don’t forget the sriracha!

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Dedication: school, work, food, and more

September and October have been two whirlwind months, and so I apologize to my readers out there who have been wondering where I went- I promise I’m still here! You can blame all things food and nutrition for keeping me away from writing, so I wanted to catch you up on what I’ve been doing.

Even though I am only taking two classes this semester (my last to complete my Masters degree!) school still comes first. I have been getting my first taste of clinical nutrition through my Medical Nutrition Therapy class, and I must say I’m loving it. I’ve always seen myself going into the public health/community nutrition world, but the enthusiasm and passion my professfor exudes for different disease states and how nutrition becomes such a key component in prevention and treatment has made me think differently in regards to my future career. After completing an utterly torturous case study about a patient with chronic kidney disease (CKD) we have been learning about disease states of the gastrointestinal system. The gut is a stubborn and mysterious place. I have always been fascinated by the bacteria, good and bad, that dwell there and create a delicately balanced environment that has the ability to affect the entire body. Today, more and more people are being affected by malabsoprtion issues- think celiac, Crohn’s, colitis, food allergy and intolerance- and it drives me crazy that people are prescirbed these super restrictive diets, devoid of many essential macronutrients as well as vitamins and minerals! Many of these problems have evolved over time as our body’s adaptation to our increasingly modified and processed food system. The ideal answer to all the bloating, constipation and nutritional deficiencies would be to fix the source, de-toxify our food so to speak, but that doesn’t seem likely anytime soon. I guess in the meantime, as a dietitian in training, I can do my best to modify and enhance the diets of those with malabsorption issues. If you’re interested in what I’m reading for class right now I highly suggest checking out the books Gluten Freedom and Do You Believe in Magic? for a look into celiac disease and the utterly shocking and false world of alternative medicine.

Outside of school I have been in the thick of all things nutrition education at the farmers markets. Here’s a peak of what we’ve been cooking. For detailed recipes visit Just Say Yes to Fruits and Vegetables.

Green Bean and Corn Stir Fry and Stewed Cabbage

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An onion heart to start off a Glazed Beet recipe we cooked on a rainy day.

Between school, the farmers market, babysitting, the Climate March, a wedding in Amish country, and lots of football watching, I have still been dedicated to cooking at home. Many recipes are “clean out the fridge” creations combining leftover produce from work, while some are planned and inspired by favorite blogs, cookbooks, and Pinterest stumbling. I’ve also been posting some snapshots of my food on Twitter to contribute to the Food Day challenge to eat real food hosted by the Tisch Center for Food Policy and Environment at TC- next Friday is Food Day if you didn’t know!

From top to bottom, I’ve made a Roasted Fennel and Carrot soup from the wonderful Cooking Close to Home cookbook (thanks, Sarah!), written by a dietitian and Executive Chef of Vermont’s Fletcher Allen Hospital in Burlington. A personal recipe of oven-roasted cabbage “steaks” with a schmear of white miso and fresh cracked black pepper- you could use this recipe as a guide. A brussels sprout salad inspired by How Sweet It Is. An Asian style steak and mushroom salad that my mom recommended to me- and bonus, Danny liked it! And finally, I always try and sneak in a relaxing breakfast once or twice a week; today it was smashed avocado on sunflower seed toast with a crisped over easy egg, sprinkled with red pepper.

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Dedicating yourself to spending time in the kitchen is not always easy. When school, work, friends, and family are calling your name it’s tempting to cut corners and spend a few bucks on food from outside. And while the Shacktober special burger from Shake Shack can be immensely satisfying and heart-attack inducing

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it is oh so satisfying to sit down to a meal that you are proud of and enjoy a plate of delicious and nutritious food with others.

With that, I’m off to the kitchen!