Monday, April 25, 2016

Where is Autumn?

Hello, friends!

So you may have noticed a general lull in the blog posts coming your way recently. OK, really since my little ball of energy and wonder was born. I have FIVE unfinished posts sitting in this space waiting to be finished and well, I just haven't committed the time to that process. It just takes too long!

But never fear, I'm still on the interwebs, just in places with a much lower word count requirement. You can talk with me on twitter or follow me on Instagram.  I'm still chatting about nutrition and food with a little bit of life thrown in.  I'd love to see you there!

I've also started promoting my nutrition-based food photography and you can check out my iStock portfolio here.

So, will I ever blog again? Oh, probably. You'll be the first to know :)


Tuesday, January 26, 2016

"Before Baby" Giveaway on Goodreads

Hello friends!

We are giving away 10 copies of "Before Baby" on Goodreads. You have through February 7th to enter the contest.

Good Luck!

Want to just buy to book? Click here.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Before Baby now available in paperback!

Hello Friends!

Just wanted to let you all know that Before Baby is now available for purchase in paperback through Amazon. The exterior is color but the interior is black and white. We made this decision to keep costs low (it's only $7.95!) but if you want the full-color version, that's still available as a Kindle book.


Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Slow Cooker Chicken Provençal

I made you some chicken provençal. I mean, I wanted chicken provençal, but I knew, just as the craving occurred, that I'd write it down and give it to you, my readers. I've made this dish countless times on the stovetop and have taken massive liberties with it (Red wine instead of white? Sacre bleu!), so I know what I'm doing, and I knew it would be simple to translate into a slow cooker recipe.  And simple is what I wanted--no pre-cooking of chicken thighs, no removing skin, no fuss. I wanted to dump it in the pot and go.  And you know what? I succeeded.  This dish is delicious.  I hope you love it too!

Slow Cooker Chicken Provençal
Serves 4-6

6 boneless skinless chicken thighs
1/2 sweet onion, chopped
6 cloves garlic, crushed
6 oz white wine
14.5 oz can diced tomatoes, with juice
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon herbs de Provence
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tsp lemon zest
1/3 cup kalamata olives, quartered
Minced parsley for garnish

In the bowl of your slow cooker, combine the chicken thighs, onion, garlic, white wine, tomatoes, tomato paste, thyme, oregano, herbs de Provence, bay leaf and salt. Cook on low for six hours, remove from heat and add the lemon zest and olives. Salt to taste. Serve over pasta or polenta and garnish with parsley.


If you want more delicious slow cooker recipes, check out my book, Before Baby!

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Research Round-Up: Mediterranean diet and gut microbiota

I've been reading a lot of research lately: research for my second book, research on heart health for a consulting contract I have coming up at Microsoft, and just general interesting tidbits here and there because I think it's fun.  Yes, you heard me. Fun. I love keeping up on current research trends and assessing study construction to see if the author's interpretation of the results is a true assessment of the data.

Since I'm preparing for Microsoft, which is counseling for mainly cholesterol and weight loss, I've been focusing on dietary trends that affect those two topics, and this study popped onto my radar.

It's no secret that I'm a huge fan of the Mediterranean diet. If I had to pick one diet to rule them all, one diet to recommend to clients, this would be it.  In fact, this is the diet I recommend to clients. It's also how we model our eating at home. (For a quick Mediterranean diet starter guide from the University of Wisconsin click here).  I'm always on the lookout for any new research about the diet and to be honest, I haven't seen anything negative.

This latest piece of work, examining how the Mediterranean diet impacts the gut microbiota seems really basic: you eat more vegetables and fiber and your have healthier gut flora because all the little bacteria in your gut eat it (check out this informative infographic from Scientific American), but I think it's worth talking about because so much emerging research is examining the impact of the microbiota on our health. It effects everything--our weight, our mood, our nerves and of course, our gut. For a quick article on the microbiome's impact on our overall health, click here.

So how was this study designed? The took a group of Italians and broke them down by eating pattern: vegan, vegetarian and omnivore. Most of the vegans and vegetarians and about 30% of the omnivores followed a Mediterranean-style eating pattern. They then assessed the health of the gut flora and determined that the more vegetables and fiber you eat, the healthier your microbiome. If you follow a vegan Mediterranean diet, your intestinal bacteria will be the healthiest, but if you follow an omnivore Mediterranean diet, you won't be doing too badly. And of course, the more meat you eat, especially red meat, the worse off your gut flora will be.

What are the practical implications? Eat vegetables at lunch and dinner, and snack on fruits and nuts. Eat beans most days, whether it's refried beans with tacos, hummus with carrot sticks or a garbanzo beans in a curry chicken stew. And eat whole grains like whole wheat bread, quinoa, millet, brown rice and bulgur. I know this all seems like old hat, but changing this one thing can drastically improve your mental and physical health.  You could have more energy, suffer less depression and have an easier time losing weight (if that's one of your goals). An apple a day really can keep the doctor away.

Want more science? Check out my posts on non-celiac gluten sensitivity and FODMAPs here and here.

Want more Mediterranean diet-style recipes? Before Baby has a fantastic balance of vegetable-rich recipes, plus a little meat.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Salmon Cakes with Sriracha Mayo and Ratatouille

I've started and stopped writing this post several times over the past couple of weeks, never quite sure how to start or what to say. I want to write something peppy and merry about Fall or perhaps talk about all the great and wonderful activities we did over the summer but the truth is, we've suffered a tragedy and it's cast a pall over the Hoverter household. Ben, Teo and I are fine.  Well, mostly fine.  Teo is amazing, a vibrant soul with unimaginable energy.  It's his parents that are feeling a touch beat up.  Recovery has been slow, measured in inches rather than miles, but I know it's going to be OK because I'm cooking again.  Actually, saying I'm cooking again feels like an understatement: I'm spending hours and hours in the kitchen, taking copious amounts of time preparing our meals.  We have soups and stews and casseroles and fresh stir fries and salad and bread.  When I'm feeling particularly anxious or stressed I bake cookies or brownies or muffins. We are eating so well.

This brings me to salmon cakes. These salmon cakes won't take you hours to cook.  They take minutes!  I got the recipe from The Kitchn so I will send you there for guidance on their actual preparation.  The only thing I would change after making the salmon cakes twice is that I like using two eggs instead of one. I feel like the cakes hold together better.  And the Sriracha mayo is a must.  If you don't have Sriracha, try mixing smoked paprika or another hot sauce with mayo.  The creamy spice finishes the dish and even Ben, who doesn't care for mayo, loved the dressing.

So, what did I serve with these delicious cakes? What is that indistinct brown blob in the back of the photo? Why, ratatouille of course. I've made Grilled Ratatouille in the past and honestly, that's the only time I've managed to take a decent picture of it.  Whenever I make it in the oven, which is my preferred method, it's a giant brown heap, albeit a delicious giant brown heap. I cribbed off of Mark Bittman's recipe from How to Cook Everything, though ratatouille is so simple, you can probably make it without even reading my barebones recipe.

I used Japanese eggplant because you don't need to peel and salt it.  You can really add any baking veggies you want, including yellow summer squash and bell peppers, but I used what I had in my fridge. If you choose to use large tomatoes, peel and seed them before adding them to the baking dish.

Oven Baked Ratatouille

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Roughly chop two medium zucchini, 4 Japanese eggplant, and one onion. Line a baking sheet or pan with parchment paper and scatter on the vegetables. Toss in two handfuls of cherry tomatoes, stems removed. Peel 4-5 cloves of garlic and add them to the vegetables. Drizzle on a generous amount of olive oil, sprinkle with salt and add a few whole oregano leaves or a pinch of dried oregano. Toss the vegetables gently with the oil and then roast for about an hour, stirring about every 15 minutes. The vegetables should be tender and falling apart when the dish is finished. Garnish with fresh basil and serve at room temperature or slightly warm.


Want more awesome recipes? Check out my book, Before Baby, today!

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Moving Slowly

It's early in the morning and I'm sitting on the couch working and drinking tea out of my lovely double walled bodum cup that Ben got me for my birthday.  Drinking tea is a habit that I got from my mother, who got it from her mother, who I'm sure got it from her mother because she was from England.  We all drink tea.  Being a nerdy Seattlite who didn't become a parent until her mid-thirties, I've had lots of time to develop my taste for different teas, explore tea shops, and generally build up a huge collection of exotic tea leaves.  Long gone are the days of Lipton tea bags, luke-warm water and a little milk.  Here now, I decide between Assam and Darjeeling with honey and soy creamer.

Sitting quietly drinking tea in the morning is the thing I miss most in my transition to parenthood and now that Teo sleeps through the night I try to get up early just so I can drink tea.  I'm actually supposed to be working in those early hours but it's more enticing to think that I'm awake just so I can sip my Asaam and listen to the birds twitter their early morning song.

The other day I got to visit with a four week old baby, and the early sights, sounds and physical sensations all came back.  The sleeplessness, constant swaying back and forth and the love.  It's a trip to look at Teo now and think back to when he was a tiny, mewling baby, just trying to get control of his body.  Somehow, despite my parenting, he's become a vibrant, talkative toddler who runs as fast as his legs can carry him wherever he goes.

Preparing for my trip to visit my friend, I started thinking about what to bring her.  It would be food because it's always food with me but what?  A casserole?  Fresh fixings for a salad?  What should I make?  Then it occurred to me that I've written a whole book on the topic (seriously, I'd forgotten).  So I whipped up some Coconut Chicken Soup, threw it in a bag and froze it, which turned out to be a good thing because my visit got postponed twice.  So I was able to show up with some food, a little gift for the bebe and lots of love and cuddles.  And I brought my own tea!

Friends, if you've purchased Before Baby and enjoyed it, would you be so kind as to write a review on Amazon?  We need reviews to boost our rankings and get the word out about Before Baby!

Photo courtesy of