Archive for the ‘Cuisine’ Category

Chiva-Som Serves Up Scrumptious Salad

Ask anyone who knows me, and you will quickly find out that I am a really picky eater. I have weird issues with texture, taste, and seeds, so it’s often hard to find food I like that is actually good for me. Today, the team from Thailand’s acclaimed Chiva-Som destination spa came to New York City to treat a group of journalists to a healthy lunch concocted by their incomparable executive chef, Paisarn Cheewinsiriwat. When he announced that we would be having Banana Blossom Salad to start, I got nervous. Bananas rank as one of my least favorite fruits (back to my texture and seed problems), and I was not looking forward to a salad made with them. Turns out, I had nothing to worry about. Banana blossoms are delicious, and the salad was divine. I loved it so much, I wanted to share the recipe here. In New York City, most of these ingredients can be picked up in Chinatown or at Whole Foods. Outside the Big Apple, head to your local Asian specialty food store.

Banana Blossom Salad
2 ½ TBSP Lime Juice
2 TBSP Soy Sauce
1 ½ TBSP Honey
1 TBSP Roasted Chili Paste
2 Bird’s Eye Chilies, Finely Chopped
4 ½ oz Banana Blossom, Peeled
4 ½ oz. Chicken Breast, boiled for 10 minutes and shredded
3 TBSP ground roasted almond, coarsely chopped
2 TBSP Sliced Shallots
2 TBSP Chopped Spring Onions
1 TBSP Finely Diagonally Sliced Lemongrass
4 TBSP Roasted Coconut Flakes, To Garnish

To prepare the dressing, whisk lime juice, soy sauce, honey, chili paste, and chilis in a large bowl. Set aside. To prepare salad, gently toss all remaining ingredients with all of the dressing in a mixing bowl until evenly mixed. Sprinkle over coconut flakes and server.

This is just one of the wonderful recipes in the spa’s latest cookbook, Chiva-Som’s Thai Spa Cuisine. I received a copy at lunch, and I can’t wait to test out more healthy dishes to see if I can overcome some of my other food quirks. To order your own copy, click here.

PROBAR Offers (Tasty!) Food For Thought

Although I took classes at The Culinary Institute of America a few years ago, I am still not much of a cook. And especially busy weekdays when I am most pressed for time, I hate to admit it, but it is just easier to grab food on the go. Not only is this more expensive than when I prepare my own lunches and dinners at home but it is also more difficult to eat healthy and keep track of what I am putting into my body. So when I heard about PROBAR, an all-natural 100 percent vegan meal replacement bar containing 15 whole foods, I just had to try it. I opted for the Old School PB & J flavor, and I was instantly smitten. Not only was the bar delicious and nutritious (a great source of Omega-3 and high in fiber) but it was so convenient to eat at my desk, in a cab, on my way to a meeting, etc. I finally felt like I was getting a complete, healthy meal without having to sacrifice the time to actually make it myself. And because of all of its benefits, it is also a great snack option for spa-goers. The Spa at Beverly Wilshire and The Spa at Encantado (Santa Fe) are already stocking up on them, as am I. To find out more, click here.

P.S. Also be sure to check out PROBAR’s newly introduced Fruition, a fruit-based bar packed with antioxidants for a healthy snack between meals.

Battle the Bulge While Traveling…
A Nutritionist Shares Her Tricks

Although I love to travel, I don’t always love the unhealthy eating options that I find when on the road. If you have plans to attend any of the upcoming spa shows or just planning a little getaway, you may be wondering how you’re going to maintain your good eating habits, particularly when frequent airport delays and a lack of onboard choices conspire to drive you to choose junk food over more sustaining fare. Christy Maskeroni, nutritionist at CLAY (New York City), shares these tips for keeping your eating in check while in transit:

  • Pack easy-to-go meals and snacks, such as raw nuts and dried fruit, sliced vegetables, and whole-grain cereal.
  • Opt for healthy items found at most terminals and stations, such as a turkey and chicken sandwich, nonfat or lowfat yogurt and fruit, salad, and pretzels.
  • Look at all your options and get some exercise in the meantime. Chances are, there is a perfectly healthy option if you take the time to look.
  • If you are on a flight where meals are going to be served, call the airline ahead of time. Most offer meals that are lowfat, gluten-free, low sodium, and vegetarian. You can also opt out of the meal altogether and pack your own.
  • Stay mindful. Although eating unhealthy foods while traveling may be easy, it won’t make traveling fun.
  • Stay hydrated. Dehydration can lead to headaches, muscle cramps, and fatigue. Choose water and herbal teas over alcohol or sugary sodas.
  • When eating at restaurants, choose meats that are steamed, broiled, baked, grilled, poached, or roasted. Ask for vegetables that are steamed rather than sautéed or fried. And always ask for dressing on the side.

Healthy Snacks Can Make a Day at the Spa Sweeter

yogurtMove over nuts and dried fruit—sweets at the spa are here to stay. Not only is the smell of baked…well, anything über comforting but these indulgent offerings can also make your spa stand out from its neighbors. Much like Bliss’ signature brownie bar or Eau Spa by Cornelia’s tiny cupcakes, your spa can spoil guests with sweet treats. No worries, New Year’s resolutions can still be respected—try substituting high-fat fixings, such as shortening, butter, and sour cream, by baking with Greek yogurt.

Admittedly, I can’t get enough of Greek yogurt. (It seems I’m not alone—FAGE Greek Yogurt has their own fan page on Facebook with more than 37,780 followers!) I just feel like you can get so much more flavor for your caloric buck than with other kinds of yogurt. Plus, nutritionally, it just makes sense—seven ounces of FAGE Total 2% has 130 calories and 17 grams of protein! Always looking for ways to cut calories in the kitchen, I was thrilled to come across this link on the FAGE website, which includes recipes for creamy dishes like Angelic Lemon Cheesecake, Apple & Cinnamon Muffins, and Tiramisu Yogurt Cup with Chocolate Cookies. You can also find recipes for savory dips, soups, and sauces.

If your clients are crazy about the new snacks at your spa, consider printing out little recipe cards—be sure to include your spa’s logo, of course—and give them away as parting gifts. After all, it’s the smallest touches that make the biggest difference.

Discovering the “Bee”uty of Honey

honeySeptember is National Honey Month and a great time to sweeten your beauty regimen. For the buzz on the sweet nectar, check out the recently released Cooking Well: Honey for Health & Beauty (Random House, 2009), which offers delicious recipes as well as tips on using the miracle product for medicinal and dermatological purposes. Whether you’re interested in cooking up low-fat honey crepes or mixing up a golden honey body polish for smooth skin, the book explores the natural benefits of the superfood, which provides the body with antioxidants, minerals, vitamins, amino acids, enzymes, carbohydrates, and phytonutrients.

For more on spa-ing with honey, check out the October issue of American Spa magazine.

A Taste of Sedona

bookMy first foray into destination spas was several years ago during a visit to Mii amo (Sedona, AZ) and I must say that the bar was set pretty high for any other spa I visited thereafter. Everything from the spa’s setting in the middle of the peaceful red rock canyon to the luxe casitas to the quality of the therapists and treatments impressed me. What I really could not get over was how amazing the food was—enough to satisfy even the most refined palette. Nutritional information was subtly mentioned on the menu and made a moment of Chocolate Chip Cheesecake (for 177 calories, no less) on the lips taste even better knowing that it wouldn’t stay on my hips. Needless to say, when “A Journey of Taste: Favorite Recipes from Mii amo Spa in Sedona” (Chronicle Books, 2008) came across my desk, I was thrilled. The 145-page book has more than 50 healthy and delicious recipes, and the photographs of the food make everything look absolutely delectable—the Cherry Apple Strudel on page 123 taunts me! Click here to order your very own copy.

Bon appetit!

What’s Cooking at Chiva-Som?

Executive chef Paisarn Cheewinsiriwat demonstrates one of Chiva-Som's healthy dishes.

Executive chef Paisarn Cheewinsiriwat demonstrates one of Chiva-Som's healthy dishes.

Two years ago I was fortunate enough to visit Chiva-Som, a renowned destination spa in Hua Hin, Thailand. To say my experience there was life changing is somewhat of an understatement, but then again, that’s really the purpose behind a destination spa. Although I’ve never been overweight (probably on account of the fact that I’ve been blessed with a decent metabolism and am something of a fitness fanatic), I do have a major sweet tooth. Just ask anyone who knows me about my passionate love of ice cream. Before Chiva-Som, I had developed an unhealthy addiction to Ben & Jerry’s Chocolate Fudge Brownie Low-Fat Frozen Yogurt. In fact, I was consuming up to five pints a week. Because a girl can only work out so many hours in a day and metabolisms do eventually slow down, I knew I had to kick the habit. It was at Chiva-Som that I totally changed the way I eat, cutting out sugary snacks (which in my case meant chocolate) and replacing them with fresh fruits, reducing my carb intake, and becoming a stickler for portion control. Imagine my surprise when, upon my return, the scale began registering numbers I’d never before imagined possible. When people ask how I did it, I credit Chiva-Som with kick starting my transformation. And now, guests who sign up for the spa’s culinary packages can learn to master their diet as well with a new hands-on cooking class in which they’re taught proper cooking techniques and the fundamentals of gardening. This year also introduced a Private Lunch and Learn, a one-on-one session that gives guests dining at the Chef’s Table a chance to create a personalized three-course menu that is prepared before them by the chef, and a Private Beach Barbeque, which treats guests to a selection of their favorite ingredients prepared to their liking. Thanks to my Chiva-Som visit, I’m a size or two smaller despite working out less than ever, and I have yet to indulge in my pint-a-night addiction.

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