• Get Your Probiotics In Ways That Are Actually Fun To Eat

    Howdy, friends. Can I just tell you that probiotics can literally be life-changing, and not just in the digestive sense? They’ve been proven to aid with depression and anxiety, autism, eczema, and a whole list of other ailments (just do a quick google search). Why, you may ask, are they so beneficial to ones health? Because probiotics are living microorganisms that promote a healthy digestive system and intestinal tract.  A lot of disease comes from the gut, the home of the immune system, so if yours is healthy and full of the right types of bacteria, chances are the rest of you will be healthier as well.

    Probiotics boost the immune system, improve digestive function, and also fight food-born illnesses. And I will tell you from personal experience that taking a kick-ass probiotic everyday for the past few months has really helped me deal with my own mental health issues. I read about the life-changing benefits of probiotics in a book called “A Mind of Your Own” by Dr. Kelly Brogan and she is a true advocate of the life-changing benefits of probiotics. I even started giving my dog probiotics for dogs and they eliminated his seemingly constant ear infections. True story!

    So, lets do a dive into my favorite natural sources of probiotics because well, not every human on the earth can or enjoys swallowing pills. I’m also making unique suggestions on how to eat these foods in a way that isn’t traditional so that this list is actually unique from others you can find on the interwebz. When the food is this tasty anyway, why not stuff yourself full of it, getting all the fab benefits from the good little bugs crawling around your body’s interior eco-system?

    YOGURT

    Duh, everyone knows about this one, but have you tried making YOGURT POPSICLES and enjoying them on a hot summers day? Many scientists believe that the good bugs DO indeed survive the freezing environment because anything hardy enough to withstand the acids in our stomach can surely take on zero degrees F. Here’s a vid to some frozen pops I made and enjoyed last summer (no need to use any kind of sweetener though, really).

    KIMCHI

    Kimchi is so good, you guys. It’s even available pre-made now at most grocery stores, so go pick up this Korean condiment like right now. It’s a fermented vegetable dish made from cabbages and seasoned with garlic, salt, chili peppers, and vinegar. It’s the fermentation process that makes Kimchi probiotic. 

    My favorite unique way of using kimchi is in turkey or beef meatballs. Just chop up your kimchi and add to the raw meat along with other ingredients before cooking. You can even add some more kimchi on top of the dish when you serve it! The flavor is spicy and outstanding!

    GINGER BEER

    Ginger beer doesn’t have a high alcohol content, but the fermented drink is certainly high in probiotics. It’s fizzy and delicious and a fabulous mixer when added to cocktails. If you want to really surprise your guests with a fun but sophisticated cocktail, freeze up your ginger beer into ice cubes and use those rather than traditional ice cubes to cool off your drink. Pro tip: put the actual cocktail mixture itself into the fridge for a bit so the ice cubes hold their shape longer than just a few minutes!

    SAUERKRAUT

    I hated sauerkraut when I was a kid but the moment I hit the French Culinary Institute I was asked to make it one day, and turns out, I love it now! It’s made from shredded cabbage that’s been fermented and it has the tangiest taste and crunchiest consistency. I absolutely love it. Rather than put it on a rueben sandwich, I suggest serving it simply as a side salad or as a condiment for lobster rolls or fish burgers (like a piece of seared halibut). Yummo!


    Tell me – what are your favorite probiotic foods and ways to eat them? Let me know in the comments below! I’m always looking for new ideas 🙂

    Images from CookieandKate.com and TheKitchn.com

  • Surprise Your Cinco de Mayo Guests with an Activated Charcoal Margarita

    Activated charcoal cocktails have TAKEN OVER NEW YORK CITY, pals. That’s right – fragrant, sticky, sweet, black goodness is being poured from shakers into frosted glasses in hip bars all around Brooklyn at this very moment. They’re not only breathtakingly beautiful, dark, and mysterious – just like Gotham; these cocktails also help busy city dwellers really feel like they’re drinking something uniquely next level.

    When it comes to tequila – and I’m a tequila girl, I wanted to enjoy a tequila that is authentic to what is enjoyed in Mexico – Tequila Don Julio 70 Añejo Claro. It’s an añejo that’s charcoal filtered, so I though it would be really unique to pair activated charcoal with the star itself to create a beautiful, delicious, and original cocktail to surprise and delight your friends on Cinco de Mayo. We all wear black in NYC – why not have a black margarita as well?

    I do host friends quite often, so surprising them with something new and delightful is always high on my list. I had a couple nice bottles of Don Julio 70 Añejo Claro sent over for my party (I’m a tequila girl almost exclusively) and I love this variety because it has the flavor of smoothness of an añejo with the clear color and crisp agave flavor of a blanco. PERFECT for gorgeous drinks with friends under my blossoming tree, cafe lights hanging in the balance.

    To create such a fun drink I needed a few attempts in the kitchen. I found that the perfect balance of sweetness, heat, and tart flavors combined to create a margarita that felt super refreshing and was incredibly drinkable. To do so you’ll need some agave syrup, fresh lime and lemon juice, a jalapeño, and cilantro leaves. I muddled the leaves together with the fresh juices and jalapeño and let sit for a few hours before combining with the agave and Don Julio 70 and activated charcoal.

    Along with your gorgeous margaritas, may I suggest adding some flair to your decor with cilantro, yellow flowers, and lots of leaves and other greenery. My table of green and yellow certainly celebrates the springtime spirit. My recipe for an Activated Charcoal Margarita is below! Enjoy your Cinco de Mayo, amigos!

    Activated Charcoal Margaritas

    • Prep Time: 20m
    • Total Time: 25m
    • Serves: 1
    • Yield: 1 Margarita

    Ingredients

    • 1 1/2 fluid ounces Don Julio 70 Añejo Claro Tequila
    • 1 fluid ounce fresh lime juice
    • 1 fluid ounce fresh lemon juice
    • 1 tablespoon fresh cilantro leaves
    • 1 teaspoon fresh jalapeño, diced
    • 1 teaspoon agave
    • 1/4 teaspoon activated charcoal
    • 1 lime wedge for garnish

    Instructions

    1. Muddle together fresh lime juice, lemon juice, cilantro leaves, and jalapeño. Let sit for about 20 minutes to allow the flavors to come together.
    2. Combine the fresh juices, cilantro and jalapeño with Don Julio 70 Tequila, activated charcoal and agave into a shaker filled with ice. Shake for at least 30 seconds.
    3. Pour into a beautiful glass of your choosing and garnish with a lime wedge.

     

  • 500 Calorie Meal: Chicken Tacos with Cauliflower Tortillas

    Chef Lo here.

    I am obsessed with turning cauliflower into all different kinds of things – pizza crust, pita, chips, tortillas. You name it and it can be done. It’s a great sub for all things corn or flour based because when dried out and baked it really holds its shape. A head of cauliflower clocks in around 140 calories and as a veggie, it’s just plain good for you.

    Cauliflower tortillas take some tender love and care to make but once finished, the final product is so worth it. They are absolutely DELICIOUS. If it wasn’t so lazy I’d make them all the time and eat them exclusively for tacos, but alas, that doesn’t always happen. Today though, IT’S ON.

    For this 500 calorie meal challenge I had a lot of fun putting together a really satisfying meal that’s exceptionally delicious. I chose chicken legs over the breast for the depth of flavor and moisture, and added some unique toppings like pickled radishes, chimmichurri sauce (I didn’t make this at home – it’s left-over from a restaurant meal), and roasted mini bell peppers. All together these tacos are a flavor explosion in your mouth. Better yet, they are super low cal and quite nutritious – full of protein, good carbs, and good fat. Each taco is about 160 calories so you can eat until your tummy’s content. 3 tacos comes in at 492 calories – quite a meal!

    I hope you enjoyed my Instastory of creating the cauliflower tortillas 🙂 And I hope you make and enjoy these tasty taco treats! It is Tuesday after all!

    Raw Cauliflower Tortillas

     

    Chicken Tacos with Cauliflower Tortillas

    Each cauliflower tortilla in this recipe is about 50 calories. A meal of 3 tacos with a single chicken drumstick and thigh between those tacos, along with toppings of pickled radishes, roasted mini bell peppers, and chimmicurri sauce comes out to about 490 calories! Yum!

    • Prep Time: 20m
    • Cook Time: 1h
    • Total Time: 1h 20m

    Ingredients

    • 2 chicken legs, skin not eaten (308 calories, 154 calories per serving - drumstick and thigh
    • 2 tablespoons olive oil (80 calories, 40 per serving of chicken)
    • 2 eggs (144 calories, 72 calories per egg)
    • 1 head organic cauliflower (147 calories)
    • 8 pickled radishes (3 calories/radish)
    • 1 cup roasted mini bell peppers (80 calories)
    • 2 tablespoons chimmichurri sauce (136 calories)
    • 1 teaspoon salt (0 calories)
    • 1 teaspoon paprika (6 calories)

    Total Calorie Count: 164 Calories/Taco, 3 Tacos = 492 Calories

      Instructions

      1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees and once hot, 1 cup of mini bell peppers to a baking sheet and roast until browned and cooked through.
      2. Also add the two chicken legs, covered in olive oil, salt and pepper (skin on - you can take it off later). Cook through for about 35 to 40 minutes until no longer pink inside.
      3. While baking, prepare the cauliflower! Remove all the florets from the head and add to a microwave safe bowl. Add a few tablespoons of water to the bowl, cover and cook for 5-7 minutes until the cauliflower is soft.
      4. Once the cauliflower is soft, drain and add to a food processor. Pulse the cauliflower until it's in pieces about the size of small grains of rice.
      5. Using a clean kitchen towel, pour the cauliflower rice out and allow to cool for a few minutes. Then squeeze out as much water as you possible can by twisting the towel around the cauliflower. Do this at least 10 times - you want the cauliflower to be as dry as possible.
      6. In a separate bowl, mix together 2 eggs, paprika, salt, and pepper. Add the dried cauliflower rice and mix together. The consistency should not be too watery. Spoon out the mixture into 6 balls and flatten and shape with a spoon into a tortilla.
      7. Bake at 375 for about 8 to 10 minutes, then flip once they begin to brown and finish cooking for another 5.
      8. Put the tacos together by taking the skin off the chicken and shredding it with a fork, adding the chicken to each cauliflower tortilla. Add toppings - chimmichurri sauce, roasted bell peppers, and pickled radishes. Enjoy!

    • You Have to Taste Golden Turmeric Milk

      Hello, and Happy Friday. Fridays are officially holidays in my book now. The weekend is when my mind can really roam free and I feel the most comfortable, just like every other human on the planet. I’m currently sipping on a cup of overwhelmingly delicious “golden milk” aka milk with turmeric and spices in it. Like, damn, it’s good.

      Since speaking out about the mental health thingies I’ve been going through over the past months, I’ve been getting a lot of recommendations from friends on things to try out from different foods to meditation techniques. I already discovered the incredible healing properties of turmeric and if you don’t know how spectacular this bright yellow spice is, allow me to share what I’ve learned.

      Turmeric is a mainstay in Indian culture and diet, and is arguably the most powerful herb on the planet that can help to fight and reverse disease. Why? It’s an incredibly powerful antioxidant and just as good as acting as an anti-inflammatory agent in the body. Any kind of disease has its roots in inflammation – from depression in the brain to arthritis in your hands to celiac in the stomach. Disease = inflammation. Its most renowned healing compound is curcumin, and is also its main active ingredient. 

      One of the issues with turmeric is that curcumin is found in small quantities, so you have to eat it a lot (like in an Indian diet) or take a supplement that features curcumin for it to be really beneficial. I personally take a turmeric supplement called CircuminRich, but there are a lot of them available out there. Multiple doctors have told me that adding turmeric to any supplement regime is one of the most important things I can do for long-term health and wellness.

      So lets get back to this golden turmeric milk. I picked up a jar of a product called, literally, “Golden Milk” by Gaia Herbs, a blend a turmeric, dates, cardamom seed, ashwagandha root, vanilla bean, and black pepper (you need black pepper for turmeric to be absorbed properly in the body). A serving (1 teaspoon) is only 15 calories. As a turmeric lover, I was obviously interested in a product like this, especially because I don’t drink anything caffeinated but do enjoy a tasty, warm beverage.

      To make golden milk you simply combine the turmeric powder with a bit of melted ghee or coconut oil in a pan, add some milk, heat til almost boiling and bam, it’s ready! It tastes a lot like a chai latte to be honest with you, and this particular company recommends adding a bit of honey to the drink as well. 

      Golden Turmeric Milk

      • Cook Time: 5m
      • Total Time: 5m
      • Serves: 1
      • Yield: 1 Cup Golden Milk
      • Category:

      Ingredients

      • 1 teaspoon ghee, melted
      • 1 teaspoon golden milk powdered turmeric supplement
      • 1 cup milk (dairy, almond, etc)

      Instructions

      1. In a saucepan, melt ghee and add turmeric supplement. Cook briefly until you can smell the turmeric.
      2. Add milk and whisk until almost boiling.
      3. Pour into a mug and enjoy with a touch of honey.

      I’m intoxicated by the healing properties of turmeric, the taste, and the color. I don’t think I’m getting a huge supplemental benefit by drinking golden milk, but because it’s so tasty, I’ll be adding it to my list of “comfort foods” to help ease aches, pains, and daily stresses.

      Have you tried golden milk? If so, let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

    • 500 Calorie Meal: Thai Noodles with Turkey Meatballs and Coconut Sauce

      Chef Lo at your service on this beautiful Monday in New York City. As promised, we have another 500 Calorie Meal for you and this one is REALLY GOOD. Like, REALLY, REALLY GOOD. Super rich in flavor because of the coconut milk sauce, super filling and satisfying because of the vermicelli noodles, and also nutritionally balanced.

      I made this recipe up off the cuff and I’m super thrilled with how it turned out. I often open up my cupboard and fridge and throw together whatever it is I have lying around the house. The only other ingredient I would have added to this dish would be pickled red onion – but alas, no red onions at Casa Lo today.

      Let’s break down this recipe into 4 elements so you can prep efficiently: the turkey meatballs, the noodles, the coconut sauce, and the cucumber slices. The stars of this recipe are ground ginger and fish sauce – so make sure you have those on hand before you begin. The flavors of this really come together when pairing ingredients like coconut milk, ginger, coconut aminos (a soy sauce replacement) into something distinctly Thai in smell and flavor. It’s fresh and satisfying all at once. I enjoyed my bowl of noodles in my backyard in the sun (it’s finally spring in NYC).

      This week I’m giving you the recipe and calories for 4 servings, and then will break down the 500 calorie meal into a single serving after that. Let’s get to it!

      Thai Noodles with Turkey Meatballs and Coconut Sauce

      • Prep Time: 20m
      • Cook Time: 25m
      • Total Time: 45m

      Ingredients

      • 1 pound ground turkey (600 calories, 150 calories per 4 ounce serving)
      • 1 tablespoon sesame oil (130 calories)
      • 1 tablespoon fish sauce (10 calories)
      • 1/4 teaspoon ground or fresh ginger (2 calories)
      • 1 teaspoon onion powder (8 calories)
      • 1 teaspoon garlic powder (10 calories)
      • 1 tablespoon whole greek yogurt (15 calories)
      • 1 raw egg (71 calories)
      • 1 teaspoon salt (0 calories)
      • 1 teaspoon black pepper (6 calories)
      • 1 can organic coconut milk (600 calories)
      • 1 tablespoon raw honey (64 calories)
      • 1 teaspoon ground ginger (6 calories)
      • tablespoon fish sauce (20 calories)
      • 1 teaspoon coconut aminos (or soy sauce) (10 calories)
      • 1/2 lemon, juiced (5 calories)
      • 1 organic cucumber, sliced (14 calories)
      • 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar (6 calories)
      • 4 bunches vermicelli noodles (680 calories, 170 calories per bunch)

      Total Calorie Count: 2,257 (1 SERVING = 494 CALORIES)

        Instructions

        1. 1. In a mixing bowl combine ground turkey with sesame oil, fish sauce, ginger, onion and garlic powder, yogurt, 1 egg, salt and pepper. Mix with hands to combine (it will be pretty sticky).
        2. 2. In a large pan melt 2 tablespoons ghee or coconut oil and cook meatballs until brown on all sides and white in the middle (because it's turkey you must cook them through completely).
        3. 3. In a separate bowl, combine sliced cucumbers (I like to use a mandolin for this) with rice wine vinegar and a pinch of salt.
        4. 4. In a sauce pan combine 1 can of coconut milk with honey, ginger, fish sauce, coconut aminos, the juice of half a lemon and stir with a whisk. Allow to boil for a minimum of 10 minutes to thicken a bit.
        5. 5. In a separate pan, boil water. Once boiled, add the vermicelli noodles and remove from heat. Once submerged for 2 minutes, transfer to a colander and run under cold water.
        6. 6. Time to put it all together! In a small bowl, add each serving of vermicelli noodles. Add many slices of cucumber, 4 to 5 meatballs, and a small ladle-full of coconut sauce (to keep the dish around 500 calories only use about this much coconut sauce - each dish doesn't need 1/4 cup of sauce).

         

      • The Items You Need To Kick-Start a Diet

        Like most people, I aim to eat healthy, cook nutritious food, and make good food choices in general. There is a total food revolution happening, a lot of new research emerging about what’s good and bad for you, and so many good food options available at most grocery stores these days that it’s not as difficult to get on the right path.

        Since I went to culinary school and really learned how to cook, I’ve also been able to assess the types of food I’ve been eating and figure out how to make healthy dishes that still taste remarkably delicious and satisfying. It’s pretty easy to reduce salt and fat when you learn to replace those things with fresh herbs, lots of spices, and thoughtful cooking techniques. Don’t get me wrong – I still love a good piece of fried chicken cooked up in old fashioned Crisco, but imagine enjoying a piece of chicken that’s air-fried in bison tallow instead? Yes, bison tallow is a real thing – I get it from Thrive Market! And air-fryers are dope, man.

        With that being said, I’d like to share with you the discoveries I’ve made in the kitchen regarding specific foods and tools that have made eating healthy that make easier and more delicious. Onward ho!


        GHEE

        Oh, the joys of ghee. Really just clarified butter, ghee is what’s left after you remove the milk solids from liquified butter. I know you’re probably giving me the side eye right now because BUTTER, but hear me out. Ghee is a great source of Vitamins A, E, and K – very important when it comes to getting your nutrients in (I should know). It’s also heart-healthy, believe it or not, because it can lower your cholesterol.  Finally, ghee is full of antioxidants, and those antioxidants reduce inflammation in the body, making you healthier inside and out. Final benefit – it’s VERY tasty. Final, final benefit – it’s really easy to cook with. It comes soft in a glass or plastic jar and melts really easily into your pan. You can also make it yourself. Melt a stick of butter on very low heat and scoop off all the milk fat that comes to the top. Reserve the clarified butter in a glass, air-proof container and bam – homemade ghee.

         

        MANDOLIN

        A mandolin is one of my favorite kitchen tools. It makes taking down veggies an absolute fucking BREEZE so that you can do a big food prep when you get your groceries home, allowing yourself to simply go into the fridge for pre-sliced cucumbers or what have you whenever you want. I find that the prep is a huge obstacle for most people when it comes to eating healthy. If it’s already ready, you’ll eat it. If it’s not, it’s a mind over matter type of situation. Hello, pizza delivery.  Good for all kinds of veggies, it easily allows you to cut them down with the simple swipe of the wrist in about 15 second flat.

         

        THESE PLASTIC CONTAINERS

        I got turned on to this specific type of plastic container in culinary school and have been hooked every since. I love them. You can write on them, they’re easy to wash, and loads cheaper than Ziploc and other brands. Plus, because they’re tall you can really pack food into them without taking up too much space in your fridge.

         

        VITAMIX

        I’ve spoken about my absolute LOVE for the Vitamix, and while it’s definitely an investment piece, it’s the best utility tool I have in my kitchen. It’s not just for smoothies, no, no, no. You can put a piece of beef in there and end up with tar tar! Throw in beans and hummus comes out. Put in warm pieces of butternut squash and chicken stock and you’ll get butternut squash soup. Seriously, it’s amazing. I find that I use it for so, so, so many things beyond just a morning smoothie. Getting creative with food is the best way to keep things interesting when you’re trying to eat healthy. For me, that means taking food in it’s original form and literally turning it into something else. I’d marry my Vitamix if I could.

         

        AN OPEN MIND

        Probably the most important thing I bring with me into the kitchen is an open mind. Being willing to experiment, get my hands dirty, mess something up and start over again – all really important when creating healthy and balanced dishes. Never tried an ingredient before? Do it! Never shopped at an online health food store? Why not? I love Thrive Market – take a look around. Even more mainstream groceries stores are stocking their aisles with healthy options that before were really only available at your neighborhood co-op market. Trust that the choices you make will turn out delicious. 

        Good luck!

        X,

        chef lo

        Images via Earthbound Farm, Daily Health Post, Serious Eats, Williams Sonoma

         

         

         

      • The 500 Calorie Meal Plan Quinoa Bowl with Poached Eggs and Veggies

        So, I know a lot of us are on this whole 1200 calorie a day thing so we can be skinny minnies by summertime, but I just can’t with that. I definitely fall closer to 2000 calories a day, and because of that I like to divide up my 3 meals a day into 500 calorie ones, then allow myself 500 more calories in snacks and in-between meals.

        Eating in this way – very measured but with pleasure – allows me to manage my weight as I get older and still get the fuel I need from food to exercise. Also, I’m a professional chef and LOVE food, so getting creative with these 500 calorie meals is a fun way to stay active in the kitchen. I like to focus on an animal protein, vegetables, and some kind of grain or carbohydrate to fill my plate. Half of it are vegetables, 1/4 animal protein, and 1/4 carb of some kind. I know you might freak out about carbs but they are the bodies preferred energy source – if you don’t eat them, your body starts to break down other important elements and you simply don’t function as well. 

        That’s not to say that the carbs I’m eating are like, white bread and pasta…no, no, no. I eat brown rice, quinoa, a little barley here and there – things like this. Most are gluten-free options, but not intentionally. I don’t have any kind of gluten intolerance, I just know that brown rice is far more complex carbohydrate than say, a goldfish cracker. I’m simply choosing my energy sources properly.

        It’s pretty easy to count your calories and plan your meals this way. You can go the traditional route and read the labels on your ingredients and come up with the right ratio of veggies, to protein, to carb, or you can use any number of websites or apps to help you figure out the numbers. I’ll also be posting great meal ideas once a week moving forward that are right around 500 calories, so TheLoDown can be a great weekly source for inspiration. I’ll be breaking own the calories for each ingredient and letting you know what portion sizes are appropriate. I like to determine the calories for the carb and protein first and veggies have so few, and it’s a good model for you as well.

        With that being said, lets jump in to today’s 500 calorie recipe (it’s a breakfast meal): a Quinoa Bowl with Poached Eggs and Vegetables!

        Quinoa Bowl with Poached Eggs and Vegetables

        • Prep Time: 5m
        • Cook Time: 20m
        • Total Time: 25m

        Ingredients

        • large eggs, poached (78 calories each) = 156 calories
        • 1 cup cooked quinoa = 222 calories
        • 1 cup cooked asparagus = 88 calories
        • 1 tablespoon sharp cheddar cheese = 29 calories
        • 1 cup arugula, raw = 5 calories
        • 1 teaspoon Sriracha = 4 calories

        Total Calorie Count: 504

          Instructions

          1. 1. In a medium saucepan, boil water, add quinoa, and cook on low for 15 minutes with lid on until cooked through.
          2. 2. In another pan, bring water to poaching temperature (the bottom of the pan should just be bubbling). When the quinoa is almost cooked, poach 2 eggs by gently dropping them into water. Stir the water gently to get the eggs moving and remove after about 90 seconds (if you like them soft poached). When removing, you can allow them to sit on a paper towel to soak up any excess water.
          3. 3. While the quinoa is cooking, sauté asparagus in olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
          4. 4. When all cooked ingredients are ready to go, assemble your bowl. Combine quinoa with asparagus, add arugula, sharp cheddar cheese, Sriracha, and the poached eggs. Break the eggs open, letting the yolks run over everything. Enjoy this delicious and nutritious 500 calorie meal!

          Image via Yes, More Please.

        • I Finally Made It to the Butler Bake Shop! Nomz

          Hi, LoDown fam!

          I made it down to Brooklyn again and stopped by the Butler Bake Shop on 95 South 5th Street, a bakery I’ve been meaning to check out. Upon walking in, I immediately fell in love with the place. The natural light, gleaming through the huge windows, was so beautiful and Insta-worthy.

          If you’re looking for a casual place to hang, I highly recommend this spot. The food and ambiance was everything I could ask for.

          I’ve never been a huge fan of empanadas, but because this was such a highly-recommended dish, I thought I’d give it a try. Infused with eggs, smoked bacon, arugula, and cheddar cheese, the pastry gave my taste buds quite a joy ride! The dipping sauce that came with it was also a nice touch. I’d actually go back to Butler just to get this empanada over and over again.

          Please please please try the Breakfast Empanada if you ever make your way here!

          I also ordered the Herb & Chili Scone (pictured left) and the Sausage Roll (pictured right) to share with my friends. The Herb & Chili Scone is made with chili, thyme and chives, and is garnished with sea salt with whipped butter on the side. I’ve never had a savory scone, but this one was right up my alley. If you’re wondering, the whipped butter and sea salt complimented the scone quite nicely!

          The Sausage Roll made from ground pork and onions was topped with pickled cabbage. I’m a sausage lover, so the Sausage Roll did not disappoint! As you can see, my tongue tends to lean more towards the savory side of things. But, for those of you with a sweet tooth, Butler also has a variety of sweeter pastries!

          Hands down one of my favorite #coffeecorners. If you’re in the area, do me a favor and hit up this place—you’ll thank me later! Butler Bake Shop is the spot for catching up with a girlfriend, reading up on your current novel, or silent people watching. Oh, and if I haven’t insisted enough, don’t forget to order the Breakfast Empanada!

          Thanks for enjoying this foodie moment with me! ‘Til next time.

          xx,
          Courtney Xu
          Image result for instagram icon@courtneyxu

        • My Top 6 NYC Brunch Spots Yum

          What do the the words “hungry” and “weekend” have in common? Brunch, of course!

          It’s no secret that Saturday and Sunday afternoons in the city are best spent enjoying all the culinary wonders New York has to offer. If you didn’t already know, there are many different types of experiences a brunch enthusiast can opt for: intimate, bottomless, or even an “all out” extravagant champagne party. Not only is the mid-day, mid-afternoon meal a perfect hangover cure, but it’s also a great excuse to set some time aside for gossip and witty banter with your girlfriends. Come on, ladies, it’s time to grab your party hats and become a real New Yorker.

          Let’s raise our Mimosas and Bloody Marys for a toast to my six favorite brunch places!

          Read More

        • How to Make Carrot “Fettuccine”

          Happy Monday, Beautiful!

          As much as I love the oh-so-popular vegetable “pasta” trend, it does come across a little “bit there, done that”—a.k.a. dated. Instead of using zucchinis, everyone’s go-to choice, I decided to experiment, this past weekend, with rainbow carrots.

          Forget the spiralizer, I went old school with a peeler.

          Read More

        • It’s Always Tea Time with Kusmi Tea

          Pinky up, Princess!

          A self-proclaimed coffee addict, I also enjoying drinking tea. Despite the many visit-worthy coffee shops that proliferate New York City (*cough* foam art *cough*), I think it’s calming—if not relaxing—to sip tea from a mug at home.

          Tea has a wide range of health benefits. When consumed, it works to fight free radicals in your body. Depending on the tea, it can also help you lose weight and reduce the chances of both heart attacks and strokes.

          A fan of Kusmi Tea (I discovered the brand a while back at Bloomingdale’s – you can also purchase on Kusmi Tea’s website) I’ve gifted plenty of their tea sets to family and friends who enjoy their packaging as much as I do!

          Kusmi Tea has a variety of tea blends, including Russian, herbal, traditional, and citrus. The tea comes in both loose leaf (perfect for at home brewing) and individual bags (ideal for on the go)! My favorite flavors are Jasmine Green Tea and Genmaicha!

          They also have these ultra-delicious shortbread cookies!

          Do you drink tea? If so, what brands and what blends?

        • Why Eating Breakfast Should Be YOUR “Thing”!

          Happy Monday, Everyone!

          There’s nothing quite like the start of the week to ponder life’s greatest mysteries.

          Should you or shouldn’t you eat breakfast? Now, THAT’S a question!

          Instead of writing a million reasons why I think you should be chomping away on that first meal, I’ve asked eight other people, people like me and you, to tell me why they think breaking fast is important. Oh, and what they like to eat when breaking said fast of course!

          205984_173864359352490_120477091357884_423259_6042414_n

          A MOTHER:

          “It’s all about the metabolism boost. When we sleep, our metabolism slows down. The only way to jumpstart it [again] is with healthy breakfast. [Eating breakfast] will help you burn calories from the beginning of the day.”

          Favorite breakfast: smoothie with chocolate coconut milk spinach.

          CREATOR OF SWEATSCALE:

          “It’s the most important and most delicious meal of the day. Helloooo!”

          Favorite breakfast: breakfast burrioto from Dimes in Chinatown with extra hot sauce.

          AN ADORABLE 2 YEAR OLD:

          “To get BIG!”

          Favorite breakfast: “I want breakfast with ranch on it!”

          A “TECHIE”

          “[Eating breakfast] is the official start of my day. Waking up, checking Instagram, showering may happen before, but breakfast is when productivity starts.”

          Favorite breakfast: plain greek yogurt with granola and fresh pineapple.

          A SISTER

          “I think you should eat a healthy breakfast because it sets the tone for your day. [Eating Breakfast] makes you feel less weak throughout the morning, and you also make better choices throughout the day.”

          Favorite breakfast: eggs, whole wheat toast, and coffee.

          A FELLOW FLYWHEEL INSTRUCTOR

          “I eat breakfast to fuel my body for an active day and to keep my metabolism regular.”

          Favorite breakfast: two eggs and an arepa—Columbian breakfast all the way!

          AN ACCOUNT EXECUTIVE IN DIGITAL SALES

          “I think you should eat breakfast to boost your metabolism for the day ahead and to fuel your body throughout the night.”

          Favorite breakfast: whole wheat avocado toast.

          A M.S. STUDENT OF NUTRITION AND CURRENT DIETETIC INTERN

          “At night, while you’re sleeping, you’re technically fasting. Your body uses up stored energy to start your day. Brain fuction relies on glucose (carbs), which is the first macronutrient used as energy fuel, so breakfast provides a new influx of macronutrients to propel your brain, vital functions, and physical activity throughout the day! If you don’t have that glucose on hand, your body has to use other sources like fats or proteins as fuel, and the conversion time of fats/proteins to energy is much slower than glucose so your body lags.”

          Favorite breakfast: Whole grains or high protein and low fat. Both are satisfying to get through to lunch. I prefer 1/2 cup (dry) oatmeal with a mashed banana, the banana adds volume and a fruit serving for the day. Yogurts or eggs are the best morning protein.

          ME

          “I believe that eating a healthy meal to start your morning will fuel your body for a strong, productive day. You are breaking-the-fast from dinner. I find that eating breakfast also helps me eat less calories throughout the day. The days I skip breakfast are the days my sweet tooth kicks in (low levels of blood sugar) and I crave unhealthy treats.

          Favorite breakfast: sweet potato with almond butter

           

          Everyone agrees that eating breakfast is important, and I hope this helps motivate you to start your day with the right fuel.

          Peace, Love & Eat Breakfast!

          Emily Burkhardt

        • Pumpkin “Yum-kin” Pie: A Thanksgiving Series

          Finishing it all off with some pie!

          A Thanksgiving meal is never complete without some pumpkin pie to top off the decadent food marathon!

          If you’re brave enough to channel your inner pastry chef, this challenge is perfect for you.

          To save time on Thanksgiving Day, this is another one of those recipes you can attempt in advance. Actually, you’ll want to attempt it in advance! Between pre-baking the pie crust and letting the actual pie cool, the process, while totally worth it, can take a while to make.

          pumpkinpieIf you do end up making some of the Bosworth family recipes, please share your creations with me and my family (I’m back in Laguna for the holiday!) using the hashtag #LoCooks . If you’ve enjoyed this series, please let me know if you’d like something similar for Christmas!

          x

          Lo

          1. A pre-baked pie crust

          2. 2 cups (15oz can; 450g) of pumpkin puree

          3. 3 large eggs

          4. 1 and 1/4 cups (250g) of packed dark brown sugar

          5. 1 Tablespoon (15g) of cornstarch

          6. 1/2 teaspoon of salt

          7. 1 and 1/2 teaspoons of ground cinnamon

          8. 1/2 teaspoon of ground ginger

          9. 1/4 teaspoon ground of freshly grated nutmeg

          10. 1/8 teaspoon of ground cloves

          11. 1/8 teaspoon of fresh ground pepper

          12. 1 cup (240ml) of heavy cream

          13. 1/4 cup (60ml) of milk—any is fine

          1. Preheat oven to 375F.

          2. Whisk the pumpkin, 3 eggs, and brown sugar together until combined. Add the cornstarch, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, pepper, cream, and milk. Vigorously whisk until everything is combined. Filling will be a little thick.

          3. Pour pumpkin pie filling into a warm pre-baked crust. If you did not use a deep dish pie pan, you will have too much filling. Only fill the crust about 3/4 of the way up. Bake the pie until the center is almost set, about 55-60 minutes give or take. A small part of the center will be wobbly – that’s ok. After 25 minutes of baking, be sure to cover the edges of the crust with aluminum foil or use a piecrust shield to prevent the edges from getting too brown. Check for doneness at minute 50, and then 55, and then 60, etc.

          4. Once done, transfer the pie to a wire rack and allow to cool completely for at least 3 hours.

          Time: 30 minutes to prepare, 1 hour to bake, and 3 hours to rest

          Level: Medium

          Serves: Depends on the size of your slice!

           

        • Brussels Sprout Salad: A Thanksgiving Series

          Get your greens on!

          To balance an otherwise heavy and hearty meal, I like to plate some greens.

          What better a recipe than one that includes brussels sprouts and pomegranate seeds?

          Roasted or sautéed “mini cabbages”—as I like to call them—are everywhere as of late. To put a unique spin on things, however, I’m roasting mine by the leaf. Doing so makes for a much crispier texture!

          Because this salad is super easy to make, I recommend saving it for last on the Thanksgiving meal to-do list.

          saladIf you do end up making some of the Bosworth family recipes, please share your creations with me and my family (I’m back in Laguna for the holiday!) using the hashtag #LoCooks . If you’ve enjoyed this series, please let me know if you’d like something similar for Christmas!

          x

          Lo

          1. 2 pounds brussels sprouts

          2. 2 tablespoons olive oil

          3. 1 cup pomegranate seeds

          4.¼ cup pine nuts

          5. 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

          6. 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

          7. 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

          8. ½ tablespoon tahini

          9. ½ tablespoon pure maple syrup

          10. ¼ teaspoon sea salt

          11. Black pepper, to taste

          1.Preheat oven to 350F.

          2. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

          3. One at a time, trim the brussel sprouts and separate the leaves. You will need to trim the base of the sprout a few times to get as many leaves as possible from each. Add the leaves to the baking pans and repeat with each sprout.

          4. Once all of the leaves have been added to the pans, drizzle each pan with 1 tablespoon olive oil and massage the oil into the leaves. Spread the leaves out evenly over each pan and bake for 15-20 minutes or until most of the leaves are crispy and just turning golden. Make sure to toss the leaves every few minutes as they bake to prevent burning. Remove from oven and let cool slightly.

          5. While the leaves are baking, make the vinaigrette by adding the lime juice, apple cider vinegar, olive oil, tahini, maple syrup, salt, and pepper to a small bowl. Whisk for 15-30 seconds until incorporated.

          6. To serve the salad, add the leaves to a serving bowl or tray along with the pomegranate seeds and pine nuts. Pour the dressing over, toss to coat, and serve immediately.

          Time: 30 minutes from start to finish

          Level: Easy

          Serves: 5 people

        • TheLoDown