Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Naked Balls

The Meatball Shop in New York is such a gem! (what did you think I was talking about??)  That might sound strange coming from a vegetarian but The Meatball Shop is not just for meat-eaters. They have the most amazing Veggie Balls too!

The menu is simple.  You order “naked balls” (choose from classic beef, spicy pork, chicken or veggie) and then you select a sauce (choose from classic tomato, spicy meat sauce, mushroom gravy, parm. cream or pesto). You can also order sandwiches but I recommend sticking with the “naked” balls. My favorite combo is the veggie balls + pesto…sooo good! If you go, make sure to save room for dessert. The homemade ice cream sandwich is definitely splurge-worthy!

 The only problem with The Meatball Shop is that you usually have to wait for at least an hour to get a table so I was more than thrilled when my sister, Bryn, found the recipe for their Veggie Balls online in a NYT write up.
I made them recently on a Sunday and I ate them throughout the week. I put them over a spinach salad, I ate them as a “meatball” sandwich with pesto and I also enjoyed them “naked” with a simple tomato sauce.These veggie balls actually stay together and are the closest thing I have found to the texture and consistency of a real meatball. The only thing I would do differently next time is to make sure I fully cook the lentils… they were a little undercooked this time and although the “crunchy” texture wasn’t bad, I bet they will taste even better next time!

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Enjoy the bites.
Veggie Balls
2 cups lentils
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
2 teaspoons salt
3 tablespoons tomato paste
8 ounces button mushrooms, wiped clean and sliced
3 large eggs
1/2 cup grated rennet-free Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/4 cup finely chopped walnuts

1. Combine the lentils and 2 quarts water in a medium stockpot and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low and simmer until the lentils are soft but not falling apart, about 25 minutes. Drain the lentils and allow to cool.

2. Add 1/4 cup of the olive oil to a large frying pan and sauté the onions, carrots, celery, garlic, thyme and salt over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, for about 10 minutes, until the vegetables are tender and just beginning to brown. Add the tomato paste and continue to cook, stirring constantly, for 3 minutes. Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring frequently, for 15 more minutes, or until all the liquid is absorbed. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl and allow to cool to room temperature. When cool, add the lentils to the vegetable mixture.

3. Add the eggs, Parmesan, bread crumbs, parsley and walnuts to the cooled vegetables and lentils and mix by hand until thoroughly incorporated. Place in the refrigerator for 25 minutes.

4. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Drizzle the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil into a 9-by-13-inch baking dish and use your hand to evenly coat the entire surface. Set aside.

5. Roll the mixture into round golf ball-size meatballs (about 1 1/2 inches), making sure to pack the vegetable mixture firmly. Place the balls in the prepared baking dish, allowing 1/4 inch of space between the balls and in even rows vertically and horizontally to form a grid.

6. Roast for 30 minutes, or until the meatballs are firm and cooked through. Allow the meatballs to cool for 5 minutes in the baking dish before serving.

Yield: About 2 dozen 1 1/2-inch meatballs.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

A little touch of color...

I really don’t like being pale. I always feel better when I have a little color… so this weekend, in between the snow flurries on Saturday, the wind advisory on Sunday and with no sign of summer in sight, I got an organic spray tan. 

I did some research on yelp and found O’liveOrganic Spa.  The spa isn’t particularly close to my apartment but I appreciate their philosophy that “the path to well-being begins with the treatment of mind, body & spirit in a relaxing and nurturing environment” and I really liked that they use a 100% organic tanning formula that is alcohol and preservative free so a friend and I decided to give it a try.
The spa is located on the 3rd floor of a rather unassuming building on 23rd Street just east of Park Ave.  It’s a fairly small, let’s call it cozy, space but it was comfortable and clean.  In her enviable accent, Tara, the Spray Tan Technician, thoroughly explained the process (the DHA bronzes by a reaction with the amino acids in the outer layer of my skin), the formula (O’live’s spray tan formula utilizes a 100% organic water-based moisturizing formula made from brown sugar, aloe, green tea, grapefruit extract and Pro-Vitamins) and the best way to care for my “tan” afterwards (avoid showering, sweating or wearing tight clothing for 6-8 hours after treatment).

O’live’s spray tan formula definitely does not have the distinct and strong odor that most ordinary spray tans do.  It could be because of the organic ingredients but it could also be because they let you choose one of five amazing organic fragrances such as coconut (which is what I chose), sweet almond, chocolate, tea and lavender to add to your tanning formula. 

Our “tans” developed gradually over the past couple of days.  I think they look pretty natural… except for the fact that we are walking around New York City with a tan in the middle of February.  What do you think of our sun-kissed glow?
Rachel + Me

Thursday, February 14, 2013

4 Out of 5 People Will Do This...

Happy Valentine’s Day!
It feels like we just rang in the New Year and that 2013 lay in front of us full of promise.  When the ball dropped, you resolved to do things like lose weight, save money, read more books or train for your first triathlon.  You were convinced that this would be the year that your life would change and your resolutions would be kept.  But, according to a Franklin Covey survey, 4 out of 5 people will break their resolutions and a third won’t even make it to the end of January! 
Now that it’s almost the middle of February, that means that 33% of you have already given up on your goals.  Yikes!  Why does this keep happening??? After much real-life trial and error, I discovered 4 simple tips that will help you set and actually follow through with your goals + resolutions.  Sound good?
1.     First, it has to be a “problem” that you actively want to solve.  In other words, it has to be something that you are motivated to change because there is no solution to something that you don’t view as a “problem”.  It can’t be something that someone else wants for you or that you think you should do.  You can only successfully create long-lasting change in your life, if YOU really want to.

2.     Whether you think you can or can’t, you’re usually right so you have to believe that it’s possible for you to have what you want.  Your actions are manifestations of your thoughts and ideas so if you don’t believe something could be a reality for you, chances are, you won’t ever have it or achieve it.

3.     Be consistent with your efforts to create new habits.  Change is about giving up your current way of doing things for something new and unknown.  It's not easy but you have to let go of your old habits and create and embrace news ones in order to grow, to be successful and to achieve your goals.  You didn’t learn your behaviors overnight and so, it makes perfect sense that you can’t expect to change them overnight either.  Be patient and consistent.

4.      The Power of One.  Don’t choose more than 1 resolution/goal at a time.  It’s easy to get overwhelmed if you make a list of 10 resolutions or goals.  Decide what’s most important to you to achieve at this very moment and stay focused on that goal first.  And don’t look too far ahead.  Start with One day at a time, One meal at a time, One workout at a time.  And, most importantly, celebrate each step that brings you closer to your goal!
Now is the time to make the changes you want to see in your life become your reality!  

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Thursday, January 17, 2013

Happy 2013!

I’m always excited for the start of a new year but I’m really tired of hearing people say “New Year, New You”!  To achieve what you want this year, you don’t have to (and you shouldn’t) give up who you are.   

Think of your life like a book.  Each year is like a chapter, each month a paragraph and each day a sentence.  If you read the first chapter of one book, then read chapter 2 from a new book and read chapter 3 from another new book, the story wouldn't make much sense. That's because each sentence, paragraph and chapter sets the foundation for the next one.  On its own, each may be entertaining or interesting but certainly not as riveting as reading an entire book in sequence.  Read in order, this collection of sentences, paragraphs and chapters is what creates the story, gives it context + perspective and sets it apart from any other.  The same is true about your life. 

All of your past accomplishments, successes, joys, loves, disappointments, challenges and adventures are what make you… well, You!  A unique and fascinating individual.  Setting goals helps keep you moving forward and evolving but it’s not necessary to change who you are as a person, at your core, in order to do so.  So, in 2013, resolve to experience something new, accomplish something big or plan a new adventure but don't change who you are.
Cheers to the next chapter in your story. May it be your best yet!