Nutella and Bananas Marry Again, This Time in a Healthy Granola

Banana Nutella Granola

Like a beacon of light in a foggy night, World Nutella Day offers hope in the middle of a cold, gray winter.

(Can you tell I’ve had it up to here with snow and subfreezing temperatures?)

World Nutella DaySeriously, though, aside from the obvious tie-in with Valentine’s Day just over a week later, early February is the perfect time of year to celebrate all things chocolate and hazelnut. It’s far enough away from both New Year’s resolutions and summer bathing suit season that you can allow for a little indulgence. So grab a spoon and dig in, or make one of the many decadent recipes that Sara from Ms. Adventures in Italy and Michelle from Bleeding Espresso (the holiday’s sponsors) have compiled for the occasion. Continue reading

How I Finally Put My Running Injury Into Perspective

Running with Lauren Fleshman

Despite my valiant efforts at anti-inflammatory eating, icing, anti-inflammatory gel application, and continued rehabilitation exercises, my IT band/knee is still giving me fits. Back in June I thought I had recovered completely, but after a race at the end of that month, a nagging pain started setting in during the last few minutes of my longer runs. A few more weeks passed, and the pain started happening even sooner. Now, some days I can only run a mile before the pain hits; other days, I’m good to go for three, four, or even five miles. There’s no rhyme or reason, and that’s part of my frustration.

And so frustrated tears were shed, there may have been some yelling (hey, I’m Italian), and I entered last weekend at a turning point. It was the Great Race 10K, something I registered for back in February before I even knew what my IT band was. Continue reading

Celebrate Oktoberfest With These German-Inspired Cheese and Beer Pairings

Market District German cheese beer pairing

Last week, I was the lucky invited guest of Market District at a cheese and beer paring event in its Robinson Township store.* Because of the time of year (Oktoberfest, anyone?), the evening’s activities centered around those two hallmarks of Bavarian cuisine. Yes, they’re not exactly hallmarks of an anti-inflammatory diet, but I am a firm follower of the rule of moderation, so a night of cheating with cheese and beer still works with that philosophy.

Giant Eagle’s cheese category manager, Gianfranco DiCarlo, Jr., led the group through a tasting of five beer and cheese combinations, most of them German inspired, which really opened my eyes to how beer can influence the taste of food. I’ve done the same thing with wine many times, but never beer, but as DiCarlo pointed out, beer is actually much easier than wine to pair with foods, especially cheese. I’m totally editorializing here—DiCarlo did not use this particular analogy, merely the essence—but wine is like a cat, a little finicky and difficult to get along with unless you find the right combination. Beer is more like a dog, friendlier with a variety of foods and generally easygoing with everyone. Continue reading

The Secret to This No-Dairy-and-Sugar Ice Cream? Shhh . . . It’s Bananas

Chocolate Almond Banana Ice Cream

Guys.

I am such a bad food blogger. I’ve been enjoying this ice cream all summer long and I haven’t shared it with you until now. The biggest reason why? I can’t stop eating it long enough to take a picture.

But that’s okay, because there’s nothing bad in here at all. It’s literally just bananas, cocoa powder, and a hint of almond butter and vanilla. No dairy or sugar for those of us on anti-inflammatory diets, yet you’d never in your life know it. Technically, that makes it a banana sorbet, not ice cream, but who’s really counting? Whatever it is, it’s delicious and healthy yet feels like you’re indulging. Continue reading

Squeeze Out the Last Bit of Summer With This Black Bean Salad

Black Bean, Corn, Red Pepper, and Avocado Salad

Even though there’s a good three weeks before the official start of fall, summer’s been winding down for a while now, and for most people, this weekend marks the end of the summer grilling season. If you’re hosting or attending one last cookout this weekend and looking for an extra side dish, have I got a salad for you. Continue reading

Combine Quinoa, Blueberries, and Greens for a Sweet-Savory Anti-Inflammatory Powerhouse

quinoa blueberry pistachio salad over greens

Although some might call quinoa a fad by now, it really has its place in an anti-inflammatory kitchen. It just so happens that the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization has deemed 2013 the “International Year of Quinoa,” so I guess it’s doing something right.

It’s cooked and served as a grain, but quinoa is really a seed, and therein lies the secret to its nutritional value. Like most seeds, it contains everything needed to grow a new plant: it’s like the plant version of stem cells. According to the Year of Quinoa site, the seed has several advantages over traditional grains: it’s higher in protein, calcium, healthy fats, iron, zinc, vitamin C, vitamin E, beta carotene, and vitamins B2 and B3 than your everyday whole wheat. Continue reading

What Is an Anti-Inflammatory Diet, and Why Am I Eating It?

anti-inflammatory dietCopyright Natalie Maynor, Flickr.com

Remember the food cleanse that wasn’t? Turns out, all I need to follow a plant-based diet is a little extra motivation.

Somehow, beyond all reason, in the past year I’ve become a runner. As any runner will tell you, runners are crazy—they’ll do anything and continue to push themselves in order to get that running fix. Threaten to take that away from them, and they resort to desperate measures.

Such as essentially going vegan. But I’m getting ahead of myself here. Continue reading