A Chat with Catherine Winn

Hello my faithful readers! I hope you’ve all had a lovely weekend! Today I wanted to share about my recent encounter interviewing the lovely Catherine Winn of Cooking Winn, in my home of Tuscaloosa, AL. Some of you may remember me mentioning my volunteer opportunities writing restaurant reviews for The Planet Weekly and Druid City Living. I recently had the chance to interview Catherine about her side business, Cooking Winn…{fun fact: Catherine is actually a PhD student in Renaissance Literature!} What I love about helping with publications and writing is meeting people just like Catherine and getting to know the story and person behind the name.

catherine winn articleAside from getting to talk with Catherine herself to prepare my article, I also received a flood of emails from her faithful customers. As a talented woman providing International flavors in a profile of vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free varieties, she has become quite the popular woman in Tuscaloosa.

Here are a few of my favorite quotes from her customers:

“Every time I get something new, it becomes my new favorite. I really like her variety of dishes and the fact that she uses local ingredients. I don’t always have the time to cook and it’s great to know that I can get healthy food from her (and have some frozen in my freezer) in order to live a healthy life! ” – Mary Meares

“From the first bite of a korma handpie from Cooking Winn, I was sold. I’ve enjoyed everything I’ve tasted from this business, but those will always be my favorite. I am not a vegan or vegetarian; I am, however, someone who likes delicious food, and Cooking Winn delivers that every time.” – Terri Roberts

“Especially for a vegetarian with a busy work schedule like myself, Cooking Winn has been phenomenal.  It offers a global range of tasty dishes–all prepared with fresh ingredients from local farmers markets & the like, to the extent possible.  Even more, all of these wide-ranging meals are available on a flexible, per request basis.  In that way, Cooking Winn is able to offer a much wider selection of vegetarian meals than any single restaurant would be able to do.” – Stacy Morgan

“As a busy single person, I find it difficult to find the time to cook, plus I hate having too much leftover food.  Catherine’s dishes are great, both because of her variety and because the portions are just right- one or two servings at most.  For convenience, I especially love her tomato tarts, which I can just heat up in the toaster oven for a quick snack or light dinner.  And it’s so wonderful to have so many options, especially for cuisines- like Ethiopian- that are not readily available in Tuscaloosa, or even Birmingham.” – Grace Lee

After reading the flood of raves and praises of Catherine’s food, I knew I had to try some of her dishes myself. The hubs and I had the opportunity to try her vegan potato kale enchiladas and her vegetarian tomato tart. Getting to warm up her dishes and eat them in the the comfort of our home was the icing on the cake. I can’t even begin to describe the symphony of flavors and textures from the enchiladas while enjoying the savory goodness of the tomato tart. I would boldly have to say that Catherine has made me a believer in delicious vegan dishes.

potato enchiladas SgreggOur potato kale enchiladas right before we warmed them up!

tomato tart SGreggSay hello to my little friend, the delicious tomato tart!

If you’d like to see my write-up on Catherine in its entirety, feel free to visit the fabulous Planet Weekly website. Many thanks again to Catherine for allowing me to interview her, hear from her fabulous customers, and try her delicious food!

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Recent Happenings including a few restaurant reviews and community events!

Happy Thursday, folks! I’m gearing up for FNCE (Food and Nutrition Conference & Expo) with the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics that will be going on this coming Saturday – Tuesday. So much to do before I leave! However, I was happy to see that some of the local publications I contribute to came out this week! My friend Cindy from NewlyWed Nutrition recently recruited me to help her with restaurant review for The Planet Weekly. Below is my first review of a local pizza place in Tuscaloosa.

broadway review

I also had my articles from Druid City Living pop up this week. Instead of focusing mainly on food, I was asked to help with some awesome community events happening this month and next…including a delicious Bacon and Brewfest and a fun Monster Makeover! Check out this month’s digital issue of Druid City Living to read the publication in its entirety.

 

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monstermakeover DCL

 

What are you up to this weekend? Let’s swap some ideas!


Gluten-Free Halloween Candy Guide 2014

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Happy Tuesday to all of you! I don’t know what the weather feels like in your neck of the woods, but here in Alabama we are finally feeling the seasons change. With the arrival of this cold weather, I know that Halloween is just around the corner.

Halloween is always a fun time for neighborhood gatherings and hayrides, trick or treating, or perhaps an office Halloween party. However, Halloween can also be a high stress time for parents and children who battle multiple food allergies. Celiac disease and various levels of gluten-intolerance have now put gluten-containing foods and candies on the “watch out” list.

Thankfully, organizations like the Celiac Disease Foundation have worked hard to research candy companies and make extensive lists for folks to use when preparing for this ghoulish holiday. Below I have listed links for resources from the Celiac Disease Foundation as well as About Health. Please note that these resources are only a guide. Formulas and ingredients by the company can be changed at any time.

Wishing you all a safe and delicious Halloween season!

 


My {Not So} Green Smoothie

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Happy Thursday, friends! I don’t know about you, but I’m a little bit on the sore side. Last night me and a girlfriend tried Pure Barre for the first time. I hear my patients talk about it all the time and many of my friends and colleagues swear by it, including Chelsea from It’s a Wonderful Lifestyle. Other than it hurting to laugh, sit, lift, walk, and talk, I survived. I decided to sign up for their Breaking Down the Barre class later this week to get a better understanding about form and technique. With a monthly unlimited membership feeling like a car payment, I have yet to make a decision on continuing this fitness option. If you also swear by it, please let me know 🙂

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Skinny Girl Cosmo I had right after class…Please note I do not recommend this as a post-workout recovery beverage.

Ironically, my Nutribullet Pro had arrived by the time I got home from Pure Barre last night. I would not consider myself to be a smoothie aficionado but after watching a little too many infomercials lately, I thought I’d “bite the bullet” (pun intended) and get one. Since I’m not hardcore in the smoothie arena, I thought I’d wait before considering a Vitamix or Blendec blender. Speaking Blendec, have you ever seen their videos, Will It Blend? If something can blend an Iphone, well then surely it can blend anything else in my house including produce. 
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I was planning on making a smoothie for both me and my husband this morning but since he’s fairly adamant about his fiber cereal routine in the morning, I had the big cup all to myself. My mix had about 1 1/2-2 cups of spinach, one frozen banana, a half cup of frozen blueberries, two tablespoons ground flaxseed,two tablespoons chia seeds, and water.

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So….not exactly the beautiful green smoothies you’d find other people making. However, it did taste pretty good!

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As the day has progressed it has started to turn more green. Again, not a gorgeous pretty lime green, but I’ll attribute the army green color to the blueberries and black chia seeds involved. And honestly, I think I needed to blend it a little bit longer now that I think about it in hindsight. I will try again and keep you lovely folks posted!!

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I really am hoping to make a habit of using my Nutribullet often.  I don’t consider this to be a replacement for my fruit and veggie intake throughout the day; so many of the recipes I share with you all feature veggies as the superstar 🙂 For now, I’ll be looking to my friend Cindy at Newlywed Nutrition for all of her fabulous smoothie recipes— this girl is an expert in the smoothie arena!  If you’re feeling like joining the green smoothie bandwagon, July 1st is your chance!

Alas, now, it’s time for my lunch and as much as I’d love another smoothie, I’m pretty pumped about my Greek chicken salad from Zoe’s Kitchen. Yum! Bottoms up and Bon Appetit!

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Panda Express {A First Time Visit}

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This past weekend I had the opportunity to visit Panda Express for the first time. Being from the South, particularly Alabama, there hasn’t been an abundance of these restaurants around me. However, my town of Tuscaloosa is now one of four Alabama cities to have this “Gourmet Chinese” eatery. Now as I’m sure it is with most other small towns, Tuscaloosa is infamous for swarming new restaurants, all in the hopes of getting to eat there first and making recommendations to friends. It’s been that case for our Panda Express which has been opened for a few months yet has an unyielding drive thru line every time I drive by. However, I had a chance on Friday to finally try it in a desperate attempt to find something to eat near my work before my next patient was scheduled to see me.

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Since I hadn’t been to a Panda Express before, I wasn’t sure what to expect or what to order. I felt a little rushed to order so I was happy to see a little logo to let me know what the lower calorie entrees were. This little logo is known as the “wok smart” logo and indicates entrees that are 250 calories or less.

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I ended up getting a Panda Bowl which consists of one entree with a side. There were other combinations that you could do, including ordering two or three entrees which just seems like a lot of food to me (but ask me again when I’m super hungry). I decided to go with the Black Pepper Chicken and side of mixed veggies. The rice (both white and brown) were calling my name, but I knew I needed a veggie serving that day (and honestly I anticipated likely having a heavy dinner with the hubs later that night which did happen). All in all, my Panda bowl was allegedly 270 calories which isn’t too bad. The veggies in my bowl were bountiful and the mix of broccoli, carrots, peppers, and onions were pretty good. My only concern is the sodium which tops out OVER 1,500 milligrams which wouldn’t be conducive to the lifestyle of my patients with high blood pressure.

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photo 1Overall, I do think I tried to get the best choice possible for what was available. It isn’t my first choice in fast food, but  I would go back with the knowledge that it certainly wouldn’t be perfect eating.  I will say that it is better than many of the “mall food court” Chinese food I’ve sadly had in the past. The nutrition calculator that’s available on their website can be helpful for folks trying to find entrees that best fit their dietary needs, especially if specifically monitoring fat, sodium, carbohydrate content, etc.

photo 3 (2)I did get a pretty nifty fortune cookie and am actively on the lookout for my miracle 🙂

Have you ever eaten at a Panda Express? If so, what’d you think and what’d you order? Let’s chat!


Creating the Perfect Salad

Dining out….we love and we hate it, especially if we’re trying to follow a particular eating regimen. So many of my clients get apprehensive when it comes to eating out, especially if they’re going to an establishment that doesn’t explicitly list the nutrition content on the menu or website. Are you the same way? In some cases, we may feel like the only way we can eat healthy at a restaurant is if we order a salad; speaking from past experience, I’ve been in this boat as well.

Sometimes when we order a salad, one of two things can happen:

1) Scenario one… we get a salad for the sake of the word “salad” being in the title and it’s basically a plate/bowl of fried chicken tenders, shredded yellow processed cheese, 1 cup of croutons and about 1/2 gallon of ranch dressing…maybe something similar to the picture below.

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This salad has some great components but having a lot of dressing (not necessarily as seen in this picture) or a whopping deep fried chicken breast can provide excessive saturated fat, sodium, and calories to your meal.

2) Scenario two…you order an iceberg or romaine lettuce salad with barely anything on it but a tasteless piece of grilled chicken and a virtually calorie free vinaigrette, maybe something similar to this:

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Sure this is low in calorie but you’ll find yourself getting hungry sooner than later without the necessary fat that you need and adequate carbohydrate to provide energy.

Now don’t get me wrong, salads are wonderful awesome meals that can house the components we need for a healthy meal (carb, protein, and fat) but often times we order on two extremes of the restaurant salad spectrum. Components to a meal worthy salad include the following:

1) Great lettuce– romaine and iceberg are fine and dandy but are primarily water and don’t house many vitamins or minerals. Instead, go for dark green/colorful lettuces such as spinach or a baby spring mix

2) A variety of veggies– adding things like carrots, mushrooms, bell peppers, tomatoes, alfalfa sprouts, etc., can really enhance the textures and flavors in your salad while also providing a powerhouse of vitamins and minerals….without adding excess calories

3) Carbohydrate– most of the time when people think of carbohydrates, they only think of the starchy things like breads, rice, pasta, etc. Luckily, fruit and dairy products such as dried/fresh fruits and milk/yogurt can provide carbohydrate in a meal which the body uses as it’s preferred fuel source. If you’re not a fruit in your salad kind of person or you’re not a crouton kind of person either, having a serving of bread on the side or a baked potato with minimal heart-healthy margarine and low fat/fat free sour cream can provide some good carbohydrate.

4) Have protein– protein in your salad is so important as the protein along with fat help bring satiety to your meal and keep you full for a longer amount of time because protein and fat take longer to digest than carbohydrate. Protein on a salad could be grilled chicken, boiled egg, nuts/seeds, cheese (think outside of just regular shredded yellow cheese for more variety), beans, tofu, etc.

5) Get your fat– as with protein, fat will bring the satiety to the salad that your body needs. Fat can come from the salad dressing that you use (try to use vinaigrette based things vs. cream based dressings most of the time) and even the protein components that you add such as nuts/seeds, cheese, etc.

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Can we say yummy?!
This is courtesy of Spaghettofu!

Now, I do want to say that these suggestions primarily apply if you’re having a salad as your main entree. If you’re doing a side salad for sake of primarily getting in your veggies servings during the day, then feel free to have your carbohydrate/protein/fat components within your main dish 🙂

Curious about some of the worst salads to have at a restaurant….check out this article from Men’s Health!

Soon I’ll be posting some helpful tips on ordering out in general — stay tuned! Yes it’s possible to eat healthy without having to get a salad 🙂