Friday, September 30, 2011

Diabetes Co-Star Cookoff

This morning I had the pleasure of attending the Diabetes Co-Stars Cookoff- part of the NYC Wine and Food Festival.

 Paul and Mira Sorvino hosted the event and discussed their family's experience with Paul's diagnosis of type 2 diabetes. 

The cook-off served as the finals for the Diabetes Co-Stars Recipe Contest! The finalists were Lorin from Alpine, NJ and Hidemi from Plainfield, IN.

 Things got moving quickly! Lauren set to work making her Apple Rhubarb Fantasy Pie!


Crust Recipe
Use a food processor's steel blade.
2 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 cup of very cold vegan butter, cut into 1/2 '" pieces
2 teaspoons sugar substitute
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup ice cold water
Pie Recipe
1/2 cup sugar substitute
3 tablespoons whole wheat pastry flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon salt
5 cups granny smith apples, peeled and sliced thin
1 cup rhubarb, cleaned and cut on the diagonal and sliced in 1/4" pieces
Crumb Topping
1/2 cup quick cooking rolled oats
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar substitute
1/3 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 cup vegan butter
Final Topping
Sugar Free Caramel ice cream syrup


  1. Using a food processor, insert the steel blade.
  2. Add wheat flour, vegan butter, sugar substitute and salt.
  3. Cover and process using pulsing technique until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs with some larger crumbs remaining.
  4. While the processor is running, add the water quickly through the feed tube. Stop processor and scrape sides. Turn on and off 2 times. Take out of bowl and divide in half forming 2 discs. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate until easy to handle about 15 minutes.
  1. Remove crust from refrigerator and roll it out on a lightly floured surface.
  2. Ease into pie dish, poke holes with fork on the bottom, and flute edges.
  3. Line bottom of pastry with parchment paper and fill with a single layer of dried beans. Bake at 400 degrees for about 5 minutes.
  4. In a large mixing bowl, stir together the sugar substitute, whole wheat flour, cinnamon and salt.
  5. Add apples and rhubarb and toss gently until they are coated well.
  6. Transfer mixture to pie crust.
  7. For the crumb topping: Stir together the oats, brown sugar, sugar substitute, wheat flour, cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, and nutmeg.
  8. Using a pastry cutter, cut in the vegan butter until the topping resembles coarse crumbs.
  9. Sprinkle the topping over the apple/rhubarb mixture.
  10. Cover edge of pie with foil to prevent burning.
  11. Bake at 375 degrees for 35 minutes.
  12. Remove foil and bake for 15-20 minutes more, or until top is bubbly and golden.
  13. Remove from oven and drizzle the sugar free caramel syrup over the top.
  14. Cool and enjoy!!!

Hidemi whipped up her Berry Soymilk Cream Pie with Panko Crust!


For Pie Crust
1 1/4 cup Panko
1 tablespoon Sugar Free Honey
2 tablespoons Splenda®
1/4 cup Soy Milk
1 tablespoon Butter
For Soy Milk
2 cups Soy Milk
4 tablespoons Corn Starch
2 tablespoons Sugar Free Honey
For Filling
6 oz Blackberries
7-8 Strawberries - cut into four
3 tablespoons Splenda®
1/4 cup Water
1 teaspoon Lemon Juice


  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. In a bowl, combine 1 1/4 cup of panko, 1 tablespoon of sugar free honey, 2 tablespoons of Splenda®, 1/4 cup of soy milk and 1 tablespoon of butter. Mix well.
  3. Transfer to 9-inch pie pan and with hand, press mixture firmly on the bottom of the pan and poke holes in bottom of crust. Bake for 10-12 minutes. Let cool.
  4. Make berry filling. In a sauce pan, put blackberries, strawberries, 1/4 cup of water, 3 tablespoons of Splenda® and 1 teaspoon of lemon juice. Heat over low heat and simmer for a couple of minutes. Then take both blackberry and strawberry out of the pan and place them on the plate. Set aside. Keep simmering the berry juice remaining in the sauce pan until the juice reduces to almost half. Then turn off the heat and let cool.
  5. Make soy milk cream. In another sauce pan, put 4 tablespoons of corn starch, 2 tablespoons of sugar free honey and 2 cups of soy milk. Heat over low heat and simmer until thickens stirring constantly.
  6. Pour the soy milk cream on the crust then pour the berry filling (pour the berry juice first and then place the blackberries and strawberries on top). Chill in the refrigerator for 2-3 hours.

As the judges scored the final products, we were served samples of the final two recipes! 

 My partner in crime, Aaron, preferred the lighter taste and consistency of Hidemi's recipe. 

I loved Lorin's recipe- so warm, caramel-y and comforting, but I couldn't decide between the two! Luckily, I didn't have to!

The judges' votes were tallied and Hidemi's Berry Soymilk Cream Pie with Panko Crust came out on top! Congratulations, Hidemi!

As I was waiting to interview Paul and Mira after the cookoff, I ran into the beautiful Juliette from Finish Your Broccoli, a friend from the NYC Blogger Playdate
NYC Bloggers wear matching outfits on accident... Or on purpose...

I'm so glad I had the opportunity to sit down with Paul and Mira Sorvino after the event to discuss their family's experience with diabetes. My mom was recently diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, so I was eager to hear about how I could take on a more proactive role in her management of this disease. She's a tough lady and doesn't always ask for help, so I was eager for advice. Paul admitted that he kept his diagnosis to himself at first and wasn't completely diligent with managing the condition. When Mira discovered that Paul had been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, she decided to educate herself on the disease to learn how to help her father stay healthy. She admitted that sometimes, her role in this process is "policewoman", reminding her father that certain food choices aren't ideal. Not that Paul needs constant reminding- as a performer his health is of the utmost importance and he acknowledges that being diligent about exercising and eating right are necessary to keep him going. The Sorvinos strive to make the lifestyle changes that Paul has had to make family changes- exercising and cooking together when possible. Mira thinks of it as her way of giving back to her father. 

 To learn more about the Sorvino's story, find diabetes-friendly recipes/ lifestyle tips and link to existing resources for diabetes education, visit the Diabetes Co-Stars website.

Does anyone in your life have diabetes? How do you support them?

Last Night's Fun and Coffee Talk

Last night was a rare and special occurrence- Joe and I were both home in the evening at the same time! He usually teaches, takes classes or rehearses in the evenings, and I'm either at class or the gym, so we decided to spend our rainy night-in cooking!

My special kitchen helper, who sometimes is not very helpful at all. 

We desperately need to go grocery shopping, but decided to use up what we had. Soup time!
 Joe was making fun of me for something...

 I found this in my cupboard and literally jumped for joy! Yes, I am a five year old.

 Since I don't drink, Joe decided to polish off the leftover grownup beverages from his birthday party. No glass required.

Me: Let's get a nice picture of us cooking together! I'll set the self-timer!
Joe: Sure!

I should know better than to trust him when he's so compliant...

Joe whipped up some feta and mozzarella quesadillas. Mmmm....

 And the "Everything in the Fridge" soup turned out great! Leftover roasted eggplant, green beans, carrots and black beans. Random AND delicious!

I'm usually a die-hard budget shopper, but there are some things for me that are worth the money, not only for the quality, but for the ethics of their business practices. My absolute no-compromise splurge? 

Fair Trade Coffee. 

I've always had a vague idea of the importance of fair trade coffee, but it's usually a bit more expensive than whatever's on sale. After watching the documentary Black Gold, I will never. ever. ever. buy a bag of coffee that's not Fair Trade ever again. Fair Trade Certification ensures that the farmers who grew the coffee in your bag were paid a fair price and not gouged by the companies who shortchange coffee-growers who are desperate to sell their crops keeping them locked in a cycle of poverty, desperation and dependence. 

One of my favorite fair-trade brands? Green Mountain Coffee- especially the Newman's Own Vanilla Caramel flavor (though all the Newman's Own coffee products are great)!

Does it cost more? Yes. But honestly, I'd rather drink less or skimp somewhere else than support companies who do not support the farmers that make their businesses possible. I stock up like a crazy person when it goes on sale and it usually lasts me a while. Yes- there are caveats- I still purchase iced-coffee when I'm out and about which may or may not be brewed with fair trade beans. 

Does anyone know of any great fair-trade coffee shops in Brooklyn? What business practices are important to you?

Thursday, September 29, 2011

(Last) Night and (To) Day

Brooklyn Public Library, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways. 1) The security guard who asked for my phone #. 2) The old woman napping on a reading table. 3) The unbelievably old electrical socket that my charger falls out of. 
 You are still one of my favorite places to study. 

Last night I was craving dessert and found inspiration from my beautiful friend Katie's blog

Dessert Wrap Happytown!

My nut/ seedbutter trio!
 Add a few chocolate chips, microwave and then wrap around a banana. 

This AM I attended a meeting with the super-fun team behind Brokelyn at Tillie's! Sweat Equals Success is partnering with Brokelyn to do a series on the best free outdoor workout spots in Brooklyn! Stay tuned!

After the meeting I swung by Atlantic Terminal to snag a cute dress for tomorrow AM's Diabetes Co-Stars Cookoff! It's been a while since I've been clothes shopping and it was a bit intimidating... Mission accomplished, though! 

I met up with my classmate Patrick for lunch at the Catskill Bagel Company in Ditmas Park. I got the Catskill Mountain Omelet. Chorizo, feta, corn, green peppers and onions. It hit the spot!

 We were chowing down when the sky opened up and down-poured for a solid 15 minutes. It lightened up a bit but kept raining as I made my way home. 

Unexpected rain showers can be lame.
Though they can also be exciting! This guy agrees.

I'm off to get sweaty with this 20 Minute Total Body Workout

For dinner, I'm thinking Mac and Cheese with Greek Yogurt!

What's on the fitness/ fuel menu for you tonight?

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Would you put your kid on a 'diet'?

I saw this on BlogHer Health and HAD to share. Below is the original article followed by my thoughts. 
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[Editor's Note: As if our girls don't have enough messages flying at them about their size and shape and how it contributes to their worthiness, there's now a diet book being marketed for girls as young as four. FOUR. Obviously, some controversy surrounds the book, Maggie Goes on a Diet.SAHM Answers tackles the subject and asks what your thoughts are... so share them. I bet you have some! -Jenna]

Little Girls and Diet Books. Really?:

Maggie Goes on a DietIn October, a book entitled Maggie Goes on a Diet will be released. According to a description at, “Maggie is transformed from being extremely overweight and insecure to a normal sized girl who becomes the school soccer star. Through time, exercise and hard work, Maggie becomes more and more confident and develops a positive self image.”
“The book’s cover art depicts a heavyset girl holding up a pink dress as she looks in the mirror. The image reflected back shows a thinner version of herself.”
And here’s the kicker: the book is being marketed to children as young as four. It seems that this is going to be one of the most controversial children’s books of the year, since there is criticism every which way author Paul M. Kramer turns.

FULL DISCLOSURE: I have not read this book. But honestly, I've got some major issues with the title itself. Here's my hangup: the word 'diet' can  simply mean 'the usual food items consumed by an individual', but in our society's collective consciousness, it has come to mean 'a regimen of restrictions designed to physically alter an individual'. "Going on a diet" has come to imply abandoning 'regular' eating habits and adopting 'special' ones to bring about change- and because people "go on diets" most frequently to combat undesirable states of being (usually unwanted weight or diet-related illness), it's generally accepted that if you're on a diet, something was wrong, and you're trying to make yourself better off by dieting. The word "diet" is thought of as something outside of normal and regular- kids think of diets like medication- they are only useful and necessary to fix things that have gone wrong. And though these things may sound like semantics to the logical adult mind, children are less aware of these subtleties. In my experiences (as an educator of elementary/ middle school aged children), being "put on a diet" registers as "punishment for the way my body is". 

My mind immediately goes to a former dance student whose demeanor was transformed overnight from confident, engaging and daring to self-conscious, embarrassed and inferior. This child who was usually an exuberant and liberated dancer one day refused to demonstrate a block of choreography in front of her peers or dance in the front line. I was baffled- I knew that not only did she know the choreography, but she executed it beautifully and she loved to dance. When I pulled her aside after class and asked her why she didn't want to demonstrate the choreography, she burst into tears and informed me that she had been put on a diet by her doctor the day prior. "I didn't even know I was fat," she told me. She was eight, and in her mind (and the minds of a lot of her peers), diets are things that fix fat people. Since she had been put on a diet, she reasoned that she was not ok as she was and she had something to be ashamed of. Because we educate about health with grossly broad generalizations, ( "Exercise! Eat good foods! Being fat is bad!") instead of the details necessary to make sense of this information ("Specific types of exercise are useful in developing strength and flexibility which improve your quality of life! Other types are keep your heart in good shape so that it can continue to function properly! Some foods are more dense in nutrients that your body needs to feel and be healthy- eating these foods directly results in solid growth and physical development! Carrying around excess body fat has dangerous implementations on your health, but healthy looks different on everyone, and 'fatness' isn't accurately gauged by what you look like.") kids develop very generic ideas about health, which can be dangerous.

I do not accuse the author of this book (or anyone else who puts children on "diets") of ill-intentions, but I whole-heartedly disagree with the execution of this material designed "to inspire". I am absolutely in agreement that children whose health is compromised by their current eating habits should change those habits, but is it necessary for them to "go on a diet"? NO. It's necessary for them to develop new habits based upon an understanding of the process of nutrition, not through restriction, but through balance and the promotion of foods that their bodies want that will support their health and well-being for their entire lives (not simply while they drop __lbs). We, as a society, are much more prone to medicate than educate- we focus on reversing instead of preventing. Until we embrace the importance of educating children on exactly how their bodies work and how to keep them in optimal functioning condition, we will continue putting kids on "diets" to "fix" the bodies that they will never learn how to properly care for. 

What are your thoughts on putting kids on a "diet"?

Rainy Day Shenanigans

I awoke this morning to the sound of cars passing on wet pavement. Though it usually means I'll be slogging through the rain all day, I find this sound to be particularly soothing... 

Today Brooklyn College is closed for Rosh Hashanah, but we have a makeup class with our voice teacher and then one-on-one sessions afterwards. I had a lot of emotions come up in yesterday's voice class and I'm eager/ interested to see what else comes up. 

Exciting news time!

I've secured a private interview with Paul and Mira Sorvino at this Friday's Diabetes Co-Star Cookoff that I was invited to attend through my blog! I'll be speaking with them about diabetes awareness and activism along with the impact diabetes has had on their family (Paul has Type 2 Diabetes).  

Is there anything in particular you'd like to know about their advocacy or lifestyle changes in the wake of Paul's diagnosis? I'm compiling a list of questions now!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Beautiful Bamboo and My Happy Belly

What a beautiful way to start my day!
 I had been in contact with Five Bamboo after falling in love with the t-shirts they made for the Healthy Living Summit. I had ordered a similar shirt for my school uniform (black t's and sweats- comfy!) and they kindly offered to send me a pair of their Crop Leggings, which I received earlier this week! 

I swear I'm wearing a sports bra... or am I?
Soft, stretchy, sturdy and comfy, with a tiny pocket and a wide elastic waistband. I'm in love! 

These pants held up beautifully during a challenging physical warmup in today's Voice class. Our vocal teacher had been away at a conference with the Royal Shakespeare Company in England (she's kind of a big deal), so we had lots of catching up to do. Today's warmup was about releasing and I had a very strong emotional reaction. I'll write more about it on my acting blog, but in brief, I will never, ever doubt the powerful connection between emotions and voice.  

After last night's writing session (I finished my paper at around 2a. ugh.) I was a hot mess getting ready this AM. I barely made it out of the door on time, which meant I didn't have the time to scrounge something edible from my already barren kitchen to have for lunch. I've been trying to pack my lunch EVERY school day in September and this was the first time I missed out. :(

 Cafeteria food is cafeteria food. I hooked it up with as many veggies as I could find- cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, potatoes, veg lasagna, and I grabbed a few bites of mystery meat (pork? maybe?) and a roll. It was palatable, but not ideal. Lesson learned. 

I made an emergency pit-stop at the grocery store on my way home from class to stock up on the basics...

Annnddd thennn..... DINNAH!

Cukes and red peppers with balsamic, olive oil and feta to start. 

I roasted the eggplant with some olive oil, balsamic vinegar and garlic. 

I had completely forgotten I bought this cheese... weeks ago... it looked and smelled fine, so I added some to my creation!

 Roasted eggplant + yogurt cheese sandwich on a Tofuyan flatbread. EPIC.

It's been so long since I've actually worked out that I've started getting antsy. To alleviate my angst, I did a super speedy lightning speed workout!

Extended Arm Side Planks (10/side)

KB Ladder

10 Double Swings, 10 Single Swings (Each Arm), 10 Alternating

14, 12, 10 and 8kg bells

10 Snatches/ Arm- 12k bell

10 Overhead Presses/ Arm- 10k bell

Followed by an intense improvised interpretive solo dance party to this song.

 (The first 2:04 is for dramatic poses and stretching, the remaining 5:25 is for getting DOWWWNNNNN).

* I did not pay for this product. Five Bamboo sent me these leggings free of charge. I was not otherwise compensated for this review- the thoughts and opinions expressed here are my own.

Monday, September 26, 2011

The World's Fastest post.

This post will be quick- if you're looking for my usual hair-raising excitement and mouth-wateringly delicious fare, check out the recap from yesterday's NYC Blogger Playdate!

It's 7:45p and my world consists of a GIANT iced coffee and this book. 
By the end of tonight, an insightful and thought provoking dissertation on Chuck Jones' Make Your Voice Heard will be sitting perfect and polished, waiting to be handed in tomorrow. Positive thinking. 

Tomorrow and Wednesday will be chock full of Voice and Speech classes, both of which I adore! Wahoooo! 

But there are other fun shenanigans to be had aside from school! 'Twill be an exciting week!

On Thursday I'm meeting with the clever minds behind Brokelyn to chat about contributing some health/ fitness articles in the near future! 

Friday I've been invited to attend the Diabetes Co-Stars Cookoff (part of the NYC Wine and Food Festival). 

Saturday is a DATE DAY with the hubbers. A. WHOLE. DAY. Epic, right?!

Sunday is a Shakespeare rehearsal, which excites me more than most people would probably understand. And thennnn.... coffee date with my beloved Ellen Stein!

Have a great night, lovers! If you get a few minutes, enjoy a stretch or some extra sweat for me, will you? I'm hoping to squeeze in a Sun Salutation or two before bed. Don't know how to do a Sun Salutation? No worries. Kermit can help