Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Fitness on high: Grand Hyatt New York

The rooftop fitness center at the Grand Hyatt New York lives up to its lofty perch and noble name. This is a gym where you can find almost every piece of equipment you require to complete your fitness regimen.

The fitness center has stationary bicycles, treadmills and elliptical trainers, all with individual TV screens and iPod docks that charge your iPhone or iPod while you sweat.

There are stability balls, a bosu ball and a punching bag, with an assortment of gloves.

Other equipment includes mats (though not a whole lot of room to stretch) and along with weight benches, free weights and weight machines. There are also kettle bells, medicine balls with handles, body bars and resistance bands.

Amenities include piles of soft towels, chilled towels, headphones and water.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Peanut Butter & Pickles: veggie lunch

About a year ago, I paid an obscene amount of money for a few jars of Rick’s Picks pickles. I was at a benefit for the Prospect Park Alliance and hey, it was for the kids. For the very Brooklyn playgrounds where my daughters had frolicked.

The great thing about pickles, of course, is that they can be stuffed into the back of the pantry and used throughout the grim winter. Or forgotten about and then found with a happy surprise, which is what happened when I was doing a little Spring cleaning – very little, I should add – and I unearthed a jar of Rick’s hotties.

These pickles on steroids, made with habanero and sriracha, add an incredible kick to veggie burgers and an unusual twist to the peanut butter and pickle sandwich that the New York Times raved about recently.

I usually make the sandwich with Smucker’s natural peanut butter, but with these spicy pickles, I added a schmear of Peanut Butter & Co.’s equally spicy The Heat is On.

It was pretty awesome.

I can’t wait to see what I find next time I dig through the pantry.

Giveaway: milk for the lactose intolerant

Cooking vegetarian meals for my family got more challenging when my oldest daughter stopped eating dairy. She loves cheese and milk, they just didn’t love her back.
So cream soups, cheesy lasagna and pizza were all out. Or so I thought until we tried Lactaid. This lactose-free milk looks and tastes like regular milk (it is just slightly sweeter, though without any added sugar) so we could sub this into regular recipes.

Chef Melissa d’Arabian is a mother of 4 daughters, one of whom is also lactose intolerant. She said recently that even many lactose-intolerant people, like her daughter, can eat hard cheese and yogurt. So aged cheddar and Gouda, which are quite tasty, can be eaten in small amounts.

And goat cheese has less lactose, so many people with dairy insensitivity, like my sister, can eat goat cheese.

I am also lactose intolerant, and can almost never eat ice cream. I was pleased to find out that Lactaid makes 5 flavors of lactose-free ice cream, including chocolate.

And if you like buttermik, you can make your own by adding a little vinegar to Lactaid. My kids like ranch dressing, and I found this dressing recipe on Lactaid’s website:

'Buttermilk' Dressing'

·       3/4 cup mayonnaise
11/3 cup LACTAID® Fat Free Milk
·       1 teaspoon chopped garlic
·       1 teaspoon chopped onion
·       1/4 cup cider vinegar
·       1 teaspoon chopped parsley
·       1/4 teaspoon salt
·       1/4 teaspoon white pepper
·       2 ounces goat cheese

Combine all of the dressing ingredients in a large bowl, mixing until smooth. (The cheese might still be somewhat lumpy, but that is fine). Refrigerate until ready to use.

But things couldn't be easy forever. One of my daughters decided to become a vegan.

Lactaid provided me with a coupon to try a product free, and I am giving one away to a reader. To enter, please leave your email address below and tell me who in your family is lactose intolerant.