Monday, April 29, 2013

Summer Chickpea and Tomato Salad

      I am SO ready for summer. For spring. For any season that has sun and warm weather really. Winter, unfortunately, seems to be dragging it's heels in NYC, and I am trying to ignore it and look forward. The warmth is COMING.......sometime. Soon. Hopefully. Anyway, my optimistic self brings you a summer salad recipe. I used to follow someone else's recipe for it, but I have slowly altered it to my personal tastes. Feel free to do the same. Enjoy!

1 pint of cherry tomatoes
1 can of chickpeas
A handful of fresh basil
2-4 garlic cloves (depending on how much garlic you like)
white balsamic vinegar
olive oil
salt and pepper

1.) Cut the cherry tomatoes into halves and then place in a large bowl.
2.) Open the can of chickpeas and combine with the tomatoes.
3.) Chop up the basil and add to bowl.
4.) Mince (cut into tiny pieces) the garlic cloves and add too.
5.) Mix everything together with 1 TBS white balsamic vinegar and 2 tsp olive oil.
6.) Add salt and pepper to taste.

Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4
Serving Size: 1 and 1/4 cups
Calories: 145
Fat: 4 grams
Fiber: 7 grams

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Holey Cream

      One of my very good friends from college, Lindsay, came to stay with me in New York last weekend. I am so grateful that she did because a) I love her and it had been awhile since we had had an extended visit and b) she watches the food network and found some amazing places to eat that I had never heard of and would probably never have come across otherwise. Today, I will share her great knowledge with you. A place that I can only describe as a hidden gem. A New York treasure (in my opinion-and I am betting yours if you are a dessert lover like me).

      It is called Holey Cream, and it is located in Hell's Kitchen between 52nd and 53rd streets and 9th avenue. I am not going to go into an extended description because nothing I can say would adequately give justice to how amazingly delicious their desserts are. All I can say is donut ice cream sandwich. DONUT ICE CREAM SANDWICH.

      Basically, they take a plain hot donut, slice it in half and put ice cream in the middle. Any flavor you wish (I won't even go into the fact that they make their own ice cream with flavors like red velvet, pretzel, and oatmeal raisin cookie). Then, they cover it with frosting- again, you choose the flavor, and a topping of your choice. Mine was a strawberry frosted donut with cookies and cream ice cream, and sprinkles. Lindsay also chose cookies and cream ice cream, but she got vanilla frosting and extra oreo cookies on top. When I saw the end product, I honestly thought that it would not-could not be as amazing as it looked, but I was very wrong. So wrong. More wrong than I have ever been in my life. It was even better than I ever could have dreamed. It far surpassed my wildest expectations in a dessert. That is really all I have to say about Holey Cream except-GO. Go get your own donut ice cream sandwich. Immediately, if not sooner. It is so good, the calories do not even count (ok-not true, but it is SO SO worth the splurge).


Friday, April 19, 2013

Flat Iron Lounge

       One of my favorite places to go in the city is the Flat Iron Lounge. It is located at 37 West 19th street, between 5th and 6th. It's website defines it as "a true high-end and high-style cocktail lounge, and I have to agree with their description. It gives off a retro, roaring twenties-like vibe (I am beginning to realize that a lot of my favorite places have this in common....hmmm) with very dim lighting and art-deco furniture. The bar is so old-fashioned and beautiful. I imagine it is the type of place that the people from The Great Gatsby went to. They even have soft jazz music playing in the background. It is also the perfect place for a first date. In fact, it is my brother's go-to place for that. I have heard that some people think this is a speak-easy lounge, but it isn't (in my opinion). It definitely isn't like any of the speak easys I have been to in the past. For one, I had no trouble finding it the first time I went, which says something, since I have had difficulty finding every other speak easy I have ever been to. Speak easy's are supposed to be hidden. As in, the entrance to the bar is through a coffee shop hidden. The Flat Iron Lounge is not HIDING. From anybody. In fact, there is a large flag outside of the building that says "Flat Iron Lounge."

       The best part of the Flat Iron Lounge, is the eclectic cocktail menu. The "mixologists" or bartenders can make you any drink off the menu, but they usually add a twist of personalization after they inquire about your tastes and preferences.  Their menu consists of unique drinks like the "No Jacket Required" which is made of aged agricol rum, violette, lemon, don's mix, and peychaud, the "Holy Water," made of plymouth gin, lemon, watermelon syrup, and herbsaint rinse (whatever that is), as well as the "Jalapeno Maragarita." They also have a martini "flight" of the day. Essentially, the menu (which is categorized by type of alcohol "gin," "whisky,""vodka...") has something special for everyone.
      The people who work there are also extremely nice, and the bar snacks they serve are exceptionally delicious.  Once, I even asked one of the waitresses where they buy the snacks, but unfortunately, she said she didn't know. Oh well. One of the only complaints I have about the Flat Iron Lounge, is that it can become overly crowded throughout the night (I have been forced to stand in a corner), particularly on the weekend. This can make it tough to find a place to sit and drink your fancy beverage. Other than that, I highly highly recommend that you stop at the Flat Iron Lounge on your next trip to NYC.

Monday, April 15, 2013

The NEW Peanut Butter


      So, this is a picture of the peanut butter/nut butter selection currently residing in my kitchen cabinet. It's safe to say I am a fan. In my case, peanut butter and jelly has been a great lunch to take on my rotations since 1). Hospital cafeteria food freaks me out (due to an incident dating back to my days as a candy striper)  2). Even with an ice pack in my lunch bag cold food does not remain as cold as it should be, which also freaks me out (medical students do not always have refrigerator access as the space is often reserved for individuals higher up on the medical food chain- like interns). Peanut butter can remain at room temperature, it is delicious, it is nutritious, and importantly, it is filling. Perfection. The only issue is that it is extremely high in fat and calories (good fat) so sadly, it is important to watch the serving size. ESPECIALLY for someone like me, who has been known to sit down with a jar and a spoon in front of the television.
      While the fat in peanut butter is heart-healthy, and can satisfy hunger for hours, some people cannot afford the 190 calorie per 2 tablespoon price tag every single day. For this reason, I am going to review/discuss a new product I recently tried called PB2 Powdered Peanut Butter. According to the company "Through a unique process that doesn’t involve the use of any chemicals and doesn’t alter nature’s intended balance found within the peanut, we remove over 85% of the fat from premium quality peanuts. Essentially, the oil is squeezed out of roasted peanuts and what remains is our famous powdered peanut butter – all natural with no artificial sweeteners or preservatives. When you mix water or a favorite drink with PB2 you get the same consistency as full-fat peanut butter, with all the roasted peanut flavor, but 85% less fat calories."  PB2 is only 45 calories and 1.5 grams of fat per serving so it is like an 80% off sale taking place in the calorie department. It also contains 5 grams of protein per serving, which is excellent, as protein is more slowly digested which enables us to stave off hunger for longer periods of time.  

      So- getting to the important stuff. PB2 comes in 2 flavors- regular peanut butter, and chocolate peanut butter. I have only tried the regular so far. Making it does take some getting used to, as it is like powdered sugar in consistency, but all you really have to do is mix water into it to get the texture you desire. When I did it, I used the amount they recommended on the jar and it looked like peanut butter.......and it even tasted like peanut butter......sort of. You can definitely tell that the fat has been taken out of it because it lacks a richness that regular peanut butter has, but that is not a terrible thing. The texture is not as silky or creamy. It is sort of like switching from Ben and Jerry's to Skinny Cow ice cream. Both are very good, but they do not taste the same. Ben and Jerry's may taste BETTER, but that does not mean that Skinny Cow ice cream tastes BAD. Especially when you compare the nutritional stats of both brands. 
      I have heard that the chocolate-flavored PB2 is even better than the regular. One great thing about the powder, is that a small amount adds great peanut butter flavor to recipes. It is arguably PB2's biggest attribute. I think it would work amazingly well in smoothies, a drink I have never added nut butter to in the past for fear that I would essentially be drinking a high-calorie milkshake in disguise, but the possibilities are endless. This stuff would also be excellent in sauces, dips, oatmeal, yogurt- basically, anywhere that peanut butter would be a welcome flavor (which, in my opinion, is EVERYWHERE). So, in a nutshell, it is a great peanut butter SUBSTITUTE. Nothing could ever fully replace peanut butter, but this is a very close second. I highly recommend it.
      P.S.- I bought my PB2 at a store in my neighborhood, but if you are not sure where to get it, you can always order it online at Here is a link: PB2.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

The Importance of Caffeine

 I began drinking coffee around 12 years old (ballpark) after my mother told me that if I didn't like coffee, then I couldn't possibly be her daughter. Obviously she is a coffee addict. Honestly, though, that is not really why I started drinking coffee, but I do remember her saying that. Similarly, once I started drinking it, I couldn't stop. My coffee consumption has gone through peaks and valleys over the years, with the zenith taking place during my surgery rotation, but I have never had the desire to give up coffee. I was fine being an addict. Until now. Temporarily.
      It all began when my cousin came to visit me in the city a few weeks ago and mentioned that she gives up all caffeine for one week every month. To me, it seemed like a weird masochistic thing to inflict on oneself every single month, until she mentioned WHY she does it. Then, it sounded like a genius idea. So, she gives up caffeine for a whole week every month, so that when she does drink it, it WORKS properly and wakes her up sufficiently. After listening to her reasoning, I did some self reflection, and realized that caffeine actually has NO effect on me. ZERO. It certainly added no pep to my half-awake state for all of those 4:30 am wake ups in medical school. I couldn't even remember if caffeine had EVER had an effect on me and my tiredness. My 2 cups of coffee in the morning had become more of a morning ritual than anything else, and ritual coffee is not going to help me during my surgery internship next year.
      So, I decided that I will give up coffee for an entire MONTH and see what happens. If my cup of coffee on the first day of next month leaves me bright eyed and bushy tailed, then I will continue to drink real coffee until one month before I start my residency, and then I will subject myself to another painful month of abstinence. Before you ask, the answer is YES. These 2 caffeine-free weeks have been painful on both a physical and emotional level. Part of the emotional pain has been due to the shock. I still find it shocking that NOT drinking caffeine can have such an effect on me, when drinking it has absolutely NO effect on me. I had a constant headache for the first three days, which has thankfully subsided. Another issue is, I didn't even realize how much caffeine I drink on a regular basis that is not in the form of coffee. I have never had to think twice about diet soda being caffeine-free. In fact, caffeine was always a welcome attribute in my drinks, the cherry on top of a delicious beverage. Even tea has a lot of caffeine! The other day I ordered a soda at a restaurant, in a momentary lapse and had to watch sadly as Matt drank it. It is so easy to forget that technically, caffeine is considered a drug, and we can unknowingly become dependent on it. We have to keep adding more and more to get the same effect.
      Now, I feel much better physically, but I definitely take much less delight in my morning decalf cup of coffee. It is like being the subject of an experimental trial with secret knowledge that you are in the placebo group. It is just not the same. On the bright side there is only a week and a half to go. All I can say is- caffeine better be able to wake me up before I go-go by the time July rolls around and I start my job. If you have any ideas on how to make giving up caffeine an easier process please please please let me know, because this is no fun at all.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Intern Year and the R.O.A.D to Happiness.....

      Many of my non-medical friends and family are very confused as to why I am doing my intern year in surgery if I am going to be an anesthesiologist. The fact is, I am not exactly sure why, except that it is a requirement. All of the ROAD specialties + neurology are required to do their intern year in a different specialty than the one that they will eventually practice. I wish I could shed some more light on the subject, but couldn't find the precise reason even after some extensive research. My guess is that the ACGME (basically the medical regulating body) feels that the people in these specialties need a more well-rounded foundation because their ultimate specialties are so narrow and specific in scope.
      Another thing that people have been asking me when I explain that all of the ROAD specialties + neurology are required to do this intern year is......what is a ROAD specialty? A quote taken from an article from US News and World Report detailing the realities of medicine in the 21st century states that: “The R.O.A.D. to happiness lies in radiology, ophthalmology, anesthesiology, and dermatology.” Historically (and believe me, things have changed), these specialties allowed physicians to have a more controlled life than their peers in other specialties. There were fewer emergencies for these specialties in the middle of the night, and these specialties also paid far more than family or internal medicine. Essentially, and stereotypically, I might add, these were the key factors of a happy life. For many, the money is important, because most medical students graduate with an astronomical amount of debt in the form of student loans. The other thing to realize is that there is an opportunity cost associated with being pre-med and attending medical school. I graduated college almost 6 years ago and have obtained 2 graduate degrees in that time, but I have not made a dime. Many of my fellow classmates from college  have been making money since the moment they graduated. I am in my late 20's and about to get my first official paycheck (babysitting during high school does not count). Given that fact, I would love to make an adequate living that reflects the time and effort I have put into all of these years of extra schooling.
      The ROAD specialties are also more attractive to women than surgery, for example, because they are more conducive to having a family. According to a fantastic book I just finished called "Match Day," by Brian Eule, which eloquently explains the bizarre process of matching medical students with residency programs, the allure of these specialties do not go unnoticed, and applications to ROAD specialties have steadily risen for the past 10 years. The book goes on the say that some people are now tacking an E onto the end of the ROAD mnemonic, for emergency medicine, because its tendency towards shift work makes it particularly desirable. I totally agree with this notion, as a large percentage of my class, including 2 of my closest friends all applied for emergency medicine this year. Last year, there were zero unmatched positions left over in emergency medicine after the match. That says a lot, especially since I was told that there was a plastic surgery spot open (probably THE most competitive specialty of all time). On one of my anesthesia rotations, I was paired with a medical student from Columbia, who told me that the previous year 4 Columbia students failed to match into an emergency medicine residency. FROM COLUMBIA. She also said that these students had great grades, applied to enough programs, and people at the school were simply at a loss as to why it happened. It was just one of those things. The book also points out that recent articles show that medical students now place lifestyle and personal factors as being very important, where as, medical students in the 1980's had reported that those two factors had the least bearing on their specialty decision. The articles also showed that women were no more responsible for this attitude shift than men (before you try to blame women for bringing down the profession).
      I wish this ROAD stereotype still held true, but medicine has, and will continue to change drastically in the next few years. According to the author of Medical School Hell, another online blog, "...I wanted to mention...Anesthesiology. I’ve always heard the work hours and free time is great. Some of the most up-to-date data we have says otherwise. Anesthesiologists are actually working on-par with surgeons." I don't necessarily think that is 100% true, but the anesthesiologists I know work EXTREMELY hard. I also think at this point, it depends on how much money one wants to make. For now, they have the luxury to pick and choose the type of environment they wish to be in. Anesthesiologists who make the big bucks tend to work in private practices and have very long hours as well as frequent 24 calls. Academic anesthesiologists make less money but work far fewer hours, so it evens things out. It is all about personal preference. Unfortunately, or fortunately, however you view things, I believe there is no ROAD to happiness in medicine, because medicine in general is on the ROAD to the unknown. Nobody knows what is going to happen to any specialty in the next few years. All we can hope for the best.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Pick A Bagel

      What New Yorker does not love bagels? I know I certainly do. But as a New Yorker, I have my standards. When I lived in Atlanta for four years during college, I barely touched a bagel once I realized how spoiled I had been growing up in New York (aka I bought a bagel from the only act in town, Einstein Brothers, and nearly spit it out). Not to make fun of anyone in particular (Matt), but  I find it very funny when people from outside of New York insist that they have bagels in their area that are AS good as the ones here.
      I am not sure exactly WHY the bagels in New York are so much better- the urban legend is that it is because of our superior water. Personally, I think that New Yorkers have skills that bagel makers in other areas might be lacking. HOWEVER, in a place with an unlimited amount of amazing bagels, how does one find the best of the best? When I first moved to NYC, I embarked on a summer long search for the BEST NYC bagel. The search culminated with my discovery of Pick A Bagel.
      To tell you the truth, I had first heard of Pick A Bagel in a book by author Jane Green called "Babyville." The character in the book frequented the shop every morning. So, when I walked by a Pick A Bagel one summer afternoon, I felt compelled to go in. It was fate. I knew after the very first bite, that I had found my FAVORITE bagel place in the city. When you know, you know. There are many locations dispersed throughout the city, both uptown, downtown, east and west. My favorite type of bagel is a whole wheat everything, and they make it perfectly. It is crispy, yet soft on the inside. They have EVERY type of bagel you can image, including flagels (flat bagels for those who don't know), and a vast array of cream cheese. I'm talking everything from your standard vegetable (and LOWFAT and FATFREE vegetable), to walnut raisin, and sundried tomato cream cheese. As one of my friends once said (in an inebriated state), "If variety is the spice of life, this place is living the vida loca."
      Everyone I have taken to Pick A Bagel (a trip or delivery order is a MUST when my friends spend the night at my apartment-and yes, they deliver) loves it. Matt and I tried to carefully analyze WHY their whole wheat everything bagels are so much better than others we have tried in the city, and we came to the conclusion that besides the inherent deliciousness of the bagel (aka how it is baked) it is rare to find a whole wheat everything bagel that includes salt in the "everything." I have a feeling that once the world became so concerned with blood pressure (and with good reason), bagel shops STOPPED putting salt on their everything bagels. While I understand their concern with health (after all, I am about to become part of the medical community), I disagree with their use of the word "everything." They should stress that on their menu, aka "our everything bagel includes everything BUT salt." Salt makes an everything bagel so much better. I am not saying to put yourself at risk if your doctor has advised you to undertake a low sodium diet for blood pressure purposes, but as someone whose blood pressure is naturally 90/60, I am simply commenting on my preferences.
      It is a well-known fact that every New Yorker has their own FAVORITE bagel place. I am not typically a "mine is better than yours girl," HOWEVER, I do want to point out that a few years ago, Matt and I did a blind taste test with a couple that INSISTED their place was better than Pick A Bagel. While I am not knocking their pick, the famous H and H Bagels (they did make a great bagel), which has since closed due to rising rent, the taste test favored Pick A Bagel unanimously. The way the test worked, was that each couple purchased a whole wheat everything bagel with plain cream cheese from their respective bagel store (the type of bagel and spread had to be the same for adequate judgement). The taste tester would then close their eyes as they were randomly fed one of the bagels. They had a minute to make their decision before opening their eyes. In this random taste test- 4/4 people preferred Pick A Bagel. Now, I am sure your own bagel place is great, but if you do get the opportunity to try Pick A Bagel, I would go for it.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Sesame Soy Chilean Sea Bass

1 piece of chilean sea bass (about 5 ounces)
1 tbs low sodium soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon fresh garlic
1/8-1/4 tsp red pepper flakes (depends how spicy you want it)
1 tsp sesame oil

1.) If you have a steamer place the sea bass in the steamer and cook for 20 minutes, if you do not have a steamer, you can broil the sea bass for about 10 minutes in the oven.
2.) While the sea bass is cooking prepare the sauce: combine the soy sauce, sesame oil, red pepper flakes, and garlic and heat in a saucepan (or in the microwave for 15 seconds).
3.) When the fish is ready, place on a plate and pour the sauce on the fish.

Nutrition Facts
Serving size: 1 fillet (3 ounces cooked)
Calories: 210
Fat: 12 grams
Protein: 12 grams