• 27Mar

    Today’s post is contributed by GMM Community Nutrition Educator/Culinary Specialist, Ashley Van Cise.

    Adding a variety of color to my plate is one way that I keep myself on a healthy eating track. By choosing color, I know I’m eating an assortment of vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals.

    Pictured here are foods that I’ve made at home, highlighting some of my attempts to add color to my own plate. I’ve called out the phytochemicals that correlate to the color and the potential health benefits of each one.

    cherry tomato and basil pasta salad
    Cherry Tomato and Basil Pasta Salad – check out the bright red and yellow tomatoes. These tomatoes have concentrated amounts of lycopene which have been studied for their ability to protect against heart disease and cancer.

    blueberry oat
    Blueberry Oat Bran Muffins – focus your eye on the blueberries in these muffins. Their blue/purple color comes from a type of flavonoid called anthocyanins, which can act like antioxidants, reduce inflammation and combat against cancer cells.

    Black Bean Chili with Sweet Potatoes and Swiss Chard
    Black Bean Chili with Sweet Potatoes and Swiss Chard – Notice the orange going on here. Sweet potatoes are high in beta carotene which is a type of carotenoid that may protect against heart disease. The beans also contain flavonoids that can decrease inflammation and protect against heart disease, stroke and cancer.

    Roasted BBQ Chicken, Quinoa Pilaf and Arugula Salad with Radish and Carrots
    Roasted BBQ Chicken, Quinoa Pilaf and Arugula Salad with Radish and Carrots – There are a several healthy things going on in this picture. First, let me highlight the arugula which contains lutein, a type of carotenoid that can work to maintain healthy vision and protect eyes from cataracts and macular degeneration. Also notice the red radish, these contain anthocyanins, which I mentioned when discussing the blueberries found in the Oat Bran Muffins.

    Grilled Vegetables topped with Fresh Basil
    Grilled Vegetables topped with Fresh Basil – Check out those onions. Even though onions are white, they are high in a flavonoid called quercetin which works as an antioxidant to decrease inflammation and protect the body against heart disease, stroke and certain types of cancer.

    The way phytochemicals work and the optimum amounts for consuming are still being researched. Your goals should be to incorporate 5-9 servings of colorful fruits and veggies daily.

    What is the most colorful food on your plate today?

  • 10Mar

    photo compliments of TheDarkThing via flickr.com

    What is one tool that is used nearly every time you enter the kitchen?

    Answer: The KNIFE. It is used to slice, dice, peel, core, carve, segment, divide, and cut many different foods used in cooking. This is why I believe it is the most important tool in the kitchen.

    I have been using my knives A LOT in the first week of chef’s training at The Natural Gourmet Institute for Health and Culinary Arts. I’m learning French knife skills, Japanese knife skills and I’m using my knives for several hours in every other class too. I’ve found that one week of intense practice and instruction has really improved my confidence. I’m really growing to love my knives!

    Knife skills are a must for chefs, but these skills are also essential for the home cook. Trust me, you can learn to love your knives too!

    Consider these 3 things before you chop another onion:

    1. Start with a sharp knife. Before you start to slice and dice, make sure that you have a well-made knife that is sharp and fits nicely in your hand. If your knife is dull, then you probably dread prepping ingredients. I would too! A sharp, well-made knife is well worth the investment. Remember, this is a tool that you will use nearly every time you enter the kitchen.  I promise that this will make a huge difference in your experience. Most retail cooking stores will let you test knives before you purchase them and offer professional sharpening service. The staff in these stores are usually very knowledgeable and will help guide you in your decision. I highly recommend trying several knives and chopping a few different foods with each knife you test. You’ll want  to see how the knife feels in your hand before making the purchase. A favorite knife for one person may not be a favorite knife for the next person.
    2. Practice by taking a basic knife skills class. Taking a class is well worth the investment of time and money. Learning to use a knife is like learning to do any new skill – practice will make perfect. Learning a few basic cuts will really improve your experience and may even take your food to the next level.  The Cooks Warehouse offers knife skills courses on a regular basis. I also like the book Knife Skills Illustrated by Peter Hertzmann. This book offers a lot of visual aids and gives specific advice for a wide variety of produce, poultry, fish and meats. Another idea is to watch YouTube videos. Learning from these sources will get you thinking in the right direction.
    3. Check your cutting board. The best surfaces on which to chop are wood and plastic. These surfaces are forgiving on the blade of a knife and are easy to sanitize. A wooden board should be hand-washed, whereas a plastic cutting board can be put in the dishwasher. Avoid cutting boards made from glass or hard surfaces. It is also best to avoid cutting directly on granite or other solid-surface countertops. Cutting on such hard surfaces will quickly dull your knife, and the food will slip around making it hard to control. One final tip: Place a damp paper towel or a small non-stick square under your board to ensure that it stays in place while chopping.

    If you have specific questions about knife skills please leave a comment or email me at aritchie@goodmeasuremeals.com

    Happy Chopping!

  • 25Jan

    Back in October Judi Butin, Sales and Marketing Manager for Good Measure Meals, and I were interviewed by Ron Comacho from Radio Sandy Springs. He is the very talented host of the Business Hour. We discussed how Good Measure Meals can be used as a tool for people wanting to eat healthier and lose weight. Ron is a customer and has firsthand experience with the food. Ron asked us a lot of questions related to the meals, the nutrition, the recipe development and Open Hand.

    This was my first experience on the radio. It was fun! To listen to the interview click on the link below.  Enjoy!

    Radio Sandy Springs Good Measure Meals Interview

  • 24Nov

    Picture of the Frozen Pumpkin Mousse Pie. Image from eatingwell.com

    The American Council on Exercise claims the average Thanksgiving meal could contain upwards of 3,000 calories and 229 grams of fat. That is the equivalent to consuming 5.5 McDonald’s Big Macs or 15 ‘Supreme’ tacos from Taco Bell! Wow! No matter what your health goals are, there is no benefit to consuming such a large volume of calories and fat. Don’t fall into this food coma. I recommend practicing portion control and contributing healthy options at Thanksgiving.

    In my family it is common for about 15 of us to come together on Thanksgiving and create an amazing meal with traditional and non traditional dishes. Everyone contributes something of their own creation. Most dishes are not very healthy! My family knows that they can always count on me for contributing something nutritious, healthy and flavor packed. This year I’m bringing a non-guilt version of a pumpkin pie called ‘Frozen Pumpkin Mousse Pie’. I found it in Eating Well Magazine. Check it out! I’m sure it will be a topic of discussion. Reviewers commented that this recipe is:

    “Amazing! Tastes just like pumpkin pie but not as thick or filling! And love love love the ginger snaps as the crust! Will make again indefinitely!!”

    “I also made this for Thanksgiving and it was a hit. I like it better than regular pumpkin pie because it doesn’t leave me feeling like I ate a brick. I used Bryers fat free vanilla ice cream which is creamy and delicious, although I did have to put a little bit more of the spices in to suite my taste. This is going to be a new tradition in our house!”

    “This is really freaking good!”

    I hope my family likes it just as much as these reviewers.

    The healthy modifications to this recipe give it an impressive difference in nutrients per slice:

    Frozen Pumpkin Mouse Pie        VS   Traditional Pumpkin Pie
    230 calories 480 calories
    5 g fat 33 g fat
    1 g saturated fat 20 g saturated fat
    2 g fiber 3 g fiber
    179 mg sodium 191 mg sodium


    Are you cooking up something healthy for Thanksgiving this year? Tell us about it!  

    Need some inspiration? Check out these links:

    Thanksgiving recipes: Delicious options for healthy eating  from the Mayo Clinic

    10 Tips for a Thinner Thanksgiving from WebMD

    Holiday Meal Planning from The American Diabetes Association

    Tips for a Healthier Holiday Season from mypyramid.gov

    I hope you have a delicious and healthy Thanksgiving!

  • 16Nov

    As the Georgia weather becomes more and more tolerable into the autumn days, I find myself wanting to spend every moment I can outdoors. As a wellness professional, I am constantly looking for ways to stay fit and have fun, utilizing the resources we have right here in our community. This last weekend, myself and GMM Culinary Dietitian Ashley Ritchie decided that we were in need of some physical activity and fresh air, so we decided to turn our fitness focus to Stone Mountain Park.

    There are so many ways to be active at the park, from hiking up the mountain(a 1.3 mile trek to the top!), completing the sky ropes course(for the adventurous visitor) to biking, running the 5 mile loop around the mountain, or going on a pedal boat ride through the lake. There are even 15 miles of hiking trails throughout the park! That being said, Ashley and I decided that we’d take a scenic trail to the base of the mountain and then make the hike straight up, which starts out at a pretty gradual slope and manages to become incredibly steep near the top! Check out the pics from the hike up!

    On the way back down, we were discussing how amazing it was to see so many active folks climbing up and running around the park. Being in the wellness industry, we were both impressed and excited to see all the activity around us and decided we should make a habit of hiking around the park with friends and family. No sooner than this fleeting thought left our conversation, did we stumble upon two of our favorite coworkers and their wives, making their trek up the massive hill! Great fun seeing friends out being active!

    Fitness fanatics from GMM and Open Hand!

    At the end of the hike we had taken over 9000 steps (thanks to the trusty pedometer I wore to track our trek!) and thoroughly enjoyed the great outdoors! We even stopped at the Farmer’s Market on the way home to scout out some ideas for the next GMM menu cycle! What a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon embracing health and wellness!

    Almost a days worth!

  • 09Nov


    More information? Click on the image to see how you can get involved!

    Open Hand, the nonprofit to which all Good Measure Meals™ proceeds go to, seriously has the most creative ways to raise money to support educating and feeding the community.  Currently, we are working on the Empty Bowl Project, which raises awareness about hunger in Atlanta.

     How fun is this….  People interested in participating in this fundraiser get to play or eat!  Seriously! Between Friday, October 1 – Sunday, November 14 those wanting to contribute to the cause simply have to swing by Wired and Fired (994 Virginia Avenue/ 404.885.1024) pick out a bowl ($12) and let their creativity soar!  There are so many glazes to choose from and the purpose is to create a fun and colorful bowl that will then be donated.  All the donated bowls will then be put on display, Wednesday November 17th from 11am to 5 pm at Murphy’s (404.872.0904) in Virginia Highlands. 

    This is where the second round of fun happens.  You can purchase any of the donated bowls and have it filled with a delicious dish from a special bowl menu prepared by Executive chef Tom Harvey for $20!  All proceed benefit Open Hand!

    Can you think of a better way to raise money for a great cause? Get your family or friends together and paint those bowls, or schedule your lunch at Murphy’s on the 17th and enjoy a delicious dish and a new bowl created with love!  So many ways to participate and enjoy philanthropy!

    Check out the pictures below of the GMM/Open Hand Staff painting our very own bowls!  What fun!  You can bet that we’ll be there on the 17th to enjoy Chef Harvey’s soup in the very bowls we decorated!

    We had a blast! What a great way to spend an afternoon!Some of the GMM Staff getting creative for a cause!

    The GMM Staff getting creative for a cause!

  • 12Oct

    Hello everyone! You may have noticed that I have been MIA on the GMM Blog for the past few months.  I promise that this will change come November when we make it through the first rotation of the new Fall, Winter Menu.  All of my attention has been focused on working with our team of chefs to deliver the best GMM menu yet! It is amazing how much work goes into the launch of a new menu and I hope to spend some time in the coming months exposing everyone to all of the testing and analysis that has to be done before any recipe makes the menu and is turned over to the kitchen for mass production.  The days have been long, but I am extremely proud of our 2011 Fall, Winter menu and I am anxious to hear the feedback about our new meals. 

    All of the new recipes go through a product review. We critique taste, texture and appearance. This is a picture of me tasting a new menu item called, Beef and Vegetable Bolognese with Zucchini and Eggplant over Whole Wheat Pasta. Bon Appetite!

    Any stand outs for you all who read the blog? What are your favorite meals?

    If you want to see the new additions, the entire menu rotation is now up on www.goodmeasuremeals.com, so take a peak and tell me what you think!

    As always, I want to know what are customers are thinking.  We take feedback very seriously and are always looking to deliver the best possible product!  If there is something we can do to improve the meals, let us know. We want the menu to be YOUR menu. Feel free to use this blog as a forum to give feedback or email our customer service representatives at customerservice@goodmeasuremeals.com.

    Here’s to a great new menu and to balanced nutrition!

  • 20Sep

    Enjoying my favorite dish of the evening!

     Thursday, September 9th, I had the pleasure of attending Party in the Kitchen, A Benefit for Open Hand.  If you ever have the opportunity to join in on this annual event, it is an experience of a lifetime and a culinary masterpiece.  In short, the fundraiser hosts Atlanta’s best chefs from the finest restaurants around the city.  Each chef prepares a signature sampling and, as you can imagine, you simply cannot pass up any of the stations.  The food was amazing and the entertainment kept the 400+ crowd on their toes.  There was a silent auction (Which yours truly took home a haircut and facial from Urban Body! Yay!) and a live auction that boasted a dinner for 12, prepared by chefs Kevin Rathburn, Gerry Klaskala, Shane Touhy, Peter Kaiser and Kevin Maxey at the bidders home!  It was so much fun to see the crowd dressed to the nines in their bright whites enjoying the music and food- I really had a blast!  That being said I wanted to share my favorite dish of the evening.  I mean it was all about the food!

    With so many to choose from, the competition was fierce, but there was one in particular that stood out in my world.  I have to admit that my weakness is in the sweeter foods, so finding an appetizer that managed to incorporate the sweet and savory into a delectable bite, simply did the trick!  Being the health conscious wellness professional that I am, I often limit myself to true decadence to once or twice per week- and boy howdy am I glad I saved room for it on Thursday night. Executive Chef Shane Touhy of Dogwood restaurant (www.dogwoodrestaurant.com) concocted a Foie Gras Custard with Cornmeal Johnny Cake, Georgia Peach Compote, and Moscato Syrup.  Please understand that simply adding Moscato to any dish will win you major points in my world, but the use of the southern staples like peach and cornmeal brought a southern elegance that was as playful as it was sophisticated.  I wish I was better with words to adequately describe the dish to you, but alas, I am a Tech grad, and verbiage was never my forte!  For those of you who are visual, take a gander at the dish below!

    Foie Gras Custard with Cornmeal Johnny Cake, Georgia Peach Compote, and Moscato Syrup

    Ashley and I did manage to snap a shot with Chef Touhy, himself and are looking forward to visiting him at Dogwood to try out his other creations. 

    So all-in-all, it was a phenomenal evening and Open Hand raised a significant amount of money to support our Comprehensive Nutrition Care™ which helps people around Georgia prevent or better manage chronic disease through home delivered meals and nutrition education.  Remember that your support of Good Measure Meals™ also supports this mission, so if you were unable to attend Party in the Kitchen, you are still doing your part!