Required Reading: Top 5 Health & Wellness Links This Week (March 18, 2011)

Hey, all. Hope you had a good week. Starting to get warmer out there…hopefully we have some more days like Friday pretty soon. Here’s this week’s links if you’re looking for some reading over the weekend.

1. Top 10 Deceptively Unhealthy Foods

Great list of foods that may seem healthy but really aren’t (similar to our Junk Food in Healthy Disguises series). The article also offers some suggestions as to what to replace them with. Very informative / helpful stuff.

See the list over at That’s Fit…

2. 6 simple rules to a good night’s sleep

This a must read for those of us who feel like we’re not getting enough sleep these days (who is, really?). It’s the best list of practical sleep tips we’ve come across. Short, simple, and actually doable.

Check it out over at Well+Good NYC…

3. Clues to Gluten Sensitivity

A new study shows that “gluten sensitivity,” which is a more mild but still quite uncomfortable physical reaction to gluten, does indeed exist. Give this is a read if you’ve ever suspected that you might be allergic to gluten, a protein found in wheat and other grains.

Read more over at the Wall Street Journal online…

(Note: if you don’t have a subscription to WSJ.com, you can read the article by searching for the title in Google and clicking on the link from there.)

4. Food finesse: how to boost food nutrients

“The way you prepare your food can be just as important as what food you eat.” This may be obvious to most of us, but it’s a point that’s worth emphasizing. As many of you are probably aware, it’s a key component of our food philosophy here at The Pump – all of the items on our menu are prepared in very healthful ways. This article provides some tips on how to prepare some very popular foods (eggs, meat in general, broccoli, tomatoes, etc.) in ways that will maximize their health benefits.

Read the full article over at the Chicago Tribune…

5. For mental health, bad job worse than no job

Interesting article that suggests you’re better off holding out for a job you’ll really enjoy than taking the first thing that comes along (if you can afford to wait). The article also offers some insight for managers who are trying to create a more positive and productive work environment.

Give it a read over at Health.com…

* Photo courtesy of Kevin Lallier via Flickr.

Required Reading: Top 5 Health and Wellness Links This Week (January 28, 2011)

Hey, all. Sorry for being so late to post this week’s required reading list…had one of those weeks. (You know, the kind where you look at your to do list for the week at 4pm on Friday afternoon and realize that you haven’t crossed off a single thing…always makes you feel good.)

Anyway, since I’m posting these so late, we’re going to make this week’s reading optional. Don’t think we’re getting soft, though…we’ll resume our regular schedule this coming Friday, and we might even throw in a pop quiz the following Monday. You’ve been warned. ;)

1. Plains Giants Have Foothold on Tables

An interesting piece from the New York Times on the rising prominence of buffalo meat, or bison, in the American diet. Bison has much less fat than beef, which is one of the reasons it’s featured on the menu here at The Pump (not to mention that it tastes really good the way we prepare it). But there’s some debate as to what taste American consumers are looking for and how buffalo should be raised (purely grass-fed vs. “grain-finished”). Good read if you’re a fan of our bison and wonder why it’s priced at something of a premium…demand is just far outstripping supply these days.

Check out the full article over at the New York Times…

2. Taco Bell’s ‘Beef’: Just 36% Actual Beef

Wow…seriously? That’s some scary stuff. No wonder people are suing them for false advertising…

Read more over at Newser…

3. 5 Things You Need to Know About Whole Grains

So you know whole grains are good for you, right? But do you understand why? Or why they’re called “whole” in the first place? I have to admit that this article taught me a few things. That being said, I’m the tech / finance guy here at The Pump, and I’m pretty new, so I’m still getting up to speed on all this nutritional stuff that the rest of the team knows like the back of their hand. Regardless, I bet you’ll learn a thing or two.

Check out the full article over at Livestrong.com…

4. How to Cut 1,700 Calories from Your Super Bowl Snacking (and Still Have Fun)

Some helpful tips on how to avoid consuming an excessive amount of calories this coming Superbowl Sunday. Don’t get us wrong, we’re not saying you shouldn’t enjoy yourself and let yourself go a little, but it’s good to be aware of just how caloric some of these Superbowl staples can be. Make a couple of small changes to your typical habits, and you’ll feel a lot less guilty on Monday morning.

Check out these 5 helpful tips over at The Daily Green…

5. Never Said About Restaurant Websites

Not an article per se, and not particularly educational, but HIGHLY entertaining. If you’ve ever been frustrated by a restaurant website (actually, has anyone ever come across a restaurant website that hasn’t frustrated them in some way?), check out this great blog devoted to the subject. Constant entertainment. A couple of our favorites:

“I love it when I can’t find the restaurant’s address on their website – I’ll just drive around the city until I find it!”

And no doubt this thought has crossed your mind at some point:

“I love the sexy background music. That way people think I’m on a porn site, when little do they know I’m checking out tapas.”

Or simply:

“Best. Website. Ever.”

Plenty more over at the Never Said About Restaurant Websites tumblog…

P.S. We realize that our own website has some serious room for improvement, and we’ll be launching a new, vastly improved version in the coming months. Rest assured that we’re making careful note of all the great features mentioned on this blog…

Required Reading: Top 5 Health and Wellness Links This Week (January 21, 2011)

Hope you all had a good week. We had a productive one over here at The Pump…served a bunch of food and made a lot of progress internally (exciting things that will be making their way into the restaurant sooner rather than later).

We also found some time do a little reading. Have a great weekend!

1. In South Los Angeles, New Fast-Food Spots Get a ‘No, Thanks’

In a controversial move, LA puts its foot down when it comes to new fast food places – they’re simply not allowed. While we like to think that people are capable of making their own smart decisions about food, we can’t blame the city for wanting to limit the temptations. Hopefully more responsible food concepts will fill the void.

Check out the article for some interesting perspectives from both sides of the debate…

2. How To Start Working Out When You Don’t Like To Exercise

Here’s a great, very realistic perspective on what it takes to get into working out when it’s really just not your thing. The key according to the author: get to a level of fitness where working out stops hurting and starts to feel good. Yes, such a thing exists! If you’ve been trying to get into a regular workout routine but it’s just not sticking, you should give this a read. The author provides 10 excellent tips on how to ease into it.

Check out the full post over at the Summer Tomato blog…

3. Wal-Mart Shifts Strategy to Promote Healthy Foods

Did you know that Wal-Mart sells more groceries than any other company in the US? Me neither, although I guess it’s not that surprising when you think about it. But this suggests that this strategy shift could actually have an impact if it comes to fruition, and we’d be happy to see that.

Learn more about the changes and the timeline over at The New York Times…

4. Phys Ed: Brains and Brawn

What? Lifting weights actually makes you more intelligent? Running does, too, it turns out. It’s all about increasing blood movement to the brain, and both types of exercise have that effect.

Check out this fascinating article over at the Well blog…

5. The Onion: “Just Eat a Goddamn Vegetable”

The Onion has apparently figured out how to solve to the obesity epidemic (we’d expect nothing less). It seems so obvious now…

MTV’s The Jersey Shore: Best & Worst Food Habits

There’s never a dull moment on The Jersey Shore, the runaway hit show on MTV that has bled into every conversation I’ve had lately. If you’re a loyal viewer, you’ll notice that food has played a big role in the show’s weekly antics. I went back through the episodes and put together our list of the best and worst food moments from The Jersey Shore, filtering them, per usual, through The Pump’s healthful eating philosophy. Below we offer some insight into both good and bad food habits we’ve seen on the show.

The Best

Sunday Supper

Every Sunday, the Jersey Shore cast sits down to a relatively civilized dinner (if you count slurping pasta and chugging Gatorade as respectable table manners, that is) of home cooked delicacies from the old world. “Yo bro, pass the mani-goot.” This is a good one – Sunday supper is a weekly ritual we can endorse.  Studies show that sitting down to a peaceful dinner can facilitate a place of communion, fellowship, and a means of reconnecting with those we care about the most (JWoww & Sammi, we’re talking to you). Even the most mundane conversations (about hair gel, tan lines, juice heads, etc.) are welcome.

Snooki’s Pickles

I’m not sure what motivates Snooki to consume so many dill pickles. Does she simply love them for their briny taste profile? Or is pickle consumption an ancient guidette tactic for attracting the male species? Nonetheless, pickles are actually a healthful snack if you eat the lower sodium varieties. Pickled vegetables are low in calories and fat, and they contain high amounts of electrolytes that have been shown to help cure hangovers. So pass the jar, Snooki, or, on second thought, keep it to yourself.  You’ll need a barrel full of them after last night’s 24-hour drunken stupor left you face down in the sand. Waaah!

Vinny’s Mom

Trays of Italian food from Staten Island would make anyone feel like an M.V.P., even Ronnie. Vinny’s mom comes packing each season with deli meats, breads, and pasta–a complete feast. We like that Vinny’s mom is old-fashioned–she cooks from scratch and uses family recipes that have special significance to those involved. Although the food is not totally healthful, it’s home cooking, and that goes a long way with us. Kinda off subject but not to be forgotten, Vinny’s mom always has 6-packs of Hanes undershirts in tow because she knows the importance of a good base layer for enhanced T-SHIRT TIME results.  Base layer is so key…

The Worst

Grilling Frozen Food is a Meathead Move

Throwing a 12-pack of frozen turkey burger patties onto a grill in one big chunk will never yield positive results–not even Guy Fieri would attempt that.  Next time, Ronnie might consider a speedier method of defrosting, like fist pumping the heck out of the turkey burgers to yield small pieces that thaw more quickly. Just a thought. Or maybe just take the turkey burgers out of the freezer before heading to the club.  If you have good Karma, they might be ready for the grill by the time the Captain Morgan wears off…

Late Night Eating is Bad Karma

No matter how much you want to pull a “Kitchen Ditchin’” and hit the refrigerator before hitting the sack (one of The Situation’s favorite moves), my advice would be to skip the fridge and head straight to bed.  (Unless you’re bunking with Ronnie & Sammi, in which case you’re probably better off in a food coma…)

Eating late night slows your metabolism, especially if you’ve been drinking.  Your body is burning more alcohol than fat at this point, so if you add food on top of it, you’re just asking to pack on the pounds. As effective as a good GTL (“gym, tan, laundry”) can be, there’s no GTL that can fix the gut you’ll acquire by consistently pigging out after a big night out. Moreover, feeding yourself and your evening’s guest a big plate of sauseeege and peppers isn’t going to make things any prettier, although I suppose a good set of beer goggles can solve that problem…

Be Scared of Boardwalk Fare

This is one of those rare instances where locally-sourced food is actually not good for you. Eating anything from the Jersey Shore boardwalk is risky business.  Fried pickles, one of Snooki’s favorites, is bad for all the obvious reasons. In a state where there’s tons of amazing fresh vegetables in the summer–beefsteak tomatoes, Jersey corn, peaches and plums–why not hit the farmer’s market and whip up a quick lunch of fresh, summery goodness? Save the fried stuff for Poughkeepsie. What other best and worst food moments from The Jersey Shore did we miss?  Let us know in the comments. We want to hear from you.

Chef Danny’s Top 10 New Restaurants of 2010

Being in the food business and having a passion for dining, I tend to get the same question again and again from friends and family: “Where should we go to eat?”

It’s a great question. And a common one. So instead of just answering friends and family on a one-off basis each time they ask me, I wanted to share my thoughts with all of you, my extended Pump family, who read our blog and look to us for interesting news and opinions.

So below you’ll find my list of Top 10 New Restaurants in 2010. If you have your own list or think I missed some good ones, please let us know in the comments below.

1. Flex Mussels

Website: www.flexmusselsny.com

Locations: 174 East 82nd St, 154 West 13th St

“Where Everybody Knows Your Name” might have been the theme song for Cheers, but for me, this is the place that comes to mind when I hear that song. Bobby and Laura Shapiro, along with their daughter Alexandra, imported themselves from Prince Edward Island, Canada and have hit a home run in New York with these mussels-centric restaurants. Serving over 20 varieties of mussels (Thai, Mexican, Provencal, and South Pacific, just to name a few), this place has a flavor for everyone. Not into mussels? I won’t judge – try the lobster roll or fish and chips. Both are excellent. Still hungry? Good, ’cause pastry chef Zac Young, of Top Chef fame, has some amazing sweets to meet your cravings – donuts after dinner anyone?

What can I say? This place has won me over time and time again, and I keep going back. You can find me at their Upper East Side location pretty much once a week, and it’s not just for the awesome food – their staff is fantastic as well. As an added perk, it’s one of the few places in the city where you can sit and enjoy a great list of beers while you take down some amazing seafood. Don’t believe me? Try it for yourself.

2. Balaboosta

Website: www.balaboostanyc.com

Location: 214 Mulberry St

I love Mediterranean food, and Einat Admony certainly knows what she is doing in the kitchen. Producing what is arguably the best falafel in New York at her Taim restaurant in the West Village, Einat opened Balaboosta (Yiddish for “perfect housewife”) in March of this past year, and the acclaim came fast. The dining room is quaint and filled with pictures of family and cookbooks, giving it a very home-style feel.

And the food resonates that feeling with dishes such as “Mortar and Pestle” Hummus.  The juicy Boneless All Natural Half Chicken cooked “Under A Brick” is just delicious, and the Crispy Cauliflower with Currants & Pine Nuts is one of my favorite things to snack on.

3. Maialino

Website: www.maialinonyc.com

Location: 2 Lexington Ave (Gramercy Park Hotel)

The newest addition to the Danny Meyer Empire, Maialino (Italian for “little pig”) is a throwback to the Roman Trattoria. Located in the posh Gramercy Park Hotel, this place is never short on well-dressed groups of people looking to try out the food of Chef Nick Anderer.

As is customary in Rome, some of the kitchen activity can be seen in the dining room itself. In the center of the restaurant is Maialino’s cucina, featuring a salumi, cheese and antipasto station on one side, and a coffee, dessert and bread station on the other. Glass enclosed marble and metal cases are filled with a rich selection of cured meats and Italian cheeses, as well as freshly made tarts, cakes and pastries.

The menu draws its inspiration from the classic dishes found throughout the trattorie of Rome, and features fresh, seasonal ingredients sourced from the Greenmarket and other local farms.

While the creativity didn’t blow me away, it was consistently good, and, as is always the case in a Danny Meyer restaurant, the service was impeccable. Quick tip for you based on what I hear – brunch is the way to go with this place.

4. Traif

Website: www.traifny.com

Location: 229 South 4th St, Brooklyn, NY

Traif, the Yiddish word for un-kosher foods, opened this year in Williamsburg to much outcry by the local Hasidic community. Chef Jason Marcus serves up dishes like flat iron steak served with king crab béarnaise and potato latkes or seared foie, fingerlings, ham chips, sunny egg, maple, and hot sauce. Sounds like a mad science project gone very wrong? Think again. This is actually one of the most interesting and compelling menus I have seen or eaten from in quite some time.

While the restaurant is simple in its décor with just some tables and a bar counter overlooking the kitchen, Chef Marcus ensures that with each bite you are more intrigued than you were with the last.  The flavors just keep building throughout the meal. Bacon-flavored donuts anyone?

5. Fat Radish

Website: www.thefatradish.com

Location: 17 Orchard St

I know what you’re thinking – what does the name mean and what do they serve? Well, let me help you out. This place serves up some awesome farm-to-table and vegetable-focused meals that would make even my father think twice before making a reservation at a steakhouse. No, it’s not vegetarian, but this place is leading the pack in the vegivore revolution that I wrote about previously on this blog (see Will the Real Vegetable Lovers Please Stand Up?). Give this place a try. You won’t regret it.

6. Fatty ‘Cue

Website: www.fattycue.com

Location: 91 South 6th St, Brooklyn, NY

Zak Pelaccio made a name for himself cooking South East Asian cuisine at his Fatty Crab restaurants in the West Village and Upper West Side, and in 2010, he traveled to Williamsburg to open a more casual concept. But he kept the Asian influence. Yes, it’s true, Asian BBQ does exist! Hickory smokers create such delectable dishes as Wagyu Brisket with a Chili Jam, Coriander-spiced Bacon, or Red Curry Rubbed Duck and Pork Spare Ribs with Indonesian Peppers.

In typical Pelaccio fashion, the restaurant is adorned with some pretty eccentric art and quirky prints, but that just enhances the experience – the food is still the main draw.

7. Minetta Tavern

Website: www.minettatavernny.com

Location: 113 McDougal St.

If 2010 is not the year of Keith McNally, then I am not sure what is. First there was the story of Nate Appelman at Pulinos, then there was the NY Magazine expose on Keith himself, and then there was the revival of Minetta Tavern.

The original Minetta Tavern was located on McDougal Street in the 1930s and flourished for many years as just a bar. With this new incarnation, McNally has taken Minetta upscale, but he decided to keep the motif as is. Well, I guess if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

Chefs Lee Hanson and Riad Nasr, both previously of Balthazar, have moved over to Minetta to help raise the bar on the food. The menu is brasserie-inspired and has delectable items such as bone marrow speckled with sea salt, steak tartar, lobster salad, and two different types of hamburger.

The other great thing about Minetta is that it’s a late night kind of place. Where else can you go after midnight for some bone marrow?

8. Locanda Verde

Website: www.locandaverdenyc.com

Location: 379 Greenwich St

With partners such as Robert DeNiro and Andrew Carmellini and help from people like Ken Friedman of the Spotted Pig, this place had more hype than the World Series!

Locanda Verde serves family-style food for the masses. There are lots of small plates, including crostini, that are piled high with toppings, such as spicy summer corn, pureed chicken liver, and blue crab leavened with jalapeno and some cream. The kind of food that they’re serving here isn’t designed to win any awards, but rather create a stylish, affordable, crowd-pleasing restaurant where good food and a good time can be had by all. I will warn you in advance, though – the place is always busy, and it doesn’t matter who know. Remember, it’s a DeNiro joint.

9. ABC Kitchen

Website: www.abckitchennyc.com

Location: 35 East 18th St

What happens when you mix Jean Jorge, ABC Carpet (one of New York’s largest home furnishing stores), and the Union Square farmer’s market? ABC Kitchen, of course.

The theme for this restaurant can be described with a couple of words that we should all know very well by now: “locavore” and “sustainability.” That’s why they source as much of their menu as possible from local markets, the menus are made from recycled paper boxes that come into ABC Carpet, and, after the restaurant closes, all the leftovers are sent to a compost heap. But the focus on sustainability doesn’t at all take away from the dining experience – the service is casual and refreshing and the food is delightful.

One of my favorite parts of this restaurant is the ABC Elixir Bar, a juice and smoothie bar where Brandi Kowalski (who did a stint interning at Per Se at one point) has worked up an exciting and robust menu using non-traditional and exciting flavors.

10. Kin Shop

Website: www.kinshopnyc.com

Locations: 469 6th Ave

Thai food is on the rise, and it shouldn’t shock anyone that Harold Dieterle of Top Chef fame is leading the charge at his newest West Village project. The space is modest (just like his first restaurant Perilla) and the prices are reasonable – nothing on the menu is more then $25. Dieterle acts like a Professor of Thai in this new place, educating his guests with a glossary of Thai food terms printed on the menu.

And the food is fantastic. The curries are all ground in-house, and if you want to add some heat or some sour to your dish, there are pots of vinegar and Thai chilies available for each table to enjoy. If you’re the kind of person that likes some heat, then try the pan-fried crab noodles tossed with hot roasted chilies. But don’t say I didn’t warn you – this dish will burn the hair right out of your nose! Love curry? Then try the red snapper with red curry paste. Or if you’re into trying something different, go with the massaman-braised goats neck scattered with shavings of coconut and frizzled shallots. Exotic and delicious.

Kin Shop was jammed when I was there, and it’s all about the food. I have nothing but respect for Harold Dieterle, as he’s got a passion for cooking that you don’t find everyday. Maybe that’s why he was still in the kitchen as we were leaving after a very late Friday night dinner.

***

So there you have it folks, my top 10 new restaurants of 2010. Don’t get me wrong – I have had many memorable dining experiences, but as I reflect on the year that just passed, these are the ones that stand out. If I close my eyes, I can still taste the flavors from these meals on the tip of my tongue.

But 2011 should also prove to be an exciting year in the restaurant industry. I expect to see an influx of Korean food, and Thai food should continue to boom. As a culture, we have long been averse to the heavy spices from the Middle East and South East Asia, but times, they are a changing. And with change comes tasty treats that we may have never known before. I can’t wait.

P.S. If you think I left out some good ones, please feel free to add them to the comments. I’m always looking for new places to check out.

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