Why Men Should Do the Group Fitness Classes at the Gym

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I can’t help but notice that there are never any guys in the group fitness classes at the gym. Why is that? Group classes have come a long way since the days of aerobics, step, and Jane Fonda leg warmers. Nowadays, most gyms are offering boxing, sports conditioning, and yoga–a diversified offering that suits men just as much as it does women. But still, no guys in sight.

This befuddles me greatly. As someone who attends classes on a regular basis, I can say with certainty that group classes are a dynamic, efficient, and super challenging approach to fitness. I benefit greatly from them, and I know men could, too, if they’d only let go of the notion that they’re catered purely to women.

So, men, in this blog post, I’m going to try to convince you that group exercise classes could be the answer to your fitness rut, and even help you yield the best results of your life.

3 Reasons Why Men should do the Group Fitness Classes at the Gym

1. Get a Total Body Workout in Less than 1 Hour

It’s difficult to complete an exercise routine in under 1 hour on your own. It requires planning, and let’s face it, it’s hard enough to get to the gym in the first place. The classes offer a complete fitness circuit that targets all the muscle groups to the point of fatigue. Plus, the instructors work on your heart rate, too, making sure it’s elevated the entire time. This means you can skip the cardio because it’s mixed in with the strength training.

2. It’s Harder than You Think

Most men don’t realize how challenging group classes can be. I’ve seen dudes dying just to keep up. Often times they are shocked at how well the women perform. Over time, after seeing the same guys in certain classes, I’ve witnessed their tremendous improvement and have seen the results – they look hot!

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3. It’s Easier to Meet Women

Women don’t like to be approached at the gym (duh!). But in group classes, women actually approach men. No joke! I’ve done it myself. Women feel more connected to guys if they’re sharing the same experience, and as a result, they’re more open. Trust me, if you’re worried that women are going to think you’re a wimp for doing the classes, you’ve got it all wrong. In fact, it’s the exact opposite – it’s kinda sexy.

The Best Group Fitness Classes for Guys

Not all group classes are meant for guys. You can skip Zumba, for example. But here are a few you can get excited about.

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Spinning

What it is: Available at most gyms, spinning is stationary cycling and is mainly a cardiovasular exercise.

Why it’s great for guys: It’s 45 minutes of intense movement and totally customizable. You change the bike’s resistance to compliment your fitness ability. There’s a collective energy that builds when everyone is pedaling away, and you can’t replicate that on a trendmill. Find an instructor with a good playlist and just ride. You’ll be addicted.

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Sports Conditioning

What it is: If you’ve ever played a team sport during high school or college, these classes will remind you of those after-school practices. Pull ups, push ups, sprints, cones, and the shuffle–ah, the good ‘ole days. Well, this is almost the same (just without the cheerleaders).

Why it’s great for guys: Lots of guys at the gym forget the basics and instead go straight for the bench press. One of the best measurements of fitness level is whether or not you can lift your own body weight. These classes emphasize repetition and building your endurance level, which is what will determine how well you perform at your next flag football game or on the ski slope. Plus, these classes make you sweat and incorporate lots of heart-pounding cardio.

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Yoga

What it is: Yoga is a full body workout that creates both strength and flexibility. Adam, our CEO here at The Pump, can attest to the awesome impact it can have on your level of fitness. He has been doing yoga for a couple of years now, and he swears by it as a way to stretch on his off days.

Why it’s great for guys: Men tend to get really tight in the hips, hamstrings, and shoulders, which often leads to injury. Yoga is a great tension-free approach to stretching. Plus, it’s been shown to improve one’s golf swing, too!

As you know, a good fitness routine must be supported by a healthful diet, and we make that really easy here at The Pump. So if this blog post gives you the urge to join a group fitness class, we want to hear about your experience. Please drop us a comment below and get the conversation started.

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…

Winter has arrived, and with it, a new seasonal menu from The Pump

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Winter has arrived, in case you couldn’t tell. Those of us in the New York metro area who have ventured outside within the past 72 hours know that old man winter is here to stay. Our walk-in freezer feels warmer than it does outside.

As the temperature changes, so do our taste buds. In January and February, I look forward to dishes that warm me up, exert stronger flavors, and make me nostalgic. It’s the best time to cook.

Here at the Pump, we have been anticipating winter for quite some time. My culinary team and I have been working hard to finalize our upcoming offering of winter vegetables, which will launch in just a few weeks. This is the third round of our new Seasonal Program here at The Pump, and we think it’s our best effort to date. We are really digging the program on our end – we get to play with new and interesting foods year-round, support our local community of farmers and producers, and keep you all happy by serving more fresh food while wasting less energy (read: “shortening the supply chain and reducing our carbon footprint” for you fancier types). Lots of birds, small stone.

On February 7th, we will say goodbye to our fall harvest vegetables—the Brussels Sprouts, Spaghetti Squash and Citrus-Glazed Beets, which have been on the menu since November—and replace them with 3 new winter vegetables, which I’ve listed below.

I realize that some of you are probably sitting at your computer right now wondering why we would remove something as awesome as spaghetti squash from the menu. I know, I know…everyone here was asking the same question. Until, that is, they tried our new winter vegetables–that was the end of that. Now we’re all hooked. I think you will be, too.

So without further ado, I present The Pump’s new winter menu, beginning February 7th at all our restaurant locations.

Braised Red Cabbage

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Local red cabbage is braised in a mixture of red onion, balsamic vinegar and a little olive oil.

Per 2 oz serving: Calories 61.5, Fat 2.5 g, Carbs 9.5 g, Sugars 6.5 g

Health Benefits: Red cabbage contains 6 to 10 times more vitamin C than green cabbage and is an excellent source of iron.

Curry Roasted Cauliflower

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Florets of cauliflower are brushed lightly with olive oil, dusted with curry powder, and roasted until brown.

Per 2 ounce serving: Calories 107, Fat 10.5 g, Carbs 3.5 g, Sugars 1.5 g

Health Benefits: Cauliflower is super low in calories and contains phytonutrients that help detoxify your system.

Moroccan Carrot Salad

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Carrots are roasted and tossed with a Moroccan vinaigrette made with cumin, paprika, lemon juice, olive oil, parsley and garlic.

Per 2 ounce serving: Calories 50.6, Fat 2g, Carbs 8g, Sugars 3.5 g

Health Benefits: Carrots are an excellent source of pro-vitamin A, antioxidant compounds, and vitamin C.

We’ll also be announcing two new seasonal pre-set dishes, so stay tuned here on the Pump blog. In the meantime, what are your first thoughts about the new winter vegetables? I want to hear from you, so please add your comments below.

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.

Junk Food in Healthy Disguises Part II: The Cereal Aisle

Back in September, I wrote a blog post that exposed several types of food as unhealthy despite their curious reputation for being “good for you.” It caused quite a stir and has been one of The Pump’s most popular posts to date. Check it out here if you’re curious: Junk Food in Healthy Disguises Part I.

In this post, I’m going to take it a step further by focusing on a very popular category of food that dupes a lot of people: breakfast cereal. The idea for this subsequent post came to me last night as I stood in the cereal aisle at the grocery store, trying not to be swallowed up by all the colorful boxes. (On a side note, you may have noticed that my last name is Kellogg. No relation to the food company, but nonetheless, I’d like to think it affords me some level of jurisdiction to comment on this subject–don’t you agree?)

Anyway, back to last night. I couldn’t believe how many options were available–an entire aisle at Gristedes dedicated to cereal. And the Gristedes in my neighborhood is the size of shoebox, so that’s saying a lot.

Most of the boxed breakfast items I could differentiate as junk pretty easily–things like Fruit Loops, Cocoa Puffs, Capital Crunch, and Fruity Pebbles. Others were more difficult to decipher–Honey Nut Cheerios, Shredded Wheat, and Basic 4, to name a few–mostly because of the flashy health claims on the box. “Made with Whole Grains.” “Lowers Cholesterol.” “Made with Real Fruit.” All these claims sound quite good.

Feeling anxious–even breaking a sweat–I removed my coat, placed my bags on the floor, and began scanning the food labels. 25 minutes later, I narrowed down my list to the top 4 cereals that try their hardest to make you think they’re healthful but offer no nutritional return. Don’t be fooled by the flashy front-of-the-box marketing tactics–these cereals aren’t actually good for you. Instead of picking one of these, opt for the alternative brand that I’ve suggested for each. Your morning will be much better off.

Top 4 “Healthy” Cereals that are really Junk Food in Disguise

1.  Kellogg’s Smart Start

Of all the cereals I reviewed, this one tops the list as having the most inflated health claims. It has 17 grams of sugar per 1 cup — that’s more sugar than Cocoa Puffs. It also contains high frutose syrup, which by itself negates all of the other health benefits, in my opinion. It may be 98% fat-free, but it’s 30% sugar.

Instead try: Kellogg’s Special K (only 4 grams of sugar) with fresh blueberries (less crunchy that the dried, boxed variety).

2. Kellogg’s Raisin Bran

The word “bran” is totally misleading here. This cereal contains a whopping 350 milligrams of sodium and 19 grams of sugar–that’s the highest sugar content of all of the cereals I scanned. You might as well have a cupcake with a side of salt for breakfast.

Instead try: Total by General Mills, which has more vitamins and minerals and far less sugar.

3.  Honey Nut Cheerios by General Mills

Although a serving of this one contains a relatively modest 9 grams of sugar, the ingredients list is pretty scary. 4 of the first 5 ingredients listed on the box are sugar derivatives–”sugar, modified corn starch, honey, and brown sugar syrup.” The sixth ingredient is salt. It may be made with “whole grains,” but modified corn starch and processed sugars are the principal ingredients here.

Instead try: Original Cheerios with a teaspoon of real organic, local honey.

4.  Kashi Go Lean Crunch

Not all Kashi products are created equal. They promote their cereals as “all natural,” but it doesn’t make them nutritionally superior. This one is very caloric–1 cup is 190 calories–and the sugar content is on par with Fruit Loops (13 grams). Although the sugar is “all natural,” your body processes it in the same way–by converting it into fat.

Instead try: Kashi Go Lean, which contains less sugar and more protein.

How to buy the Right Cereal

Now that you know which ones to avoid, here are a few tips for being a smarter consumer. For one, don’t read the front of the box. This is where you are most likely to get tricked. Instead, take the time to read the nutritional label on the back. Look for cereals that have 10 grams or less of sugar per serving and look at the serving size. When it comes to types, all bran/high bran cereals are the way to go.

Here are my recommendations: Fiber One, Grape Nuts, Kashi Go Lean, and Shredded Wheat Original.

Other, Healthier Breakfast Alternatives

If you have other options, you may actually be better off avoiding cereal altogether. Cereals tend to be highly processed, and processed foods often have much less nutritional value than their unprocessed counterparts. If you want to go with something more whole, I would suggest oatmeal, cream of wheat, barley, or even quinoa, topped with fresh fruit and nuts (walnuts or almonds). Add a glass of milk for protein.

But if these other options aren’t available to you, the tips and suggestions above should serve you well on your next trip to the supermarket. Good luck!

Any cereals, either good or bad, to add to this list?

* Photo courtesy of Terren via Flickr.

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.

A New Year, A New Pump: Our 55th Street Location Reopens Today

So it’s the first day back at work after the New Year. Hope you’re all well-rested and ready to hit the ground running. We have some exciting news for you just as you’re kicking off your healthful eating routine for 2011: our newly renovated 55th Street restaurant is now open for business!

This new version of The Pump is still the most healthful food option in town–we’ve just made it yummier. We’ve been working around the clock for the past two weeks to make sure we opened on time, and we’re really proud to unveil the new decor and menu. Here’s a quick rundown of all the changes–hope you like them!

New menu with fresher options and a focus on home-cooked meals

We think you’re really going to like the new menu. We continue to be guided by our decade-old philosophy of serving balanced, nutritious meals that also taste great, but now our food is better for you and there’s more variety. Click here to check out the new menu and see what we mean.

We also created a Pump meal cheat sheet that will help you re-create some of your old favorites from the new menu. For example, if you’re a fan of our old “Diesel” plate, you could try the new “Lumberjack” plate. It features our juicy lean beef, 3-bean vegetarian chili, brown rice, homemade hummus, and balsamic vinaigrette. Tasty stuff.

Healthful eating made easy

If you’re trying to improve your eating habits in 2011, look no further. Every item on our menu is prepared in-house each morning with tons of TLC (the only exception being our baked goods, which we get delivered fresh each morning from Sensible Edibles Bakery). We serve top-notch proteins (all natural, no antibiotics, hormones, etc), locally sourced seasonal vegetables, housemade sauces, and absolutely zero processed foods.

We also make all our food facts available online, and you can build your own meal using The Pump’s handy online ordering website (complete with nutritional calculator). We operate our kitchen with total transparency. No secrets. No hidden agenda.

Juice juice juice… Serving both cold-pressed juice & blended shakes

We realize it’s the dead of winter, but it’s never too chilly for cold-pressed juice. You’ll find our full line of Liquid Pump juices at the new 55th street location. If you’re not sure what cold-pressed juice is, then please check out this handy juice flyer that lays out the basics. In short, if you need to add more fruits and vegetables to your diet, this is the way to do it. You can get more than a day’s worth of dark leafy greens with just one bottle of our Greens + Apple (kale, romaine, parsley, spinach, cucumber & apple), and we have 6 other super healthful varieties as well.

Don’t think juice is for you? You may want to reconsider. We make our case in this juice post here on The Pump Blog.

A cool new interior design

We sourced reclaimed wood for the planked floor; hung vintage, one-of-a-kind wallpaper (something you’d probably see in grandma’s kitchen); adorned the wood shelving with antique scales and juice presses from etsy.com (what a sweet website, btw); and stacked wooden produce crates in the corner for extra storage space. We took some inspiration from our Brooklyn neighbors and added our own spin.

New hours, serving lunch and dinner only

Our new hours are 11am to 9pm on Monday-Friday and on Sunday, and 12pm to 8pm on Saturday. Unfortunately, that means we’re no longer serving breakfast (no more eggs). We’re very sorry to disappoint those of you who liked our breakfast menu, but we were just spreading ourselves too thin by trying to do all three meals. We think you’ll be very happy with all the attention we’re now giving to lunch and dinner.

Just as before, we offer walk-in, take-out, and delivery, but now you can order online on our website as well. And, of course, Seamless Web users can find us there, too.

We really hope you like these changes. It’s with great pride that we continue to serve you fresh, honest, and responsible food. Although we serve our meals quickly (we know how busy life can get), we don’t take any shortcuts in the kitchen.

Thanks for your continued support in 2011, and we hope you’ll drop a comment or two below about your experience at the new Pump. We always love to hear from you.

– The Pump Team

Required Reading: Top 5 Health and Wellness Links of the Week (December 31, 2010)

Happy New Year’s Eve! Soon to be Happy New Year, of course. We’ll let you slide today if you’re out celebrating already (which would be impressive, given that it’s now 10am in New York), but this week’s links will make for some great reading over the holiday weekend. Lots of good info here to help you start the new year off on the right foot…

1. Is Pizza Healthy?

Here’s a topic that’s near and dear to many New Yorkers’ hearts, and it’s actually a very thoughtful article about how pizza may not be the worst thing in the world when it comes to fast food (you could certainly do much worse). The article offers a number of tips about how you can minimize the bad calories you’re taking in when you grab a slice – practical things like removing 30 fat calories just by blotting the grease off the surface of the cheese.

Check out other ways to make pizza more healthful over at That’s Fit…

2. The Benefits of Exercising Before Breakfast

A new study offers some compelling evidence as to why it’s better to exercise before you have breakfast. I’ve never quite believed this one, as I’ve always heard that working out on an empty stomach (or in a “fasted state”) causes your body to burn protein for energy (thereby hurting muscular development). But it turns out that your body burns fat more efficiently when you have fewer carbs in your system, and it actually makes your muscles healthier (I was way off…). So working out before breakfast is particularly helpful when your diet is high in fat, like it tends to be around the holidays.

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

3. Nutrition labels on cuts of meat to debut in 2012

We’ve always wondered exactly what kind of calories we’re getting from all the different cuts of meat one finds at the grocery store. We get that it’s a lot of protein, but it can also be a lot of fat, right? So how much of each? Starting in 2012, you’ll no longer have to guess, but the numbers may shock you.

See what we mean over at USA Today…

4. How to Lose Holiday Weight Gain

We had to throw in one article about getting back in shape after a week or two of letting ourselves slide. But no gimmicks here…the folks over at LiveStrong.com tell it like it is.

Check out this practical 4-step plan for shedding holiday weight gain…

5. “Science sense” list trashes celebrity health tips

Our big takeaway: don’t listen to celebrities when they dish out health advice! Well, that’s not totally true…some of them know what they’re talking about when it comes to basic things like hitting the gym a few times a week, but if it sounds too good to be true (or just plain weird), it probably is.

Check out some crazy celebrity health tips and why they’re just not right over at Reuters…

Exclusive: A Video Interview with Tim Ferriss, author of The 4-Hour Body

Exciting news! The Pump recently did an exclusive video interview with Tim Ferriss, the author of the brand new book, The 4-Hour Body: An Uncommon Guide to Rapid Fat-Loss, Incredible Sex, and Becoming Superhuman. Ferriss, who is best known for the hugely successful self-help guide The 4-Hour Workweek, actually reached out to us (out of the blue!) because he’s a big fan of our food – it’s totally consistent with the diet regimen he advocates in his new book.

Ferriss spent more than 2 weeks in NYC promoting The 4-Hour Body, and during his visit, he ate only The Pump. That’s right–we fed him 2 meals a day for 14 days, 28 meals in total. We were totally flattered when his assistant, Charlie, contacted us and said that Tim wouldn’t eat anything else. If you saw a photo of him, you’d understand, and he promises that anyone who follows the advice laid out in his book can easily do the same.

The 4-Hour Body is Ferriss’ guide to achieving your most perfect self–from a diet plan that promotes rapid fat loss to a step-by-step (and incredibly detailed) guide to awesome sex. He teaches the reader how to be, well, perfect at everything.

And the timing of this interview was perfect because the book hit The New York Times bestseller list just this week! To go along with the interview, Tim gave us 12 copies, each signed, and we’re giving them away for FREE here on our blog – check out the details at the bottom of this post.

So without further ado, here’s Tim in own words, answering our most pressing questions about the new book.

1. What’s the craziest thing you did for the new book?

2. Why are you such a big fan of The Pump?

3. How is your book different than other diet books?

4. What’s your best advice for people struggling to resist holiday temptations?

5. What does The 4-Hour Body teach us about sex?

As you can tell, this is an intense book–it’s close to 600 pages. And you can get a signed copy for FREE, courtesy of Tim Ferriss and The Pump! All you have to do is be one of the first 12 people to leave a comment below. Good luck!

UPDATE: As of 5:00pm EST, all 12 free books have been given away. Sorry if you missed it, but please feel free to comment anyhow. If you’d still like to pick up a copy of The 4-Hour Body (we think you should!), you can order one over at Amazon.