Monthly Archives: December 2012

December 28, 2012

Watermelon Baby Carriage

I just returned from Atlanta, Georgia where I was visiting family and celebrating the birth of my new cousin, Jacob Saul (Photo Credit: Laura Brett Photography). Check out this centerpiece I made for his “bris” (Yiddush for “covenant of circumcision”). For those who don’t know, a bris is a Jewish religious male circumcision ceremony performed on 8–day old male infants. Not so fun for the baby, but as with most Jewish holidays and celebrations, the “deed” is followed by an elaborate meal. I found my inspiration for this centerpiece on Pinterest and made some changes as I went along. This is a great idea for a baby shower or baby naming as well!

Watermelon Baby Carriage

  1. 1 large watermelon, whole
  2. 1 orange cantaloupe, whole
  3. 4 grapefruit slices (can substitute an orange)
  4. 1 grape, sliced in half
  5. 1 pacifier
  6. Balled or cut fruit of your choice
Kitchen Tools:
  1. Large serving tray
  2. Toothpicks
  3. Sharp knife
  4. Melon baller or spoon
  5. Peeler

Step 1: Using a permanent marker, outline the watermelon to mark the areas that will be carved out. I used a piece of paper as a guide to help keep the lines straight.


Step 2: Using a combination of a sharp knife, melon baller or spoon, carve out the entire inside of the watermelon.

Carved Watermelon

Step 3: Remove the skin of the cantaloupe and use a peeler to scale down to a good, rounded “head size”- Then fasten the head with toothpicks to the bottom of the watermelon.

Fastened Cantaloupe

Step 4: Using toothpicks, fasten grape slices for the eyes and scrap cantaloupe pieces for the ears and nose. Then use a knife to carve a hole for the mouth and insert the pacifier.

Cantaloupe Head

Step 5: Fasten 4 slices of grapefruit (close in size) to the outside of the watermelon using toothpicks to create the illusion of wheels.

Grapefruit Wheels

Step 6: Fill the watermelon with cut up/balled fruit of your choice. Right before serving to guests, fill the rest of the tray with an assortment of cut up fruit. Keep extra on the side and replenish as needed.

Grapefruit Wheels

Step 7: I put baby Jake’s monogram on the backside of the watermelon with a permanent marker and paint for some extra personalization.


This watermelon was a big hit and didn’t take long to make. Feel free to use a variety of different fruits and experiment to see what creative add-ons or substitutions you can come up with. Please share any fun ideas you may have or any other types of food centerpieces you have experimented with in the past.

Enjoy and Happy New Year!


December 24, 2012

Healthy Eating for the Holiday Season

Happy Holidays from Chickpeas & Chocolate! Enjoy this time with family, friends and GOOD FOOD.

Here are 10 tips for keeping on track this holiday season:

  1. Remember it’s a holiDAY – Just because there are numerous holiday parties and celebrations from Thanksgiving through New Years, doesn’t mean it’s a free for all. Let loose and enjoy your favorite foods on Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, and one day of Hanukah or Kwanzaa and then get back on track the next day. One day of overindulgence isn’t the problem; it’s weeks of poor eating, drinking and lack of exercise that lead to setbacks.
  2. There’s no need for restriction – On the holidays themselves, eat the specialty foods that you look forward to all year. It would be cruel to deprive yourself of latkes, eggnog, stuffing, gravy and other holiday-specific delicacies. Instead, steer clear of fried foods, heavy pasta dishes and rich desserts that you have access to year-round.
  3. Use the Plate Method as a guide – During holiday celebrations with friends, family and work use the plate method as a guide to stay on track. Fill ½ your plate with veggies/salad, ¼ of your plate with starchy items, and ¼ with protein – This method is the perfect way to stay in check. Click here for a great example of the “My Plate” Method from
  4. Watch the alcohol intake – Alcohol contributes seven calories per gram, which is almost as much as fat. This doesn’t account for mixers and juices that are typically added to cocktails. And let’s be honest, once we get a few drinks in us, the late night munchies are almost inevitable. And what about that “hangover breakfast” you crave that is filled with fat-laden breakfast potatoes and oily/fried foods? Basically, drinking can really sabotage your plans to stay healthy during the holiday season. Keep in mind that dehydration can mimic hunger, so it’s important to stay hydrated. Try drinking a glass of water in between alcoholic beverages. I love adding seltzer to some white wine for a refreshing spritzer; this provides less alcohol and fewer calories. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans defines moderate drinking as up to one drink per day for women and up to two drinks for men. Note, one drink equates to 12oz of beer, 5oz of wine, and 1.5oz of 80-proof distilled spirits (gin, whiskey, vodka, etc). See chart below, which breaks down caloric content of various types of alcohol.  Give yourself a weekly limit and stick to it!
  5. Slow down – When has there ever been a shortage of food or drinks at holiday events? Eat and drink slowly and allow your brain to catch up to your stomach.
  6. Step away from the food table – Take your conversations away from the food table – it’s hard to stop eating when it’s right in front of you!
  7. Eat REAL food – As always, avoid processed baked goods and foods with artificial colorings, artificial flavors and preservatives that definitely don’t hold a dime next to the delicious homemade items. They are not worth the chemicals, calories or stomach space!
  8. Don’t skip meals – It may seem like a good idea to cut back and eat less during the day so that you can indulge at a party later, but this typically backfires. First off, your body needs fuel so don’t deprive it. Secondly, if you show up starving you’re more likely to overeat. Third, if you start drinking on an empty stomach you are going to be “that guy.” Before going to your umpteenth holiday party make sure to have a snack.
  9. Walk it off – There’s nothing better than a good meal surrounded by the people you love. Instead of collapsing onto the couch with your guests after dinner, suggest a short walk [or if it’s the right crowd, put on some music and have a dance party]. Exercise is not only great for your overall health, but also can be extremely helpful for stress relief during the holiday season. Plan fun activities with your friends to stay active and motivated: go for a walk/run, bike ride, ice skating, rock climbing, take a dance/zumba class or hit the gym – whatever you like… just move that body.
  10. Just because it’s free doesn’t mean you have to eat it – Let’s face it, it’s nearly impossible to turn down a free ice cream sample on the street (or any type of free food sample for that matter); it’s exciting and unexpected. But, if we all ate everything that was offered to us during the holiday season we would undoubtedly have a fight with our scale…and pants. There is usually tons of free food displayed in the workplace throughout the holidays and the combination of stress, boredom and hunger make it easy to turn to the convenient and FREE food table. Make sure to stock your desk with some healthy snacks so you don’t fall prey to those holiday calorie traps. Some of my personal favorites are nuts, granola, rice cakes and peanut butter, fresh fruit and dark chocolate. If you are going to select something from the spread of free treats at the office, choose a small piece of chocolate that you can savor and enjoy.

Here’s a fun recipe to try out with your kids in honor of the holiday season: Popcorn Snowmen via

Happy Holidays!

December 7, 2012

No-Cook Oatmeal

Welcome to Chickpeas & Chocolate! This blog will provide a wealth of information on nutrition news, product recommendations, recipes, tips and more. Be sure to browse through the website for more information about the practice. To subscribe and receive email notifications when there is a new blog post, sign up on the right!

Today’s topic: Breakfast

It’s certainly not the first time you’ve heard the expression, “Breakfast is the most important meal of the day”. But is there truth behind this well-known saying? Research shows that those who eat breakfast tend to have a healthier body weight, higher intake of nutrients and better signs of cognitive performance than those who skip breakfast. Additionally, skipping breakfast has been linked to increased appetite later in the day, which can result in overeating, weight gain and metabolic and hormonal changes.

Bottom Line? Don’t skip breakfast! This meal is extremely important and part of an overall healthy lifestyle.  Skipping meals in general is never a good idea. Our body uses food for fuel and it needs a steady stream of calories and nutrients to function properly. Aim for breakfast items complete with whole grains and protein, which have been shown to keep you feeling full and satisfied, longer.

Try one of my favorite breakfast recipes that takes less than 5 minutes to prepare: Overnight, No-Cook Oatmeal – Easy, delicious and quick for those who are on the run. It is inspired by and

This time around I made Blueberry, Almond Oatmeal with Vanilla and Cinnamon:

Nutrition Facts: 350 calories, 9 grams of fat (2 grams saturated/6 grams mono and polyunsaturated fats), 50 grams carbohydrate, 23 grams protein

Good source of (>25% daily recommended dietary allowance) B12, Calcium, Copper, Magnesium, Manganese, Pantothenic acid (B5), Phosphorus, Riboflavin (B2), Selenium, Thiamin (B1), Zinc. This recipe is also a good source of fiber (9 grams!) and Omega 3 fatty acids.

  • I usually use recycled salsa/sauce jars, but any kind of tupperware will work
  • Feel free to swap out the blueberries, almonds, vanilla and cinnamon and come up with your own add-ins (granola, dried fruit, ground flax). Please share any flavor ideas in the comment section below. Some of my other favorite combinations include: 1. Apple, cinnamon, walnut 2. Banana peanut butter 3. Mango, almond, maple syrup
  • Don’t like Greek yogurt? Feel free to use regular, plain yogurt as well. You may need to reduce the amount of milk depending on the consistency (it should be thick and creamy)

*What the heck is a Chia seed? Chia is an edible seed that is part of the Mint family. They are a rich source of fiber, omega 3 fatty acids and antioxidants. When combined with water, they expand and form a gel, which has been shown to help control blood sugar. Try adding to cereals, yogurt, smoothies or flour when baking.

Happy Eating!

Rampersaud, G. C., Pereira, M. A., Girard, B. L., Adams, J., & Metzl, J. D. (2005). Breakfast habits, nutritional status, body weight, and academic performance in children and adolescents. Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 105,743–760.

Giovannini, M., Agnosti, C., & Dhamir, R. (2010). Do we all eat breakfast and is it important. Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition, 50, 97–99.