A nutrition counselor offers recipes and health tips

A nutrition counselor offers recipes and health tips talia
Talia Segal-Fidler. Keri White Photos

I recently visited the Lodge at Woodloch, a beautiful resort/spa in the Poconos. In addition to the myriad of fitness classes, walks, and spa services, the lodge offers a variety of educational classes taught by its illustrious staff.

Talia Segal-Fidler is a board-certified holistic health and nutrition counselor who serves as an in-house nutritionist. I was lucky enough to attend her cooking class during my stay and learned quite a bit. But first, a little about Segal-Fidler.

Originally from Israel, she came to New York to study art history many years ago. Upon her arrival, she described her adoption of what she calls “SAD” (Standard American Diet), also known as “MAD” (Modern American Diet).

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“I gained a lot of weight and developed a thyroid condition. I was about to take medication and decided to change my diet and see if I could use the ‘food as medicine’ approach to cure my condition,” she said. “It worked, and I never looked back. I went from art history to nutrition, and have been helping people get and stay healthy ever since.”

Segal-Fidler speaks passionately about the healing properties of food.

“The kitchen is your pharmacy; the spice rack is your medicine cabinet. Ginger, fennel, turmeric, and cinnamon are anti-inflammatory. Cumin is a digestive aid. Lemons contain polyphenols, which are powerful antioxidants,” she said. “Garlic is an antifungal and sesame seeds contain high amounts of omega-3s and calcium. The list is almost endless of the benefits of plant-based eating.”

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Segal-Fidler shared her recipes for hummus and roasted cauliflower with tahini dressing. She spoke of hummus as an ancient food, one that in Israel is traditionally eaten early in the day because it is abundant.

He also emphasized the importance of avoiding waste and how all the parts of a vegetable can provide sustenance. To demonstrate this, Segal-Fidler cut cauliflower stems, which are often thrown away, into disks that he used as “chips” to dip into hummus.

When cooking, always save cauliflower leaves, broccoli stems, celery leaves, carrot tops, tough vegetable stems, onion tops, and any other “waste” to simmer in water to make a healthy vegetable broth that can be drunk or used as a base for soups, sauces, risotto, etc.

She offered a helpful tip on how to make this a convenient and sustainable habit: Keep a large ziplock bag in your fridge or freezer and toss any discarded vegetable bits while you cook. When full, make the broth.

A nutrition counselor offers recipes and health tips hummusandcauliflower 1Talia’s Hummus
Makes about 2½ cups

2 cups canned chickpeas, rinsed (reserve ¼ cup to cover finished hummus to add texture)
2 cloves of garlic
1 teaspoon ground cumin
⅓ cup of tahini
Juice of 2 lemons (about 6 tablespoons)
1½ teaspoon salt
pinch of paprika (optional)
6 dashes of Tabasco or other hot sauce (optional)

Garnish: ¼ cup reserved chickpeas, 2 tablespoons toasted pine nuts, ¼ cup chopped parsley, and a drizzle of olive oil

Place all ingredients except garnish items in a food processor. Blend until blended but not completely pureed; It should have a coarse texture. Put it in a shallow bowl and top it as desired with garnishes.

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Talia’s Spiced Roasted Cauliflower with Tahini Sauce

The sauce makes more than you need to dress the cauliflower, and it’s delicious. Use it on salads, vegetables, baked fish and potatoes, or in place of mayonnaise or mustard on a sandwich.

For the cauliflower:
1 head of cauliflower cut into florets
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
½ teaspoon of salt
¼ teaspoon turmeric
¼ teaspoon cumin
¼ teaspoon coriander
½ teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

For the tahini sauce:
½ cup of tahini
2 cloves of garlic
juice of ½ lemon
¼ cup cold water
¼ teaspoon salt

Heat your oven to 425 degrees F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment.

In a large bowl, toss cauliflower florets with all remaining ingredients except lemon juice and fresh parsley. Spread the florets in a single layer in the pan and roast in the hot oven for 25-35 minutes, until golden brown and tender.

While the cauliflower is roasting, prepare the tahini sauce. Puree ingredients in a blender or food processor until smooth.

When done, transfer the cauliflower to a bowl and toss with the lemon juice and parsley.

Top with tahini sauce and serve.