New work: Christ Hospital wellness site.

My food writing work hits the sweet spot when the subject intersects at healthy and local. So my new collaboration with The Christ Hospital and agency Curiosity Advertising is right in my kitchen, so to speak.

We’re working together to spotlight local food — producers, farmers’ markets, seasonal flavors — and encouraging the Christ Hospital community to cook and eat healthful foods. In addition to a new series of recipe videos — SUPER FUN! — I am writing online content around healthy cooking and eating. My subjects so far include a feature on local winter farmers’ markets, strategies for stocking your pantry to make home cooking easier, and ‘locavore’ New Years Eve party ideas. Take a look at some of the work:

New work: My Magazine for Kroger.

For quite awhile now, I’ve been contributing articles and recipes to Kroger’s My Magazine customer publication. It’s a fantastic collaboration with the team at 84.51°, the data and marketing agency that handles shopper communication for Kroger and its subsidiary brands. These guys really know what they’re doing, and it’s a blast to work with their creative team — the editor gives great direction and feedback, and the photo, food styling and design team make the words and recipes look mouthwatering. Take a look at some of our work together:

Kroger MyMag grilling1Kroger MyMag grilling2Kroger MyMag grilling3

Fast food: Why we need to slow down

We eat in our cars, at our desks, on the go, in front of the TV. We eat drive-through, take-out, delivered, packaged and prepared meals.

We need to slow … down.

Consumer trends around the globe show that over the past three decades people are purchasing more prepared foods at the grocery and eating out more. It’s projected that we’ll spend a record amount at restaurants in 2011. We’re consuming an increasing number of calories and bigger portions. Simultaneously, we’re getting less healthy.

While debates rage over the food industry’s contribution to our growing waistlines and our resulting health problems, the bottom line is this: What we eat, where we eat and how we eat are all 100% under our control. We can choose to eat a fast-food lunch on the go (spending that extra $6 and adding 150 calories to our day). We can throw a frozen meal in the microwave and call it dinner.

Or, we can dedicate an hour of the day to cook and enjoy a meal with our families. We can spend a few minutes in the morning to eat a healthy breakfast. Eating sensibly doesn’t take much time or money, but it does require you to make a conscious decision to do so. Here are some steps you can take:

Respect food. Prepare it with love, enjoy it with mindfulness, use it to your healthy benefit.

Shop your local farmers’ markets. Studies on both coasts have shown that farmers’ market produce is comparably priced to grocery produce—and it’s much fresher, it’s better for the local economy and it’s more sustainable.

Be mindful of what you put in the shopping cart. Why buy salad dressing that’s full of high-fructose corn syrup and preservatives, when you can make your own salad dressing for much less money and better health?

Be careful about coupons. Buy-one-get-one on PopTarts seems like a good deal. But is it? Is that coupon prompting you to buy something you don’t want or need?

Read more about these and other steps you can take toward your own slow-food movement and eating healthier today in my article for SparkPeople.com: Why a Fast-Food Nation Needs a Slow-Food Movement.

New work: Recipes and blog posts for SparkRecipes.com

I love collaborating with my editors at SparkPeople.com and SparkRecipes.com, and here’s why: Their goal, like mine, is to help people who perhaps don’t love to cook learn to prepare healthy food for themselves and their families. My work with Spark presents an unusual challenge—unlike readers of, say, Edible Ohio Valley magazine (to which I contribute the Cultivators column), Spark-ers aren’t necessarily devoted cooks or foodies. I have to write with Spark members’ unique needs in mind: They want quick, easy recipes for food that tastes great and supports their health and fitness goals.

My work for Spark includes a new series of Power Foods articles that dig deep into the nutritional profiles of common fruits and vegetables and offer simple ways to prepare them.

Why Potatoes Are Good for You—This Power Foods article extols the virtues of the poor potato, so maligned by low-carb diet gurus. Potatoes lend themselves to unhealthful preparations, like deep frying and topping with sour cream and butter. But all the specialty varieties are fantastic when prepared simply.

I also regularly contribute a series of 10 Ways With … articles for DailySpark.com.

10 Ways to Enjoy Tomatoes—This article gives Spark members a variety of quick and easy ways to cook with this summer garden staple.

Another ongoing assignment: Hack the grocery store, with a series of Better Than Store-Bought recipes that let Spark members make homemade versions of supermarket staples, with an emphasis on recipes that are healthier or less expensive.

Fresh no-cook tomato sauce—If you still have access to ripe local tomatoes, either in your backyard garden or at the farmers’ market, then you’ll want to make this. I’ve tried other fresh tomato sauces to toss with pasta, but this one is different: You warm a bit of olive oil and drizzle that over peeled and diced tomatoes. The warm oil gently heats the tomatoes and deepens their flavor.

Chewy-Crunchy Granola Bars—So many store-bought granola bars include high-fructose corn syrup, artificial flavors or preservatives. My version of homemade chewy-crunchy granola bars offers great texture, healthful whole grains and nuts, and tasty dried fruit.

Client love: Sterling Cut Glass

I happened to meet Mike and Leslie Dyas, owners of Sterling Cut Glass, at a memorable party last fall. That wine-infused conversation led to a terrific new collaboration. Since midsummer, I’ve been helping Leslie and her colleagues Linda Sacolick and Greg Grupenhof create blog and newsletter content that connects their small business with their loyal customers and prospects.

Sterling Cut Glass is a Cincinnati stalwart, with a retail store that offers monogrammed crystal stemware, table settings, home accessories and items to commemorate life’s biggest occasions. For generations, Sterling has been the go-to for wedding and baby gifts. But Linda and Leslie felt that the store had been pigeonholed as a place to shop for brides and newborns; in fact, they offer so much more for the home and table.

In short, Sterling Cut Glass helps customers create beautiful, unique dining and entertaining experiences at home, in addition to helping them commemorate life’s most special occasions with memorable gifts.

Linda, Greg and I have collaborated to create content for the Sterling Cut Glass blog and newsletter that offers customers new ideas for decorating and entertaining. Articles have included the hows and whys of pairing wines to specific glasses, new trends in home decorating and ideas for hosting a fun Halloween party.

I love writing about food and cooking—and with my partners at Sterling Cut Glass, I also get to write about special ways to share great food with friends and family.