Best Holiday Gift Ideas from Banister’s Intern

This is NOT a sponsored post. 

My best friend’s grandmother, Pauline, was a dietitian. She was one of my biggest supporters and inspiration for me pursuing my career in nutrition and dietetics. Before she passed away in May 2018, she gifted me with a necklace that said, “Follow Your Dreams.” Pauline was the best hostess and planner. I believe most dietitians are. She also had the best variety of essential kitchenware and gadgets. This day and age, many kitchen gadgets seem useful for a time or two before making its way to a dark corner of our cabinets, is anyone still using a George Foreman grill?

I want to share the perfect holiday, timeless gifts for anyone’s kitchen this holiday:


Intuitive Eating by Evelyn Tribole

If you’re tired of dieting and ready to change your relationship with food, this book is for you. More importantly, this book is for anyone who eats. Around this time of year, we’re inundated with diets and detoxes which leave most of us feeling deprived and desperate and worst off than from where we began. Intuitive Eating will be the beginning to the end of chasing diets that just don’t work. BN dietitians reference IE frequently with our patients.

As you make reading goals for 2020 add Intuitive Eating to the list, and while you’re at it, schedule an appointment at Banister Nutrition and one of our dietitians can discuss with you how to apply these concepts to your life.

Chef’s Knife

A chef’s knife is the most universal knife you will ever own (and they make you look like a pro). I use my chef’s knife every day, from cutting fruits and vegetables to cutting meats and tofu. The worst thing is you can do in the kitchen is an attempt to cut ANYTHING with a dull knife. It’s much more dangerous to cut with a dull knife than a sharp one. You don’t have to spend an arm and a leg on the most expensive chef’s knife, however, if you do, they will last FOREVER. Remember, always handwash and sharpen occasionally.

If using a chef’s knife intimidates you, check out videos on YouTube on how to use them correctly, or take a local class.

Cast Iron Skillet

Did you know cooking in a cast iron skillet can add iron to your food? Cast iron cookware is durable and practically indestructible and unlike other cookware, cast irons get better with time. Old cast iron skillets are a common find at thrift stores, antique shops, and flea markets for a reasonable price. Or if you’re lucky, maybe a family member has a few they are willing to part with.

Toddy Cold Brew System

Cold brew coffee is all the rage and it is not slowing down. Cold brew coffee is unique because the cold water brewing and filtering system cut the acidity of coffee by almost 70%. As a student, caffeine gets me through the day (and night). I’ve lost track of how many projects I’ve done on caffeine (and wine). I make a batch of this every week for my husband and me, and it definitely saves on our Starbucks bill. I’ve found cold brew made with a single-origin coffee tastes much better.


Pomegranate Molasses-Glazed Carrots with Pistachios

I love to try new recipes for the holidays. I offered to bring a vegetable dish and a fruit dish for my families Thanksgiving dinner at my brother’s farm in Kansas. Check out this great recipe for a new twist with carrots which was a big hit.  I will be sharing the cranberry sauce recipe later this week which I loved. Both of these recipes would be great ‘healthy’ additions to your Christmas menu.

Makes: 8 servings, 1/2 cup each
Active Time:
Total Time:

2 pounds carrots, peeled and diagonally sliced (1/4-inch)
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses (see Tip)
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup chopped salted pistachios
2 tablespoons snipped fresh chives
Combine carrots, water, pomegranate molasses, honey, butter, cinnamon and salt in a large skillet. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Cover and cook until the carrots are just tender, 6 to 8 minutes. Uncover and cook, stirring frequently, until the liquid is a syrupy glaze, 6 to 8 minutes more. Remove from heat and stir in pistachios and chives. Serve warm.  

Make Ahead Tip: Keep warm in a 225°F oven for up to 30 minutes.

Tip: Pomegranate molasses has a bright, tangy flavor. (Don’t confuse it with grenadine syrup, which contains little or no pomegranate juice.) Find it in Middle Eastern markets and some large supermarkets near the vinegar or molasses. To make your own: Simmer 4 cups pomegranate juice, uncovered, in a medium nonreactive saucepan over medium heat until thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, 45 to 50 minutes. (Do not let the syrup reduce too much or it will darken and become very sticky.) Makes about 1/2 cup. Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 3 months.

Per serving: 119 calories; 5 g fat ( 2 g sat , 2 g mono ); 8 mg cholesterol; 17 g carbohydrates; 5 g added sugars; 2 g protein; 3 g fiber; 241 mg sodium; 381 mg potassium.

Holiday Party @ Matthew Kenney

Banister and Associates, LLC recently celebrated the holidays at our annual Christmas party at Matthew Kenney, on Classen Curve in Oklahoma City. We knew that we were in for a unique dining experience, but the flavor, service and quality of food were exceptional. It was a fabulous time and we spent nearly three hours tasting and sharing more than 13 dishes on the menu! 
The team @ Banister and Associates: (L-R) Donita, Betsy, Beverley, Carol, Barbara, Sara and Paula
Sara’s Cheddar Quinoa Bowl
Paula’s Lasagna
Beverley’s Dumplings
Donita’s Butternut Squash Soup

Carol’s Tacos
Mascarpone Cheesecake

Pumpkin Layer Cake with Carrot Cream

Chocolate Tart with Spiced Caramel Cream

Tiramisu with Cappacino Gelato

Hazelnut Crusted Pears with Vanilla Nut Icecream

Berries and Coconut Cream

Mini Chip Sundae with Peppermint Ice Cream and Fudge Brownie
Gift giving and sharing laughs

As you can see- dietitians eat! We shared so many different plates (several photos are missing-specifically Barbara’s and Betsy’s Mediterranean wraps with sweet potato fries). We planned to order different items on the menu, so that we could partake in all of the unique options. Carol had recently been there for dinner with her daughter and son-in-law, so she had a heads up on several good options. Her walnut picadillo tacos had a unique flaxseed shell with red pepper salsa, orange cilantro vinaigrette and avocado inside. The flavors were fresh and the expected taco ‘crunch’ added great texture. I ordered the cheddar quinoa bowl, which came filled with butternut squash, kale, fennel and chili oil. The quinoa gave it a slight nuttiness and the squash, cheddar and chili oil provided a smooth creaminess with a kick of anise flavor from the fennel. It was delicious and I loved it!

Paula ordered the lasagna and we were ALL surprised with what landed on the table. It was made using zucchini rather than pasta, but the flavor was all there. The creamy macadamia ricotta was made in-house and blended with a pistachio pesto, sun-dried tomato marinara and arugula- the dish did not disappoint.

Beverley ordered the tamari ponzu dumplings which came in an order of 3. They were light and slightly green. The filling had sesame foam, almond and nori which gave it a crunch while the dipping sauce added a needed extra kick. 

The butternut squash soup was chilled, so that was unexpected yet refreshing. The Mediterranean wrap was loaded with hummus, veggies and tabouli all held together in a crepe-like wrap. Crispy thin sweet potato fries rounded out the plate for a hearty, delicious dish.

And the dessert!  We ordered every.single.item on the menu. As you can see above, the portions weren’t large but just right. The tiramisu had a light, airy bite yet felt rich and was wonderfully paired with a cappuccino gelato. The mascarpone cheesecake was creamy with a mild flavor, and the plating was quite impressive. The pumpkin layer cake was a favorite at the table, with a distinctly pumpkin flavor layered between creamy cream cheese-like layers. The carrot cream was my favorite because I oddly love all things carrot and carrot cake, but this had a richness like carrot cake ice cream. The chocolate tart was beautifully plated and had rich, dense bite. If you’re into chocolate- you want to try this one. The hazelnut pears were another favorite and everyone was surprised with how much they enjoyed it. The pears were bathed in anise syrup and candied hazelnuts danced on the plate. The textures of this dessert paired with vanilla nut ice cream were a homerun. The berries and cream were decent but nothing to seek out. And finally, the mint-chip sundae was delightful with a surprise of pairing of peppermint ice cream. The flavors were spot-on! We each shared a bite from all of them which culminated a perfect meal and a really great year for Banister and Associates.

Thank you to our patients for making our work truly meaningful. Each and every one of you is important to us. Have a blessed New Year and go try Matthew Kenney for an awesome dining experience. sls