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Find Out What's Sexy About New Hampshire

February 1, 2013

Don’t laugh. We mean it.

You can bet that Daniel Webster wasn't the only fast talker when the Senate was in session. And we know for a fact that Colonial Governor Benning Wentworth had much more on his mind than the King’s business and that New Hampshire’s only White House resident was the 19th-century equivalent of People’s "Sexiest Man Alive." Here's a showcase of examples — past and present — that are sure to raise an eyebrow or two.

Fess up. We know you’re not hibernating out there. According to a story on the Huffington Post website, New Hampshire is the state with the sixth highest per capita use of sex toys — hey, we even make them here. Need any more proof of our supreme sexiness? New Hampshire is the birthplace of one of the 20th century’s sexiest novels, turned movie, turned nighttime soap — "Peyton Place."

We asked two Nashua psychologists what advice they’d give the Granite State if it were a client seeking advice about how to overcome its slightly frigid image and appear to all the world as a little more va va va voom. OK, they weren’t comfortable giving their names lest their clients think them less than serious — perhaps further proof of New Hampshire’s coyness when it comes to the subject of whoopee.

From a Freudian point of view, they took a look at those things most closely identified with the state in terms of symbols.

"Get rid of the lilac as the state flower" was the first bit of advice. "Too old-fashioned. It reminds me of my mother and there is nothing sexy about that." And the dowdy Purple Finch — our state bird? The therapists suggest we might give some thought to the Downy Woodpecker, also indigenous to New Hampshire woods and a lot more thrilling in appearance and action (and name).

• The Nielsens aren’t the only ones who give a high rating to WMUR anchor Erin Fehlau.
• When Mandy Moore sang “I want to be with you,” many agreed with the Nashua native who recorded a platinum album of bubblegum pop.
• US Senator Kelly Ayotte has grabbed the attention of a national news that is not easily distracted by just another pretty face.
• Lovely Hampton model Persephanie Lesperance was a finalist in Maxim Magazine's Hometown Hottie contest.
Chef Nicole Barreira puts the pepper in the salsa at T-Bones and Cactus Jack’s restaurant — all while wearing a hot pink chef’s jacket. Click here to check out her provocative video on “How to Use Zucchini.”

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Chocolate Challenge 2010

February 1, 2010

Hot chocolate.

No, not the stuff in the mug with marshmallows, but delectable chocolate desserts with a touch of chile pepper.

We challenged four locally based, regional chains to send a chef to create a dessert presentation that spoke to chocolate lovers loudly, but at the same time whispered gently with a touch of heat.

Each of the restaurants featured here will have their entry on the menu for the month of February, so feast with more than your eyes and be warmed from the inside out.

Our Challenge: Create a dessert for chocolate lovers that has a touch of heat from chile pepper.

Our Restaurants:

T-Bones and Cactus Jack’s Executive Chef Nicole: Nicole has a culinary degree from Southern New Hampshire University in Manchester. She is responsible for developing menus for all the T-Bones and Cactus Jack’s restaurants throughout the state. Her dessert: White Chocolate Jalapeno Butter Cake

Lakehouse Grille, Meredith: A member of the Common Man family Executive Chef Allen Zick Allen is the executive chef for Camp and the Lakehouse Grille, both in Meredith. He has been in the industry for 24 years, traveling through Massachusetts, New Jersey and Pennsylvania before settling in Meredith where he focuses on creative infusions of American cuisine. His dessert: Mexican Chocolate Creme Brulee.

Fratello’s and the Homestead: Chef Paris Landry Paris has worked as a pastry chef and chocolatier and now spends her time in the kitchen of Chef Timothy Littlefield at the Homestead Restaurant in Bristol. It is with his support and the encouragement of the rest of the company that she has proudly entered this competition. His Dessert: Gilded Pleasure.

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Hippo Best Of Awards

Best Chef in Manchester, NH 2012

Copper Door Breaks Ground in Bedford

October 3, 2011

Tom Boucher envisions his customers entering the arched copper doors of his new eatery for approachable fine dining cuisine in a relaxed atmosphere. Boucher broke ground on his new 8,000-square-foot restaurant, The Copper Door, in Bedford last month, and building will begin early this summer. He hopes to open before Christmas.

Boucher opened T-Bones in 1984 and Cactus Jack’s in 1995. There are now seven locations of the two local chains.

“When we started T-Bones … opening Cactus Jack’s was certainly very different,” Boucher said. “Being a Southwestern restaurant, it was not quite as classic … it has a little more bar scene and obviously the foods were more Southwestern and a little more edgy.” The foundational principles of CJ’s and T-Bones and core cultural aspects will be carried over to the Copper Door, but the new restaurant’s concept will be much different, Boucher said.

“We decided to go into that level of dining that is really wedged between casual and fine … it is no secret that since C.R. Sparks closed, there is definitely a void that has been left in the Bedford market for that level of dining,” he said. “The opportunity is there in front of us.”

Boucher said his company has two other concepts up its sleeve. “There are lots of opportunities in different parts of the state,” he said. “The key is that you have to find the right location.”

The new eatery’s spot at the intersection of Route 101 and Olde Bedford Road is an “A-plus location,” Boucher said, but in addition to location, timing is also key in a restaurant’s success.

Boucher said he has seen an upswing in business at all seven of his eateries.

“It is clear that the economy is starting to turn back around … we all felt like the timing was great [to open a new restaurant],” he said.

Chef Nicole Barreira, who oversees all CJ’s and T-Bones locations, will have a hand in the development of the new 200+-seat restaurant, but Boucher plans to hire a chef whose only focus will be the Copper Door.

“I think that’s what people expect, to have the chef on site all the time,” Boucher said, adding that everything on the chef-inspired menu will be made from scratch. “We will try to create a menu that is very approachable for people,” he continued, adding that it is too early to be thinking about what dishes the restaurant will offer.

Boucher plans to hire a staff of more than 100, including a new general manager, to open the eatery.

“When you first open, everyone wants to come try it — again, with our experience, that is just how it goes,” he said. “Restaurants have a honeymoon period for their first three months.”

“Within that time frame, we will also start to understand who are the solid, quality employees that will stay,” he added.

While he said the Copper Door will “not be casual by any means,” Boucher said customers will not feel the stuffiness often found at high-end restaurants in big cities.

“I think there are many people out there kind of intimidated by the fine dining environment … even the wine list can keep people from dining at those locations as much as they’d like,” he said. “This will be someplace you can go on a Tuesday night, get high-quality food and high-end served in an atmosphere that is more relaxed.”

Boucher said even the restaurant’s name, suggested by his wife, gives him a vision of a very classy restaurant, without evoking an air of pretentiousness.

“It just speaks to what we’re trying to do,” he said.

T-BONES: 22 New Dishes for 25 Years

August 30, 2010

T-Bones Great American Eatery recently rolled-out a new menu, one that took more than three years to create. Twenty-two new items join some old favorites, and the menu itself has an upgraded look to fit the restaurant’s style as T-Bones celebrates its 25th anniversary.

The creation of a new menu “is a long, fun process,” chef Nicole Barreira said. “We look at what’s selling and what we think will sell. We look at some of the top sellers and think about how we can make them better.”

One example of old made new is the popular appetizer sampler. Instead of a combination of four appetizer selections, it now has five. Still included are the boneless Buffalo tenders, fried mozzarella, and bacon cheddar fries, plus two new items — the signature onion rings (just moved to the appetizer menu) and the new Buffalo chicken spring rolls. A twist on both traditional Buffalo chicken wings and Asian spring rolls, Buffalo chicken spring rolls are made with wonton rolls stuffed with grilled Buffalo chicken, bleu cheese crumbles, shredded carrots, celery and tangy Buffalo sauce, rolled in cornflake crumbs and fried crisp.

Ideas for new menu items come from many sources — Barreira, owner Tom Boucher and his partners, managers, the serving staff and customers. For example, the Buffalo chicken spring rolls idea came from a customer e-mail. Other dishes made a trial run on the specials menu, and all new prospective items are demonstrated for the owners and staff to try first before they hit the big time. “I have a chef mindset. I like unique flavors that some of the guests might not like,” Barreira said.

Boucher said of Barreira, “She has a tough job. It’s a lot like being an artist. Some people like an artist’s work and some don’t. She comes at this process with the world as her palette. We have to make sure what she creates works within the limits of our operation.”

Boucher said his favorite new menu addition is the Asian Fusion Salad. Its blend of romaine lettuce, cabbage, shredded carrot, slivered almonds and crunchy chow mien noodles is topped with strips of crispy citrus-honey glazed chicken.

Barreira’s favorite on the new menu is the roasted veggie pizza: “My mom called and said, ‘I saw the veggie pizza on the specials board. Can you put it on the menu?’” The pizza, topped with a cream sauce, baby spinach, artichoke hearts, mozzarella, Parmesan cheese and grape tomatoes, is made with a flavorful multi-grain crust to entice people who don’t normally eat pizza crust. “If people don’t eat the crust on a pizza, it’s because it’s boring and has no flavor,” she said.

The “Bouch”etta Bread was inspired by Boucher, who loves bruschetta. To add a twist to this traditional Italian favorite, Barreira brushed grilled sourdough bread with olive oil and topped it with slices of mozzarella, oven-roasted grape tomatoes, and fresh basil. The dish is baked until warm and topped with cracked black pepper and sea salt.

Long-time T-Bones fans shouldn’t worry; their favorite dishes are still available. Those include the baked line-caught haddock fillet, made with lemon, white wine and butter and topped with garlic crumbs, and the C.B.C. sandwich, made with boneless chicken, that’s breaded and deep-fried and then topped with melted cheddar cheese and bacon strips.

Boucher, who started as the Bedford restaurant’s manager 20 year ago, said, “When you open the restaurant’s doors, it’s like inviting someone into your home. But everything has to be perfect.” Then he added, “I think the common theme is value. There is so much value in all our restaurants, from the way you are treated when you walk in to the food and the prices on the menu. It’s the value of the whole experience, not just the check.”

Barreira said, “If you think about the reasons people go out to dinner, be it a family night out, or a special occasion like a birthday or anniversary, you get to be a part of people’s happy experiences and do something to make it better.”

Chili Week Sets a Hot Stage

September 1, 2010

Maureen Barrett, last year’s champion with check, with Carol Hancock (left), CEO of the International Chili Society. Courtesy photo.

On the weekend of Oct. 1-Oct. 3, the world will descend upon Manchester, fork in hand, bib around neck, waiting to discover the best chili in the land. And for those who can’t wait or want to have a say in all the excitement, New Hampshire Chili Week will be spicing up many local restaurants ahead of time.

In preparation for the 44th Annual World’s Championship Chili Cookoff, which takes place the first weekend of October in Veterans Park in Manchester — the first time the event has ever been held in New England — local restaurants will put their chili to the test. At stake is the coveted title of Best Restaurant Chili in New Hampshire.

Diners at a slew of restaurants during the week of Saturday, Sept. 4, through Saturday, Sept. 11, will find free samples or discounted bowls of chili, according to Chris Wellington, marketing and retention specialist at the Manchester Economic Development Office. When a diner tries a bowl of chili he will be given a card indicating a website where the diner can vote. The top 20 restaurants, as voted by diners, will compete in the 2010 World’s Championship Chili Cookoff and will be judged by the sanctioning body, the International Chili Society. The winner will earn the title of best chili in the state.

“This is great exposure for a restaurant,” Wellington said. “We anticipate 40,000 to 50,000 people to attend the Cookoff.”

That’s a lot of people, and with those people come economic benefits for the city. Wellington estimated a $1.5 to $2 million boost to the city’s economy over the weekend. But besides money, there is also city pride.

“We’re very excited this cookoff is coming,” said Nicole Barreira, corporate chef of T-Bones and Cactus Jack’s, which have several locations competing in Chili Week.

“The final two cities were Las Vegas and Manchester. And we won,” said Heather Asang, co-owner of Two Friends Café with Stacey Wood. “It makes the city more interesting. People might expect an international maple syrup competition but not chili. It will bring people down to Manchester.”

It will also bring the Food Channel, according to Billy LaBerge, owner of Billy’s Sports Bar and co-owner with Mike Lanoie of the Derryfield Restaurant, both of which will be participating.

“Everyone likes chili,” LaBerge said. “And unlike regional dishes like clam chowder, chili is well known around the country.”

It is also something found on the menus of most restaurants, according to LaBerge, which is why about 30 are participating in Chili Week. Yet each bowl is a little different. Competing in a local chili cookoff years ago inspired LaBerge to put steak tips in his chili. Barreira said the chili at T-Bones and Cactus Jack’s, although different, is homemade from scratch and the beef is hand ground by their butcher every day. Jay Delmonte, who co-owns Shorty’s Mexican Restaurant, said Shorty’s chili has a little heat and is an original recipe, and as the first southwestern restaurant in Manchester, Shorty’s takes great pride in its chili.

It is this pride that makes chili different than so many other foods. Fifty thousand people wouldn’t traverse the United States in search of the best tomato soup. So what is it about chili?

“Chili is a comfort food,” Barreira said. “It’s a great recipe with such a simple base but it can be changed drastically by the style.”

Asang agreed, saying chili is one of the best foods for experimentation. Chefs, professional and amateur, can play around with it by adding spices or meats or changing beans.

“The diversity makes people want to try it,” Asang said, and “look for just that right one. Plus it can be served in so many different ways. Sometimes we serve it in a bread bowl. Other times with a baked potato.”

And once that perfect recipe is found, it is a treasure worth holding on to.

“It is something rooted down through the generation,” Barreira said. “For some reason, your mom’s chili is always the best.”

Asang is rooting for her co-owner Woods’ chili: “People are always saying her chili is the best,” Asang said. “So I told her to enter. It is a good way to get involved.”

And what would taking home the title of Best Chili in New Hampshire mean?

“A great sense of pride and hard work,” Delmonte said. “You get out of life what you put into it and it would mean a lot to all of us.”

Eat Your Way Through The State

May 18, 2007

More than 125 Granite State restaurants will offer three-course prix fixe lunch and dinner menus during the first statewide restaurant week. Let’s hope you’re hungry, New Hampshire.

Jack Carnevale said he has been bugging the New Hampshire Lodging & Restaurant Association (NHLRA), of which he is a member, for quite some time to pull together a weeklong statewide dining event. The director of the association finally gave the event a green light, the group formed a committee of interested parties and “presto, change-o, here we are,” Carnevale said.

The first-ever New Hampshire Restaurant Week will run from Friday, May 18, through Friday, May 25.

“I’m truly amazed how this has come together and of the people that have jumped on board,” said Carnevale, owner of Bedford Village Inn, which has held its own similar kind of event for many years.

“I wanted to see if we could raise the bars in New Hampshire and let everyone know what great chefs we have and that we’re all about the restaurants, we’re all about tourism,” he said. “And in that tourism banner, we have restaurants and we have inns. This is a great way to showcase those.”

Restaurants will offer prix fixe menus at three different price levels for each meal, with lunches from $10 to $20 and dinners from $15 to $35. The price level of each participating restaurant is represented by one to three forks on the state’s restaurant week website. Bedford Village Inn has been designated as a level three restaurant.

“People are going to kind of be moving up from the restaurant category they usually patronize to a higher level during the week, because it gives them an opportunity to do that,” Carnevale said. “I think people will tend to go out a little more frequently.”

Carnevale said diners should be ready for a lot of surprises as participating restaurants and inns may offer specials other than the set prix fixe menus and deals.

“It’s up to the individual proprietor to be inventive,” he said. “They … have a captive audience — the more creative the experience for these people, the more they will come back and dine on their regular menu and stay at their place during regular season prices.”

The Farm to Restaurant Connection has signed on as a supporter and promoter of New Hampshire Restaurant Week.

“I’ve looked at all of the different regions. There is an outstanding group of restaurants to choose from,” said Charlie Burke, president of the Farm to Restaurant Connection, adding that his organization is encouraging participating restaurants to use the event as an opportunity to feature locally sourced food on their menus and would gladly match interested chefs with farms for the dining event. Burke said he will likely dine at a restaurant that has received the Certified Local distinction from the Farm to Restaurant Connection during Restaurant Week.

The Margarita Grill in Glen is among the Certified Local restaurants participating in the inaugural statewide dining week. The restaurant’s chef, Bud Selmi, joins chefs Nicole Barreira (Great NH Restaurants), Michael Buckley (MT’s Local, Surf, Buckley’s Great Steaks), Stuart Cameron (Hanover Street Chophouse), Josh Farrington (White Mountain Hotel), Benjamin Knack (Bedford Village Inn), Jeffrey Paige (Cotton), Luca Paris (Luca’s Mediterranean Café), Adam Parker (Indian Head Resort) and Todd Sweet (Portsmouth Brewery) as NHLRA-selected celebrity chefs for the event.

Margarita Grill will source its salad ingredients from Pork Hill Farms in Ossipee, and wild mushrooms for its wild mushroom enchiladas from a local purveyor.

“We thought it would be a good opportunity [to showcase local food] … people connect with that,” said Corrine Rober, owner of the Margarita Grill. “It seems the way everybody should be thinking.”

Selmi created a seafood quesadilla (made with marinated shrimp, scallops and crabmeat, hot sauce, sherry, Monterey jack and goat cheeses, red peppers, sour cream and olive tapenade) specifically for the eatery’s restaurant week menu.

“We thought [Restaurant Week] was a great thing for New Hampshire,” Rober said. “It’s just a good opportunity to really focus and get the word out there about our restaurants and tourism up here.”

Cameron said he also plans to incorporate some locally sourced food into his Restaurant Week dishes: “I try to give as much value as I can give on the plate … we think we do a great job here, so we’d like to have more people know about us,” he said.

Sesame Vegetable Noodle Stir Fry

April 25, 2012

NH Chef Receives People's Choice Award At World Championship Chili Cookoff

October 11, 2010

Nashua resident, Nicole Barreira placed 3rd in the ‘Last Chance Cookoff People’s Choice Chili’ category at the 2010 World’s Championship Chili Cookoff.

Approximately 70 chefs from all over America, competed at this year’s international chili cook-off, held at Veteran’s Park in Manchester, New Hampshire. Barreira took home the 3rd place award with her spicy chili recipe that had a smoky chipotle taste balanced with sweet brown sugar.

“There’s nothing like a warm, sweet and spicy bowl of chili on a crisp New England, fall day,” states Barreira, who is the corporate chef at New Hampshire’s T-BONES and Cactus Jack’s restaurants. “The chili cook-off was a blast and I’d like to give a big thanks to all the people who sampled and voted for their favorite chili! It’s an honor to receive recognition for one of my recipes at such a prestigious event.” Blog Mention

2/13/2013 12:12:28PM By HealthyDiningFinder

From the moment we hear the first heartbeat to the day they come home crying because someone hurt their feelings, we, as moms are the protectors of our children’s hearts. And just as important, we must nourish their hearts with high quality nutrient-rich foods that fuel their bodies to grow and learn and thrive. February is National Heart Month and a great time to hear some perspectives from Moms about how they love and care for their young hearts:

Nicole Barreira, Corporate Chef for Great New Hampshire Restaurants
I think it is so important to teach my kids about a heart healthy diet because to me it is part of the fundamental knowledge we all need in order to be as successful as possible in life. Much like we teach our kids the importance of brushing their teeth and how to make wise choices so they can be safe; our kids need to know how to take care of their bodies and make wise choices for their health (in an age appropriate way of course!)

For holidays and special occasions, instead of cookie decorating or bringing a plate of cookies to friends or parties, I like to make a Chocolate Covered Fruit tray. I use fruits like strawberries, blueberries and apples and then dip a small part of the fruit in chocolate, so each treat has far fewer calories and less sugar than most holiday treats. I use a nice dark chocolate and milk chocolate blend. Sometimes I roll the chocolate covered fruits (while still tacky) in crushed candy, coconut, crushed pretzels, holiday themed sprinkles, or toffee bits. Although still a sweet treat; these gems are certainly much healthier because the fruit provides great nutrients and fiber.

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Spotlight on Nicole Barreira

January 24, 2013

Corporate Chef for Great New Hampshire Restaurants (Copper Door, Cactus Jack's and T-Bones); Inagural Leader for the Kids LiveWell Program; Bachelor's Degree in Hospitality Management and a Master's Degree in Organizational Leadership / Marketing; Mother to two vegetable-loving girls, ages 3 and 1.

Anita: Hi Nicole. I am really looking forward to talking with you today about your passion for nutrition and how you share that passion as a chef and as a mom. So first, how did you become so interested in health and nutrition?

Nicole:It was really my mom who ignited my passion for great food and healthful ingredients. My parents are Italian & Portuguese, and so food has always been a really big part of our lives. All our good times and special occasions revolve around food. When growing up, my mom would spend most of the day planning, shopping, cutting, chopping and preparing our meals. My sisters and I loved to help out whenever we could. My mom always served a lot of vegetables, and so I learned to appreciate the benefits of eating vegetables even when I was young.

Anita: I love that your mom ignited your passion for nutrition. That is really what this blog is all about … to explore how we, as moms, can get our kids excited about eating healthy. I know you have some great tips for us, but before we talk about your strategies with your kids, tell us about how you became a chef.

Nicole: Well, in high school it was very clear to me that I wanted a culinary career. But I was also very academic, so I paired my culinary artistry with a culinary degree from Southern New Hampshire University, along with a Bachelor's Degree in Hospitality Management and then received a Master's Degree in Organizational Leadership / Marketing.

Anita: Wow! That is quite a foundation of expertise. And so tell us how you have spread your passion for nutrition through your career.

Nicole: I am the corporate chef for Great New Hampshire Restaurants, which includes three concepts, T-Bones, Cactus Jack’s and Copper Door. We have eight locations and a wide variety of menu choices. Our owners are also very health-conscious, and we believe that it is our responsibility to meet our guests’ nutrition needs. We have always been very willing to listen to what our guests want and to prepare meals that please our guests and meet their nutritional needs. I also wanted to make it easy for our guests who prefer lower calorie, lower fat and lower carbohydrate meals, so I developed a selection of menu items called “In the Pink.”

“Involve kids in the preparation of healthful meals, no matter how young. Even if it is just giving an empty bowl and spoon on the floor to ‘play’ with. Always have little snacks with you, like whole grain cereals, fruits, or granola when you head out for the day. It starts with the shopping cart really. If you do not buy a lot of processed foods, you wont reach for them Tuesday night. If you have a lot of strawberries, you’re going to eat a lot of strawberries, etc.”

Anita: Tell us about the name “In the Pink.”

Nicole: “In the Pink” is a 16th-century term meaning in perfect condition, especially of health. That is why a healthy newborn baby is referred to as “in the pink.” I even wear a bright pink chef’s apron. Soon after we launched my “In the Pink” menu items, we joined the HEALTHY DINING PROGRAM, and most of our “In the Pink” items are featured on

Anita: I really like your site,, which has with lots of great recipes, although not all of them HEALTHY DINING-approved, ha ha! And you were then invited to become an Inaugural Leader in the Kids LiveWell Program, developed by the National Restaurant Association. Tell us about your Kids LiveWell options.

Nicole: I think it is so important to feed kids high quality, nutritious meals. That is really my passion. We were thrilled to be an Inaugural Leader for Kids LiveWell. We offer three qualifying kids’ options on each restaurant menu, including grilled salmon or BBQ chicken, both served with a half baked potato, steamed broccoli and 1% milk. We also have a Grilled Chicken Salad with lots of crunchy veggies and warm grilled chicken on our garden fresh salad, served with homemade salsa and 1% milk to drink. Kids really like those items, and parents can feel good that their kids are getting a high quality, nutritious meal.

"No matter if you are a professional chef or a novice cook, feeding the little ones healthful, well balanced meals and snacks can be very trying. I believe, however, that it needs to be viewed as not simply a task, but a matter of your child’s health…because it is. We wouldn’t think of skipping vaccinations or sick check-ups, but the food we feed our kids seems to be a smaller thought."

Anita: Yum. Yes, my daughter would like any of those. I think it is so exciting to see chefs, like you, considering the healthfulness of your kids’ menus and adding your creativity to find nutritious ingredients that kids like. And with the Kids LiveWell program, it is getting easier and easier to find healthy meals for kids when eating out. Thank you for your leadership in the program! So, now tell me about your kids. Are they healthy eaters?

Nicole: Yes, they are! Chloe is three and Gabriella is just over one. As you can see by the pictures, my girls already love vegetables and love to help in the kitchen! I think it is really fun to have them help me prepare meals. As a busy, working mom, it can be hard to find the time for snuggling your kids and preparing healthful meals on weeknights, so I combine the two! It is our special time together.

Anita: Those pictures are adorable! So do they eat every type of vegetable?

Nicole: No, In fact, one day they will try something new and like it and the next day they hate it. But that is OK. I just continue to introduce new foods and reintroduce foods that they didn’t like at one time. I think it is really important to keep trying new types of foods and reintroducing things they think they don’t like, prepared other ways.

"I will feel like I was a successful parent if my kids grow up to instill healthy eating habits into their day to day lives and then carry that on to their kids.”

Anita: Yes, that is what Elizabeth Pivonka also emphasized. She is the President of Produce for Better Health and is working hard to help Americans eat more fruits and vegetables. She said it is really important to keep trying new fruits and vegetables with kids because their taste buds mature over time. She also emphasized that parents need to purposefully forget that their kids don’t like something, so that they don’t reinforce that dislike to the child. I thought that was great advice.

Nicole: I agree! Even textures that were once not appealing can be fine two or three months later! I also talk at their level about nutrition. For example, I will say, “Eat this. It is made with olive oil, so it will give you long, beautiful princess hair.” Or “Eat this chicken and you will have strong muscles so you can play outside.” I think it is really important to educate kids about WHY they should eat healthy not just tell them to do it. I won’t always be able to control what they eat, so I want to instill the knowledge and dedication they need to want to eat healthy. I will feel like I was a successful parent if my kids grow up to instill healthy eating to their kids.

Anita: Yes, that is really important! And I think you will find you were very successful, Nicole. Thanks so much for all you are doing in your work and as a mom to contribute to a healthier America!

How To Roast Garlic

Correct Way to Saute

Fresh Zucchini

What is the best way to lose weight and dine out?

March 4, 2013

While many diets rise and fall in popularity over the years, there are a few nutrition principles that have stood the test of time. When it comes to weight loss, the amount of calories you take in is directly related to the numbers on the scale; however it is important to still have your plate balanced with all of the major food groups. Some of the lowest calorie foods are vegetables (that aren’t prepared with high calorie ingredients, like butter and oil) and fruits, which is why these are often staples in any weight loss diet. Lean protein (such as poultry, fish, beans, nuts, etc.) and whole grains that are rich in fiber (think brown rice, whole grain bread, etc.) should also be a part of a weight loss diet, because they help you feel satisfied and stay full for a longer period of time. Low-fat dairy products like skim milk and Greek yogurt are also an important part of your diet, because they not only provide calcium, which is vital for your bone health, but also are another good protein source.

When dining out, try to stick as closely as possible to your balanced meal, and remember these other tips:

Choose lean protein with low-fat, low-calorie preparation methods, such as grilling, broiling, steaming, or baking.

Keep in mind that many restaurant portion sizes are larger than suggested, so order a “to-go” container with your order and place part of your meal in the container before you begin your meal.

Make a plan before you go out, either by logging onto, making use of the Healthy Dining mobile site, or visiting the restaurant’s website.

Fill your plate with steamed vegetables (without butter) and a tossed green salad with a touch of dressing.

Remember that there are calories in alcoholic and most sweetened beverages (like soda and juice), so try to stick with water or unsweetened iced tea.

There are many Healthy Dining restaurants that feature special lower calorie menus and menu items, including:

T-Bones – Has a special “In the Pink” menu, which has selections under 650 calories. Try the Low-Fat Chicken Fresco Wrap (290 calories, 7 g fat) Located throughout NH

Hudson Memorial School Conducts Career Day

March 39, 2013

Remember the days when you were a student and the earliest you were ever presented with the question of ‘what do you want to do for a living for the next 40 years’ wasn’t until late in your junior year in high school? Well, things have changed. And so much for the days when a kid could be a kid; simply because that’s what kids are supposed to be.

Kids today are exposed to so much so soon and so often that thinking about a professional work career while you are in the 8th grade has become part of that process. As such, Hudson Memorial School in a collaborative effort with Alvirne High School hosted a career day on March 21. According to Hudson Memorial High School 8th grade guidance counselor Karen O’Brien, the event was coordinated with the help of her colleagues and Judy King, the Business and Community Liaison at Alvirne.

Over 300 eighth grade students participated in the event which included each student selecting career areas to explore. One of the marquee presentations on the day involved the Culinary Arts program. Nicole Barreira and Matt Hankins are 2002 graduates; with Barreira holding down the title of corporate chef for both T-Bones and Cactus Jack’s restaurants.

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In the pink: Chef Nicole Barreira wants NH families to share
kitchen family time

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Ribbon Cutting

Grass doesn’t grow under the feet of Nicole Barreira.

As corporate chef for Great NH restaurants T-Bones, Cactus Jack’s and The Copper Door, Barreira is creating new dishes in the test kitchens. As marketing manager, she is meeting with the executives and the menu team, tweaking seasonal menus and aligning concepts for the disparate restaurants, and creating her “In The Pink” healthy choices section.

As developer of her own Chef Nicole brand (perhaps you’re familiar with her signature pink chef’s coat), Barreira has a comprehensive website,, with recipes for amateur and experienced chefs, young and old, a blog, and her own Simply Posh chef sets, signature seasoning blends, and more.

As a food educator, she has recently launched an interactive exhibit at the SEE Science Center for very young chefs. And as mother of Chloe Grace, almost 4, and Gabriella, 2, and partner of 10 years to Nathan Langford, she is creating healthy meals and nurturing a love for cooking.

She does public appearances, radio, TV and special events, and (wo)mans the Facebook page. In her spare time this year, Barriera will also churn out a children’s cookbook.

Not bad for just 30 years old.

Barreira, of Manchester, is definitely a force to be reckoned with. Her days are packed with culinary adventures, but her focus is always finding ways to offer healthy alternatives at the restaurants entrusted to her, and educating families on creating good habits and good family time.

“I’m really excited to offer ‘Science In The Kitchen With Chef Nicole!’ to the community,” Barreira said. The idea for the interactive exhibit, where children can learn about the fun and science behind cooking, came about simply enough: Great NH Restaurants CAO Lisa Allen was at the Manchester center, and sent Barreira and CEO Tom Boucher with the musing “Wouldn’t it be cool to have a Chef Nicole display here?” Barreira agreed.

“I love food and science, and I knew the pink Chef Nicole branding would lend itself to the center,” she said. “Tom laid out a budget, and we met with The Scribbit (marketing design company). I told them I wanted to link food science for kids. I wanted it realistic, not toy-like. Then we pitched it to SEE’s Douglas Heuser.”

Great NH Restaurants picked up the tab for building the exhibit, which includes sketches, culinary ideas and fun food facts, all branded in signature Chef Nicole pink. But it’s not a kiddie playground. “They have my Posh Kits, and Melissa and Doug realistic food toys. It’s not just fun playtime; kids can learn how to use (age-appropriate) knives and real equipment, and learn about real, different fruits and vegetables they may not be familiar with,” Barreira said. “For example, kiwi. Maybe if kids are exposed to something new at the exhibit, they’ll ask their parents to try it.”

Barreira said there are interesting facts all over the display, on the fridge, stove, icebox, etc. “There’s a cartoon Chef Nicole, talking about freezer burn facts,” she said. “And why do we cook food? There are facts about the science of cooked food, like how that makes us different from other animals on earth, and how cooking releases more nutrients to make our brains larger.”

Educating her kids and others is a major mission. “Food is such a huge part of our lives. I hope kids visiting the exhibit go from playing to learning the importance of healthy food choices, and how it affects your body,” she said. “When I spoke at the launch, I equated it with brushing our teeth, or why do we go to the doctor. I tell my kids vegetables are good for you; but don’t just tell them – tell them why. I tell my girls why I choose olive oil over butter for cooking: ‘Because it grows long princess hair.’ I connect it to things that make sense to them. Like, ‘green vegetables are what superheroes eat.’”

Ribbon Cutting

Barreira is quick to point out that it’s not all kale and perfection at her house. “If you think my kids don’t see the Golden Arches and want to stop, or don’t eat cookies and treats, you’re wrong. But I do say, eat this first.” She also makes sure her girls’ meals include a variety of healthy choices now, in their formative years – whether or not they make it to their tummies. “I don’t care if they only lick the asparagus,” she said, “as long as they see it. They’re used to seeing it, and it’s not foreign.” Barriera said she has met grown adults who aren’t familiar with the plethora of vegetables they could be enjoying.

Great NH Restaurants are doing their part to provide healthy options to diners in their establishments. “We were inaugural partners in the LiveWell program,” Barriera said. “I flew to D.C. and spoke at that conference.” The program was launched by the National Restaurant Association, to include more nutritious options for families dining out.

“They’re USDA-certified meals. Each has strict carb, fat and sugar restrictions,” Barreira said. “It’s a complete meal, with protein, vegetables, plus a beverage. It’s a cool national initiative, with a couple thousand restaurants on board. Parents can see online what restaurants participate. (CEO Tom Boucher) is involved in the National Restaurant Association, and the program matched our core values. Each Great NH Restaurant location has three kids’ LiveWell meals.”

Obviously, Barreira understands the time constraints of being a working parent trying to juggle the scant hours available for bonding and healthy eating. “When you get home from work, you have like 2 hours before your children’s bedtime,” she said. “And you have to help with homework, make dinner, get them ready for bed. I wanted to develop recipes that turn family time into cooking time, to promote sitting down and eating together as a family.”

Barreira hopes with her upcoming cookbook, she’ll be able to help families find a way to balance their time together, without resorting to drive-thru fast food or PB&Js. “It won’t be like other ones, where they’re simple recipes just for kids to make,” she said. “It will have things like grilled pork tenderloin: ‘this part the grown-up does, this part is what kids do.’ To create the meal together.”

As long as nobody licks the asparagus.