When she’s not busy working on a news or feature story for WSYR-TV (NewsChannel 9), you might find Rachel Polansky on the treadmill, in a CrossFit class, on a hike or in a yoga studio. You might also find Polansky in her kitchen, preparing a healthy recipe and taping a new segment of “TV Fit Girl” to post on her YouTube channel.
Polansky, a general assignment reporter at NewsChannel 9, works a mix of day and evening hours and covers a variety of stories. One day, she might report on arctic air and accumulating snow in the North Country. Another day, she might cover a meeting about the future of Route 81 in downtown Syracuse or a public forum on school funding.
“TV Fit Girl” is her leisure time activity — and a natural companion to her interest in fitness and eating well.
“I’m all about healthy recipes and doing it quick with things you have right in your kitchen,” Polansky says. “It’s a for fun thing,” Polansky adds. “It’s really just a hobby.”In one segment, Polansky makes Chickpea Cookie Dough, a healthy snack or dessert made with chickpeas, peanut butter, honey and vanilla extract. In another, she puts oatmeal, cocoa powder, dates, peanut butter and vanilla extract in a food processor to make No Bake Peanut Butter Brownie Bites. In another, she opens a can of black beans and makes Black Bean Brownies.
Recipes for sweet treats generate the most hits and views, but Polansky also makes savory main courses, like Spicy Shrimp with Quinoa and Turkey Meatballs with Spaghetti Squash.Polansky joined the staff at NewsChannel 9 in December 2013 and before long started sharing homemade treats with her co-workers. They liked them — and she liked seeing their reaction when she told them they were made with healthy ingredients.
She started the videos less than a year ago, and has since added a TV Fit Girl Facebook page and Instagram account, where she posts pictures and recipes. The videos are made by photojournalist Danny Tripodi, who works part-time at NewChannel 9.
“I’ve always enjoyed cooking,” Polansky says. “A lot of recipes call for weird ingredients or things you don’t want to buy. My whole thing is recipes with five to eight ingredients, everything you might have in your pantry or be able to buy easily … Most recipes take less than a half hour. They’re simple, healthy, quick recipes for people on the go and people on budgets — like reporters.
Polansky is a 2012 graduate of Penn State University. She grew up in Rockland County, and played a lot of sports. When she got to college, she says, she was concerned about putting on the so-called “Freshman 15.” So she hit the gym and made it a point to eat healthy and cook healthy.
As “TV Fit Girl” likes to say: “Remember, fitness starts in the kitchen.”
Chickpea Cookie Dough Dip
From TV Fit Girl (Rachel Polansky, WSYR-TV, News Channel 9)
1 cup chickpeas, rinsed and patted dry
1.5 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 to 1.5 teaspoons honey or agave nectar
3 tablespoons PB2 powdered peanut butter mixed with 1.5 tablespoons water (see note, below)
1.5 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder for added chocolate flavor (optional)1 tablespoons dark chocolate chipsMix PB2 powder with water and stir until consistency of peanut butter.Add chickpeas, vanilla, honey and PB2 powder/nut butter to blender. Blend for several minutes until mixture is smooth. If using regular peanut you may want to add a little water.
Scoop the dough into a bowl and sprinkle in a handful of dark chocolate chips. Serve with sliced apples or pretzels for dipping. Makes 2 servings.
Note: You may use regular peanut butter or any nut butter instead of PB2 powdered peanut butter.
Margaret McCormick is a freelance writer and editor in Syracuse. She blogs about food at eatfirst.typepad.com. Follow her on Twitter, connect on Facebook or email her at [email protected]