Author Archive for: ‘dsimmons’

Mason Jars…Not Just About Southern Comfort Anymore

As I traveled around the Northern part of California this September I was extremely excited to be in the birth place of “Fresh, local, scratch” and recycling in the restaurant world. That being said since this trip was about relaxing and celebrating my marriage, I promised it would not be all about food—or at least as much as I could step away from something that is at my very core.

 

I did not research before going and we just ate in places we either came across in our travels, locals recommended or that popped up on Urbanspoon and Yelp. We would start looking in the area when we got hungry and then just pop into the coolest looking place. Without a doubt every place we went had the Mason Jar as some type of serving vessel—from upscale restaurants to little mom and pop’s. Desserts, beverages, appetizers, soups—all sizes as well—tall, regular size, pint, jelly jar; from humble food storage vessel to a star!

 

One of the trends in restaurants or food trucks in this part of CA is that they served basically one thing with variations on the theme. Homeroom in Oakland CA is a cool little corner spot that Mac + Cheese is what they do. Every kind with almost anything you can image mixed in. They offer vegetable sides and desserts but the main focus is all about the Mac. Sourcing the freshest ingredients, limiting their menus and making everything to order– these places rocked!! I never thought I could get extremely excited over eating Mac + Cheese but menu items like-The Exchange Student-creamy gouda, scallions, ginger butter and spicy sriracha or Mac the Goat—rich and tangy fresh chevre(locally sourced), sliced scallions, spinach, and crispy breadcrumbs with a drizzle of olive oil—my mouth was in heaven.

 

Homemade syrups and soda’s hot hot hot; mixologist not bartenders, less meat, and smaller portions-that is what we found all around CA.

 

Two other aspects never stopped impacting & astounding me and have instilled a great desire to return soon: the freshness of the food everywhere and the commitment from the whole state on every level to take care of the environment. Eating an all meat crab cake sandwich, right after the crab was caught in front of you on the water-oh so sweet!! Vegetables of every kind picked the same day and prepare very simply so the flavor of the individual vegetable or fruit was the star-not a side kick. This was not just at the most expensive places but universal. Food trucks offering squeezed for you fresh juices with produce straight from the farm that day.

 

Then the commitment to reduce waste was very evident. Recycling and composting at both the ballparks we attended, recycling containers in public areas, composting cans supported by the cities just like our recycling and garbage pickup. Network among the restaurants, homeless shelters, grocery stores and farms to use the food that cannot be sold to the public to help fed the tremendous amount of homeless people. They use Face book, Twitter and blogs to get the information out there and even have a huge source of volunteers to help transport the products.

 

Feeling truly blessed to have had this experience and so proud to see just how trendy we really are at MG! Our core values are alive and well in CA, too.

~Cate Smith

Healthy Baking Ideas

For healthier baking: you can replace the fat in any baking recipe using applesauce. It’s a one-to-one ratio, so simply sub applesauce for the quantity of fat called for. You can also lighten baking recipes by cutting the quantity of sugar called for in half. Chances are, most people won’t even realize it’s gone, and it will reduce calorie count considerably.

Here are a few other ways to lighted up your favorite baked goods:

  • Butter: Canola, mild olive oil, prune purée or applesauce
  • 1 ounce of chocolate: 3 tablespoons cocoa
  • 2 eggs: 1 egg + 2 whites or egg substitute
  • Cream, whole milk (in batters, muffins or biscuit doughs): Skin or lowfat (1%) milk
  • Cream Cheese (in cheesecake): Lowfat ricotta + yogurt; light cream cheese
  • Ricotta cheese, whole-milk: 1/2 whole milk ricotta plus either part-skim ricotta or
  • lowfat (1%) cottage cheese
  • Sour Cream: Plain yogurt
  • Whipped cream, ice cream (to top cakes, pies, warm fruit desserts): Frozen yogurt,
  • Lowfat yogurt
  • 1 cup whipped cream (in mousse mixtures): 3 stiffly beaten egg whites or 3/4 to 1 cup
  • Yogurt Cheese
  • 1 cup whipping or heavy: 1 cup evaporated skim milk cream (for whipping)

Healthy Baking Ideas

For healthier baking: you can replace the fat in any baking recipe using applesauce. It’s a one-to-one ratio, so simply sub applesauce for the quantity of fat called for. You can also lighten baking recipes by cutting the quantity of sugar called for in half. Chances are, most people won’t even realize it’s gone, and it will reduce calorie count considerably.

Here are a few other ways to lighted up your favorite baked goods:

  • Butter: Canola, mild olive oil, prune purée or applesauce
  • 1 ounce of chocolate: 3 tablespoons cocoa
  • 2 eggs: 1 egg + 2 whites or egg substitute
  • Cream, whole milk (in batters, muffins or biscuit doughs): Skin or lowfat (1%) milk
  • Cream Cheese (in cheesecake): Lowfat ricotta + yogurt; light cream cheese
  • Ricotta cheese, whole-milk: 1/2 whole milk ricotta plus either part-skim ricotta or
  • lowfat (1%) cottage cheese
  • Sour Cream: Plain yogurt
  • Whipped cream, ice cream (to top cakes, pies, warm fruit desserts): Frozen yogurt,
  • Lowfat yogurt
  • 1 cup whipped cream (in mousse mixtures): 3 stiffly beaten egg whites or 3/4 to 1 cup
  • Yogurt Cheese
  • 1 cup whipping or heavy: 1 cup evaporated skim milk cream (for whipping)

Dried Cranberry Salad

Serves 8 

1 c – port-soaked dried cranberries
1/4 c – apple cider vinegar
1 T – dijon mustard
1 t – sea salt
1/2 t – freshly ground black pepper
1 c – extra virgin olive oil 


1 qt – mixed salad greens
1/2 c – gorgonzola cheese crumbles
3/4 c – candied pecans 

 

  1. Soak dried cranberries in port wine, at least one hour, drain 
  2. Vinaigrette: Mix vinegar, dijon, sea salt & pepper, whisk in olive oil 
  3. Toss greens with 1/2 of vinaigrette, add more as desired 
  4. Top with cranberries, gorgonzola crumbles & candied pecans 

Healthy Food Swaps

I’m thinking everyone knows I’m (once again) on a quest to ‘lighten up’ and start treating my body with a bit more respect. While I do feel emotional eating is the biggest part of why many (most) struggle with weight, particularly the very overweight & obese, I still feel these ideas to help lighten up are great for anyone, whether you are on a quest to lose weight, or just want to reduce the empty/worthless calories you consume.

One Small Change: Healthy Swaps for Three Common Cravings
by Jason Machowsky in Healthy Tips, July 15, 2013

What makes junk food so appealing? Emotional eating aside, it often comes down to two things: taste (sweet, salty) and texture (creamy, fizzy, crunchy). In my humble opinion, if we can mimic those qualities in healthier options, then upgrading eating habits becomes an easier task. So let’s tackle three commonly craved foods: soda, chips, and mayonnaise.

The Craving:

Soda. A “refreshing” couple hundred of calories will spike your blood sugar and provide no nutrients. So what keeps us drawn to soda? It’s usually the fizz factor and the sweet taste. Consider which aspects of soda attract you to it, and then find the right substitute.

The Healthy Swaps:

Seltzer or Sparkling Water If you like the fizz, carbonated beverages can serve as a great substitute. Naturally flavored versions are available if you want a taste of orange, berry, lemon-lime and more. Flavored Water If you prefer getting some taste with your fluids but don’t want the fizz, you can easily add some flavor to your water. You can use lemon or lime (fresh or from the squeeze bottle), or a splash of your favorite juice for a little sweetness. You can even use a splash of juice with seltzer too.

The Craving:

Chips. Crunchiness and saltiness are the key components of chips. Unfortunately, chips can also pack lots of extra calories from added oils and frying. Plus, the low water and fiber content of chips can lead us to consume multiple servings without realizing (to give you an idea, one serving of chips is only a palmful).

The Healthy Swaps:

Baked beet, sweet potato or kale chips Variety is the spice of life, so give these chip alternatives a shot. Baking can help reduce the amount of oil used, and spices can give them a flavorful kick – thyme, rosemary, garlic or just good old pepper. Popped popcorn will allow you to eat more for the same amount of calories: 2 to 3 cups of popcorn is equal to about one ounce of chips. Popcorn also comes with a lot of fiber. Rather than using Crunchy veggies Carrots, celery and water chestnuts are just a few of many veggies that deliver lots of crunch without lots of calories. Try them with your sandwich.

The Craving:

Mayonnaise. Most people like mayo for the creamy texture and its ability to carry flavors (fat carries flavor, and mayo has lots of fat!). When we make a swap, we need to maintain a creamy texture and keep the fat content relatively high, with a focus on healthy, plant-based fats.

The Healthy Swaps:

Hummus. Typically made from chickpeas, sesame seeds and olive oil, hummus has about half the calories of mayo. Plus it has some protein and fiber! Hummus usually comes in a range of flavors, so you can customize the spread to your sandwich or dish. Avocado With a slightly nutty flavor, avocado can boost the taste of any sandwich or salad, with fewer calories than mayonnaise. To take it a step further, make some guacamole with garlic, onion, tomato, lime juice and cilantro and use as a spread or as a dip for fresh veggies.

Tell Us: What are some of your favorite healthy swaps?
Through his book and blog, Death of the Diet, Jason Machowsky, MS, RD, CSCS, empowers people to live the life they want by integrating healthy eating and physical activity habits into their daily routines.

You can follow him on Twitter @JMachowskyRDFit.

Read more at: http://blog.foodnetwork.com/healthyeats/2013/07/15/one-small-change-healthy-swaps-forthree-common-cravings/?oc=linkback

Indian Summer Grilled Fruit

Serves 8

4 ea ripe plums, peaches &/or nectarines
8 slices watermelon, 1″ thick
Olive oil
Sea salt (optional)
Local honey, goat cheese or fresh peach ice cream

1. Brush fruit with olive oil
2. Place on preheated grill, medium high heat
3. Cook 3 minutes each side, until grill marks appear
4. Sprinkle lightly with sea salt

Serve with local honey, goat cheese & grilled bread as appetizer or fresh peach ice cream as dessert 

The Best Seasonal Recipes for August

Marcus Samuelsson lends his name to a wonderful food blog.  I encourage you to check it out:   Marcus Samuelsson food blog. The most recent post is titled “The Best Seasonal Recipes for August” by Christopher Stewart, Aug 8, 2013.  (check out that salad above…how delicious does that look?!?) Some of the recipes from his blog may be a bit out there for most accounts, but the list of seasonal items that we should be offering & eating now is spot on!  Here are a few of my suggestions for recipes we can use in just about any  account!

Tomatoes –  Baked Tomatoes with Quinoa, Corn & Green Chiles  Grilled Vegetable Gazpacho…or ANY Gazpacho!!

BlackberriesBlackberry Spinach Salad  Also, Check out the Cheftec recipe for Berry Cobbler…it’s super easy & delicious!

RaspberriesRaspberry Lemonade   Quinoa Pilaf with Raspberries   And of course, that Cheftec Cobbler recipe!

PeachesBlackberry Peach Coffee Cake  Double bonus!  Grilled Peaches with Blackberry Basil Butter  TRIPLE bonus!!!

WatermelonWatermelon-Peach Salsa with Tomatoes  One of Rie’s favorites Watermelon Feta Salad

Celery – ok…not so many great recipes out there featuring Celery, but it’s certainly a star as a back up performer!  Chicken Salad, Chicken Noodle Soup, Potato Salad, Jambalaya, etc just wouldn’t be the same with out!

CantaloupeSpinach Cantaloupe Salad with Mint

In Cheftec – Rebecca’s Chilled Cantaloupe Coconut Lime Soup Yummmmmmm

Garlic – …see celery above….

PlumsChicken Breasts with Plum Salsa  Try some of the many ‘old fashioned’ style desserts too…Plum Buckle, Plum Crisp, Plum Clafouti.  They’re all similar, kind of different variations on the cobbler, and all delicious!

Potatoes – There are just WAAAY too many to choose from!  One of my faves, that uses many of these seasonal ingredients, is a Nicoise salad.  Use any type of seafood…tho it’s traditionally made with tuna (albacore canned or try the Ahi Tuna Pieces from PFG!) It’s got tomatoes, potatoes, green beans & garlic!  Works really well as an action station!

Tomatillos -Ok, this one was tough for me because I’m not very fond of tomatillos.  However, lots of folks are, so try these recipes: White Bean Chicken Chili (use FRESH tomatillos in it!) Add  Roasted Tomatillo & Garlic Salsa to your next Mexican food bar!

Trash Talk – Flies Bugging You? Some Natural Solutions

  • Use mint as a fly repellent. Small sachets of crushed mint can be placed around the home to discourage flies.
  • Bay leaves, cloves and eucalyptus wrapped in small cheesecloth squares can be hung by open windows or doors.
  • Place a small, open container of sweet basil and clover near pet food or any open food in the house.
  •  A few drops of eucalyptus oil on a scrap of absorbent cloth will deter flies. Leave in areas where flies are a problem.

Source: www.eartheasy.com

Healthy Junk Food: Could the Cause be the Cure?

The article below was written by Ashley Beck, for posting on Marcus Samuelsson’s blog (http://www.marcussamuelsson.com/blog.)

When I began reading the blog, I thought it was written by Marcus.  I’m a little disappointed that it isn’t, but do understand he’s incredibly busy & needs help with some of the day to day tasks.  Ashley was manager of Tre restaurant, an upscale Italian place in NYC, before becoming Editorial Contributor at Marcus Samuelsson Group.

I’m not sure what I think about what they’re saying here.  On a rational level, I think they’re correct.  It’s often true that the entity that creates a problem must play a role in resolving it.  I’m not so much of an idealist (or so naïve) to think that fast food is going away anytime soon…or ever.  The points they make about it being affordable, prolific, convenient & addicting are all dead on.  Added to that are the billions (trillions??) of dollars made, not just by the restaurants, but by the suppliers, tax revenue, construction companies, etc, let’s face it, we need Mickey D’s to keep this economy functioning.

So, maybe if we work with the fast food companies, instead of against them (wow…that hurt to say!), we might get somewhere…what do you think?

Healthy Junk Food: Could the Cause be the Cure?

 

15 Ways to Enjoy Edamame

We all know that steamed edamame with a delectable sprinkling of salt make a phenomenal appetizer. Pop those babies in your mouth, strip off the pod with your teeth, discard the carnage and reach for another!

But given that soybeans are nutrient powerhouses, why not get creative and add the precious gems to your regular menu? For just 120 calories per heaping cup of edamame (or 1/2 cup shelled soybeans), you get 11 grams of protein, 9 grams of fiber, 10% of your Daily Value for vitamin C and iron and 8% for vitamin A.

Here are 15 unexpected ways to enjoy cooked and shelled edamame.

1. Green Dip: Puree soybeans with an equal amount of thawed frozen green peas, a little fresh   shallot and garlic, and salt and black pepper to taste; fold in chopped fresh parsley. Serve with whole-grain crackers or pita.

2. Rice and (Soy)Beans: Sauté soybeans in a little olive oil with chili powder and cumin; add to brown rice with green onions, cilantro and fresh lime juice; add hot sauce if desired.

3. Strong Salads: Fold into potato, pasta, seafood and egg salads for a blast of protein.

4. Egg-cellent Breakfast: Add to your morning scrambled eggs.

5. Powerful Pesto: Puree into basil pesto and use as a protein-packed sandwich spread.

6. Super Soup: Add to your favorite soup and chowder recipes for the last few minutes of cooking.

7. Better Burritos: Nestle soybeans into your favorite rice and bean burritos, either in place of the usual beans or in addition.

8. Satisfying Greens: Sprinkle over Waldorf, Caesar and Asian salads (instead of nuts, croutons or fried noodles).

9. Pasta e Fagioli: Add soybeans to ditalini pasta; add tomato sauce and Parmesan cheese.

10. Cool Chili: Add to recipes for vegetarian and beef chili during the last few minutes of cooking.

11. Sucker-Punched Succotash: Use in place of lima beans in succotash (i.e., combine soybeans and corn).

12. Great Guacamole: Mash with avocado, lime, onion, garlic and cilantro to create amazing guacamole.

13. Stronger Grains: Add to brown rice pilaf recipes and side dishes made with couscous and quinoa.

14. Wok On: Toss into stir-fries for the last few minutes of cooking.

15. Ravioli: Puree with herbed cream cheese or herbed spreadable cheese (like Laughing Cow, Boursin or Alouette) and use between two wonton wrappers to make ravioli.

Robin Miller is a nutritionist, host of Quick Fix Meals, author of “Robin Rescues Dinner” and the busy mom of two active little boys. Her boys and great food are her passion. Check her out at www.robinrescuesdinner.com.

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