‘Blog’

Tis the season for New Year’s resolutions

Jan 9, 2013
Sherri Meyer, MG Registered Dietitian,

As I have mentioned previously I am not big on “new year” resolutions as I think you can make resolutions any time of year and waiting until the New Year just gives you an excuse to put it off (well at least it gives me an excuse).   I decided before the date officially turned 2013 I would resolve to try to make positive changes in my life.
 

  1. Be more mindful.  This applies to all facets of my life, from what I put in my mouth to how I speak to my children.  This is not easy when you are tired and your 3 year old is demanding cookies for breakfast or when its dinnertime and nothing is prepared, but if I just pause, take a deep breath and think about my actions, I am less likely to say (or eat) something I regret.
  2. Plan More.  This especially applies to meals.  If I have healthier options on hand, it is a no-brainer that I am less likely to eat only chocolate for lunch.  Though it is not easy with 3 little boys demanding your full attention, I try to take time every day and cut up vegetables or pre–prep some type of healthy dinner option.  I am always on the look out for meal ideas, you can never have too many.  http://www.appforhealth.com/2012/06/lose-sleep-and-gain-weight/
  3. Get up earlier & exercise.  What a difference an hour makes.  At the start of Christmas break I made a pact with myself to start getting up earlier to exercise. Though it is hard to wake up when there is no light of day, it makes for a less hectic morning.  It helps me to have a running buddy, as I know they are counting on me too.
  4. Go to bed one hour earlier.  This goes right along with my exercise resolution. Research shows the less we sleep, the more we weigh which certainly is a good reason to go to bed earlier (and truth be told, who doesn't long for more sleep?)  http://www.appforhealth.com/2012/06/lose-sleep-and-gain-weight/

All of these resolutions are a work in progress, which really is how life works.  I am staying away from the "all or nothing" mentality and just doing the best I can each day.
 
Happy New Year!

 

Hot Tamales

Jan 7, 2013
Denise Simmons, Corporate Chef

I’ve mentioned before that since I’m not cooking as much at work, I’m really enjoying cooking at home much more.  I had the opportunity to prepare several meals over the holidays.  My favorite by far as tamales!

This was the first time I’d made them, so I did some experimenting.  Every traditional tamale recipe I found used enchilada sauce as a base.  The sauce is just ground red chiles, garlic, oil, flour, water & seasonings.  Basically you make a roux with flour & oil, then sauté the chiles in the roux, add the garlic & water and simmer until the consistency & flavor you desire.   My dad asked my uncle in Colorado to send us some good ground chiles. I was excited to try the sauce, and was very disappointed.  It turned out incredibly hot & bitter, with no real flavor.  I doctored it a good bit, then mixed some of it with braised, shredded pork for the first batch of tamales (the sauce by itself was inedible and hit the trash).  We decided it was the type of chile used in the chile powder.  I’ve ordered a ristra (a string or wreath of dried red Anaheim chiles).  It’s due in tomorrow, so I’m looking forward to trying the red sauce again next weekend.

The next major component of a great tamale is the masa.  Since there is a large Latin population near where I live, my local grocery store carries masa harina.  The recipe on the bag called for lard.  I just couldn’t bring myself to use lard, so I subbed shortening (any opinions on which is less unhealthy?  Animal fat or hydrogenated vegetable fat?).  The recipe itself is simple-beef broth (I used chicken), masa, shortening & seasoning.  You cream the shortening with a little broth until it’s light & fluffy, then whip in the masa, remaining broth & seasonings.   I had decided, in addition to the pork & red sauce tamales, I would make some with seriously sharp white cheddar cheese.  I wanted to do some of these with diced green Hatch chiles mixed in the masa, and some with plain masa.  

The rolling party was fun-we used tin foil instead of the more traditional corn husks-mostly for simplicity.  I let them all steam for about 45 minutes.

They turned out delicious!  The masa was perfect-light & fluffy with that wonderful corn flavor tamales are famous for.  The two types of cheese tamales were equally good, and the pork & red sauce were very tasty-in spite of the bad sauce!  

I had to buy a 5lb bag of masa, so I’ll need to make more tamales.  I think I’m also going to try to make tortillas.  I’ll let you know how they turn out!

 

Weekly Wisdom – Food Rules…. Avoid food products that make health claims

Jan 7, 2013
Sherri Meyer, MG Registered Dietitian,

  • To have a health claim, food must have a package = processed food
  • Claims are from big food companies, not often based on solid science
  • Healthiest food in the supermarket = fresh produce (no claim needed); “silence is golden”

Source: Michael Pollen Food Rules

Trash Talk – Balancing health & sustainability!

January 4, 2012
Becky Tweedy, Assistant to the President

Homeopathic vs. Manufactured Pharmaceuticals – manufacturing synthetic drugs emits more than 177 million pounds of untreated pollutants into air, water, and soil each year. Any homeopathic remedy would be a savings!
Prescriptions – never flush unused or expired meds down the toilet or drain to contaminate the waterstream (fish, plants & animals).
Vitamins – consider taking a multivitamin vs. separate bottles of individual vitamins. The average American vitamin user spends over $100 each year on vitamins and supplements. If 25% of these people reduced their purchases by 1 bottle per year,
the estimated total savings would be $592 million, and an amazing amount of plastic packaging ...

Think about it!   Will you take a small step to help?

Source: The Green Book

Trash Talk – Deck the halls – and think green!

December 12, 2012
Becky Tweedy, Assistant to the President

Gift Suggestion – gift cards, concert tickets, restaurant certificates, and movie vouchers -all great alternatives to heavily packaged and wrapped presents. And, if
purchased online, you not only save packaging waste, you also reduce time waste & stress associated with crowds & traffic!
LED lights – they are more expensive, but when you replace your existing lights with LED the (usage) savings is tremendous, and they last a long, long, long time!!
Ribbons, bows & wrap – if 40% of US households reduced holiday paper consumption by just 2 sheets this year, the savings could ‘gift wrap’ Manhattan Island….
Think about it!
Will you take a small step to help?

Source: The Green Book

Thoughts on "The rise of the new food culture"

December 12, 2012
Denise Simmons, Corporate Chef

I wish I were better able to express myself in writing.  I sit in front of the computer to pen my ‘In the Kitchen’ blog every two weeks and my mind goes blank.  I do have ideas about what I want to say, but feel like I get ‘performance anxiety’ about how to write it.  Then I come across an article, such as the one below, that says all I want to say, in a way everyone can understand & appreciate.  Maybe one day I’ll be able to do so, but in the mean time, I’m glad there are authors like Scott Mowbray, Editor, Cooking Light , to say it for me.  He says it brilliantly,  and I have highlighted a couple passages that really spoke to me.

The Rise of the New Food Culture
Posted: 12/10/2012 9:50 am

So gassy are the arguments about our food system and its effect on life and health in America -- arguments that hop from obesity to Type 2 diabetes to GMOs to food deserts to e coli to high fructose corn syrup -- that it's easy to miss a heartening truth, one we can be thankful for in this season of eating. The truth is that America is in the middle of inventing a new food culture, and no one, not the foodies nor the food activists nor the Grocery Manufacturers Association of America, can predict how powerful a force for change it may be. This food culture, spreading across the land like the bloom on a soft-ripened cheese, has the power to cure a lot of what ails us. Deep cultural change is the one force that can overcome generations of political and market inertia that have led to our overweight condition. A taste for better food could lift us from the adolescent excesses of our 20th century eating habits -- and begin to reduce the obesity that has been the result.

American food culture in the last century swallowed the factory-to-table promise whole, a promise that seemed validated by the triumphs of nutrition science: Diet was perfectible for the shiny, fast-paced life that was God's destiny for Americans. Daily we would rise to vitamin-enriched spongy white breads and toaster pastries and powdered breakfast drinks; we would lunch on mass-manufactured hamburgers; we would snack on Hostess Twinkies; dine on huge steaks. We would replace water with soda, and make our beer taste like water. We would conquer the world on this high-octane fuel, in vast portions for our growing bodies. The anonymous food scientist was the de facto head chef of the nation. None of the factory foods, taken alone, was or is bad; taken together, though, and dominating our diet: That turned out to be a different story.

The perfectible diet revealed its fatal flaws when chronic disease rates (first heart disease, much more recently Type 2 diabetes) rocketed and were linked as early as the 1950s to the supersized, supercharged, supersalted, superfatted foods we loved. But we would also awaken, slowly, to the limitations -- in variety and in taste -- of the food we ate. Newly prosperous Americans traveled and encountered deep food cultures abroad, in Europe, India, and Southeast Asia. Maybe pasta in cans wasn't the best pasta? Among the travelers were people like Alice Waters, who brought the real-food word home and insisted that a whole new story about American food was possible. The environmental movement blossomed, throwing light on problems with farming and fishing, and beginning to reconnect the idea that quality of food supply depends on quality of farming practices.

It takes time for values of, and stories about, authenticity, craftsmanship, heritage and flavor to fight their way through a system as shiny and robust as the American factory-to-table food culture. It takes decades to invent a new food culture. We are now 40 and 50 and 60 years past Alice Waters, Julia Child, Craig Claiborne and Rachel Carson. Do not let that turtle pace blind you to the acceleration of changes now underway. The variety of foods in any decent supermarket is astounding. Artisan food-making has become as cool as building apps for iPads. Young people are finding reasons to farm -- and get involved in food activism -- while farmers' markets are proliferating like zucchini. Chefs are rock stars, including countless local indie chefs who have no connection to Food Network Television.

The local/global groove that defines the emerging food culture -- combining immigrant knowledge and older, regional American traditions with the mashup tastes of the Internet-nurtured young -- is the dominant groove of the new eating. I care what happens in New York and San Francisco and Chicago and New Orleans, but I care more that those things are also happening in Atlanta, Miami, Minneapolis, Austin and both Portlands: Name your city. The new food culture is trans-demographic: Good things come from Korexican taco trucks as much as from the experimentations of Grant Achatz. Chefs like Andy Ricker of the Portland and Brooklyn Thai restaurants called Pok Pok: these folks are the coolest of all, as they dive deeper into what authenticity actually means in America. The emerging food culture is inclusive, too, revering the knowledge of the grey-hairs: Hipster chef David Chang worships self-described hillbilly Tennessee bacon god Allan Benton.

Food companies want to be, must be, tuned to this new food culture. They cannot thrive otherwise. Critics of the food system fail to recognize that Big Food cannot dictate tastes to a new generation any more than the backers of Pat Boone could determine which singer -- Boone or Presley -- would define the exploding music culture of the 50 years that followed. We have to hope that problems such as obesity will, over a generation or two, be ameliorated by a taste for better food in different proportions; let's hope so, because there is no emerging medical or legislative cure. I am not arguing that food activists should not bother with their fights for social justice in the food system: In this economy, in this country with its pockets of poverty and its food deserts, God bless them. But they should be comforted that bigger forces are with them, stronger winds are at their backs, than mere politics and lobbying. Culture itself is changing. Taste raises consciousness. Those of us who love food can only marvel and enjoy. The election may be over, but we vote with our forks thrice daily -- not only in the holiday season, but every day of the year.

Weekly Wisdom – Food Rules…. Avoid food products

December 12, 2012
Sherri Meyer, MG Registered Dietitian,

Food Rules…. Avoid food products containing ingredients that a third-grader cannot pronounce!

  • Basically the same idea, different mnemonic

Source: Michael Pollen Food Rules

Baking and gluten free flour

December 10, 2012
Sherri Meyer, MG Registered Dietitian,

I am a frequent baker and when we run out of homemade goods (cookies & bread being our standard) it becomes a small crisis in the Meyer house.  This household is definitely not wheat averse as I find myself frequently loading up on various flours.  Of course, I try to choose flours that are organic and have the whole grain intact, but when it comes to baking sometimes this can be a challenge.  Needless to say I was thrilled when I discovered Wild Flour Mill at the Lynchburg Farmer's Market.  Not only am I supporting a local business but I am purchasing milled to order flour.  I have become a regular customer purchasing the soft white winter wheat for cookies & hard red winter wheat for bread.  I have also purchased freshly milled cornmeal which makes delicious cornbread.  Since the baking season has officially kicked in, I am grateful to have a local business that can provide all of my baking needs.  The best part, I am supporting a local business and directly connected to the business owners.

For those of you with gluten aversions, they do provide gluten free flours as well.

https://www.facebook.com/WildflourMillLynchburg

Wishing everyone a very joyful holiday season!  May the new year bring much health & happiness.  See you next year......

 

January Recipe: Cherry Almond Granola

Makes 7 cups

6c - rolledoats
3⁄4c - honey
1⁄2c - packedbrownsugar
1⁄8t - salt
1⁄2t - cinnamon
1t - maplesyrup
1⁄2t - vanilla
11⁄2T - vegetableoil
11⁄2c - sliveredalmondsorpecans
1c - driedcherries,cranberries,or blueberries

  1. Mixallexceptfruit,spreadon baking sheet
  2. Bake1hr@275°,stirring occasionally
  3. Coolslightly,adddriedfruit

Serve with greek yogurt, fresh seasonal cut fruit & local honey

Weekly Wisdom – Holiday Survival…. Tips for enjoying the holiday parties & avoiding diet disasters

December 4, 2012
Sherri Meyer, MG Registered Dietitian,

  • Eat as you would on any other day - avoid skipping meals to “save up” for later…this can lead to “ravenous” overeating.
  • Be smart about your surroundings; don’t plant yourself next to the buffet or snack table - this can lead to mindless eating.
  • Keep (or start) moving - don’t wait till the New Year.  Plan your exercise in advance to stay on track