Monthly Archive for: ‘May, 2011’

Weekly Wisdom – Flames + Meats = a risky combination

May 30, 2011
Sherri Meyer, MG Registered Dietitian

Meat, poultry & fish cooked at high temps (especially well-done or charred) can produce cancer-causing substances. Simple strategies to minimize this:

  • Think “Low & Slow”-slow cooking with low flame
  • Marinate the Meat-with herbs, vinegar, lemon
  • Partially precook-in microwave, oven, stove
  • Sizzle with fruits & veggies-grill away, no cancer compounds form with grilling produce

Mary, Mary Quite Contrary, Why Won’t My Garden Grow?

May 24, 2011
Sherri Meyer, MG Registered Dietitian

The gardening season has begun and my husband and I started planting some vegetables in our garden. Last year we didn’t have much luck with our new vegetable garden and only managed to grow green peppers, which is pretty ironic since neither of us like green peppers (nor remember buying the plant).  

Unfortunately so far this year isn’t proving to be much more fruitful with 3 cauliflower plants spouting nice big green leaves, but no cauliflower curd (i.e. head) in sight. It has been growing for over a month and since it is recommended to harvest the curd about 2 months after transplanting, I realize that the absence of a curd makes this step impossible. So, we are left with useless (and bitter) green leaves taking up space in our garden, but bearing no fruit.  Our cauliflower plant is infertile.

Despite my past failures, I am not quite ready to give up. Perhaps I will try a more simple vegetable like squash or zucchini (no luck last year). Cucumbers, tomatoes (prone to rot,) are supposedly easy to grown, but again no luck last year.  It was the heat, right?

Since I am determined to grow something, I will not give up. I have recently purchased heirloom tomato plants from Charlottesville Famer’s Market that I just planted in pots. They are beginning to grow; now if they will only bear fruit. Here’s hoping for fertile tomatoes!

Here’s a topic near & dear to my heart!

May 23, 2011
Denise Simmons, Corporate Chef

Can women be chefs? When I started in the business (gulp!) 28 years ago, the answer was ‘no.’  I was told this by chef after chef & restaurant owner after restaurant owner. I even had chef instructors at culinary school tell me the only reason I was there was to find a husband who could cook. Those of you who know me, know that just made me more determined to succeed!

I think the young women coming into the business today will have it a little easier than my generation did, but it’s still a battle, fought on the front lines every day (pun intended). For those of you out there wondering if you can be a chef, I’m living proof that YES you CAN! Go for it, but do your research and make sure you know what you’re getting into. It is still a man’s world, so you need to figure out how to not just survive but thrive in it. 


Weekly Wisdom – Boost your brainpower

May 23, 2011
Sherri Meyer, MG Registered Dietitian

  • 3 year olds who ate mostly processed foods had lower IQ’s (1.67 points lower) by age 8
  • “Health conscious eaters” gained 1 IQ point by the same age
  • The “health conscious diet” consisted of veggies, fruits, fish & pasta

Weekly Wisdom – The daily cost of eating…

May 16, 2011
Sherri Meyer, MG Registered Dietitian

The daily cost of eating…

  • 4 ½ cups of fruits & vegetables (recommended for a 2000 calorie diet).
  • According to the USDA, which averaged the price of fresh, frozen & canned veggies.

A sure sign of spring

May 13, 2011
Sherri Meyer, MG Registered Dietitian

Spring has officially arrived - asparagus has made its first appearance at the Lynchburg Farmer’s Market! However, you need to get there extra early on Saturday morning or there will be no asparagus for you. We learned that the hard way this weekend!

Nothing beats fresh local asparagus, especially when the grocery store only carries it from California (if you’re lucky), Peru or Mexico. Currently, I am in full asparagus overload with the “after-effects” to boot. Scientifically speaking, that distinctive smell after eating asparagus is caused by the breakdown of certain asparagus chemicals to various sulfur -containing degradation byproducts, including thiolsthioesters, and ammonia. So, do not be alarmed the next time you eat asparagus!

Since asparagus has such a short growing season (about 4 weeks from late April to mid May) I believe you can never eat too much. Asparagus with eggs for breakfast, roasted asparagus with balsamic drizzled over it for lunch, grilled asparagus at dinner.

I posted this recipe on a previous blog and today I was the lucky recipient of a fresh batch. Asparagus seems to go especially well with grilled scallops, my dinner tonight.

Springtime Asparagus Soup (adapted from Deborah Madison)
Serves 4 to 6

  • 1 1/2 pounds asparagus
  • 1 large leek, white parts plus an inch of the green, chopped
  • 6 quarts vegetable stock
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Lemon juice, to taste
  1. Slice the asparagus into 3 parts, ends, middles & tips. Chop the middles and set the tips aside. Use the asparagus ends, leeks roots & greens in the stock (if making your own stock).
  2. Heat the oil in a soup pot. Add the leek, onion, and sauté over medium heat for about 8 minutes, until the onion is lightly colored. Add 1 cup stock and stew for 10 to 12 minutes. Add the chopped asparagus & remaining stock and simmer, partially covered for 12 to 15 minutes. Cool briefly, then puree & pass through a food mill to get rid of any fibers (I just use a mesh strainer or you can skip this step). Taste the soup for salt; add a few drops of lemon juice to bring up the flavors and season with pepper. Return to the pot to keep warm.

  3. Meanwhile, drop the asparagus tips into boiling salted water and cool until tender, about 2-4 minutes, then add to the finished soup.  

Photo courtesy: sushi♥ina on Flickr


June Featured Recipe: Summer Sweet Potato Salad

8 servings

3 T - olive oil
1 1/2tsp - ea red wine & balsamic vinegars
1 1/2tsp - dijon mustard
1 1/2tsp - lemon juice
1/2tsp ea - salt & pepper
1/2tsp - ground cumin

1 cup - sweet potato, peeled & diced (1 lg)
3/4 cup - fresh corn (2 ears)
1/4 cup - red onion, finely chopped
1/4 cup - feta cheese, crumbled
2T - fresh parsley, chopped
3/4 cup - cooked black beans, drained & rinsed

1. Make dressing with the first 6 ingredients.
2. Steam or boil sweet potatoes until just tender, 15-20 minutes. Drain & chill.
3. Cook corn, cut from cob, chill.
4. Combine cooked, chilled sweet potato with all remaining ingredients, including dressing. Toss well.

Buy your snacks at the farmers’ market.

The REAL truth about my kitchen

May 10, 2011
Denise Simmons, Corporate Chef

Do professional chefs cook at home? Hmmm…interesting question, and one I’m asked frequently.

Some chefs love to cook at home. I imagine they have beautifully designed & outfitted kitchens, and spend their discretionary time creating amazing dishes for family & friends.

Then there’s the other type of chef…one like me. When I was cooking full time, the last thing I wanted to do was come home from a long, hot day at work and prepare another meal. Besides, I found cooking at home much more challenging than working in a commercial kitchen. When you don’t cook somewhere a lot, you don’t have the equipment or food to pull off a great meal without a lot of extra effort. I could also never get the hang of cooking for only a few people. Even if I was only planning on three or four guests, I always managed to make enough for fifty. And I hate leftovers!

That’s changed however, now that I’m not cooking full time at work. I miss the creative side of it, and the chance to mix a few ingredients together and come up with something that delights me and others. There really is a certain peace to be found in cooking…one that not only feeds the body, but nourishes the soul as well.

Trash Talk – Conventional vs. Organic practices

May 9, 2011
Leslie Phillips, Director of Business Development & Client Relations

Conventional vs. Organic practices
(from the Mayo Clinic)



Apply chemical fertilizers to promote plant growth

Apply natural fertilizers (manure or compost) to feed soil and plants

Use chemical herbicides to manage weeds.

Rotate crops, till, hand weed or mulch to manage weeds.

Give animals antibiotics, growth hormones and medications to prevent disease and spur growth.

Give animals organic feed and allow them access to the outdoors. Use preventive measures — such as rotational grazing, a balanced diet and clean housing — to help minimize disease.


Weekly Wisdom – Balance treats with healthy foods

May 9, 2011
Sherri Meyer, MG Registered Dietitian

Balance treats with Healthy Foods
Eat high calorie treats in smaller amounts once in awhile within meals that include healthier choices.

Can’t resist Mac & Cheese? Pair it with veggies like asparagus or carrots & enjoy fruit for dessert.
Splurge on a hamburger, but skip the cheese & swap the French fries for a side of your favorite veggie.
Pair pizza with a large low fat salad. Choose healthy toppings like vegetables.


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