Wednesday, April 30, 2008

What's Making You Fat???

You diet and still look like the Michelin man. You gorge on nothing but salads and you're still the size of a semi. You still exercise but the pounds aren't melting off. What's wrong with this picture?

Maybe your foods are the culprits.The thing is we may think we're eating healthy and we're not. If you're big on salads like I am , you may assume you're chowing down on one low calorie meal. In truth you may be loading your plate up with more calories and carbs than if you had a double cheeseburger and fries. The next time you go to a salad bar be very judicious. First, stay away from the croutons and rolls that are always offered. Secondly, stick with a light dressing such as oil and red wine vinegar or any low fat Italian or French. The creamier dressings are the ones that will kill you. Fill up on a good mix of tomatoes, onions, peppers and mushrooms. They are not only healthier for you but also will keep you sated for a long time. As far as with meats and sides, plain grilled meat is a much better choice than anything covered in cheese or served between a bun. Stay away from mayo as well. Opt for a squeeze of lemon or lime over your grilled foods. Another big no no is any veggie with cream sauce such as creamed cauliflower or Lima beans. A melange of steamed vegetables or better yet, a savory ratatouille is a nice side dish or even a meal.

Sweets and desserts are going to have to be scrutinized as well. Those low fat ice creams make us feel like we can have our cake and eat it too however be careful with them. You may feel the need to eat two bars or cones at a time. Doing that will surely make the fat still stick to your hips. Use any low fat iced treat as a twice weekly reward. A better choice would be Edy's fruit pops which are only sixty calories each. Another good sweet treat is fruit in gelatin. You don't have to make these any more . Jello has the individual cups in a four pack. Add a dollop of low calorie Cool Whip or any non dairy topping and you've a surprisingly tasty dessert.
If you have to staunch your chocolate cravings then go with the heart healthy dark chocolate. A small piece every other day isn't so bad plus you're giving your body the antioxidants it needs.

Now here's the shocker of all. You may be drinking a high calorie drink with your low calorie meals. Nix any soda because the high concentration of sugars will add on pounds. The same is true with any iced teas that have more corn syrup than tea. Make your own fresh brewed zero calorie tea. For more flavor add mint leaves or a tablespoon of fruit juice . Even energy drinks contain some calories and carbs. A friend introduced me to this new caffeine infused Fyxx Hybrid Energy spring water. It packs a punch but leaves no pounds. You can mix it with fresh cut fruit such as melon chunks or strawberries or even mint leaves for a refreshing taste.

Think twice about what you're eating these days. What you think is low fat may be calorie and fat rich. Be a conscientious foodie and look into what you're eating and not at what you're eating.

You can buy Fyxx Hybrid Energy drink at or at your local grocery or convenience store.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Power Lunches

What should be in a foodie's lunch bag? A good and tasty lunch. It should be a substantial meal that keeps us going all afternoon until dinner. What should it be? Well, here's a clue - not your average baloney sandwich and a diet Pepsi.

Lunches can be tricky affairs.If you have just a salad and spring water, you'll be snacking like crazy by 3 PM. Eat too much and you're ready for a good two hour nap from 2 to 4 PM. You have to create a balance of a lunch that's just right. If you're watching your weight, go with a salad, but opt for one with grilled chicken or the yummier grilled salmon. Don't load it up with heavy dressings and croutons. Besides a French,Russian or any other thick dressing will only make your salad gloppy. Think about a lighter type of just vinaigrette with a dash of oregano thrown in. Also add some broccoli florets along with carrots and pepper strips to make your lunch time salad more substantial. For cooler days add a cup of soup from your local deli to turn it into a hot meal.

What about that lunchtime staple, the sandwich? This is another good luncheon choice. Stay away from any greasy ones though because you'll wind up with indigestion. Do think gourmet, with a base of French or Italian bread topped with a covering of aoili mayonnaise.You can then put on thinly sliced turkey, chicken or ham . For real oomph try all three. One of my favorites is sliced mozzarella and tomatoes on an olive oil drizzled Italian bread.This to me is filling not to mention flavorful. If you work at home (like I do) don't hesitate to make yourself a hot sandwich. A grilled cheese made with sharp cheddar and bacon is a great lunch on cold days. Use sandwich or wheat bread as a base. Another foodie delight is a hot turkey or roast beef sandwich. To make it easy just buy sliced meat at your grocery's deli counter, some kaiser rolls and store bought gravy. I can just hear some of your groans over tho last part but today's tinned ones are pretty good. They almost have a homemade fresh from the pan taste and aroma about them. Don't ever hesitate to use them.

For lunch think about power. You have to have a good meal that will keep you going until 5 or 6 PM. Make your lunches not only tasty but strong enough to keep you going and light enough to keep you from crashing.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Pizza - America's Passion

It's amazing how a Neopolitan classic became America's, in fact, the world's passion. That's what pizza is. Everyone loves a slice of the expertly blended tomatoes, cheese and dough. Pizza lovers have even been known to get into serious fighting over what pizzeria makes the best one. Pizza is just more than a favorite comfort food - it's everyone's love.

How did pizza start? Ancient Romans ate a similar version covered with olive oil, herbs, various toppings, and honey (well these were the Romans after all who also had a passion for honey dipped mice. Ewwww!)The earlier form was even mentioned in Virgil's The Aeneid as well as in Cato's writings. The ruins of a pizzeria were found at Pompeii so pizza had to be well loved in in the ancient world.
With the introduction of tomatoes to southern Italy, pizza was reinvented. It was the hit of Renaissance Naples with pizzerias sprouting up throughout the city. Although it originally was a peasant food, royals and commoners alike were seduced by the delicious pie. The Queen of Naples,Maria Carolina even had a pizza oven built into her palazzo at Capodimonte. Another, Queen Margherita of Savoy, had one made after her whe she and her husband, King Umberto. visited Naples. The Margherita is the most famous , composed of basil, oil and fresh tomatoes on dough.It's also the most popular amongst modern day foodies.

Pizza was brought to America's big cities during the first wave of Southern Italian immigration in the 1880s. It was sold on the streets of Chicago and in pizzerias across Manhattan and the boroughs. It gained in popularity after the Second World War. Millions of GIs stationed in Rome and Naples developed a love of it and brought it back to America's heartland. Now pizza was everywhere.

What makes a good homemade pizza? As one who used to make it every week I'm going to have to say the crust. There's nothing like a very thin crust. A thick crust is too doughy and bready. It takes away from the sauce and mozzarella.The best way to make a thin crust is to roll it out with just a little bit of thickness in the middle and then out to wafer thin ends. As far as the sauce I prefer fresh sliced tomatoes from my garden altohugh I do relent and get the canned ones in winter. As for seasoning, again fresh garden picked basil is the best but if you have to use dried then use it but sparingly. Cheese should always be mozzarella but don't glop it on across the entire surface. Apply it in the Margherita fashion with small circles randomly placed. if you want to add extras like olives, sausage and even anchovies go easy. Too much topping and you'll mask the taste of the pizza.

Pizza really is the world's passion. it's not only the perfect comfort food but just perfect in every way.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Cupcake Nation

The cupcake has been in favor for a long time now. Everyone , from stars to soccer moms love it. It makes the perfect dessert along with making the perfect snack. The round shape and dome of icing remind us of happier times in our lives. Marcel Proust may have had his madeleines but we Yanks have our beloved cupcakes.

Cupcakes were born in the 19th Century. Their name derives from the fact that the ingredients were measured in cups as opposed to in pounds (hence how we get pound cake). Also ovens back then were not regulated and it took forever to bake an average cake. Home bakers found it easier to bake smaller cakes in what was known as gems or individual clay cups. The 20th Century gave us mass produced ones. The Hostess cupcake was introduced in 1919 but it wasn't until 1950 when the famous "squiggle on top" was introduced.

Cupcakes fell out of favor for a long time during the Seventies and Eighties. The Nineties ushered in the famous Magnolia Bakery in Greenwich Village.It reintroduced the cakes to a younger audience who had been fed factory made ones. Magnolia's cupcakes were different. They had a real homemade flavor, baked from scratch taste and topped with freshly made butter cream icing. Celebrities and their wannabes went wild for them and soon bakeries across Manhattan were imitating and even copying Magnolia's recipe. Thanks to this craze, everyone wanted cupcakes at their parties and get togethers. Williams and Sonoma, Target and even WalMart sell cupcake trees, tiered stands in which to prettily display the little cakes. Cupcake trees and pyramids are making their presence known at weddings with couples opting for cake s created out of four or five tiers of cupcakes.

The little treat has also been given gourmet status. Alongside of the traditional chocolate and vanilla ones , there are carrot, lemon poppy and red velvet. Nuts, raisins and chocolate chips have been added to give extra flair. Luckily the icing has remained the same with the traditional butter cream although the carrot and red velvet cupcakes have cream cheese. Sprinkles, pistachios and even gold dust (we're talking Hollywood cupcakes here) have been scattered on top.

Cupcakes are fun and easy to make. It's more time efficient to use a box of vanilla or chocolate cake mix. Icings can be easy as well. You can make your own (which tastes better than the canned stuff), using confectioner's sugar and butter as the base. Frosting can even be Cool Whip or pudding , depending on what you want to do. For butterfly cakes slice off the top of the cupcake , and split it in two. Ice the remaining cake and then stick the pieces in butterfly fashion into the cake's top. You can also ice these in a contrasting frosting and decorate to look like a butterfly.Another pretty idea is to swirl two colors of icing on top of the cupcake for a colorful pastel effect. This is perfect for showers or little girls' birthday parties. Of course for the holidays, nothing beats a cupcake party where you can dress up the cakes accordingly.

Cupcakes are sweet links to our innocent youth. They remind us that life can be fun and full of sweetness. There's nothing like treating yourself ot a homemade cupcake with a mound of butter cream frosting!!!!

Here is a recipe from The Boston Cooking School Cookbook My Mom bought it to add to her vast collection back in the Fifties. The recipes are still useful .

Chocolate Frosting

2 squares chocolate
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 cup milk
2 cups confectioner's sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Put chocolate, butter and milk in top of a double boiler. Cook until chocolate melts. Stir well. Let stand until luke warm (about five minutes ). Beat in sugar until thick enough to spread.

If you want a richer frosting use cream instead of milk and add one egg yolk after chocolate has melted

Friday, April 25, 2008

Ecco Pranza!

Most people are bored by a weekend lunch. It's usually just the week's left overs wrapped in sandwich or a diner brunch out after church. However you can make a Saturday or Sunday weekend meal a bit more enjoyable if you follow what the Italians do. Lunch is always a big deal, either elaborate pastas or memorable soups and sandwiches are served with a good wine, fresh baked bread and a vegetable rich salads. You too can create athese lunchtime gems in no time. for yourself or for family.

Frittatas are a wonderful and easy way to begin the afternoon. They are are crisper version of omelets. Instead of folding over the egg mixture , let it cover the entire pan, similar to making a pancake and fry. Flip over every so often so you have two golden sides. The Piedmontese fry them in butter and let the ends get crispy. Parmesan cheese is a good ingredient but you can also add fresh, chopped spinach, or peppers and mushrooms. For meat lovers, try ham or chopped sausage. Serve it with a mixed green salad and toasted Italian bread.

Panini are another good option. If you're lucky (and into the latest gadgets) you already should have a panini grill. Every store, from Williams and Sonoma to Target sells them. They're a take on a hot sandwich press and you can have fun filling paninis with all sorts of cold cuts , cheese and vegetables. The best bread to use is a thin sliced round loaf. It's already cut, with slices about the width of a wafer.Drizzle olive oil on two slices, add any Provolone or Parmesan, along with a good prociutto or salami, sliced tomatoes and grill. You can nix the cheese for a more healthier sandwich.

Soups are another big part of pranza or the midday meal. Pasta e fagioli is big with the Napolitans. This is a pasts and bean soup where elbow macaroni or ditaliniis are traditionally blended with chicken broth, tomato juice or pureed ones along with celery, onions and beans. The recipe varies from family to family and restaurant to restaurant. Italian wedding soup, a phenomenal melange of chicken stock, spinach and meatballs is another good luncheon treat. Go to any recipe site and download both soup recipes.

Pranza is always an important meal in any Italian household, from Lombardy to Calabria. It's time to make it an important weekend one at your house as well.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Pepper Is Hot!!!!!

A week ago I wrote about salt. Now it's time to write about its' companion: pepper. Don't discount this amazing spice as just another seasoning for your burgers or mashed potatoes. Like salt it has been elevated to gourmet level these days with stores and web site selling a variety of different ones. With these peppercorns you can turn the most boring food into something exotic and spicy.

Pepper has been around for thousands of years. Our black pepper comes from the tip of the Indian subcontinent and was considered currency during the early years of global exploration. Its' name derives from the Sanskrit pippali and the Latin piper. Back then pepper had been used to mask the taste of rotting meat. Now it's used to add zing to any dish.

For foodies there are stores and web sites specializing just in peppercorns. Before you buy, know that there are not just black peppercorns, but also pink, white, and green ones as well. Black and white peppercorns actually come from the same plant but the white are the more mature ones that have had their black husks removed. Green peppercorns have a slightly different taste. They're pistachio in color and have a fruity green flavor similar to -well those green peppers you stuff. Pink peppercorns look more like tiny cranberries and have a slightly sweet-peppery taste to them. They would be perfect for dressing duck or making a fiery vinaigrette. There are other peppers worth mentioning: the Szechuan and the French. The first is used in the cooking of the same name. They have a fiery fruity taste and a zing guaranteed to bring tears to your eyes. The second is the French , blend of black and green peppercorns, excellent for seasonings and rubs. There is a great website where you can learn more and buy pepper in bulk. Go to

If you're too busy to web shop ,then try your supermarket's local spice section.
McCormack, the giant and grand daddy of all spice companies has good cracked pepper. I tried it in my chicken tarragon salad for zip and the peppers really livened it up. I plan on using it again when I make a lemon pepper marinade for my tofu chicken strips. It has a wonderful fire and also adds a certain crunch to anything. Try it in your marinades or just as a good coating on grilled veggies and ribs.

Pepper is hot, in more ways than one. It's a great spice to rediscover and add to traditional dishes for more zest. Make it a part of your summer.

Tarragon-Pepper Chicken Salad

2 cans chicken chunks (deviled chicken)
5 t0 6 tablespoons mayonnaise
3 tablespoons dried tarragon leaves
2 tablespoons cracked pepper

Mix chicken and mayonnaise until well blended. Mix in tarragon and pepper. You can adjust the amounts to satisfy your tastes.
Serve on crackers or on kaiser rolls

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Running With Foodies

Everyone has this notion that we foodies are overweight couch potatoes who live for food. Well, in some cases that's true however some (not myself) do run and exercise. We can even catch Frisbees if need be. Active foodies love good wine and drink but they also should love foods that are good for them too.

Since warm weather is officially here it's time to get out and do some kind of motion. We can't just eat and nap. It's time for a change and some form of exercise.. There's this new energy water drink that I'm a big fan of, called Fyxx Hybrid Energy Drink. This is spring water infused with caffeine. Yes, I know caffeine is a big no no. It makes you hyper and keeps you awake until 3AM. Fyxx's creators have taken this into consideration so they have given each bottle just a small jolt of the stuff. You can drink a glass with your lunch ad feel energized for the entire afternoon. It's also good if you're playing ball or at the beach because it also hydrates Right now it's currently being sold in the New York and New Jersey areas. If you can't get it go to the website, and order a case. Another energy booster is fresh fruit. Strawberries are an excellent way to boost your energy. One cup is only 45 calories and it's still packed with Vitamin C, folic acid and potassium. Another great snack for active foodies is blueberries. These little berries are power packed with antioxidants and vitamins as well. Blueberries are also great toppers for plain or frozen yogurt.

Active foodies should also indulge in chocolate every now and then. Dark chocolate is full of those amazing antioxidants. Starbucks has come out with a mini sampler featuring postage stamp sized bites of extra dark, milk and dark mixed with ground coffee beans. These are just the right pick me up for the afternoon blahs. The sampler box is being featured at Target as well along with the parent company, Starbucks.

If you're a running foodie then you already know that you should be getting a good weekly dose of healthy carbs. This comes in the form of pasta. You can vary this dish with heart healthy sauces featuring spinach and broccoli rabe mixed with tomatoes. Stay away from creamy sauces such as Alfredo or vodka.These are too rich and high in calories (as we all well know). If you're tired of eating too much angel hair or rotelli, think about grilled or vegetables over brown rice. These are perfect treats for foodies watching their weight.

Not all of us lie on the couch and devour the latest ice cream rage. We do sometimes eat healthy. We even walk or run and sometimes without the reward of food at the end.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

How To Make A Baby Foodie

You can turn your little mini me into the next Marcel Proust if you give them wonderful and healthy food memories. Everyone has good and bad childhood experiences with food. Why not take it a step further with your child and give only good memories - and in the meantime bring another foodie into this world.

The first step involves their first real food. There's a reason why the little one hates all those jars of processed fruits, vegetables and mystery meats. You can make your own and there are some wonderful websites such as that have tasty and nutritious recipes. You can introduce your baby to organic produce. Have him or her get used to the taste of "good" veggies such as spinach , broccoli and squash, putting then in the same category as treats or candy. As your child grows older, you can add butter, margarine or garlic to make the vegetables more palatable (as my Mom did with us. I was the only six year old who passionately loved spinach and I still do thanks to her). Also make fruits a part of their desserts and snacks. Yes, it's fun to eat cookies and candy after school, but it's also fun to dip sliced apples in caramel or spear banana and strawberry kabobs into chocolate sauce.

As your mini-mes evolve into teenagers, introduce them to different cuisines. Luckily this is easy today with the world becoming one big village. They'll probably have a wide range of friends all coming from different backgrounds. Invite them over and tell them to bring recipes.You can have a cooking party where everyone pitches in and helps. This not only livens up any get together and/or sleepover but widens your child's culinary experiences. It also turns teens into foodies who can walk into any restaurant and know everything about the cuisine.

Remember foodies are made, not born. They can be born into a family of gourmets but they won't automatically pick up the finer or more exciting points of dining. That's up to you. Teach them young about not only the value of food but the pleasure of it as well.

Monday, April 21, 2008

New York City - Foodie Heaven

I don't write this blog on Sunday because I feel funny doing any kind of work on the Sabbath but also because I spend the day out. Yesterday it was New York City , specifically Greenwich Village. I love Manhattan simply because it's a foodie paradise. Where else can you get a variety of yummies from six contentents on one relatively small island?

Where to go if you're in town? To be honest stay away from any chain restaurants. There's probably one in your neck of the woods that you can visit whenever you like. Instead take a dip into the city's rich culinary present. There are some great delis scattered throughout the town, throught Manhattan. Remember food prices are the highest around the tourist spots. Try to steer clear of eating around 30 Rock or Times Square. The theater district albeit has a variety of really good restaurants but they are super pricey. One favorite is John's Pizzeria (which also has two other locations in the city). It may be pricey but the pizza is a delectable thin crust one slathered with a rich basil infused sauce.

If you want good Chinese then head down to Sammy's on Sixth Ave in Greenwich Village. This famous and popular eatery has the best veggie lo mein along with the best veggie dumplings. The cook adds the right amount of ginger, soy and sesame to create a very unique and very delicious authentic Chinese dish. If you're a big meat lover, then go for their barbecued duck or ribs. My friend , Louisa, says both are the best, crispy on the outside with buttery tender meat on the inside.

Just looking for coffee? There are dozens of good pastry shops in Manhattan. My favorites are on Bleeker Street.There are a half a dozen pasticcerias for just grabbing a few italian butter cookies and cappuccino. Also go to them at Christmas to pick up their home made panetones as well as Sicilian lemon cookies. French patisseries are also big in Manhattan. Try the amazing Le Bergamote on Ninth Ave in Chelsea. This is where to go if you want a taste of Paris with their rich, buttery crossants ans scandalous pastries. Pure foodie heaven!

New York is one heck of a foodie town. It has the most amazing places (it would take me three blogs to write about them!!!) What I've given you is just a sample. Enjoy this gourmet town with its' melange of tastes and flavors!

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Power Picnics

The weather in most of the Northern Hemisphere is getting warmer and that means one thing.


Now is the time to head to the beach ,park or mountains to soak up the sun and enjoy nature. It also means that being outdoors builds a healthy and hearty appetite. For that you're going to have to bring food.

What to bring on an excursion? Easy foods. Fun foods. Foods that can be messy or neat. Sandwiches are your best bet. They're easy to make and store along with being relatively mess free to eat. You can go wild with real or tofu cold cuts. If you're bringing the sandwiches in a cooler, don't hesitate to use mayo. Try the less threatening butter or margarine if you're bringing sandwiches in a backpack. For a different spin you can make heroes and drizzle oil and vinegar on a variety of meats and cheeses. Pack juice or soda . If you're planning on hiking, swimming or games, bring an energy drink like Fyxx Hybrid Water to give you a much needed boost. You may want to bring along veggies and dips or almonds for fun snack foods.

If you're looking for a more elegant "British" style picnic, think about bringing a whole cold chicken or pate. You can buy the chicken already roasted from your local supermarket and just store the entire bird in a cooler. The same with pate. With fancier food, you can serve a classic cucumber salad with either a sour cream or vinaigrette dressing. Add a potato salad and a jar of olives and you're set. With this type of picnic think about bringing sparkling cider or if it's allowed champagne or sparkling wine. Pack china picnic plates, good utensils and glasses instead of the usual paper and plastic. Foodie paradises like Williams and Sonoma sell traditional picnic hampers complete with plates along with forks and knives. The kits sometimes include cloth napkins and small glass tumblers .

What to do about a picnic dessert? The easiest one would be fruits of the season. Pick up strawberries or some cut melon. Cookies are another easy to tote dessert, providing you bring the indiviual snack packs . Don't pack any kind of cake or cupcake that has icing because the icing will get all over. Sliced pound or Bundt cake is a another "clean" way to end your picnic meal. If you want you can even bring a thermos of cold or warm coffee or tea. Also it doesn't hurt to throw in some toothpicks for after meal cleaning.

Get out with your favorite foods and enjoy all the warm sunshine and fresh Spring air. Ther'es nothing better than enjoying natures beauty combined with a picnic.

Easy Hero

1 Loaf Italian bread , sliced down the middle.
Oil and vinegar combined
5 slices ham.
5 slices pepperoni,
5 slices provolone
2 tomatoes sliced

Split bread in half and sprinkle with oil and vinegar. First layer the ham , then the pepperoni. Drizzle on more oil and vinegar and then add the cheese, tomatoes and liberal sprinklings of oregano. Wrap sandwich tightly in waxed paper for half and hour before you pack it up. You can pre cut the sandwich or cut it at your picknic. Serves four.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Environmental eats

As Earth Day draws upon us, it's time to start thinking about her and her bounty. After all the planet has been good to us for a few milleniums and it's time to give back.


How do we reduce our culinary carbon footprint?

Well, for starters don't go too crazy when you visit Red Lobster. The world's seafood population is quickly diminishing and some fish species will be on the endangered list. Hard to imagine the average cod on this, right up there with Indian elephants and bald eagles but it's true. We spent the last century overfishing our seas and oceans. Even crustaceans and mollusks aren't safe anymore. Eat fish and seafood but try to put a cap on gorging yourself on them. Cut eating seafood down to half of what you're eating now.

Another way you can eat "green" is by buying from local farms for your fresh fruit and vegetables. You don't have to get produce that's coming in from across country or South America (if you're in Europe, some of your more exotic produce probably comes from Africa). Try to buy locally grown greens that haven't been trucked in by gas guzzling semis or fuel wasting jets.Besides the local farmers will appreciate the business and you'll benefit from eating just picked picked tomatoes, corn , and melons.

if you're entertaining, stick to cheep reusable plastic utensils and dishes. Using paper means more trees have been destroyed and using styrofoam means another landfill full of non bio-degradable stuff. Go to yourlocal Target, K-Mart or dollar store and pick up plastic plates and glasses.Unfortunately you're going to have to use water to wash then but keep that at a bare minimum. Use environmentally friendly dish soaps and don't go overboard with the rinsing.

It's easy to be an environmental eater. Just be conscious of what you eat, and where it comes from. Also make a habit of being green about your table setting and washing up afterwards. Mother Earth will thank you by producing more of your favorite fruits and veggies.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Everyone Should Heart Pomegranates

Even saying the word brings to mind exotic locales and new taste sensations.


It kind of rolls around your tongue like the flesh of ripe fruit, doesn't it?

These plump, red beauties may sound as sensual as harem girls but they're better for your health than any medicine. They're full of the much needed antioxidants that protect us against free radicals. These are nasty , unstable atoms that go postal inside us and can wreak havoc. The fruit or poms (along with a good, healthy diet and plenty of exercise) also deter and sometimes prohibit the growth of certain cancers. Poms also help us to look younger. Again, they're responsible for destroying free radicals which also can lead to early wrinkles and degeneration.

Even though their harvest season is September through January , pom concentrate is available year round. I love the brand POM with its' concentrates, juices and brand new line of yummy teas. The teas are the perfect thirst quenchers on hot days. The taste is amazing, rich and fruity. My A&P sells them in white, green and black teas infused with the pom's juice. Not only that but they come in tea glasses which you can recycle and use over for your favorite cold drinks. One more tea and I have my set.

This Spring and summer don't hesitate to use pom concentrate in your own home brewed teas. It wll also give a kick to sangria and is delicious mixed with champagne for a Pom Pom.Hit it with vodka, lemon and simple syrup for a Pomengranate Martini.You can even mix it with club soda or ginger ale for a festive non alcoholic drink. Pom concentrate should be in everyone's bar so have two to three bottles on the ready.

For kids and yourself make Pom pops. Mix two cups of Pom concentrate with one cup water and pour into popsicle molds.You can also add strawberries and blueberries for variety. It's a refreshing spin on an old classic plus it's never too early to infuse the little ones with a ton of antioxidants.

Don't dismiss poms as another exotic beauty. They are not only tasty but good for you and your body. Everyone heart poms!!!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Spring Awakening

Now that the weather is becoming warmer it's time for every foodie to start thinking about their gardens. You don't have to be a green thumb, plant hugger to have a successful spot. Even a small herb garden is always useful.

Right now you should be writing down what you want to grow. The second thing is mapping out where fruits and vegetables should be planted. Try to vary the spots from year to year to insure bigger and healthier produce. Don't keep planting your tomatoes and squash under the bedroom window year after year. Keep that space free for one season and let the soil replenish its' minerals. Also keep in mind how many plants you want. If your family is more tomato crazy than lettuce, then it stands to reason you'd be planting more of the first than the second. Since vegetables come in several subvarieties, think about what you'll be using them for. You may want to grow onions for burgers as opposed to shallots for sauces and stews.

Fruit trees are another matter because it takes a few seasons for some to produce any kind of bounty. Also make sure your yard can support trees. An apple tree requires a lot of space: anywhere from a foot up to a yard for perfect, unencumbered growth. Pear trees are similar. Fruit trees also require a lot of spraying and pruning. If you don't have the time for this, then stick with the much easier vegetable growing.

If you have zero time for any kind of gardening , then consider growing herbs. Raising chives, tarragon, dill and oregano are easy and fun. They do require some care such as watering and diligent weeding. Luckily that's about as much care as needed. Herbs don't require a lot of fertilizer as well as a lot of direct sunlight. You can grow a patch of them anywhere , even in your front lawn. Just make sure they have partial shade and adequate water and mulching. From then on you can use them to flavor grilled meats and vegetables. You can also freeze dry them or hang them in your pantry or basement for later use.

Garden plants and herbs can be bought anywhere, from Lowe's, Home Depot or your corner nursery. You can try the mail order catalogs and internet nurseries but be wary. I've been burned in the past by these and wound up losing money over "bad" plants.

I want to end this with a special thank you for my cousin Denise in Illinois. She sent the best sweet potato casserole and butterscotch pudding recipes at her little cousin's requests. They are awesome and I'll be publishing them soon.

For all you energy drink lovers remember that Fyxx Hybrid Water starts selling in the New York metro and northern New Jersey areas tomorrow. April 17th. If you can't get it at your local store, then go to

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Salt of the Water

Does anyone love sea salt as much as I do? This is a centuries old condiment that's reaching new heights in the 21st Century. If you haven't tried it before , then try it now. There's something magical about these amazing grains and where they're harvested. Not only that but sea salt is better than regular salt because just a few grains of it flavor a whole plate. You don't have to go wild with your salt shaker and coat everything. Just a few briny nuggets are good for giving your food that extra oomph. Natural salt, although lacking in iodine, does have other valuable minerals such as potassium, magnesium, calcium and sulfate.

Unlike plain table salt , sea salt comes in a variety of colors and shapes.There is the delicate Sicilian salt, Sale Antico, which is a very fine flaked pure white salt. There are the grey sea salts of France that have natural iodoine in them. There is the much desired Fleur de Sel. from Portugal (I know, the name sounds French)This is the "baby" salt, or the first bloom of salts that forms on the tops of evaporation ponds. This is a great addition to cooking along with salads. My favorite is sea salt from Maine with it's crunchy nuggets and salty sweet taste.

Nowadays you can go everywhere from your local supermarket to Williams and Sonoma to online salt stores and buy the salt of your dreams. I usually head to Williams and Sonoma where they have an excellent array of American and European salts. I like the British Malden's as well but any kind is just great.

Make the switch from regular table salt to sea salt. You'll wonder why you didn't much sooner.

Monday, April 14, 2008

To Buy Or Not To Buy Organic

There's a real problem when we hit our local grocery's vegetable and fruit section. Do we splurge and buy organic?Or do we scrimp and get the regular pesticide doused tomatoes and apples? There in lies the question.

Is organic produce really better than ordinary produce? A good and dear friend of the family had suggested we try organic bananas. She said they were sweeter tasting and definitely worth the price increase of twenty cents more than our regular grown bananas. I bought them but was still skeptical. Well, they did have a slightly sweeter taste and slightly firmer texture than the non organic kind. Yet that was it. I went back to buying my good old bananas the next week. To be honest I really didn't see any real difference in buying the two qualities. As for fear of ingesting pesticides, my produce has always been thoroughly washed before serving or prepping. I do give every fruit and veg in my house a double rinsing before eating. Maybe it's not enough. I don't know.

Years ago another friend used to be into all things organic. However he switched prices on the organic and regular oranges so he wouldn't have to pay full price. I used to laugh at him as well as admonish him for doing such. He just shrugged and said he was doing his wallet and his body a favor. Even at that time, ten years ago, I wondered if organic was really that good for you. After all aren't all plants exposed to our toxic air too? I'm sure pollution has done a number to our American produce as well.To be honest if you want really organic, grow it yourself. You can limit the amount of pest control on your fruits and veggies. Besides now is the time to start buying plants. Most stores such as Lowe's, Home Depot, and your corner nursery are selling everything form fruit trees to herbs. Also your local farms and farmers markets are probably big purveyors of evertyhing organic, from greens to cheeses even

Should you splurge and buy organic? As a foodie I'll say yes. As a smart shopper I'll say no but advise you to double wash and rinse all your fruits and vegs.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Spear Shakers Unite! It's Asparagus Festival Time!!!!

What vegetable heralds Spring more than the asparagus? This symbol of rebirth and renewal is the perfect accompaniment to holiday meats such as ham and lamb. In my great grandparents' Swabian and Bavarian hometowns of southwestern Germany asparagus, known as sparkel , has its' own festivals. My cousins go mad for the white variety sold at roadside stands. This love carried over to my grandfather, my mother's father who made it a staple of his springtime dinners(my granddad was a killer cook by the way). His wife, my Piedmontese grandmother, put her own spin on it and produced a buttery , easy to make asparagus dish.

If you don't love asparagus, you should. Why? it's a good source of potassium and fiber along with being low in calories and rich in rutin. Rutin is a much needed bioflavenoid needed by our bodies to strengthen capillary walls. Hey, the real reason why you should love asparagus? The fresh Spring-y taste! Nothing can beat it!
PS - If there's no Asparagus Festival by you - then gather up your fellow spear shakers and throw one!
Here is my Nonna's asparagus recipe:

1 bundle of asparagus
1 hard boiled egg
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
1 1/4 cup melted butter or margarine

Cut ends off asparagus bottoms. Plunge spears into salted boiling water and cook for ten minutes until all spears are tender. Place in a large dish , with spears all facing one direction. Cover asparagus with a sliced hard boiled egg and grated Parmesan cheese. Pour melted butter over this and serve. You can place the dish under a broiler for about two to three minute to melt cheese if desired. Serves four.
Don't worry about leftovers. There won't be any. Believe me.

My thanks to the Michigan Asparagus Advisory Board for the nutritional information


Friday, April 11, 2008

Buffet Style

I live in New Jersey which should now be known as the Buffet State instead of the Garden State. I've seen this foodie phenomenon grow here in the last ten years. Every town has at least one all you can eat restaurant. It's a great premise really and one that can be adapted to your party style.

Most hosts and hostesses always serve just two or three dishes at a party. This is great but it kind of limits guests to dishes or tastes that they may not like. Follow what the buffets do - have many platters with a variety of vegetables and dips. You can also have that childhood classic - English muffin pizzas but put an adult spin on them. Have guests create their own toppings with olives , cooked shredded beef or chicken and different grated cheeses. You can also cut up some broccoli, cauliflower and onions for a raw food pizza. (Just bake the muffin slices with only a drizzle of olive oil and tomato on them).

For the main course serve smaller variations of party food. Chicken wings are a party saver as are any kind of kebabs. Everyone loves rice and pasta so make three to four smaller dishes of each . Salads are another good addition. You can make traditional potato and macaroni ones or try somehting new with arugula, or field greens. Since the warmer weather is coming grill your buffet. Guests love the season's bounty when it's been roasted over a fire. Because you want to mingle with your company also appoint a couple of sous chefs (or sous grillers in this case) to relieve you.

Desserts can be a fun cornucopia of easily made cobblers, ice creams and ices. If you're thinking about a big summer blow out stop by your local Rita's Ice and pick up party buckets in two or three flavors. You can let guests make parfaits with the different flavors, using ice and fresh fruit. Also a few quarts of just berries are a nice dessert topper as well.

Buffet style is easy to adapt to any party, especially summer ones. Just use your creativity to invent something that will rival the all you can eat ones in your neighborhood.

Contest Alert - Foodie Pantry will be holding its' first contest in the next few weeks. Look for more alerts and details!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Ginger Snaps!

The ginger root has been around since the beginning of time. It was first and still is used in Asian cooking, imparting a wonderful taste. As a dedicated foodie I recommend cooking with ginger. It adds zing and zest to stir fries while making desserts and drinks extra special. It's also good for the digestive tract as even our Colonial ancestors found out. Eighteenth Century Americans often finished a meal with ginger in some shape or form, whether in tea or as a candy. It's also good for curbing nausea . Moms to be and anyone undergoing chemo treatment should have ginger on the ready to prevent and squelch any queasy feelings.

Where can you find ginger? Surprisingly in your local grocery store. It's become a big part of our cuisine these days that chains have to stock it. If you want more innovative ginger products then visit This is a great site where you can find everything from wild ginger sauces to spicy ginger shortbreads. They even have authentic ginger beer which is not for the faint hearted. My faves are their crystalized ginger which is good mixed in hot tea and Gin Gins , energy boosting ginger drops. I'm also mad for their shortbread and sauces.
Their Ginger Lime Marimade and Sauce is perfect for Oriental stir fries as well as for barbecued meats.
Here is my recipe for Stir Fry using the Ginger People's sauce.

Olive or peanut oil for frying
3 cups, chicken, beef, soy chicken or soy beef strips.
1 cup carrots sliced,
1 cup diced onions,
1 cup pepper cut into strips
1 cup broccoli florets
1 cup water chestnuts
1 cup caulifower
1 cup Ginger Lime Marinade

Cooking Instructions: In a wok or large frying pan, quick-fry soy meat or soy strips until tender in the olive or peanut oil. When the strips are a pale golden brown, add vegetables and stir. You may want to add the remaining oil as I do or even 2 tablespoons of water to keep meat and veggies moist. Slowly stir in The Ginger People's Ginger Lime Marinade and cook entire stir fry until strips are a dark golden color. Serve with either white or brown rice. Serves 4 . Can be reheated over stove or in microwave. Keep leftovers in a sealed plastic container in fridge. This will keep for three to four days.

Again log on to for great ginger based products

Been feeling run down lately? Then try the unique Fyxx Hybrid energy water. This is a great boost for anyone with a full schedule. It will be sold in New York metro stores starting April 17th. If not head to their web site for your bottles.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Have A Nice Egg

Eggs are wonderful(although they're loaded with cholesterol) They're used as binders in cakes and breads, along with being the basis of many interesting omelets and frittatas. Let's face it - who doesn't enjoy a good scrambled one smothered in bacon at their favorite diner?

Surprisingly enough they're the backbone of many Northern Italian dishes. My Piedmontese great grandparents brought over a wealth of good recipes that have been handed down to following generations. Everyone in my family loves the regional classic tomatoes and eggs. This is an easy dish to make and it just tastes so good. You won' t have to worry about leftovers because there won't be any.

Classic Tomatoes and Eggs. (Pomodore e Uovi)

6-7 plum tomatoes diced into one inch pieces

2-3 cloves of garlic

6 large eggs

Saute garlic and tomatoes in olive oil in a skillet for twenty minutes. While tomatoes are cooking lightly beat 6 large eggs , then add to the tomato mix. Cconstantly stir until eggs are cooked for about five to ten minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Serve with loaf of Italian or French bread.

The Piedmontese are also famous for their egg rich bread crumb soup or panne pesto (translated ground breadcrumbs) This has sustained me during my annual bout with viruses and colds since I could eat by myself. It's such a dense, nutritious soup not to mention the best tasting in the world.

Panne pesto or Pompiest (dialect)

Approximately one quart broth (you ca n use chicken beef or vegetable)

Bring to a slow boil over a low flame. Now add a cup of bread crumbs and add two beaten eggs. Left over pompiest can be refrigerated or even frozen for later meals.

These are my favorite egg recipes. Feel free to send yours. As a devoted foodie I would love to try them! LR

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Yours For The Eating

Welcome Foodies!!!

Here's a blog that is going to cater to what you want to see in a food blog. I'll be covering everything from gourmet to diner food, from family recipes to your own special ones.

I'll also be writing about new products and where you can find them along with my faves.

Right now let me tell you about a great new energy water called Fyxx Hybrid. This is not like what's out there. This is water with a good jolt of caffeine added to it. Unlike other energy drink, this has no icky taste or coloring. It's made from fresh Ohio spring water and caffeine taken from naturally grown coffee beans. I love this because there are no chemicals or artificial sweeteners in it too. It just tastes like fresh spring water with no aftertaste.

The best part about Fyxx Hybrid water is that it gives me a huge energy boost right unto the early evening. I feel I can shop more, cook more, do everything more.

Right now the water can only be sold through the website so check out