Monday, April 30, 2012

Bursts of Energy

The warmer weather brings about the need to exercise along with enjoying sports. With it comes the needs for both drinks and snacks . What are easy and fun to take with you? The first choice is the natural ones. These keep you energized and hydrated for as long as you;re exercising or just having fun.

Water is one of the most essential drinks to have with you for any activity. It keeps you cool and refreshed after a long bike ride or spirited softball game. It's also go for a quick wash if need be. There's nothing like a chilled bottle of clean , crisp spring water.Dasani and Aquafina have the best tasting ones although even a generic band like Stop and Shop's or the A&P's is also good. Another good thing about spring water is that it comes in a variety of bottle sizes from nips to the sports sizes. Water also comes in flavors too, if you want something sweet to go with your snacks. Gatorade is another excellent refresher it's multitude of types  are perfect for  everything from hikes to marathons.It also come sin a variety of flavors as well.

Food also plays an important part in re energizing. Protein is a  must. It gives any active person a burst of energy. The best is either almonds or walnuts .They're easy to bring along and fun to eat. Another good snack are unsalted sunflower seeds.Again  these are great because of the protein and vitamins. Fruit chunks or even a banana are other good snacks to breing along on a hike or to a sprting event  game.. Melon is perfect because it also hydrates as well as [provides the essentials sugars to go on. Some people are into energy bars. Be warned however.They may be full of sugars along with preservatives. They also may not absorb into body as quickly as fruits

This is the season for activity. Keep hydrated and energized with the right drinks and foods. You;'ll not only feel better be play a better game!

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Outdoor Movie Night

Drive ins used to the be the big thing in our American culture. However with only a handful left in the States , towns now are offering a movie night,.This is geared for the whole family from babies to grandparents.The problem is, unlike a regular movie theater, there is no ready and available food. What to bring that's good and tasty for the whole family? There are plenty of fun treats everyone will like.

Everyone likes some kind of cracker with a dip or topping. Rice chips are much more healthier than potato chips and they pack easily into a Styrofoam cooler or picnic basket. Serve with a store bought or homemade salsa for added fun. Pretzels are another easy bring along that everyone likes and they come in different shapes and sizes to suit individual tastes. Fruit and veggie kabobs also make wonderful snacks, especially for the tween set. Layer grape tomatoes , mozzarella cubes  and olives or pearl onions for a savory fare. Try pineapple  and melon chunks , interspersed with cherries or grapes for a sweeter snack.

Many families bring dinner to these events.Most usually just make the average sandwich and that's it/ Be a little more creative. Take Italian bread and fill it with everyone's favorite meats and cheeses along with a drizzle of olive oil and an sprinkle of oregano. Another idea, especially if there are adults is roasting a London broil or chicken beforehand and bringing it cold to the movies. These would be great with a chilled wine if you can sneak in a bottle or two. If not settle for some sparkling iced tea or juice. Add a cold roasted asparagus salad for a side or a red potato salad done Sicilian style with rosemary and olive oil.

A town's movie night is always fun  . Make it even more so by bringing fun snacks and dinners that add more excitement. The family will appreciate a good classic movie and food that matches it.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Healthy Movie Food

The summer movie season is right around the corner and with it endless hours of eating. However most theaters offer a cornucopia of bad foods. There are ways to combat this  and eat healthy while watching your favorite stars.

Popcorn , that perennial movie favorite and must have, is always at the movies. Unfortunately most have some kind of buttery coating which is loaded with transfat and calories. Depending on your movie theater you can decline the topping and just ask for just  air popped or plain. You can also sneak some of your own home popped in too.Some theaters also offer snack sized bags of Planters nuts and almonds. Again these are better for you than the usual movie candy fare however be careful of the salt and whatever flavoring. Again sneak in a small baggie of plain almonds or even walnuts to tide you over. As for drinks, always opt for bottled water. It's the most refreshing and luckily theaters do push it more so than sodas these days.

What about sweets? Yes, those chocolate covered raisins and M and M s are tasty. They're not good. If you do want M &Ms see if they have the dark which has antioxidants and less fat than the milk  chocolate and peanut ones. Some theaters do sell fruit strips or leathers which are great snacking.However again, think about bringing bags of "non messy" fruits, such as grapes or bananas(nothing too juicy because it could leave seats sticky). Also bags of Back to Nature cookies are always a fun treat . Remember to bring milk or all natural juice boxes with you to wash them down.

The  summer movie season is coming and that means long hours sitting and snacking, Make those snacks healthy and enjoyable  ones. They'll be as powerful and helpful as those super heroes on the screen.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Kid Crusader For Healthy Food

Kids are usually the first to balk at healthy eating. However tween Marshall Reid is the first to actually promote it as well as relish it.  This North Carolina kid is becoming a revolutionary force in the healthy eating campaign , pushing other school kids across the country to follow his example. The best part is it's working and he's able to change diets as well as attitudes.

Marshall's story was the highlight of yesterday's New York Times Dining section. The interview, conducted by Jan Hoffman tells of a bullied child, teased for his weight and how he took control of both. He decided to go the opposite of  the movie"Supersize Me" and portion sized his eating habits. He lost weight and drove down his weight. Exercise also helped however switching from processed and fast foods was the real benefit. Gone was all the extra salt and sugar  and in its' stead fresh fruit and veggies. It also helped that Marshall took an interest in cooking too. He also prepares healthy and fun dishes for himself and his family.

Marshall is now reaching out to kids throughout the US and the world with his good eating habits and advice. He has several You Tube videos that are entertaining and informative (it's no wonder this personable kid has a large fan following.) as well as his book Portion Size Me, that he wrote with his mom Alexandra.With her , his dad, Dan, and older sister, JordanMarshall holds quiz shows entitled Healthy Snack War Challenges in which grade schoolers have to answer questions about nutrition and food. He is doing as much as British chef, Jamie Oliver, is in trying to change our young's eating habit. He is succeeding and getting fellow grade schoolers away from burgers and fries, chips and soda..

Give Marshall Reid a few more months and this champion of kid's eating might even have his own TV show. Despite his age he is a maverick in getting America's youth to eat properly . Thanks to him , we just may have a generation of healthy eaters.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Le Saison Du Poi

Spring brings about one of our most favorite vegetables - the pea.Like asparagus it means that warm weather is just around the corner.It also bursts with just picked flavor. Spring peas are wonderful in a variety of ways, from the traditional to the avante garde.

The legume was the subject of the Letter From Paris section in today's New York Times Dining section. The column;s author, Elaine Sciolino was lucky enough to travel to every foodie's fantasy - Provence where she dined at the famed eatery L'Oustau de Baumaniere  . The restaurannt is mainly known for its' guests, ranging from Queen Elizabeth II to Saddam .Hussein. The famous and infamous aside the restaurant is known also for its' almost celestial tasting dishes.Right now the seasonal pea is its' star.This is peak season for the legume and there are a variety of dishes that L'Oustau's chef creates. The French love peas.In fact Charlemagne planted several plants in his garden.

The best way that Ms. Sciolino had them is probably the simplest. These were seasoned with pork belly and butter. She then returned to New York where she received lessons in how to cook them from Guy Savoy , chef at New York's famed Arc de Triomphe. For anyone who wants to cook fresh ones right now, remember that the smaller ones are the best. They have the sweetest flavor as opposed to the bigger ones. These are probably older and have a tough , mealy texture. She also learns how to cook pea pods which are usually discarded. The secret is to peel away the tough , translucent inner membrane, The best way is to have peas with butter which complements the sweet earthy taste. Some use them in soups and salads. There is even a green pea ice cream that capitalizes on its' sugary flavor.

Spring brings all sorts of greenery, including peas bursting with flavor. Add this seasonal treat to your Sunday dinners or weekday meals. They're a great way of celebrating the season!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Fruit Strips Fun Sweet Eating

What to give a hungry kid or evne adult when they;re craving sweets? Chocolate? Too unhealthy and sugar laced, especially the milk kind. Cookies? Too addictive and sometimes dry. What about fruit strips or leathers. These are tasty, flavorful snack with little calories and better yet - little preservatives.

Fruit leathers or strips are nothing more than pureed fruit that is spread out and dried. They do have a patent leather like look to them. They're fun to eat from their texture to the yummy burst of flavor. they're also perfect in party goodie bags as opposed to candies as well as a good snack on the soccer field. For adults fruit leathers are great for hiking or any sports, giving a quick burst of energy. They;re also not mess y unlike fruit and great for the upcoming beach days, Another plus is that they're easy to carry around making them perfect for brown baggers. Fruit leathers are low in calories with most ranging between 45 and 50

There's a controversy about whether to buy or make fruit leathers, If you're into natural foods and eating , then you can make them.It's basically boiling and puree any chopped fruit(grapes require seeding and mashing). Add lemon juice for preserving. It's then a process of spreading out the puree onto microwave sturdy Saran wrap and then slow baking in a 140 degree oven for eight to twelve hours. The strips are ready to eat when the leather is non sticky to the touch However for those who want their fruit leathers right at hand, consider Target's Archer brand fruit strips. These come in a variety of flavors and fruit combos like wildberry, a strawberry,blueberry and raspberry mix along with their apricot. Another good brand is sunRype which has banana strawberry and strawberry flavors. I love this one , because it's ribbed like licorice and fun to eat.

Fruit strips or leathers are a fun and tasty snack. Use them for upcoming picnics or just in a lunch bag. They not only a great treat , they ;re also healthy too!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Healthy Spring Drinks

Spring brings not only warm weather but a variety of affairs and parties. There;s everything from graduations to Mother's Day to confirmations to communions.This is the season of celebration and toasting.However what to have that not only fun but good for you? There's a whole list of tasty libations both good to guzzle and good for you.

Spring parties need fruity drinks. This is a perfect time for getting out the juicer and creating some healthy and good for you combos. Melonade, juice made with cantaloupe juice and water is refreshing . Any berry makes not only a good juice, but a great flavor when  mixed with unflavored club soda for a fun foamy fizz, Try a strawberry one to get a pink fluffy topped mocktail or a blueberry one for a lovely violet colored fizz. You can also buy already made healthy juices like  the Sambazon brand which is all natural and chemical free and blend it with any seltzer or club soda.

Spring parties deserve punch. The problem is that punches are usually sugary affairs loaded with everything from honey  to ice cream. A punch should be light and refreshing, a perfect complement for both sandwiches and cake, . A good base for any non alcoholic punch is always club soda however it can be varied with flavored clubs. Try a cranberry flavored club soda with cranberries (use the dried )and ginger . For a berry flavored club, again add ginger for spice and bite and then freshly cut strawberries along with raspberries, blueberries and blackberries.If the punch is a tad bitter, then pinch in some raw sugar (never the white) or agave syrup. Add festive ice cubes too for more fun.

There's nothing like a warm Spring night for partying.What goes well with it is a deliciously cool drink that's not only tasty but also healthy.It's the perfect way to celebrate.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

A Healthy Spring Picnic

It's time to celebrate Spring and what better than an old fashioned picnic.Yet what  gets packed in some baskets can be unhealthy. It's time for a change, and get rid of all those snacks. There's nothing like enjoying fresh air with freshly made sandwiches and nibbles. Besides it's a good time to take advantage of  the proudce just come into season.

A big part of any picnic are the sandwiches. Most people slap processed meat on bland white bread  and consider it a good meal. For variety they may add some tasteless processed cheese or even cold, ,greasy bacon. It's time to change that. Sub in darker bread which is healthier.The base doesn't have to always be whole could be a twelve or fifteen grain bread or even rye or pumpernickel. As for fillings, always think fresh. Picnics are a great way of getting rid of any leftover meat or meat loaf. Last night's chicken, turkey or even London Broil and meat loaf make better fillings than processed cold cuts. Even a tomato sandwich is a delicious picnic treat. Layer thickly cut Beefsteaks on bread with mayo. If it;s not too warm think about a tarragon egg salad on whole grain rolls.Add some mayo or ketchup for more taste and a pickle on the side.

As for the extras, think fresh again. Nix the overly processed chips and cheese puffs. Grape tomatoes are fun to bring along as are radishes  and  baby carrots. Cut celery is also good and you can pack up an easy to make vinaigrette for dipping. Try bringing other easily totable veggies such as cauliflower and broccoli too. Fresh mozzarella balls are another fun snack. Carry this theme into dessert where you can bring small containers of melon, strawberries and pineapple. Put them on sticks for an "au naturale" kabob. These are definitely healthier (and maybe a bit more fun) than s'mores.  Another bring along are all natural cookies (such as "Back To Nature's  many kinds)Wash everything down with fresh brewed teas or fruit juices.

Enjoy a healthy and fun day out with healthy and fun foods. They'll give more energy to run around and enjoy the Spring air and company. It's also a nice way to appreciate nature!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Fusing With Fuze

Trying to find a relatively natural drink is hard these days. Mostly it's overly sugary sodas or syrupy teas. However there's an alternative.Fuze. This is a great all natural drink that comes in teas and fruit fusions. It will be great for those hot , sweltering days ahead.

Fuze has been around for the last ten years  , founded in 2000 by Lance Collins and the company's creative director Paula Collins in Collins, Englewood, NJ basement. It was first distributed to Northern Califormnia wht only three flavors, mixed berry, banana colada and cranberry raspberry.Now the drink is divided into five catagories Slenderize, Refresh, Tea, Defensify, and Vitalize.Each drink has a healthy combo of  vitamins, amino acids, and herbs, and alternative sweeteners such as crystalline fructose. This last is a processed sweetener that is derived from corn.Fuze is devoid of any processed white sugars and fructose.

I discovered Fuze after completely changing my diet. Trying to find a tasty drink that's good for you was difficult. I had given up my usual Pepsi  and was looking for something else. Let's face it. One can only drink so much water and flavored seltzer. These are good however there's nothing like a cold glass that 's tasty. I love the teas., especially the Green Tea With Honey and Ginseng which has a light delicate flavor. Fuze's other tea., a mix of green and black with acai berry is also yummy and it's a bit more robust than the other. Another fave is their Slenderize line's tropical punch.It's like a refreshing pina colada and perfect for a mid afternoon pick me up. I am definitely going to try Fuze's other flavors as well.The teas have 120 and 130 calories respectively while the Slenderize has none.

If you;re looking for a different kind of refreshment , look no further than Fuze.It's a delicious drink that's good for you. It's made with all natural ingrdeients and chock full of vitamins. What a perfect way to start a hot summer!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Rediscovering Anchovies

Anchovies are those fish that either bring forth a chorus of "ahhs" or ughhs." Most people usually emit the last, vilifying the tasty little swimmers. Most people haven't had a proper anchovy that's a combination of both salty and sweet. It's time to change their attitudes.

This was the subject in yesterday's New York Times Dining section.Dining regular , Jeff Gordinier writes glowingly about this sometimes overlooked , most often times hated fish. Anchovies are actually very good health and nutritionwise . They are rich in Omega 3 fatty acids and are excellent for those suffering from rheumatoid arthritis. Their taste packs a wallop for those use to bland tasting fish.. There is a strong brininess to them that goes well with certain foods. Most people know them from gracing pizzas however they figure prominently in Piedmontese cooking. Ironically, this landlocked provence is known for its; anchovy sauce, bagna calda where bits of Savoy cabbage and meat are heated in hot bath combo of the fish, hot oil and butter.(although anchovies were brought to the Piedmontese Alps to dry before packing)

Anchovies are making a big comeback in New York hipster restaurants,Bon Chovie, operated by couple Renae and Neill Holland , sells bread crumb dipped fried anchovies which are getting a wide and loyal following.Seamus Mullen , chef at the West Village's Tertulia creates a silky blend of the fish and creamy sheep's milk cheese called tosta matrimonio. It is a marriage of delicious saltiness and sweetness. Diners are also falling for the tapas staple, boquerones, the elegantly pale and cured anchovy, now starring at a number of Spanish eateries. Anchovies with Italian salsa verde are big at another restaurant Sorella where the chef Emma Hearst makes them in the true Ligurian style. There are some pizzerias that serve anchovies as toppings and the pies are worth trying.

Anchovies are becoming hip again. Yet fall for their taste, a rich blend of salty and sweet and be hooked. Try them with cheese for a different spin or tapas style , plump and marinated ot with a fresh, earthy salsa verde. Even if they're gracing a pizza they'll be just as tasty- bringing out the sweetness of the mozzaella and tomato sauce.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The Return Of Bittman

Mark Bittman was one of the backbones of The New York Times Dining section every Wednesday. He went over to the Times Sunday magazine, giving us foodies excellent ideas about all sorts of delicious dinner and recipe ideas. I'm glad he's back on Wednesday- this time around with a new column How To Cook Everything. It's a great column, destined to get foodies back into the kitchen and to try old and new recipes.

He kicks off with a crowd pleaser a pizza recipe. Pizza can be a fun dish to make.It can also be tricky for novices not accustomed to working with yeast.Mr. Bittman recommends and prefers using a food processor for mixing everything together. He also believes in freezing it so it has a nice consistency to work with when it has to be flattened out. For that , the pizza maker can either roll it out or finger pat it. The second may cause dimpling in the surface and that could make the pizza look like a focaccia. Bakers can use whole wheat (which is what I would prefer) however it does come with caveats nit crisp enough and not chewy, however it has a deeper richer flavor.

As for the toppings, Mr. Bittman prefers the conservative and traditional choices. such as tomatoes with onions mixed in. He does add guanciale, a kind of Italian bacon made from pig jowls or cheeks.Another recipe is a pizza bianca basically a naked pie that just has oil and rosemary on top . He recommends anchovies (not always a crowd pleaser however the fishes' brininess brings out the sweetness of the tomato sauce)pepperoni along with both Parmesan and mozzarella cheeses. Fresh pesto can also be added along with eggplant or zucchini. Mr Bittman even suggests a seafood one, resplendant  with shrimps , clam, steamed mussels and lobsters.

It's good to have Mark Bittman back at the Wednesday Dining section. His new column will and is getting the juices going of many a home chef and foodie. Each weekly column will be filled with fun , adventure and challenge!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The Power of Veganism

Most Americans would never give up their beloved chicken wings or hot dogs. Yet, surprisingly , that's what millions of  people in this country are doing.  Veganism is becoming an accepted lifestyle, despite the trouble it can cause to families. There are still some minuses amongst the many pluses. These can be worked out, with some intuition and creativity.

This was the subject of an article in today's New York Times Science section. The article written by Tara Parker-Pope , tells about  the problems with following this healthy diet and lifestyle. About 7.3 million Americans now have what is known as a vegan diet. They forego all meat and dairy along with eggs, fish and even honey products. Instead soy and rice products figure prominently.Being vegan and single is easy.It's jsut one person who will deal with  all the new foods and cooking techniques. However families , especially ones with  kids, will balk at the idea of giving up beloved hamburgers or even scrambled eggs. There is also the cost . Vegan products cost more than regular ones , especially the garden and soy burgers.

Being vegan does have its' payoffs. Both heart  disease and cancer risks lower as does cholesterol and triglycerides when the diet is free of processed meats , cheeses and even butter.  There is more focus on fresh fruit and vegetables as well as cooking with olive oil. Also it's a chance to get creative in the cooking , especially with trying to recreate holiday roasts and baked goods. Families will have to embrace the goodness of tofurkey and eggless cookies and cakes. It;s also a chance to have a healthier family and basically no exposure to childhood obesity and diabetes.. Veganism can be a tough sell but it has good benefits as well as some famous fans . Former president Bill Clinton and Ellen DeGeneres are both vegans and promote their diets as often as they can.

Veganism is a healthier way of eating. It may be tough at first to eliminate meat and dairy along with fish and eggs  - and even honey, However the benefits outweigh the minuses. It means a better lifestyle and surprisingly enough tastier dishes. It's worth a try,

Monday, April 16, 2012

Poppyseeds Pop

Poppy seeds are one of those ingredients that are always overlooked. They are not only decorative , they also add flavor to anything. They're a fun way of sprucing up ordinary foods from bagels to salads. Sprinkle just a few or add a handful to create an entirely new dish.

Poppy seeds come from the same poppy that creates opium.It is an oilseed, mostly used in baking however it can be washed to make what's known as poppy tea.Don't worry about being drugged if you eat a poppy seed bagel or have it sprinkled in salad. The opiate level is very low. There are only trace amount s in each seed.Black poppy seeds are most prevalent in the US however in Europe they can be both black and white. Premium ones from Holland are slate blue in color.The seeds may appear round to the eye however look a little more closely and discover that they are really kidney shaped.

German and Polish bakers use poppy seeds the most, namely in baking, Buns and cakes often are laced with them for color and crunch. Central Europeans love a strudel made with a poppy seed paste.They can also be crushed and mixed with honey to make a candy bar that is popular in the Balkans and in Greece. Poppy seeds are also ground in a fine paste and mixed with rum, vanilla,orange zest, raisins, almonds walnuts or heavy cream to create a thick filling for rolls.Jewish cuisine calls for poppy seeds during the festival of Purim. Indian cuisine goes the other way using the white variety in savory dishes such as korma. Here in the US , the seeds are best known for gracing bagels  and adding extra zip to salads whether on their own or in dressings.

Poppy seeds really do make foods pop. They are a great addition to any dish. Try them in savory or making a traditional strudel or cake! They bring crunch and fun, along with a distinct flavor.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Open Sesame

Hard to believe one tiny little seed can be so versatile. That's the case with the same seed.It can be used as decoration or mashed in a dip.It 's an ingredient every home chef should have on the ready. Sesame seeds are a kitchen must have.

Sesame seeds come from the sesame plant  which has been cultivated for the last 5,000 years.Its' origins started in India however it was then replanted to Africa , primarily the North Saharan region. It has the highest oil content of any oil seed, You can store sesame seeds for a long time thanks to a sturdy and durable shelf life. It is also rich  in antioxidants and Omega 6 fatty acids.Sesame seeds are also abundant in carbs as well  as amino acids and essential fatty acids Unfortunately it could trigger bad allergic reactions  such as rashes and wheezing. Sesame seeds are about 2 to 3 millimeters in length and are always oval shaped. Their colorings vary from a creamy white , to sand to beige to a honeyed brownand black.

Sesame seeds are used the world over. Greeks Arabs and Turks use it to make the creamy dip tahini as well as oil.Ancient Greeks made a delicious candy called halvah  of it and the sweet  is still sold in stores today. They also make a crunchy and addictive bar with the seeds and honey. Italians use it to cat breads and breadsticks while.the Chinese like their sesame seeds in fried balls. Indian cuisine calls for black version in both sweet and savory balls. North Africans strictly use it with any kind of fish and lobster. What we Americans use it for is simply a topping mostly for hamburger buns  and benne ,a South Carolina crunchy cookie that had its' beginnings in West Africa, probably Benin.The Japanese like it to give sushi and salad flavor and crunch.

Sesame is a versatile seed that can be used in a variety of different ways. Try it in a salad the way the Japanese do or in a crunch cookie such as benne. It is a delicious way to experience this intriguing seed

Sesame is agreat

Friday, April 13, 2012

Food Doctors

I've always felt that our health care professionals should care about the way we eat. After all it's food that not only fuels us but can heal or hurt us. Now doctors are realizing that and are taking an interest in everything form shopping to food prep and cooking. This can open their minds to what their patients should be eating and what they should avoid.

This trend was picked up in the New York Times in yet another interesting article in their Dining section.The piece, written by Patricia Leigh Brown, tells of even novices learning how to wield a knife outside the operating room. Doctors learn how to expertly slice  as well as create flavorful and healthy dishes. Dr. David M. Eisenberg is the driving force behind this push, creating conferences and classes for his fellow doctors.Some are former practitioners themselves such Dr John Principe of Parlin Heights,a Chicago suburb. He  now has a culinary boot camp where he teaches patients how to whip up such healthy dishes as cauliflower crust pizza. (Medical insurance does cover the cost under a group medical appointment model)

Learning more about the intricacies of diet and nutrition can benefit doctors,They can recommend tastier yet healthier dishes for their patients. They can recommend subbing in spices as opposed to dictating a salt free diet. Doctors now can suggest meal plans that are not only beneficial but tasty.  Instead of prescribing  bland and over cooked veggies  they now can give them recipes for an antioxidant rich ratatouille or whole wheat pasta with homemade sauce. Everyone is happy then, from a doctor who knows his patients will eat right to the patients themselves; happy they can still eat fun and delicious foods.

Doctors can learn a lot from chefs. With this knowledge they can pass it to their patients. Sometimes food, good and healthy is really the best medicine, It's about time they realize it.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

There's A Rock In My Drink!

People are going to be demanding cooled off libations now that warm weather is around the corner.The problem is that ice is not the best thing to put into any drink.It melts.It dilutes the drink ruining the taste and strength. What to do? Sink a few rocks into that glass.

Rocks  are surprisingly the latest trend to keep drinks, especially one like whiskey well chilled. This was the subject of an article in yesterday's New York Times Dining section. The article , written by Catherine Saint Louis, tells of how using soapstone cubes and circles can ice a drink better than any ice cube could. After all soapstone doesn't melt which means that the whiskey's integrity isn't ruined.This actually would be great for any beverage , alcoholic or non , especially ice tea or lemonade.They also don't have any flavor that can ruin the taste.

Whisky cubes as they're called has been a blessing surprisingly for kitchen remodelers. Soapstone is a popular medium for kitchen and even bathroom countertops. Unfortunately the economy is not what it was and people are forgoing redoing their kitchens. Luckily the stone can be carved down into cubesnad discs and sold  for drinks. Many remodelers are cashing in on this and making more money doing such, Jesse Billin, once a successful one is making more money with his Hammerstones Whisky Discs. Another soapstone cube manufacturer,Justin English of Sparq Homes has even discovered a second use for these clever substitutes. They can be heated to heat up lukewarm coffee or luke warm tea. These novelties are catching on and are being gobbled up for groomsmens; or corporate gifts as well as for that hard to buy for dad, stepdad or boyfriend

Putting rocks in a drink. It sounds preposterous  but it works, Adding a few  soapstone discs or cubes actually is a good idea. They maintain the drink's integrity while keeping it icy cold.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Soup And A Salad

Spring time brings about light meals and what better than a soup and a salad? The two columns in today's New York Times Dining section do that just that. They offer a spin on the Italian classic straticiella along with a juicy , citrus infused salad. Both are perfect on their own or even paired together for an interesting lunch or even brunch.

The first recipe comes thanks to David Tanis ' City Kitchen . He creates a  spin on the Roman egg drop soup straticiella. It;s usually made with spinach but Mr. Tanis decides to switch from the green to Parmesan cheese. He also adds parsley and nutmeg for more richness and flavor. He takes it from Mona Talbott who wrote Zuppe, a compilation of Italian soup recipes. She also ran The American Academy in Rome. She highlights some other good recipes such as potato and wild chard and a summer zucchini potage. However thanks to this being the season of eggs, straticella is an excellent way to use them. it's ;s also the perfect light Spring soup .

What would go well a light Spring soup? A light , fresh salad  . That's where Melissa Clark's A Good Appetite .  comes in. She takes grapefruit,a fruit not usually associated with salads and makes it part of a date laced radicchio blend,  She also adds in pistachio nuts for crunch and color. It creates a melange of sweet and tart, along with salty and earthy, The dressing is the remaining grapefruit juice mixed with olive oil and sea salt.This would be perfect with the straticiella however it also stands great on its' own.The grapefruit date salad would also look right in place at a Sunday brunch with delicate mini muffins  as well.

Soup and a salad is the perfect Spring lunch or brunch. Try either of these recipes. They both reflect the season with their refreshing tastes of egg and grapefruit. Both are a welcoming in to a season of airy cooking and meals..

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Recycling And RevampingThose Easter Sweets Part Two

What happens when you have more leftover chocolate eggs and Peeps than you know what to do with? What about those holiday breads and cakes? There are some great ways to remake Easter treats into fantastic everyday desserts.It's easy and a fun way to make the holiday last.

A lot of us  overbuy when it comes to Easter treats. Let's face it, who can resist those cute milk and dark chocolate bunnies along with those bags of chocolate eggs. The problem is that they're always too cute and we have leftovers. We  can eat them til June or July or melt them into fun fondues or used as dips for cookies.Another neat idea is chopping them into bits and whisking them into any ice cream, especially vanilla or chocolate for a variation of straticiella, the Italian chocolate chip ice cream. They can also be put into pudding as well.You can do the same with jelly beans and vanilla ice cream too for a fun confetti colored snack.Peeps can be made as part of a marshmallow sundae or even  - horrors roasted - like any other marshmallow. Kids will love making their own "rotisserie" over the grill or stoved.

For all those leftover Easter breads there is two ways to go. They can be sliced and made into a sweet French toast or better yet a sweet and tasty bread pudding.For the French toast, think about serving the slices with a tart creme fraiche and fresh berries to cut the sweetness For the last you can also add any of the  leftover holiday brunch muffins too. You won't need any extra sugar spice or raisin because these already have sugar in them. Serve with fresh cream. .What about the remains of those bunny and egg cakes? Slice thinly and put a huge scoop of your favorite ice cream or sherbet on top.

Leftover Easter treats need not get stale. They cna be recycled into tasty and fun desserts everyone will like. It's a way of prolonging the holiday .It's also a way of enjoying the candy while it's still fresh.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Easter Leftovers Holiday Recycling Part One

Now that the holiday weekend is over, there are the holiday leftovers to deal with. WHat to do with the leftover ham and lamb? All those pretty eggs? Recycle them into new and tasty  dishes that empty the fridge and keep the family fed for a few days. It's also a nice way to prolong Easter and keep the holiday spirit.

Ham is one of the easiest meats to recycle. It can be ground in a food processor with some mayonnaise and celery seeds for a yummy deviled ham.This can be spread onto whole wheat bread for lunch or even a Spring picnic. It can also be chunked and mixed in with chili for a more richer and earthier flavor. Save the bone for flavoring split pea soup.Lamb can be made into everything from meat balls to meat loaf.An exotic dish is making a spicy version of the meatballs, using coriander, onion and mint with a mint laced yogurt sauce. Another is a lamb loaf, a variation on  meat loaf, using chili powder, fenugreek and cumin.

What to do with those dozen or two dozen eggs you dyed on Saturday? Hard boiled eggs can be used in a whole slew of ways..They can add color to a regular salad, thanks to the dye seeping through the shell and into the whites. Add them to a Spring spinach salad with some crumbled bacon bits or to a lush salad Nicoise , redolent with tuna and olives. They can also be sliced and served  with a butter sauce.over the vegetable of the season - asparagus.Of course hard boiled eggs are their best in a tarragon laced egg salad. As for the asparagus itself, leftover stalks can be cut up and mixed in with salads. Other veggies such as spinach and celery can be cut and put into soups or even omelets and quiches.

Easter leftovers needn't be challenging.There's so many ways to recycle them. They can into interesting dishes that still have the flavor of Easter but with something more. Good dishes that celebrate the Spring season!

Saturday, April 7, 2012

A Happy Healthy Easter

Tomorrow is Easter Sunday and may all of my readers worldwide enjoy the day with happy feasting and healthy eating. Remember to eat well with the vegetAble of the season asparagus along with new potatoes and Spring greens. Yes, it is fun to snitch a chocolate egg or two or even a marshmallow Peep, but leave it at that. Go easy on all the fun foods. Eat healthy . Eat wisely or that sugar high from too much candy will leave you hopping like a hyped up bunny!

Friday, April 6, 2012

Good Friday Observances

Today is Good Friday , a day of observing the holiest and most somber of the Christian calendar days. During this time we should think o others less fortunate and remember that they struggle to put food on the table. even though we are heading towards warmer weather church food pantries still need to be stocked. help fill them up with the fruits and vegetables of the upcoming season. As you go to your local farm or farmers market buy not only for your family but for one extra as well. Shop healthy not only for yourself but for others as well!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Relish This

Relish has been overlooked for so long not many people know about it.It doesn't have the pizzazz of its fellow condiments mustard and ketchup.However that's all changing.Soon it may be just the thing for hot dogs and hamburgers This was the subject of an article in yesterday's New York Times Dining section.The piece ,written by Steve Kurutz,tells about the rebirth of this much overlooked condiment. Relish is basically misshapen cucumbers that were too ugly to make it to pickles.They are chopped up and put into a vinegary brine and the fermented into relish.Unfortunately it is not that popular(except in England where it is loved and cherished).Most stores usually put relish on the bottom shelves. Relish is coming into it's own. Relish is becoming artisanal thanks to companies like McClure's Pickles where it's more of a salad.It has a fresh ,vinegary flavor as opposed to the usual sweetness associated with relishes.NewYork's famed Shake Shack chain makes a corn relish as well as one with dill.There are now relishes made with cranv Berries and red peppers.There is also a chow chow style one that has a tomato based one full of onions,cabbages, celery and bell peppers This would be good not only with the usual hot dogs and hamburgers but grilled chicken or steak. Relish may not have the oomph of mustard and ketchup.However that may all change.It may be the go to topping for everything from chicken kabobs to hamburgers and hot dogs. It will be the right accompaniment to anything ,given the chance

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Egg Time

This is the season for eggs, especially with Easter around the corner. There's nothing better than organic eggs.Even better are the ones that can be found in backyard chicken coops.That's right  - more and more people are raising chickens in their backyards. This ensures a richer quality egg and better meals involving them.

This was the subject of Julia Moskin's article in today's New York Times Dining section. She writes about the urban farm movement where even apartment dwellers have chicken coops. Mind the chickens that are urbanites usually are the smaller kind like the Olandsk dwarf hen which is the size of a grapefruit. Its' eggs fried are the size of a silver dollar pancakes. Most chickens that are being raised are normal sized and can even be bought from catalogs and online. Eggs start to be laid in the Spring when there is more daylight. hence the egg connection with Easter,Passover and the Persian New Year.

What about the eggs? Much better than store bought. That's the consensus amongst chicken owners. The yolk is different.instead of just being yellow it's that deep rich orange yellow of a taxi cab. The whites are different too.They're never runny and make excellent meringues.They also have a freshness and sweet ness to them that the store bought ones don;t have.  The eggs also pick up what the chicken has eaten and the eggs possess either a grassy, earthy nutty or even chickeny kind of flavor. They can be used even to enhance stews and soups as well as make flavorful egg noodles.Of course fresh eggs made wonderful omelets, especially mixed with freshly grown garden vegetables.They also make better tasting scrambled  and poached coddled and sunnyside up.

There's nothing like a good egg made any kind of way. Better yet, if you have the room start a hatchery  and raise your own. It's a good experience plus the benefits are eggs-tra great. It's organic food right at your doorstep.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Back To Nature Healthy Fun Treats

Is there such a thing as a good for you cookie? Or a healthy baked mac and cheese dinner? Or nutritious snacks that aren't fruits and veggies. The answer is yes. Thanks to a great all natural company, Back To Nature conscientious foodies can enjoy not only healthy treats but also fun ones too.

Back To Nature is a California company that started in Pasadena in 1960. In an era when most Americans were clamoring for processed TV dinners and mass produced snacks, Back To Nature started its' line with granola. Fifty years later it has expanded to include everything from all natural juices to prepared dinner along with fun snacks. Their philosophy is simple make everything with unbleached flour and cane juice along with honey and fruit concentrates. It works. Foodies who want tasty treats without all that fructose and transfat turn to Back To Nature for cookies , nuts and crackers.

I bought their Classic Creme cookies and was instantly hooked. It's hard to find a relatively all natural cookie in the grocery store however I did. I like the fact that Back To Nature's spin on the classic Oreo is even better than the original cookie. It was just as chocolate-y with the right amount of filling. I am looking forward to trying some of the other flavors, namely the Fudge Stripe and Crispy Oatmeal. After looking through their site I also want to try some of their nuts, crackers and definitely their version of a more wholesome baked mac and cheese.This is a must have brand all households should have.

Back To Nature puts the fun back into healthy eating and snacking, Their wide variety makes snack time as well as dinner time a pleasure. Best of all the products are not processed. They're pure and simple - the way food should be.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Sweets From Bulgaria

The other day was dedicated to Bulgarian cooking. This was a varied hybrid cuisine of Slavic and Greek dishes. Bulgarian sweets are also the same, having as many different kinds of cake and pastries like the Italians, Germans and of course, the French.The Bulgarians are lucky to have such a wide cornucopia of desserts to choose from.The array is one of the most dazzling of all the European.

Thanks to Greece as well as the Ottoman Turk influence baklava is a big treat/. This is the very popular layering of crisp and flaky phylo dough and chopped nuts. Usually the nuts are pistachios or walnuts and honey or a simple syrup is poured over the layers.Another treat of the area, halvah is also made. This is a kind of treat has a base of flour, clarified butter and semolina. There is also a tahini version which derives from sesame seeds.The Bulgarians also love fruit so there are a lot of fruit tarts such as with their cherry ones and a fruity  called Kompot. This is a a kind of tea made with fruit cooked in a large volume of water. Apples and rhubarb are used as are gooseberries, peaches and strawberries along with sour cheeries and apricots.

Sweet breads are also popular, probably thanks to the Slavic influence on the country. Many Bulgarians are probably making their own version of kozunak, a sweet Easter bread.This is like the Italian panettone , a sweet bread redolent with fruits and nuts. Rum or poppy seeds can be sprinkled on top. Another  treat is sweet pita which is a fried pita usually served with jam and cheese. Kazaniak doughnuts, are also a big favorite, and they're similar to our American ones with powdered sugar.There is also lokum, a puff pastry  that has poppy seeds on top.

Bulgaria isn't just known for its' hybrid main dishes but for a wide variety of dishes. There's influence from Greece, Turley and to the north , the Slavic states.It makes for an interesting dessert table. It also makes for great endings to great meals.