FROM THE COOKBOOK SHELF
Carrie Walters, Culinary Director of Dorothy Lane Markets in the Dayton area, recommended A Real Southern Cook in Her Savanna Kitchen by Dora Charles (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2015; hardback/$25.00). How could I resist when recipes included ones I love to eat including fried green tomatoes, hush puppies, fresh tomato pie and more! Hundreds of thousands of people have made the trip to enjoy exceptional food cooked by Dora Charles at one of Savannah’s most famous destination restaurants. Now Charles shares her culinary magic in a A Real Southern Cook in Her Savannah Kitchen. Earlier in her career, Charles worked for Paula Dean for 22 years from her original restaurant to Lady and Sons where she taught dozens of staffers and managers. Trust me, this cookbook is a winner if you like foods of the South like I do! Purchase via Amazon.com.
Question: What is a Sumo?
Answer: In the 1970’s a Japanese citrus grower from Kumamoto Prefecture, developed a fruit which would combine the easy-to-peel Japanese Satsuma with an obscure tangerine-orange hybrid. Although he saw promise in his fruit, it proved challenging to grow. It took over 30 years but his hard work paid off when it became the prized citrus fruit in Japan and Korea. Now this legendary fruit with its pebbled skin and “knob top” exceptionally sweet fruit is grown in California’s Central Valley to the same exacting standards of the original Kumamoto farmer.
WHAT’S NEW AT CHIEF
Kudos to Pepperidge Farm for their Goldish Baked Snack Crackers Baked with Real Cheddar Cheese and no MSG like most flavored crackers!
And just in time for St. Patrick’s Day are new Oreo Thins Mint Crème cookies. I also like the way they’re packaged with a convenient easy to open pull tab. Oreo still makes a regular size cookie but calorie-wise, I prefer the thin ones.
ANOTHER ONE OF MY FAVORITE THINGS
I have never outgrown my love affair with Rice Krispie Treats. They’re available at Chief already made but when children can make them in the microwave with adult supervision, why would anyone buy store-bought! A whole batch for me is way too many. Then along came Microwave Single Serve Rice Krispie Treat via www.food.com to eat right from a large mug or medium bowl.
MICROWAVE SINGLE-SERVE RICE KRISPIE TREAT
• 1 cup Rice Krispies (or Our Family works fine)
• 1/2 cup mini marshmallows
• 1/2 tablespoon (1 1/2 teaspoons) butter
Directions: Put marshmallows and butter in 16-ounce mug or a medium bowl and microwave for about 20 seconds on HIGH (marshmallows will puff a lot). Take the bowl out of the microwave, and stir in the cereal, making sure it is all coated with marshmallow mixture. Enjoy! Source: Adapted recipe from www.food.com.
DIETITIANS FORECAST HEALTHY-EATING TRENDS
Seeds and avocado’s will steal some of the healthy-eating spotlight from kale in 2016, according to a survey of registered dietitians nutritionists (RDNs). The survey of 450 dietitians was conducted by Pollock Communications and Today Dietitian Magazine. Following the popularity chia seeds, the dietitians forecast that other seeds such as sunflower, hemp, sesame and flax will appeal to health conscious consumers looking for alternatives to carbohydrates. Avocados, versatile and high in healthy unsaturated fats, will continue to grow in popularity, along with green tea and “ancient grains.” Kale, while still a healthy choice, may have peaked in popularity, the survey of RDNs predict along with high-protein products. Also booming in 2016, the RDNs predict, will be the “clean eating” fad, even though there is not a clear definition of ‘clean eating’ and varies by person. “Clean eating typically emphasizes foods making “free from” artificial ingredients, but the dietitians surveyed caution that isn’t the best way to make healthy choices. Source: Tufts Health & Nutrition Letter, March 2016.
OTHER FISH IN THE SEA
America’s favorite “fish” is actually a shellfish, shrimp. Shellfish can be a healthy alternative to entrée options higher in calories, and recent revised thinking about dietary cholesterol is good news for shrimp lovers just as it is for egg eaters. Shrimp, scallops, crab, clams and other shellfish are low in fat, however, so they are low in heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, you’ll find slightly more omega 3s in clams and scallops, whereas crab is similar to Pollock (often used for imitation crab). Choose preparations that let the flavors of shellfish shine, such as boiling, broiling, grilling or lightly sautéing without breading. Source: Tufts Smart Supermarket Seafood Shopping Supplement, March 2016.
AN IRISH BLESSING
“May the road rise up to meet you, may the wind be always at your back, may the sunshine warm upon your face. The soft rain fall soft upon your fields and until we meet again may God hold you in the hallow of his hand.”
QUIET MEALS, HEALTHIER CHOICES
You may want to turn down the volume at dinnertime. Families that ate as a vacuum cleaner roared nearby consumed 34 percent more cookies than those who dined in a more peaceful setting, according to a University of Illinois Study.
Source: Consumer Reports on Health, March 2016.
CENTRAL OBESITY POSES RISK FOR THIN PEOPLE
If you’re of normal weight but carry fat around your waistline, you still have increased risk of total and cardiovascular mortality compared to overweight or obese people with normal fat distribution, according to a study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine December 1, 2015. Researchers found that normal-weight adults with central obesity have the worst long term survival compared with any group, no matter what their body mass index (BMI). Findings showed that normal-weight people with central obesity had twice the mortality risk of people who are rated overweight or obese according to BMI only, compared to hip-weight ratio.
Source: DukeMedicine Health News, March 2016.
TIPS AND TALK
Produce departments can practically give away regular cucumbers but my choice will always be the English burpless, the one that’s shrink wrapped in plastic. Something else you should know about any cucumber is that is keeps longer on the counter than in the refrigerator. In the case of the English cucumber, plastic should be removed. Consider parsley as more than a garnish. This herb is a good source of vitamin C (a quarter-cup contains one-third the Daily Value) and also provides some potassium, vitamin K, folate and other nutrients, along with potentially beneficial phytochemicals. Curly parsley is often to decorate plates, but flat leaf (or Italian) parsley is generally preferred for cooking since it has a pronounced flavor. Add chopped parsley to soups, salads, sauces, dips and meat and seafood dishes.
Source: University of California at Berkeley Wellness Letter, March 2016.
When I read reviews of recipes on the internet, it amazes me that very few cooks make it like the recipe is printed. My inclination is to follow it unless I see a major problem that needs to be addressed. I also shy away from recipes with over 400 calories but if I like the entrée well enough, I find ways to cut calories by replacing them with a reduced-fat version. Such was the case with Betty Crocker’s Slow Cooker Bacon Ranch-Chicken Pasta. Regarding the pasta, 8 ounces of spaghetti was too much for the amount of sauce so second time around I used only 6 ounces. Instead of regular sour cream, I replaced it with reduced-fat one with half the calories and instead of regular cream of chicken soup my preference was Campbell’s MSG-free Healthy Request. The finished product was moist and reheated beautifully in the microwave.
SLOW-COOKER BACON-RANCH CHICKEN AND PASTA
• 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts
• 6 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
• 1 clove minced garlic
• 1 package (1 oz) ranch dressing and seasoning mix (I use Penzeys without MSG)
• 1 (10.75 oz) can MSG-free Campbell’s Healthy Request cream of chicken soup.
• 1 cup light sour cream
• 1/2 teaspoon pepper
• 1/2 cup water
• 6 oz Our Family Whole Wheat Thin Spaghetti (half of 12 oz package)
Spray 4-quart slow cooker with cooking spray; place chicken in cooker. In medium bowl, mix remaining ingredients except spaghetti. Pour over top of chicken. Cover; cook on High setting 1 hour. Switch to low and continue cooking an additional 5 hours. When about 15 minutes are left, cook and drain spaghetti as directed on package. Just before serving, shred the chicken with 2 forks, and toss creamy mixture with pasta. Recipe makes 6 servings.
Source: Adapted from a Betty Crocker recipe
IMMUNE DISEASES TRIGGERED BY PROCESSED FOODS
A recent study suggests that eating processed foods may increase risk for autoimmune disease because of weaken intestines. Researchers identified at least seven common food additives that weaken “tight junctions” in the intestines. Tight junctions are sealants between epithelial cells that protect the lining of the gastrointestinal tract, the mucosa that help food pass through. Normal-functioning tight junctions can lead to “leaky gut,” a condition in which toxins can enter the bloodstream, possibly leading to development of autoimmune diseases. Processed foods include microwave meals, some cheeses, cereals, canned fruits and vegetables, bread, snack foods, bacon and sausages. The seven food additives include glucose, gluten, sodium, fat solvents, organic acids, nanometric particles and microbial transllutaminase, an enzyme used as a food protein “glue.” Autoimmune diseases include rheumatoid arthritis, celiac disease, type 1 diabetes, multiple sclerosis and Crohn’s disease, among many others (Autoimmunity Reviews, June 2015).
Source: DukeMedicine HealthNews, March 2016.
LONGEVITY BENEFITS SEEN WITH MODERATE COFFEE DRINKING
That extra cup of coffee is not only safe for most people, but might actually reduce your risk of dying prematurely from heart disease and several causes. Harvard researchers reported in the journal Circulation an association between drinking three to five cups of coffee a day and lower mortality risk. The association was seen for cardiovascular disease, neurological diseases such as Parkinson’s disease, type 2diabetes and even suicide, but not cancer. Drinkers of both caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee saw benefits. Jeffrey B. Blumberg, PhD, director of Tufts Antioxidants Research Laboratory, says “The overlap in this association between regular and decaffeinated coffee suggests that other bioactive components than caffeine may contribute importantly to some of these apparent benefits. Brewing whole or ground coffee beans effectively extracts chlorogenic acids, ligans, quinides and trigonelline, phytochemicals shown in other research studies to increase antioxidant defenses and reduce both insulin resistance and systematic inflammation.”
Drinking up to three cups of coffee a day was associated with a 6 to 8% lower risk of overall mortality; consumption of more than five cups a day was not associated with risk of mortality one way or the other. Among people who had never smoked, the protective association of coffee was more evident. For never smokers, drinking three to five cups was linked to lower risk. The Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, whose recommendations help inform the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, for the first time addressed safety concerns about coffee. The committee concluded that drinking three to five cups a day (up to about 400 milligram of caffeine) was associated with minimal health risks and may confer benefits. Pregnant women should stop at two cups a day. Some research also suggested that genetic variations in how quickly people process caffeine may affect health benefits. The caffeine content of a cup of coffee varies depending on how its brewed, with a typical eight-ounce cup in the US containing 85 milligrams. Coffee shop drinks can range from 75 to 165 milligrams per eight-ounce cup, but keep in mind that servings are usually twice that. Even decaffeinated coffee contains about 2 to 15 milligrams per cup.
Source: Tufts University Health & Nutrition Letter, February 2016.
Regarding cleaning out the refrigerator/freezer and kitchen cupboards, how often have I resolved to not have it happen again? Sorry to say, too many times! I do have a large refrigerator/freezer and although I clean it regularly and store food in the freezer in an orderly fashion, when I’m in a hurry I have a tendency to shove foods anyplace they’ll fit!
So what do I intend to do about it? The first thing is take inventory of what’s in the refrigerator/freezer and cupboard before making a shopping list to avoid duplicating something I already have on hand. At the supermarket sticking to the list and avoiding any impulse purchases is essential, no matter whether it’s a bargain or not! Although cooking for two wasn’t a problem when I was first married, it’s a real problem now! I miss foods that I fixed when we were a family of six because it isn’t practical to make them for one person. A solution is to invite a few friends to join me for the entrée and fellowship that comes with sharing. Hopefully this information helps if you’re in the same situation
INSPIRED BY CHINESE NEW YEAR
One of my favorite soups is Egg Drop. This week’s recipe is so easy to make and it uses ingredients I usually have on hand. In the past I’ve garnished the soup with chopped scallions but in this recipe from the internet, everything is in the soup. Note: Swanson Chicken Stockwill make it even more flavorful.
QUICK EGG DROP SOUP
• 3 cups chicken broth or stock (I prefer Swanson)
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 1/8 teaspoon white pepper
• 1 medium scallion, chopped (green part included)
• 2 large eggs, slightly beaten
Heat chicken broth or stock, salt and white pepper to boiling. Stir scallion into eggs. Pour egg mixture slowly into broth, stirring constantly with fork or whisk to form shreds of egg. Recipe makes 4 servings.
Source: Adapted from my daily moment.com recipe.
HOW TO AVOID DIETARY PITFALLS WHEN DINING OUT
Brunch with friends, lunch with work colleagues or a romantic dinner date, more of our meals are eaten outside of the home. According to research by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the percentage of total calories consumed outside the home increased from 18 percent in the 1970’s to 32 percent in 2008, roughly one-third of all food consumed. Researchers also found that spending in restaurants increased from 25.9 percent of the total food budget in 1970 to 43.1 percent in 2012.
Not only are more meals being consumed in restaurants, but those meals usually contain more calories, sodium and fat than you bargained for. A study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that meals eaten in full service restaurants and fast-food outlets are surprisingly similar. Whether the meal was from a drive-thru or served by a waiter, on average, meals eaten out contained 200 more calories, 350 milligrams more sodium and 10 grams more fat than home-cooked meals. In addition, the researchers discovered that people consumed less vitamin A, vitamin K and vitamin D when eating out. “Fast food is usually considered as the most unhealthy, but the fare in sit-down restaurants may not be much better. Restaurants add butter, cheese, sauces and salt to insure the food tastes so good that customers will return time and time again, says Tanya Freirish, RD, a dietitian at New York Presbyterian Weill Cornel.
Dining out can be fun, fast and easy, but it doesn’t have to exclude healthy choices. Here are some strategies to help you stay on target with your healthy eating plan, even if you’re dining out: Look for words like grilled, broiled, baked and steamed for lower calorie options. If nothing looks healthy, ask for sauces and dressings on the side and/or place half your entrée in a take-home container at the beginning of the meal.
Source: Weill Cornel Medical College Women’s Nutrition Connection, February 2016.
Q: Will cranberry juice prevent urinary tract infections?
A: My “go to” person regarding questions like this is Dinah Dalder, MS, RD, CNSC, CD, Dietetics Program Manager, Department of Nutrition Science, Purdue University. “There is not enough evidence to be able to recommend cranberry juice for preventing urinary tract infections,” according to Dalder.
A FOOD JOURNAL CAN HELP YOU MANAGE A NUMBER OF HEALTH ISSUES
Weight loss is the most common reason for keeping a food journal but it can be helpful for a variety of conditions for which specific foods or nutrients need to be monitored. You can use a food journal to count carbohydrates if you have diabetes, monitor sodium intake if you have high blood pressure, limit your saturated fat intake if you have high cholesterol, or control your intake of sodium, potassium, phosphorus and protein if you have chronic kidney disease, according to Kim Valenza, RD, CDE, CDN, a senior dietitian at New York – Presbyterian/Weill Cornell. According to Valenza, “Keeping a journal makes you more aware of and accountable for what you are eating. A handful of crackers or chips here and there and a candy bar on the run might get forgotten or ‘not counted’ when tallying your daily intake in your head. By writing it down, you have a written account you can review.”
Source: Weill Cornell Medical College Women’s Nutrition Connection, February 2016.
SLOW COOKER RECIPES SUIT OUR LIFESTYLE
When both parents work, a slow cooker is one of the handiest appliances in the kitchen. What I like best about this week’s recipe is that only a salad is needed to complete the meal. However, I do recommend that the chunks of russet potatoes be zapped in your microwave on high for 2 minutes before arranging with baby carrots in the bottom of the cooker. I did make a double recipe of the sauce as suggested. Since I don’t use anything with MSG, I used an equivalent amount of Penzeys ranch dressing mix (available by calling 1-800-741-7787).
SLOW COOKER CREAMY RANCH CHICKEN
• 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
• 4 medium russet potatoes, cut into small pieces
• 2 cups baby carrots
• 2 cans Campbell’s Cream of Chicken soup
• 2 1/2 teaspoons Penzeys ranch dressing mix
• 1/4 cup milk
• Chopped parsley for garnish
Spray your slow cooker with non-stick cooking spray. Layer potatoes and carrots on the bottom of slow cooker. Lay chicken breasts on top. In medium bowl, whisk together soup, dry ranch dressing and milk. Pour over top of chicken breasts. Cook on high first hour, then on low an additional 4 hours. Serve immediately garnished with fresh chopped parsley. Recipe makes 4 servings.
Source: Adapted from The Recipe Critic recipe on the internet.
Matcha is a powdered Japanese green tea that is whisked into hot water or milk. This antioxidant-rich green tea may soon show up in coffee houses including Starbucks. It may become the Nespresso of 2016. Sharp recently introduced
an Instant Matcha Maker.
WALNUTS, A SUPER FOOD
Walnuts are considered a superfood, and particularly good for the brain because they contain a wide variety of nutrients that benefit the brain. About 7 walnuts a day is enough to make a difference in your mental functioning. Recent research shows that people who regularly eat walnuts score consistently higher on memory tests, comprehension and information-processing speed than those who eat few or no walnuts. All varieties of nuts contain nutrients, but walnuts contain more brain-healthy antioxidants, vitamin E and folic acid than other nuts, and are the only nut that contains a significant amount of the plant-based omega-3 fatty acid alpha-linolenic (ALA). Omega-3 fatty acids are associated with improved brain plasticity (the brain’s ability to change throughout life), better learning and memory, and lower risk of mental disorders, such as depression and dementia. Other nutritional benefits of walnuts include protein, polyphenols (antioxidants), B6, arginine (an amino acid involved in protein synthesis and cell division), melatonin and minerals such as copper, manganese, potassium, iron, magnesium, zinc and calcium. Recommended consumption per day is about an ounce-and-a-half a day.
Source: Duke Medicine HealthNews, February 2016.
EAT EVERYTHING IN MODERATION MAY NOT BE THE BEST ADVICE
Eating everything in moderation has long been popular wisdom, though without much scientific evidence to support it. Now a new study has put that dictum to the test. Greater diversity was not associated with better outcomes as measured by waist circumference and risk of type 2 diabetes, and people eating “everything in moderation” were more likely to add inches around the middle. The problem with this traditional advice may be that people apply it equally to healthy and unhealthy foods. Eating a more diverse diet means consuming a greater variety of fruits and vegetables but also sugary sodas, cookies, potato chips and cupcakes. Even “in moderation,” such choices contribute to intake of trans fats, sugar, sodium, starch and refined carbohydrates, outweighing the benefits of healthy foods. “Americans with the healthiest diets actually eat a relatively small range of healthy foods,” says Dariush Mozafarian, MD, DrPH, senior author of the study and dean of Tufts Friedman School, as well as editor-in-chief of the Tufts Diet & Nutrition Letter. “These results suggest that in modern diets, eating ‘everything in moderation’ is actually worse than eating a smaller number of healthy foods.” It still makes sense to eat a “rainbow” of different colored fruits and vegetables, to ensure that you’re getting a full range of vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients. But don’t worry too much if your choices among the healthy “rainbow” are limited to your tastes and budget. There’s nothing wrong with eating broccoli or blueberries several times a week and skipping Brussels sprouts and kiwi fruit if that’s what you prefer. Finding a few healthy favorites and sticking with them is better than branching out to eat “everything” if that means consuming a ”moderate” amount of donuts, chips, fries and double cheeseburgers.
Source: Tufts Health & Nutrition Letter, February 2016.
LENT IS HERE
Salmon patties are a good choice and I’m partial to the recipe in my cookbook. If you need fewer than 8 patties, they do freeze well. Although I prefer red sockeye salmon, pink salmon is cheaper and works. Dill weed, one of the seasonings, is also a plus
DILLED SALMON PATTIES
• 2 cups soft bread crumbs (easy to do in a food processor, pulsing on and off)
• 2 large eggs, beaten
• 1/2 cup minced scallions including tops
• 1/2 teaspoon dill weed
• 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
• 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
• 1 14 3/4-ounce can red sockeye salmon, drained
• 2 tablespoons butter
• 1 tablespoon olive oil or Canola oil
In a large mixing bowl, combine the bread crumbs with eggs, onion, dill weed, lemon juice and pepper; mix well. Add salmon, breaking fish into small pieces and removing any bones. Shape salmon into 8 patties, each about 1/2-inch thick. In large skillet, heat butter and oil over medium heat. Add salmon patties and cook until golden on both sides and hot throughout. Serve with cocktail or tartar sauce on the side. Recipe makes 4 2-patty servings.
PIE MAKING 101
Mother made pie crust with Crisco. Daughter Mary Ann uses lard and butter. But in my opinion lard makes the flakiest crust. Salt enhances the flavor and use 1 teaspoon per double crusted pie. When I was a county extension agent in Indiana at a Purdue 4-H Club Roundup, I watched the national cherry pie champion use cold milk instead of ice water in her pie crust and I’ve used it ever since in mine. It gives the crust a more golden color when baked. Finally, I could not get along without a pastry cloth and rolling pin cover and Mother also used one when they became available. I use the set when I make rolled cookie dough and bread. Practice makes perfect when it comes to making pie crust. If you’re still intimidated by the thought of making your own, Pillsbury’s refrigerated crust is the way to go. Having cut many a pie at church dinners, some pie bakers would be better off using one of these!
MY PIE CRUST RECIPE
• 3 cups all-purpose flour
• 1 cup fresh lard
• 2 teaspoons salt
• 1/2 cup chilled milk (whatever kind that you use)
In a food processor or electric mixer with dough hook, Pulse on and off to make coarse crumbs. Add milk gradually until dough clings together in a ball. Divide dough into 4 parts. If not using immediately, form each ball into a round flat disk and store in freezer bag until needed. Recipe makes 2 double crusts.
“FORAGING” IN THE MODERN SUPERMARKET
There’s good news at your local supermarket. “You should walk into a supermarket with a very positive attitude,: says Alice H. Lichtenstein, DSc, director of Tufts Cardiovascular Nutrition Laboratory and executive editor of the Tufts Health & Nutrition Letter. “The availability of healthy and affordable foods has greatly expanded in recent years. A smart strategy of “hunting and gathering,” Lichtenstein says, can fill your cart with nutritious, budget friendly items that can be turned into healthy meals with a minimum of fuss. Making a list and sticking to it is the first step in nutrition-wise “foraging.” It insures that you’ll buy only what you really need for meals and helps you reduce waste and avoid impulse purchase. Even canned-goods aisles contain healthy choices, especially if you choose foods like canned beans. They're an excellent choice and a protein alternative to meat, as well as convenient. Tomatoes are another wise canned choice, Lichtenstein notes, “Sometimes canned tomatoes are more flavorful than fresh because they are processed at the peak of ripeness. Canned tomatoes may also include varieties that are more flavorful but that don’t ship well as whole, fresh tomatoes.” The lycopene in canned tomatoes and tomato sauces is more accessible than in fresh, uncooked tomatoes. Reduced-sodium soups have become more widely available, too, improving options in a section of the supermarket that was once a sodium-laden disaster zone.
Source: Tufts University Health & Nutrition Letter, February 2016.
A SWEET FOR THE SWEET ON VALENTINE’S DAY
For a snack, daughter-in-law Kelly Thaman brought Cracker Toffee to the Thaman Christmas dinner. She got the recipe from one of the ladies with whom she works at school. You’ll need a 13x18-half sheet pan or one close to this size to make the toffee
• 1 1/2 packages saltine crackers (or as many as you can fit into the pan in one layer)
• 1 stick unsalted butter
• 1 cup packed brown sugar
• 1 package semi-sweet chocolate chips
• Chopped pecans, walnuts or any other kind of nut would be good but they are optional
Line pan with parchment paper sprayed with a little Pam. Bring to a boil the butter and sugar and boil for 2 to 3 minutes (browned and bubbly when the sugar is melted). Pour mixture over the crackers (don’t worry if all the crackers are not covered because mixture will spread as it bakes) and bake in preheated 3500F oven for 4 to 5 minutes. Carefully pull out of oven because the liquid at this point will be very hot and will burn you badly if spilled. Let set for 3 to 4 minutes and sprinkle chocolate chips on top. Let set for a few minutes until they melt and then spread with a spatula until covered. Sprinkle with nuts if you like. Cool 20 minutes and then store in the refrigerator to harden up. When cooled and hardened, break into pieces.
ALLIUM VEGETABLES: A SOURCE OF POWERFUL PHYTO- NUTRIENTS
Onions and garlic, two members of the allium family of vegetables, add unmistakable flavors to foods, but they also provide your body with natural chemicals called phytonutrients that are linked with many health benefits. “Alliums contain substances that, when broken down by chopping, crushing or mincing , are exposed to each other, creating a compound called allicin. Some studies have found that allicin may act as an antioxidant; consuming allicin has been linked to lower blood pressure, improved blood flow and prevention of plaque build-up in the arteries,” explains Rissa Landman, MS, RD, CDN, CNSC, a dietitian at New York-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell.
The allium family include cultivated, edible bulbs and their leaves, such as leeks, onions, shallots, garlic, scallions and chives, as well as varieties that grow wild such as ramps (wild leeks). If allium plants are allowed to flower, they produce edible shoots and flowers, such as garlic scapes and purple chive flowers. Onions and shallots contain phenols and flavonoids, which are antioxidants. Consuming flavonoids is associated with decreased risks of cancer, heart disease and diabetes. However, not all onions are created equal, according to Landman. “Sweet onions have been bred to please our palates; however, they have lost some of their powerful antioxidant compounds in the process,” she explains. In general, the less sharp the flavor (think yellow onions and shallots), the higher the phytonutrient content. While sweet onion may be more palatable if you are serving them raw, Landman suggests using yellow onions or shallots when cooking. “The process of cooking and caramelization will bring out the onions’ natural sweetness, and you will maximize your intake of beneficial compounds, she says. To get more allium vegetables into your diet, snip fresh scallions or chives over salads, dips and pasta dishes, start soups and stews with diced, sautéed onions and include leeks in potato-based dishes; leeks in potato dishes; leek and potato soup is a classic example of a delicious way to get phytonutrients that allium vegetables provide. And one final suggestion: “To reap the most benefits from your alliums, they should be allowed to sit for at least 10 minutes after chopping, slicing or mincing to allow allicin compound to become stable before heating,” advises Landman.
Source: Weill Cornell Medical College Women’s Nutrition Connection, February 2016.
ANOTHER REASON TO AVOID UNNECESSARY USE OF ANTIBIOTICS, ESPECIALLY CHILDREN
According to a study in the International Journal of Obesity, Researchers from John Hopkins University analyzed health records of nearly 164,000 children ages 3 to 18 and found that those who had taken antibiotics at least seven times by age15, gained, on average, an extra three pounds. That’s not much, but researchers suggested that the cumulative effect may continue into adulthood. The connection to weight gain is biologically plausible, since antibiotics kill harmful bacteria but also other species that are vital to gastrointestinal health and that may affect nutrient and calorie absorptions as well as appetite. Antibiotics are essential, even life-saving, treatments for bacterial infections, but too often they’re prescribed for colds and other viral infections that cannot possibly be helped by the drugs.
Source: University of California, Berkeley Wellness Letter, February 2016.
ARE YOU READY FOR THE SUPER BOWL?
I look forward to receiving Annie Watts Cloncs Christmas letter because in addition to information about their family as well as a recipe and words of wisdom. In her 2015 letter, Annie shared her version of guacamole following a trip to Central Mexico 15 years ago. Two secrets, she says for great guacamole is a ripe (but not TOO soft) Hass avocado and mashing with a fork for a chunky texture.
ANNIE’S ANYTIME GUACAMOLE
• 1 large ripe avocado, halved, pitted, peeled and chopped
• 2 TB finely chopped sweet onion, optional
• 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
• 1 to 2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
In small bowl, coarsely mash avocado with a fork; stir in onion, garlic powder and lime juice. Add salt to taste. Serve immediately or cover with plastic wrap pressed directly onto the surface and refrigerate for up to 4 hours. Variations:
-Add 1/4 cup diced tomatoes.
-Add finely chopped jalapeno or serrano chiles, or a dash of hot sauce to taste.
Recipe makes 3/4 cup.
Annie’s words of wisdom:
Good friends are like quilts... they age with you, and yet never lose their warmth. Take good care of them!
FROM THE COOKBOOK SHELF
It’s unusual for me to not get a cookbook for Christmas but it happened in 2015. That said, I took it upon myself to buy Happy Cooking by Giada De Laurentis, published in 2015 by Pam Krauss Books, a division of Penguin Random House. The regular price of the cookbook is $35.00 but my copy came from Amazon.com at a reduced price. Giada and Ina Garten are my favorites on the Food Network. In Happy Cooking, she shares how she strikes a balance in order to maintain her vibrant good health and make cooking and eating well an everyday ritual. In Happy Cooking, she provides a road map to year-round good eating, all while making your time in the kitchen feel more rewarding and stress free. Filled with nearly 200 recipes including for breakfast Oatmeal with Olive Oil and Oranges, a container of Lentil Salad Nicosia for lunch, Salmon with Seasonless Succotash for dinner and a rich Peanut Butter Expresso Brownie for dessert, Happy Cooking is Giada’s guide to cooking up a happy life!
The last weekend in January is a reminder of the blizzard that hit our area in 1998. Even though we were warned of its coming, most people were unprepared for what followed. Ever since then, nothing is better for supermarket sales than a pending snow storm warning. Fortunately we had power in our area. My Aunt Marion who lived along the shores of Lake Erie didn’t. She had to cook in her wood-burning fireplace. Although I have gas logs now, I can cook on my outdoor grill. I just have to be sure there is an adequate supply of propane available.
Dietary supplements lead to an estimated 23,000 visits U.S. emergency rooms and more and 2.100 hospitalizations every year, according to the New England Journal of Medicine. Federal officials analyzed nationally representative data from 63 emergency departments over a decade. Nearly 30 percent of the visits involved young adults ages 20 to 34, and 20 percent unsupervised children. Supplements containing herbs and other “complementary” compounds accounted for two-thirds of the visits; vitamins and minerals and other nutrients, the other one-third, Supplements marketed for weight loss and energy boosting were the most common culprits, often causing cardiac symptoms such as palpitations, chest pain and fast heartbeat.
Source: University of California at Berkeley Wellness Letter, January 2016.
IF YOUR TEETH COULD TALK
On the most basic level, good dental health depends largely on manual labor - that is, brushing and flossing your teeth regularly, helped along by tooth-protecting fluoride and periodic professional checkups and cleanings. A healthy diet and lifestyle (particularly the avoidance of tobacco) play big rolls in oral health, too, as do genetic factors, but nothing can take the place of daily cleanings
SOURCE: University of California at Berkeley Special Issue Winter Issue.
RECIPE OF THE WEEK
You are encouraged to eat more fruits and vegetables but occasionally it’s okay to indulge yourself and Betty Crocker suggests doing it with her Triple Chocolate Gooey Butter Cake. Be sure you use Betty Crocker cake mix.
TRIPLE CHCOLATE GOOEY BUTTER CAKE
• 1 Betty Crocker SuperMoist devil’s food cake mix
• 2/3 cup butter, melted
• 3 eggs
• 1 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened
• 2 tablespoons unsweetened caking cocoa
• 2 cups powdered sugar
• 2 teaspoons vanilla
• 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
• Whipped cream, if desired
Heat oven to 3500F. Grease 13x9-inch (3-quart baking dish) with butter or cooking spray. In large bowl, mix cake mix and ½ cup of the melted butter., 1 egg and 1 teaspoon of vanilla. Press in bottom of baking dish. Set aside. In another large bowl, beat cream cheese with electric mixer on medium speed until smooth. Add remaining 2 eggs and baking cocoa; beat until smooth. On low speed, add powdered sugar in two additions. Add remaining ¼ cup melted butter and 1 teaspoon vanilla; beat until smooth. Stir in chocolate chips. Spread in pan on top of cake mixture. Bake 40 to 50 minutes or until center appears set but still slightly jiggles when shaken. Cool at least 30 minutes. Serve with whipped cream. Source: Betty Crocker recipe.
While Nacho Cheese Doritos deliver a quick burst of flavor, their taste is deliberately ambiguous. Food scientists note this sidesteps “sensory specific satiety,” fooling the brain into eating more. Someone gave me a bag as part of a Christmas present and that explains why I couldn’t stop eating them once the bag was open!
FROM THE COOKBOOK SHELF
In my Christmas stocking from daughter Mary Ann was a 150 Best Grilled Cheese Sandwiches by Alison Lewis (www. rrobertrose.ca; October 2015; softback/$24.95) stands out as a real comfort food cookbook. The author’s Classic Grilled Two Cheese sandwich is a perfect choice when paired with creamy tomato soup in the wintertime! You’ll need a panini grill or a large skillet to make the recipe.
CLASSIC GRILLED TWO CHEESE
• 8 slices white or whole-grain bread
• 2 tablespoons butter or margarine, softened
• 4-ounces Muenster cheese, thinly sliced
• 4 ounces Cheddar cheese, thinly sliced
Brush one side of each bread slice with butter. Place on work surface, buttered side down. Top 4 bread slices equally with Muenster and Cheddar cheeses. Cover with remaining bread slices, buttered side up, and press gently. Place sandwiches on preheated panini grill or in a large skillet over medium heat and cook, turning once if using a skillet, for 3 to 4 minutes or until golden brown and cheese is melted. Serve immediately. Recipe makes 4 sandwiches. Source: 125 Best Grilled Cheese Sandwiches www.robertrose. ca
Alison Lewis is a nationally known recipe developer, television and social media food spokesperson and consultant,. mom food blogger, food educator, food photographer/ stylist and nutritionist and is president of Ingredients, Inc., a food consulting company in Birmingham, Alabama.
HOW PROCESSED IS YOUR FOOD?
You’ve heard the term “highly processed” to food, probably in contexts suggesting that this is an unhealthy attribute. But what does this term mean, how many foods fall into this category, and why are they often frowned upon? Food processing is any procedure that alters food from its natural state, such as heating, freezing, milling, mixing and adding flavorings. Cooking and preparing raw ingredients at home is also processing them, but "processed" is almost always reserved for commercial foods, usually packaged. Of course, food processing can be a good thing... It helps "insure a safe, diverse, abundant and accessible food supply," according to researchers from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, in a recent study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. But many experts believe excessive consumption of highly processed foods leads to poor diets and (and high obesity rates). That may be especially true of ready-to-eat foods, which can be consumed quickly and easily. To test this notion, the new study looked at purchases of packaged foods and beverages from more than 150,000 households and analyzed them in terms of their processing and nutritional quality. The of daily calories; Moderately processed foods and those processed for basic preservation accounted for another 30 percent of calories; Unprocessed or minimally processed foods accounted for only 7 percent of total calories. Unsurprisingly, the study found that highly processed supply not only most of our calories but also a disproportionate share of sugar, sodium and saturated fat that we eat. What’s to be done? Food companies sometimes try to develop highly foods that are healthier, though they haven’t has a good track record with this , and consumer often don’t like the results.. The alternative: Buy more whole of minimally processed foods and do the “processing” yourself. It’s called home cooking.
Source: University of California at Berkeley Wellness Letter, January 2016.
NEW YORK TIMES RECIPE
Via the internet, I subscribe to cooking.nytimes..com recipes. Many of my friends do, also, including daughter Mary Ann.. A 12/11/15 recipe that was appealing to me was Stovetop-Braised Carrots and Parsnips. Usually I do such combinations in the oven.
STOVETOP-BRAISED CARROTS AND PARSNIPS
• 1 pound carrots, peeled, trimmed and halved if more than 1/2- inch thick
• 1 pound parsnips, peeled, trimmed and halved if more than 1/2-inch thick
• 2 tablespoons butter or extra virgin oil or an equal amount of each
• Iodized salt and pepper to taste
• 2 tablespoons butter
• Freshly squeezed lemon juice
• Chopped fresh parsley, dill or basil for garnish (optional)
Combine all ingredients except lemon juice and garnish in a skillet with a cover; add water. Bring to a boil, then cover and adjust heat so mixture simmers gently. Cook until vegetables are tender and liquid is almost gone, about a half hour. Check every few minutes and add more water if necessary. Uncover and boil off remaining liquid if necessary, then taste and adjus seasoning, adding lemon juice as needed. Garnish and serve hot, warm or at room temperature. Recipe makes 4 servings. Source: Adapted from New York Times recipe.
Note: We live in what is known as the goiter belt. Processed foods are lacking in iodized salt so it is important to buy it when shopping.
FROM THE COOKBOOK SHELF
In my Christmas stocking from daughter Mary Ann was a rolled up copy of Better Homes & Gardens Slow Cooker magazine cookbook. I can recall when a hardback cookbook cost less! As a result, I rebel against paying $9.99 for one. We’re including two slow cooker recipes. The first being French-Fried Onion Dip and the second Supreme Pizza Fondue.
FRENCH-FRIED ONION DIP
• 1 box Betty Crocker SuperMoist Lemon Cake Mix
• 16-ounce carton sour cream
• 4 oz reduced fat cream cheese, cubed
• 2/3 cup Hellmann’s Light mayonnaise
• 1/2 cup finely shredded Parmesan cheese
• 1/2 cup thinly sliced green onions
• 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
• 1 2-8 ounce can French-fried onions, divided
• Rye or pumpernickel toasts
In a 1 1/2 or 2-quart slow cooker combine first 6 ingredients (through flour). Reserve 2 tablespoons of the French-fried onions for topping. Stir the remaining onions into cheese mixture. Cover and cook on low for 2 to 3 hours. Before serving, whisk until smooth, adding milk if needed to reach the right consistency Serve immediately or keep warm, covered, or on low up to 2 hours. Serve with toasts. Recipe makes 26 servings.
SUPREME PIZZA FONDUE
• 4 ounces bulk pork sausage
• 4 ounces ground chuck
• 1/4 cup chopped red onion
• 1 clove garlic, minced
• 1 24 to 32-ounce jar marinara sauce
• 1/4 cup sliced pitted ripe olives
• 1 teaspoon basil or oregano
• 1/4 cup chopped green sweet pepper
• Toasted focaccia
In medium skillet cook the first 4 ingredients (through garlic) over medium high heat until meat is browned. Drain off fat. In 1 1/2 to 2-quart slow cooker combine meat mixture and the next 5 ingredients (through basil). Cook and cover on low for 3 hours. Stir in sweet pepper. Cover and cook on low for 15 minutes more. Serve with focaccia. Recipe makes 16 (1/4 cup) servings.
With the holiday season behind us, every publication I know of focuses on healthy food choices. Hopefully, you are doing the same.
QUESTIONS FROM READERS
Q: I can’t find light molasses. Do I use less dark molasses in my molasses cookie recipe?
A: No, use the same amount.
Q: What’s the difference between a shallot and a scallion?
A: A shallot is milder than a scallion (or green onion).
IS GOAT’S MILK MORE HEALTHY?
The nutritional differences between cow’s milk and goat’s milk is small; goats milk has a little more calcium, protein, fat and potassium but a little less of some other nutrients. Children who are allergic to cow’s milk are also likely to be allergic to goat’s milk. Moreover, goat’s milk contains nearly as much lactose (milk sugar) as cow’s milk, so if you’re lactose intolerant, it is not the answer. Make sure any milk you drink is pasteurized [goat’s milk often is not.)
Source: University of California, Berkeley, Wellness Letter, January 2016.
PROCESSED MEATS LINKED TO COLORECTAL CANCER
Eating processed meats such as bacon, sausage, lunchmeat and hot dogs may cause colorectal cancer, says a report from the World Health Organization (WHO) published on October 26, 2915 in The Lancet Oncology. The report, based on a review of 800 studies, also found that eating red meat (beef, pork, lamb, mutton, goat) may raise the risk of the disease. The WHO recommended reduced intakes of processed foods after finding that , for every 50 grams (1.8-ounces) of processed meats consumed daily , the risk of colorectal cancer may increase by 18 percent. Fifty grams is the equivalent of two slices of bacon) The evidence associating red meat and cancer was not as strong, but still significant.
Source: Weill Cornell Medical College Women’s Nutrition Connection, January 2016.
MASHED POTATO PUFFS
• 2 cups mashed potatoes
• 3 large eggs, beaten
• 1 cup Parmesan or Swiss cheese, divided
• 1/4 cup minced fresh chives
• Salt and freshly ground pepper
• Sour cream (optional)
Heat the oven to 4000F and lightly grease the cups of a mini muffin tin. Whisk together the mashed potatoes, eggs and 3/4 cup of the cheese. Season, if necessary, with salt and pepper. Mound a spoonful of the mixture in each muffin cup. Sprinkle top with remaining 1/4 cup of grated cheese.. Bake for 20 minutes, or until the potato cups are are set, browned on the top and hot. Let cool for about 5 minutes in the pan, then use a knife to gently release them from the pan. Serve immediately with dollops of sour cream, if desired.
Source: Adapted from www.potatogoodness.com recipe.