Friday, December 23, 2011

Spiced Apple Walnut Bread

1 cup milk, warm
3 large eggs, room temperature
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
2 cups unbleached white flour
2 teaspoons yeast
2 large grated apples of your choice
1 cup walnut, chopped
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon cloves

Combine all the dry ingredients with the grated apples. Set aside.

Heat butter and milk until warm and whisk in eggs to combine. Using an electric mixer with the dough attachment on medium speed, beat liquid to the flour-yeast mixture gradually until dough is thick (about 2 minutes). On a floured working area, knead dough for 10 minutes. Shape dough into a large ball and place in a greased bowl. Cover and place dough in a warm place until it doubles in size ( about 2 hours).

Preheat oven to 350 F

Punch down dough. On a floured working area, divide dough into two and shape into large round loaves. Place loaves a few inches apart on a lined cookie sheet. Cover, place dough in a warm place until it doubles in size. Cut slashes on top.

Bake for 30 minutes or until the crust makes a hollow sound when tapped.

What Will Hit (in 2012) and What Will Fall

As we close the door on 2011, nutrition and wellness -- the pursuit of optimal health -- continues to lead the country as an issue and major challenge. Looking ahead, there is much to be hopeful about, and a few things to watch out for.

1. Bye Bye Calorie Counting, Hello Nutrient Balance

This trend began in the last few years with professionals like myself explaining the multiple benefits (energy, satiety, body composition) of learning to nutrient balance (blend of carbs, protein and fats) when you eat vs. just counting calories. It's picked up momentum with national brands, including weight loss programs touting the benefits as well. This trend will continue to gain support in 2012, gaining momentum with people who got bored with calorie counting as well as those who've experienced the benefits (which include less deprivation) of nutrient balance. So while 100 calories may be the "it" number, more people will be reading labels and asking whether the 100 calories provide a balance of nutrients.

2. We Have Got a Right to Know -- Is Our Food A GMO?

With an election year including a president up for re-election, many eyes, ears and mouths are focused on campaign promises that were made... but not kept. In the food realm, Obama's prior promise to require labeling of GMOs (genetically modified organisms) in our food supply stands out as organizations like the Non GMO and the, as well as the Just Label It campaign conclude an exceptionally impactful year raising awareness for the multiple reasons to label GMOs compared to the singular reason (the GMO manufacturing companies don't want to) to not. 

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Pear Goat Cheese Almond Salad

3 cups fresh baby Spinach
1 large D'anjou Pear, core removed, chopped 
1/2 medium white onion, thinly sliced
1/2 cup goat cheese crumbles
1/4 cup raw almonds
1/2 large lemon, juiced
1 teaspoon fresh garlic, minced
2 teaspoons lemon zest
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt and black pepper

Arrange salad ingredients (refer to picture). 

Blend lemon juice, lemon zest and garlic in a blender. With it running, stream in extra virgin olive oil until well blended. Season with salt and black pepper and drizzle generously over the salad.

Why is it Suddenly Cheaper to Eat Out?

Americans spend nearly 4.5 percent of their paychecks on dining out, an amount that has been rising steadily since 2009.While groceries to be prepared at home still account for a higher share of most families' budgets, a new report by Bank of America Merrill Lynch (BAML) suggests that it's actually less expensive for Americans to eat out.How can this be? 

Are Rising Food Prices Making Restaurants More Economical Than Eating In?

If you've visited a grocery store recently, it's hard to ignore the rising food prices.

Earlier this year rising grain costs recently pushed world food prices to near-record levels! However, if you live in the United States it is not so much that the price of food is rising; the problem is that the value of the U.S. dollar is being decimated and will continue to decline as long as the U.S. Federal Reserve continues printing trillions of dollars out of thin air, thereby creating inflation. This, in turn, leads to a devaluation of the dollar and an increase in prices for most commodities, including food.

Still, food prices have been rising at about 2.5 times the rate as restaurant meal prices, and grocery stores tend to pass these price increases right on to the consumer. Restaurants, the BAML report suggests, are able to offset some of those costs by buying food in bulk or reducing wages, so the consumer is somewhat insulated from rising food costs when they eat in a restaurant.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Mini Spinach Goat Cheese Quiche

1 1/4 cup unbleached all purpose flour
1/2 cup butter, frozen and cut into small cubes
5 tablespoons icy cold water
1/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated
Pinch of salt

Place all the ingredients in a food processor and pulse until it resembles crumbs. Form into ball, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Roll out pastry dough (about 1/2" thickness). Cut 6 6" circles. Place in the prepared 4" diameter mini tart pans (6), covering sides also.

1 cup fresh cream or milk
4 large eggs
1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
1 cup Goat cheese crumbles
1 shallots, chopped
2 cups fresh baby spinach
Sea salt and black pepper

Whisk eggs and cream to fully combine. Season well with salt and black pepper. 

Arrange spinach, shallots, and goat cheese crumbles in pastry shell. Pour egg mixture into pastry shell. Season with salt and black pepper.

Bake 20 to 30 minutes or until set.

Allow to rest for about 10 minutes before serving.

CSPI Urges Front-Label Disclosure of Food Coloring

The non-profit consumer advocacy group Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) submitted a petition to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Thursday urging it to require food makers to disclose artificial coloring additives on the front labels of their products.

According to the petition, major food companies frequently rely on artificial colorings to imply the inclusion of healthy ingredients that are not actually in the product. This can lead to confusion for consumers who might not read the small ingredients lists on "nutrition facts" labels, the CSPI argued, calling the practice "deceptive."

Their solution: Clearly print any artificial colors on the front label.

"I don't know if the FDA will approve it, but it's a small measure that would help protect consumers and maybe cause some food companies not to use dyes," CSPI executive director Michael F. Jacobson, Ph. D., told Food Safety News.

In a news release, the CSPI highlighted two examples of products that do not contain the foods after which they are named: Tropicana Twister Cherry Berry Blast and Betty Crocker SuperMoist Carrot Cake Mix. 

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Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Peach Smoothie Cocktail

This refreshing smoothie is ideal to kick start any gathering.

2 cups fresh orange juice 
1 cup peach greek yogurt 
2 cups frozen sliced peaches
6 oz Peach Schnapps (optional) 
2 oz vodka (optional) 
1 tablespoon sugar 
1 teaspoon nutmeg

Blend all the ingredients until smooth. Serve on tall cocktail glasses with fresh peach slices (refer to picture).

MSG- Monosodium Glutamate

What is MSG, why is MSG in food of all sorts, and why is it such a big issue with my additive conscious friends?

This food additive explains many ailments in many people. Much legend and myth is being passed around about MSG to make it seem innocent. In fact, it can cause many different reactions, in some people fatal.

There are stimulants, which are approved by the Federal Drug Administration, which always disrupt healthy function of the endocrine system. That is, if you include them in your diet. MSG may be the most pervasive.

At the left is Professor Kikunae Ikeda who isolated MSG from sea weed in Japan in 1908. Since then, the chemical has been mass produced in free form and used by the ton to add to our food. What the professor discovered might have been quite benign, but once big food manufacturers got ahold of it, it has become a virtual poison in stimulant form.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Shrimp Apple Stuffing

2 cups cooked medium size shrimp
5 cups one day old sourdough bread
2 large onion, chopped
2 large Granny Smith apples,  core removed and chopped
3 tablespoons capers
2 tablespoons fresh Sage, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh Thyme, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh Rosemary, chopped
Handful fresh Italian Parsley, chopped
5 tablespoons good quality extra virgin olive oil
Pinch of nutmeg
Sea salt and black pepper

In a large deep sided skillet on medium heat, add two tablespoons olive oil. When hot, add onions and apples. Season with sea salt and black pepper. Saute until soft (about 20 minutes). Add bread, capers, and fresh herbs. Stir to combine. Drizzle olive oil generously over the top and add shrimp to heat through and turn heat off. If the stuffing appears too dry, drizzle with more olive oil. Keep warm.

This stuffing would be ideal for the holiday season. 

History Paints an Ugly Food Color Portrait

Citrus Red 2, Red 3, Red 40, Yellow 5, Yellow 6, Blue 1, Blue 2 and Green 3, --which include some of the most commonly used artificial food colorings--have all been identified as being, or being contaminated with, potential cancer-causing chemicals, according to the Center for Science in the Public Interest. And Blue 1, Red 40, Yellow 5, and Yellow 6 are known to trigger reactions in those with allergies.

History paints an ugly food color portrait.

Until the twentieth century,food coloring could only be obtained from what people found in nature. Ancient Romans used saffron and other spices to put a rich yellow color into various foods.  Other frequently used natural colors included paprika, turmeric, beet extract, and petals of various flowers.

But many of the other frequently used natural colors were not only unappetizing, but downright dangerous. Bakers added chalk to whiten bread, for example, and sweets manufacturers loaded candy with vermilion (which contains mercury), red lead, white lead, verdigris (which is a copper salt), blue vitriol (which contains copper) and Scheele's green (which contains both copper and arsenic).

Friday, December 16, 2011

Carrot Ginger Bisque

4 cups vegetable broth
3 cups carrots, diced into small pieces
1 large white onion, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced
1 tablespoon yellow curry powder
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 cup fresh cream (if you prefer, use greek style plain yogurt or coconut cream)
sea salt and black pepper
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

In a large soup pot on medium heat, add olive oil when hot add onions, curry powder, carrots, and fresh ginger and saute until onions and carrots are soft. Add broth and lower temperature to medium low and simmer (not boil) for one hour. 

Blend to a smooth consistency, add cream and nutmeg. Serve hot.

FDA Faulted over State Inspections

In a report released Wednesday, the department’s inspector general found that a lack of resources is forcing the FDA to lean more heavily on its counterparts at the state level to inspect plants responsible for everything from packing to processing foods.

More than half the agency’s inspections were done by state officials in fiscal 2009, up from 42 percent four years earlier, according to the report. If these inspections are not done properly, they can expose consumers to sometimes life-threatening illnesses.

A deadly salmonella outbreak linked to a Georgia peanut processing plant in 2009 occurred after the plant had been inspected several times by state officials working on the FDA’s behalf. The incident prompted Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) to ask Inspector General Daniel Levinson to examine the FDA’s oversight of its state partners.

Wednesday’s report confirms several weaknesses in that relationship, almost all of which the FDA acknowledged were indeed problems. “The report documents glitches we’re aware of. ... These are things we are working on,” said Mike Taylor, the FDA’s deputy commissioner for foods.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Gluten-free Lemon Sesame Seed Cookies

2 cups all purpose gluten-free flour
1/2 cup cold butter, chopped
1 cup sugar
2 eggs, room temperature
2 tablespoons lemon zest
2 teaspoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons gluten-free baking powder
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 cup sesame seeds

Preheat oven to 350 F

Sift flour, baking powder, xanthan gum, and salt into a bowl. Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time beating well in between. Add lemon juice and zest, followed by flour. Beat to combine.

Drop teaspoonfuls of the cookie batter into the sesame seeds and roll with a teaspoon to fully coat.  Arrange in a lined cookie sheet about 2 inches apart.

Bake for 20 minutes or until cookies are slightly browned and crispy. Remove from the oven. After about 10 minutes, move cookies to a cookie rack to cool completely.

10 Facts Why GM Food is Bad

It’s happened to the best of us. The topic of genetically modified (GM) food and crops comes up and someone somewhere starts spewing a spate of pro-GMO rhetoric like, “GM food is the only way to feed the poor! GM crops benefit farmers! GM food and crops are safe!” and we are left with a stammering retort of, “but, but, no, but, uhm, no!”
Next time be prepared by bolstering your argument with these 10 Reasons to Avoid GMOs, courtesy of international bestselling author and GMO expert Jeffrey Smith from The Institute for Responsible Technology (IRT). This list of ten facts and supporting text clearly explain just how serious a threat GM food and crops pose to our personal health as well as the health of the planet.
1. GMOs are unhealthy.
The American Academy of Environmental Medicine (AAEM) urges doctors to prescribe non-GMO diets for all patients. They cite animal studies showing organ damage, gastrointestinal and immune system disorders, accelerated aging, and infertility. Human studies show how genetically modified (GM) food can leave material behind inside us, possibly causing long-term problems. Genes inserted into GM soy, for example, can transfer into the DNA of bacteria living inside us, and that the toxic insecticide produced by GM corn was found in the blood of pregnant women and their unborn fetuses.
Numerous health problems increased after GMOs were introduced in 1996. The percentage of Americans with three or more chronic illnesses jumped from 7% to 13% in just 9 years; food allergies skyrocketed, and disorders such as autism, reproductive disorders, digestive problems, and others are on the rise. Although there is not sufficient research to confirm that GMOs are a contributing factor, doctors groups such as the AAEM tell us not to wait before we start protecting ourselves, and especially our children who are most at risk.
The American Public Health Association and American Nurses Association are among many medical groups that condemn the use of GM bovine growth hormone, because the milk from treated cows has more of the hormone IGF-1 (insulin-like growth factor 1)―which is linked to cancer.
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Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Gluten-free Peach Blueberry Tart

2 cups gluten-free all purpose flour
2 cups coconut sugar
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon sea salt
2 cups sliced peaches
1 cup blueberries
1 cup chopped pecans (or nuts of your choice)
1 cup butter, chopped into small pieces
2 tablespoons lemon zest

Preheat oven to 350 F.

In a medium size mixing bowl, add one cup of sugar, peaches, and spices to combine. Set aside.

Add flour, butter, pecans, one cup of sugar, and lemon zest in a food processor and pulse until it resembles crumbs.

Pour the crumbs into a 12" by 12" prepared round tart pan, spreading evenly to coat the bottom. Press crumbs down. Arrange peaches and blackberries on top (refer to picture).

Bake for 30 to 40 minutes or until a stick inserted into the middle comes out clean.

What Additives Are In Your Favorite Food?

The saying “don't judge a book by its cover” is generally a sound piece of advice that seems to apply to almost everything. Nothing could be truer about the food you eat.
Though the brightly colored packaging with alluring words like “fat-free,” “zero trans fats,” and “heart-healthy” appears attractive, you need to make sure you don’t take the bait (aka the cover). Simply flip over to the back side and take a look at the nutrition label and ingredients — you may not be too familiar with what’s listed.
Labels today are increasingly harder to read and are filled with confusing and misleading words. The question is: Do you really want to be eating things that you don’t know? Sometimes, yes. But often, not at all.
To help you know what to look for and what to avoid, we’ve created this list. There’s one term in particular to know: additive. Additives are simply substances that are used (intentionally or otherwise) to perform an “enhancing” function for food — be it preservation, appearance, or taste. While the use of natural salts and processes are of no concern, it’s the chemically induced additives you may need to avoid.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Stuffed Eggplant

2 medium size purple eggplants
2 cups fresh tomatoes
3 garlic cloves, crushed
1 large white onion, chopped
Handful of fresh Italian parsley, chopped
Sea salt and black pepper
1lb. lean ground beef
1/2 cup fresh mozzarella, grated
Extra Virgin olive oil
2 cups cooked wild brown rice
2 cups vegetable broth

Cut eggplant in half and scoop out the center leaving about an inch around the edge. Drizzle with olive oil and season with sea salt and black pepper. Chop center part into small pieces and set aside.

In a large deep sided skillet, add three tablespoons of olive oil. When hot add onions and garlic, saute until soft. Add ground beef and the center part of the eggplants, stirring occasionally until browned and cooked. Mix in tomatoes, rice, and parsley. Season with sea salt and black pepper.

Preheat oven to 400 F.

Drizzle olive oil over a baking sheet and arrange eggplants and fill with the meat mixture. Sprinkle with mozzarella. Season with sea salt and black pepper. Bake for 1 hour. Serve immediately.

Seeds of Destruction: It's NOT Just About Food

When first introduced to the notion of modifying food by inserting foreign genetic material, I inclined in favor of it.  After all, changing the genes of a plant to cause it to yield more, resist pests, and altogether serve us better sounded like a pretty good idea.  How attractive it must be to farmers that a GM seed should increase yields while providing its own internal pesticide.  But at the same time, knowing how often well-intentioned quests to mold nature have gone seriously awry, I gathered some facts before forming an opinion.  
Today the US seed industry is dominated by two multinational companies, Monsanto and DuPont, with BASF and Syngenta close behind.  Those who buy GM seeds sign contracts establishing how and when the crop can be grown and excluding the right to save seed for the following year (even though many GM seeds are engineered to produce infertile plants). 
These are the arguments often espoused in favor of GM foods: 
  1. That both locally and world-wide, hunger will be abated by the higher yields of GM crops;
  2. That fewer pesticides are used on them;
  3. That safety assessments on them have been numerous and fair, and that results have been highly positive; and
  4. That seeds from GM crops will not blow into or otherwise accidentally pollinate, and contaminate, neighboring fields.    
Let's briefly examine these points. 
GM crop yields --After its review of two dozen academic studies of corn and soybeans in the US, the title of a report by the Union of Concerned Scientists was telling:  "Failure to Yield:  Evaluating the Performance of Genetically Engineered Crops".  It concluded that herbicide-tolerant soybeans and herbicide-tolerant ("Roundup ready") corn did not show increased yields while insect-resistant corn increased yields only marginally.  Although yields in both crops have increased in the 13 years preceding the 2009 report, these scientists attributed the increases mainly to traditional breeding or improved agricultural methods.  The report also describes how, in industry assessments of GM crop yields, they manipulate the data by conflating different measures of yield.  

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Monday, December 12, 2011

Lemon Chicken Soup

8 cups vegetable broth
1 whole chicken
3 carrots, chopped into large chunks
3 red potatoes, chopped into large chunks
1 large onion, chopped
2 celery sticks, chopped into large chunks
3 large tomatoes, chopped
3 garlic cloves, crushed
2 large lemon, juiced
sea salt and black pepper
1 avocado (for garnish)
1 cup freshly shredded Mexican cheese of your choice (for garnish)

In a large soup pot on medium high, add all the ingredients (except for garnish ingredients). Season with sea salt and black pepper, cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for three hours. Turn off heat, remove chicken from pot. When cool enough to handle remove all the meat from the chicken (no skin) and add to the soup. Bring to a boil and serve hot with slices of avocado on top and sprinkle with Mexican cheese.

Tofutti, Tofurkey Or Turkey?

As one of the most popular vegetarian proteins on the market, tofu is a common substitute for the holiday turkey. Angelenos eat tofu for many reasons, one often being the belief that this is better for the environment. Consider, though, that much of the soy used to make tofu is genetically engineered, also known as genetically modified.

Genetic engineering (GE) is defined by the USDA as "manipulation of an organism's genes by introducing, eliminating or rearranging specific genes using the methods of modern molecular biology, particularly those techniques referred to as recombinant DNA techniques." In other words, genetically engineered foods have been altered in a laboratory setting, often having genes forcibly introduced from other species. Critics of genetically engineered foods have concerns about the environmental impact of these plants in the food web. Since a large part of the soy available on the U.S. market is genetically engineered, vegans and vegetarians concerned about culinary environmental impacts should do their research and be wary of genetically engineered tofu.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Energy Bites

Energy Bites:
1 cup Oats
1 cup milled Flax seeds
1/4 cup whole flax seeds
1 cup roasted wheat germ
1 cup raw almonds
1 cup bitter sweet chocolate chips
1 cup dried apricots, chopped
1 cup dried pomegranate
1 cup raw honey or maple syrup
2 cups crunchy peanut butter
2 large ripe bananas

Mash bananas. Combine all the ingredients, mixing well to combine. Add to a greased 8" by 8" square dish. Push down hard on the mixture to help it bind together. Set aside while you make the ganache (optional).

1/2 cup bitter sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup cream

Bring heavy cream in a saucepan on medium heat to simmer (don't boil). Pour over chocolate chunks and whisk until chocolate mixture is smooth and shiny.  Pour over the top of the energy bar and refrigerate for up to 4 hours before cutting into square bite size pieces.

Store in a airtight container in the refrigerator.

Foods With Color Additives Deceive Consumers

WASHINGTON--(ENEWSPF)--December 8 - Tropicana Twister Cherry Berry Blast has no cherry juice. Nor does it have any berry juice. Despite the pictures of cherries and berries on the label, this drink gets much of its dark red color from the controversial dye, Red 40. The Center for Science in the Public Interest says that’s deceptive. And today, the nonprofit nutrition and food safety watchdog group is urging the Food and Drug Administration to require food companies to disclose on the front of food labels whether a product is artificially colored.
It's not just a problem with soft drinks. Salad dressing, bread, breakfast cereals, candy, baked goods, and even mayonnaise and pickles may get their colors from additives. Color additives are an inexpensive way to simulate absent fruit or vegetable ingredients, make white bread look more like whole wheat, or make sugary cereals more appealing to young children, according to CSPI.
Betty Crocker Carrot Cake Mix has no carrots, as such. Instead, it has “carrot flavored pieces” made with corn syrup, flour, corn cereal, partially hydrogenated cottonseed and/or soybean oil, a small amount of “carrot powder,” unspecified artificial color, and Yellow 6 and Red 40. Most varieties of Mt. Olive and Vlassic pickles appear greener and fresher thanks to Yellow 5. Kraft Light Catalina Salad Dressing contains Red 40. And caramel coloring and cocoa darken Pepperidge Farm Pumpernickel Bread.
“Betty Crocker is certainly free to make virtually carrotless carrot cake, and Tropicana is free to make berryless and cherryless juice,” said CSPI executive director Michael F. Jacobson. “But consumers shouldn’t have to turn the package over and scrutinize the fine print to know that the color in what are mostly junk foods comes from cheap added colorings.”
Food colorings—be they synthetic dyes or obtained from nature—deceptively enhance the visual attractiveness of products and imply greater product quality, according to a regulatory petition CSPI filed with the FDA. CSPI says the agency should require that the label of a food containing color additives state ‘Artificially Colored’ on the package next to the product name—something the agency already requires of many artificially colored products.
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