Saturday, April 30, 2011

How Safe is Your Food?

"The study from the University of Florida ranking the top ten riskiest combinations of bacteria and foods found that just 14 pathogens cause $14.1bn dollars in cost of illness and kill an estimated 1,322 people annually."

"More than 90 per cent of the cost burden – some $12.7bn - is caused by just five bacteria: campylobacter ssp, salmonella, listeria monocytogenes, toxoplasma gondi and norovirus, said the group from the body’s Emerging Pathogen Institute."

"In the first metric, salmonella topped the league of foodborne bugs, costing more than $3bn in illness, responsible for over 19,000 hospitalizations, as well as causing in excess of one million illnesses and 378 deaths."

Read More From Original Article:

Friday, April 29, 2011

Potato and Feta Cheese Pockets

2 cups all-purpose unbleached white whole wheat flour
1 cup cold butter, diced
Pinch of salt
6 tablespoons ice water

Place flour and salt in a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Pulse a few times to combine. Add butter and pulse 12-15 times, or until the butter is the size of peas. With the motor running, add the ice water all at once through the feed tube. Keep hitting the pulse button until dough starts to come together.

Turn dough onto a well floured board and form into a ball. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Divide dough into 6 pieces and roll each on a floured surface into 9-inch circles. 

4 medium potatoes, chopped into bite size pieces
2 small garlic clove, minced
1 cup of feta crumbles
1/2 cup parsley, chopped
2 teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon pepper

Preheat oven to 400 F

Boil potatoes to cook, and cool.  

Place tablespoonfuls of diced potatoes and feta in the middle of the pastry circles, sprinkle with garlic and parsley. Add salt and pepper to taste. Fold up the edges of pastry, leaving center uncovered. Brush folded pastry with milk or melted butter.

Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown. Serve warm with a spicy fruit chutney and salad greens.


Is Organic Worth the Extra Cost?

"Sales of organic products have skyrocketed in recent years, and it’s easy to see why.  People associate organic food with better health, local growers, lower pesticide levels, humane treatment of animals and sounder environmental practices."


"Farmers raise organic crops without using chemical pesticides, petroleum-based fertilizers, or sewage sludge-based fertilizers.  They operate using the USDA’s list of accepted products.  Organic certification is a three-year process, which requires growers to prove that the ground has not been chemically treated and all their growing practices meet organic standards."

"A meta-study – a scientific study that compares the results of many studies – published in March by The Organic Center, a nonprofit, showed that organic fruits and vegetables typically do have higher levels of nutrients such as vitamin C and antioxidants than conventionally grown food."

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Thursday, April 28, 2011

Lemon Ginger Cheesecake

1 1/2 cups plain ginger cookies, crumbs
6 tablespoons butter, melted

Preheat over to 350 F. 

To make the crust, combine ginger cookies and melted butter. Press into the bottom of a 9-inch Springform pan with your hands. Bake for 8 minutes, then allow to cool.

Raise the oven temperature to 450 degrees F.

1 1/2 lbs. cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup of sugar
4 eggs, room temperature
1/4 cup plain full cream yogurt
2 tablespoons grated lemon zest (rind)
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon ginger

Beat cream cheese and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time. With the mixer on low speed, add yogurt, ginger, lemon juice, and lemon zest. Mix thoroughly and pour into the cooled crust.

Bake for 15 minutes. Turn the oven temperature down to 225 degrees F and bake for another 1 hour and 15 minutes or until set.  Take the cake out of the oven and let it sit at room temperature for another 2 hours, or until completely cooled.

Clean is the New Black! Latest Healthy Food Trends...

"Today's hottest food trends are all about keeping it real. When it comes to what we put in our bodies it seems that clean is the new black! Check out these four trailblazing food trends and one that has at least some health merits."

"Research finds half of consumers deliberately steer clear of preservatives, and over 40 percent shun artificial flavors and colors. Bravo! As a result trendologists have seen a decrease in the average number of ingredients in 56 percent of the food and beverage categories they track. The popular term used to describe this trend is ‘clean.’"

Design Your Own
"We’re not a one-size-fits-all society, so it just makes sense that a slew of customized products would become trendy."

Forgoing the Math
"According to recent research from the Dietary Guidelines Alliance many consumers don’t understand the concept of calories and some think it's merely a nutrition fad. When asked about five behaviors that could be used to improve diets, consumers ranked monitoring calories as the least likely to make a difference."

Cooking at Home
"Last year, more than half (55 percent) of grocery shoppers prepared more meals at home than in 2009, which means the number of people preparing DIY dinners is approaching a 20-year high. That trend is expected to continue..."

Pies, Pies & More Pies! 
"Pies may just be the new cupcake. Especially exotic varieties like strawberry balsamic and apple bacon and in lots of new forms, such as ‘pie pops’ (pies on a stick) and ‘pie shooters’ (pie served in a shot glass). One healthy advantage to pie, unlike many other desserts, is they often incorporate fruit, nuts, or dark chocolate, three of the most nutrient rich ingredients on the planet."

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Meatballs and Marinara Sauce

1 lb. lean ground top sirloin steak
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 cup Italian parsley, chopped
1/2 small white onion, chopped
1 egg
3 slices whole wheat bread (or similar)
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup parmesan cheese, freshly crated
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper

Preheat oven to 400 F.

Soak bread in 1/2 cup of milk. Combine all ingredients. Scoop meat mixture with an ice cream scoop. Place onto a greased baking sheet. Sprinkle grated parmesan cheese on top. Bake at 400 F for 15 minutes.

Marinara Sauce:
1 1/2 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
1 small garlic clove, chopped
1/2 small white onion, chopped
1 28-ounce can crushed roasted tomatoes
1 28-ounce can tomato puree
1 cup tomato paste
2 tablespoons pesto
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper

Heat extra virgin olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add garlic and onion, saute until soft. Add tomato puree, crushed tomatoes, and tomato paste. Stir well. Bring to a simmer. Season with salt and black pepper. Add pesto and simmer on low heat for 1 hour or until sauce thickens. Drizzle extra virgin olive oil on top.

Serve meatballs hot over cooked pasta of choice, mashed potatoes, etc., adding marinara sauce and extra parmesan cheese.


Organic Food Industry Growing Fast!

"The organic industry grew at a rate of nearly eight percent in 2010, bucking the current trend whereby "flat is the new growth" for many other segments of the economy. Further, some sectors of the organic market enjoyed annual growth of well over 30 percent, the Organic Trade Association (OTA) revealed today in releasing findings from its 2011 Organic Industry Survey. In 2010, the organic industry grew to over $28.6 billion."

"While total U.S. food sales grew by less than one percent in 2010, the organic food industry grew by 7.7 percent," said Christine Bushway, OTA's CEO and Executive Director. "Consumers continue to vote with their dollars in favor of the organic choice. These results illustrate the positive contribution organic agriculture and trade make to our economy, and particularly to rural livelihoods," Bushway said."

"She added, "The good news is that even as the economic recovery crawls forward, the organic industry is thriving – and hiring." In 2010, 40 percent of surveyed organic companies reported positive full-time employment growth. Companies with fewer than five employees were least likely to add full-time employees (23 percent). About half of companies with more than 50 employees experienced positive full-time employment growth. What's more, in 2011, 46 percent of respondents anticipate an increase in employment over 2010 levels. In addition, 50 percent expect employment to remain even, and only five percent foresee a decrease."


Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Cranberry Chocolate Chip Cookies (agave sweetened)

1 cup unbleached white whole wheat flour
1 cup oats
1 cup dried cranberries (or any dried berries of choice)
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
3 tablespoons orange zest
pinch of salt
1 egg (room temperature)
1/2 cup of unsalted butter (room temperature)
1/2 cup blue agave (add slightly more if sweeter taste desired)

In a medium bowl, mix together flour, baking powder, salt, oats, dried berries, orange zest, and chocolate chips until well dispersed.
Mix agave and butter together, add the egg. Beat the mixture until light and creamy.
Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients, mixing with a wooded spoon until thoroughly combined.

Preheat oven to 350 F

Drop heaping tablespoons on an ungreased baking sheet, two inches apart.
Bake for 10 to 15 minutes. Cookies should be gooey and soft. Cool on a rack. Drizzle melted chocolate on top.

Public Enemy Number One and Two: REAL FOOD and YOU!

"When the 20 agents arrived bearing a search warrant at her Ventura County farmhouse door at 7 a.m. on a Wednesday a couple weeks back, Sharon Palmer didn't know what to say. This was the third time she was being raided in 18 months, and she had thought she was on her way to resolving the problem over labeling of her goat cheese that prompted the other two raids. (In addition to producing goat's milk, she raises cattle, pigs, and chickens, and makes the meat available via a CSA.)"

"The same day Sharon Palmer's farm was raided, there was a raid on Rawesome Foods, a Venice, Calif., private food club run by nutritionist and raw-food advocate Aajonus Vonderplanitz. For a membership fee of $25, consumers can purchase unpasteurized dairy products, eggs that are not only organic but unwashed, and a wide assortment of fermented vegetables and other products...In the Rawesome raid, agents made off with several thousand dollars worth of raw honey and raw dairy products."

"And in a national first among such raids, agents searched a private home and made off with computers; the family's offense appears to have been that it allowed one of the raw dairy farmers to park in its driveway to distribute raw milk to area residents who had ordered it."

"What's behind all these raids? They seem to stem from increasing concern at both the state and federal level about the spread of private food groups that have sprung up around the country in recent years -- food clubs and buying groups to provide specialized local products that are generally unavailable in groceries, like grass-fed meats, pastured eggs, fermented foods, and, in some cases, raw dairy products. Because they are private and limited to consumers who sign up for membership, these groups generally avoid obtaining retail and public health licenses required of retailers that sell to the general public."

"In late 2008 and early 2009, the representatives of state agriculture agencies in Wisconsin, Indiana, Michigan, and Illinois met via phone conferences with representatives of the FDA to map a plan for targeting raw-milk buying clubs in the Midwest. The meetings came to light after Max Kane, the owner of a Wisconsin buying club who was subpoenaed by Wisconsin authorities for the names of his customers and suppliers, obtained email accounts of the sessions via a Freedom of Information request to Wisconsin's Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection department."

"Now, the Midwest program seems to have gone national, and the recent spate of raids suggests a quickening pace and broadened scope. While most raids before the Midwest government meetings had been related to raw-milk distribution, some, like a December 2008 armed raid of Manna Storehouse, an Ohio food club near Cleveland...armed law enforcement officers held a mother and eight young children being home-schooled at gunpoint for several hours while they searched the home and food storage areas."


Monday, April 25, 2011

Thai Seafood Curry

1/2 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 pound sea bass or similar white fish, cut into bite size chunks
1 1/2 cans full cream coconut milk
1/2 cup of water
1 tablespoon red curry paste
1 tablespoon lemongrass paste
6 lime leaves (optional)
1 teaspoon yellow curry
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon green onion, thinly sliced
1/2 cup capers
add salt and black pepper to taste

Bring a pot of water to boil. Boil shrimp until cooked (1 minute).

Pour coconut milk and water into a large saucepan. Add the lime leaves and bring to a simmer for 10 minutes in order to infuse flavor. Add lemongrass paste, lime juice, red curry paste, curry powder, and red pepper flakes. Simmer a further 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add fish and cook for two minutes. Add shrimp. Simmer everything together for 3 minutes. Remove the lime leaves. Season with salt and black pepper to taste.

Serve hot over a bowl of jasmine rice and garnish with cilantro and capers.


Pesticide Exposure May Cause Lower IQ's in Unborn Children

"In a new study suggesting pesticides may be associated with the health and development of children, researchers at the University of California, Berkeley's School of Public Health have found that prenatal exposure to organophosphate pesticides (widely used on food crops) is related to lower intelligence scores at age 7."

"The researchers found that every tenfold increase in measures of organophosphates detected during a mother's pregnancy corresponded to a 5.5 point drop in overall IQ scores in the 7-year-olds. Children in the study with the highest levels of prenatal pesticide exposure scored seven points lower on a standardized measure of intelligence compared with children who had the lowest levels of exposure."

Read More from the Website Article: 

Sunday, April 24, 2011

The New War On...Raw Milk?

"Many small-farm families and health advocates are among those who drink raw, unpasteurized milk that is produced by the few cows on those small farms."

"Sickness from raw milk is virtually non-existent, yet our government agencies continue to hire more inspectors at taxpayer expense. Recently, the federal Food and Drug Administration has escalated its campaign against raw milk. Farm raids have occurred in other states, where armed federal, state and local police seize products, computers, records and equipment."

"My analysis shows that deaths from food borne illnesses are a very small percentage of overall mortality in the United States. During this period, of the 21.8 million deaths in the U.S., only 165 deaths were attributed to food borne illnesses, 0.00076 percent. What is even more astonishing is that of those 165 deaths attributed to food borne illnesses, only three deaths were attributable to milk, and those deaths all came from pasteurized skim milk, not raw milk."


Saturday, April 23, 2011

Small Family Farms Success Stories!

"U.S. agriculture may be increasingly industrialized, but there are still farm families in the country with success stories to share."

"Willow Smart and husband David Phinney bought an abandoned dairy farm in 1991. It was in pretty bad shape when we got here,” said Smart. Twenty years later, the couple have transformed their operation into Willow Hill Farm, where the main product is cheese. There are about 100 sheep on hand along with 15 to 20 cows that provide milk for the seven types of organic cheese turned out."

"Beef and lamb are packaged and sold to local buyers, while blueberries can be picked in July and August. But the star product at Willow Hill Farm is the cheese. Cheeses like Autumn Oak, Vermont Brebis, Summer Tomme and Mountain Tomme are considered among the best examples of artisan cheese in the U.S, noted Dairy Foods Magazine in a recent article about the farm."


Friday, April 22, 2011

Veggie and Cheese Quiche

1 1/4 cups unbleached white whole wheat flour
1/2 cup unsalted butter (cut into small pieces)
1/4 cup aged cheddar cheese, shredded
5 teaspoons, cold water
1/4 teaspoon salt

Place flour in a large bowl. Rub butter into flour until it resembles bread crumbs. Mix in cheese. Add water a teaspoon at a time. Form into ball, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Pre heat oven at 375 F

4 large eggs, room temperature
1 cup diced ham or chicken (optional)
1 1/2 cups fresh cream
3 tablespoons pesto
1 cup aged cheddar cheese (grated)
1/2 cup parmesan cheese (grated)
1 teaspoon brown mustard
1 cup cherry tomatoes
12 asparagus spears
Sea salt and black pepper

Roll out pastry dough. Place in a 9" quiche pan. Cover sides also.

Arrange vegetable and meat in pastry shell. Leave some aside to garnish quiche when it's set. In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs, cream, pesto, cheddar cheese, parmesan cheese and brown mustard. Season with sea salt and black pepper. Pour into pastry shell.

Bake 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 320 F. Arrange the remaining vegetable on top and some extra parmesan cheese. Bake a further 30 minutes or until set.

Allow to rest for 10 minutes before serving.

Chicken and Spinach Crepes with Tamarind Chutney

1 cup unbleached whole wheat flour
1 cup full cream milk
1 cup water
2 eggs
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons butter, melted

In a blender, combine all the ingredients and pulse for 10 minutes. Refrigerate for 1 hour.

Heat a lightly buttered frying pan over medium-high heat. Pour batter (1/4 cup) into pan, swirl to coat evenly. Cook 40 seconds, flip and cook for another 10 seconds. Continue until all batter is gone.

2 cups cooked, shredded chicken
1/2 cup milk
2 cups baby spinach (packed)
3 tablespoons cream cheese
1/4 cup fontina cheese
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1/2 small onion, finely chopped
1 small garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook onion, garlic and spinach until soft. Stir in the shredded chicken and cream cheese. Add milk (filling should be smooth and creamy not runny). Stir in cheese until melted. Season with salt and black pepper.

Lay crepe flat, leaving about 2 inches uncovered on each side. In a row across the center, place chicken mixture. Shape into a rectangle (refer to photo) and fold uncovered sides inward, then lightly roll the crepe.

Repeat with the remaining ingredients.

Serve with Tamarind Chutney (Indian Store). If you can't find tamarind chutney, any tangy and spicy fruit chutney will do.


Thursday, April 21, 2011

Stay Away From Our Children!

"Saying that junk food is marketed to children is a little like announcing the sky is blue or that water is wet: it’s so obvious that talking about it feels almost redundant. But the obviousness of the situation is just symptomatic of the fact that we’ve all grown so accustomed to our kids being targeted by the producers of junk food that we’re sadly unsurprised by it. It happens so much that it starts to become background noise. The first step in cutting out that noise, though, is to become aware of the ways that marketers use a variety of ploys and tactics to get at children, who lack the education and discernment abilities to make smart and informed choices about the ads they see. Kids’ brains are, in a sense, helpless against the onslaught of marketing. Check out this list of advertising approaches to children so you’ll be better prepared to help your kids make the right choice about what they eat."

"Marketers want kids to eat junk food by viewing the process as an exciting experience. They’re not just loading up on sugar, they’re doing it with attitude and an anti-authority flare (You know, like Poochie). Kids probably won’t eat yogurt of their own volition, but they will eat yogurt they can squeeze into their mouths like toothpaste from a tube. The same goes for cereals, which are loaded with sugar and food coloring. Products like Froot Loops use bright, eye-catching colors adorned with cartoon characters designed to attract a child’s eye. Cereal boxes for adult products look almost austere in comparison. Marketing is always superficial, but it’s egregiously so when it comes to packaging aimed at children."

"Marketers also know that children spend most of their time under the guidance of parents or guardians, and that they only get a few minutes to themselves when they’re at school. That’s why junk food companies push for placement in vending machines in schools nationwide, where kids can buy their treats without a parent around to make them trade the SweetTarts for an apple. This tactic as much admits that the food being sold is no good — why else would they try to sneak it past parents? — but it’s still a big obstacle for families who want their children to eat healthy. This issue’s also a political hot-button, with some officials declaring that schools should ditch junk-food vending machines altogether while others say that’s too much of an overreach."


Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Confused by Ingredients?

"More of us are reading labels than ever before. We look to see where our foods come from — China, or a farm 20 miles away? Do our foods contain trans fats, or is the sodium level, or sugars, too high?"

"There are ingredients we know and can easily identify — such as olive oil, tomatoes, garlic and sugar — but then there are those we can only guess at. With food allergies on the rise, it gets even trickier."

"Let’s start with what a “gum” is. According to the International Food Additive Council, food gums are “complex carbohydrates which are derived primarily from plants and used as thickeners, gel-forming agents and/or stabilizing agents in food.


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