Monday, October 31, 2011

Thai Curry Potato and Green Onion Soup

1 cup green onions, chopped
6 cups potatoes, cubed and cooked
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1/2 white onion, chopped
13.5 oz container coconut cream (full cream)
13.5 oz vegetable broth
1 tablespoon Thai green curry paste
Salt and black pepper

In a large deep sided skillet, add coconut cream, broth, and Thai curry paste. Stir to combine. Season with salt and black pepper. Bring to a boil and add potatoes and green onion. Let it boil a further 5 minutes to heat the potatoes through. Serve hot.

FDA Issues Warning on Pine Nuts

The Food and Drug Administration has issued a warning about Turkish pine nuts from bulk containers at Wegmans Food Markets, and also food items such as pesto, salads or baked goods that may have been prepared with the pine nuts.

The agency said pine nuts imported from Turkey may be the source of at least 43 confirmed Salmonella illnesses in 7 states -- California, Maryland, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Washington. Two people with salmonellosis have been hospitalized.

The FDA warning, issued Friday, differs somewhat from a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention outbreak investigation report, which was released Wednesday.

The CDC had reported 42 people sickened in five states -- Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Virginia -- and implicated pine nuts purchased Wegmans bulk bins and prepared foods that included Wegmans pine nuts as an ingredient as the source of the outbreak. The CDC mentioned Caprese salad and asparagus with pine nuts sold at Wegmans stores as possibly being contaminated with Salmonella.

But a recall by the Wegmans grocery store chain was limited to 5,000 lbs. of pine nuts sold in the bulk foods department of most of its stores in Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Virginia between July 1 and Oct. 18, 2011. It did not include prepared food items made with pine nuts.

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Friday, October 28, 2011

More Focus Needed on What Causes Cancer

My youngest cousin was diagnosed with breast cancer when she was pregnant with her third child. A terrible decision ensued — who to protect, which life was more important? My cousin deferred any cancer treatment until after the baby was born, but the cancer ravaged her body and took her before her baby had the chance to say, "Mama."
My wife and I "raced for the cure" in her name every year and supported many of the cancer support networks that expressed concern for finding a cure for this tragic disease. But I wondered: Where did her cancer come from? Was it her lifestyle? She was an Olympic-level swimmer. Was it her genetics? There was cancer in the family history, but at 33, it was curious why she would have gotten it so young.
As I studied my cousin's history, I discovered that she grew up in one of the worst cancer "hot spots" in the country, where potato farms were prevalent and the pesticides of choice were DDT, chlordane and Temik used to fight the Colorado potato beetle. These chemicals have been linked to cancer for many years, which is why they are now banned for use in this country. In her older years, she lived on a golf course, and numerous studies link the use of pesticides on golf courses to higher cancer rates.
It is a comfort that there is growing awareness and numerous efforts to seek a cure, however, precious little efforts are ever directed toward finding out why we get cancer in the first place. When I was a child growing up, cancer was a very rare occurrence. We heard about folks who got the disease but didn't know anyone personally with it. Today no family is left unscathed. It's hard to believe that cancer is solely a result of too many french fries or genetics.
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Thursday, October 27, 2011

Kale Rolls with Orzo Turkey and Garlic Stuffing

1/2 pound fresh ground turkey or chicken
1 cup Orzo, cooked
2 cups marinara sauce
12 large Kale leaves, washed and remove stem
1/2 white onion, finely diced
2 cups roma tomatoes, diced
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt and black pepper.

Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Blanch Kale for 2 minutes and drop into an ice bath (icy cold water in a bowl). Run your knife along the back to remove the tough stem to make it easier on rolling. Set aside.

In a large deep-sided skillet on high heat, add olive oil. When hot, add onions and saute until soft. Season with sea salt and black pepper. Add turkey, saute until cooked and brown(keep cooking temperature on high because you don't want the turkey to retain moisture and turn to a stew. Add garlic and tomatoes and continue sauteing on high heat a further 5 minutes. Add cooked orzo and fresh basil. Season with sea salt and black pepper. Stir to combine. Remove off heat to cool.

Preheat oven to 400 F.
Lay kale flat on a clean surface. Add two tablespoons of the mixture to the middle and roll tightly to close (refer to picture). Cover the bottom of an oven proof-dish with marinara sauce of choice (about two cups). Arrange kale rolls in a single layer. Cover and bake for 30 minutes. Remove from oven. Serve hot.

Organic Foods: The Face Behind the Product

Organic foods have made inroads on supermarket shelves in the last decade, but not necessarily for the reason you think. While consumer demand does regulate supply to a 
certain extent, much of the shelf space is taken up (and possibly paid for) by Big Business.

According to the Organic Trade Association, U.S. sales of organic food and beverages have grown from $1 billion in 1990 to $26.7 billion in 2010. While that is a significant growth in an industry that had previously been relegated to small health food stores, it is really just a drop in the bucket: those same sales only represent approximately 4 percent of overall food and beverage sales in 2010. 

But the year-over-year growth of the market has attracted significant attention from large food manufacturers, such as General Mills, Kraft, Heinz, Kellogg, Coca-Cola and Pepsi. Attention means money, for small food manufacturers to grow and to help deliver precious shelf space. In fact, in 2010 mass market retailers (mainstream supermarkets, club/warehouse stores, and mass merchandisers) sold 54 percent of organic food.

The Name Game

While many traditional food manufacturers have introduced their own new labels in the organic food field, they have also diversified by buying up successful, long-standing organic brands.

It’s not enough to just slap the word “organic” on a label—as is the case with Campbell’s Organic, Kellogg’s Organic, Dole Organic, Kraft Organic, etc. That tactic may convert some existing customers, but probably will not win over die-hard enthusiasts who have longstanding brand loyalty.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Almond Lemon Cake

3 cups cake flour
2 cups granulated sugar
1 teaspoon of salt
1 cup sliced almonds
1 cup butter, room temperature
4 eggs, room temperature
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
3/4 cup milk, room temperature
1/4 cup lemon zest
2 teaspoons baking powder
pinch of salt
9 thin slices of fresh lemon (garnish)

Preheat oven to 300 F.

Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time beating well in between. Add lemon zest and almonds. Using a separate bowl, sift flour, baking powder, and salt.

Combine milk and lemon juice in a small jug. Fold flour and milk mixture, alternately to the batter, making sure to start with flour end with flour.

Pour into a lined square cake pan (9"). Arrange lemon slices on top of the cake (refer to picture). Bake for 1 to 1.5 hours or until a stick inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean. Please keep the cake at this temperature because it will burn if it's on a higher temperature. It takes time to bake it!

Remove from the oven and let the cake cool completely before glazing.

1 cup icing sugar
1 lemon, juiced

Whisk ingredients to form a thick paste. Use a brush to glaze the cake.

GMO Salmon Farm Called 'Drug Factory'

Allowing an American company to produce the eggs of genetically-modifed salmon on P.E.I. would hurt the Island's reputation as a green province, environmentalists warn.

The AquaBounty Technologies experimental fish plant in Bay Fortune produces the Atlantic genetically-modified salmon eggs. Implanted genes make the fish grow at twice the natural rate. Aquabounty has asked the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to approve the fish for commercial sale.

The FDA is currently reviewing the environmental risks of the eggs being raised at the P.E.I. facility, then being sent to a Panama facility to be grown to adult size, and finally shipped, table-ready for retail sale in the U.S.
It would be the first genetically-modified animal approved as a food product.

Around 100 people gathered at the Rodd Charlottetown Monday night for a panel discussion on the work being done at the facility in Bay Fortune, on P.E.I.'s eastern shore.

"We can start right here on Prince Edward Island, by demanding that our government have more scrutiny over the drug factory on Bay Fortune," said Leo Broderick of the Council of Canadians.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Spinach Meatballs with Roasted Tomato Sauce

1/2 lb fresh ground lamb
1/2 lb fresh ground sirloin
1/2 lb fresh ground pork
2 garlic cloves, crushed
3 slices sourdough bread
1 cup fresh spinach, finely chopped
1/2 red onion, finely chopped
1/3 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
1/2 cup milk
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (plus extra)
2 tablespoons pesto
Sea salt and black pepper

Soak bread in milk.

Add one tablespoon of olive oil to a large deep sided skillet on medium heat. When oil is hot, add garlic and onions. Saute until onions is soft. Set aside to cool. 

Combine all the ingredients together and mix well to combine. Season with sea salt and black pepper. Roll into about 1" diameter balls. Arrange on a greased baking sheet.

Preheat oven to 400 F.

Bake meatballs for 30 minutes or until crispy and brown.

Roasted Tomato Sauce:
12 large Roma tomatoes, cut in half
2 heads fresh garlic
Extra virgin olive oil
Balsamic Vinegar
3 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped (plus extra)
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, chopped finely
sea salt and black pepper

Preheat oven to 425F.

Cut a thin slice off each head of garlic and discard. Place garlic in a baking dish. Drizzle generously with extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Season with salt and black pepper and sprinkle with fresh parsley. Cover and roast until soft and golden (about 1 hour). During the last 30 minutes of cooking, on a prepared baking sheet, toss tomatoes in extra virgin olive oil and arrange in a single layer. Season with salt and black pepper. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar. Sprinkle with fresh parsley and bake until soft and caramelized.

Squeeze out flesh of the roasted garlic, add to a blender with the rest of the ingredients. Drizzle in two tablespoons of olive oil. Season with sea salt and black pepper. Blend to your desired consistency.

Serve over meatballs and spaghetti with fresh artisan bread on the side.

Food Day Hopes to Get Americans to 'Eat Real' - October 23rd, 2011

Is there anything tastier than eating a cherry tomato that’s just been plucked off the vine, or what about some freshly-picked spinach sautéed with olive oil and garlic? So simple and so fresh. 
This is the kind of eating the organizers of the nation’s first Food Day 2011 is hoping all Americans will soon start adopting.  The grassroots campaign, which kicks Monday, Oct. 24., will encourage Americans to "eat real" and support healthy, affordable food grown in a sustainable, humane way. 

“People are eating a diet that’s causing them obesity, heart disease, diabetes, various cancers – and we should do something about that,” Michael Jacobson, Food Day founder and executive director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, told “Companies are marketing junk food to kids.

There is still hunger and food insecurity problems in the United States – there are a range of problems.” 

To mark the day, Food Day organizers have put together educational material and a recipe booklet. Companies like the The Cooking Channel are getting behind the movement and encouraging people to eat healthy, while Epicurious, in  partnership with Whole Foods Market, is getting people organize potluck suppers and dinner parties to raise money for food banks and charities.

The good news is there are many, many people concerned about these growing issues, including Jacobson. 

On his website, there’s a mission statement of sorts that says, “Food Day’s goal is nothing less than to transform the American diet.” 

Monday, October 24, 2011

Pork Loin Roulade with Apple and Black Olives Stuffing

This recipe is one of many that I will be sharing in my upcoming book, "Rustic Modern Cuisine". To pre-order your copy, please click here. Available for a limited time only!

Think About Helping the Environment and Choose Sustainable Fish - October 20th, 2011
EMC Lifestyle - Many environmentalists want consumers to heed the warning the world's oceans are being overfished and certain types of seafood are endangered and facing extinction.

Experts from The International Union for Conservation of Nature warn bluefin tuna are among the more than 40 species of fish in the Mediterranean alone under threat of vanishing from the region. The Monterey Bay Aquarium's Seafood Watch lists several breeds of seafood in its "avoid" column that are overfished or fished or farmed in ways that harm marine life or the environment.

Included on the list is imported king crab, grouper, spiny lobster, farmed salmon, many different shrimp and tilapia from China and Taiwan. 

To help make smart purchases, some consumers would like to see warning labels on certain seafood packaging to indicate if the species is threatened. A poll conducted by Greenpeace in Japan several years ago found 68 per cent of consumers were in favor of the warning labels. Ninety-one per cent of Canadians feel seafood should come from sustainable sources, according to a June 2011 poll by the World Wildlife Fund.

Some retailers are already stepping up their conservation efforts. In March 2011 Costco, the popular warehouse center, stopped selling 12 species of fish identified as threatened by overfishing. Other stores are doing the same.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Paprika Mustard Chicken

4 chicken breasts, cut into thick strips 
2 tablespoons good quality paprika 
1 tablespoon whole grain mustard 
3 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped 
3 tablespoons sesame seeds 
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (plus extra) 
Sea salt and black pepper

Preheat oven to 450 F.

In a large mixing bowl, combine mustard, paprika, olive oil, parsley, sesame seeds, and garlic. Stir to combine. Add chicken and make sure to fully coat. Season with sea salt and black pepper.

Arrange chicken in a single layer on a prepared baking sheet. Drizzle extra olive oil on top of the chicken. Bake for 5 minutes, turn over and bake a further five minutes or until chicken is cooked and crispy.

The Candification of Our Food: The Case of The Fruit-Less Fruit Snack - October 20th, 2011
The fruit snack is a slippery little beast. Wander into your local natural food store, and you might find a packaged fruit snack with one ingredient: fruit. Look in the package, and you'll see something that looks like a piece of dried fruit flesh. But just about everyplace else, the items being sold as fruit snacks have a much more tenuous relation to the stuff of apples, strawberries, and mangos. These ubiquitous and popular snack items are molded sweet morsels, soft and a little chewy. They are called fruit snacks because they are made from fruit. Sort of.

It's a huge category: Fruit snacks are on the product lineup of breakfast behemoths like General Mills and Kellogg's, fruit brands like Mott's and Welch's, and specialty companies with names that promise healthier processed food like Florida's Naturals and Annie's Organics. Based on my extensive field testing, I am happy to report that most of these fruit snacks are quite yummy. But they are also almost indistinguishable from soft gummy candies.

Note, however, that the word candy is never, ever used to describe this product. The adherence to this definitive nomenclature on the part of producers and consumers alike is what we call "pulling a fast one." What distinguishes the fruit snack from other chewy candies is the substitution of sugars derived from cane, beet, or corn with sugars derived from fruit. Fruit juices, purees, and fruit pectins enhance the fruit content boasted on the package of many brands. But even if all the ingredients started out as fruit, what the fruit snack primarily delivers is sugar. Sugar from fruit, sugar from cane, sugar from corn, no matter: sugar is sugar.

Packages plastered with fruit bouquets and boasting fruit juices and purees give this category an aura of virtue that other candies can only envy. The problem is that the wholesome fruit goodness of fruit snacks is wholly imaginary. Fruit snacks are not fruit. They're not better than candy. They are candy.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Quinoa with Butternut Squash and Mushrooms

2 cups cooked Quinoa
2 cups cooked, chopped butternut squash
2 cups cooked, sliced cremini mushrooms
1 small onion, chopped
3 garlic clove, crushed
Extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt and black pepper

Add enough oil to cover the bottom of a large skillet. When hot, saute onion and garlic until softened. Add vegetables and quinoa to heat through. Season with sea salt and black pepper. Drizzle extra olive oil and fresh herbs over the top. Serve hot.

10 Foods That Trip up Dieters

Roslyn Gordon has taught hundreds of people how to eat well and lose weight. She’s seen many succeed and others fail — the reasons why are always contained in clients’ food journals. Many dieters mistakenly eat food they think is helping them lose weight, but is actually hurting their efforts, explains Gordon, a registered nutritionist and owner of Burlington’s Highway to Health.
Here’s her top 10 list of food that clients mistakenly think help with weight loss:
Frozen dinners — they are cheap, convenient and offer portion control, but are often loaded with sodium and additives, warns Gordon. They also rarely offer enough protein or vegetables to be a full serving, and will leave you hungry and grabbing snacks before long.
Alternative: Gordon recommends taking leftovers for lunch or making some easy freezer meals, like chili or soup, on a weekend and freezing lunch-size portions to pop in your bag.
Too much fruit — fruit is full of nutrients and should be part of your daily diet, but too many people overindulge, says Gordon. “They think it’s a great alternative and overload … it’s high in nutrients, but it’s also high in sugar.”
Alternative: Gordon recommends two to three fruit serving a day. A serving is about ¼ cup or a full apple, orange or pear.
Protein shakes — they are promoted as a nutrient and energy-packed drink, but shakes from cafés and shops are often loaded with food additives, sugar and contain too much protein for weight loss, says Gordon.
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Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Raw Vegetable Rolls with Teriyaki Sauce

Sauce Ingredients:
2 tablespoons raw honey
1 cup teriyaki sauce

In a small bowl, whisk all the ingredients to fully combine.

1 cup brown rice, cooked
2 large avocadoes, remove skin and pit, chop into bite size
1 cup alfalfa sprouts
3 tablespoons fresh cillantro, chopped
1/2 cup raw peanut, chopped
1/2 cup chopped scallions
8 Vietnamese spring roll sheets
2 tablespoons black sesame seeds

Fill a medium bowl with warm water (not hot) Dip one wrapper at a time to soften (about 2 seconds).  Wrapper will get softer by the time you roll it.

Lay wrapper flat. Leaving about 2 inches uncovered on each side. In a row across the center, place avocadoes, two tablespoons of rice, cilantro, scallions, alfalfa sprouts, and chopped peanuts. Drizzle your desired amount of sauce on top. Fold uncovered sides inward, then tightly roll the wrapper.

Repeat with the remaining ingredients. Sprinkle black sesame seeds on top. This can be made ahead of time and refrigerated.

Serve with extra dipping sauce on the side.

Pesticides Are Good for You?!

For years now, I have been hearing about the food industry's influence on the annual conference of the American Dietetic Association -- the nation's largest gathering of nutrition professionals--with some 7,000 registered dietitians in attendance. Last month, I witnessed it for myself and discovered the corporate takeover by Big Food was worse than I even imagined.  

The top-paying sponsors, whom ADA called "partners," were Coca-Cola, Aramark, the National Dairy Council, and Hershey (their "Center for Health and Nutrition" - really). "Premier sponsors" included PepsiCo, Mars, and General Mills. 

The exhibit hall seemed more like a processed food trade show than a nutrition conference. I saw very few booths with actual information, apart from that being peddled by the likes of Nestle, Kraft, and McDonald's, along with (of course), ubiquitous product samples, tastings, and myriad swag. (Oddly, Monsanto's booth featured its branded, soy-based lip balm.)

But the worst cooptation came during the "educational sessions," which should have been off limits to marketing. Numerous panels were hosted by industry players, including, "Dairy Innovations," brought to you by (surprise!) the National Dairy Council, which also hosted a media-only session, as did others. 

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Apricot Pomegranate Cake

2 cups cake flour
4 large eggs, room temperature
1 cup of butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup dried apricots, chopped into bite size
1/2 cup dried pomegranate
1/2 cup raisins
2 tablespoons orange zest
1 cup fresh orange juice
1/3 cup Cointreau

Soak and cover orange zest and the rest of the dried fruit in Cointreau and fresh orange juice and refrigerate overnight. 

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time beating well in between. Using a separate bowl, sift flour and baking powder and fold gently into the wet ingredients. Lastly, fold in fruit and the juice that it was marinated in to just combine.

Pour into a prepared square cake pan (8 by 8" or 20 by 20 cm). Bake for 2 hours or until a stick inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean.

Remove from the oven and let the cake cool completely before removing from the pan.

Mushroom Reality Check - October 16th, 2011

People seem to associate wild mushrooms with toxicity but dangerous mushrooms are uncommon.A good number of mushrooms are edible, but most are not. Most inedible mushrooms are harmless, but unpalatable. Most toxic mushrooms will only make you feel sick, but a few are deadly.

There’s no easy way to look at an unknown mushroom and determine its toxicity or edibility. That’s why you are warned repeatedly about eating wild mushrooms — simple toxicity or edibility field marks don’t exist. There’s no substitute for caution.

You must thoroughly identify the mushroom species, without a doubt, and then find out if it’s safe from a qualified source. Many people have learned how to identify at least a few edible mushrooms. But if you don’t know exactly what species you have, you can’t even consider eating it. It’s better to be safe than sorry. Also, many edible mushrooms can be toxic if not prepared properly, which usually means thorough cooking.

With that cautionary note, the mushrooms above are some local mushrooms. A single picture in the newspaper isn’t good enough information for you to make an identification in the field.  The Grisette and Fly Agaric are members of a group that includes some of the most dangerous mushrooms out there. The Grisette happens to edible, but there are toxic look-alikes. The Fly Agaric can make you sick.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Baked Mushrooms and Three Cheese Taquitos

8 flour tortillas (8"diameter)
2 cup white mushrooms, sliced thinly
1/2 red onion, diced
1 large garlic clove, crushed
1 tablespoon cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup full cream ricotta cheese
1 cup fresh parmesan cheese, grated (plus extra)
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt and black pepper

Drizzle three tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet on medium to high heat. When oil is hot, add onions and saute until soft. Add garlic and mushrooms. Season with salt and black pepper and saute until all mushrooms are cooked. Add all the cheese and stir to melt and combine. Set aside to cool.

Pre heat oven to 400 F.

Lay one tortilla flat on a work surface. Scoop 1/4 cup of the mixture and place on 1/3 of the tortilla. Sprinkle with extra Parmesan cheese. Roll up and secure with a toothpick. Repeat until all the ingredients are used up.

Arrange Taquitos on a lined baking sheet. Brush the top generously with extra virgin olive oil.

Bake about 10 minutes or until Taquitos are crispy brown on one side.  Then turn over and brush oil on the other side and bake for another 10 minutes.

Enjoy hot with dipping sauce of your choice.

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