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Mason Jars…Not Just About Southern Comfort Anymore

As I traveled around the Northern part of California this September I was extremely excited to be in the birth place of “Fresh, local, scratch” and recycling in the restaurant world. That being said since this trip was about relaxing and celebrating my marriage, I promised it would not be all about food—or at least as much as I could step away from something that is at my very core.

 

I did not research before going and we just ate in places we either came across in our travels, locals recommended or that popped up on Urbanspoon and Yelp. We would start looking in the area when we got hungry and then just pop into the coolest looking place. Without a doubt every place we went had the Mason Jar as some type of serving vessel—from upscale restaurants to little mom and pop’s. Desserts, beverages, appetizers, soups—all sizes as well—tall, regular size, pint, jelly jar; from humble food storage vessel to a star!

 

One of the trends in restaurants or food trucks in this part of CA is that they served basically one thing with variations on the theme. Homeroom in Oakland CA is a cool little corner spot that Mac + Cheese is what they do. Every kind with almost anything you can image mixed in. They offer vegetable sides and desserts but the main focus is all about the Mac. Sourcing the freshest ingredients, limiting their menus and making everything to order– these places rocked!! I never thought I could get extremely excited over eating Mac + Cheese but menu items like-The Exchange Student-creamy gouda, scallions, ginger butter and spicy sriracha or Mac the Goat—rich and tangy fresh chevre(locally sourced), sliced scallions, spinach, and crispy breadcrumbs with a drizzle of olive oil—my mouth was in heaven.

 

Homemade syrups and soda’s hot hot hot; mixologist not bartenders, less meat, and smaller portions-that is what we found all around CA.

 

Two other aspects never stopped impacting & astounding me and have instilled a great desire to return soon: the freshness of the food everywhere and the commitment from the whole state on every level to take care of the environment. Eating an all meat crab cake sandwich, right after the crab was caught in front of you on the water-oh so sweet!! Vegetables of every kind picked the same day and prepare very simply so the flavor of the individual vegetable or fruit was the star-not a side kick. This was not just at the most expensive places but universal. Food trucks offering squeezed for you fresh juices with produce straight from the farm that day.

 

Then the commitment to reduce waste was very evident. Recycling and composting at both the ballparks we attended, recycling containers in public areas, composting cans supported by the cities just like our recycling and garbage pickup. Network among the restaurants, homeless shelters, grocery stores and farms to use the food that cannot be sold to the public to help fed the tremendous amount of homeless people. They use Face book, Twitter and blogs to get the information out there and even have a huge source of volunteers to help transport the products.

 

Feeling truly blessed to have had this experience and so proud to see just how trendy we really are at MG! Our core values are alive and well in CA, too.

~Cate Smith

Cut the Calorie Counting

Recently I have shared my quest to eat more mindfully & must admit that it is still an uphill battle at times.  As I reflect on my healthy living goals, the top priority is to remain active (check) and be mindful about what I put in my mouth (maybe half a check on that one).  I have tinkered with the idea of recording what I eat for a few days.  However, given the obsessive nature of my personality, I am afraid that calorie counting may become my 3rd job.  While I am certainly an advocate of food records, there is a fine line between being aware of what we eat and being obsessed with what we put in our mouths.

As I reflected more on the process of calorie counting I realized that this might not be in alignment with my goal of low stress healthful living.  It was serendipitous that I stumbled upon this article from The Stone Soup arguing against calorie counting. The article goes on to talk about mindful eating and though I think there are certain situations where calorie counting is warranted (certain medical conditions that require calories for weight gain/maintenance, etc) this article is pretty spot on.  I encourage all of you to read it.

  1.  Calorie counting takes the joy out of eating
  2. Counting calories encourages you to eat packaged, processed food
  3. Counting calories doesn’t guarantee you will get the nutrients you need
  4. Counting calories teaches you to ignore your natural satiety cues
  5. Calorie restriction doesn’t work for maintaining weight loss in the long term
  6. Cutting calories doesn’t address the root cause of your problem

Food Rules­, Eat Your Colors, ­Healthy Plates – Part 8

  • The colors reflect antioxidants (think disease fighting)
  • Offers protection against chronic disease in many different ways
  • Think variety!

Source:   Michael Pollan: Food Rules

Fall Apples

The fall season is upon us and my to do list includes attending a University of Virginia Football game, making my favorite pumpkin cookies & apple picking.  Apple picking happens to be one of my very favorite seasonal activities.  I am very fortunate to live in such a beautiful region of the country which offers breathtaking mountain views as we pick our delectable treats..  My old favorite, Fuji, are ripe for the picking in October.  Recently however, I have discovered a variety that rivals my old favorite, Gold Rush.  Gold Rush is a late maturing apple with outstanding fruit quality and long storage ability.  Though not ripe for the picking just yet, November will be the perfect time to stock up on these golden beauties.  The first Gold Rush seedling was planted in the year of my birth, 1973, so it must be fate.  If you happen to live in my neck of the woods, here is a link to apple picking paradise. http://www.virginia.org/fall/apples/

Healthy Baking Ideas

For healthier baking: you can replace the fat in any baking recipe using applesauce. It’s a one-to-one ratio, so simply sub applesauce for the quantity of fat called for. You can also lighten baking recipes by cutting the quantity of sugar called for in half. Chances are, most people won’t even realize it’s gone, and it will reduce calorie count considerably.

Here are a few other ways to lighted up your favorite baked goods:

  • Butter: Canola, mild olive oil, prune purée or applesauce
  • 1 ounce of chocolate: 3 tablespoons cocoa
  • 2 eggs: 1 egg + 2 whites or egg substitute
  • Cream, whole milk (in batters, muffins or biscuit doughs): Skin or lowfat (1%) milk
  • Cream Cheese (in cheesecake): Lowfat ricotta + yogurt; light cream cheese
  • Ricotta cheese, whole-milk: 1/2 whole milk ricotta plus either part-skim ricotta or
  • lowfat (1%) cottage cheese
  • Sour Cream: Plain yogurt
  • Whipped cream, ice cream (to top cakes, pies, warm fruit desserts): Frozen yogurt,
  • Lowfat yogurt
  • 1 cup whipped cream (in mousse mixtures): 3 stiffly beaten egg whites or 3/4 to 1 cup
  • Yogurt Cheese
  • 1 cup whipping or heavy: 1 cup evaporated skim milk cream (for whipping)

Healthy Baking Ideas

For healthier baking: you can replace the fat in any baking recipe using applesauce. It’s a one-to-one ratio, so simply sub applesauce for the quantity of fat called for. You can also lighten baking recipes by cutting the quantity of sugar called for in half. Chances are, most people won’t even realize it’s gone, and it will reduce calorie count considerably.

Here are a few other ways to lighted up your favorite baked goods:

  • Butter: Canola, mild olive oil, prune purée or applesauce
  • 1 ounce of chocolate: 3 tablespoons cocoa
  • 2 eggs: 1 egg + 2 whites or egg substitute
  • Cream, whole milk (in batters, muffins or biscuit doughs): Skin or lowfat (1%) milk
  • Cream Cheese (in cheesecake): Lowfat ricotta + yogurt; light cream cheese
  • Ricotta cheese, whole-milk: 1/2 whole milk ricotta plus either part-skim ricotta or
  • lowfat (1%) cottage cheese
  • Sour Cream: Plain yogurt
  • Whipped cream, ice cream (to top cakes, pies, warm fruit desserts): Frozen yogurt,
  • Lowfat yogurt
  • 1 cup whipped cream (in mousse mixtures): 3 stiffly beaten egg whites or 3/4 to 1 cup
  • Yogurt Cheese
  • 1 cup whipping or heavy: 1 cup evaporated skim milk cream (for whipping)

Dried Cranberry Salad

Serves 8 

1 c – port-soaked dried cranberries
1/4 c – apple cider vinegar
1 T – dijon mustard
1 t – sea salt
1/2 t – freshly ground black pepper
1 c – extra virgin olive oil 


1 qt – mixed salad greens
1/2 c – gorgonzola cheese crumbles
3/4 c – candied pecans 

 

  1. Soak dried cranberries in port wine, at least one hour, drain 
  2. Vinaigrette: Mix vinegar, dijon, sea salt & pepper, whisk in olive oil 
  3. Toss greens with 1/2 of vinaigrette, add more as desired 
  4. Top with cranberries, gorgonzola crumbles & candied pecans 

7 Foods That Help You Fill Up, Not Out – Part 3

  • Eggs: There are a dozen reasons to love eggs like high quality protein to help you feel energized. On average breakfast egg eaters consume less calories (one study reported 330 fewer calories).
  • Nonfat or Lowfat Greek Plain Yogurt: Thicker than regular yogurt & more protein per serving (up to 23 grams per cup). Top with fresh fruit & enjoy.

Source: Michael Pollan: Food Rules

Weekly Wisdom – Food Rules Part 7

Food Rules… Eating what stands on 1 leg
(mushrooms & plant foods) is better than eating what
stands on 2 legs (fowl), which is better than what stands
on 4 legs (cows, pigs & other mammals).

- This proverb offers a good summary regarding the healthfulness of
different types of foods.
- Notice the absences of fish (very healthy & totally legless)
Source: Michael Pollan: Food Rules

Healthy Food Swaps

I’m thinking everyone knows I’m (once again) on a quest to ‘lighten up’ and start treating my body with a bit more respect. While I do feel emotional eating is the biggest part of why many (most) struggle with weight, particularly the very overweight & obese, I still feel these ideas to help lighten up are great for anyone, whether you are on a quest to lose weight, or just want to reduce the empty/worthless calories you consume.

One Small Change: Healthy Swaps for Three Common Cravings
by Jason Machowsky in Healthy Tips, July 15, 2013

What makes junk food so appealing? Emotional eating aside, it often comes down to two things: taste (sweet, salty) and texture (creamy, fizzy, crunchy). In my humble opinion, if we can mimic those qualities in healthier options, then upgrading eating habits becomes an easier task. So let’s tackle three commonly craved foods: soda, chips, and mayonnaise.

The Craving:

Soda. A “refreshing” couple hundred of calories will spike your blood sugar and provide no nutrients. So what keeps us drawn to soda? It’s usually the fizz factor and the sweet taste. Consider which aspects of soda attract you to it, and then find the right substitute.

The Healthy Swaps:

Seltzer or Sparkling Water If you like the fizz, carbonated beverages can serve as a great substitute. Naturally flavored versions are available if you want a taste of orange, berry, lemon-lime and more. Flavored Water If you prefer getting some taste with your fluids but don’t want the fizz, you can easily add some flavor to your water. You can use lemon or lime (fresh or from the squeeze bottle), or a splash of your favorite juice for a little sweetness. You can even use a splash of juice with seltzer too.

The Craving:

Chips. Crunchiness and saltiness are the key components of chips. Unfortunately, chips can also pack lots of extra calories from added oils and frying. Plus, the low water and fiber content of chips can lead us to consume multiple servings without realizing (to give you an idea, one serving of chips is only a palmful).

The Healthy Swaps:

Baked beet, sweet potato or kale chips Variety is the spice of life, so give these chip alternatives a shot. Baking can help reduce the amount of oil used, and spices can give them a flavorful kick – thyme, rosemary, garlic or just good old pepper. Popped popcorn will allow you to eat more for the same amount of calories: 2 to 3 cups of popcorn is equal to about one ounce of chips. Popcorn also comes with a lot of fiber. Rather than using Crunchy veggies Carrots, celery and water chestnuts are just a few of many veggies that deliver lots of crunch without lots of calories. Try them with your sandwich.

The Craving:

Mayonnaise. Most people like mayo for the creamy texture and its ability to carry flavors (fat carries flavor, and mayo has lots of fat!). When we make a swap, we need to maintain a creamy texture and keep the fat content relatively high, with a focus on healthy, plant-based fats.

The Healthy Swaps:

Hummus. Typically made from chickpeas, sesame seeds and olive oil, hummus has about half the calories of mayo. Plus it has some protein and fiber! Hummus usually comes in a range of flavors, so you can customize the spread to your sandwich or dish. Avocado With a slightly nutty flavor, avocado can boost the taste of any sandwich or salad, with fewer calories than mayonnaise. To take it a step further, make some guacamole with garlic, onion, tomato, lime juice and cilantro and use as a spread or as a dip for fresh veggies.

Tell Us: What are some of your favorite healthy swaps?
Through his book and blog, Death of the Diet, Jason Machowsky, MS, RD, CSCS, empowers people to live the life they want by integrating healthy eating and physical activity habits into their daily routines.

You can follow him on Twitter @JMachowskyRDFit.

Read more at: http://blog.foodnetwork.com/healthyeats/2013/07/15/one-small-change-healthy-swaps-forthree-common-cravings/?oc=linkback