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Food News! Episode 3

From a California guy living the #ChipotLIFE to pizza being delivered on trains (Yes!!) – here’s your weekly dose of food news via #Periscope (and a heartwarming bonus at the end):

https://www.periscope.tv/w/aH-5BTcyODA5ODB8NDQ3OTU4NTJfZ1Nl4K6SG_LVhIKzWWAPDCxvuqV-kPgjeUygmk78Vg==

#grocerystoreobsessionjuly11

photo 3Take a good look at this picture.

**SCROLLING DOWN = SPOILER ALERT** 🙂

Take a good look at this picture. What do you see?

At first glance, it looks like breaded chicken cutlets, with broccoli and pasta.

As I have written in previous posts, sometimes I like to get my protein in other ways than meat.

Yes, there is pasta (Kroger Private Selection Gigli pasta), an easy butter sauce I made using Country Crock with calcium,  and broccoli (Green Giant Seasoned Steamers – Tuscan Broccoli), and shaved Parmesan cheese (which is from Kraft already pre-shaved).

This meal was made in about a 1/2 hour, using a combination of microwave and stove action.

But what looks like chicken cutlets, is not in fact, chicken.

It’s my latest grocery store obsession:

photo 1Meatless chick’n scallopini cutlets, lightly seasoned, by gardein.

I found this a few weeks back in the meatless frozen section in Kroger, and was very intrigued, especially at the fact that it says the protein is garden grown.

I also love the listing of the essentials: calories, protein, cholesterol, etc. on the FRONT.

Wondering what’s inside this masterpiece of “chicken” you see in the above pictures? Here’s the ingredient list from its website:

gardein chick’n: water, soy protein isolate*, vital wheat gluten*, expeller pressed/canola oil, organic ancient grain flour (kamut®, amaranth, millet, quinoa), natural flavors (from plant sources), modified vegetable gum, yeast extract, sea salt, potato starch, organic cane sugar, onion powder, vinegar, garlic powder, pea protein, carrot fiber, beetroot fiber, extractives of paprika and turmeric. rub: dehydrated vegetable (red bell pepper, garlic, onion), spices, organic cane sugar, salt. *non-genetically engineered soy and wheat.

You’re getting your soy in there yes, so a.k.a. some tofu-like qualities. But tofu, you do NOT taste in this, in fact this was one of the first meatless items besides meatless chicken tenders/nuggets where it actually had a similar texture to chicken (now not 100 % obviously, but similar). I’m impressed to see there’s quinoa in this as well, along with pea protein, carrot and beetroot fiber. I don’t know about you, but this product alone has opened up a whole new world of possibilities for QUICK meal ideas (and you know I love eating out of CONVENIENCE!).

And here’s how you cook it:

-Put some of your favorite cooking oil (I’ve used olive oil or vegetable oil) in a frying pan.

-Heat stove to medium high heat

-Cook by itself or in the picture up top, I cooked mine dredged in flour, and some herbs/spices (lemon pepper, paprika, garlic powder, etc)

-Saute on each side for about 2-3 minutes

photo 2

And voila!

The picture you see at the top of this post.

Now this may not be for everyone, I understand. I’m no vegetarian, but I do consider myself a vegivore from time to time.

But this find is exciting. And as you peruse Gardein’s website, you’ll find not only meatless chicken, but beef, fish filets and even holiday meals!

Bam. Easy, quick meal ideas.

**SIDENOTE: Another meatless #grocerystoreobsession I have right now, not pictured (because I ate them all!) are Kroger Simple Truth Meatless Chicken Tenders. Heat them up in the oven for 20 minutes and boom. Chicken minus the chicken. Delicious.

Cool Article of the Week – 7/21-7/28

This week’s cool article isn’t another ‘article’ per se.

(The name of this type of post could change in the future).

But call it an inspiration, if you will, that’s had me near-obsessively thinking in the back of my head about drinking water.

Yep, H20.

As I am drinking a glass of water between typing, this one photo from a friend’s Facebook pages really, struck me this entire week:

WATER PIC

When you think of drinking water, what’s your favorite way of drinking it? Do you drink water plain, do you add some fruit in it, do you you have ice or not in it?

And what about the specific purpose of drinking the water. Is it for thirst, a beverage of choice?

That friend that posted this picture on her Facebook page is on her way to becoming a future nurse. I can’t wait until she does, she is going to be a great one!

I’ve seen posts like the one she shared before, but I keep reading this picture and thinking about how yes, water is more than just a beverage. It’s a super beverage that regulates things in your body.

But tonight though, with the journalist in me, my curiosity is piqued. Lets go through each of these bullet points, and check these facts.

Truth or myth:

1) Drinking 2 glasses of water helps activate internal organs.

This I could actually see as truth. As our bodies are made up of a lot of water, drinking a glass when you wake up, having it flow to our organs, makes sense to activate them. But I must admit, when Googling this one, there were a lot of message boards with the same facts in the picture above, including this one. I was starting to get skeptical. Especially when I see an entire article on the internet talking about how these four “facts” mentioned in the picture are part of an internet scam. So until I am proven wrong, this is actually a myth.

2) Drinking 1 glass of water before a meal will help digestion.

This one too is tricky. From looking at this “fact” as it is, water can very well help with digestion. You could look at it as being a myth. But this one is a truth!

According to Mayo Clinic gastroenterologist Michael F. Picco, M.D. on mayoclinic.com: “There’s no concern that water will dilute the digestive juices or interfere with digestion. In fact, drinking water during or after a meal actually aids digestion. Water and other liquids help break down food so that your body can absorb the nutrients. Water also softens stools, which helps prevent constipation.”

3) Drinking 1 glass of water before taking a shower helps prevent high blood pressure.

This one right off the bat I was skeptical about. Yes, as discussed, our bodies are made of a lot of water, but does the coolness of the water bring down the possibility of high blood pressure in the shower? Don’t showers help at least lower your blood pressure by themselves? When Googling just now I saw a lot of the same from the first point in the picture, where I got skeptical. Yes, drinking water helps lower blood pressure according to livestrong.com, but nothing specific alludes to drinking water before showering helping to prevent low B.P. So I’m calling this one a myth until proven wrong.

4) Drinking a glass of water before bed helps prevent stokes or heart attacks.

This point I could see, compared to number 1, as a truth. Just as you’d think drinking water helps activate internal organs, drinking water before bed helps keep the blood flow going and prevent things like strokes or hearth attacks. Good thought, right? Well my friends, this one is a truth!  I saw this one on some sources, including Men’s Health. 

I check into all of this tonight too because in the back of my head now, especially since this picture, I’ve been thinking about buying a really huge cup for water to bring to work with me so I can drink water all day and know I’m getting in those 8 glasses. Would you do something like that?

My next point: do you get in your 8 glasses of water a day?

I’ll admit I don’t always drink 8 glasses. I do go for the unsweetened iced tea or soda too.

Well, according to Mayo Clinic, we need justttt a bit more water than the norm.

Here’s what they suggest:

“So how much fluid does the average, healthy adult living in a temperate climate need? The Institute of Medicine determined that an adequate intake (AI) for men is roughly 3 liters (about 13 cups) of total beverages a day. The AI for women is 2.2 liters (about 9 cups) of total beverages a day.”

Women need about 9 cups, men need about 13 cups. HUGE difference, right?

I am a huge water fan. There’s nothing like an ice cold glass of fresh water, especially when you are really, really thirsty.

I post all of this tonight as a start of a discussion. Until proven wrong, Googling the points has shown me two out of two are indeed true, the others are up for being proven wrong.

But no matter what is wrong or right, truth or myth, water really does help out your health in many, many ways.

So drink up!

Cool article of the week – 7/7-7/13

If you love champagne, this post is for you.

I am a huge lover of wines. But lately, if I had to choose between wine and sparking wine/prosecco/champagne, I’d go for the bubbly.

There’s something about the feel of the bubbles in your mouth as you sip it in a chilled champagne glass (the skinny tall flutes or the one shown in my picture). And while I’m a dry wine person over sweet (but yes, I do tolerate some sweet wines), there’s a huge variety of sparkling wines you can pick up at the store lately.  And you can find some really delicious champagnes, at REALLY great prices. A huge plus!

Like the one in my picture, the Barefoot Bubbly Pink Moscato – it’s a sweet champagne (and happens to be pink!). It’s SUPER cheap (depending on where you go, it’s about $10-$12 a bottle), and the fruity flavor pops out at you, it’s not overly sweet either. A favorite of mine!

Which brings me to this: I came across this article and I am donning it the “cool article of the week” in my book.

http://www.bottlenotes.com/the-daily-sip/news/champagne-and-memory-july-2013

Bottlenotes writes how researchers at a university in the U.K. are studying the bubbly first hand. The study’s results point to this: If you drink three glasses of Champagne a week, it could benefit your memory, and possibly, possibly, possibly!!! even ward off diseases such as dementia.

How cool is that!

Read the article to find out more, and here’s the link to the actual press release from the university.

And a tidbit for after you read it: what champagnes/sparkling wines are you into? Join the conversation below!

Dark Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Cookies

Pumpkin.

When you hear that word, what first comes to mind?

Jack-o-Lanterns, pumpkin pie, Halloween?

Or how about chocolate chip cookies?!

Today I felt like baking, and I came across the following recipe (click here!).

It was for a dark chocolate chip pumpkin cookie.

Now you may be thinking, “Pumpkin and chocolate chip cookies? Really? How does this work?!”

Well, I will tell you. Last year around this time I went to a Halloween party with my friends from my Arts Journalism program. One of my friends, Diep (hi Diep!), made these AMAZING chocolate chip cookies and my friend Samantha and I spoke about how amazing these were.

I asked Diep how she made these and she told me how the “secret ingredient” was pumpkin. There was actually no pumpkin taste to these, however, the cookie itself was more of a cake-like texture and very soft.

So I found this recipe today and baked this evening. Here are the results!


Me with the cookies!

These cookies are chocolatey, soft textured, and while there is a light taste of pumpkin, you can still taste that hint of cinnamon spice! I loved making these. The cookies were very easy to make. Here’s the recipe, a huge thanks to GoodLifeEats.com! A great fall-centric cookie.

http://www.goodlifeeats.com/2011/10/dark-chocolate-chip-pumpkin-cookies.html

Dark Chocolate Pumpkin Cookies

Yield: approximately 2 dozen

Prep Time: 10

Cook Time: 10-15

Total Time: 20-25

Ingredients:

Wet Ingredients
1 cup pumpkin puree
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 egg
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla

Dry Ingredients
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 cups flour
2 cups dark chocolate chips (I used Ghiradelli 60% Cacao Chips)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease cookie sheet and set aside.

Combine wet ingredients in a bowl and mix. Sift in dry ingredients. Stir in chocolate.

Drop by spoonful onto greased cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees F for approximately 10-13 minutes or until bottom of cookie is lightly browned.

Guest post and recipe by Allison of Some the Wiser.

SYRACUSE — My Cinco de Mayo 2011 dinner.

Happy Cinco de Mayo everyone! I know it’ll be over as of this time of night…But what was I thinking about all day today? Guacamole.

It’s honestly my latest obsession in food.

And this obsession started when Chipotle came to Syracuse.

Photo courtesy of avocado.org

Look at the picture to the left of the California Avocado Commission’s ‘Guacamole AutĂ©ntico.’

Avocado fans: looks delicious, right?

Guacamole consists of avocados, of course, but there are many variations of the delicious, creamy, flavorful dip. Tomatoes, lime juice, onions, cumin, you name it, it could be in guacamole. And hey, the calorie count for the bowl to the left is good – 170 calories per serving!

When I think of guacamole lately, I haven’t thought just about the delicious, fresh ingredients, but the health benefits of avocados too.

One of my best friends, who happens to be an amazing CNA (Certified Nurse’s Assistant), told me that avocados burn off fat in your belly! This excited me even more about eating avocados. While yes, they are creamy and to some, may be considered “fatty,” according to LIVESTRONG.com‘s article on “Food That Helps You Lose Belly Fat,” avocados contain healthy monounsaturated fats, and have potassium, fiber, folate and vitamins A & D. The article also says avocados keep you feeling fuller longer! And some belly fat just may burn off too.

Here are some other facts from Avocado.org:  avocados are sodium and cholesterol-free and have only five grams of fat per serving! Also, the avocado is also known as the “Alligator Pear” due to its pear shape and green skin.

But guacamole also makes me think of Mexico, as guacamole is of Aztec origin. Which leads me to now yesterday, Cinco de Mayo. I’ll admit, I don’t usually celebrate this holiday every year.

But this year I decided to have a little solo celebration. And tonight, I thought I’d learn a little bit more about this day and why it’s so important.

According to HuffingtonPost.com, “Cinco de Mayo commemorates the Mexico’s surprising victory over the French — then said to be the world’s most powerful army — at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862. Still, the holiday is often confused with Mexican Independence Day, which is actually Sept. 16, and receives limited recognition throughout much of Mexico, despite acknowledging the country’s heritage.”

So on May 5, back in 1862, Mexico won victory over the French. And on this day, many celebrate the holiday by heading out for some margaritas and/or eating some Mexican food.

Me?

I decided to head to one of my favorite quick Mexican food spots: Chipotle.

I went tonight to the location near SU. The line was very long, but very well worth the wait.

Here’s my burrito bowl that I had: carnitas (pulled pork) with pinto beans, chipotle-lime rice, cheese, medium-hot salsa and of course, the star of the show, guacamole. The carnitas was especially tender tonight which made the bowl extra delicious. The guacamole and salsa were the overpowering flavors over the rest of the bowl’s ingredients, however. It was a delicious, filling entree.

Tonight's burrito bowl.

When I’ve been going to Chipotle lately I’ve been getting a side of guacamole on the side with some chips. Unfortunately, tonight, the location I went to ran out of chips as of 9:30 p.m. So, instead of getting chips and guac tonight, I decided to walk to the corner store down the street to get some Nacho-flavored Combos, hoping they’d make up for my lack of chips and guac:

My nacho-flavored Combos I bought.

While unfortunately these combos tasted just like the regular cheese combos and didn’t have much spice to them, I love Combos, so I definitely devoured those too tonight.

Now I really wanted a margarita tonight to wash this all down. Because the Chipotle by campus doesn’t have a liquor license yet to sell margaritas-in-a-bottle, I thought the corner store might have a margarita cooler-in-a-bottle that I could have.

While they unfortunately didn’t have this either, I decided to get something completely different. I got Twisted Tea, and decided to try the “Sun Brewed Style” version.

My Twisted "Sun Brewed Style" Tea. Ooh La La. 🙂

I remember having Twisted Tea back in senior year of college and remembering how awesome it was. This hard tea tonight had that tea flavor, which was good, but it did like sun-brewed tea-soda in a way, which I don’t think was as favorable as the other Twisted Tea I’ve had before.

Overall, my Cinco de Mayo was very well-spent.

Again, happy Cinco de Mayo everyone! I hope you had an amazing time celebrating too and had some guacamole and maybe a margarita too! Please share with me what you did on this holiday!

Cheers.

Food-cation NYC : Spring Street Natural

Spring Street Natural Restaurant

62 Spring St.

New York, N.Y. 10012

212-966-0290

http://www.springstreetnatural.com

—-

Lunch at Spring Street Natural in NoLita was deceiving.

Its website describes its cuisine as fresh, healthy and affordable.  One would assume reading this, that the menu would be full of light, affordable options. Does all-natural-affordable mean paying higher price? I beg to differ, especially if the meal made me feel overfull and gassy. Yes, gas is natural. But even if finishing lunch was an option, I couldn’t, since a fly decided my lunch was awesome and dove into my three-quarters eaten sandwich.

Perusing the lunch menu, there were many items using indicators of all-natural: “free range,” “natural,” “organic.” There was a grilled vegetable sandwich (toasted onion ciabatta with grilled portobello mushroom, grilled zucchini, roasted red peppers, fresh mozzarella and sun-dried tomato pesto; served with Terra vegetable chips & baby greens), scrambled tofu (with red onions, shiitakes, fresh thyme, curry, mesclun salad, and organic brown rice), pumpkin ravioli (crispy pancetta, napa cabbage, brown sage butter, hazelnut crunch). Sounds somewhat healthy, right?

However, it was the grilled free-range chicken burger that stuck out as the dish to try: toasted brioche bun, melted pepper jack cheese, chipotle mayonnaise and hand-cut French fries. Chipotle mayo. Yes please.

When the burger (pictured right) arrived at my table, its presentation was sloppy. In one corner of the plate, the sandwich was engulfed in a white blob of cheese, in another, a mound of dark, thick fries. The only way to get to the meat was to eat through the fries. They were hard, cold and greasy.

The creamy chipotle mayo, however, was a perfect dipping sauce. The spicy kick actually enhanced the fries’ flavor.

In another corner, lettuce and tomato tried to peek out.  There were also two small sauces, one of which spilled onto the rest of the food.

Once the burger could be eaten, fries were stuck in the cheese. The meat was also too big for the bun. While the burger meat had specs of green in it, (hopefully leeks?) the burger had no flavor.

One positive: the bread basket before the meal was a hit. Its website boasts on making as many of the food items in-house as possible, including the breads, which derive from organic whole wheat flour pie crusts. Whole-oat bread (pictured left) greeted us at the table with sesame seeds in it, giving it a nutty flavor. It was light, yet crunchy and satisfying. Another looked like an orange pound cake that had a surprisingly olive taste. After taking guesses as to what it was, the waitress said it was tomato rosemary bread. This bread had a balance of sweet and savory flavors.

Lunch there is a no-go. Head to McDonalds and skip this so-called natural food.

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