Filed under: Commentary
A generation ago we didn’t have choices on what kind of oils to buy, let alone flavored olive oils. Now there are so many options it can be daunting to pick the right one. Using flavored olive oils saves time, boosts flavor and is a healthy alternative to butter and bottled salad dressings.
Flavored olive oils have more uses than just as a dipping sauce for bread.
Try them with the following:
Use in the frying pan instead of butter when making scambled eggs. (Chipotle garlic gives the eggs a spicy kick.)
Heat up oil and drizzle over raw spinach for a barely wilted spinach salad.
Sprinkle over mixed greens.
Pour a tablespoon of flavored olive oil over steamed vegetables like broccoli or squash.
Drizzle over fresh tomatoes.
Toss 2 tablespoons of oil with raw veggies and cook on the grill or roast in the oven at 400 degrees until a fork inserts easily.
Brush on chicken, fish or steak before placing it on the grill.
Sierra Olive Oil Company creates award winning flavored olive oils without preservatives or chemicals. I have tried the Rosemary Garlic and the Chipotle Garlic( a little spicy but tasty). The flavors are bold but not overpowering. They are a good balance between seasoning, spice and oil.
September 17, 2010
It’s that time of year again. The cold and flu season. I can tell because I’m starting to see signs for flu shots everywhere I go.
This is a worry for any family especially if you have young children and elderly. I recently read an article in the Washington Post by Carolyn Butler with some practical tips on how to increase the bodies immune function.
“It can be a challenge to boost immunity in this situation, it is possible, says Philip Tierno Jr., director of clinical microbiology and immunology at New York University’s Langone Medical Center. “People tend to . . . take special supplements figuring, ‘That will protect me,’ ” he says. “Well, no, your body is what you have to work on: You need to get your organ in perfect shape to be able to defend itself, because the normal body is well adapted to do that.”
“Experts agree that getting yourself into shape starts with good, balanced nutrition. That means avoiding processed foods, red meat and saturated fats; not overeating; and consuming produce and foods rich in omega 3 fatty acids, such as salmon, says Mullin, who is also a nutritionist.”
“It’s interesting that in the fall, root vegetables like yams and carrots, which are all very rich in Vitamin A and antioxidants, which play a huge role in immunity, come up in our diet,” he explains. “If you focus on eating seasonal fruits and vegetables, you’ll get all of the immune-boosting vitamins and minerals you need without having to think about supplements.” He adds that a wide variety of mushrooms, including shitakes and even plain old white buttons, have also been proven to improve immune function. And since, according to Mullin, it has now been firmly established that the gut is the center of immunity, he suggests regularly eating yogurt with probiotics, which help maintain healthy gut flora.”
“In addition to urging people to eat their way to an optimal defense against colds, viruses and the like, NYU’s Tierno, the author of “The Secret Life of Germs,” offers these tips, which he says are all backed by research:
– Get moving. Sedentary people are more likely than others to become ill. Exercise — even just a half-hour to an hour of walking — has been shown to keep you functioning and to boost immunity.
– Stay rested. It’s essential to get enough sleep — ideally 7 1/2 to nine hours — because proper rest helps the body repair injuries caused by stress, illness and invading organisms such as viruses.
– Don’t stress. Stress hormones can make you more susceptible to infection. So try not to get worked up over that resurgent rush-hour traffic and focus on maintaining a less confrontational and low-stress lifestyle.
– Look on the bright side. Optimistic people tend to have a better immune response.
– Drink up. If you feel a cold coming on, consume plenty of fluids. This helps keep your organ systems functioning optimally and is very important for proper immune response.
– Avoid germs. Many people don’t follow basic rules of hygiene. Tierno said it’s important to wash or sanitize your hands frequently — such as after using that germy shared pen at the supermarket — and to steer clear of coughing, sneezing or otherwise obviously ill people.
– Get a flu shot. This is one of the simplest means of staying well, particularly for the very young, for older people and for those whose immune systems are compromised.
“And what about supplements? While drugstore shelves are filled with a plethora of powders and products touting their immune-boosting benefits, the evidence on effectiveness is decidedly lacking.”
“There’s all types of stuff out there, but even for patients who do have quite significant suppression of the immune system from cancer or HIV, really no pharmacologic means have ever been successful in stimulating the immune system,” says physician David Parenti, an infectious-diseases expert at the George Washington University Medical Center, who doesn’t “think that high doses of any vitamins or other immune stimulants are necessary.”
Tierno does recommend taking around 2,000 to 3,000 IU (international units) of Vitamin D daily. But for the most part, claims about immune-boosting products “are bunk, because if you practice all of these diet and lifestyle rules you are going to be getting enough amino acids and vitamins already,” explains Tierney, who says he hasn’t been sick in more than five years.
This excerpt was taken from the September 7 issue of the Washington Post, Article by Carolyn Butler, titled Diet, exercise, rest, flu shots can help boost the immune system.
September 9, 2010
I read an article about farm stays in the US. Vacationers can reserve time away at a working farm. ” A back to the land experience”. ”The most satisfying approach to these trips is to wholly embrace unplugged living”. September 2010 issue of Whole Living
I am familiar with this type of living because I grew up on a small ranch. I didn’t appreciate the simpleness of my upbringing until I had children of my own. When we would visit my parents, my dad would take the kids out to feed the cows with him every morning. He would let them sit on his lap and drive the tractor. It was thrilling for them. He would make a slide for them in the barn with stacks of hay. It was a amusement park of dirt, mud and livestock. They loved it. It was a rich, imaginative environment for them. They were farmers and cowboys.
My children are and were completely unaware of the education they were getting. To them understanding that what you eat comes from the animals or food you raise was common knowledge. Like me, they won’t appreciate the value of whole living until they have children of their own.
August 24, 2010
What are you passionate about? What inspires you?
I’m inspired by what other food bloggers write. There are many opinions about what to write and how to write it. One comment I read stated that bloggers should write what they are passionate about; I agree. When I think about what I’m passionate about one thought comes to mind, my family. I know this may sound strange to some people but I get excited about preparing a meal for them. I want them to love the taste of real, whole foods. We do our children a disservice by feeding them processed foods pressed into shapes. How will they know what real food looks and tastes like if that’s all they are exposed to.
Sunday is the day I plan a big family meal. One of the most requested meals is pot roast and noodles. It’s satisfying to see excited faces run to the table and their plates scraped clean at the end of a meal with minimal leftovers. I look forward to the day when my children make these dishes for their families and the tradition continues to the next generation. They will never forget the feeling of affection and contentment we shared over a memorable meal. I know this because it is the example I remember my parents setting.
“A family is a unit composed not only of children, but of men, women, an occasional animal, and the common cold.” Ogden Nash
August 3, 2010
Making jam from scratch requires time, planning and a few ingredients but it is a task that anyone can accomplish. Every summer I watched my mom make jam from local grown, summer fruit. I suppose seeing her do it and how simple it was gave me the confidence to try it myself. If you’ve ever tasted homemade jam you understand why it is worth the effort.
I’ve posted some photos of my process so you can see how easy it is. I follow the recipe and directions in the Sure Jell package for cooked jam.
As you can see from my photos I don’t water bath process my jars of jam. I use the inversion method which is not recommended by the USDA. Sure Jell used to recommend this processing method for jams and jellies with high sugar content until a couple of years ago. This is the way I was taught to make jam and I haven’t had any problems.
July 24, 2010
This past Spring the Environmental Working Group published a revised list of the Dirty Dozen and the Clean 15. These rankings are based on USDA-tested levels of chemical residues that remain on conventionally raised fruits and vegetables versus organically raised fruits and vegetables. The Dirty Dozen lists the fruits and vegetables with the highest chemical residues while the Clean 15 lists conventionally raised fruits and vegetables with the lowest amounts of chemical residues.
As I read through the list of the Clean 15, I was surprised by some of the items listed there, such as the asparagus. Asparagus spears grow so quickly that insects are unable to eat them before they are harvested. Who knew?
I have to remind myself that eating fruits and vegetables is the best option for my family whether they are conventionally or organically raised. Sometimes I have to make decisions based on what my budget allows.
7. Bell Peppers
12. Imported Grapes
The Clean 15
3. Sweet Corn
6. Sweet Peas
8. Kiwi Fruit
14. Sweet Potato
15. Honeydew Melon
July 9, 2010
Have you ever noticed how inedible some fruits and vegetables look? I can’t help but think, what possessed that first human to want to try and eat those strange looking items. Who was the first person to try an avocado? What was it about the shiny, bumpy skin or the green, squishy insides that made someone take a chance and put it in their mouth, chew and swallow? I don’t know who that person was but I’m glad they took that chance. The avocado, for it’s strange appearance and texture is delectable, loaded with nutrients and has a fascinating history.
The inside of an avocado has a buttery like texture. One of the ways I eat an avocado is to mash it up in a bowl with a fork, sprinkle it with salt and pepper and spread it on my toasted english muffin. The flavor of an avocado is delicate and creamy with an undertone of nuttiness. They can be used in multiple dishes such as soup, as a sandwich spread and even frosting.
In Brazil, avocados are added to ice cream and the Philippines, they are even blended with milk and sugar for an avocado smoothy. Another name for the avocado is Alligator Pear.
Stay tuned for part 2 of my article on avocados.
June 8, 2010
I have been reading about food and the differences between organic fruits and vegetables as well as grass fed beef vs. grain fed. After doing all this reading I decided to make some changes to our diet and it has been an expensive modification. An easy way to put more money in your pocket is to plant a garden.
My garden is in the front of my house. I have a dwarf Navel orange tree, a dwarf Meyer lemon tree, three tomato plants, three squash plants, two red bell peppers, two jalapeno, green beans and various herbs. It is rewarding to go out to my garden and pick my own produce. I feel like I’m getting paid and in a way I am, I’m not spending money to buy those items at the grocery store.
If space is an issue tuck some tomato plants in amongst your flowers. All tomatoes require is full sun. They are an easy plant to grow and the flavor of a fresh picked tomato is worth the small effort it takes to plant it.
If you have any questions about starting a small garden leave comments and I will answer them to the best of my ability.
May 7, 2010
This week PBS will air the documentary, “Food, Inc.” ”Filmmaker Robert Kenner lifts the veil on our nation’s food industry, exposing the highly mechanized underbelly that’s been hidden from the American consumer with the consent of our government’s regulatory agencies, USDA and FDA. Our nation’s food supply is now controlled by a handful of corporations that often put profit ahead of consumer health, the livelihood of the American farmer, the safety of workers and our own environment. We have bigger-breasted chickens, the perfect pork chop, insecticide-resistant soybean seeds, even tomatoes that won’t go bad, but we also have new strains of E. coli — the harmful bacteria that causes illness for an estimated 73,000 Americans annually. We are riddled with widespread obesity, particularly among children, and an epidemic level of diabetes among adults”.
Check your local PBS station for broadcast times.
April 20, 2010
The above picture is the ham I made for Easter last year. Easter is at my sister’s house this year. We switch off every major holiday which is nice because this year I only have to worry about bringing a couple of side dishes. Instead of the usual, cleaning of the house and preparing the bulk of the holiday meal.
My responsibility this year is the scalloped potatoes and the dessert. I’ll be experimenting with a new dessert this year, a trifle. I am going to attempt the recipe in Ina Garten’s, Barefoot Contessa Family Style, the raspberry orange trifle. I’ll post pictures when I’m done.
April 1, 2010