Filed under: News
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
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
The first day of summer has come and gone. For most of us it marks the beginning of hot days, warm nights and trying to stay cool. While the heat can get us down there are many things about this warm season to look forward to such as peaches, nectarines, plums, apricots, cherries, strawberries, blackberries, watermelons, pomegranates, peppers, squash and tomatoes. These fruits and vegetables are brimming with cancer fighting nutrients called carotenoids which protect us with an internal sunscreen. A study conducted by the Journal of Nutrition showed that a combination of antioxidants such as lycopene (found in watermelon and tomatoes) and beta-carotene (found in orange and red produce) can prevent UV damage. Of course, this doesn’t eliminate the need for sunscreen but it does help.
June 25, 2010
I feel good when I am eating an avocado because I know I am doing something healthy for my body. Some people will tell you that avocados are bad for you because of the high fat content. This is not true. They are high in fat, but it is the heart healthy kind that lowers cholesterol. They are loaded with nutrients such as potassium, B-vitamins and folic acid. Now you can enjoy that guacamole, guilt free.
Avocados have an interesting history. They originated in Mexico and were brought to the U.S. 1871. The word avocado is a blending of the Spanish word aguacate and the Aztec word ahuacati. There are 7 varieties of avocado grown in California, with the most popular being the Hass.
Ideas on how to use avocados:
- Mashed up on toast.
- Baby food: Blend with a small amount of juice or water for a smooth consistency.
- In salads, on sandwiches, in tacos, on burgers, sliced thin on crackers.
When avocados are ripe they should give gently when squeezed. Make sure they are not too soft or squishy. To keep sliced avocados from browning sprinkle with lime or lemon juice.
1 tablespoon lime juice
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder & 1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup salsa (I like Trader Joes Salsa Autentica or Embassa Tomato Salsa)
Mash avocados in a medium bowl using a fork or potato masher. (I use a fork because I like a chunky consistency.) Stir in lime juice, garlic powder, salt and salsa.
Get some chips and dig in.
June 11, 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
“I never beheld eaters and eateresses… lay about their food with greater intrepidity” this quote about the Portuguese people by a British writer, named William Beckford, encompasses how many writers describe the Portuguese people.
Other writers describe their favorite Portuguese foods and drinks not merely as “favorites” but as “obsessions”, “passions”, or even “manias”. This innate intensity of feeling is the same of every Portuguese person. A cup of coffee or a glass of wine can become that obsession. Any one of the several hundred dishes made with salt cod may well be described as a passion. And the Portuguese delight in rich sweets does indeed border on a mania.
Portugal is a country located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula. It’s bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to west and south, and by Spain to the north and east. The largest city and capital of the country is Lisbon. Some of the main industries are: textiles and clothing. The most predominant religion in Portugal is Roman Catholic. They speak Portuguese, which is derived from Latin because of Roman and Lusitania settlers.
Portuguese cuisine is known for being robust and hearty. Because it is easy to prepare and is very simple, it is often referred to as peasant food. Some of the countries most popular dishes can be created in one large pot.
Breakfast is traditionally just a bread roll and coffee, but lunch is very large. It normally lasts up to two hours, and is served between noon and two o’clock, or one and three o’clock. Dinner is served late, around eight o’clock, with three courses, often including soup. The most common soup is caldo verde, with potato, shredded cabbage and chunks of sausage.
The Portuguese were the preeminent explorers of the fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries. They helped map the globe and brought rare spices home for their people to enjoy. The Portuguese were among the first to experiment with cinnamon, pepper, cloves and nutmeg, modifying their native dishes to take advantage of these new flavors. Other common herbs and spices in Portuguese cooking are: parsley, hot chili powder, chili oil, cumin, rosemary, mint, oregano, bay leaf, saffron, fennel, coriander, paprika and of course garlic. All these spices and herbs reflect Portugal’s seafaring history and close proximity to Spain.
Wheat and corn breads are popular in Portugal, and bread is served with almost every meal. It’s not unusual to see a slice of bread used as a plate, and some of the most popular soups of Portugal use bread as a major ingredient.
Rich local cheeses, typically made with goat or ewe’s milk, are frequently served as hors d’oeuvres with crusty bread and fresh fruit. Although cheese is often used as an accompaniment to a meal, it is less commonly included within a dish.
Meat, often pork, is an essential ingredient in many Portuguese recipes and is served several different ways. In the north of the country, roast-suckling pig is popular, along with pork sausages called chouriço or linguiça. Chicken is also used frequently, and to a lesser degree, beef, turkey, veal, lamb, kid and rabbit. A national dish, cozido á portuguesa is a thick stew normally made with vegetables and various kinds of meat. Even some desserts make creative use of meats as thickeners, and fish dishes are often cooked in pork lard or topped with meat.
Portugal has a long coastline and a passion for seafood that includes tuna, sardines, swordfish, cod, sea perch, shrimp, crab, clams, octopus and eel. One critical piece of fish in Portugal is bacalhau, or salted dried cod. Said to be prepared 365 different ways, one for every day of the year, bacalhau is consumed at the rate of 100 pounds per person per year. Two dishes are particularly notable. Bacalhau á Gomes de Sá, essentially a casserole of cod, potatoes and onion, is considered perhaps Portugal’s greatest bacalhau recipe. The second is bacalhau á bras, scrambled eggs with salted cod, potatoes and onion. English fishermen gathered huge catches of cod off the grand banks of Newfoundland, salting and drying the fish for preservation. With little market for the cod in Great Britain, the English tried elsewhere and so began to barter with the Portuguese -red Portuguese wine for dried salted cod. The English called the wine Red Portugal. This early trade formed the basis for strong English-Portuguese ties and is known to this day, some 500 years later, as the Port Wine trade.
From the north to the south, the country is wealthy in good wines, apart from the unique Port and Madeira, there are more than one hundred different varieties of wine, ranging from table wines to special ones, all of them reflecting the individual character of their respective soil.
•Port: Port is a sweet fortified wine from Portugal’s upper Douro Valley; shipped from Porto, brandy is added to partially fermented grape juice, stopping fermentation and producing a strong sweet wine that is then matured for years.
•Madeira: The fortified drink known as Madeira comes from the small island of the same name that lies in the Atlantic Ocean. Although the vines were introduced into this island in the 15th century, the modern Madeira people drink today was only refined to its present state in the 18th century.
Sweets are so prized that they are sometimes offered as meals in of themselves for breakfast, lunch or as an afternoon snack. Cinnamon is a favorite flavoring in Portuguese desserts, typically in rice pudding, flan and caramel custards. Egg yolks and sugar are used liberally to make these sweet indulgences. Many of the country’s outstanding pastries were created by nuns in the 18th century, which they sold as means for income. A particularly delicious pastry is pastel de nata, a small custard tart sprinkled with cinnamon.
The Portuguese attitude toward food is simple and imaginative, traditional and inventive. They are people who express love, faith and friendship through their cooking. Portions are large, and guests are always welcome at the table. Indulging is encouraged, and if there are leftovers, so much the better; there will be another dish to make tomorrow.
This essay was written by my 16-year-old daughter for a cultural foods class. She was also required to present two Portuguese recipes that she prepared herself, a savory dish and a sweet one. Bacalhau a bras, which is an egg dish with salted cod and potatoes, was the savory dish and for the sweet, rice pudding.
March 29, 2010