Archive for March, 2010

Don’t Panic Over Buying Organic

March 31, 2010

There is so much controversy over the safety of our food these days. With all of the contaminants out there, it is best to buy organic fruits and vegetables wherever possible. Unfortunately, organic produce can be pricey, and is not always available in all locales. Below is a list of foods that experts suggest should be organic, based on the United States Department of Agriculture’s tests of pesticide contamination, as well as a list of those that have low levels of contamination.

Food that you should always buy organic:

Nectarines

Celery

Pears

Peaches

Apples

Cherries

Strawberries

Imported Grapes

Spinach

Potatoes

Bell Peppers

Raspberries

Foods that are least likely to be contaminated by pesticides:

Asparagus

Avocado

Broccoli

Cabbage

Eggplant

Kiwi

Mango

Onions

Papaya

Pineapple

Sweet corn

Peas

Sweet potatoes

Tomatoes

Watermelon

Being well informed is the first step to healthy eating.

Photo: Glasshouse Images

Unrecipe of the Week

March 29, 2010

It doesn’t need to be Passover to enjoy a bowl of chicken soup with matzo balls.

As winter descends on the east coast yet again, this recipe provides the ultimate in comfort food. Many matzo balls are dense, but these are light, fluffy and delicious!
They are so easy to make that it is silly not to enjoy them more often.

Matzo Balls

Beat 4 eggs

Add ¼ cup of water or seltzer, ¼ cup of canola oil and teaspoon of salt.

Sprinkle in a dash of black pepper.

Add 1 cup of matzo meal and mix thoroughly.

Refrigerate for 20 minutes

With wet hands, form balls about 1’ to 1 ¼” in diameter and drop them into boiling broth. Form them gently; don’t over work them.

Simmer for 20- 30 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and serve with chicken soup.

ENJOY!

(see our homemade chicken soup recipe posted on 9/23/09)

Foods Banned In Europe That Are Approved In The USA

March 24, 2010

Although we think we have the safest food in the world, there are 7 “foodstuffs” that are banned in Europe and still available in United States.

Genetically modified foods have been banned in Europe and continue to be used in the U.S. Although there is no evidence to inform good public policy, the trans-fat controversy has been an example of a modified food with negative impact to our health.

A ban on 22 different pesticides still used in our country prohibits their use in the E.U. While critics claim that the ban will raise prices and may thwart malaria control, advocates say that their harm to public health is a greater threat. Buying organic produce will help you avoid unwanted chemicals in your food.

The bovine growth hormone, known as rBGH, is not allowed in Europe. In contrast, the U.S. fights for laws regarding hormone-free labeling, allowing consumers to have a choice. Choose grass fed, hormone free meat wherever possible, as a healthier option.

Chlorinated chickens are not allowed in Europe, which prohibits the importing of American poultry as a result. Purchasing organic, or free-range natural chickens from a reputable farm can protect you and your family from unnecessary chlorination.

We have spoken about the negative aspects of chemicals in plastics previously. Both the U.S. and Europe regulate food contact use of these chemicals, but the standards of approval are much more stringent in Europe. It is best to avoid plastic bottles altogether, especially those containing liquids. Buy food in recyclable glass bottles wherever possible, and use glass containers to hold liquid leftovers in the refrigerator.

Stevia, the new natural sweetener is unavailable in Europe, although it has been used in Japan for over 30 years.  The European government cites potential disturbances to fertility among other negative health risks, but the sweetener has also been tied to some positive benefits as well. This is a case of exercising caution; it may be the best choice among the chemically based additives (Equal, Sweet + Low) but eliminating any sugar substitutes other than raw honey is the best choice.

The best way to protect yourself from the possible negative effects of some the additives in our food is to be as educated as possible about the risks involved in ingesting them. Buying organic, hormone free foods is a great start. Eating less packaged and processed foods is always a healthier choice. Knowing your food sources and making wise decisions wherever possible is the best route to good health, long-term.

photo: Glasshouse Images

Unrecipe of the Week

March 21, 2010

I love beets! They are delicious, and rich in vitamin C and potassium.

This colorful salad has strong flavors and rich textures that make it the perfect starter to any meal.

Roasted Beet Salad with Feta and Corn

For the dressing:

Mix together 1 finely chopped shallot, ¼ cup of balsamic vinegar and a tablespoon of honey. Whisk in 1/3 cup of olive oil.

For the beets:

Peel and quarter about 6 beets. Toss the beets with just enough dressing to coat them. Reserve the rest for the salad. Sprinkle them liberally with salt and pepper.

Place them on a baking sheet lined with foil and cover tightly with another piece of foil.

Roast in the oven at 400 degrees for about 30 minutes.

Uncover the beets, and continue roasting for another 25 minutes.

Mix together arugula, endive and radicchio in a salad bowl. Add crumbled feta cheese and about 1 cup of corn. Toss with the dressing and place the beets on top of the salad.
Enjoy!!!!

photo: Glasshouse Images

Shop Your Closet

March 16, 2010

The international Fall fashion weeks have just wrapped up and they are filled with great wardrobe update ideas that you can implement now.
As the recession has forced many of us to shop our closets, it seems that old clothes sometimes resemble, well, old clothes. But this fashion week showed us lots of great ideas to rework the items we have into the ones we will covet next year.

Case in point:

Dolce & Gabbana showed great cardigans, wrapped to the side and secured with a brooch or kilt pin. Almost any old cardigan will do, as long as it is not too long. Simply wrap it instead of buttoning it, and use a decorative pin to hold it in place.

We mentioned in a previous post that socks with sandals were a big trend for Spring.

The Fall collections were filled with almost every major (and not so major) designer showing socks with pumps, or maryjanes. We have taken out some old shoes and recycled them into fabulosity with just the addition of a simple black trouser sock.

Ferragamo showed a beautiful 1970’s inspired collection featuring shorts and cable sweaters, with a big shawl thrown over it all. We took some of our out of date wool pants, cut and hemmed them and turned them into the shorts of our dreams. Worn with tights, boots and a chunky sweater with a jacket or wool wrap on top, we are rocking a new look on an old budget.

Ah, Marc! We admit that the proportions of the Marc Jacobs collection initially struck us as a tad matronly. But after several looks, reviews and a grueling week of reporting on fashion week trends, we started to see it’s beauty. Taking an old Mui Mui skirt that hits below the knee, a belted turtleneck and a knee length coat, we recreated the look with a proportion that emulated his and suited our just under 5’5’ body to a tee. We wore it with the requisite heels and socks, and felt like a million bucks!

There are so many great trends emerging that can be achieved with more ingenuity than investment. Find a look you love and see how creative you can be in pulling together an outfit that is fresh and fashionable without buying anything new.

photos: Style.com

Someone’s In The Kitchen With Jonesie

March 11, 2010

Someone’s in the kitchen with Jonesie and I LIKE it!! I love to cook, and our large open kitchen is a hub for many of our friends to congregate, and reap the benefits of my passion.

Lately, I have been working like crazy, and juggling all of the other things that life tosses at us. Ok, I admit it….. I am tired!!!
This week, I had the great privilege to have a gentleman or two cook me dinner.
Sunday, Alex made a gourmet feast of roasted beet salad, wild mushroom risotto, Swiss chard and braised beef. On Friday evening, as I raced out of work at 8 pm (unfinished, I might add) he was in my kitchen, roasting whole Red Snapper on a bed of potatoes with a salad and carrot, apple and cumin scented soup.

Sunday rolled around again, and I had a strategy meeting with people from out of town.
And what do you know, lucky me, Peter came by and made a German meal of roasted pork, cabbage with caraway seeds and potato dumplings the size of softballs!

Cooking is something I do, to make delicious and (usually) healthy choices, and the act of preparing food can be very creative and even relaxing for me. Feeding my family and friends is something I do to nurture and appreciate them. But did I mention how TIRED I am lately?
It was such a rare and wonderful experience to be on the receiving end of someone else’s hospitality in my own home.

Thank you Alex and Peter, for feeding my body and my soul.

photo: Glasshouse Images

Not So Sweet Life Afterall

March 7, 2010

There is a growing line up of scientific research demonstrating the dangers of the excessive amount of sugar in the average American diet. Yet, these studies are also bringing to light the fact that health–wise, all sugars are not created equally.

The worst of the myriad forms of sugar in the marketplace is fructose, derived from natural sources, such as fruits and vegetables. Consumed in moderation, directly from the source (i.e. eating fresh fruit) it not at all unhealthy. Consumed in high quantities and processed into many of the foods on the supermarket shelf, it can be deadly.

High quantities of fructose has been found to contribute to elevated blood pressure, triglycerides and LDL cholesterol, as well as cause cardiovascular disease, liver disease, cancer and arthritis. The worst offender is high fructose corm syrup (HFCS), a derivative of corn.

Today, the average adolescent gets 73 grams of processed fructose a day, just from sweetened drinks alone; a far cry from the 15 grams humans consumed a century ago, before processed foods existed.

Currently, the average American consumes 142 pounds of sugar per year!

Our bodies need glucose, a form of sugar found in carbohydrates, to operate. Virtually every cell in our bodies relies on glucose for energy. We burn up most of it, just by functioning. By contrast, fructose is metabolized by the liver, and is turned into free fatty acids, a damaging form of cholesterol, and triglycerides, which are stored as fat.

When you eat 120 calories of glucose, less than one calorie is stored as fat. The same amount of fructose results in 40 calories being stored as fat.

In addition to adverse metabolic effects, high fructose corn syrup has been found to contain traces of mercury, arsenic, lead, chloride, and heavy metals.

While it may be unrealistic to think that Americans will give up sugar in all forms, there are some alternatives that are better for you than others. Organic cane sugar and raw honey in moderation are the best choices. The herb stevia is considered healthy, but it is still a new entrant to the market, and not much is known about it. Agave syrup, thought to be healthy is made of a very highly processed sap that is almost all fructose.

The health risks related to artificial sweeteners are even greater than those caused by processed fructose.

Our bodies were meant to run on a natural diet, rich in whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables. Anytime we introduce artificial ingredients, there is a risk to our health. If you want to have sweet treats, it is best to make them yourself, from the purest ingredients you can find.

Technology has given us many easy, tasty foods, but the risks to eating them in quantity out weighs the benefits. Modifying your sugar intake, especially from processed fructose, could help you live a longer, healthier life. Who doesn’t want that?

photo: Glasshouse Images

Living A Dream

March 3, 2010

Congratulations to Alexander Mays, who began his first day of training with the Joffrey Ballet in New York City today.

You might remember Alex from our post entitled, “Balancing Time and Passion” ( 8/15/09). He is an accomplished yogi and gourmet chef,who at the ripe age of 14 has just moved to New York to persue his dream of becoming a professional ballet dancer. He is well on his way, armed with a scholarship with an acclaimed ballet company and a talent and passion that will help him achieve his goal. We have already reaped the benefits of his cooking skills, and can’t wait to see him on stage soon!

Break a leg Alex, and don’t forget about us when you are famous!!!

photo: Glasshouse Images


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 416 other followers