Archive for the ‘Food’ Category

Unrecipe of the Week: Pumpkin Spice Bread

September 24, 2014

 

IMG_3101Once the weather begins to change and the days begin to shorten, the craving for cinnamon, spice and everything nice seems to come about as well.  Step away from the empty calorie bomb that is the pumpkin spice latte, and try this healthier alternative, adapted from Fit Sugar.

It has real pureed pumpkin in it, and uses whole wheat flour and oatmeal instead of the white stuff. Unsweetened applesauce and oil replace the stick of butter traditionally found in this type of thing. While not really an UN- recipe, feel free to make it one, by adding nuts, raisins, or a dollop of whipped cream on the side. ( OK, that last one took us to whole other place, but it would sure taste good!)

 

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Pumpkin Spice Bread:

In a mixer, beat 4 eggs, a 15 oz. can of pumpkin puree, 2/3 cup neutral oil ( grape seed, canola, sunflower etc.) 1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce, and 2/3 cup of water. Mix until it is a creamy consistency.

In a separate bowl, mix 2 1/3 cups whole wheat flour, 1 cup rolled oats, 1 2/3 cups sugar *( I prefer a mix of white and brown sugars for a richer flavor), 2 teaspoons baking soda, 1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons cinnamon and 1 1/2 teaspoons all spice. Feel free to adjust the spices to suit your palette. Add the dry ingredients to the wet, and mix thoroughly.

Pour the batter into 2 loaf pans sprayed with cooking spray, and sprinkle the tops with a little of the rolled oats. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 – 60 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean and dry. Allow to cool, and enjoy!

photos: indigojonesnyc instagram

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Kitchen Tips Tuesday: Skimming Fat

September 23, 2014

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We like our soups and sauces to be free of the excess fat that makes them greasy. It’s easy to skim the fat off, if you have the patience.

The best way to defat soups and sauces are to leave them in the refrigerator over night, so that they become very cold. The fat will naturally separate, and float to the top. Carefully take a spoon and remove the congealed fat from the top and discard it.

For those times when we can’t wait for the soup to cool, try placing an ice cube on a slotted spoon and dragging it along the top of the pot. The fat will stick to the ice cube, and can be rinsed away easily. This method is less thorough than allowing the food to chill, but it is effective.

photo: glasshouse images

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A Different Kind of Medicine

September 22, 2014

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A friend who struggled with a long term illness taught me a valuable lesson in dealing those who are going through difficult times. We have the tendency to tell the person who is ill, or in mourning to “Let us know if you need anything.” While well intentioned, this places the burden on the person we most want to help, by forcing them to reach out to us and ask. Her alternative suggestion mirrored that very successful Nike campaign: JUST DO IT!

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Today, I am following her advice, and preparing a package for a friend who has recently undergone surgery.

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Nothing is better when you are under the weather than homemade chicken soup, which soothes the body and the soul.  I’m delivering it packaged in individual servings, which can be tossed in the freezer for another day, or microwaved in the container while in the hospital. Glass jars make a pretty presentation and are a healthier way to package food than plastic.

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Next time you want to help someone who is ill, stifle the urge to ask what you can do for them, and just do it!

 

photos: indigojonesnyc instagram

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Kitchen Tips Tuesday: How to Chill Wine Quickly

September 16, 2014

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Sometimes we want a glass of nice, cold chardonnay, and we want it NOW. Chilling wine quickly isn’t as difficult as it sounds.
Place the wine bottle into a metal bucket, fill it with ice and cold water, and toss in a big handful of salt. The salt will lower the freezing point of the water, making it colder, faster. After about 6 minutes, your wine should be sufficiently chilled and ready to drink.

Salud!

photo: Glasshouse Images

Unrecipe of the Week: Arugula and Stone Fruit Salad

September 15, 2014

Battling lunchtime boredom is a real issue with me. I want to eat something that is fresh, healthy, low in calories and low in refined carbs. It needs to be easily transportable, and cant’t take too much prep time in the morning. That often leaves me tied to my desk with a lackluster salad, or a bowl of Greek yogurt. Until now.

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See how it went so beautifully with the pile of books on my desk?

This salad combination awakened all of my senses: It’s rich autumnal colors made it beautiful to behold. The flavors are a unique combination of sweet, salty, and slightly bitter. The textures range from crisp to soft and succulently juicy. It was ready in minutes and fit perfectly into a compact mason jar, dressing and all! In a word, perfection.

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Arugula and Stone Fruit Salad:

In the bottom of a mason jar, drizzle a little bit of olive oil and aged balsamic vinegar. The balsamic vinegar that has been aged 10 years or more has an almost syrup-like consistency, and tends to be much sweeter than regular balsamic. If you don’t have it, no worries, just use the regular kind, and adjust the quantity accordingly. ( You will want a bit more.) Next add a few big handfuls of baby arugula, and pack it in tightly. Core and chop the stone fruit of your choice ( I have been using nectarines and plums) and put it on top of the arugula. Lastly, add some diced ricotta salata cheese and seal the jar. You can substitute feta, goat or even mozzarella cheese if you prefer. For a little more crunch, add a sprinkling of chopped nuts.

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When you are ready to eat the salad, shake the jar to mix the dressing in, pour it into a bowl and enjoy!

photos: indigojonesnyc instagram

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Kitchen Tips Tuesday: Make Your Own Flavored Water

September 9, 2014

Cucumber and lime-flavored water

I don’t know about you, but downing at least 64 ounces of water per day is tough.  Companies have come up with low or no calorie drops that you can add to your water to give it a more flavor,and more chemicals and artificial ingredients to boot. Vitamin Water lists 20 ingredients, mostly unpronounceable, on the label of their water enhancers and popular brand Mio is right behind them. Don’t get drawn in by the occasional vitamin listed on the label. The artificial sweeteners, and other additives far outweigh the benefits of a little bit of vitamin B.

While enhancing the taste of your water might help you drink more, doing so naturally is the best bet.

You can make your own naturally flavored water by adding fresh fruit and herbs to a pitcher of water and letting it steep in the refrigerator overnight.
You can also freeze pieces of fruit and water in ice cube trays to provide a flavor boost while keeping your water chilled.

Be sure to carefully scrub all of the fruit before using to avoid adding any impurities to the water.

Citrus fruits, such as lemon, lime, grapefruit or orange add vitamin C and a lot of taste to your drink.

Try adding less obvious choices, such as cucumber, strawberries, mint leaves or grated ginger. Many of these are known to reduce bloating and help digestion.

Create your own combinations to suit your palate. How about cucumber, mint and lemon or lime?
Orange and ginger? Grapefruit and basil? Give it a try and share your favorites in the comments below.

Drink up!

photo: Glasshouse Images

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Unrecipe of the Week: Zucchini Noodles With Deconstructed Pesto and Tomatoes

September 3, 2014

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It’s the end of the season, and perhaps (no promises) the end of my posts about spiralized zucchini.  I admit it; I’m obsessed! It’s easy, it’s healthy, it tastes great and it is the perfect substitute for pasta.

I also love deconstructing pesto. In a classic pesto, the basil, garlic, pine nuts and parmesan cheese are all minced and mixed together. In this version, only the basil and garlic are emulsified, and the pinenuts and shaved parmesan are added separately, to give the dish a more interesting texture.

Zucchini Noodles With Deconstructed Pesto and Cherry Tomatoes:

Spiralize the zucchini. If you don’t have a spiralizer, you really need to get one, but in the meantime you can use a vegetable peeler, or the julienne blade on a mandolin or food processor to prepare the zucchini.

Now do you want one? Moving along….

Place the leaves from one head of basil into the work bowl of the food processor with a few garlic cloves and pulverize. With the machine running, drizzle in olive oil until it forms a smooth paste. Set aside.

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Heat a little olive oil in a pan. Add zucchini noodles and quickly sauté them for a couple of minutes until they are heated through and barely softened. Stir in the basil oil mixture until the noodles are fully coated. Add several handfuls of toasted pine nuts, a quart of cherry tomatoes cut in half, and salt and pepper to taste.

Transfer the mixture to a serving bowl, toss with shaved parmesan cheese and enjoy!

photos: indigo jones instagram and hyperlapse video

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Kitchen Tips Tuesday: Cleaning a Reusable Water Bottle

September 2, 2014

bottles, water, glassTo avoid plastic bottles, I tote a reusable water bottle to the gym. Mine is stainless steel, and sports the logo of my favorite charity, Cycle for Survival on the outside. Using a metal or glass bottle is better for the environment, and for your health. That is, if it’s kept clean.

Although I wash it out every night, sometimes it needs a little more love to keep it germ free.

Before leaving for a short vacation, I left it filled with water and baking soda to disinfect it. When I went to rinse it out, the water inside the bottle was the color of tea. Yuck! To completely clean your bottle and kill the germs that might be harboring in the bottom, try a few of these simple tips:

Soap and Water: Of course, good old soap and water is always a safe bet. Add a few drops of dish soap and let it soak.

If you ever use the bottle with flavored water, or other drinks, it might need one of the other methods to remove the taste and coloring left in the bottom of the bottle.

Baking Soda: As mentioned above, baking soda and water are a great way to clean the bottle. Add a nice amount of baking soda and fill the bottle with water. Give it a few shakes and let it sit.

Vinegar: A vinegar and water mixture is also an effective way to disinfect your bottle. If you are really adventurous, add a little baking soda for some fizzing action. ( Be sure to use white vinegar!)

Denture cleaning tablets: Drop one denture cleaning tablet into a full bottle of water and let it do it’s magic.

Whatever method you choose, be sure to thoroughly rinse the bottle to get any residue out, and to avoid having an unpleasant flavor when you add water. Pour out any excess and allow it to air dry completely.

Don’t forget to wash the cap and outside of the bottle as well.

photo:Glasshouse Images

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Where’s The Pumpkin in My Pumpkin Spice Latte?

August 28, 2014

 

As the summer starts to wind down and the days begin to get just a little bit shorter, Pumpkin Spice Lattes are just around the corner. This seasonal treat has a cult like following, with over 200 million of them sold to date! Starbucks recently announced it would start offering the drink extra early this year, to feed the frenzy.  I’ve never actually had one, (really!) so I am interested in what makes this so special.
Food Babe, an investigative food blogger was interested too, and what she uncovered may change your mind about ordering another one!

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Starbucks defines the drink as “[made of] pumpkin and traditional fall spice flavors, combined with espresso and steamed milk, topped with whipped cream and pumpkin pie spice.”

What Food Babe discovered, is that while it contains way more ingredients than anticipated, it doesn’t contain any pumpkin.

The base of the drink is espresso; just coffee beans and water. No surprise there.

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Next up on the list: pumpkin spice flavored sauce. Operative word: flavored. Contents:
sugar( and lots of it,) non-fat condensed milk, high fructose corn syrup, annatto ( for color), natural and artificial flavors, caramel color(class IV), salt and potassium sorbate.

Annatto is derived from a seed. It is considered safe, but can possibly effect blood sugar levels in diabetics.

Class IV caramel color is a laboratory creation, made by reacting corn sugar with ammonia and sulfites under high pressure and temperature, creating a by-product that has been linked to cancer, even in small doses, and is under investigation by the FDA.  Do you really want to risk your life to make sure the syrup in your latte is brown?

Potassium sorbate is a preservative made from the salt of sorbic acid. Although it has been found to be toxic to human DNA cells, the World Health Organization has deemed it safe in small quantities.

The “latte” part is made from steamed milk. The dairy option uses what is affectionately referred to as “Monsanto Milk”, which comes from cows raised with antibiotics, and fed GMO corn, soy and cottonseed.

While vegans and lactose intolerant can order a soy milk option, it is most likely that they won’t be informed that there is milk in the pumpkin sauce. Oops!

The whipped cream topping contains cream, and vanilla syrup which is made from more sugar, natural flavors, potassium sorbate, citric acid, and caramel color class IV.

Finish it off by sprinkling it with pumpkin spice topping, containing cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, clove and sulfites, another potentially dangerous food substance.

A non-fat grande pumpkin spice latte contains 50 grams of sugar and 330 calories, among other things, none of which are actually pumpkin. And while the $4.55 price tag may seem steep, the health risks are even more staggering.

For those who crave the drink, no worries. You can make a healthy version of it at home!

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Mix a shot of espresso with warm or steamed milk, a teaspoon of honey or pure maple syrup ( no Aunt Jemima’s please!) and a healthy sprinkle of pumpkin pie spice.

To read Food Babe’s post in it’s entirety, click HERE.

photos: Glasshouse Images

UPDATE: Starbucks has issued a statement regarding the ingredients in their popular drink:

“The standard recipe for Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte at company-operated and licensed stores does not contain high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), and is sweetened with sugar. We are actively looking at phasing out caramel coloring. In any instances where it is used in our beverages, the level is well below the No Significant Risk Level (NSRL) and safe to consume.

As a company, we take pride in providing full ingredient transparency to our customers so they can make whatever choice is right for them on their beverage selection. The high level of personalization of Starbucks beverages available allows customers to enjoy a unique Starbucks Experience and tailor their drink to match their own personal taste preferences – including the selection from a variety of fresh dairy selections and soy milk, a combination of syrups, and coffee/espresso options and toppings. If customers have questions about any of the items offered in our stores, they can ask their barista for a list of ingredients. We’re also working on listing core beverage recipes online via Starbucks.com and hope to have an update in the near future.”

 

Kitchen Tips Tuesday: Peeling a Mango

August 26, 2014

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Peeling mangoes can be messy business. This kitchen hack, which first emanated from Buzz Feed, makes the job a lot easier.

Split the mango in half lengthwise. Rub the mango on the edge of a large drinking glass, between the flesh and the skin of the fruit. The skin should end up in your hand on the outside of the glass, and the fruit should drop into the glass. Pretty easy, am I right?

photo: Glasshouse Images

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